Making sense of Trump’s negotiations


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NORTH KOREAN CAPTIVES SET FREE GIVE PSALM TO MIKE PENCE

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, a week ago, it was a special day for the United States and a special day for three men who were being held hostage by the North Koreans. When they got off the plane, one of the three handed Vice President Mike Pence a note.

Mike Pence tweeted, “It was an amazing moment I’ll never forget when three Americans stepped onto the tarmac and gave me a signed personal note with Psalm 126 on the back. To these men of faith and courage, God Bless You and welcome home.”

Psalm 126:1-3 reads:

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of the captives of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

our tongue with songs of joy.

Then they said among the nations,

‘The Lord has done great things for them.’

The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.”

DR. REEDER: As we try to look at issues around the world from a Christian World and life view, we try to do this in a commentary fashion and not in a sermonic fashion, but when I hear something like this, I am immediately wanting to go to Psalm 126 and let’s preach the Gospel from the Psalms.

The Bible records that wonderful moment when Jesus is on the road to Emmaus with his disciples and He says to them whose hearts were downcast, “Do you not know that the Scriptures had to be fulfilled?” And, beginning with Moses, with all the prophets in the psalms, He explained Himself in all the Scriptures.

OUR FAITH IS ONE OF FREEING CAPTIVES

And, of course, when you study the psalms, what you’re ultimately seeing is not only the immediate context and fulfillment of these psalms and their historic position, but you’re also seeing them point to Christ. In other words, Christ is the ultimate singer of the psalms — not David, but the great Son of David who is greater than David — and that is Christ, the King of Glory and the Savior of sinners.

When this wonderful psalm that praises God for His delivery of His covenant people and they were restored to the blessings of Zion and, as they are redeemed and delivered from their captivity, while of course that would have great promises as you look at the issue of the restoration of Israel from the Babylonian captivity, but it has even greater fulfillment when you look ultimately not to the people of God being restored after being under the disciplining hand of God from various captivities — what you ultimately have is the glorious blessing of the redeeming work of Christ who sets free His people from the captivity of our sin.

Therefore, when Israel is taken out of the bondage of Egypt and then brought to the promised land, in later years, when Israel is restored from a Babylonian captivity, this psalm takes on particular meaning for God’s covenant people who are numbered within the nation of Israel.

CHRIST BROUGHT THAT FREEDOM TO ALL NATIONS

But now God’s covenant people are brought from all the nations and what you’re looking to is not the Lord’s use of fallible instruments by His grace such as Moses, and David, and Daniel, and Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus and all of these who are in positions of leadership that God uses because the Lord can turn the hearts of the king wheresoever He wishes even as turns the rivers to the sea.

You not only see that but what you see is the intentional work of the God of glory in sending His Son, the Redeemer of His people, the Prophet, Priest and King Who is the fulfillment of all the Scriptures and, in Him, we are delivered and brought into the ultimate Zion and we’ll be delivered finally into a new heavens and a new earth for the covenant people of God who are now being brought from all nations into the kingdom of God.

But, having looked at that glorious truth, now you back up to the initiative that is taking place out of this administration out of the basis of God’s common grace and you see a people who take a text of Scripture that refers to the blessings of God’s covenant people when they are delivered, not only historically, but also spiritually God’s people delivered into the people of God, looking at that glorious psalm that is fulfilled in Christ in the kingdom of God.

And they make an application, not an interpretation, that they feel the same way as they were in the desolation, all of the deprivations taking place — being wrongfully imprisoned in Korea — but now, as a “statement of good will” they are freed through the negotiations that have been taking place by this administration. Of course, it’s come out now that there have been some backdoor negotiations.

DO THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS?

Now, Tom, all of this begs for you and me to make some kind of comment. This, at best, in terms of accepted statecraft, is very unusual. You have a president who is tweeting out things that are, to say the least, offensive to this leader in Korea and here is Korea, who is in Asia, and this is an honor/shame culture — you just don’t abide by any acts of shame — and so everyone anticipates, when he puts out “rocket man” and all of this, that this is going to send relationships spiraling out of control and yet backdoor meetings taking place.

And then we see this monumental moment of North Korean dictator and the South Korean leadership right at the demilitarized zone, shaking hands, and these declarations, and now these peace accords that are moving forward and now promises of denuclearization taking place. He’s wily as a fox, this president is, because he’s doing these things publicly and these other things are taking place privately. Much of what we think is accepted statecraft actually, in negotiations around issues, ought to be reexamined.

IS AMERICA FIRST A CHRISTIAN MANTRA?

Now, what I don’t think should be reexamined is the call for decorum in relationships. I do not believe that you violate the dignity of human beings in order to maneuver them to a negotiating table to get the best deal that you can. And I do not believe that a commitment “to put America first” which, in its best light is, I’m going to look out for the interest of my nation first and, by the way, I expect you to look out for the interest of your nation first. I believe the best interpretation of that is you are elected to take care of your people so that should guide your negotiations.

Tom, let me share a story: My father was involved in baseball and he was on the periphery of a trade that took place between some major league baseball teams. Dad’s team got clearly the best of the trade — it was a six-player swap and the three players they got went on to have unbelievably productive seasons and the three players they gave up had unproductive seasons.

And I looked at Dad and I said to Dad, “That was a great trade.” He said, “No, son, that was a bad trade. Whenever you make a trade and whenever you do a negotiation, you want to make sure that the person you’re negotiating with gets a win. You need to get the win you need to get, but they need to get a win, too, for two reasons. First, you want to honor the dignity of the person that you’re negotiating with and secondly, if you’re not negotiating in good faith so that they come out with a positive, then they’ll never be back at another negotiating table with you. And, son, very seldom in the affairs of life do you ever settle anything that needs to be settled at one sit-down and at one negotiation.”

WE NEGOTIATE TO WIN OTHERS TO CHRIST

While I will acknowledge that that unorthodoxy is maybe a good thing from time to time, I do want to say and affirm, from a Christian world and life view, people are made in the image of God and nations are made up of people and, therefore, when we deal with people, we need to deal with them with dignity and respect. We always are looking as Christians, wanting to influence our own nation to conduct itself in such a way that, by God’s grace, it might be a bridge-building moment that we can actually create opportunities for us to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations.

And we will see not only the blessing of people who are unjustly imprisoned for political reasons delivered and see their joy expressed in that handwritten note with that Psalm 126 that was given to our vice-president, but we can see even more that people give praise to the God of glory because they are delivered from their sins and the negotiations among nations have actually opened the doors for the ambassadors of Christ to bring the Good News.

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.

 

Guest: Physicians are no longer on the front lines of this pandemic — You are

State Health Officer is a difficult role to fill, especially this year. While partisanship and conspiracies continue to divide us, it is the job of the State Health Officer to make decisions for the good of all people throughout Alabama. This is exactly what Dr. Scott Harris has done for Alabamians during (and before) the COVID-19 pandemic.

After reading a recent article about Dr. Harris, I was appalled but not surprised by the fact that he has received death threats over mask mandates and other preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Governor Kay Ivey enacted the first mask mandate on July 16, 2020, at the recommendation of Dr. Harris and others. After the initial mandate, Alabama’s case average and death rates quickly fell. Neighboring states without mask mandates – including Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee – all continued to rise above Alabama’s average.

As President of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, I would like to proudly declare my support of Dr. Harris and Governor Ivey in regard to the mask ordinance, social distancing guidelines, and other measures to protect the citizens of Alabama. Science and data have shown us time and time again that these guidelines work. That being said, why are there still Alabamians who push against these life-saving initiatives?

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While appealing to a sense of personal responsibility should be effective enough, it has proved not to be. What happens when personal responsibility is not enough, and people are endangering others? Mask mandates. Social distancing guidelines. Occupancy limitations.

Physicians and other health care providers have worked tirelessly to serve our patients, even at the cost of our own health and safety. What if I told you that we are no longer on the front lines of this pandemic, but you are? You have the power and capability to stop the spread of the Coronavirus that has taken over 3,450 lives in Alabama and 1.39 million lives worldwide. All you have to do to potentially save a life is to wear a mask in public, socially distance and wash your hands. These simple actions not only save lives, but can also help our physicians and hospital systems not get overwhelmed with patients. You can help keep your family and our families safe at the same time.

As we head into this holiday season, we can’t require people to keep themselves safe, but we are asking them to keep other people safe. Many people could be infected and transmit the disease to others without even knowing they are sick. I just hope that we can recontextualize the mask mandate and see it as a simple act of kindness to protect those around you. It seems like the least we can do for our families, friends, loved-ones, physicians, nurses, and communities as a whole.

John S. Meigs, Jr., MD is the president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama

5 hours ago

Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear retiring; Kim Boswell appointed as successor

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that Lynn Beshear will retire as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) effective December 16.

Beshear was appointed by Ivey to this position in July 2017, shortly after the governor took office.

Yellowhammer News earlier this year named Beshear a 2020 Woman of Impact.

“When Lynn was appointed, I knew that she would approach her role always thinking of what is best for the people of Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement.

“She has created a collaborative team approach within the Alabama Department of Mental Health to solve intricate problems regarding delivery of services for mental illness, substance abuse disorder and intellectual disability. I am truly grateful for her service to our state and wish her best in her next chapter,” she continued.

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While leading ADMH, Beshear has spearheaded several initiatives to increase access of services for Alabamians with mental illness, while navigating complexities of delivery by the department and community providers.

“It is been an honor to serve as the Commissioner of the department,” Beshear commented. “I am stepping into the next chapter of my life proud of the accomplishments of the department and am incredibly honored to have worked with such dedicated individuals who are committed to improving the lives of others. I profoundly thank Governor Ivey for her trust in me these last three years and have no doubt the department will continue to change the lives of the people of Alabama for the better.”

Ivey’s office in a release outlined that under Beshear’s leadership, ADMH launched Stepping Up Alabama, which uses the national model to reduce the numbers of jailed individuals with mental illness. Alabama is the only state to expand the goal to include ER’s and substance use disorder. It is anticipated that a case management component of Stepping Up will be in place in all 67 counties by the end of the Fiscal Year 2022.

Additionally, three mental health crisis centers were recently announced as crisis diversion centers, with the goal of individuals receiving “the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Expansion of school-based mental health, hiring a housing coordinator for individuals’ stabilization plan, and expansion of early childhood services and autism services are examples of ADMH’s expansion of services during Beshear’s tenure.

The governor on Monday also announced she is appointing Kim Boswell to be the new ADMH commissioner effective December 16.

Boswell reportedly has more than 36 years of experience working with individuals with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities.

She currently serves as chief of staff for Beshear and has been both associate commissioner for Administration as well as director of Human Resources for the department. During her career, Boswell has worked as a planner to improve human service delivery systems, a Program Evaluator, a School to Work Transition Coordinator, and has also served as the State Office Administrator for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“I’m pleased to announce Kim Boswell as Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Mental Health,” Ivey stated. “She has spent the entirety of her professional career devoted to helping struggling individuals and I appreciate her willingness to serve in this new capacity. Her background as a mental health provider as well as administrator makes her uniquely qualified.”

The governor’s office noted that Kim Boswell is of no relation to ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.

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

5 hours ago

Report: Democratic-aligned group tried to register dead Alabama woman to vote in Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday said his office is investigating four different voter registration groups for potential wrongdoing ahead of the state’s crucial January 5 U.S. Senate runoffs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Raffensperger, a Republican, held a press conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta to outline these investigations.

The theme of the alleged actions by all four groups under investigation pertains to attempting to register people who do not currently reside in Georgia to vote in the Peach State’s runoffs.

One of the groups was founded by Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018; she has still not conceded that election. Her group allegedly solicited individuals residing in New York City to register to vote in Georgia.

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Another group, Vote Forward, is alleged to have attempted to register a dead Alabama woman to vote in the upcoming runoff.

Vote Forward is a 501(c)(4) aligned with Democratic groups and left-leaning causes.

The group’s other prominent Alabama tie?

On Vote Forward’s website, the organization cites its voter registration and turnout efforts in the Yellowhammer State as being effective in helping U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) win his 2017 special election bid.

In fact, the website says, “The project began as an experiment conducted by Scott Forman in Alabama in 2017. Encouraged by the success of that test, Scott and a small group of friends and fellow Opower alumni built this platform…”

On Monday, Raffensperger stressed that Vote Forward and the three other named groups “have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting.”

“If they do so, they will be held responsible,” he added.

The outcome of Georgia’s runoffs is of paramount importance for Alabama, as U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will lose the chairmanship of the powerful Committee on Appropriations if Republicans do not win these two races.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has launched a nationwide Georgia Battleground Fund leadership team to aid fundraising in their effort to hold the Senate majority. Led by Karl Rove as national finance chairman, this also includes state chairs and a distinguished team of national and honorary co-chairs.

Katie Boyd Britt — current president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and former chief of staff to Shelby — is the Alabama state chair for this effort.

“America’s fate rests on the outcome of these Georgia races,” stated Rove. “Democrats have not been shy about what they’ll do if Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi run Congress, so it’s imperative every freedom loving American go all in for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler so they’re victorious. I’m honored to work with so many great Republican leaders from all 50 states and D.C. to ensure these two Senators have the resources to protect the last line of defense against the Democrats’ left-wing agenda.”

RELATED: Republican organizer leading team of volunteers to aid Senate races in Georgia

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

6 hours ago

Alabama sets state record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Alabama recorded its largest yet number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Monday as the state’s coronavirus statistics continue to reach alarming levels.

There were 1,717 individuals in the hospital with COVID in Alabama on Monday, eclipsing the previous record of 1,613 set on August 6.

UAB Hospital, the state’s biggest and most prominent medical facility, is currently treating 125 coronavirus patients, a new high for the facility.

“125 patients means 125 patients receiving in-hospital, bed-specific care. These are patients who are either very sick, unable to get better, or potentially unable to survive without medical attention and care,” UAB explained about their hospitalized patients in a press release.

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Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)
(UAB/Contributed)

UAB’s numbers include any patient admitted to the hospital with a diagnosed case of COVID-19.

The hospital’s numbers appear to indicate a worrying spike in the Birmingham metropolitan area. UAB was treating just 79 coronavirus patients on Thursday.

Overall, Alabama’s count of new coronavirus cases remains about as high as it has ever been. On average, 1,733 new cases have been added each day over the last week.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)

Yellowhammer News is using statewide coronavirus numbers from BamaTracker in this piece. BamaTracker is a website that collects and displays coronavirus data published by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Additionally, Yellowhammer is counting new cases as those confirmed by a chemical test performed in a laboratory. When adding results from rapid tests and other methods classified by ADPH as “probable” positives, Alabama’s seven-day average rises to 2,206.

Past trends in coronavirus data show that a spike in hospitalizations follows a spike in new cases by 2-3 weeks. A corresponding increase in deaths follows the increase in hospitalizations by around one month.

All but three of Alabama’s 67 counties reported a new COVID-19 case on Monday, indicating continued widespread transmission across the state.

Of all COVID-19 tests administered in Alabama over the last 14 days, 26.1% came back positive, the highest rate the state has suffered during the pandemic.

In recent days, for every eight tests administered, one was positive, per BamaTracker’s calculations.

Approximately 13 coronavirus deaths were reported in Alabama each day over the last week. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,246, with another 332 listed as “probable” but not yet confirmed by ADPH.

Doctors continue to recommend wearing face masks, staying at least six feet apart from others, and washing hands frequently as the best ways to slow the spread of the virus.

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

Alabama’s state Christmas tree to be delivered on Tuesday

Alabama’s official Christmas tree will be delivered to the State Capitol on Tuesday, the governor’s office said.

This year’s tree, donated by Robbins Taylor, Sr., is an Eastern Red Cedar arriving from Letohatchee in Lowndes County.

The tree stands about 35 feet tall and will be displayed on the front steps of the State Capitol building in Montgomery.

Following its delivery, the tree will be decorated throughout the week with lights and other adornments before the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

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

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