Friday, May 28, 2010

In Memoriam

Through this long weekend, let us not forget that the purpose of Memorial Day is to honor those who have died so we can be free -- and to reflect on just how complete each of their sacrifices has been.

The following letter was written by Arnold Rahe, a sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He left instructions for it be delivered to his parents if he did not survive. Shortly thereafter, he was killed in action.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Strange thing about this letter; if I am alive a month from now you will not receive it, for its coming to you will mean that after my twenty-sixth birthday God has decided I’ve been on earth long enough and He wants me to come up and take the examination for permanent service with Him. It’s hard to write a letter like this; there are a million and one things I want to say; there are so many I ought to say if this is the last letter I ever write to you. I’m telling you that I love you two so very much; not one better than the other but absolutely equally. Some things a man can never thank his parents enough for; they come to be taken for granted through the years; care when you are a child, and countless favors as he grows up. I am recalling now all your prayers, your watchfulness -- all the sacrifices that were made for me when sacrifice was a real thing and not just a word to be used in speeches.

For any and all grief I caused you in this 26 years, I’m most heartily sorry. I know that I can never make up for those little hurts and real wounds, but maybe if God permits me to be with Him above, I can help out there. It’s a funny thing about this mission, but I don’t think I’ll come back alive. Call it an Irishman’s hunch or a pre-sentiment or whatever you will. I believe it is Our Lord and His Blessed Mother giving me a tip to be prepared. In the event that I am killed you can have the consolation of knowing that it was in the “line of duty” to my country. I am saddened because I shall not be with you in your life’s later years, but until we meet I want you to know that I die as I tried to live, the way you taught me. Life has turned out different from the way we planned it, and at 26 I die with many things to live for, but the loss of the few remaining years unlived together is as nothing compared to the eternity to which we go.

As I prepare for this last mission, I am a bit homesick. I have been at other times when I thought of you, when I lost a friend, when I wondered when and how this war would end. But, the whole world is homesick! I have never written like this before, even though I have been through the “valley of the shadows” many times, but this night, Mother and Dad, you are so very close to me and I long so to talk to you. I think of you and of home. America has asked much of our generation, but I am glad to give her all I have because she has given me so much.

Goodnight, dear Mother and Dad. God love you.

Your loving son,

(Bud) Arnold Rahe

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bizarro World, or Worse?

As everybody with an IQ knows, the U.S. government does not enforce its own immigration laws when it comes to people sneaking in from Mexico...and in proportion to their numbers, those illegal immigrants engage in much more crime than people who come here legally.

As a result, areas on our southern border are awash in problems that people from other parts of America can barely comprehend. Arizona leads the U.S. in kidnappings, and 70 percent of its kidnappings involve illegals. Phoenix has the second highest kidnapping rate of any city on the entire planet. Illegals account for more than one in five of Arizona’s felonies, and more than four in ten of the Phoenix area’s fraud and forgery sentencings.

Because the federal government does not do its job to prevent and turn back illegal immigration, Arizona recently stepped up and enacted its own law, empowering its law enforcement personnel to do something about the problem. For the most part, its law mirrors the ignored federal law, and where it diverges it does so by offering more civil liberties protection than federal law.

Arizona stipulates that when there is a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” of somebody for whom “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.” In plain English, this means that if somebody is approached or arrested for breaking some other law, and the police then see something that suggests the suspect might be here illegally (for example, a car is pulled over for speeding and none of the occupants has a driver’s license), then they are allowed to try to figure out if the suspect is here illegally -- if they think it is practical to try. Conversely, federal law does not require that there be any suspected law-breaking before people can be asked to prove their legal status.

Arizona’s law goes on to state that police “may not consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection.” In other words, it explicitly forbids racial and ethnic profiling, which are not forbidden by federal law. Yet, federal leaders are acting as though it is Arizona’s law, not theirs, which ignores civil liberties.

President Obama had the audacity to claim that when Hispanic parents take their kids out for ice cream, Arizona law enforcement personnel can ask them to prove their identity for no other reason than the fact they look Hispanic. Attorney General Eric Holder depicted the law as being constitutionally unsound, even though he admitted he has not read it.

All the while, MSM talking heads have drawn comparisons between Arizona and Nazi Germany by saying that Arizona is allowing its police to demand that people “show their papers.” If only those talking heads knew that it is federal law which states “every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration receipt card issued to him.”

If common sense is your guide, these initial reactions to Arizona’s law are the stuff of Bizarro World. But things got even more bizarre when Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, came to D.C. last week.

For the record, before Mexico will allow people to move there, it mandates that they have a certain amount of savings, have certain work and language skills, and prove they are in good health. Once they arrive, Mexican law limits their freedom to speak and to purchase land. And, Mexican law calls for deportation of immigrants, even legal ones, whose presence is found to be changing the nation’s demographics (in other words, Mexico will kick them out if not enough of them are Hispanic).

Further, Mexico requires its police to “demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country before attending to any issues,” and calls for foreigners to be deported if their legal presence can not be proved. Amnesty International recently issued a report which said that illegal immigrants in Mexico “are preyed on by criminal gangs while public officials turn a blind eye or even play an active part in kidnappings, rapes and murders,” and that they “are facing a major human rights crisis leaving them with virtually no access to justice, fearing reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses.” (emphasis added)

Those are the facts about the country Felipe Calderon leads, yet Calderon did not bat an eye when he described Arizona as “violating the human rights of all people.” Then, last week, he addressed the United States Congress and said that Arizona uses “racial profiling as the basis for law enforcement,” and a large number of Democrats responded by giving him a standing ovation. Also last week, in a joint press conference with President Obama, he called Arizona’s law “discriminatory” and Obama not only let him get away with the slander, but tacitly agreed with it.

Can you imagine any president before Obama allowing the leader of a corrupt, human-rights-violating government to stand on our soil and vilify one of our own states that has done nothing wrong? Can you imagine Leonid Brezhnev standing beside Ronald Reagan, falsely accusing Vermont of allowing discrimination, and Reagan not standing up for Vermont?

There are only three possible explanations for this inanity: 1) We really are living in Bizarro World; 2) Obama is so meek and morally befuddled that he is less equipped to lead than my five-year-old daughter; or 3) Obama agrees with our adversaries, and therefore does not care to defend the founding principles of the nation he swore to protect.

It is disturbing that the first possibility is the most preferable, and frightening that the second one even exists. But it is downright terrifying that of all these possibilities, the third one is most likely to be true. As I have said before, Barack Obama is simply not fit to be president of the United States.

Much thanks to Bill Bennett, Seth Leibsohn, and Mona Charen for brining the crime statistics to light, along with the language of the Arizona and federal laws.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Day The Earth Roared

This Tuesday is the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. I remember that day vividly, even though I was 9 years old and lived 2,500 miles away. I was already fascinated with mountains, so the images that appeared on the news -- of a beautiful peak blowing itself up and raining catastrophe on everything in sight -- made an indelible impression.

A series of steam eruptions had already occurred in the two months before the big one. They had opened a new crater and generated two fractures on St. Helens’s north flank. Between those fractures, the mountainside expanded outward in a visible bulge. In other words, it was obvious that St. Helens was waking up and that a bigger eruption was possible; but still, nobody expected anything like what eventually happened. After all, the frequency of steam eruptions had decreased from March to April.

Then, at 8:32 on the morning of May 18, 1980, St. Helens exploded with the force of five atomic bombs. Its summit was blown off, lowering its elevation from 9,677 to 8,363 feet. And its north flank was ripped out, leaving an immense gap and ruining the perfect symmetry for which the mountain had been famous.

The eruption’s ash cloud reached 80,000 feet high within 15 minutes, and as the ash fell back to earth, an area of 22,000 square miles was covered by measurable amounts. Borne by wind, St. Helens ash particles spread across the United States in three days and circled the globe in two weeks.

A landslide buried the North Fork of the Toutle River beneath debris that averaged 150 feet deep.

Lahars destroyed 185 miles of roads and 15 miles of railways, and reduced the depth of the Columbia River’s channel from 40 feet to 14 feet.

Trees snapped like matchsticks, as you can tell from this picture. And the area around St. Helens was instantly transformed from a forested wilderness to a barren moonscape, as evidenced by these before and after photos:

Sadly, that day's greatest tragedy is often overlooked: 57 people were killed.

Most people thought it would be many decades before life could return to St. Helens’s blast zone. However, greenery began to reappear on the slopes within a couple years, and that was after spiders and beetles ventured in. Eventually elk returned to feed on the new growth, and today the St. Helens recovery is an ongoing marvel.

Modern people often think that nature is fragile, but Mount St. Helens shows the opposite to be true. In reality, nature is powerful and resilient beyond our ability to comprehend.

To see some news footage from the time of the blast, go here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day, and I want to say what I know to be true: that my wife, Erika, is the most amazing mother on Earth.

I admire her for so many reasons, from the way she sacrifices so much to stay home and raise our lovely Sarah, to the way she bravely faces the fertility struggles that have plagued our attempts to give Sarah a sibling over these last few years. There is no way I will ever be able to express the depth of my appreciation, but I can at least say I appreciate her and say it here I am, not only saying it but also taking a stroll down her motherhood's memory lane.

Here are she and I and Sarah (in her womb) in 2004:

And here she is, playing with Sarah on the deck of my family's cabin in North Carolina, in 2005:

And here she is with Sarah in Lake Lure, NC, in 2006:

And here she is with Sarah at our annual Beach Weekend in Treasure Island, FL, in 2007:

And here she is, with Sarah and me, at Christmastime in 2008:

And here she is with Sarah in Cades Cove, TN, in 2009:

And here she is with Sarah and me, going snow tubing at Hawk's Nest, NC, this January:

I love you, LOML!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Are they friggin' insane?

The majority of liberals share certain tendencies. So do the majority of conservatives.

But in the case of liberals, some of their tendencies are so divorced from reality that they actually resemble a mental defect. Chief among those is the way that whenever a terrorist event takes place in this country, liberals reflexively assume the perpetrator is some stupid probably-Christian white guy from middle America -- but never seem to consider that he might be associated with Islam, even though most terrorist acts over the last four decades have been committed in the name of Islam.

After the attempted bombing in Times Square a few days ago, liberals started profiling. They explained who they thought the bomber would prove to be, and the image they saw was of the same guy they envision whenever they speculate about people who support the Constitution and dislike intrusive government. New York's own mayor (ignoring that his city had already been bombed by Muslims on 9/11 and in 1993) opined that the Times Square bomber was likely "homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something." But now somebody has confessed to being the bomber, and it turns out he is a Muslim born in Pakistan.

This blame-our-own-first mentality might be less irritating if the left could point to a series of examples in which white American Christians have engaged in indiscriminate acts of terror, but they can not do that. Even Timothy McVeigh, the one name they think they have in their quiver, does not fit the bill because he described himself as "agnostic." For good measure, he also said "science is my religion." (Hmmm, his words were right in line with the way metropolitan Democrats always talk.)

Complaining about this particular liberal tendency is so easy it feels like cheating, but it is still important. The tendency encourages people to not be on the lookout for danger in places where it clearly exists, and to instead look out for it in places where it is an anomaly. Not complaining about the tendency would cause it to become even more prevalent, and that would make us less safe every day.