Roy Exum: Refugees & Pine Beetles

Thursday, March 16, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Over 2,000 refugees, which to be completely candidly, the state of Tennessee did not want, were sent to Tennessee for resettlement during the fiscal year 2016. This included 516 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 349 from Iraq and 241 from Syria. This was done in accordance with the federal Refugee Act of 1980 and, while the state of Tennessee has since opted out of the program, the refugees were accepted and placed by Catholic Charities of Tennessee, which was appointed to administer the refugee program.

Oddly, the federal government is still calling on the state of Tennessee (state government) to pay the federal government for the costs to resettle the refugees.

That’s why, on Monday of this week, the state of Tennessee became the first state in the nation to file a lawsuit against the federal government for violating the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

The 10th Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

While I am certainly no Constitutional scholar, what that means is that anything not covered in the Constitution is to be decided by the states, or the citizens of each state. When our great forefather James Madison presented the 10th Amendment, there were critics who found it unnecessary. Back in 1789, Madison even wrote these words:

“I find, from looking into the amendments proposed by the State conventions, that several are particularly anxious that it should be declared in the Constitution, that the powers not therein delegated should be reserved to the several States. Perhaps words which may define this more precisely than the whole of the instrument now does, may be considered as superfluous. I admit they may be deemed unnecessary: but there can be no harm in making such a declaration, if gentlemen will allow that the fact is as stated. I am sure I understand it so, and do therefore propose it,” he explained.

On Monday our state government, through the legislature, claimed the feds can’t force Tennessee to pay since the state has already opted out of the refugee program and asked the courts to prohibit sending any more refugees until the feds pay all costs. The lawsuit is one of several by the states against the Refugee Act but the first to use the 10th Amendment as its focus.

Mark Norris (R-Collierville), now the Majority Leader in the legislature, said the state lawsuit has nothing to do with President Trump’s executive order on immigration but was intended to support the president’s latest travel ban, which was to go into effect today but has already been challenged by a judge in Hawaii.

Norris told the Tennessean, “We want to convey to the president that we support his efforts concerning immigration and refugee resettlement and believe this suit for declaratory relief is consistent with what would likely be his position regarding states like Tennessee, which have withdrawn from the refugee resettlement program but are forced to continue paying costs associated with it.”

* * *

In Latin, the words, Dendroctonus frontalis, translate to “tree killer.” That is why the Southern pine beetle bears its scientific name. But if forestry forecasts hold true, the bug is going to be called a lot of other names in the months ahead. Some say the Alabama timber industry, which is the state’s major “crop” if you please, could take a catastrophic hit. Timber in the state is an $11 billion industry and the “tree killers” are out in droves after last year’s drought.

Your word of the day is “silviculture.” At Auburn, they actually have a Department of Silviculture and it “is the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values.” Thus, name comes from the Latin silvi- (forest) + culture (as in growing). The study of forests and woods is termed silvology, just so you’ll know.

That’s how we know that pine trees in our region of Tennessee and Georgia that were affected as badly by last year’s drought are a ticking time bomb. The drought crippled all our trees – I lost two dogwoods in my yard – but the pine trees were not able to produce the sap they normally do and the sap is nature’s way of repelling the pine beetle.

Just so you’ll know, Alabama’s timber industry is second in the country in production of pulp and paper and No. 7 in lumber production. Translation: most of the newspapers in the country are printed on paper made from Southern pine.

* * *

24/7 Wall Street, a fun website, has just come up with the worst-tasting beers in America. The delicious part of the story is that 70 percent of the American people are the ones who order “one more round” of the “bottom ten” all across America.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA and Molson Coors Brewing Company brew every brand on the list and the very worst tasting beer is today the best-seller among the thousands who are now flocking to Florida and the gulf states for spring break – that would be Natural Light, or be it in bar-rom or fraternity lingo, a “Nattie.”

The rest of the Top Ten lousiest are, Budweiser Select 55, Michelob Ultra, Bud Light & Clamato Chelada, Corona Light, Bud Light, Busch Light, Keystone Light, Natural Ice, and Coors Light. It’s like Darlene the server says, “It you want to cry a river, then go somewhere they need the water.”

* * *

Here’s an eye opener -- 24/7 Wall Street just announced the state of Tennessee is the third “most violent state” in the nation. Think about this: “Tennessee is one of only three states where the violent crime rate exceeds 600 reported incidents for every 100,000 residents. Aggravated assaults are more common in Tennessee than in any other state. The rate of 453 aggravated assaults for every 100,000 Tennesseans is nearly double the corresponding national rate of 233 incidents per 100,000 people.” (The worst state is Alaska, followed by Nevada, according to the statistics.)

* * *

Tom Humphrey, writing in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, reports that the last two guys to head the Republican Party in Tennessee are actively working for establishing term limits in Congress. Tom writes, “Chris Devaney, who chaired the state GOP from 2009 until April 2015, and Bob Davis, chair from 2004 through 2007, have registered as lobbyists for Washington-based US Term Limits, which advocates for term limits at all levels of government.” US Term Limits is striving for three four-year terms for Congress members and two six-year terms for Senators. (Please, Lord …)

* * *

NOTE: This story is older than I am, since I’ve seen the Indian in front of a Rexall’s Drugs, and when it just came back around again on the Internet, it was like a visit from an old friend. I tend to believe it is true, because I believe miracles actually happen all the time:

- - -

A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes.

Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way six blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door. She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention, but he was too busy at the moment.

Little Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally, she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. 

That did it!

'And what do you want?' the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. 'I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages,' he said without waiting for a reply to his question.

'Well, I want to talk to you about my brother,' Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. 'He's really, really sick....and I want to buy a miracle.'

'I beg your pardon?' said the pharmacist.

'His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?'

'We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you,' the pharmacist said, softening a little. 'Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs.'

The pharmacist's brother was a well-dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, 'What kind of a miracle does your brother need?'

'I don't know,' Tess replied with her eyes welling up, ‘I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money.'

'How much do you have?' asked the man from Chicago.

'One dollar and eleven cents,' Tess answered barely audible. 'And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.'

'Well, what a coincidence,' smiled the man. 'A dollar and eleven cents---the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.'

He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said 'Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you need.'

That well-dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed free of charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place. 'That surgery,' her Mom whispered. 'was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?'

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost...one dollar and eleven cents...plus the faith of a little child.

SNOPES claims this story in unverified “and the only Carlton Armstrong we know is the ‘weatherman’ charged with blowing up the University of Wisconsin.”

royexum@aol.com



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