Saturday, February 25, 2006

Immigration reform and the USCCB

I have to say that I am glad that the published position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on immigration reform as reported in this week's East Tennessee Catholic does not have the force of doctrine or dogma. USCCB position papers are just that, the bishops' collective position on some issue of the day. Many times, they are reflective of doctrine or dogma (such as the statement in 2004 on public officials who thwart the Church's teaching on aborticide) and have the force of that kind of authority. Other times, they merely reflect the bishops' desire for justice to be done with respect to a certain issue, and can be (but are usually not) wrong. I have known of several cases where particular bishops advised their flocks to disregard some USCCB statement or other as not being reflective of the teachings of the Universal Church.

That's not to say the USCCB should be ignored by any means, as frequently (and more often than not) they are right on the money, and they do reflect Church teaching. However, non-Catholics should know that a national bishops' conference is a collegial body, it is not a part of the Church hierarchy (which remains: layman-deacon-priest-bishop-Pope), it is merely made up of members of that hierarchy.

On the issue of immigration reform, I must respectfully, and with deference to my spiritual leaders in the Lord, charitably disagree with this latest public stand by the Bishops' Conference. The flaw lies not with the desire to deal humanely with migrants, but in the notion that it is alright to let millions of undocumented aliens from another country run all over our country illegally and even have the right to the public benefits and privileges of a citizen.

To be fair to the bishops' collective mindset, they do have an interest in this that supercedes the earthly sovereignty of the United States of America: The vast majority of these illegal migrants are Catholics. When they come here, the Church in America is responsible for their spiritual well-being, and for a good many of them, it is the one place they can go where they know they will be safe. (By an ancient provision of Canon Law, anyone can take refuge in the Church.) It is also the place many of them go for food, clothing, or subsistence when they arrive. Beyond that, because they are Catholics, I am utterly certain there is an element of "Catholicizing by default" thought in the minds of the USCCB. A lot of these folks are good Catholics; they go to Mass, observe the precepts of the Church, many are socially conservative, and they don't contracept their children away. It is easy to see why the USCCB might think "well...the more the merrier!"

Simply allowing illegals to run free in our country is a threat to our sovereignty, security, and national culture. I have no problem with Mexicans and those from other Latin American countries coming to America in the hopes of building a better life. Here's the catch: If you want to come to America, I don't care where you are from, but you had better have one goal in mind, and that goal should be becoming an American citizen. If you are coming here just to work and have no intent on swearing allegiance to the country that is giving you that greater opportunity, you need to go home and give that opportunity to someone else from your country who does love America, and values the opportunity here so much that they want to join the American family.

I do not favor any sort of policy of "Mexicans Out."

My policy would be "Citizenship or Out."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Busy day

I want to personally appologize for not having a real post today. I had an extremely busy day today and by the time I got around to this point, I had run out of time in the day. I will make the announcement that I am well aware of the fact that Stacey Campfield is going to be at the Norwood Library again tomorrow. Unfortunately I probably won't be able to make it to that gathering. Nicole and I have to go to White Pine to see if her father won't care to fix my wheel chair ramp on the back of our truck.

That's not to say that I won't go to any more of Stacey's listening tour stops, as I would like to sit down for a longer period of time. As a matter of fact, I'd just love it if Stacey, Rob Huddleston, Brian Hornback, and myself could all sit down to dinner. I think if we had the time, we'd be there half the night. Hopefully we'll all be able to get together soon enough. As to what we might conspire to do at such a meeting, I have no clue but I am sure we will come up with something.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The flaw in the logic of "choice"

Every day I find examples of the flawed logic of the Left, but a classic example of the flawed logic could be found in Tuesday's News-Sentinel. Ina Hughes wrote an opinion piece in which she basically accused pro-life Christians of hypocrisy. We have no cause, says Hughes, to protest the evils of aborticide because we will not "take crack babies into [our] home," and all of us will not adopt a dozen children. According to Ms. Hughes' logic, if a child is really unwanted and is going to have a miserable life, perhaps it really would be better to kill that child in abortion than for the child to be brought into the world and live miserably.

The flaw in this kind of thinking is the notion that the right to exist is predetermined by the viability of a life the world deems as happy, or normal, or whatever else you might want to call it. The right to human existence is not predicated upon the right to joy, or wealth, or even a roof over your head. A person's right to live should not be determined by their economic status, or their disability, or lack thereof.

I can honestly say that I have not had an easy life. If anyone could complain about their life, and about the things they've had to go through in their life, or even about the drudgery of daily existence, I could certainly be the one to do the complaining. I've had it hard from the beginning. The day I was born, the doctors told my mother I wouldn't live through the night. When I was three years old, they said I would never walk. Well I don't walk with ease, but I can walk. People wondered about my marketability, and how I would get along in life. I struggled and scratched and found every loophole and string to pull that I could so that I could get a college education. Even my job isn't easy from day to day. Oh well, it's a job. There are a whole lot of people that have it a lot worse than I do. At the worst times of my life, when it looked like I had no hope, I would always remind myself of that reality. When bad things happen to me today, I still remind myself of that fact. I could easily complain that my life hasn't been worth the trouble. A lot of the kinds of people mentioned in Ms. Hughes' article could say the same thing about their life, were they to live to tell about it.

Who are we to deny those people the right to try and turn their life around? Who are we to assume that their life will amount to nothing? We human beings do not have that power. That power resides in God alone. Ultimately, abortion is another of mankind's attempts to play God. We assume it would be better for some to die in order that there be no misery in the world, rather than misery exist in the world and us be willing to take that risk to guarantee everyone the right to live free. If we live in a culture where we must kill the most innocent people among us in order to guarantee the good of the larger whole, is that a culture in which true happiness is even possible?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Riding in style

I've got to send compliments and kudos out to Knoxville Area Transit for the expeditious manner in which they made sure I got to work this morning. This after I criticized them for mis-spending the funds they do have.

It all started when I attempted to board the bus at my usual time at about ten minutes to eight this morning. The bus driver stopped the bus and picked up the passengers waiting in the driveway and then informed me that the lift wasn't working. She then told me she would have to call and see if she could get someone out to get me so that I wouldn't run too far behind schedule. Based on past experience, I assumed that would mean that what would really happen would be that I would have to wait on the next bus for over an hour. Thinking this, I immediately called the office to inform them that I was going to be late for work.

After I made that phone call, I then called my wife and let her know what was happening. I didn't know it at the time, but the wheels were already in motion. While I was on the phone with her I saw speeding down Inskip Drive a full sized bus with the sign on the front that said "Not In Service." The bus stopped and the driver opened the door and came out and asked if I was the passenger waiting on the bus downtown. I said that I was and I quickly realized that not only did KAT send a full sized bus, they didn't send just any bus, either-they sent one of the newer buses in the fleet. Compared to the old models, these newer buses are the Cadillacs of public transportation, and they have automatic wheelchair ramps instead of lifts, which are virtually assured to work every time they are used.

I got straight downtown in a very short amount of time and I had a plesantly good time on my way. To be honest, I was completely shocked with the efficiency with which KAT answered my call for help. Perhaps KAT should put some of their resources into making all of the buses in the fleet as nice as the one that picked me up this morning.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Huddleston's big decision

Those of you who have clicked the link in my right side bar and bothered to read Rob Huddleston’s blog know that he is facing a life altering decision in the coming days and weeks. The choice to voluntarily give up your private life to assume a very public roll in the larger civic order is not an easy choice for anyone to make.

I both empathize and sympathize with the personal and professional agony that he has chosen to put himself through in making this decision. I believe that he is certainly right to say that he is praying about it (as well he should), and right in asking the rest of us to pray for him. In sharing his dilemma with his larger readership, Rob has given us all a window into the very personal element of politics. That is to say, it’s more than just a decision about whether you want to run for political office, it is also a choice that must be weighed against anyone’s responsibilities as a parent, breadwinner, spouse, and spiritual leader of their home.

One of the more controversial aspects of Rob’s proposed candidacy is the fact that he does not live in the First District. No matter how we might feel about the notion of people from outside a Congressional district running for that district’s seat, it is important to remember that under the U. S. Constitution, it is not required that a member of Congress be a resident of the district they represent, although that is certainly the fashion.

For the record I should say that, while I haven’t had the pleasure of a personal meeting with Rob (though I hope to one of these days soon), based on everything that he has written which I have read, I believe he will be an excellent United States Congressman no matter what district he represents. I should say that I wish that he would represent the district in which he lives, but that is only because I happen to live in the same district.

Regardless of the decision Rob makes in the end, I believe he will make the right decision for the people of the First District, for all of East Tennessee, but at this point in the political game, most importantly for himself. Whatever happens to the potential candidacy of Rob Huddleston for Congress in 2006, I think he’ll be a member of Congress one day. He certainly has the political experience for it and he has more than earned his stripes.

Posting note

A note to regulars: Tonight's post will occur much later than normal, as I have a Knights of Columbus meeting immediately after work!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Historical cleansing movement rears its ugly head (again)

The latest debate in the saga of Confederate historical revisionism has come to Tennessee. Namely, what to do about one of Tennessee's most famous (or infamous) war heroes, General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Everyone thinks or Forrest as the founder of the Ku Klux Klan-but Forrest was not the founder, he was merely the early Klan's most famous leader. What's more, the Klan of the 1860's was not the Klan of the 1920's, known for its vicious lynchings, nearly all historians of good repute agree on that. By 1869, when he thought the Klan had become too violent, he ordered it disbanded, and later in his life, the former slave trader known for his brutality became an advocate for black advancement.

Forrest's record was a decidedly mixed one, but he remains an extremely important figure in Tennessee history. Now comes the characteristic outcry from certain so-called black leaders to remove his bust from the State Capitol, rename Forrest Park in Memphis (African-American Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton said no), and purge Forrest's name (at least in any good light) from the history of Tennessee. State Rep. Johnny Shaw, himself a racist who thinks that white Representatives concerned about their black constituents should not be welcomed into the Black Caucus he leads, says we need to become "race neutral."

Shaw and those like him are not interested in becoming a race-neutral society, they are interested in exacting vengeance on white people because whites are responsible for all of the evils they see in the world, so they think. Rather than seriously address the very real problems of Tennessee's black community, they would rather spend their time tearing down statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is apparently the party lately deemed as responsible for why the illegitimacy rate is twice as high among African-Americans, the illiteracy rate twice as high, and the murder rate three times as high as among the rest of the population.

I'm not saying that Nathan Bedford Forrest was Mr. Fabulous, I am saying that our history should not be rewritten because Shaw and his ilk do not like it. Our time would better be spent doing things vouchers to African-American children to attend better schools.

Oh, I forgot, Shaw would rather keep them in a failing public school system, and spend his time and ours griping about General Forrest.

And yes, I think removing that bust would be a great tragedy. Why? Well, we have a new form of cultural genocide in this country. If there is any historical symbol or decoration that gives any honor to the Confederate States of America, it needs to be destroyed post-haste according to the orthodoxy of the Politically Correct.

We don't need people like Shaw telling us that the people in our past might not always have been so savory...we can figure that out ourselves. You do not erase the great figures of history merely because they did things that were not always pleasant.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Blog/browser problem

It has come to my attention that somehow, those of you who view my blog using Internet Explorer are seeing some posts in regular typeface and some in large typeface. I was not previously aware of this problem because I use the vastly superior Mozilla Firefox as my browser(and recommend it to others), nor am I sure how to fix the problem. My blog is best viewed with Mozilla.

I do pray that readers will bear with me and continue to read.

Bredesen and criminals

In a story in today's News-Sentinel that hasn't yet appeared online, Governor Phil Bredesen's ties to convicted Cocke County chop-shop operator Harold Eugene Grooms were fully revealed. Mr. Grooms cannot vote as a convicted felon, but he helped raise nearly $65,000 for Bredesen's political campaign since 2001, and he helped carry Cocke County for Democrat Bredesen. Cocke County is historically one of the most Republican counties in Tennessee, and some would argue in the nation.

Cocke County is also a place known for illegal cockfighting rings run by local law enforcement(ironically, the local prep sports mascot in Cocke County is the "Fighting Cocks"), where members of the Newport Police Department and the Cocke County Sheriff's Department have been accused of violating civil rights and mistreating outsiders. The place is known as a hub of illegal activity of all sorts, where the law turns a blind eye to crime when the crime benefits those who enforce the law.

So bad is Cocke County's reputation that when I first came to Tennessee, people who knew me and knew well my penchant for political involvement told me to avoid Cocke County politics like the plague: Do not settle there, do not attempt civic involvement there, for God's sake do not put your neck out and run for office there, you are liable to lose your head.

I have since learned that not everyone in Cocke County would be so averse to someone like me. I even spent part of my honeymoon in Cocke County. I had a wonderful time, the folks were great, and I actually left the county in one piece, along with my bride, much to the surprise of many. However, the corruption problems that permeate Cocke County politics and government are very real, enough that people who are serious about keeping a good name and good reputation need to investigate any political help they may get from Cocke County very closely to make sure it is all above board.

Either Governor Phil Bredesen didn't do this, or he just did not care. It turns out that Harold Eugene Grooms is the target of a federal and TBI investigation. Mr. Grooms has long been suspected as the leader of a pot smuggling ring in Cocke County after two pilots were arrested for smuggling the whacky weed six years ago and told authorities Mr. Grooms was their boss. The investigation into Grooms was part of a larger federal and State investigation into corruption in Cocke County that involved everything from drug-running to cockfighting to brothels and brought about the resignation of Cocke County Sheriff D.C. Ramsey.

Now Bredesen says he is "sorry" about his association with Grooms. He didn't know Grooms had "problems." Harold Eugene's son, Jason Grooms, got a State job in which he was responsible for helping oversee development in upper East Tennessee, and Bredesen did not know Grooms "had problems." Apparently, the Governor has elected to simply plead Stupid when it comes to dealing with parts of our Tennessee world known for shady political business to begin with.

Do we really want a Governor who is too stupid not to take contributions and aid from felons who cannot vote, or employ their sons in the service of the State of Tennessee?

Perhaps Bredesen is not that ignorant after all. Maybe he somehow thinks there is ethical justification for making criminals and their associates a part of your campaign team and administration.

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