Paul Ryan is understandably ‘bone-tired’ — but I do wish he could stay


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WHY IS SPEAKER RYAN STEPPING DOWN: PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last week, Paul Ryan decided he would call it quits and that he would not run for reelection — he would step down as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

I want to take you to two articles. One, out of The Christian Post, which really dealt with the personal reasons Ryan said he was leaving, that being he said, “My kids aren’t getting any younger. If I stay, they’ll only know me as a weekend dad.” His children were all born after he was elected to Congress and now they’re teenagers.

The Politico story took a little bit of a different slant, saying that the 48-year-old Paul Ryan said the thing that bothers him most in today’s political climate is identity politics.

DR. REEDER: I will confess, while not always agreeing with Speaker Ryan, I have been an admirer and been grateful for his presence there and I am sad to see him leave. Of course, he’s, first of all, more than anything else a husband and a father. His children were born after he was elected and they’re now up into his teenage years. I’m grateful that he has made the commitment and has stuck to it to go home on the weekend and has done so — did not get a place to live and stay in Washington, went back every weekend.

Secondly, of course, there are some reasons in terms of the political landscape. Paul Ryan said he is “bone-tired” of dealing with — what he called — identity politics and that is playing out

WHAT IS THE TONE OF THE NATION AND GOVERNMENT HE IS LEAVING BEHIND?

Clearly, there are two movements taking place right now, not only in our nation but internationally. One is the incessant movement toward the sovereignty of the state in socialism that, initially, embraces the sovereignty of the state as the messiah and deliverer of the culture, but has an incessant drumbeat of a globalist view.

And so, this globalist movement, in the corporate world and in the political world, is being met by a reactionary nationalist movement. We’re seeing the nationalist movement in Britain in the Brexit vote, we see it in Scotland in the continued votes for their independence and I think you saw it in the election of President Trump, which was a similar Populist movement. And neither sees compromise with the other as either desirable or permissible.

SPEAKER RYAN, YOU ARE RIGHT THAT SOMETHING HAS BEEN LOST

What I would say to Speaker Ryan is that underneath that has been the loss of a consensus of what makes American culture and the values that you would embrace, by which all movements would have been filtered, read and addressed. And we have lost that undergirding prism through which you look at these movements and address the movements and to which the various proponents of the movements would come together because of a greater ideal in the agreed virtues and values of the nation.

Because that’s been lost, now these two movements, the Populist movement which seems to be taking over the Republican Party and the tactics of pragmatism — no longer any sense of virtue in the leaders, no longer any sense of virtue in the tactics — but pragmatism in the ends justify the means.

And then, on the other side, of course, is the incessant movement to the globalist position and promoting socialism as the religion of the day. The cultural elite have embraced it and they want to eradicate anything that stands against it and, certainly, Christianity, which says that the state and the economic system is not the messiah — there is a Messiah and that’s the One who went to the cross to die for our sins and would change our lives.

Now, from that foundation, let’s debate what is good public policy. Christians need to think their way through this because, on the one hand, I hear Christians say, “Well, President Trump, look at the Supreme Court justice, look at the deregulation.” There is a gratefulness for policy and legislative and deregulation initiatives that would be in line with a Christian world and life view.

COMPROMISE IN THE ELECTION DOES NOT MEAN COMPROMISE ALWAYS

And then many evangelical Christians are almost making the bargain, “Well, since you’re doing that, we will be silent about tactics that are not only distasteful but wrong.” You can argue that an evangelical was put between a rock and a hard place in terms of the last election: “Do I vote for Trump with all of my concerns about tactics, and character, and marriage, etc. or do I vote for Hillary Clinton who is going to take tax money and embed the genocide of the unborn — moves forward with infanticide and has declared the support of infanticide — and then moves forward to active euthanasia, and is a globalist, and is a socialist and is moving even further left on all those? How can I possibly vote for someone who is going to murder the unborn?”

Okay, you can understand that sense, but what the evangelical can’t do is make a bargain that means I’ll be quiet on the verbal sins and moral sins, lest those, unconfronted, now become embedded within the culture.

That’s what Paul Ryan is faced with. He’s bone-tired of dealing with it, so he’s going to go home and work on his family, work within his state, but here’s what we have to understand. We look at a guy like Paul Ryan as an emotional casualty to this. Politically, he was able to be reelected and his seat was not in jeopardy, but he’s just tired. He didn’t even want to be the Speaker — he was drafted to be the Speaker — and I think he knew that this day was coming if he became the Speaker and it has come and so he’s stepping down.

I simply say, “I wish you could stay in.” I think he brings a certain demeanor and a certain understanding that tactics must match the noble ends of policy and that the end does not justify the means — the means must be appropriate to the end that’s desired.

THIS POLARIZATION IS INDICATIVE OF CULTURE SHIFT

Politicians and politics affect our culture, but what you need to understand even more is that politicians elected and every election is a reflection of the culture. Take a look at who we’re losing from the offices and who are going into the offices and realize that, once a person is elected, we have a responsibility to appropriately support them. When they declare good legislation and policies, let’s support it and, when they use wrong tactics, we must oppose those tactics. You can support the policy but oppose the tactics.

And whenever there is the attempt to normalize immorality in any form — whether it’s verbal, sexual, emotional, whatever form of embracing that which stands against God’s gracious commandments, we must not be silent. And, when we have politicians who attempt to enact both policy and use appropriate tactics at the same time, we cannot become pragmatists.

The Republican Party is moving in a Populist direction and increasingly embracing pragmatism — “If you get the policies in, we’ll wink at the tactics and lifestyle that you are embracing” — and the Democratic Party is clearly going left, and embracing the culture of death, and embracing policies of death and embracing the sovereignty of the state, in particular, and a globalist position corporately and politically, in general. That is leading the nation, those two parties.

CHRISTIANS MUST PROVIDE A GODLY AND MEASURED PERSPECTIVE IN POLITICS

Somewhere, there has to be the voices of those who say, “We want good policy, but we want it brought forward in a virtuous manner and we are appreciative of and embrace the nation state, the ethnos as declared in the Bible. We embrace it by, first of all, bringing the Gospel to every nation and we reject the policies of death, we embrace policies of life and we demand that those who produce the policies of life produce them in a way that honors the virtues of life as affirmed by God’s creation law and in His revealed law.

Therefore, with a Gospel movement of the hearts and lives of men and women from the grassroots up and electing officials who bring beneficial public policy in a manner that is honorable, then we could see a liberty under law because a nation is seeking the providential blessings of God.

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.

12 hours ago

VIDEO: Prisons could be built with COVID-19 funds, Shelby endorses Katie Britt for Senate, Brooks battles with Swalwell as a new poll shows big lead and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Alabama really use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons?

— Does Katie Britt’s entering of the U.S. Senate race shake things up, or has U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) already won this race?

— Can U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) keep the more radical members of the Democratic Party at bay?

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Jackson and Musick are joined by former U.S. Attorney Jay Town to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at those who want to use the illegally acquired tax returns of the uber-wealthy to push for higher taxes. He argues the released returns show that we should implement a flat tax and do away with all deductions.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

15 hours ago

Auburn’s David Housel tackles more than sports in ‘From the Backbooth at Chappy’s’

When David Housel retired from Auburn University in 2006, after a legendary career as athletics director for the Tigers, it wasn’t long before his wife urged him to get busy again – and a deli on Glenn Avenue in Auburn was the beneficiary.

“Susan wanted me to do something to get out of the house,” Housel recalls. “I started going to Chappy’s to drink coffee, read the paper. Pretty soon, Kenny Howard would meet me there, and it just kind of grew from there.”

In short order, friends of Housel began to gather, first a few one day a week and then, just prior to the pandemic, 12-16 people nearly every day of the week.

They meet at Chappy’s, where a plaque commemorates Housel’s booth, and they talk – about sports, of course, but about pretty much anything that’s on their minds.

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Housel began to write essays about those mornings, posting them to Facebook. He’s now compiled more than 100 of those pieces into a new book, “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s: Stories of the South: Football, Politics, Religion, and More.” It’s officially released next week at a series of book signings at Chappy’s in the Auburn area from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day: Tuesday in Auburn, Wednesday in Montgomery and Thursday in Prattville.

“Consider this Housel unleashed,” the author says. “Most of the stuff I’ve written in my life has been about Auburn on an Auburn platform. Even after I retired, I was a representative of Auburn, even though I wasn’t working there. This is not an Auburn book. It’s about football, politics, religion and more.”

“From the Backbooth at Chappy’s,” with a foreword by Auburn graduate and acclaimed journalist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, evolved as Housel’s morning gatherings at Chappy’s evolved, though he began writing the essays fairly early in the process.

“When something is in your mind, in your heart, in your head, if you’re a writer, it just has to come out, and it just comes through your fingers,” Housel says. “Turns out people like to read it, so I got the Facebook page. I shared thoughts and essays and that kind of thing. It was not a planned thing.”

When COVID-19 came along, Housel decided to listen to a few folks who told him his musings would make a good book.

“I had been thinking a lot about it, and it was time to do it,” Housel says.

Housel has written six other books. Most have to do with Auburn sports history, but one, “From the Desk of David Housel,” is similar to “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s.”

“That one was primarily sports, but it had some other things in it,” Housel says. “This one is about the other stuff, but it has some sports in it.”

Though the three topics in his book’s title – football, politics and religion  – are often the subjects people are warned not to bring up if they want to keep the peace, Housel and his friends don’t shy away from any of them. Housel especially gravitates toward religious topics.

“I like the ones that I hope make people think,” he says of his essays. “The good Lord gave us a mind, and we’re supposed to use it. Too few people who call themselves Christians do what the Lord said and use their minds. … Faith has got to be built not on challenging God but questioning God. I think God likes that, because it shows we’re engaged and that we care.”

Now that the pandemic is ending, the Backbooth at Chappy’s events are slowly but surely returning to normal. On Mondays, Housel eats two eggs scrambled, lean bacon and a helium biscuit; on Tuesdays maybe a parfait with granola; on Wednesdays, it’s blueberry pancakes, and Fridays a waffle.

What remains constant is the conversation. And the writing.

“I’m still writing the Backbooth, and since the first of the year, I’ve written a couple I think are book-worthy,” Housel says. “I started out doing maybe one a week, but I’m old enough that I don’t have to meet a self-imposed deadline. When the spirit moves me, I write.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 hours ago

State Rep. Pringle pushes to ban critical race theory in public schools — ‘Woke culture indoctrination,’ ‘Needs to be stopped in its tracks’

Last week, Florida’s Board of Education banned so-called “critical race theory” from its public schools, and it is a move State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) hopes to follow in Alabama.

Critical race theory, a belief that racism is ingrained in some of America’s sacred institutions, is widely panned by critics because it distorts and weaponizes history for political gain.

Friday, Pringle discussed his prefiled bill for the Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in Alabama’s public schools.

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“It’s simply a bill that says in public education, you can’t teach or indoctrinate our children with critical race theory,” he said. “People are waking up all around the nation to how bad this stuff is. I mean, this is woke cancel culture gone completely amuck. They want to completely disregard our 14th and 15th Amendment rights, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act. If you don’t agree with them — here’s what’s crazy: They want to send you to a reeducation camp. Think about that, a reeducation camp. Don’t they do that in China, Russia and North Korea?  That’s how bad this stuff is. Either you agree with them or you have to be sent off to a reeducation camp.”

“This is just indoctrination — the woke culture indoctrination of our children,” Pringle continued. “That’s all it is and it needs to be stopped in its tracks. I mean, our children need to learn history and we ought to open a frank discussion about history — the good, the bad. But this is not about good or bad. This is teaching our children that our nation is a bad nation, is an evil nation and is not the great country that we live in. We are the safest, freest people in the world and that’s what our children need to learn.”

“Do we have problems? Yeah,” he added. “Have we done bad things? Yeah. But we’re still the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

According to the Mobile County Republican lawmaker, the response to the effort thus far has been positive and supportive.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

20 hours ago

Why Sylacauga marble is known around the world

If you’ve ever visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and stared up at the translucent marble ceiling, you’ve witnessed a piece of Alabama history. The ceiling is made of white marble mined in Talladega County’s Sylacauga (appropriately known as the Marble City).

In addition to lending its natural treasure to some of the nation’s most notable buildings, Sylacauga also holds the title for having the longest deposit of marble in the world. The bed of stone runs 32 miles long, a mile and a half wide, and more than 600 feet deep. The marble found in this quarry is especially desirable for two key characteristics: its purity and its durability. When paired together, these distinct qualities make Alabama marble some of the most desired in the world for large-scale buildings and monuments, as well as homes and sculptures.

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The History of Alabama Marble

sylacauga marble

The Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Marble is formed when limestone is subjected to extreme pressure and heat. In Sylacauga, the conditions are perfect for the formation of metamorphic marble. Sylacauga’s massive deposit was first discovered by Native Americans, but it wasn’t quarried until 1834, 20 years after army surgeon Dr. Edward Gantt stumbled upon the vein while passing through with General Andrew Jackson’s army.

In the years that followed Gantt’s discovery, Sylacauga’s marble business thrived. More quarries popped up, mining the marble for everything from funerary monuments to building projects to sculptures. By the 1960s, the use of the quarried marble shifted toward the utilitarian. Rather than being mined in huge chunks for building material, the marble was being ground down for use in products like cosmetics, diapers, magazine paper, fertilizer, fiberglass, toothpaste, and chewing gum. In 1969, marble was named Alabama’s state rock.

A Timeless Treasure

Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Today the charge for Alabama marble is being led by the Swindal family, who own Alabama Marble Mineral & Mining Co. (AM3). AM3’s 50-acre quarry in Sylacauga is the world’s only supplier and leading distributor of Alabama marble. Owner Roy Swindal’s goal is to reintroduce the world to Alabama marble, once again marketing it as a prized material for both commercial and consumer construction. According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, around 30 million tons of marble have been pulled from the ground in Sylacauga since 1900. The Swindals hope to add to that number by continuing and improving upon the state’s tradition for many years to come.

Marble Mania

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Sculptor Enzo Torcoletti at the Sylacauga Marble Festival (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

It’s only fitting that a town built on marble pay tribute to the stone that brought its success. For the past 13 years, the city has celebrated its marble mining heritage with the 12-day Magic of Marble Festival. The festival, typically held in April, features several activities and events that are all free and fun for the whole family. Festival participants can take a tour of operational quarries and visit the Gantts/IMERYS Observation Point that overlooks the town’s historic first quarry. The creative side of marble is put on display at Blue Bell Park, where 25 sculptors create original pieces made entirely of marble. On the final day of the festival, the finished pieces are displayed and sold at nearby B.B. Comer Library. Other activities include a 5K run and a scavenger hunt.

If you can’t wait for next year’s festival and you want to see Alabama’s famous white marble in action now, there are several locations around the state to see it put to good use. In Birmingham, try the John Hand Building, Wells Fargo headquarters, City Federal building, or the Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in Montgomery, don’t miss the “Head of Christ” sculpture at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. It was created by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, who also happens to be the artist behind Birmingham’s Vulcan.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

20 hours ago

The economics of paying ransom

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline by the hacker group DarkSide disrupted gasoline supplies across the Southeast. The company caused a stir by paying a 75 Bitcoin ransom to DarkSide. America historically has been opposed to paying evildoers, as reflected in the slogan, “Millions for defense, but not one cent in tribute,” and President Jefferson sending the Navy and Marines to fight the Barbary Pirates.

Ransomware raises many economic issues. A first question is, do hackers ever give the data back if paid? DarkSide provided Colonial Pipeline a key to decrypt their data. According to Proofpoint, this is the norm: 70% of ransom payers got their data back, 20% never got their data back and 10% received a second ransom demand.

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From an economic perspective, this is not surprising. About two dozen groups, identifying themselves by name and known to insurance companies, carry out most of the sophisticated attacks. Insurers would never recommend payment in the future to a group which has reneged. The hackers must deliver as promised to make money.

Some have suggested making payment of ransom for cyberattacks illegal. If no one ever paid ransom, the hackers could not make money. Refusing to pay ransom though faces two significant economic challenges.

The first is time consistency. Kidnapping illustrates this concept. Before an event, the incentive exists to say, “We will never pay ransom.” If the bad guys believe this, they will never invest the time, effort and expense to stage a kidnapping. Once they hold hostages, however, our incentive changes; negotiating just this one time now makes sense. Our policy to never pay ransom is not credible.

Collective action poses the second challenge. Businesses collectively have an interest in not rewarding cybercrime, yet individual businesses suffer these attacks. A business which does not pay ransom benefits other businesses, creating the challenge. Why should Continental Pipeline suffer losses to make other businesses less likely to be attacked?

Why do businesses pay ransom? Reports mention several factors. A business may face a closure of unknown length and cost. Customers’ personal information will be sold if ransom is not paid, leading to fines and bad publicity. And the hackers might sell proprietary information to competitors.

Good economists know better than to second guess business managers’ decisions. Decisions to pay ransom often involve the business’ executives, its insurance carrier and tech security experts. They know the options and likely costs and should make a good decision, despite the pressure of a crisis.

Insurance companies and government regulations reduce organizations’ vulnerability to hackers, which is good. But what about channeling President Jefferson and going after the hackers? Most of the hacker groups operate in Russia, which provides Safe Haven as long as the hackers do not target Russian companies. Some law enforcement options may exist. Federal prosecutors apparently recovered most of the Bitcoins paid to DarkSide.

Crime is a very costly way to transfer wealth. Stolen merchandise typically sells for one-third (or less) of market value. A criminal might have to steal thousands in property to net $1,000. Ransomware appears much more wasteful than traditional theft. Consider just the value of the time Americans spent searching for gas during the disruption. Remember then that the ransom was about $4.4 million.

Cybercrime makes us poorer. The hackers and defenders at tech security companies are highly skilled computer programmers. But instead of making new apps or games, they are hacking or defending existing computer systems. Add to this the service disruption during cyberattacks, the reduced use of technology for fear of being hacked and the time spent on security training. The costs may be $1 trillion annually, or one percent of global GDP.

We must guard here against comparing the real world to an imagined utopia. We cannot costlessly protect our property from thieves or our computers from malware, or make people no longer willing to steal from others. Economics teaches that there are no perfect solutions in life, only tradeoffs. Vigilance, antivirus programs and backup are the tradeoffs we face with cybercrime.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.