Politics of Fear

When enough people are immune, we’ll be free of Covid. That’s what’s called herd immunity. We’re not there yet but more people get vaccinated every day and some survive the virus and have immunity.

There’s also bad news: Many people, digging their heels in, say adamantly, I’m not getting vaccinated.

But consider this – if you refuse to get vaccinated, it doesn’t just affect you. Other people have to live with the consequences. Some don’t live.  As long as the virus has a breeding ground in human bloodstreams Covid doesn’t go away. Herd immunity remains an unreached goal.

Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, touching the fear of vaccinations, sowed a firestorm on social media…he told people any politician who urges people to get vaccinated “needs to be voted out of office.” (WRAL News)

But stop and think about that…Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Roy Cooper, Thom Tillis, Tim Moore, and Phil Berger all got vaccinated and encouraged people to get vaccinated.

Because they took the vaccine and suggested that others do the same Mark Robinson said they ought to be ‘voted out of office.’

Phil Berger’s a conservative who’s done more to cut government spending in North Carolina than anyone. Hopefully, Mark Robinson doesn’t want Phil Berger out but a desperate need for attention can drive some sticky rhetoric.

It’s time to put coronavirus behind us, and move on to a healthier place, but to do that we need herd immunity. Mark Robinson doesn’t understand that. Worse, he goes a step further to inflame fear.

Playing on fear to get attention may work politically. Just remember other people pay the price.


The Sermon on the Mount

I opened the newspaper: Standing in the pulpit in a Baptist Church Mark Robinson called gays ‘filth.’

Democrats screamed.

Robinson screamed back, held a press conference, and said he didn’t take back the word filth. Denied he called gay people filth. Claimed that he called a pornographic book – in some school libraries – filth.

I watched the video of Robinson standing in the pulpit at Asbury Baptist Church – he said: “There’s no reason anybody, anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, or any of that filth.” He added defiantly: “And yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like that I called it filth, come see me.”

It was clear: Robinson said homosexuals are filth.

I supported the marriage amendment like most North Carolinians. Marriage, unlike a civil union, is a sacrament between a man, woman, and God. I supported HB2, men shouldn’t share a restroom with women. But when Mark Robinson, standing in a pulpit, called gay people ‘filth’ he crossed a line.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught: Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged. Christ also taught: Do unto others.

In a Fallen World, none of us are righteous. All of us are sinners. Some fall into sin, others fall into a deadly sin – pride.

Christ taught humility and kindness… even to sinners.

Mark Robinson crossed that line.

Democrats screamed. Robinson screamed. People are tired of hateful politics. We want better. How do we right the ship? Republican and Democrats don’t need to see eye to eye…but they do need to disagree with a bit of humility and kindness. Unfortunately, that’s where Lt. Governor Robinson came up short.

Building on Sand

Two thousand years ago Jesus told us a profound truth: Build on rock not sand. That truth applies to everyday life, faith, and even politics.

We’ve just watched a political catastrophe in Afghanistan. And it sure looks like we built on sand.

For years we’ve said, America does not negotiate with terrorists. Since you can’t trust terrorists’ promises that makes sense – it was building on rock. But then, President Trump and President Biden both headed down a different road. They decided to negotiate with the Taliban, a terrorist group.

Trusting terrorists’ promises sowed the seeds of the disaster we just watched. It is disappointing that President Biden chose that path. But it wasn’t just Biden’s mistake. President Trump chose the same path. He negotiated with the Taliban and signed the agreement.

Now the Taliban’s back in power in Afghanistan. And America is less safe.

A candid acknowledgement – from either Biden of Trump – that building on sand (by trusting the Taliban) was a mistake would be refreshing. But, instead, we have Biden blaming Trump and Trump blaming Biden. Even though both made the same mistake.

That leaves a question on the table: Will our country repeat the mistake of building on sand?

That’s a good question to ask our Senate candidates, Pat McCrory, Ted Budd and Mark Walker: Is the Taliban a terrorist group? Did President Biden and Trump make a mistake by negotiating with terrorists? Will you negotiate with terrorists?

Before the election rolls around it would be good to hear their answers to that question.

The Equity of Roadbuilding

I don’t guess anyone driving down the road is happy with the litter, and overgrown weeds, along our highways. COVID certainly reduced congestion – but traffic jams will return, and potholes are there waiting.

Poor judgements by the Department of Transportation led to reckless spending which landed the department, and our highways, in a ditch. Workers were laid off, litter pickup services stopped, roads we needed to build were put on hold. Staring at the mess DOT had created the General Assembly stepped in, adding legislative appointees, like me, to the Transportation Board to try to improve oversight. But now, an even bigger crisis is looming.

Two-thirds of the money the state spends to build and maintain highways comes from one source – the gas tax. It works like this: Every time you fill up your car at the service station you pay a gas tax – which means what you pay is based on the amount of miles you drive. In effect, what you pay depends on how much you use and wear down roads. It’s a user fee.

But the days when almost everyone drove a gas-powered car are past. Today many people drive electric cars and while they use and wear down roads – just like people who drive gas cars – they pay no tax to build or repair highways.

Our biggest automakers are working to accelerate the shift to electric cars, and liberals, from President Biden on down, agree – which is fine. But, at the same time, how will we pay to build and maintain our highways? After all, whether you drive an electric car, or a gas-powered car potholes and traffic jams are a problem. It’s also a looming economic threat, and our biggest cities – the pillars of our economy – will be hit the hardest.

There’s a way to fix the problem but, as often happens, politics is standing in the way. To keep highway funding adequate every driver, whether he drives a gas car or electric car, needs to pay a fair share to help build and maintain roads. Governor Cooper and the Transportation Department know that.  But to suggest electric car drivers pay a ‘user fee’ – the same way gas car drivers do – draws the wrath of the left. So many politicians remain silent. But how long can we go on without building roads and fixing potholes?

Too Much Debt

Hopefully, it hasn’t happened to you. But you probably know someone who has been crushed by too much debt. Student debt weighs down an entire generation.  The housing boom leading up to 2008 created a bubble that trapped many families in a hopeless situation.

Sometimes debt is so big it’s incomprehensible; if you look at the debt per taxpayer at USDebtClock.org you see that every U.S. taxpayer owes nearly $225,000 each ($450,000 for a couple). That’s your share, and mine, of the federal government’s debt.

How did we land in the ditch? Washington politicians found a clever way to spend all they want without raising taxes: By borrowing. Politicians spend billions, buying votes from special interests or passing bills for lobbyists who make big contributions. If they had to raise taxes every time they jacked up spending the public uproar would stop them dead in their tracks. Instead, they borrow and hope nobody notices. And, so far, they’ve been right.

The Cato Institute provides detailed information  about the federal debt (including the chart below).

Even when our country was deeply divided, during our bloodiest war 150 years ago, federal debt was a fraction of what it is now. Today, we’re eyeball to eyeball with a debt level that exceeds even the World War II era, when we were fighting for our survival on two fronts in a brutal war that ended with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Here’s an unfortunate fact: Today, in Washington, neither party says ‘no more debt.’ The debt has continued to rise for years no matter whether Democrats or Republicans held the White House or majorities in Congress.

We’ve seen this tragedy play out before in history and it never ends well. But there is one glimmer of light, one way to stop Washington politicians piling up debt: State legislators can step up and send forward a Constitutional Amendment to require Congress to balance the federal budget. The same type amendment many states – including North Carolina – already have.

Washington politicians won’t solve this problem. They’ll continue to borrow more every day. It’s time the people told them, Stop!




A Way Around Washington Politicians

Two things Washington politicians love: Getting reelected. And spending money. And since they have more political power than anyone else it’s hard to see a way to stop them in Washington – but there is a glimmer of hope outside Washington.

We just witnessed an example in the State House.

U.S. Term Limits is asking state legislators to call a limited constitutional convention that would do one and only one thing: Pass a Term Limits Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

And the Compact for a Balanced Budget is asking state legislators to call another constitutional convention to do just one thing: Pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Two conventions. Each limited to just one vote. On one issue. And that’s it.

A few days ago North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore sponsored legislation to call a constitutional convention to pass Term Limits. His bill passed.  It’s no surprise every Democrat on the House floor that day voted against Term Limits. It is a bit of a surprise six Republicans did.

One Republican explained most people “have somebody who they’d keep voting for until Jesus comes” – and he didn’t want to stop them. That’s straightforward. But does voting for a Congressman until Jesus comes matter more than curbing Washington politicians’ spending?

Another Republican said he was worried a limited convention could stray onto other issues – but under Speaker Moore’s bill North Carolina’s delegates would be bound by state law to only vote on one thing: Term Limits.

In addition, at a constitutional convention, each state has one vote. Wyoming has one vote, New York has one vote, North Carolina has one vote. Republicans now control state legislatures in 31 states, Democrats 19.

Last year a poll showed 73% of North Carolina’s voters support Term Limits: 79% of the Republicans, 71% of the Independents, 68% of the Democrats. And every Democrat on the State House floor – the day Speaker Moore introduced his bill – is now on record voting against Term Limits.

Class War

Crises like coronavirus and unprecedented numbers of private sector workers out of work fuel fears and fears fuel anger so it’s natural we’re seeing protests that mirror those emotions.

Now, in any crowd of emotional protestors it’s simple to video clips of bad behavior – then, if you flash a few trigger words,  like ‘Nazis,’ with those videos of angry protestors, you have the Washington Democrats’ recipe for firing up ‘their base,’ getting hits on donate buttons, and reelecting Governor Cooper.

The Democratic Governors Association did just that in its new ad telling viewers that unemployed workers protesting against Governor Cooper’s shutdown orders are dangerous for North Carolina.

Let’s put politics aside for a moment and look at a couple hard facts: over a million North Carolina workers have lost their jobs. And, a month later, many of them never received their first unemployment check. Why? Mismanagement of Governor Cooper’s Division of Employment Security. And if an unemployed worker tries to call the Cooper Administration to find out what he must do to get his check, he may spend ten hours in phone-hold purgatory.

People don’t always express their fear, hurt, and anger well. It’s natural. If Governor Cooper did an experiment and suddenly stopped checks to government employees, I suspect we would see outbursts of anger dwarfing these protests.

Here’s the bigger question: What should the Governor be doing? Should he be exploiting the unemployment crisis with cheap political videos? Or should he be straightening out the mess at DES – and getting those unemployment checks out the door to people who need them?

Governor Cooper’s allies in Washington have given us their answer. But it won’t help a single worker.

Community Recovery

Sometimes you can see a storm coming long before the raindrops start hitting your face. For example, when President Trump released his guidelines to end the coronavirus shutdown Governor Cooper didn’t knock anybody down racing to re-open our economy.

Why is the Governor hesitating? Maps may provide an answer. Like most Democrats, Governor Cooper’s political world rests on foundation blocks in cities and suburbs – in ‘blue counties’ where the virus is not looking like it’s under control. By contrast, ‘red counties,’ outside the major counties and suburbs, are faring better. So who – the red counties or the blue counties – decides when we end the shutdown?

We could have that fight – on top of fighting coronavirus – but it really doesn’t make any sense. Besides, we have a better choice than ‘open everyone or open no one.’ The counties and cities across the state long ago formed 16 regional alliances – called North Carolina Regional Councils – to address each region’s shared interests when it comes to economic development and transportation.

Those  NC Regional Councils are staffed by professionals who work on data acquisition and analysis. The councils also have a long history of collaboration with the local governments in their regions. And they exist in their current configurations because that’s what the local residents, not politicians in Raleigh, wanted.

Let’s use them. They can get the data and merge it with all their counties data before releasing it, which will eliminate hospitals worrying about disclosing proprietary data about patients and violating HIPAA laws. To obtain the data we need to find a route out of a medical and economic crisis, there’s no better choice with an equivalent skill set.

We can then use nationally established criteria, one of the few offerings by President Trump that has not been widely attacked, to implement a policy that rightfully sets stages for economic recovery based on data about coronavirus in each county. The regions that show the most progress or have been hit less by coronavirus may go ahead and re-open, and stay open, while those regions hit hardest, which need more time to curtail coronavirus, can take steps to do what’s best for them.

North Carolina is one state made up of many communities – doesn’t it make common sense to allow the different communities to decide when to end their shutdown and begin the recovery from coronavirus?

Another Mess: Virus, Mail-In Voting and Fraud

Last year, we were in another, but smaller, crisis. The Democrats were mad-as-hell about McCrae Dowless ‘harvesting’ ballots for Mark Harris in the 9th Congressional District. Once the smoke cleared and the facts were on the table almost everyone agreed, a new election was called, and laws were passed to make sure that type of fraud didn’t happen again.

Now due to coronavirus, the Governor’s appointees on the Board of Elections want to dramatically expand ‘Mail-in’ voting – the same type of voting McCrae Dowless abused. Now there’s no doubt coronavirus has, and will, cause some hard changes in behavior but let’s step back a moment and think about this one.

First, why the urgency?  Hopefully, soon, we won’t be sheltered in place and the virus will be waning. Wouldn’t waiting, say, to summer lead to a wiser decision?

Second, aren’t there questions the Election Board needs to answer about its plan?

Last year, only a fraction of the voters used mail-in (absentee) ballots in Bladen County during the 9thCongressional District Race. What’s the potential for fraud if a million people vote by mail in November?

Is the Cooper administration ready to implement such a major change in November? Dragging out unemployment checks has been bad enough, bungling an election would be another major train wreck.

When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight, was never the slogan of the Post Office. Can it handle the increased workload?

Third, if it turns out we do have to make changes in how we vote in November, is there a more practical and less susceptible to fraud solution than telling millions of people, ‘Hey. Go online and order your ballot.’

I’m afraid the Democratic Board of Elections may have handed us a political fix for something that ain’t broke. And we’ve all seen how political solutions tend to backfire in unexpected ways.

We have enough messes on our hands right now. Let’s take a deep breath – and wait until summer – to be sure we get this one right.


We Still Have Time

In 1940 Hitler, having rolled over Europe, set his sights on invading Great Britain. He was stopped by one decision: Newly elected Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided to direct Britain’s national energy – and strength – to denying Hitler’s Luftwaffe air superiority. To do that Churchill appointed a determined Lord Max Beaverbrook to produce Spitfire fighters. He told Beaverbrook to get the job done using any means necessary and, he added, if any bureaucrat tried to get in his way Churchill himself would handle the obstructer.

Churchill recognized the biggest threat to his country. He decided on the course of action, ruthlessly followed it and saved his country.

Like other bureaucracies, the bomber plane hierarchy resented Max Beaverbrook. He was an easy man to dislike. But he was the right man for the job. He produced the Spitfires needed and Germany never gained air superiority.

Now, we face an enemy of our own. A scary enemy. Like the Luftwaffe’s nighttime bombers, the average person knows the coronavirus is there but can’t see it. But we do have a cure for our blindness – random testing will show us the spread of coronavirus and tell us the hot spots we need to focus on to defeat the disease. Once we know where the outbreaks are, we can isolate and direct resources, taking the fight to the virus. Random testing is like a radar that can spot a Nazi bomber at night.

Unfortunately, we’ve lost a precious month when it comes to spotting our enemy. While the coronavirus attacked the world, Washington politicians were attacking each other. Impeachment, not testing, was the priority. With politicians distracted, bureaucrats – and bureaucratic turf wars – were the order of the day. Control of the testing process was, to them, more important than getting tests done and the results out. We now know that the CDC, the FDA and HHS, did not – and will not – lead us out of this valley. Now it’s time to focus all available national resources on finding, and killing, the enemy.

We may get a break; warmer weather could stop the spread as it does the flu. But we learned in 1918 that autumn might bring it back again, even worse. We’ve lost a month. And we’re paying the price. But we still have time. Let’s use it.