The Wire

  • Effort underway to have Alabama inmates vote this election cycle

    Excerpt:

    As reported first by the Troy Messenger, an effort is underway by the Pike County NAACP to have eligible inmates vote in Alabama’s upcoming November 6 general election.

    Only inmates convicted of “crimes of moral turpitude” are disqualified from voting, however being in prison obviously bars inmates from heading to the polls on Election Day. This is where absentee voting comes in; yet, incarceration is not currently available as an option on the state’s absentee ballot request forms.

    “There’s nowhere on the absentee ballot application that lists being incarcerated as a reason you can vote absentee,” Jamie Scarbrough, Pike County absentee election manager, explained. “You have to be out of the county, have a physical impairment, a work conflict, a member of the armed forces or a student in another county.”

  • Governor Ivey criticizes ‘Lying Liberal Walt Maddox’

    Excerpt:

    After Democratic gubernatorial nominee and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox on Thursday held a press conference to spread unsubstantiated allegations about Governor Kay Ivey’s health and accuse her of a coverup 19 days before Election Day, the governor’s campaign responded by giving the Democrat a new moniker – “Lying Liberal Walt Maddox.”

    “Apparently Walt Maddox isn’t just a liberal. He’s a lying liberal,” Ivey’s campaign said in a statement. “The people of Alabama will see this for what it is – a desperate false attack from a shameless politician who will say or do anything to get elected.”

    Ivey has repeatedly denied the allegations about her health since last year, and her doctor even refuted them this week, providing a detailed letter to back up the conclusion that Ivey is in good health.

    Besides the allegations regarding the governor’s health, the Maddox camp is alleging that then-Lieutenant Governor Ivey had a member of her protective detail demoted and transferred over her 2015 hospitalization in Colorado.

    Ivey’s campaign said, “As it relates to the officer, that’s another Maddox whopper. News outlets reported last year that the officer actually received a promotion and raise in late 2015.”

  • Byrne: Odds better than 50/50 GOP keeps House — ‘There is truly a Kavanaugh effect going on here’

    Excerpt:

    FAIRHOPE – What a difference a month can make for Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

    Heading into the summer, most political watchers anticipated that the GOP was set to lose at least the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterms. By mid-August, some Republicans thought losing the Senate was even a possibility.

    However, the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh appeared to have been a game-changer for Republicans, and according to Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), the public’s reaction to the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings could be enough for Republicans to hold on to both the House and the Senate.

3 months ago

Yellowhammer News editors, Pepper and Rachel Bryars, bid readers a fond farewell

Nearly a year ago, the owners of Yellowhammer News asked my wife, Rachel Blackmon Bryars, and me if we’d like to edit the website in the wake of the departure of its founding editor and his replacement.

I left my weekly column at AL.com, Rachel put her communication training business on hold, and we both set about the exciting challenge of taking Yellowhammer News to the next level.

We brought with us a traditionally conservative perspective on politics, culture and faith, a new and experienced team of writers, an innovative new website design, and readership eventually grew to more than half a million page views each week.

So now that we’ve successfully reached that “next level,” Rachel and I have chosen to pass along the editing reins and focus entirely on our true passion – writing.

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Before getting up from the editor’s chair, however, we would like to thank our readers. Without you, our best words are but whispers on the wind. Your attention and feedback were valued more than you know.

We also sincerely appreciate Allison Ross, the website’s owner and publisher, for the remarkable opportunity she gave us, and for the trust and faith she placed in our abilities.

And we owe a debt of gratitude to our incredible team of contributing writers and support staff. We believe their talent and dedication will continue to serve Alabama well into the future.

Rachel and I will be publishing our work in the coming months across Alabama, so be on the lookout for it here and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter at @jpepperbryars or contact us at pepper@jpepperbryars.com and rachel@rachelbryars.com.

Stay informed. Stay curious. Stay conservative.

Sincerely,

J. Pepper Bryars

4 months ago

Modest Proposal: A lottery in Alabama will finally make the poor pay their ‘fair share’

(W.Miller/Pixabay)

We often hear that the rich should be made to pay their “fair share,” but the top 20 percent of earners are already paying about 84 percent of our nation’s income taxes.

Some say that’s a reasonable apportionment from each according to their ability, but here’s a modest proposal for consideration: maybe it’s time for the poor to actually start paying their fair share in taxes.

Outrageous? No more than feeding our unwanted children to the rich. But still, how can we tax the poor without seeming like a monstrous mix of Ebenezer Scrooge and Montgomery Burns?

Politicians in Alabama — both Democrats and an unfortunate number of Republicans — have finally found the secret answer: a lottery.

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You may be skeptical that a lottery could deliver additional revenue on the backs of the poor, but other states have experimented with them for decades and have thoroughly perfected the trick.

Duke University found that the poorest third of households buy more than half of all lottery tickets, and a University of Buffalo survey showed that the lowest fifth on the socioeconomic scale had the “highest rate of lottery gambling (61 percent).”

Studies in Texas, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Minnesota also show that those with below-average incomes purchase a majority of scratch-off tickets. That’s partly because, as the Duke study found, poorer neighborhoods are saturated with get-rich-quick lottery advertisements for games with tempting names like “Win for Life, ” “Golden Ticket,” and “Holiday Cash.”

And get this: a study in California found that lottery sales actually increase with poverty rates. It’s recession proof!

We get to hook their children, too. A Yale University study revealed that “receipts of scratch-off lottery tickets as gifts during childhood … was associated with risky/problematic gambling.” Teach them when they’re young, as the saying goes.

We never have to worry about the lottery being repealed, either. The poor don’t hire lobbyists to help avoid taxes, and when they vote it’s often for self-serving or incompetent politicians. For instance, those shouting the loudest for a lottery actually represent the poorest parts of Alabama.

If those reams of scientific studies aren’t convincing, take my personal word for it – the poor will pay.

I grew up poor, and not just relatively speaking. We fell below the federal poverty line for a family our size many times over the years, and I can recall how my father once blew the lion’s share of his paycheck gambling at the dog track in Mobile. It hurt. We weren’t the kind of family who could absorb a lost paycheck. Bills simply went unpaid … and our family simply went without.

Later on, a close family member’s husband blew three paychecks in a row at the casinos over in Mississippi. They were poor, too, and were eventually evicted from their rental house. Their family never recovered, and it eventually fell apart.

But who cares, right? Gambling is a victimless and voluntary vice, and we have no right to stop a grown man from wagering his family’s income on a chance to “Win for Life” or to get some “Holiday Cash.” Besides, it’s not our fault if children are caught up in the scheme, even if it’s sanctioned by the people and managed by the state.

Still, I remain worried that Alabamians won’t approve the lottery.

Think about it. If the poor knew that lotteries were actually wealth redistribution in reverse or that their children would likely grow up addicted to gambling, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

If their elected representatives knew that a lottery would raise the taxes of their poorest constituents, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

If the Democrats, who style themselves as defenders of the poor, learned that a lottery takes advantage of the most vulnerable among us, they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

And if the Republicans, who style themselves as the keepers of our Judeo-Christian values, knew that a lottery’s get-rich-quick advertising campaigns “exploit the poor because they are poor (Proverbs, 22:22),” they wouldn’t vote for it … right?

I’m not sure. All of this experience and evidence presents an overwhelming and convincing case that a lottery is a hidden tax on the poor.

Thankfully, nobody seems to know these things.

Nobody, that is, but you.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

4 months ago

Why conservatives need a (partially) viable Democratic Party in Alabama

(W.Miller/YHN)

Liberals seeking a future in Alabama politics don’t have many options nowadays, but that’s not all good news for conservatives.

If the state’s Republican Party is the only game in town (and it is), then it’s bound to attract all sorts of players, from liberal candidates to liberal special interests and everything in between.

Take the recent GOP primary ballot. It was full of former Democrats and, probably worse, many of the longtime Republicans on the ballot accepted thousands of dollars from Democrat-aligned special interests (more than $600,000 from the teachers union alone).

Why this matters: Marketing professionals know the value of a brand, of building its awareness and protecting the feeling it evokes. Make changes to a successful product, they warn, and you’re bound to lose customers. And in the GOP’s case, lose voters, as Democrats-posing-as-Republicans dilute the brand.

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Liberals seeking elected office here are at a disadvantage, with 43 percent of Alabamians calling themselves conservatives and only 16 percent liberals, according to a Gallup survey released earlier this year.

That’s a 27-point spread in favor of conservative candidates.

Those odds probably discourage many politicians from running as Democrats even as conservative ones.

On another level, liberals who want to work in politics as aides, advisors or campaign consultants have even fewer options.

Thirty years ago, young liberals stood a better chance than young conservatives of landing politically-appointed jobs in Montgomery or with the state’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.

There were also many well-funded and abundantly staffed liberal-leaning advocacy groups, lobbying shops and consulting firms looking for talent. These jobs are important because they help identify, train and strengthen a party’s bench of future leaders.

Now there’s not a single member of the Democratic Party in a constitutional statewide office, their once supermajorities in the State Legislature are gone and Republicans comprise seven (soon to be eight in 2020) of Alabama’s nine-member Congressional delegation.

Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic Party establishment is a house divided and flat broke. Their candidates for statewide office this cycle, while energetic, are bound to lose by double digits.

That’s great for the Republican Party, but conservatives should remain watchful.

Where’s an ambitious liberal politician or wannabe staffer to go these days when the Democrats have lost all power?

Three places: home, the political wilderness, or for the most opportunistic individuals, the state’s Republican Party.

That’s fine for those who have actually changed their minds. There has been a rash of party-switching in recent years and conservatives should welcome all newcomers to the Republican ranks, especially former Democratic politicians.

Still, it’s hard to believe that elected officials and staffers who stood as Democrats through the decades of teacher-union dominated legislative sessions will be genuine leaders in the conservative movement.

Have they truly changed their minds or just their party?

Conservatives brought the state’s Republican Party to power based on the principles of limited government, individual liberty and family values-based traditions. It will be a challenge to hold onto those principles and the conservative brand as the party grows and welcomes new members with new ideas.

Is there a way to solve this?

Maybe. One could argue that a partially viable Democratic Party would give their candidates someplace to go, and thereby help keep ambitious liberal politicians from diluting the hard-won conservative brand.

Republicans shouldn’t purge their ranks, but conservatives will need to become more discerning as Alabama becomes more of a one-party state.

There are many indicators to watch for, including the aforementioned donations from the teachers union (more on that in the coming days).

Fundamentally, voters shouldn’t be sold on a candidate’s conservatism based on their pro-life or pro-gun rights beliefs — both givens here.

A truer test would be their belief in limited government, and whether they want to return or retain the power in Washington and Montgomery and restrict further government growth.

That’s a hard belief to verify, but their opinion on taxes is a great measure.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge offered by Americans for Tax Reform is one of the best indicators of a commitment to limited government, even though some conservatives refuse to sign out of a principle against taking pledges other than the oath of office.

Still, it’s a simple pledge that says candidates will “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

And that’s something no ambitious liberal could ever sign with a straight face.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

TRAGEDY: Pause and pray for Alabama AG Steve Marshall — wife confirmed dead

Steve Marshall with wife Bridgette and daughter Faith (Bridgette Marshall / Facebook)

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s wife, Bridgette Gentry Marshall was confirmed dead Sunday, following “a long struggle with mental illness,” according to a statement from Marshall’s office.

When untimely death strikes, our natural tendency is to immediately want to know what happened and be tempted to listen to and spread gossip.

But Steve Marshall and his family don’t deserve gossip right now. They deserve grace and space, and that’s what Alabamians should give our attorney general.

Today, the how and why shouldn’t matter, at least not right now.

What matters is that a husband, a father, a man – a good and decent man – is devastated beyond comprehension. Everything we say and do should be about helping Steve and his family, not adding to their grief by posting mean social media comments or spreading unconfirmed rumors.

Troy King, his opponent in the GOP primary runoff, said in a Facebook post that he is pausing his campaign and stopping his advertisements, as he should.

Take a moment today to pause and pray for Steve Marshall and his family.

Update: Steve Marshall, angered by the rumor mill, spoke publicly about his wife’s death this week. 

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4 months ago

Princeton professor writes beautifully honest, hopeful article about Alabama in Harper’s Magazine

Professor Imani Perry (Princeton University)

Ivy League professors don’t normally write nice things about Alabama, especially when the topic veers into discussions of race and past (and current) injustices.

But not all Ivy League professors come from here. Thankfully Imani Perry does, and in next month’s print edition of Harper’s Magazine the Birmingham-native and current professor at Princeton University pens a beautifully honest and hopeful article about Alabama.

Do yourself a favor and read Perry’s entire article, titled “As Goes the South, so Goes the Nation,” but here are some of my favorite excerpts:

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“For the nation, as Montgomery lives in 1956, Selma is frozen in 1965, and Birmingham is stuck in 1963—the hoses, the children, the singing—right there just like that forever. It’s a half-truth lie,” Perry writes, recalling how she often feels when visiting home. “I know because I have been going home and leaving home almost all my life. History haunts. But Alabama changes.”

History haunts. Alabama changes.

Truth from a fellow Southerner who knows the best tribute a native son or daughter can give their homeland is to speak of it with honesty and reverence. Our ancestors and our descendants deserve nothing less.

Perry begins by describing Mobile Bay and informing readers that our Port City, not New Orleans, is home to Mardi Gras.

“But I am not bitter at the status of New Orleans. That’s not why I mention this,” she writes. “I am just trying to shake loose what TV movies and official declarations have told you. Alabama is more than you think. Put another way: it’s been said, aptly, that Alabama is a long state with its head in Appalachia and its toes in the Gulf Coast—the gateway to the Caribbean and the Atlantic. Alabama is swampland, beach silt, mountains, cities and dirt roads, plump gourds hanging from trees cut down and hollowed out to house purple martins and fat finchlike birds called yellowhammers. It is a tessellated but uneven map of counties, events, senses that must be read, more than a little bit, with one’s feet and not with one’s predilections.”

She then explains the danger in writing about Alabama “because when you write about returning home, and home is a place that echoes with national wounds, you run the risk of making it seem as though home is frozen except when you, the expatriate, return. That kind of work often reeks of the egotism of the Northeastern writer—and the idea that the interpretation of everything worth knowing depends upon her. The trick, I think … is to remix past and present, where time syncopates and repeats in a mix of yearning, hope, and loss.”

Perry does this deftly, reminiscent of Rick Bragg.

My favorite passage is when Perry uses two unique aspects of Mobile Bay as a metaphor to describe our state’s history with slavery — one natural, the amazing Jubilee that happens along its eastern shore, and another manmade, the slave-founded Africatown community.

“The Africans never lost their homesickness,” Perry writes, noting that “Africans in Alabama … built their own world—Africatown.”

“The echoing horror of slavery cuts both ways. We are often afraid to say what we know is true. The South is disaster and it is also miracle. Death and birth and rebirth and haunting ghosts at once. A new people out of old ones. There is no better metaphor for this than what happens sometimes in baby-foot Mobile Bay in the summer. Before dawn, crustaceans, eels, sea crabs, and fish, a mess of them, swarm close to shore, wriggling and near-naked. This is called a jubilee. And people joyfully come and scoop up the bounty. Feasts follow. There is a horrifying poetry. In the gospel music tradition, Jubilee is the victorious day when the saints gather. In Mobile Bay, it is a day when the fish are slaughtered by the hundreds. A few live.”

Now a little honesty.

“The Black towns in the Black Belt are now dumping grounds—of fantasies and waste,” she wrote, describing the state’s poorest, nearly forgotten areas. “In random assortment through the woods there are abandoned cars rusted to the color of dried blood, and stacks of old unwanted papers. But worst is what comes from out of state. Matter of fact, our nation has turned Uniontown, Alabama, into one of its trash cans, burying it in the refuse of thirty-three states. “Landfill” is too clean a word for what they do. And that’s not all. As part of Uniontown’s sewage system, liquid waste is spewed into the air to land on the hard Alabama clay earth. The town is showered in shit.”

Perry, who often returns to Birmingham for Thanksgiving, then writes about the changes she’s seen through the years.

“Named after the industrial city in En­gland, Birmingham was once a steel-­mill town,” she writes. “There are now lofts and luxury malls and Whole Foods and Walmart Supercenters, but “city” doesn’t quite mean the same thing in the South as in the North, except for in Atlanta and maybe not even there. The edges curl and everything earthen is in sight, right out of the line, in your peripheral vision. It harkens to a time before concrete. My part of town … was once anchored in modernity by the steel mill, Ensley Ironworks. Now its dust has just settled atop the soil, yet under the weight of new construction.”

“So the conundrum: Alabama calls up the past but it is not stuck in the past.”

After describing the Port City, the Black Belt, Montgomery, and Birmingham, Perry sets her sights on the Huntsville area and provides an interesting bit of family history, shedding light on what life was like around the Rocket City a century ago.

“Hundreds of acres in Madison County belonged to my people, the Garners, with bushes of blueberries as big as grapes and trees hanging with peaches and plenty of animals,” she writes.

“According to the 1910 census, we went from owned to owners before we went from illiterate to literate. My mother remembers her grand­daddy had so many field workers, and some were white. This fact dumbfounded me when I learned it as a child. But poor white folks had to eat, too.”

She ends her piece by describing all of the growth our state has experienced in recent years, especially in Huntsville — people leaving, then returning — and then reflects on a series of pictures of the area’s flora taken by her cousin.

“They are quiet and thick with spirit,” she writes of what grows wild in Alabama.

One might think she was writing about the beautiful trees and flowers she saw in her cousin’s pictures.

But back home, we know Perry is talking about us, her people.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

 

4 months ago

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox says he’s pro-life, but his language is chock-full of pro-choice phraseology

(W. Maddox/YouTube)

Earlier this month the Democrat Party’s nominee for governor, Walt Maddox, responded to a questionnaire about his views on many issues facing Alabamians, but his answers about abortion proved to be the most revealing, although probably unintentionally.

The Tuscaloosa mayor began by writing that he was “personally opposed to abortion,” a slippery term if there ever was one, before proceeding to use similar phrases that we normally hear from the pro-choice crowd.

It’s as if Maddox was sampling lines from an abortion apologist’s Greatest Hits album.

Why this matters: Alabama already has one pro-choice politician in high office with Sen. Doug “20 Weeks” Jones, who infamously voted against banning aborting unborn children when they’re 20-weeks old and capable of feeling pain. We cannot afford to have another one.

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The questionnaire was formulated by the editors of Yellowhammer News and our partners over at the Alabama Policy Institute. Here’s the rather straight-forward question on abortion:

“Alabama has four abortion clinics operating across the state, and Planned Parenthood has announced plans to build a new clinic in downtown Birmingham. How do you feel about these clinics and what would you do as governor about any taxpayer funds they receive?”

And here was the mayor’s answer, which as you can read isn’t really an answer at all:

“I’m a pro-life Democrat who is concerned that many Republicans are more pro-birth than pro-life,” Maddox wrote. “Perhaps Sister Joan Chittister best summed up my feelings when she said “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

He continued. “Although I am personally opposed to abortion, under the law of the land a woman has a right to choose up until the point of fetal viability,” he wrote. “The federal Hyde Amendment prohibits use of federal funds to pay for abortions except those that endanger the life of the woman, or that result from rape or incest, and Alabama law does not provide any state funds for abortions. The courts will ultimately decide which of Alabama’s several laws regulating abortion are constitutional, including any restrictions on new abortion clinics. As a governor sworn to uphold the federal and state constitutions and the laws of Alabama, I will faithfully execute Alabama’s laws within the constitutional limits defined by the Supreme Court.”

Here’s a breakdown of Maddox’s pro-choice phraseology:

— “Republicans are more pro-birth than pro-life.” 

I’ve seen this same line in dozens of emails from pro-choice activists after every pro-life column I publish. 

It’s like clockwork. They can’t cope with keeping the focus on abortion because the act is indefensible, so they attempt to change the subject entirely with what they hope is a witty turn of phrase. 

But it’s not witty. It’s hollow, and betrays the hollowness of both their argument and the moral framework it’s built upon. 

The two issues — abortion and welfare — are two entirely different subjects. But in their world, it must be OK to end someone’s life if the state isn’t willing to provide for it financially (which we do for the truly needy, by the way).

— “Although I am personally opposed to abortion, under the law of the land a woman has a right to choose up until the point of fetal viability.”

Maddox is trying to have it both ways here, but this isn’t that sort of issue. If he believes an unborn child is a person, which I suppose forms the basis for his personal opposition to abortion, then any measure of morality would compel him to oppose it completely. 

The unborn child is either a living person or not, and if so, it’s life must be defended as anyone else’s life would be defended.

To believe that, personally, yet do nothing to stop it from happening means one is either a coward or creature of such unscrupulous ambition as to be wholly undeserving of public office.

— “The courts will ultimately decide.”

No, the people will, at least in the end.

But to the point: here Maddox evades the core question by falling back on courts, as if the governor has no role. As if nobody has a role but five of nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. But we’re not living in a judicial tyranny, at least not yet. 

There are many things the governor can do — sign pro-life bills into law, make executive decisions about funding certain abortion providers, and use the bully pulpit to encourage greater action.

It seems as if Maddox might not be willing to do any of those things, preferring to toss the hot potato over to the courts.

Fundamentally, this is weakness. I’m sure one could have heard an argument similar to Maddox’s in the 1850s: “Although I am personally opposed to slavery, under the law of the land a white man has a right to own a black man. So …”

Then he quotes Sister Joan Chittister, a Catholic nun, in what he may think is some sort of clever nod to faith. 

But conservative Catholics would see straight through this, too, because Sister Joan disagrees with Catholic teaching on abortion. She’s effectively pro-choice because she has said that she opposes it as a primary form of birth control but leaves room for abortion in many other situations, which makes her opinion on the matter decidedly not Catholic at all. 

The fact that of all the people he could quote, Maddox quotes a nun who disagrees with the Catholic teaching on abortion is very revealing.

Perhaps one of his staffers wrote the response, allowing their pro-choice phraseology to seep into the answers. Maybe he would have said more if given more space and time.

If it’s sincerely held, Maddox should stand strong on his personal opposition to abortion. We need more people who share his beliefs to step forward, to convince others, and to help put an end to the awful practice. 

Yellowhammer News would happily publish a guest post by Maddox should he wish to further explain his beliefs about abortion, and we’d hope such an explanation would dispense with wordy obfuscation and answer our inquiry more directly — since he is opposed to abortion, what would he do to stop abortions from happening in Alabama?

Until such an explanation is offered, Alabamians should remain very skeptical of Maddox’s views on abortion, and certainly his ability to represent a state whose citizens are overwhelmingly pro-life.

@jpepperbryarsis the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

4 months ago

Do conservatives face a double standard? Yes, and we should

(W.Miller/YHN)

Conservatives have spent a great deal of time recently decrying the double standard we face over the appropriateness of our behavior.

The debate surrounding Roseanne Barr can be read elsewhere, but the basic complaint is this: Conservatives, and even those who half-heartedly support conservatives, are held accountable for things that progressives routinely get away with or are even encouraged to say or do.

But is there really a double standard?

Yes, and there should be. Here’s why:

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Fundamentally, that double standard could be more accurately described as a different standard, and one we conservatives freely choose to accept. Sure, it can be infuriating when those with, shall we say alternative standards, use ours as weapons against us, but regardless, they are our standards. We either have them or we don’t.

That’s why during times like these it’s helpful to remind ourselves why we have these different standards, where they come from, and why we should keep them, especially when they become uncomfortable or unpopular.

The Flesh

One of the first steps someone takes toward authentic conservatism, even if somewhat unconsciously, is to realize there exists an enduring moral order of rights and wrongs, as Russell Kirk observed, that wasn’t devised by mankind.

Much like Neo saw after he swallowed the red pill, this underlying matrix of morality exists whether we like it or not (and we often don’t like it). It’s basic biology and psychology, bro, hardwired into our bodies by God or evolution or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Point is, it’s there … in the flesh.

Hormones, temperaments, instincts and our own mysterious neurological structures combine to partially urge us into certain behaviors, and those certain behaviors produce certain results time after time. This can be observed across demographics, cultures, and even time. It’s far from any sort of pure biological determinism, but near enough to warrant serious attention.

It works something like this: A plus B usually produces C, so if you don’t want C to happen, then you better devise a method to avoid producing and combining its antecedents.

Presto – a standard is born.

Conservatives don’t accept this reality with any more glee than Neo after learning he spent his best years as a Duracell battery. It’s often initially undesirable, especially if you enjoy A and B, but it is what it is.

That’s why we recognize certain uncomfortable standards of behavior – of morality – that keep us from suffering even more uncomfortable yet altogether predictable consequences. We can, and often do, overcome immoral urges with the greater power of moral ones. Virtue battles vice, and standards help us suppress one while promoting the other.

The key difference is that progressives believe many of these standards are arbitrary and unjust. They’ve forgotten why the standard was originally enacted and see them as relics of a patriarchal and superstitious past rather than an ancient railing that keeps us from stumbling blindly into the abyss.

The Spirit

Many conservatives are also Christians, or at least loosely share in the Judeo-Christian tradition. So, while this may be news to some – though it has been preached for 2,000 years – followers of Jesus are called not just to a different standard, but a radically different standard – to imitate Christ.

This extends far beyond the standards that we share with the secular world, like not committing murder and not stealing, but to those actions which the world happily embraces and even encourages, like gossip, rudeness, and yes, even foul language and speaking meanly.

Walk into any Christian church and you’ll likely hear a variation on the same theme – we’re different, so act like it.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,” Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans. “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

These new standards are high, some seemingly unattainable, and invite justifiable charges of hypocrisy because we usually fail to meet them. Yet hold them, we still.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus tells us, but then Paul writes that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I will not attempt an explanation of those apparently conflicting quotes except to say this: Believers get it, but skeptics never will.

Conservatives recognize reality and have adopted a set of standards to make life a little better, and some of us have accepted Jesus as our Lord and have extended those standards even further.

The world will deride us for adhering to old-fashioned and useless standards, ridicule us for striving to follow the commands of a make-believe god, and then use both to punish us for failing to meet them.

Being held to a double standard will happen, and often.

When it does, however, we mustn’t lash out angrily at those who are holding a mirror up to our faces, and we certainly shouldn’t lower our standards to avoid the reflection.

We should thank them for reminding us that we’re different, for reminding us that we’re fortunate to know something they don’t, and for reminding us that we’re blessed to have a relationship that they lack.

Take a good look into that mirror and allow what you see to sink in.

Then offer its holder a red pill, or perhaps a word of scripture, and then strive to do better next time.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

4 months ago

What’s next for Tommy Battle? Hopefully more of the same

(T. Battle/Facebook)

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle proved three things during his failed campaign for governor:

First, that he’s the best mayor in the state of Alabama by nearly every measurable indicator.

Second, the people of North Alabama believe he’s doing a great job — they gave him plenty of votes.

Third, business and industry interests in North Alabama think he’s doing a great job, too — they gave him plenty of campaign contributions.

So what’s next for this successful executive and still promising candidate? Some observers think he’ll run for Senate in 2020.

But I hope my mayor stays right where he is, and here’s why:

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We have plenty of potential United States Senators

One may need to understand rocket science to be mayor of Huntsville, but one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to be a U.S. senator.

Sure, it takes years to develop the knowledge, network and seniority to become as influential as Sen. Richard Shelby, but at this point, all we need is someone we can trust to vote “yea” on conservative bills and nominations and “nay” on everything else.

It’s that simple, and if there’s ever a question just say “ditto” to whatever is said by Utah Sen. Mike Lee (or ask “WWJD” … “What would Jeff do,” as in Jeff Sessions).

We have plenty of proven conservative lawmakers in Alabama who could seamlessly step into that role. State Senators Del Marsh of Anniston, Bill Hightower of Mobile, and Arthur Orr of Decatur are just three who spring to mind. We have many others, including mayors like Sandy Stimpson of Mobile.

But we don’t have plenty of potential mayors of Huntsville

Being the mayor of a hyper-booming city like Huntsville is an entirely different ballgame in terms of complexity, responsibility, authority, accountability and, most of all, impact.

Big things are happening up here, and fast. We have no time for a mayor to get on-the-job training, and the risk of bringing another captain aboard is too great.

And here’s why this matters to everyone else in Alabama, not just folks north of the Tennessee River: The decisions made by the mayor of Huntsville in the next five years will have an impact across the entire state for the next five decades.

Huntsville will soon be our largest city, our largest economy and one of our largest sources of state revenue.

Our state’s flagship will no longer be the Magic City … it’ll be the Rocket City, and the center of gravity in many decisions will necessarily shift from Birmingham to Huntsville. “Heresy,” say the blue bloods of Birmingham, Montgomery and my beloved hometown of Mobile. But the numbers don’t lie, and as with most things, influence will follow the money.

So, the growth of Huntsville can continue as it has under Battle’s leadership — smart and sustainable — or it could stall or slide under someone else. And Alabama’s economy will rise, or fall, accordingly.

So while the natural tendency may be to promote someone like Battle to another office, we, and he, should resist that temptation in this case.

Alabama may want a Senator Battle.

Alabama may someday even want a Governor Battle.

But right now, Alabama needs a Mayor Battle.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

5 months ago

America’s war heroes are born, not made

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, Iraq, 2005 (Tristan Kerbo/U.S. Army)

Near the end of the Korean War novel “The Bridges of Toko-Ri,” an American military commander is mourning the death of some of his best men, but also remembering their strength, their courage, and the devotion they shared for one another.

Staring alone out at the morning sea, he reflects on how fortunate our nation is to have had such heroes, and then asks, “… where did we get such men?”

On this Memorial Day, I find myself reflecting back to when I asked that same question while researching and writing the book, “American Warfighter: Brotherhood, Survival, and Uncommon Valor in Iraq, 2003-2011.” I wrote about the experiences of 10 men who, for their actions in combat, were awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses, two Navy Crosses, five Silver Stars, and three other prestigious awards for valor.

After each interview I found myself asking … where did we get such men?

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Where did we get the kind of medic who’d leave the safety of his armored vehicle to shoot his way through an ambush, killing several insurgents before pulling three soldiers from a burning tank?

Where did we get the former cook who singlehandedly killed six Al Qaeda fighters in close quarters combat, the last going down in a blazing face-to-face shootout?

Where did we get the Marine who ran into an open ambush in Fallujah not once, not twice, but three times so he could carry his wounded comrades to safety?

In an era when the term is perhaps too loosely applied, these individuals epitomize the word “hero.” But they bristled at the term, preferring instead to give credit to their families for supporting them and enduring the hardships of separation, and they always said others deserved equal or higher recognition. Still, when the moment came to act – to willingly place themselves in harm’s way – they did so instantly.

“I was just doing my job,” they told me.

Where did we get such men?

Before they were the heroes I spoke with, they were just normal Americans from every walk of life and corner of our nation: A high school quarterback from California, the son of a police officer from Staten Island, a Texan from a rough part of town, and a boy from New Orleans who just wanted to help people.

One was an immigrant studying for his doctorate in political science in Chicago, while another was a kid from rural Ohio who was rejected by the Air Force only to become a living legend in the Marine Corps. Then there was the little boy from Michigan whose mother signed him up for karate as an outlet for the aggression that would someday help save his fellow Green Berets.

But still, where did we get such men?

Those without military experience often assume young men and women join the ranks to escape whatever life they’re leading, to just get a job, or perhaps to learn a trade or earn money for college. While those are all incentives, they’re simply not enough to propel someone through all it takes to enter and remain part of the American military. There are far easier ways to earn a living and much simpler ways to get an education.

When asked, most of them said they joined because of a challenge or to be part of a team, to serve our nation, or even out of a sense of adventure.

Maybe … but after getting to know them very well, and many others like them, I’ve come to realize that the reason many joined is something nearly indefinable, perhaps unknown to even them. It seems it’s something deep within their souls that beckoned each to join the brotherhood of arms and to protect our country.

I’ve heard this same sense of a guided purpose be described by pastors as a “calling” to the ministry. It’s not a profession, they say, it’s a vocation that one has a predisposition to perform well and a spiritual summoning to undertake.

Accepting the calling to become an American warfighter isn’t the same thing, exactly, but it’s the nearest I’ve found.

So today I will attempt to answer the commander’s question in “The Bridges of Toko-Ri.”

Where did we get such men?

We didn’t “get” them at all.

They were “sent” to us.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

5 months ago

SHAME! State Rep. Patricia Todd, Alabama’s first openly gay lawmaker, tries to ‘out’ Gov. Kay Ivey in hateful nighttime Tweet

(MSNBC/YouTube)

With just 34 words twisted together in cruel and bitter intent, Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd – our first openly gay lawmaker and a professional human rights activist – has shown us everything that’s wrong with politics, journalism and the awful thing called Twitter.

Here’s what Todd tweeted Tuesday night:

Folks, decent people just don’t do this

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Todd should be utterly ashamed of herself. She, of all people, should know that the club she just wielded is dripping wet with hatred and bigotry and evil. She ought to never have picked it up, but now that she has, its stink and stain are on her hands.

The journalists across the state who immediately began spreading the rumor should be ashamed of themselves, too. They, of all people, should know better than to report something so unsubstantiated. They should have all done what I wanted to do when I saw the tweet – ignore it. Alas, they didn’t, so here we are, however regrettably.

And the people who gleefully retweeted or “loved” Todd’s tweet should also be ashamed of themselves. The following bit is just for them: Next time you complain about how parts of our society have become so mean, take a look in the mirror and you’ll see who’s partly to blame.

Again, decent people don’t do this. They don’t spread it. And they don’t cheer it.

Even though she didn’t need to, Gov. Kay Ivey’s campaign was quick to respond.

“This is a disgusting lie being pushed by a paid liberal political hack,” a campaign spokesperson told me last night. “There is absolutely no truth to it.”

If good old-fashioned shame still helped people remain somewhat civilized, here’s what should happen next:

— Todd should immediately apologize to Ivey, personally.

— If she doesn’t, the Democrat Party of Alabama should demand she does so.

— Journalists in the state should take some time to examine their policies and standards. Simply because someone says something, even if that person holds some high office, doesn’t mean it should be amplified so quickly, especially without evidence or even any serious attempt to gather evidence. This isn’t why any of us got into this business, at least I hope not.

— And some of us just need to get the heck off of Twitter. It’s unhealthy. The pathway from a random thought to worldwide publication has become dangerously short, and some people obviously cannot handle the responsibility. We used to have barriers that actually helped us be more prudent in what we said, and the delay helped tame our rash nature. It used to require effort to make such a claim, and the effort helped separate the meaningful from the meaningless. Now, nothing. Every hateful or moronic utterance is treated equally. (By the way, why hasn’t Twitter suspended Todd for bullying?)

Thankfully, the silver lining was that there were a few people who responded to Todd’s tweet correctly:

Ivey is a nice lady. Sure, she’s in politics, and as they say, it ain’t “beanbag.” But she deserves better, much better than this. Anyone does.

If Todd isn’t ashamed.

If the media isn’t ashamed.

And if those who cheered them on aren’t ashamed.

Then I’ve got enough to go around.

Because this morning, I’m pretty ashamed of all of them.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

5 months ago

Alabama’s race for governor bores us … but shouldn’t that excite us?

(Campaign)

Hardly anyone is paying attention to the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for governor this year.

That’s because the campaign is sort of boring. All four candidates are qualified, rational, reasonable and respectable people, and we lack a serious crisis or pressing issue upon which to contrast their differences.

But isn’t that a good thing?

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Unlike in years past, when I look around our state I think to myself, “Gosh, everything seems to be going quite well.”

I look at our State Legislature and see leaders who are conservative, dedicated and serious.

I look at our business sector and see a thriving, growing environment.

I look at my community and see a culture that has largely withstood the assaults from the left.

And then I look at the four candidates for the GOP nomination for governor and think, “I would be happy voting for any one of them.”

I’ve never been able to think that before.

We have the matriarch, the businessman, the pastor, and the thinker, and who I vote for may simply come down to how I’m feeling on June 5th.

Should the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” be on my mind, I’ll likely vote for Gov. Kay Ivey.

If I’m thinking even more jobs would be even mo’ better, then Mayor Tommy Battle will be my man.

If I happen to read something in the news that shows our Christian world and life view under attack, then I’ll respond by voting for evangelist Scott Dawson.

And if I’m feeling that we need someone who has a firm grasp of, and commitment to, authentic conservative principles, I’ll fill in the circle beside State Senator Bill Hightower’s name.

Meanwhile, I’ll spend some time writing a little about each, why I like them, and the attributes they could bring to the office.

It might be a boring race … but I’m getting pretty excited about what comes next.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

5 months ago

Yellowhammer U: Shapiro and Peterson discuss gender, meaning and manhood

(YouTube/Daily Wire)

This evening we’re introducing Yellowhammer University, a regular series of posts that will highlight information we find educational and believe advances the conservative movement.

The university’s “curriculum” will include subjects that stretch across politics, faith, and culture, and will be comprised from a mix of content — interviews, lectures, speeches, videos, articles and books.

Tonight’s inaugural installment is a fascinating discussion between Ben Shapiro, who we feature weekly on Yellowhammer News, and noted behavioral psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson. They discuss identity politics, gender differences and man’s search for meaning.

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5 months ago

Bear Bryant ‘Have you called your mama today?’ (VIDEO)

(YouTube/South Central Bell)

On a day like today, many sons and daughters across Alabama can appreciate Coach Bear Bryant’s famous television commercial for South Central Bell.

“Have you called your mama today?” the Bear asked, after explaining how he encouraged his players to keep in touch with their families. “I sure wish I could call mine.”

Me too, coach.

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6 months ago

Yellowhammer News is gaining readers, growing in influence, and bringing the conservative movement together in Alabama

It’s been six months since Rachel and I began editing Yellowhammer News, bringing with us a traditionally conservative focus on politics, culture and faith, a new and experienced team of writers, and an innovative new website design.

And the response has been incredible – Yellowhammer News articles are now being read more than half a million times each week!

We credit this success to three simple factors: our people, our principles, and our partners. Here’s an update on how we’re doing with each:

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Our People:

— Our team of writers has more than a 100 years of combined journalism experience.

— We brought aboard nationally-known writers such as Brendan Kirby of Daphne, the senior political reporter for Lifezette, and Alabama-native Jeff Poor, an editor at Breitbart News. Cullman’s Johnny Kampis is a seasoned investigative reporter and has written widely in publications including The New York Times and The Daily Caller. All have covered Alabama for years.

— North Alabama radio host Dale Jackson now brings his sharp analysis and conservative opinion to the site, along with rising stars Jeremy Beaman of Huntsville and Kyle Morris of Heflin.

— Our art director Walker Miller of Birmingham produces our stunning graphics, our social media presence has grown under the management of Trent Baker of Moody, and our site has quadrupled its production of stories with the help of our awesome editorial assistant, James Choi of Montgomery.

Our Principles:

— We’ve increased standards and elevated content quality, pledging to be advocates for conservatism while remaining true to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

— Aside from offering the news you need, we advocate for ideas … not individuals. We’re committed to integrity — to not be anyone’s guard dog or attack dog, and we’re not cheerleaders for any political party. But that doesn’t mean we’re bystanders, either. You can rely on Yellowhammer News to speak loudly, especially when our elected leaders fall silent.

— We’ve focused on the pro-life issue in Alabama, defended our First and Second Amendment rights, supported the free market, advocated for consistent standards of morality, critiqued the liberal views of some media in the state, stood against mindless social justice mobs, called attention to efforts in the Legislature to end human traffickingdefended conservatives under attack for sticking to their principles, and called for the reform of laws governing jail food money, guns for teachers, civil asset forfeiture, and ethics laws among many others.

— During last year’s controversial special Senate election, we demonstrated that good conservatives can disagree when the site’s editor and publisher took different positions. Then we sought to unite the movement in the aftermath.

— Our commitment to these principles was frequently tested, and we were often questioned by our fellow conservatives for not toeing the party line (including being criticized by the site’s founding editor). But we remained true to ourselves and remained on course, confident in both our declaration and our destination … and most importantly, the judgment of our readers and the right of everyone to think for themselves.

Our Partners:

— To provide deeper coverage of politics and economics, we’ve partnered to bring you articles from the scholars at three prestigious public policy think tanks in Alabama: the traditionally conservative Alabama Policy Institute in Birmingham, the free-market focused Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and the libertarian-leaning Mises Institute in Auburn.

— In an effort to focus on the crossroads of faith and culture, Pastor Harry Reeder of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham shares his Christ-centered thoughts every weekday (with the excellent transcription skills of our editorial assistant, Jessica Havin of Huntsville), celebrated Catholic Bishop Robert Barron offers insights on culture and faith, and the writers at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission comment frequently from the Southern Baptist perspective.

— We’ve brought national and international news coverage of issues conservatives care about through a strategic partnership with CNSNews and the Daily Caller News Foundation.

— Readers can also find hunting and fishing covered by Alabama’s best outdoor writer, David Rainer.

— Insightful commentary that has been absent from Alabama’s newspapers has returned by our regular publication of such national opinion writers as Pat Buchanan, Ben Shapiro, Walter Williams, Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh and John Stossel.

— We’re also pleased to announce our newest partnership with The Birmingham Mom’s Blog — to expand into new topics with the publication of pieces written by Birmingham mothers.

— Nearly every day we feature guest opinions from leaders and laymen across the state, including Alabama’s Congressional delegation and state lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Yellowhammer held events across the state, from a news-making forum in Montgomery with the leaders of the State Legislature to an event in Birmingham celebrating the impact of women in Alabama.

Every day we seek to honor God and serve our readers and we thank you for your loyalty, your patience, your feedback, and your shared love for our great state.

So, keep reading, keep coming back, and we promise to keep providing the news you need with the conservative opinion and analysis that you want.

The best is yet to come!

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

President Trump channels ‘Josey Wales and Ten Bears’ in negotiations with North Korea

Everything one needs to know about foreign policy can be learned by watching the three-minute negotiation scene between the Rebel outlaw and the Comanche chief in the film “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”

Wales offers both life … and death … with utmost sincerity, and because the outlaw is willing to die in battle, the warrior chief Ten Bears believes he is willing to live in peace. And so they live together, in peace.

President Donald Trump’s similar stance with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may have yielded similar results.

Here’s why:

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Trump’s strategy with Kim has been obvious: The president is willing to go to war and he’s willing to settle for peace. The choice is all up to Kim, and Trump is deadly serious about either option.

The North Koreans have enjoyed a familiar calculation with past American presidents: The regime behaves badly + the White House get scared = our president gives their Dear Leader whatever he wants.

But 1+2=3 doesn’t add up anymore. In fact, Trump has gone and changed the entire equation to a rather simple two-choice question. The North Korean regime can either have A) peace, or B) we can turn their country into the largest glass menagerie in the galaxy.

And like Josey Wales, our president ain’t bluffing … and maybe Kim knows it.

For those who aren’t familiar with the film (and if you’re a guy who hasn’t seen it, you may turn in your Man Card at the nearest gun range), here are the best lines:

Josey: You be Ten Bears?

Ten Bears: I am Ten Bears.

Josey: (spits tobacco) I’m Josey Wales.

Ten Bears: I have heard. You’re the Gray Rider. You would not make peace with the Blue Coats. You may go in peace.

Josey: I reckon not. Got nowhere to go.

Ten Bears: Then you will die.

Josey: I came here to die with you. Or live with you. Dying ain’t so hard for men like you and me, it’s living that’s hard; when all you ever cared about has been butchered or raped. Governments don’t live together, people live together. With governments you don’t always get a fair word or a fair fight. Well, I’ve come here to give you either one, or get either one from you. I came here like this so you’ll know my word of death is true. And that my word of life is then true. The bear lives here, the wolf, the antelope, the Comanche. And so will we. Now, we’ll only hunt what we need to live on, same as the Comanche does. And every spring when the grass turns green and the Comanche moves north, he can rest here in peace, butcher some of our cattle and jerk beef for the journey. The sign of the Comanche, that will be on our lodge. That’s my word of life.

Ten Bears: And your word of death?

Josey: It’s here in my pistols, there in your rifles. I’m here for either one.

Ten Bears: These things you say we will have, we already have.

Josey: That’s true. I ain’t promising you nothing extra. I’m just giving you life and you’re giving me life. And I’m saying that men can live together without butchering one another.

Ten Bears: It’s sad that governments are chiefed by the double-tongues. There is iron in your word of death for all Comanche to see. And so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron, it must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life … or death. It shall be life. (he takes his knife and cuts his hand. Josey does the same and they grasp each other’s hand.) So shall it be.”

Watch the awesome clip now:

Exit question: Will Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un seal the pact by slicing their palms and mingling their blood? Never say never with this guy …

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

Bizarro World: NYT reminds us that Alabama’s Jeff Sessions is a consistent conservative

(Wikicommons)

The president has repeatedly insulted Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, calling him “weak” “disgraceful” and an “idiot” along with mockingly nicknaming him Mr. Magoo.

To add injury to insults, many fair-weather conservatives have echoed these jeers or said nothing, failing to defend a man who has faithfully defended us and our values for decades.

Oh well, at least the Gray Lady took a moment today to remind us that Sessions remains faithful to our movement and his word:

Key excerpts from the New York Times:

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— “While the president rails against him in Washington, Mr. Sessions travels the country diligently pushing the conservative Trump agenda. As a former federal prosecutor who has a firm grasp of the tools of his office and the letter of the law, Mr. Sessions, 71, is the creator and chief enforcer of the tough immigration and criminal justice goals that helped propel Mr. Trump into office.”

— “And unlike several other members of the Trump cabinet, Mr. Sessions has not sullied the administration with headlines over first-class jet travel, exorbitant office furnishings, lobbyist-furnished housing — or all of the above. When he is in Washington, Mr. Sessions has a turkey sandwich from the Justice Department cafeteria (base price: $5.29) for lunch, which he eats at his desk. When his team works late, he hands out granola bars, which his wife buys in bulk at Costco.”

— “It was Mr. Sessions who announced Mr. Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama executive order shielding from deportation immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. He is suing the state of California over its sanctuary laws: “It cannot be, as it seems to be today, that someone who illegally crosses the border here on a Monday and ends up in San Francisco on Wednesday can never be deported,” Mr. Sessions said in Las Cruces. “Even if they were hauling dope to San Francisco and they got arrested, they can’t be deported. Now, how illogical and insane, really, is that?’”

And he’s doing much, much more to advance the conservative agenda and restore a sense of law and order in our nation.

So, next time you see a tweet insulting this honorable man, remember this: Jeff Sessions is a strong conservative, an ethical leader, and a good man.

And conservatives should be as loyal to him as he’s been to us.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

#FakeRacism — Alabama cops were justified in Waffle House arrest

(WKRG/YouTube)

They’re out here saying those white cops who arrested that black lady last weekend at the Waffle House in Saraland, Alabama were racists.

Reality Check: When a cop places you under arrest and you do anything other than passively comply, you may wish for him to say, “Oh, you don’t want to be arrested? My bad. I’ll just leave now.” But here’s what will actually happen, every time, and like Michael Jackson sang, “it don’t matter if you’re black or white.”

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“Outrage growing over black woman’s arrest … by white police officers,” read the headline on AL.com, followed by an article reporting that local protestors were then “confronted by white police officers and one black man was handcuffed.”

Are y’all as sick of these #FakeRacism stories as I am?

That ugly scene could have been avoided if that lady had followed the advice my father gave me years ago.

“Don’t argue with the cops, son,” he told me. “Whether you’re wrong or right, the police deal with criminals all day long and don’t need any lip from some kid.”

“So if they ever say ‘Get out of here,’ or ‘Sit on that curb and shut up,’ then do it without a word of backtalk,” he warned. “Or they might crack you upside the head with that baton they carry or you’ll spend the night in jail.”

A version of that advice called “The Talk” is given in the black community because of their experience with the law enforcement, especially in decades past.

I personally believe those days of systemic racism are gone, but the advice should remain — obey the law.

Or you might end up looking like a fool on Youtube for being arrested at a Waffle House … and it don’t matter if you’re black or white.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

(Sign-up for our daily newsletter here and never miss another article from Yellowhammer News.)

6 months ago

Should Alabama let murderess, rapist Judith Ann Neelley out of prison next month?

Judith Ann Neelley (NBC/YouTube)

Judith Ann Neelley has spent the last 32 years in an Alabama prison for helping her sicko husband kidnap and murder a 13-year old girl in 1982.

They chained little Lisa Ann Millican to a bed in a dirty motel room in Scottsboro, raped and beat her repeatedly, injected drain cleaner into her neck in a botched murder attempt, before driving to the rim of Little River Canyon near Fort Payne where — against her pleas to go home — shot the girl in the back and tossed her body over the ledge.

Next month Neelley will appear before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles and beg for her freedom.

Should we set her free?

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Of course not. The question shouldn’t even be asked, actually.

Neelley would have probably been executed years ago had former Gov. Fob James not commuted her death sentence on his final day in office in 1998. She found Christ, he thought, and that was enough for the governor to find mercy.

That’s great. Jesus saves, but the State of Alabama doesn’t. Different jurisdictions and all.

Our State Legislature wasn’t as impressed as James, so it eventually passed a law forbidding Neelley from ever being set free.

The courts just ruled that law unconstitutional, though, so now Neelley is up for parole.

Need to know more of the gruesome details of what they did to poor little Lisa Ann Millican? I can’t stomach to write them here, but watch this episode of Dateline NBC Mysteries if you dare.

(Note: The Neelleys also kidnapped and killed another woman and tried to kill her fiancee. Years later, Neeley’s husband died in a Georgia prison.)

I’m sure there are some people who believe Neelley has been rehabilitated, has become a good Christian, and that three decades behind bars is punishment enough.

And I’m sure that most people believe that Neelley should have fried in the electric chair back in the 1980s or, at the very least, should never see the light of day.

But it isn’t up to most people, or even some people.

It’s now up to just three — Cliff Walker, Lyn Head, and Terry G. Davis. They sit on the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles Board and will decide Neelley’s fate at a hearing on May 23rd in Montgomery.

Send them an email at questions@paroles.alabama.gov and let them know what you think.

And let’s keep Judith Ann Neelley behind bars.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

Conservatives should stop using the phrase ‘fake news’

(W. Miller/YHN)

Liberals have overused the word “racist” so much that the adjective now lacks any commonly agreed upon definition, and that’s a shame because we need words — especially that word — to mean something.

Conservatives have now done the same thing with the phrase “fake news.”

And we need to stop.

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Are there racists? Of course, and where they are found, the label should indeed apply. The Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer is a racist. So is Jared Taylor.

But you’re not a racist if you believe our country should have borders. Or if you support law enforcement. Or if you believe in school choice.

Calling you a racist for supporting those things is the left’s attempt at shutting off debate and banishing those who advocate for such ideas.

Is there fake news? Of course, and just like the word “racist,” when it’s found, the label should apply. Dan Rather’s infamous story about George W. Bush’s record in the Air National Guard is a perfect example. It wasn’t true.

But news isn’t fake if it’s simply something you don’t like or would rather not hear. Or if it challenges your perspectives. Or if it, heaven forbid, says something unflattering about the president.

A racist is someone who actually hates people of another color and wishes them ill. Most people called ‘racist’ today are nothing of the sort.

Fake news means the story is a total fabrication. A lie. Complete fiction. Most stories called ‘fake news’ are also nothing of the sort.

In both cases, people making the charge simply want to delegitimize their opponent’s argument rather than make the mental and emotional effort to challenge their ideas.

The casualty of such total weakness is not just words, but thought itself.

As our fellow Alabamian Helen Keller wrote in her memoir, she wasn’t able to really think until words entered her mind that day at the water pump.

Words opened Helen Keller’s mind.

Don’t allow words to close yours.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

Alabama should bring back public executions

(W. Miller/YHN)

Today the State of Alabama, on behalf of its citizens, will strap convicted murderer Walter Leroy Moody to a table, stick a needle in his arm and then pump a series of poisons into his bloodstream until he’s dead.

This is wrong for all sorts of reasons.

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First, if you support the death penalty, then lethal injection is hardly retribution (it’s painless) and it’s not much of a deterrence (it’s hidden from view). It may be justice in a procedural sense, but killing someone is usually about more than just law enforcement.

Second, if you’re against the death penalty, the citizens don’t have to face the reality of what their state is doing (again, it’s hidden) nor the gruesomeness of the act (again, it’s painless and oddly sterile).

That’s why, for these reasons and more, the State of Alabama should bring back public executions — hangings, firing squads or even the guillotine.

That would sure focus our minds a bit more on what’s happening, like it or not.

The man being put to death today is guilty. Moody used pipe-bombs in 1989 to murder U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Robert Vance Sr. of Mountain Brook and civil rights attorney Robert E. Robertson of Georgia. Vance’s wife was also seriously injured in the blast.

Moody is a convicted domestic terrorist and a murderer, no different than those we’ve locked up at Git’mo. He not only murdered our fellow citizens, he attacked our nation by targeting its justice system. Case closed.

Alabamians overwhelmingly support the death penalty for such crimes. I didn’t even need to cite any polls or surveys to write that — it’s self-evident.

And while our Christian faith teaches that God will forgive Moody for his sins, our human need for retribution will demand execution just as our human need for mercy will seek commutation.

But as long as we’re “administering capital punishment” behind closed doors in dystopian “Giver”-like sterility, neither cause will be served.

So, Alabama … get a rope.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

Conservatives must not throw morality into the garbage while defending the president

(W.Miller/YHN)

One glaring distinction between conservatism and liberalism is that conservatives believe there is usually a clear right and wrong on most social questions, or at the very least a more virtuous way to behave.

One glaring similarity between Republicans and Democrats, it seems, is that it all depends upon who’s in power.

Democrats who defended the credibly alleged infidelities of President Bill Clinton are now trashing President Donald Trump.

Republicans who are now defending the credibly alleged infidelities of Trump once said Clinton’s serial adultery deemed him unworthy of the Oval Office.

And each side twists themselves into rhetorical pretzels trying to justify their apparent hypocrisy.

It’s saddening to watch. That’s why during times like these conservatives should remember why we’re in this fight — to advocate for ideas, not for individuals.

As the psalmist wrote, “Put not your trust in princes … in whom there is no help.”

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And one of the ideas that helps us live healthily and joyfully in the world is our belief that there is a clear moral order to things.

In fact, conservative godfather Russell Kirk considered this understanding to be the conservative movement’s initial principle.

“First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order,” Kirk wrote in his famous summation of conservatism. “That order is made for man, and man made for it; human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.”

Loyalty. Fidelity. Honesty. These are but a few virtues found within our enduring moral order.

While some may cast them aside as relics of a Puritan past, we are governed by them no less than our ancestors were.

For who wants to be betrayed, cheated upon, or lied to? Neither a conservative nor a liberal.

As Kirk said, this moral order is permanent, and we cannot change it no more than we can change human nature itself.

When we ignore it, or worse, accept its opposite as a fact of life, we take a chisel to the foundation of society and chip away a bit of something very important.

That’s why it’s extremely disheartening to see so many formerly consistent conservatives either defend or ignore the real implications of these credible stories we keep hearing about Trump’s personal behavior.

I get it. Most people think it doesn’t matter, especially because voters knew he was unfaithful to his wives when we evaluated and then elected him.

Fair enough. He was elected to fight for America and implement an agenda.

So, defend that — his agenda, not his alleged infidelities.

To do the opposite weakens not only the credibility of our political movement and the electability of our political representatives, it corrupts our own sense of morality and helps the left push our culture further towards relativism.

To borrow the title of Judge Robert Bork’s excellent book on the decline of Western morality, the partisan shift on the question of infidelity is no less than helping our nation slouch towards Gomorrah.

“A society in which men and women are governed by belief in an enduring moral order, by a strong sense of right and wrong, by personal convictions about justice and honor, will be a good society,” Kirk wrote. “While a society in which men and women are morally adrift, ignorant of norms, and intent chiefly upon gratification of appetites, will be a bad society – no matter how many people vote and no matter how liberal its formal constitution may be.”

Kirk explained that this order isn’t so much a method of restraint than a means to harmony, and that it exists both in the inner order of the soul and the outer order of government.

In short, there is no real difference between our private and public faces – unless one is a mask.

Liberals, libertarians, and I guess now a bunch of Republicans say this still shouldn’t matter. We have serious problems, and better to have an unapologetic adulterer in the White House advancing our agenda than someone there opposing it.

So be it. But we mustn’t abandon our belief in morality in the bargain, for, “what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

The bigot went down to ‘Bama: Are racist opinions acceptable topics for discussion?

(YHN/Wikicommons)

Regardless if you cheer, denounce or simply ignore the thoughts of self-described “race realist” Jared Taylor, the University of Alabama should be commended for its difficult decision to allow a student group to host a lecture by the provocative writer next week.

Far too many of the Capstone’s sister institutions of higher learning have yielded in recent years to demands that they shield the eyes and ears (and therefore minds) of their students from controversial speakers.

Alabamians have experience with this sort of thing, though, and we’ve learned that the best way to dispel racist thought is to drag it out into the light of day so all may see its true ugliness. (There’s a reason the Klan wore hoods and rallied at night, you know.)

But still, are their some topics that simply don’t fit within the ever shifting “window” of acceptable speech?

The answer is always … no.

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While adults can, and in fact should, self-censor, we should never surrender to the censor who lives within us all in an attempt to decide what ideas are acceptable to be heard by another adult. To paraphrase Lincoln’s view of slavery — as I will not be censored, I will not be a censor.

Especially if the ideas are deemed by someone else to be “dangerous.”

Here’s why:

Taylor’s particular niche with racist ideology is his claim that an undeniable and provable genetic difference exists between the races that makes some races “good” — whites and Asians — and makes others “bad” — namely blacks.

He believes that the strength of the West and the Far East doesn’t just come from their values and traditions, but also from within their bloodstream (and the same goes for their descendants in the United States). He manipulates all sorts of studies and spouts half-truths to say much more, but that’s his basic point.

So, should we censor such nonsense?

Of course not.

First, generally speaking, censorship robs an individual of the ideas that the censor, in all of their splendid paternalism, seems perfectly willing to possess themselves.

If someone reads or hears what Taylor is peddling, and judges it to be bogus, then what right have they to deny such an educational opportunity to someone else? Doing so also risks fostering a society that’s largely ignorant of its own ills, and therefore much less capable of defeating them.

Second, censoring Taylor’s speech robs the good guys of an opportunity to publicly refute his arguments and, equally important, to bring attention to the real cause of whatever angst led him and others down the road to such dark thoughts.

Some say that the traditions of Western Civilization are under assault. They sort of are, actually.

And some say that we need to preserve the values that built the United States. We do.

But those traditions and values have absolutely nothing to do with race. Zero. Nada.

The United States of America didn’t become the most prosperous, freest, strongest, most generous nation in history because of the pigmentation of anyone’s skin.

Our nation’s success has everything to do with our establishment and preservation of a constitutional democratic republic, our shared values and traditions, a respect for the rule of law, and the blessings of a free market and a free society.

In other words, we’re a great nation because we have a great culture.

And culture is colorblind.

So, come on down, Mr. Taylor. We’ve heard from far worse than you before, and our culture remains intact.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

The bigot went down to ‘Bama: Controversy over ‘white nationalist’ speech in Tuscaloosa is sign of progress

(Wikicommons)

So a racist is going to give a speech next week on the campus of the University of Alabama.

The speaker, Jared Taylor, has been called a white nationalist, a white supremacist, and a racist for advocating what he describes as “race realism.”

The student newspaper, the Crimson and White, denounced Taylor’s views as “abhorrent and incorrect” and the university made sure people knew it had nothing to do with the event.

“This speaker was invited by a registered student organization that followed appropriate policies and processes,” said Stuart Bell, the university’s president. “The best way to demonstrate distaste for hateful dialogue is not to give it an audience.”

I’ll provide some thoughts this week on Taylor’s views, the administration’s decision, and how students should respond, but before diving into all of that we should revel in this beautiful fact: If someone planned to deliver a racist speech on campus six decades ago, it wouldn’t have been called “abhorrent” and “hateful.”

It would have been called … Thursday night.

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Nobody would have noticed.

Campus life would have moved along as if nothing controversial was happening.

And not a single reporter would have wasted their time writing about something so commonplace as a little-known racist saying racists things somewhere in Alabama.

But we have noticed. Students aren’t ignoring it. And as you clearly see, writers are indeed writing about it.

That’s undeniable progress, and Alabamians should use this moment to pause and recognize the substantial gains our state has made on the issue of racism.

Do we still have problems? You bet.

Have our hearts changed enough? Not yet.

But are we the same state … the same culture … that cheered as our governor stood in the way of a young woman attending class at the University of Alabama? Of course not.

And for that, we can be, and ought to be, quite proud.

You’ve come a long way, ‘Bama.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

6 months ago

Alabama’s conservatives must make ending abortion our top priority

(W.Miller/YHN)

If we conservatives truly believe abortion is what we say it is — the butchering of an unborn person — then ending the practice must be our top priority.

Everything else should pale in comparison to the gruesome image of an unborn baby girl resting peacefully in her mother’s womb before a poisoned needle suddenly pierces and then stops her heart, her limbs snipped off and pulled apart, and finally her broken body being thrown into the garbage.

That’s not just an image. It’s the reality of a practice that occurs daily with the full protection, and at least partial funding, from our federal government.

So what does our Republican Congress do about it?

They just failed, again, to prevent millions of taxpayer dollars from flowing to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s top abortion provider.

But why?

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Planned Parenthood doesn’t receive any individual federal appropriations, but it does collect millions from Medicaid and related federal grants. Last month, Politico reported that some conservatives in the House attempted to tie their support for the recent $1.3 trillion federal spending bill to a measure that would finally block all such funding.

“The proposal actually goes further than previous GOP attempts to defund Planned Parenthood,” wrote Dylan Scott on Vox, during negotiations over the bill. “This latest proposal would block Medicaid and several other federal funding sources, a full cutoff of federal dollars going to the organization.”

Sadly, their effort failed and wasn’t included in the final bill.

Some say not including the measure to fully defund Planned Parenthood was a compromise to avoid a partial government shutdown and win other concessions. Others say it was a complete betrayal of the promises made by President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress .

Maybe it was a little of both, but I blame the result on a lack of focus, a blurred sense of proportion between it and other issues, and a general numbing to the decades-long problem of legalized abortion.

Compromise is generally desirable. Our constitution was even designed to force such a thing because the Framers knew it’d be needed to ensure the survivability of a large and diverse republic.

But not all of the time.

Where does one compromise on slavery?

Where does one compromise on women voting?

And where does one compromise on murdering babies?

The answer to these questions has been and will always be crystal clear to those with eyes to see: There can be no compromise.

Yet that’s what our president and our Congress just did, again, by failing to fully defunding Planned Parenthood.

Stalwart conservative Congressmen Mo Brooks of Huntsville and Gary Palmer of Birmingham voted against the massive spending bill. Good for them.

But it was sad to see Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) vote for the thing, along with Republican U.S. Reps. Bradley Byrne of Mobile, Martha Roby of Montgomery, Mike Rodgers of Saks, and Robert Aderholt of Haleyville.

They all had their rationale and justifiable reasons, but again, all pale in comparison to what matters most.

We avoided a government shutdown!

Great, you also failed to fully defund Planned Parenthood, as the party promised.

We secured millions in funding for projects in Alabama!

Great, you also failed to fully defund Planned Parenthood, as the party promised.

We funded a wee bit of the border wall!

Great, you also failed to fully defund Planned Parenthood, as the party promised.

Our lawmakers will face this same issue in a few months. The same people will be clamoring for the same funds. And the same compromises will be suggested. And … the same opportunity will present itself to finally, once and for all, stop the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood.

When signing the bill, the president said, “Never again.”

Let’s hope the Republicans in Congress say the same, or else the voters might.

And the party would deserve it.

UPDATED at 6:05 p.m., April 10, to clarify that the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill didn’t include any funding specifically for Planned Parenthood. It only failed to prohibit the abortion provider from receiving millions in federal dollars should it apply for and then be approved for such funds.

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter