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When elected officials campaign on promises they don’t keep


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PRO-LIFE POSITIVES BUT OMNIBUS BILL A BIG NEGATIVE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, our friends over at World Magazine recently ran an article with some highlights and lowlights of the pro-life issue. Indiana now numbers among the majority of states that require annual inspections of abortion centers. They join 27 other states.  In the state of Washington, some low news: Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill last week that will force health insurance companies to cover abortion. Down in Louisiana, the Legislature is considering a bill that would protect the lives of the unborn after 15 weeks’ gestation. Now, you might remember we talked about this a couple of weeks ago over in Mississippi, who have the same law that was halted by a federal judge. Out in Hawaii, they’ve legalized assisted suicide, becoming the sixth state in the nation to do so.

However, Harry, the biggest piece of news concerning life is the new Omnibus Bill, that $1.3 trillion bill. Now, we can talk about spending money that we don’t have, but one of the pieces of this bill is $500 million that is allocated for Planned Parenthood.

Now, let’s remember that the Republicans told the White House, the House and the Senate that one of the things they ran on was the fact that Planned Parenthood would be defunded.

DR. REEDER: Tom, from a Christian world and life view, there is not only the sanctity of life that has to be considered and how that’s not just a policy that you can embrace or not embrace as well as the issue of integrity when you say, “Elect me. This is what I will do,” and then you get elected and you do not do that.
POLITICS AT WORK AGAIN — BUT FOR WHOM?

Now, I understand the issue of compromise in a political situation and I understand that, if you want the sanctity of life, you may not be able to get all that you want but, in terms of the sanctity of life, in that bill, they didn’t get simply part of what they want — they got nothing of what they want and there is a direct ignoring of what they said, “Elect us and this is what we will do. We will defund Planned Parenthood.”

You have a victory lap by Charles Schumer afterwards saying, “Even though we don’t control any of the branches of government, we were able to secure what we wanted in this Omnibus bill.”

And then you have the Republicans in government looking for a bag to put over their head because not only the immorality of a plunge into even greater debt… There’s got to be a payday someday on this. You cannot keep spending money that you don’t have. There is an immorality of putting our children and grandchildren into the bondage of debt and under the control of foreign governments and entities that control that debt.

WAS THIS COMPROMISE OR SURRENDER?

Now, the answer-back is, of course, “Well, we had to get advancement in a couple of areas and, most importantly, defense of the country and military spending. Our military is in shambles because of fighting these multiple wars — these lengthy wars — and that sequestration has gutted the military budget and something had to be done.”

Well, I think you can make a case for it and secure that without abandoning the integrity of your commitment “We will defund Planned Parenthood,” without abandoning the commitment to the sanctity of life, which is a non-negotiable. And the incremental step of removing $500 million a year to the funding of an organization that has been exposed as an industry that makes money off of abortion, the emotional, the physical and the psychological impact upon women who are brought into these abortuaries as well as the 100 percent lethal impact upon the children that are lost in these abortuaries, there is no way that we can negotiate that any more than a person of integrity could negotiate the existence of an Auschwitz concentration camp.

Tom, you selected a number of stories that led us into this of, by and large, some significant advances on the sanctity of life at the state level for which we give thanks to the Lord. Now, there are some lessons here from a Christian world and life view. Let me give a couple of them if I can.

SMALLER GOVERNMENTS HAVE MORE POWER AND ACCOUNTABILITY

One of the things that our founding fathers understood is that power corrupts and increasing power increasingly corrupts. And so, Tom, what we see is, the further away power gets, the more insulated it feels. An elected official in Washington’s three phone calls away while an elected official locally is one phone call away. That’s why they put the powers in the state and only had powers for the federal government that were necessary for cohesion of the country, but the greater power was put at the state level because, there, the officials are more readily accountable — not only in the regularity of an election, but also by presence and by proximity.

We also have to affirm, again, the issue of character, Tom. When an elected official tells you, “Elect me. This is what I will do,” again, we see the importance of character and will they do it once they are elected or will, the very position that got them elected, they will negotiate it away in order to accomplish something else that, while is desirable, does not rise to the status of the sanctity of life, particularly, for the defenseless, the innocent and the unborn.

Here’s what I would say to our elected officials in the Senate and in the Congress: What you have done has not gone unnoticed. There are many who are concerned about it. The way that this bill was passed means that they are now confronted with another vote on spending and our budget in September, which is not long before the mid-term elections. There will be many watching to see what you do in that spending bill and will you undo what you’ve done, which is the funding of an institution unalterably committed to the culture of death.

SOME ARE FEELING DISILLUSIONED — WHAT TO DO?

And let me speak just for a moment, Tom, to those who are disillusioned. Don’t be disillusioned from engagement in the political process with a Christian world and life view. Just realize this: Your allegiance and unstoppable affection has to go to your Savior, Lord and King, Jesus Christ, not to political parties. And then you ask the Lord to give you the desire to think Christianly and to live a life that will honor Christ, which means you will stay committed and you will stay engaged.

However, here’s where you need to be disillusioned. The answer to the death spiral of our culture into a culture of death and into a culture of sexual anarchy is not going to be found from the top-down in Washington so stay engaged because the blessing of political integrity is the restraint of sin in society.

As the progressive attempts to make the government its Savior and Messiah, I should never fall into the trap of being disillusioned in that I already know I cannot depend on the government for our salvation. I will stay engaged, though, because I want to elect officials who will protect the inalienable rights of the citizens of a nation who are made in the image of God and elect those who understand what their responsibility is in government.

I also will, again, embrace the notion that the most effective politics is local politics — that’s where you will see the most progression of action. And, finally, I want to engage in that which does change a culture.

POLITICS IS ONLY A TOOL FOR LIVING OUT CHRISTIANITY

Consistency in governing authorities will restrain sin in society, but the only thing that will change a society is when the people in the society have a change in their heart. And the only thing that can change the heart is the glorious Good News that there is a King Who died for His people that they may have eternal life. And I get to proclaim that message, and disciple and win people to Christ that they can grow in grace.

Again, what we need is a culture that values life from the ground-up because it is filled with people who love life and who love the Lord and giver of life because He has given them eternal life and they want to bring that message that affects how you think and how your life and how you love your neighbor. That’s where the change is going to come.

Tom, one time, a guy said to me, “Harry, honesty is the best policy.” I said, “No, it’s not.” He said, “What do you mean?” “I just don’t believe that honesty and integrity are policies. I think they’re principles — that’s the way you live your life,” and that’s what the sanctity of life is.

COMING UP FRIDAY: POPE FRANCIS’ ALLEGED COMMENTS ON HELL

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we’re out of time for today. On Friday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to a story out of CNS News. Pope Francis recently had an interview with his long-time atheist friend, Eugenio Scalfari. In this interview, Pope Francis basically said there is no Hell.

DR. REEDER: Tom, I’ve gotten multiple emails, “What do you think about Pope Francis’ declaration there is no hell?” Well, let’s take a little closer look at what he said. Let’s look at it tomorrow.

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.

10 hours ago

Hoover protest leader calls for nationwide boycott of all stores, restaurants with locations at Riverchase Galleria

Carlos Chaverst, Jr., the president of the Birmingham Justice League and self-proclaimed leader of protesting in Hoover, on Tuesday called for a nationwide boycott of all stores and restaurants with locations at the Riverchase Galleria.

In a press release, Chaverst said, “In addition to protests resuming throughout the City of Hoover, The Justice League is attempting to coordinate efforts with grass roots organizations all over the country to boycott the stores and restaurants that are inside the Riverchase Galleria if their demands for justice and transparency are not answered! Those stores include Bath & Body Works, Belk, Dave & Busters, Express, Gap, GNC, H&M, JC Penney, Macy’s, Old Navy, Sears, Victoria’s Secret, and Von Maur just to name a few.”

He called this “broadening the scope of the boycott,” while adding protests will continue “escalating.”

Chaverst has been the face of protests since a Hoover Police officer shot and killed Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. on Thanksgiving night at the Galleria.

Chaverst listed the following demands in his Tuesday press release:

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1. We want those individuals who knowingly lied about the events of Thanksgiving night leading to the murder of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. to resign or be terminated immediately!
2. We want Hoover to ask for a Justice Department investigation into its own police department for mistreatment of minorities (citizens AND officers on the police force).
3. We want a “Citizens Review Board” with subpoena power created by the City of Hoover.
4. We want to know the status (paid or unpaid?) of the officer that killed “EJ” Bradford and we want the City of Hoover to keep it’s word of having weekly updates.

To be clear, while Hoover officials apologized for initially misidentifying Bradford as the shooter of an 18-year-old and 12-year-old at the Galleria on the night of his death, there has been no public assertion by the Bradford family or their attorney that officials “knowingly lied.”

It should also be noted that Chaverst has accused the city of not sending out a weekly update this week, hence his last point in demand number four. However, the city and the police department did in fact issue that update as a joint press release on Monday, which was reported by Yellowhammer News and outlets across the state.

The investigation into Bradford’s death and the entirety of the Galleria tragedy is currently entirely out of Hoover’s jurisdiction and control, with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) handling the case.

While Chaverst spearheads the protests themselves and acts as the public face of “the movement,” the Nation of Islam’s Birmingham leader, student minister Tremon Muhammad, is leading the boycott as part of a greater “war.”

In addition to Chaverst’s press release, he also took to Facebook to request that people donate money and items to the protesters, including bandanas, facemasks, first aid kits and “healthy snacks.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Proposed Waters of the United States guidelines praised as good for Alabama farmers, landowners

Federal officials proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) guidelines on Monday to help protect farmers and landowners from intrusive government regulations, per a release from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

In their proposal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers clarified federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell applauded the newly proposed definition, which excludes ditches from regulation unless they contribute flow to a perennial or intermittent stream.

“The proposed rule is good news for Alabama farmers and restores common sense to Clean Water Act enforcement,” Parnell said.

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He continued, “For several years, farmers, businesses and homeowners have lived under the threat of government intrusion and costly penalties due to overaggressive actions of the Obama-era EPA. We appreciate the Trump administration, current EPA administration, Alabama’s congressional delegation and our state attorneys general for standing by farmers and landowners as we’ve fought back against the WOTUS rule.”

Under the proposal, federally regulated areas would include traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, some ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

The proposal also details non-waters of the U.S., such as areas that only contain water during or in response to rainfall, many ditches (including most roadside or farm ditches), prior converted cropland, stormwater control features and waste treatment systems.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also thanked the EPA and Corps for investing time in a common sense rule that will allow farmers to comply with the law while protecting water resources.

“Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play,” Duvall outlined. “We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.”

Today’s announcement is the second part in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of WOTUS consistent with President Donald Trump’s February 2017 executive order. The first step was initiating a repeal of the Obama administration rule, which was put in place in 2015 but is only in effect in 22 states because of a barrage of state lawsuits challenging it.

Various courts upheld the challenges and postponed the law from going into effect within the boundaries of a bevy of states, including Alabama.

A 60-day comment period on the second part of the process, proposing the revised rule, is now underway.

The EPA and the Corps will hold an informational webcast January 10 and will then host a listening session on the proposed rule January 23 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Greg Reed: A Medicaid program built around families and communities

The elections of November 6 are over, and now, in Washington and in Montgomery legislators again take up the task of governing. As the leader of Alabama’s 27 Republican state senators, my focus is on working with other lawmakers and Governor Kay Ivey to make state government more efficient and to keep job growth strong.

Reforming the state’s Medicaid program is one of the toughest challenges we face in the coming year. Medicaid, the federally-mandated health insurance program for pregnant women, children, low-income adults, the elderly and the disabled, is by far the largest line item in the state’s General Fund — Medicaid by itself accounts for 37 percent of all non-education state spending and its budget for the current year is $755 million. For context, state prisons consume 23 percent and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (state troopers) uses 2.5 percent of non-education spending.

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The aging of America’s population as the Baby Boomers retire puts enormous stress on government-run health insurance programs like Medicaid. About 10,000 Boomers retire every day, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2035, the number of adults aged 65 and older in America will outstrip the number of children under the age of 18. In Alabama, the population of folks aged 65 and older is expected to grow by 25 percent between now and 2025. This coming demographic tidal wave threatens to swamp a number of government programs, including Medicaid.

For the past five years, I have worked with Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar to craft a new health care model that better serves the growing number of senior citizens in Alabama who are in Medicaid’s long-term care. Thankfully, this year Alabama received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington to move ahead with the Integrated Care Network (ICN). This reform will offer senior citizens on Medicaid additional health care choices and is projected to save, over the long run, tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Here is how the ICN will work: in October of this year, the state Medicaid agency partnered with an Alabama health care provider that will now serve the medical needs of the 23,000 senior citizens who are receiving Medicaid’s long-term care services, 70 percent of whom are in nursing homes. By partnering with an expert health care provider based in Alabama, Medicaid can offer its long-term patients better care — and thus allow more Medicaid recipients to stay longer in the comfort of their own home.

Medicaid recipients can still opt for a nursing home, and no benefits are changed under this new system. But by partnering with a health care provider that is an expert in managed care, Medicaid can bend the cost curve down, offer improved health care, and give more of Alabama’s senior citizens an opportunity to stay a little longer in their homes and communities.

For my wife and me, one of the greatest privileges in life is spending time with our parents — and as the years have passed, we, like so many Alabama families, have discussed the future and begun to plan for the day when our parents will need additional help.

As a legislator, I think often about how the policies that I vote on will affect the lives of my friends and neighbors. The Integrated Care Network is just getting started, but I am optimistic that this reform will improve the quality of life for many families in Alabama and put Medicaid on a sounder financial footing.

Greg Reed (R-Jasper) is the Alabama Senate Majority Leader and represents Senate District 5, which is comprised of all or parts of Winston, Walker, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson and Fayette counties.

15 hours ago

Sessions makes first speech since resigning as attorney general, still supports Trump’s agenda

MONTGOMERY — Speaking at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s 146th annual meeting on Tuesday, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered his first public remarks since leaving President Donald Trump’s administration.

Despite his forced resignation and having been on the raw end of several Trump tweets and public comments this year, Sessions graciously made clear that he still supports the work the president is doing, praising the administration’s successes and some ongoing agenda items in a roughly 20-minute speech. He did not directly address speculation that he could run to return to the United States Senate in 2020.

He did, however, add some levity to the situation, with the crowd of approximately 600 enjoying a few trademark Sessions jokes.

“I’ve had a few ups and downs in the last two years,” Sessions remarked while thanking Bishop Lawson and Cheryl Bryan, who were in attendance. “And every now and then, it’s good to know your bishop is praying for you.”

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A couple of minutes later, Sessions spoke on some federal issues of note.

“On the Make America Great Again front, I will cite these words from Friday’s Wall Street Journal: Wage growth matched the highest rate in nearly a decade and unemployment held at its lowest rate in nearly half a century at 3.7 percent. This is the lowest rate since 1969,” Sessions outlined.

He continued, referring to his wife sitting some yards away from him, “That’s when Mary and I married – 1969.”

Sessions then spoke about the benefits of getting people working again across the nation, while saying that the workforce participation rate still needs improvement.

“So, personally, I’m attempting to chill out a bit,” Sessions said, transitioning away from speaking on the economy.

“You can be sure that I don’t follow the tweets as closely as I used to,” he added to great laughter and a smattering of applause.

Sessions added, “Having served in the Department of Justice for almost 15 years plus 20 on the [Senate] Judiciary Committee, I well knew that AG’s frequently face difficult choices and decisions which, almost inevitably, create some controversy. But this very public adventure, I gotta say, exceeded my expectations.”

The former attorney general and United States senator then continued to emphasize that he remains supportive of Trump and their shared agenda.

“I’m proud of President Trump’s policy agenda and to have had a part in it,” Sessions said. “He is driven to succeed and much of his frustration arises from his inability to move the bureaucracy to achieve what he believes oughta be achieved fast enough.”

Perhaps quoting Kanye West for the first time, Sessions commented, “[Trump] has dragon energy. Think that’s a good description of it, really.”

He then talked about his “love” for the Department of Justice, outlining the successes of his tenure in a similar manner to his speech in Hoover this fall.

“I poured my heart into our work and was pleased to be able to advance the president’s policies, which were my policies and good for America,” Sessions explained.

After listing some of the many accomplishments of his time as attorney general for several minutes, Sessions said that the DOJ’s recent work was just one way that “the rule of law” was being affirmed.

“First, and of monumental importance, the president continues to nominate the best group of highly qualified federal judges ever, in my opinion,” Sessions advised. “These judges understand that they adjudicate under the constitution – they’re not above it. And they know they are to be neutral umpires.”

In a timely manner with Tuesday’s announcement that Ben Shapiro will speak at the University of Alabama during the spring, Sessions also touched on his support of free speech on campuses.

“We’ve defended free speech on campus. Goodness gracious, [it’s] hard to believe the attacks on speech on campus,” Sessions said.

After getting into the weeds a little on more ways the DOJ defended the constitution under his watch, Sessions concluded his remarks.

“[W]e have the greatest legal system in the history of the world,” Sessions outlined. “This government, and especially the attorney general, must give his best effort every day to uphold and defend this heritage we have been so blessed to receive.”

“To that end, as God has given me the ability, I have been dedicated. I am satisfied our work has met the highest standards. Thank you for your friendship, your understanding, your support and for allowing me to represent the great people of this fabulous state. I love it. And of the United States. Thank you all and may God bless America and God bless this great state,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Ledbetter: Around a ’75 percent’ chance higher gas tax passes

The gas tax may be a foregone conclusion if you listen to the leadership of the Alabama legislature.

Infrastructure needs are undoubtedly a priority heading into the next legislative session; how they get addressed is the battle we will see fought out.

A gas tax of up to 12 cents a gallon has been discussed, but according to Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, the target for a tax increase in Alabama is more likely to be in the six to 10 cent range, which could raise between $180 million and $300 million dollars a year.

While appearing Tuesday on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Ledbetter was optimistic about the chances of the tax passing legislation.

Without any particular promises made, he referred to the need for a “clean bill” that he believes makes the passage easier.

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In spite of that desire, there are pressing needs in every part of the state and constituents will want their needs addressed, but he agreed that every caveat carved out weakens the bill and makes it less likely to pass.

In the interview, Ledbetter signaled a strategy that will be unveiled to convince Alabama voters that a gas tax increase isn’t that bad and surrounding states have higher taxes so we should increase ours as well, arguing it would be a “reasonable” tax.

Ledbetter stated, “You know Georgia did 26 on gas, 29 on diesel with a five dollar lodging fee.”

“We’re not gonna do that,” he added.

Ledbetter then continued to point out Alabama’s higher tax neighbors, “Tennessee put 10 cents on, Louisiana put 18 cents on. I think we’re going to be more reasonable with what we do and we need to do it for the right reasons.”

A strategy for the gas tax is being unveiled before our eyes: using county commissioners to lobby legislators for a higher gas tax and compare Alabama’s taxes to our neighbors.

Will it work? Ledbetter said there is around a 75 percent chance it will.

Listen:

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN