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Want our trust? The 7 things an elected official MUST do to gain it


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, anyone following the news realizes that the House Judiciary Committee had somewhat of a firestorm last week when Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, came before that committee.

There was much discussion over what appeared to be partisanship within the Department of Justice and the FBI. As a result, representative Jim Jordan asked Rosenstein, “How can the American people trust their government?”

Rachel Botsman writes, “Without trust, society cannot survive and it certainly cannot thrive.”

Harry, are we at the point in our nation where there is justification for the American people to have some distrust of the federal agencies that are supposed to protect them?

IN GOD WE TRUST

DR. REEDER: Now, a lot of people, Tom, are going to expect me to make the argument, “Yes. They are right so, please, let’s trust the government.” That is not going to be my argument.

A society cannot function if it cannot trust its foundational institutions and government is one of those but my answer is not, “Trust the government,” – my answer is we need a government that’s trustworthy.

One of my favorite sign was in a little general store that I used to pass going up to the mountains for little study breaks, they had a sign that – everybody has seen it because it’s at service stations – and it said this: “In God we trust. Everybody else, pay cash.”

One of President George Washington’s great desires was that the nation would adopt as its motto, “In God We Trust.” That’s why he added, “So help me, God,” to all vows that he would take because he put his trust in God and then Abraham Lincoln was converted in 1863 under the ministry of Dr. Phineas Gurley at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church – a process that had begun with the ministry of a Pastor Smith in Springfield – and he eventually commented to his pastor and others that he would love to see that wish fulfilled and, actually, in a sermon documenting his conversion in the 1950s, two elected officials heard that.

Officially, today, “In God We Trust” is now our national motto. That’s where I am. My trust is not in the government – I trust the Lord – but I want a trustworthy government.

TRUST MUST BE EARNED

Now, how do you develop trust? I really hope our listeners capture this – Tom, I think this is important. I am going to pray for my government and elected officials. I am going to give the honor due to them. I am going to obey the civil authorities as long as they don’t do something that requires me to disobey the Lord.

I do not believe that Caesar, my government, is Lord. And I going to ask them, “Be trustworthy. Earn our trust. We do not automatically give you trust – you have to earn our trust. We will give you the appropriate respect that you’re supposed to do, we will pray for you and we will give obedience as long as our obedience does not cause us to transgress the word of God.”

So how do you develop trust? How does a parent live so that his children not only respect and honor them, as the commandment says, but can trust them?

We have a wonderful prison ministry and we actually have a seminary and planting a church in a prison. Some of the guys I meet are called “trustees.” They had to earn that position where they were now trusted by prison officials.

HOW TO BE TRUSTWORTHY

How can we do that? I believe there are seven things that have to be done in order to be trustworthy and this is what needs to happen in our government:

  1. Our government officials need to have character that earns trust. They do the next right thing.
  2. Tom, character, then, needs to have consistency. Not only do you do the right thing, but you keep doing the right thing.
  3. Consistency that embraces transparency is the next point. If something bad has been done, you don’t cover it up – you confess it up. You own it.
  4. You seek and embrace accountability. You will be accountable to those that are over you and to those that are alongside of you and to those whom you represent.
  5. Clear communication – you communicate with clarity. You don’t just say, “Well, it depends on what ‘is’ is.” You don’t parse words. You don’t try to be technically accurate, but you’re not truthful. Truthful people don’t just say the right things, but they say it to be understood with your intention of clarity.
  6. Accessibility – you make yourself accessible.
  7. Respect – you respect your institution, you respect the law, you respect your vows and you respect the people.

We want character, consistency, transparency, accountability, communication, accessibility and respect. We give respect when people act respectfully to the institution, their vows, and the people that they represent.

This is a matter of the soul of those whom we elect so that they are not corrupted by power. They don’t take the power that allows them to occupy their position of authority and use it for, as we’ve seen, sexual conquests and financial gain. They say no to that and they demonstrate their trustworthiness through this.

THE CHURCH MUST LEAD THE WAY

Tom, one of, I think, the greatest – the most important – shaping institutions of the culture is an institution that isn’t on the mission to shape the culture – but if it accomplishes its mission, it does shape the culture consequentially – and that is the church of Jesus Christ.

Fifteen of the 17 qualifications for an elder deal with character and then we need to be consistent, we need to be transparent, we need to be accountable, we need to communicate with integrity and clarity, we need to be accessible, and we need to be respectful in how we handle God’s word and God’s people.

And then, as a church, we begin to disciple people, some of which become elected officials who go into the body politic and then function in a way that we become trustworthy. I am grateful whenever I see that.

Therefore, to the government, it’s not the government we trust – it’s in God we trust – but I also want you to know we want a trustworthy government. We don’t get a trustworthy government through simply our system. Our system was set up by the founding fathers to facilitate the seven things I just said. Our system was set up to have elected officials of character who are consistent – that’s why they have to keep coming back up for election; who are called to transparency – an open government and a government of sunshine; who are accountable – that’s why they are called to communicate regularly and live among your people, not living in the Washington bubble; then are accessible; and then are respectful.

That’s what I long to see and want to see in our government. Yes, you can’t just drain the swamp because you’ve got to fill the lake. And that’s what we need to fill the lake with but I even more long for the greatest institution – the one that’s heading for eternity – and that is the church of Jesus Christ, that we, on-mission, on-message, in-ministry, will demonstrate that same trustworthiness beginning with leaders.

And, God, would you by the Gospel, let it begin with me.

 

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

8 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.

 

 

8 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.

9 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

10 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.