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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.

7 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.

 

 

7 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.

8 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

9 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.