Saturday, August 18, 2007

Classic Cash

The lyrical theme from Bonanza and Five Feet High and Risin'.


Friday, August 17, 2007

The call

For those who don't believe that we need to take action to curb the tide of illegal immigration, I offer you this morning's first responder call as a prime example of why this is becoming a problem we must deal with.

At 11:04 AM White Pine Firefighters and First Responders were paged out on a call regarding a 19 year-old female who was pregnant and experiencing chest pains-not contractions, but chest pains. The address was one that most of our guys were familiar with, and one of our First Responders set out in Truck 1 to respond to the call. Upon arriving at the given address, he couldn't find anyone around, so he radioed county dispatch to get a fix on the location. County Dispatch had botched the location of the call to begin with, and at first we shrugged that off because Jeff County Dispatch is not generally known for 100% accuracy, so we have printed Google Maps for situations when we don't know a part of the Fire District by having been there often.

As it turns out, the location was at least partly correct, and dispatch botched it when contacting us partly because the caller spoke in very broken English. Dispatch proceeded to warn our man on the scene that the young lady in question spoke no English at all-the person speaking in broken English would be acting as an interpreter.

For some strange reason, the young lady set out (apparently someone went with her, perhaps to drive her) to Morristown-Hamblen Hospital before the Department arrived on scene-and we got there fast. Hence, aid that may have been life-saving could have been withheld because of this decision. For the sake of this individual's life, I hope and pray they are alright.

The entire incident raises a series of good questions, however. What would have happened if our first responder could not understand the "interpreter?" What if there had not been one? How much knowledge did these folks have of our emergency response system? If they are illegal, they may not have had the knowledge that a fire truck and an ambulance are on the way with help as soon as the call goes out. What if the first responder on scene needed to communicate with the person(s) directly, and had no way to do so?

It is very easy for some people to say "the firefighters need to speak Spanish." This is White Pine, not Nashville or New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. We have a small but well-trained and able corps of first responders and firefighters. Our men and women are volunteers, they give their time and talent to the community to respond in case of an emergency-in many cases, they have taken vacations from work in order to get the training they need. A good number of them come to the station to be on standby on their days off rather than spend time with their families. If there was a requirement made that they had to speak a second language to do the jobs they volunteer for, we wouldn't have a fire department in White Pine at all.

Yet our volunteer emergency personnel are being placed in these situations locally more and more. Our little town has a limited budget and we aren't large enough for a paid department.

The opposition knows that much of this new immigration is illegal in nature, and they have to know the havoc that illegal immigration is wreaking socially, culturally, and even upon our emergency responses in rural America. They don't care-and they don't give a damn about the towns that might be ruined or the lives they might cost on all sides in the process.

The flow has to stop or the social order itself could crumble.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Duncan Anti-Usury Act

Congressman Jimmy Duncan has authored a piece of legislation that I think is long overdue-a bill that would limit the credit limit that credit card companies could give to college students to 20% of their annual income or $500 for students with no cosigner.

Millions of Americans are swimming in massive credit card debt, and for many of these folks their journey into the world of credit debt slavery began when they were in college. Have many people been financially irresponsible? Yes they have. Others realize that they have been irresponsible but didn't know the wiser when they were 18, on their own for the first time, and had very little that was truly their own.

Parents ought to teach their children a little about fiscal responsibility, that much is certain-and many parents have failed to do so before Johnny or Susie hits campus for the first time. Still others have taught their children this important fiscal virtue but they can't compete with the credit card representatives handing out goodies in return for signing up for a shiny new credit card.

I'm not saying that the credit card companies don't have a right to try and make a buck, but they go well beyond that-they sign up the penniless student for a credit card at an extremely exorbitant interest rate (precisely because the student is cash poor) hoping to induce Joe or Jane Student to spend money they do not have. The credit card companies view young, impressionable, and-yes-gullible college kids as a potential endless stream of profit, because if they are lucky they'll have them all hooked on credit cards they can't pay off by the time they graduate.

In the Bible charging excessive interest on money owed is a sin-the Scriptures call it usury. Ezekiel 18:13 tells us that a man:

That giveth upon usury, and that taketh an increase: shall such a one live? He shall not live. Seeing he hath done all these detestable things, he shall surely die, his blood shall be upon him.

Strong words from the Supreme Ruler of the Universe about those who milk excessive interest from others. The prophet gives us the impression that the Ever-Living isn't at all fond of the practice. Indeed, it is enough of a serious matter that mention of usury makes it into the same chapter of the Bible as "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Verse 20) Among the nastiest of the sins of Israel and Judah mentioned in Ezekiel 22:12 is that:

They have taken gifts in thee to shed blood: thou hast taken usury and increase, and hast covetously oppressed thy neighbours: and then hast forgotten me, saith the Lord God.

Profiting from usury is right up there with forgetting God on the Almighty's list of things that make Him very unhappy. Somehow I don't think that Bible verse makes it into the lunch hour Bible study group at Capital One.

It bears remembering that usury is a practice that was prohibited in canon law by the Church for over a millennium. That the Scriptures speak so negatively of it may have something to do with the fact that usury can cause entire peoples to be eternal debt slaves.

While Congressman Duncan's bill obviously has a very useful secular purpose, I do wonder if he drew just a little inspiration from the pages of the Holy Writ.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Feast of the Assumption

All Catholics should be reminded that today-August 15th-is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a Holy Day of Obligation-a day on which the Church calls on us to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass except under grave circumstances. Failing to do so places one under the pain of mortal sin.

The Diocese of Knoxville

Find Mass Times in Your Area


Mike Faulk for Tennessee Senate

Rarely do I write endorsements of candidates because most of my readers know where I stand on the issues and can often surmise which candidates that I support. The times when I make an exception to the rule usually involve a candidate that I believe in so deeply that perhaps my endorsement may make some small difference for them in a close race-my outspoken endorsement and campaign posts for my friend Stacey Campfield in his race against Schree Pettigrew are an example of that-but it doesn't happen too often.

There is a 2008 candidate that I know will be in a close race, and possibly even a dirty one, and I feel the need to give him a very public endorsement and all the help that my meager abilities and resources can muster. This is a candidate that I believe is a person of decency and integrity, someone who will not only represent us well, but represent us fairly and honestly. Perhaps most importantly, this is a person who I believe has a heart for service: When he tells you his motivation is nothing more than a desire to serve others, I believe him wholeheartedly. Some may say this kind of statement is a rather gullible thing to say. The behavior of our elected leaders at both the State and federal level have caused many Tennesseans and Americans to become cynical about the political process-so few believe that people enter public service for the right reasons anymore.

I believe Mike Faulk is running for the Tennessee Senate for all the right reasons. I haven't merely shaken Mike's hand in meeting him a few times (and we have certainly had our share of meetings), I've sat with the man and I have broke bread with him. I do not for one second believe that Mike Faulk's political ambitions outweigh his deep commitment to serving others. He admits he has had "the political bug" for a long time. He has run political campaigns before-he played a key role in Lamar Alexander's 1974 Gubernatorial campaign as a College Republican, and ran the show in District 91 as a law student in Memphis four years later. He has run for State Party Chairman, and he has never been a man to completely give up on politics.

I can't say that I blame Faulk for this, as I would venture to say that I enjoy politics almost as much as he does, but I know that his campaign is based in a desire to serve and not on raw ambition because I know from personal experience that there is a great chasm between working for the campaigns of others and running one of your own. Making the decision to interrupt your life and enter the public arena is one of the most difficult decisions that anyone can make. You can tell who is in politics for the right reasons by how difficult that decision is or is not for them-and I know from knowing Mike how difficult that choice has been for him.

I am not endorsing Mike Faulk because we see eye-to-eye on everything-I haven't probed every single issue known to man with Mike, but I do know that while we agree on the things that are most important, we don't always approach things the same way-and I will be the first to admit that this might be because Mike Faulk has years of experience that I do not yet enjoy. I am endorsing Mike Faulk for the Tennessee Senate because Mike Faulk sees public service as I do-as a way to make your voice heard, to make an impact on society for the better-and then be able to step aside for the next person to do the same when the time is right.

I hope Mike doesn't mind my saying that I hope his public career doesn't end with the Fourth District Senate seat, though I believe if it did we would be better for it. In Mike Faulk, we will have a friend, a helper, and an advocate who will not merely serve his constituents for the sake of re-election. He will serve us because he loves doing it. I have never placed a call to Mike Faulk that wasn't returned, even about the most insignificant matter. I believe he will treat the people of the Fourth District in much the same manner.

There are candidates you endorse because you believe that they are a better choice than the opposition, and then there are candidates you endorse because are truly proud to be associated in any way with them or with their campaign. Mike Faulk falls into the latter category for me, as a man who I am proud to be associated with even in a minor way, and I would be proud to have Mike represent me in the Tennessee Senate.

My endorsement is rather paltry compared to the likes of former Congressman Bill Jenkins, but I am convinced that as the months go by, the people of the 4th District will join me in supporting the country lawyer from Church Hill for the Tennessee Senate.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The suit goes on

The Knoxville News-Sentinel's lawsuit against Knox County for violating the Tennessee Open Meetings Act may face a bench ruling as early as this morning, according to News-Sentinel editor Jack McElroy. As chronicled here, there is little doubt that both the Knox County Commission and Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale engaged in conduct that was unethical. It certainly violated the spirit of the Open Meetings Act, even if the Chancellor should find that it did not violate the letter of the law.

As it turns out, Chancellor Darryl Fansler has just ruled (as of about 10:30 AM) that the News-Sentinel's suit can continue:

Fansler ruled, however, that the act does not require any such quorum in order for a meeting between commissioners to violate the spirit of the law.

He set a trial date for Aug. 28.

Fansler's bench ruling could mean that the Knox County Commission is in big trouble, as judges generally do not issue bench rulings of this nature if they do not believe the suit itself not only has merit, but also has a reasonable chance of success.

In the same vein, the Knox County Ethics Committee has requested that District Attorney Randy Nichols investigate now-departed officials of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale's office. What will these investigations (if they actually occur) reveal about Mike Ragsdale's knowledge of wrongdoing?

For once the KNS is performing the primary function of a community newspaper: The guardian of good government.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Fighting the long hard battle

I was truly honored to be able to attend-thanks to Linda Noe -a special rally in Morristown sponsored by Tennesseans for Immigration Reform and Education (T-FIRE) to draw public attention to the problem of illegal immigration in Tennessee. The T-FIRE rally was called for two purposes: The first was to celebrate the defeat of the President's treacherous amnesty proposal. As T-FIRE President Fabian Story was keen to remind the audience, the Capitol switchboards in Washington were jammed the day the wicked bill went down.

The featured speaker at Saturday's event held at the VFW Hall in Morristown was none other than my friend and fellow blogger State Representative Stacey Campfield. One of the first things that Stacey pointed out was the cost to the American taxpayer of the tide of illegal immigration.

  • Education-$22.5 billion
  • Bi-lingual Education - $3.3 billion
  • AFDC (for legal and illegal immigrant's offspring) - $2.4 billion
  • S.S.I. - $2.9 billion
  • Social Security - $24.8 billion
  • Housing Assistance - $2.6 billion
  • Criminal Justice - $2.6 billion
  • Jobs Lost by Americans - $10.8 billion
  • Other Programs - $51.4 billion
  • Food Stamps-$7 billion
  • Health Care-$1.4 billion
  • Those are 1997 statistics and in some cases those numbers have nearly doubled in the last ten years. The federal government not only refuses to tackle the problem in a serious way, in failing to do so they have burdened State and local governments with the cost of illegal immigration. In Morristown-Hamblen County Schools this school year, 2/3rds of new enrollees are of Hispanic origin, and many of these are illegal aliens or the children of illegal aliens. There is a shortage of Court interpreters in Hamblen and Jefferson County who speak Spanish because the number of Spanish-speaking offenders have ballooned in recent years-many of these are of questionable legal status. Now many East Tennesseans have had enough.

    As Stacey pointed out, we managed to get one significant victory in defeating the driving certificate program that allowed illegal aliens to drive without sufficient knowledge of the English language. More could be done, but the General Assembly refuses to use the tools that they could use to combat this increasing problem. Georgia passed strict immigration laws within their State, and the illegals poured out of Georgia like a river flowing to the sea-many of them have come to Tennessee because of our quisling Governor and our weak enforcement of the law.

    There are those who may ask "doesn't all of this talk of enforcing immigration laws really mean you are racists?" Some may think that, it is true, but I haven't talked to a single leader within the movement who was a racist or who was even opposed to legal immigration. As a Catholic, I am certainly not opposed to predominately Catholic people settling here-but they have to do it the right way-they must do it legally. We see the results of the strain on our system and our society when the law is not followed where immigration is concerned.

    "Gosh Oatney, aren't there racists who hold these positions?" Yes there are. There are also racists who hold the opposite positions, but we don't give them any attention, do we? An entire movement is not to be discredited because of a few bigots.

    East Tennesseans are beginning to come together to put an end to the specter of unlawful immigration into this country. Our fight will not be easy, and there are many who support us who fear saying so because they fear being falsely labeled as racists. It will be a long, arduous, and often misunderstood and maligned battle-but for the sake of the future of our State and our country, it is a fight that we must wage and we must win.

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    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, and LaMarcus Coker

    Barry Bonds creams his way to 756. More details about Micheal Vick's future (or lack of one) in the NFL. College football notes-including LaMarcus Coker's suspension at Tennessee.

    The Sports Pack-August 12, 2007

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