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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.

4 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

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First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

4 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

5 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

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“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

6 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

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According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

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To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.