May 29, 2003
Byrd Droppings II
Best of the Web notes this comment in Time magazine by former [wink-wink] Klansman Robert Byrd, West Virginia's certifiably insane senator: ". . . this Republic is at its greatest danger in its history because of this Administration."
Such a remark is especially laughable coming from Byrd. After all, the Republic was in greater danger when cowardly racists concealed their identity with white hoods and sought to terrorize and murder their fellow Americans.
May 26, 2003
We stand today at a place of battle, one that 40 years ago saw and felt the worst of war. Men bled and died here for a few feet of -- or inches of sand, as bullets and shellfire cut through their ranks. About them, General Omar Bradley later said, "Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach that day was a hero."
Some who survived the battle of June 6, 1944, are here today. Others who hoped to return never did.
"Someday, Lis, I'll go back," said Private First Class Peter Robert Zannata, of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion, and first assault wave to hit Omaha Beach. "I'll go back, and I'll see it all again. I'll see the beach, the barricades, and the graves."
Those words of Private Zanatta come to us from his daughter, Lisa Zanatta Henn, in a heart-rending story about the event her father spoke of so often. "In his words, the Normandy invasion would change his life forever," she said. She tells some of his stories of World War II but says of her father, "the story to end all stories was D-Day."
"He made me feel the fear of being on the boat waiting to land. I can smell the ocean and feel the sea sickness. I can see the looks on his fellow soldiers' faces-the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty of what lay ahead. And when they landed, I can feel the strength and courage of the men who took those first steps through the tide to what must have surely looked like instant death."
Private Zannata's daughter wrote to me, "I don't know how or why I can feel this emptiness, this fear, or this determination, but I do. Maybe it's the bond I had with my father. All I know is that it brings tears to my eyes to think about my father as a 20-year old boy having to face that beach."
The anniversary of D-Day was always special to her family. And like all the families of those who went to war, she describes how she came to realize her own father's survival was a miracle: "So many men died. I know that my father watched many of his friends be killed. I know that he must have died inside a little each time. But his explanation to me was, `You did what you had to do, and you kept on going."
When men like Private Zannata and all our Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 40 years ago they came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongfully seized. When our forces marched into Germany they came not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to bee free again.
We salute them today. But, Mr. President [Francois Mitterand of France], we also salute those who, like yourself, were already engaging the enemy inside your beloved country-the French Resistance. Your valiant struggle for France did so much to cripple the enemy and spur the advance of the armies of liberation. The French Forces of the Interior will forever personify courage and national spirit. They will be a timeless inspiration to all who are free and to all who would be free.
Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. We reaffirm the unity of democratic people who fought a war and then joined with the vanquished in a firm resolve to keep the peace.
From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the post-war world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained, the peace has been kept.
Today, the living here assembled -- officials, veterans, citizens -- are a tribute to what was achieved here 40 years ago. This land is secure. We are free. These things are worth fighting and dying for.
Lisa Zannata Henn began her story by quoting her father, who promised that he would return to Normandy. She ended with a promise to her father, who died 8 years ago of cancer: "I'm going there, Dad, and I'll see the beaches and the barricades and the monuments. I'll see the graves, and I'll put flowers there just like you wanted to do. I'll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let any one else forget. And, Dad, I'll always be proud."
Through the words of his loving daughter, who is here with us today, a D-Day veteran has shown us the meaning of this day far better than any president can. It is enough to say about Private Zannata and all the men of honor and courage who fought beside him four decades ago: We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free. -- President Ronald Reagan, June 6, 1984, observing the 40th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France:
May 16, 2003
"See You In Hell, Dandelion!!"
When it comes to gardening, James Lileks is a real-life Rambo:
I have no idea what is a flower and what isn’t. I mean, I can tell what’s obviously a flower, but the plants that produce a flower later always confuse me. They all look like weeds. Some of the weeds have caught on to this, and present a small blossom right away - don’t kill me, I’m pretty! Here! Pluck me! It’s on the house! So I stuck to uprooting filthy dandelions. Their leaves are ugly. Their purply stems offend. Their deep rubbery roots reveal their true characters. I roamed the yard, implement in hand, stabbing the earth and ripping out the interlopers. I heaped the dead like vanquished Orcs, and if I’d had the time I would have impaled the dandelion heads on sticks to warn off their kin.
May 14, 2003
A New Website For The Old Gray Lady
The New York Times has overhauled its website. Looks great. Be sure to check it out.
May 12, 2003
The "Flamboyant Showmanship" of Robert C. Byrd
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto notes an interesting letter to the editor printed in the Washington Post:
Craig Bozman of Rockville, Md., in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post, lists some of the government facilities in West Virginia that are named for the state's (and the nation's) senior senator:
"The Robert C. Byrd Highway; the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam; the Robert C. Byrd Institute; the Robert C. Byrd Life Long Learning Center; the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program; the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope; the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing; the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse; the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center; the Robert C. Byrd Academic and Technology Center; the Robert C. Byrd United Technical Center; the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building; the Robert C. Byrd Drive; the Robert C. Byrd Hilltop Office Complex; the Robert C. Byrd Library; the Robert C. Byrd Learning Resource Center; and the Robert C. Byrd Rural Health Center."
Last week Byrd accused President Bush of "flamboyant showmanship" after the president gave a speech on the USS Robert C.--whoops, make that the USS Abraham Lincoln.
How about the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Cross-Burning?
May 09, 2003
Sweet, Sweet Irony
This Times of London report made my day:
Germans dismayed that Poles could command their troops
Germany has responded angrily to a proposal that its troops be deployed in northern Iraq under the command of Poland, one of the newest members of Nato.
The United States recommended that Poland take over the military administration of northern Iraq, in charge of peacekeeping duties. The force under its command would number about 7,000, including contingents from Nato members such as Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Germany.
Peter Struck, the German Defence Minister, said he would “look into” the proposal, but was clearly opposed.
Republican Backbone Discovered In Senate
After years of searching, Republican vertebrae have been unearthed on the floor of the United States Senate. Read the details here.
This is the biggest archaeological find since the Lucy skeleton. (The Desi skeleton has thus far eluded discovery.)
May 08, 2003
Former (wink-wink) KKK leader and U.S. Senator Robert Byrd got his Depends in a wad over President Bush's visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln. In a tantrum from the Senate floor, Byrd slurred, gurgled and slobbered that "it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech." Byrd, who insisted during a televised interview two years ago that there is such a thing as "white niggers", went on to label Bush as a "desk-bound president who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech."
Having missed CSPAN's Senate coverage, I don't know if Byrd assumed the garb of a klansman for the purposes of a speech.
May 02, 2003
Bush Aboard The Lincoln
President Bush landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln yesterday to announce the end of combat operations in Iraq and to acknowledge the brilliant, history-making performance of the U.S. military. After taking a few hours for pictures and pats on the backs, the president addressed the crew.
A few excerpts:
Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before. From distant bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could destroy an enemy division, or strike a single bunker. Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground, in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history. You have shown the world the skill and the might of the American Armed Forces.
This nation thanks all the members of our coalition who joined in a noble cause. We thank the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland, who shared in the hardships of war. We thank all the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in the liberation of their own country. And tonight, I have a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld, for General Franks, and for all the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States: America is grateful for a job well done.
The character of our military through history -- the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima, the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies -- is fully present in this generation. When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength and kindness and goodwill. When I look at the members of the United States military, I see the best of our country, and I'm honored to be your Commander-in-Chief ...
In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear ...
The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the "beginning of the end of America." By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed.
In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained. We continue to help the Afghan people lay roads, restore hospitals, and educate all of their children ...
We are mindful, as well, that some good men and women are not making the journey home. One of those who fell, Corporal Jason Mileo, spoke to his parents five days before his death. Jason's father said, "He called us from the center of Baghdad, not to brag, but to tell us he loved us. Our son was a soldier."
Every name, every life is a loss to our military, to our nation, and to the loved ones who grieve. There's no homecoming for these families. Yet we pray, in God's time, their reunion will come.
Those we lost were last seen on duty. Their final act on this Earth was to fight a great evil and bring liberty to others. All of you -- all in this generation of our military -- have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' -- and to those in darkness, 'be free.'"
Note that the president referred to "the battle of Iraq" and "the battle of Afghanistan." After hearing that, I'm sure a butthole or two puckered in Iran, North Korea and Syria. And with good reason. By designating the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq as battles, the president is popping his head into the Axis of Evil waiting-room and yelling, "Next!"
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