Barbara Bush and the unique legacies First Ladies leave


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THE DEATH OF BARBARA BUSH & REFLECTION ON ROLE OF FIRST LADY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, over the weekend, Barbara Bush, only the second woman in our nation’s history to be a president’s wife and a president’s mother, she was laid to rest outside of Houston at the George H. W. Bush Library.  

DR. REEDER: Yes, Tom, she’s a very interesting lady and it also brings up an interesting observation. Because our culture has, up until the recent fabricated rulings of Obergefell concerning what is marriage, has always honored the fact that marriage is a foundational institution in the culture that was established by the Creator as one man, one woman, for one life and that that was a foundational issue.

Therefore, we have long been grateful and elected presidents who were married. And the one that they married affected the election, not because you were trying to elect two-for-one or because the position of First Lady was actually an office in the Constitution, but everyone just recognized that, when you elect the one, that you get the marriage partner because the two have become one.
And then First Ladies have carved out their own ministry all the way through Martha Dandridge Washington, the wife of our first president, George Washington, then it was taken to another whole level in the aggressive and independent dynamics and outspoken statements of an Abigail Adams, wife of our second president.

As you move through, our presidents’ wives have all carved out their own space, but there was already an anticipated activity and respect accorded to them in context of their complementarian relationship, that is, they completed their husband — that their husband was not all that he could be or should be without them.

FIRST LADIES LEFT UNIQUE AND VARIED LEGACIES

And then they’ve all had their own commitments, their own emphases, and it’s really been interesting to watch them. Pat Nixon, who was very much in the background — refused to be seen and highly sophisticated and thoughtful but never verbal, never out front — to the aggressive commitment to Equal Rights Amendment by Betty Ford.

I’m just looking at my lifetime experiences and, of course, before I was born was FDR’s wife, Eleanor, who clearly disagreed with her husband and let everyone know about it and, in fact, did not live in Washington like Martha Washington, who would stay back home quite a bit in watching over the farm and the plantation, so Eleonor Roosevelt would spend extensive stays away from the White House.

You had Mrs. Kennedy, who carved out her own, quite the object of not only curiosity but esteem and compliments with her sophisticated, thoughtful and warm personality that was on public display. You remember the famous statement of President Kennedy after he had returned from the trip to Europe and, particularly, to her family ancestral home of France and said, “I am the guy that accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy on her triumphal tour of France.”

The notable manner in which Michelle Obama conducted herself and also her burdens for children’s literacy. Mrs. Clinton came in and saw herself much more in an elected position and tried to become a policy maker with the failed attempt, at that time, of a national healthcare policy. And now it remains to be seen how President Trump’s wife, Melania will ultimately… You can see her feeling her way through this and, being a naturalized citizen, of course, she is trying to gain the sensibilities of it.

WHAT LEGACY DOES BARBARA BUSH LEAVE BEHIND?

Now, Mrs. Bush was her own woman. She was a strong woman; she was a powerful woman; she is the archetype of the “Republican President Woman” in terms of myth and fact in that, somewhat on the liberal side like a Betty Ford on some of her views, but on the other side was a woman of doing things right. You can see somewhat the patrician New England dynamic in her life and in her marriage.

And it was notable that, when you went to eat with her — I quote one visitor — you ate before you went because food would be sparse on the plate as it was bad manners to fill up a plate with food so you ate like a bird and if you wanted to be a vulture, you better have eaten before you got there. Everyone was supposed to be mannerable and etiquette was everything.

FAITH EVIDENT TO THE NATION

And then you see the religious movement in her life. I listened to the interview where she said, “I have no fear of death because I have a great God.” It was notable that President George Bush has given a number of incidents where they have had theological discussions and the fact that he believes his dad and his mom had made a commitment to Christ and they had been drastically affected by the life and ministry of Billy Graham, so much so that they actually, in a sense, had him on the speed dial when they would have family theological discussions.

Therefore, I do pray she knows Christ. She cut her own figure in and, in many ways was a wonderful model. Like all of us, we all have our warts and pimples, but I pray for the family now. I would join with them in remembering their mother. Critiques can, of course, be done by biographers later — I want to join with them in remembering her and being grateful.

What I think of her is this: She has handled the death of a child with dignity, she has mothered her daughters well, she has a son who is effective in business, she has a son who has been president and a son who was a governor, to some degree successful in their attempts and admirable in their commitments and overall evaluation. I do believe, very much, that the hand that rocks the cradle controls the world and you can see the effects of her motherhood as well as her demeanor as a wife and completer in the life of her husband and the obvious devotion that they had to each other.

THANK YOU, BUSHES, FOR EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

TOM LAMPRECHT: And she and George H.W. Bush set the high-water mark for the number of years married, 72 years. That’s the longest period of any president.

DR. REEDER: And so that is commendable and it’s, of course, something we strive to see: the return of the Biblical, historical definition of marriage, one man, one woman, and that last part for one life. And I’m grateful for their 72-year marriage and her 92-year life here. And I do hope and pray that the power of the Gospel has been seen.

And, as she said, no fear of death, she had a great God and one of the ways we know the greatness of our God is He can save all of us who are sinners from all of our sins through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

TOMORROW: TRUMP MEETING WITH KIM JONG UN AND AMERICAN PASTOR JAILED IN TURKEY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we’re out of time for today. On Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you back to last Wednesday where President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan got together for a press conference. They talked about a number of things, but at the top of the list was North Korea. North Korea has taken citizens from Japan captive and there are three Americans being held at North Korea.

Harry, tomorrow, I would like to discuss the whole North Korean situation and the upcoming summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, but I also want to examine the situation in Turkey where Pastor Andrew Brunson is being held captive because, as the Turkish government says, evangelism is a form of terrorism.

DR. REEDER: Andrew Brunson in prison, under trial and facing some significant possible penalties, including death in Turkey. We need to look at that.

And then the first one you mentioned because not only the announcements concerning North Korea from that meeting with the Japanese prime minister, but, Tom, it’s also been announced that there’s going to be a “quasi-summit” between President Trump and the president or dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. And, also, surprising tactics that have befuddled that we’ll try to give some clarity to as to how that meeting was set up. We need to do some analysis of his not so surprising but yet befuddling to the media unorthodox style and evaluate it from a Christian world and life view.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

5 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

5 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn