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Congressman calls for check on Washington spending, renewed COVID mandates

03 MenMoneyBagHC1108 sourceIf debt and spending were Olympic sports, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi would easily take home the gold medals.

Now after a year of unprecedented and reckless spending, there is no relief in sight for hard-working taxpayers. Pelosi and Washington Democrats passed yet another massive $600 billion spending package — a 21% increase in spending from the previous year.

Even worse, this budget was the first in decades to scrap the Hyde Amendment and allow taxpayer dollars to go towards abortions. The only thing they didn’t fund was the Defense Department and Homeland Security.

This out-of-control spending is coming with a cost for you and your family in the form of higher prices at the grocery store and gas station. Inflation is a tax increase on all Americans and only getting worse.

Just last month the inflation marker rose 3.5%, its biggest jump since 1991. This, along with the highest consumer prices in 13 years, is the latest sign that reckless spending by Washington Democrats is driving inflation. For the sake of generations to come, we cannot afford to spend like this.

While Washington Democrats were busy spending your tax dollars, last week I focused on defending our veterans and the Second Amendment. I hosted a group of wounded combat veterans in Washington to discuss a new regulation on pistol stabilizing braces proposed by the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.

Under the regulation, an individual could become a felon unless you turn in or destroy your firearm, destroy your brace, or pay a tax. This regulation is a massive attack on our Second Amendment. But worse is that these devices were designed and are needed by wounded veterans to continue exercising their rights.

Joining me last week was former police officer and U.S. Army veteran Rick Cicero, who was injured in Afghanistan in 2010 by an IED. After losing his right leg and right arm, Cicero helped develop the original stabilizing brace. He now travels the country teaching disabled veterans how to shoot again and said stabilizing braces “are the foundation” for everything he does. Rick talked about the impact on self-esteem and the mental health improvements he sees in these veterans due to this training.

I led 140 members of Congress opposing this regulation. Forty-eight Senators also joined this effort. Now I am encouraging everyone to submit a public comment against this rule to the ATF before Sept. 8. Folks can visit my website at https://hudson.house.gov/ or go directly to the ATF’s comment portal.

Veterans and others who rely on these braces deserve an equal opportunity to exercise the Second Amendment. I will not back down until we tell the ATF to defend them and our rights.

Finally, last week, mask mandates returned to the halls of Congress and many communities across the country.

Cases have risen, mainly among in those without vaccines. Yet last week, I asked for data from the CDC on why they reversed mask guidance for those who have been vaccinated. Vaccines work and I encourage everyone to consult with their doctor about getting one. But sweeping political mandates not based on science undermine our confidence in public health.

Furthermore, updated guidance from the Biden administration comes as they continue to allow thousands of migrants to cross our southern border without COVID tests or vaccines. Solving this crisis should be step one to address any rise in cases.

I am determined to keep our businesses and schools open this fall. Vaccines are helping us do this and we should not allow political agendas to revert us back to mask mandates and lockdowns that aren’t based on science.

In addition to defending our veterans and Second Amendment, I will always continue to fight for commonsense solutions to protect you and your family.

Pandemic of the unvaccinated

02 people in masksIf you feel like the rug has been ripped from under your feet, you are not alone. Just as we began feeling safer about being out and about and around people we do not know, a newer and more virulent COVID-19 variant dubbed Delta, has upended our lives yet again. The current surge is driven by and striking the unvaccinated, seriously sickening them, sending them to hospitals and killing some.

The vaccinated, many of whom are heeding the CDC’s recommendation to re-mask indoors, are far less affected and, if they are affected, they are far less sick. As Aaron Carroll, chief health officer for Indiana University, wrote in The New York Times, “COVID-19 is not even close to a crisis for those who are vaccinated, but it is a true danger to those who are unvaccinated.”

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services echoes Carroll. “This is a pandemic right now, of the unvaccinated. The virus will find them,” she said. Distressingly, the Delta variant is far more contagious than earlier COVID viruses and can be spread by both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.

The situation varies widely across the nation, largely reflecting vaccination rates in different states and communities. This is clearly true in North Carolina where one county, Richmond, is currently designated red, meaning “critical community spread.”

Twelve other counties, including Cumberland, are orange, the next highest level. Cumberland’s vaccination rate remains low, with only 30% partially vaccinated and 28% fully vaccinated. Cumberland’s COVID-19 positivity rate is over 9%, with the goal being below 5%.

Statistics can be difficult to absorb but if you remember only one of them, remember this. In North Carolina, 94% of the new COVID-19 diagnoses are now among the unvaccinated.

Health officials acknowledge different reasons why Americans remain unvaccinated. Some are victims of our culture wars — so insistent on their individual right to choose that they are willing to risk their own health and the health of those around them. Others have deep misgivings about past medical treatments within their own communities, and others find getting vaccinated inconvenient — they have no transportation to a vaccination site, cannot leave their jobs, have no child care or other personal situations.

All of that said, health and government officials are doing their darnedest to entice Americans to vaccination centers with cash payments, lottery drawings, free rides and on and on.

They are doing so because none of us, vaccinated or not, cannot really move on until the pandemic is under control, and that is unlikely to happen until more people are vaccinated.

The private sector which has largely stayed away from the vaccination issue is becoming impatient with the pandemic’s effect on our economy and is moving to require vaccinations among employees, saying essentially, “no shot, no job.”

Howls of protest fill our TV screens, but the truth is, the United States has long required vaccines. Children cannot go to school without them and visitors cannot enter our nation or others without them.

If you fear side effects or bizarre notions of microchips entering your body through a thin needle, look around you. Vaccinated people are going about their lives just fine, because vaccinations work.

If you need more incentive, go back to the statistics. Of Americans now testing positive for COVID-19, becoming ill and dying, 94% are unvaccinated.

Skate Park is one of many outdoor areas available to families

20 DadBoyHelmetHC1104 sourceIf you've lived in the Fayetteville area any length of time, you probably recall the days before Festival Park.

Festivals lined Hay and Green Streets, baseball was played by a number of different teams and leagues at J.P. Riddle Stadium, and the kids played on the "big whale" as we came together in front of the band shell for events of all kind in Rowan Park.

With all of those behind us, the Cumberland County Parks and Recreation Department have given us lots of new reasons to celebrate in the downtown area.

One of the newer additions may actually have slid in under your radar, as it was opened and dedicated during the time our state government was limiting crowd size and imposing other restrictions on how and where we gathered in 2020.

I'm talking about the new (and fabulous) skate park which opened in Rowan Park in August of last year.

There was little fanfare at the time, but it didn't escape the attention of avid skateboard enthusiasts throughout the county, nor was the opening lost on Terry Grimble, a lifetime proponent and advocate of skateboarding in Fayetteville.

Terry has been outfitting people of all ages with quality gear for as long as I can remember, and was a sane and steady voice calling for something more for the skaters in the county.

As a skateboard dad and grandpa, I love the fact our kids now have somewhere fun, safe and well-maintained to try their latest tricks and learn new ones.

Now that the Olympics has even added both street and park skateboarding competitions to the quadrennial celebration of the world's best athletes, we can almost certainly count on seeing more of our agile young people dropping in to demonstrate their prowess with local onlookers and fellow skaters alike.

We stopped at the skate park for a couple of hours on a July Sunday afternoon, and were thrilled to see plenty of young people skating. The crowd continued to grow as the sun began to back off a little from its midday position, and we watched as some of the more accomplished skaters offered pointers and encouragement to those sitting on the wall in awe. That's good stuff. And something we need more of.

When you combine the skate park with all the Splash Pads and Pools the County Parks and Recreation has added in the past couple of years, they begin to add up to an improved quality of life for the families who call Fayetteville and the surrounding area home.

Now let's get out there and enjoy it!

 

2 Council representatives or 6? Let citizens decide

01 N2008P23007HFor the past 20 years the Fayetteville City Council has used an antiquated structure of nine single members elected by districts and one mayor elected at large. The nine districts include about 25,000 residents but the representatives are often elected by an average of 1,300 voters in a city of 211,000 people. District representatives figure out very quickly that keeping those 1,300 people happy is all that matters to help them get reelected in the future. This resulting narrow focus by nine members of City Council does not lend itself to address the often complicated and costly city-wide issues. Too often these issues remain unresolved while the Council debates more territorial issues.

Even worse, an individual Fayetteville citizen has only 2 elected people representing them — the mayor and their district representative. Meanwhile the other 8 council members are not accountable to the needs of citizens who do not live in their district.

Other governmental bodies in Cumberland County, including the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, the Board of Education, and the towns of Hope Mills and Spring Lake all have at large members as a part their structure.

In addition, 9 of the 12 largest cities in North Carolina have at large members included. They have found the structure to work for decades and there have been no efforts to convert to all single member districts.

The Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative is seeking to collect 5,000 signatures that would give every citizen in Fayetteville the opportunity to vote for the type of local government structure they want.

The proposal calls for changing 4 of the current 9 seats to at large, leaving a Council comprised of 5 district representatives, 4 at large representatives and a mayor.

Under this structure, every citizen would have more voting rights by being able to vote for and be represented by 6 members of City Council — the mayor, their district representative and 4 at large representatives.

Most local governments have found this combination provides an effective balance of both district and citywide focus. In the case of Fayetteville, it would provide more focus on the big issues facing the entire city — issues like $100 million in stormwater needs, the failure to annex Shaw Heights and provide its residents access to basic city services like sewer, for example — that are larger than any one district.

It would also provide more big-picture perspective before deciding to spend $3 million to replace 64,000
recycling cans so a logo can be removed, instead of reducing our traffic violations enforcement or filling over 50 vacancies in the police department.

The current structure of City Council has never been voted for by any Fayetteville voter. In fact, the only time that Fayetteville voters have been given the opportunity to vote for a combination of at large and single member districts, they supported it with almost 60% of the votes cast.

Fayetteville has grown significantly over the years and now composes almost 150 square miles and over 210,000 people. With that growth comes big city issues that require big city perspectives. It is time to change the structure of our City Council to help ensure that more people represent the big picture and are more accountable to all the citizens of our diverse city.

Joining the thousands of other Fayetteville voters in signing the petition alone does not change the structure of our City Council. It merely allows the referendum to be put on the next citywide election ballot and gives every citizen the right to vote and make this important decision for our community.

This important decision should be made by all the voters of Fayetteville. I encourage you to review the information on this important subject on the website at www.VoteYesFayetteville.com and to support the petition and let our citizens decide if they want to have 6 elected people representing them versus the current 2.

 

Welcome to the reality distortion field

02 IMG 7983Have you been wondering who wrote the Book of Love? You won’t get that answer in this column. Go find an old Monotones album and seek guidance there, Grasshopper. Today we are going to explore the reasons that the world is going nutso. Which is admittedly a much easier topic to understand than the vagaries of sweet love.

Let us consider the mystery of the Anti-Vaxxers. The Rona has come back with its new improved 2021 Delta model. None of that sissy Corona 19 stuff. This is the real thing. Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It’s Super Rona, a strange visitor from a Cootie planet which is killing Earthlings with powers and abilities far beyond those of mere mortal men.

The Super Rona is able to change the course of mighty rivers, fill emergency rooms, hospitals and grave yards with its bare hands. The only thing that can defeat Super Rona is its version of Kryptonite, the mild-mannered Vaccines. Logic might appear to dictate that Americans would leap at the chance to get vaccinated but logic would be wrong. Tens of millions of Americans won’t take the Vax, seemingly preferring death before inoculation. As the King of Siam said, “It is a puzzlement.”

The Vaccines were developed under the Former Guy’s Presidency. Curiously the Vax Refuseniks tend to be die-hard Former Guy cult members. The Former Guy took the vax himself. He should get credit for developing it. He did good getting it up and ready. Logically his followers should be proud of what he did. They should be first to get the vax to support the Former Guy, yet they are the last. We may be watching a national demonstration of Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection taking place before our wondering eyes.

For most of Biden’s Presidency the Former Guy’s political party and Tee Vee hosts have been playing the part of the Pied Piper leading their followers into the Valley of Death by pretending the Rona was fake news or that Bill Gates was going to inject them with mind control Triskets.

Recently some of these same leaders began to realize that if their portion of the electorate doesn’t get vaccinated, they will cross over the Great Divide before the mid-term elections leaving the Democrats in charge of Congress. Owning the Libs by filling graveyards with disbelieving Super Corona cult members is somewhat counter intuitive. Dead Democrats do not lose their right to vote. They will keep on voting. We shall learn if Dead Republicans forfeit their franchise if they keep refusing to get into the Vax lifeboats of the Titanic after it has struck the Super Rona iceberg.

What could cause the puzzling behavior of the Former Guy’s followers? Here are a couple of possible answers.

The moon has been wobbling more than usual recently. We like to think the moon just peacefully orbits around the Earth in a smooth oval orbit cycling through its orbit every 18.6 years. The moon just minds its own business, creating tides and rhyming in love songs with the month of June. However, as they say on late night TV informercials — BUT WAIT! The moon itself wobbles. NASA released a new study that the moon’s wobbling may lead to record high tides over the next decade. If the moon can screw up tides on Earth, imagine what it can do to the thought processes of the Anti-Vaxxers. Astronomers first noticed the moon’s wobble back in 1728. Ponder all the craziness since 1728. The wobble could explain the current Anti-Vax sentiment.

NASA recently discovered another disturbance in the Force — Mars is older than Earth. The Mars Onsight Lander sitting on the Angry Red Planet is studying the guts of Mars.

Think of Mars and Earth as giant gum balls. The outer part of the gum ball is the crust, which sits on top of the mantle layer. (Not to be confused with Mickey Mantle.) Below the mantle is the molten core of each planet — the center of the gum ball. Mars has a thicker crust than Earth. Its mantle is thinner than Earth’s but its molten core is much larger than Earth’s core. NASA says this means that Mars was formed millions of years before Earth when the gasses from the sun were still condensing into planets like Earth and Venus.

The Onsight Lander has detected more than 700 Mars quakes since landing in 2019. These Mars Quakes may have to power to cloud the minds of the Former Guy’s followers convincing them that Death before Vaccination is the path best taken.

Moon wobbles or Mars Quakes? Either one might be the reason for America’s current sojourn into the Reality Distortion Field in which we find ourselves.

If you were looking for a logical answer to an illogical situation, you have come to the wrong column. I cheerfully admit to being clueless. I can remember when polio was a thing. They closed the movies, swimming pools, anywhere there were crowds. Iron lungs abounded. Then the polio vaccine came along and polio went away. Vaccines work.

Perhaps the Anti-Vaxxers would take the vaccine if they were told it was made from the Former Guy’s bath water. It’s worth a shot. Maybe Sean Hannity can tell them to drink up.

 

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