Forgive the odd headline. I was just trying out a new trick I picked up on another site, The Daily Haymaker. The site has been around a long time on the North Carolina conservative commentary scene, so I figured it could teach me a thing or two. Now that I’ve tried the phrasing myself, I can see that my first instinct, that it was awkward and confusing, was correct. But as you can see below, the Haymaker has gone all in on it:

They even used it in their latest piece about the alleged “decline and fall of The John Locke Foundation and Civitas.” Sadly, this sort of repetition is the kind of laziness you see when a once-great organization composed of one guy nobody’s heard of sells out and becomes an anti-conservative attack machine.

When was the last time his site attacked prominent progressives, like, um, Roy Cooper? Go look. The last mention I found of Biden on the site was in July (in a piece attacking Tillis), and the last mention of Cooper was in September (in a piece attacking Mark Robinson). I mean, go ahead and keep your own side honest. There’s a good place for that. But if all you ever do is attack your own side about made-up petty nonsense and never mention the opposition… who’s the “RINO”?

I wouldn’t bother mentioning this sad, fading institution, but Brant Clifton, the site’s publisher from Southern Pines, has been particularly obsessed with bashing us lately, and pretty thoroughly called me out by name. He even said people shouldn’t give Locke money anymore, and that throwing their cash out a moving vehicle as they drive down a highway will, and I quote, “do just as much, um, good [emphasis his].” Not very nice, but if you do that, just let me know what part of the highway you’re driving. Having a couple toddlers can be pricey. And yeah, he did that “um” thing again for some reason.

Well, unfortunately for him, I had a lot of free time yesterday because my children’s daycare was open on President’s Day. So I went ahead and wrote an unnecessarily long response.

Mark Twain once said of publications other than the Carolina Journal, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.” When I worked at the General Assembly in the early-to-mid 2010s, a lot of staffers, and even some legislators, would read the Haymaker. It actually had some informative and witty takes. I have my doubts that many read it now though, mostly because those at the legislature know enough to see Clifton is leaving his readers both uninformed (by not discussing what’s happening) and misinformed (by misdirecting towards a bunch of irrelevant nonsense) — a feat that even Twain’s creative mind hadn’t dreamed up.

Let me show you what I mean just using the latest ridiculous article he wrote attacking the John Locke Foundation (which he does frequently, since we’re a conservative organization that gets things done).

As an editor, I have to start by first noting that the image he uses of Tucker Carlson, Trump, and MTG has no attribution and appears to be from the New York Times. Does he work for them? Did he pay to use it? Unclear. But I’ll let it slide, since I don’t really feel like defending the far-left New York Times. But it is worth noting the laziness of many of these blogs that want to be taken seriously but also can’t be bothered to do more work than a right click copy/paste.

It’s when this laziness actually begins to misinform North Carolina voters that I get annoyed. He starts off by calling the John Locke Foundation and Civitas “these two places,” suggesting he’s unaware that they are the same organization. A commenter on the article absorbed this error and mourned the state of the “two organizations.” It’s not really that important a point, but just shows how he isn’t even able to provide accurate information on the very basic facts.

It seems he was once aware that the two organizations merged. When it happened a few years ago, he called it a “yawn” that the “two, um, ‘giants'” were marrying. So maybe it’s a joke. From the article, it seems that he wasn’t a fan of the two organizations back then. I’m sure he was a fan at some point though, since his more recent attack mourned our recent fall from being a one-time limited government champion.

Maybe his belief that Dallas Woodhouse runs John Locke is another joke I’m not getting (like the “um” and the “two organizations” thing)? In the anti-Locke article, he said, “Now, the in-house ‘brain power’ IS Dallas Woodhouse and Donald Bryson.” Credit to him, I guess, for at least knowing Donald Bryson is our CEO. But Dallas Woodhouse isn’t on staff and his only role is to send occasional well-informed rants to Carolina Journal’s opinion section, mostly analyzing political races. He works for a completely different organization called American Majority, where he is state executive director. Two minutes on our site or on LinkedIn could have told him that. But, like everything else, that would have taken a little effort.

To show just how little he pays attention to North Carolina news, he then goes on to say about the John Locke Foundation, “What was once a cheerleader for limited government is now a cheerleader for the GOP.”

Laughable. In the long session that just ended a few months ago, the John Locke Foundation and the state’s Republican-led legislature clashed over multiple items, including the expansion of Medicaid, CON reform, the NC Innovation fund, transparency over public records requests, and even the length of session.

Were those areas of policy too minor or boring for Brant to follow? Or, more likely, he doesn’t consider public debate on policy worth mentioning unless it involves torching bridges and scorching the earth.

What really seemed to have earned his ire this time was my Twitter comment agreeing with US Sen. Thom Tillis’ criticism of Tucker Carlson’s trip to Russia. Brant, who has never insulted anyone, clutched his pearls so hard at the phrase “useful idiot” that they burst apart and rolled all over his basement floor.

Like any politician, I’ve disagreed with Tillis at times. Other times, I’ve liked his positions, like with his stance on foreign policy — where he takes what has been the default conservative stance since Reagan. Basically, if a foreign bully attacks our allies, we will stand with our them, whether European allies, Israel, Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan. I haven’t heard anyone say we should send American soldiers over, but military aid to eastern Europe and Israel — after the biggest invasion of a European ally since WWII and the biggest attack on Jews since the Holocaust — is a no-brainer (just in my opinion, not that of JLF). The support shouldn’t be unlimited in time or amount, of course, but it’s an important stand to make.

For some reason, about 5 minutes ago, some on the right decided to toss all that out the window. Now, to be a “true conservative” instead of a “RINO,” we need to become like progressive pacifists or like Neville Chamberlain, trying to achieve “peace in our time” through weakness, letting our rivals bully our friends while we shrug our shoulders from the side lines.

In the part of the article where he actually gets around to addressing my points, the laziness is ramped up to another level. Most of his rebuttals amount to nothing more than, “Nuh uh.”

So his first point is that I’m in my 40s, basically a child in today’s political landscape. Fair. Second: “Yuh huh.” Tucker’s videos were all about how little crime there was, how clean the subways were, how cheap the food was, the futuristic shopping carts etc. But if Brant doesn’t like Michael Moore, we can go with Hanoi Jane instead. Third: I disagree. People the world over read the Carolina Journal for its coverage of foreign affairs and geopolitics. (Hey, if he can just make stuff up…)

Then he says, “Larson and his pals are the ones cheerleading for trade sanctions.” No idea what that’s a reference to. Almost like he just, um, made something up, again. Then he does a bunch more “nuh uh”-type arguments that aren’t worth a response, except when he’s says he wants to secure the border instead of “wasting a lot of blood and treasure on a conflict on the other side of the world.” Again, who is calling to send American troops to Ukraine? Russia can stop the bloodshed at any time if they just stopped slaughtering innocent people and went home. Have Tucker and Brant called for that? I may have missed it.

Also, the southern border crisis has nothing to do with funding. Biden is choosing not to enforce the laws that exist or to use the resources that exist. Letting Russia gobble up parts of eastern Europe isn’t going to magically free up funding that Biden will suddenly decide to use to secure the border.

It’s also obvious people like this don’t care about the debt. If they did, the temporary funding to combat ramped-up aggression from Russia, Iran, and China would be down their list of concerns. They’d be calling, with the John Locke Foundation and others who actually care, to reform entitlement spending. Balancing the budget is literally impossible otherwise. But that would take work and more than yelling out “RINO” from the back of the room.

And like I said, it’s not clear to me that his site is even run by a conservative named Brant. If it was, they’d spend much more time attacking the left in North Carolina — Josh Stein, Roy Cooper, NCAE, anyone. Did he cover it when one of Cooper’s corporate crony deals involved eminent domain to tear down a church in Chatham County or the fact that Biden and Cooper’s solar policies are eating up NC farmland? Locke and CJ covered both — but not a peep from the Haymaker.

No, he was busy writing his 1,000th anti-Mark Robinson piece, calling him “brutha,” another joke that must just be over my head.

The Reagan standard was that “The person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20% traitor,” but Brant wants you to spend all your time treating 1% enemies like 100% traitors.

In this same article, Brant goes as far as to say, “You’re also an idiot if you buy – for the third time – in 2026 that voting for Tillis is better than voting for a Democrat. It’s not. There is NO difference [emphasis his].”

Whoever the idiots are, I’m sure the left would find his sentiments “useful.” But maybe, after reading through this and taking my points to heart, he’ll turn it around and be an asset to conservatism in North Carolina again. We’ll, um, see.

* We really don’t mind getting push back or even harsh criticism, but when it’s just made-up lies over and over by someone who can’t bother doing basic research… well, see above.

Editor’s note: We appreciate the positive feedback from readers on this piece and have learned that Clifton’s name is not a pseudonym, despite Raleigh legends to the contrary. That reference has been removed from the original posting.