May 28, 2007
The Gift of Service
The greatest gift one can give to another is the gift of service. I do not know who said this but I've heard this saying before. The following is my gift to you; may I honor you and our fellow countrymen and women. I will earn the privilege to wear Eagle, Globe and Anchor for all those that cannot. With all the strength of my fellow Marines, we shall always provide you with the comforting feeling of safety that you have each day. -- Marine LCpl David Fribley, from a letter to his friends and family shortly after he joined the Marines in the wake of the September 11 attacks. LCpl Fribley and eight of his fellow Marines were killed in action on March 23, 2003 in the battle of An Nasiriyah, Iraq.
Memorial Day, 2007
Shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863, the governor of Pennsylvania appointed Judge David Willis to organize efforts to clear the battlefield and bury the dead.
As the many burials neared completion in September, Judge Willis prepared for the cemetery's dedication ceremony scheduled for November. Given the massive scale of destruction wrought at Gettysburg (over 51,000 killed or injured in three days) and the herculean effort to inter the dead in a timely fashion, the judge felt that the ceremony should be commensurate. He decided that on November 19, the new cemetery at Gettysburg would be consecrated with an elaborate speech delivered by America's most renowned orator -- Edward Everett.
Over the next six weeks, Everett set about composing one of his trademark two-hour speeches. As public orations were the rock concerts of the day, people would no doubt flock to Gettysburg to listen to the eloquence of the most famous orator of all.
Only 17 days before the big event, Judge Willis may have thought it was a bit tacky not to invite the president of the United States to attend the ceremony and, if he chose, to briefly address the crowd after Everett's performance. In his November 2 invitation to Lincoln, the judge wrote:
These Grounds will be Consecrated and set apart to this Sacred purpose, by appropriate Ceremonies, on Thursday, the 19th instant. Hon Edward Everett will deliver the Oration.
I am authorized by the Governors of the different States to invite you to be present, and participate in these Ceremonies, which will doubtless be very imposing and solemnly impressive.
It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the Nation, formally set apart these grounds to their Sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.
Translation: "If you're going to speak, Mr. President, keep it short."
It's doubtful Lincoln viewed this last-minute invitation as a slight because he accepted it.
On November 19, over 15,000 people assembled at Gettysburg to hear Edward Everett's grand oration; he didn't disappoint. Everett's two-hour performance left the audience mesmerized. Lincoln then rose to deliver his speech. Consisting of just three paragraphs, the president's "remarks" were "few" indeed. When he finished, the audience gave little, if any, response.
Legend has it that the president regarded the crowd's silence as an indication that his speech flopped. I doubt that. Lincoln was a shrewd political operative and was no stranger to the soapbox. I suspect that he knew Everett would drone on for an hour or two, and that his speech would, by its brevity, stand in stark contrast and command much more attention. So, most likely, the audience's muted reaction was really stunned silence. And in days after the dedication ceremony, Lincoln wrote several copies of what would become known to history as The Gettysburg Address; if the president truly believed his speech was a failure, he would not have taken the time and effort to make handwritten copies for posterity.
In his speech that day, Lincoln not only pays tribute to those Americans who lost their lives defending their fellow citizens' liberty, he also charges us -- the citizens who survive -- to honor our war dead by pressing on to victory in the cause for which they died. The genius of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is that its message transcends time.
On this Memorial Day, as the United States fights another protracted war to preserve freedom, Abraham Lincoln speaks to us again and his "few appropriate remarks" of 144 years ago ring anew:
. . . in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
May 21, 2007
Reforming The Reform
A few days ago, the county animal-control authority said it was considering going door-to-door to find "undocumented dogs". In other words, the county government is going to track down people who own unlicensed dogs.
It should make for some interesting moments. Canine versions of Sophie's Choice come to mind -- "Take the female dog! She's a bitch!"
Or jackbooted dogcatchers storming a house to seize Elian the unlicensed chihuahua from his owner.
So the county dogcatcher has the means and methods to track down god-knows-how-many people with illegal pooches ...
... but, we're told, the omnipotent and omniscient federal government can't possibly round up and deport 12 million illegal aliens.
The Feds claim that deporting 12 million illegal aliens isn't an option because it wouldn't be practical or humane. But let 12 million American citizens openly organize to simultaneously break a federal law and watch those concerns about practicality and humane treatment disappear faster than the Branch Davidians.
That pithy point leads us to the only immigration "reform" we need: enforce the current immigration laws. That means secure our borders and deport illegal aliens.
It's no secret that immigration law enforcement has been, at best, spotty. At worst, it's been lethally incompetent -- just ask families and friends of the nearly 3,000 people murdered on one particular day.
There have been a few recent high profile raids of businesses employing large number of illegal aliens, but those cases are all show and are exceptions to the rule. Far more common is what happened recently when a local employer discovered that an employee, an alien from Mexico, was using his phone number as a Social Security number. The company dropped a dime on the criminal employee and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents took him away -- only to release him shortly thereafter. The illegal alien quickly landed another job.
The sheriff in Ohio County, West Virginia has busted 98 illegal aliens in the last two years; in each case, the alien was turned over to the ICE field office in Pittsburgh. The Charleston Daily Mail reports:
In each of the 98 cases in Ohio County, representatives of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ... office in Pittsburgh have identified each individual as illegal, set a court date, and then released them. "And what do you think the odds of them showing up for that court hearing, especially since most of them are set two years down the road?" [Ohio County Sheriff] Burgoyne said. "One time we arrested four illegal immigrants, and they were sent to ICE in Pittsburgh. After their hearing with ICE, they were set free so they took a taxi back to Wheeling so they could look for their car. They even came to my house after asking around, 'Where does the sheriff live?' But when I asked them if they would be back in this area for their court date, they just all smiled real big and said, 'Si, senor,'" he said.
And what is ICE's response to this catch-and-release program? Get a load of this:
Ernestina Fobbs, a public affairs officer at ICE headquarters in Washington, said the agency is trying to its best. "We stopped the catch and release practice, and we are enforcing the laws, but it is an evolving process," she said. "We make the necessary changes so we can do our job better, but it's a process.
I guess "an evolving process" entails denying catch-and-release even as you continue to do it.
Just what stops ICE from giving these illegals an immediate one-way ticket to Mexico or, at the very least, making sure they show up for their court date? Bureaucratic laziness? Fear of PC blowback? Incompetence? Perhaps.
But I suspect that ICE takes it's cue from the top -- the president of the United States. The president has made no secret that he's soft when it comes to securing the borders and enforcing immigration laws. If the nation's chief law enforcer doesn't give a damn, why should any of his subordinates give a damn? For some reason, President Bush finds it politically expedient to laxly enforce immigration and border laws; so it only stands to reason that ICE bureaucrats will follow suit.
That's why it's hard to to take seriously claims by the White House and Senate leaders that their drawn-up-in-secret non-amnesty amnesty bill would seriously address border control and illegal immigration issues. The current immigration and border laws aren't being enforced to any meaningful degree, so why would things be any different with a so-called reform of those current laws?
The problem isn't current law. The problem is a president who won't enforce it.
By the way -- whenever Republican and Democrats work together in secret on legislation, and jointly unveil it as a cure-all, hold on tight to your wallet and your freedom.
May 20, 2007
Which Democrat said the following on May 19, 2007?
We believe that sooner or later they have to decide to withdraw their troops from Iraq because that is the cause for the continuation of terrorist activities.
A) Harry Reid
B) Nancy Pelosi
C) John Murtha
D) Barack Obama
The comment was made by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the World Economic Forum yesterday.
Trick question, you say? Not really.
A, B, C and D (and most other D's) have all expressed the same position as our Death-to-America Iranian enemies, so those choices are acceptable answers, too.
May 19, 2007
I thought Orson Welles was dead. Guess not.
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