"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." The Statue of Liberty (P.S. Please be so kind as to enter through the proper channels and in an orderly fashion)

Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Saturday, November 19, 2005


<--- Yes, good people, that is your host, Republicus, doing the Rocky stairs in full Rocky-regalia at the Philadelphia Museum of Art while visiting a buddy (the photographer who shrugged like Atlas and tilted the horizon) there last February for the Super Bowl, when "Da Birds" (i.e. the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles) played the reigning NFL champion New England Patriots.

That city was as electrified as Ben Frankilin's kite.

Republicus likes the Eagles (somewhat, compared to how he feels about the Cowboys and Giants), but had to--on pain of death-- conceal the fact that he not only is a Washington Redskins fan first and foremost, but was also rooting for the Pats.

However, when said Pats finally sealed Da Birds' doom, that closely-guarded but cooped-up secret that was yearning to breathe free escaped with a "Woo-hoo!" in a dead-silent room full of sullen, slouching, green-garbed drunks, who heard that loud and clear and suddenly sobered up and stood as one with the revelation of the actual colors of Republicus, and stared at him with cruel intention-- one fist-clenching aesthetically-challenged man in particular who had been resenting the comeliness of yours truly since the first quarter.

The sore-loser was fortunate that the martially-belted Philadelphian host of Republicus--nicknamed "Bam-Bam" in college because of the heavyweight strength of the middleweight (albeit not heavyweight enough to overcome the Olympian armwrestling might of Republicus)--entangled him in some sort of limb-locking Kung Fu grip before Republicus himself-- though of Achillean heritage-- could go Eye-talian Stallion on him, and so no harm was done to my fellow American in the City of Brotherly Love.

But yes, indeed, it is to that authentic American myth--Philadelphia's Favorite Son, the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa-- that this post is devoted to, because Republicus, though highborn, is not so snobbishly-highbrow as to refrain from saying:


Stallone squares up for Rocky VI
By Richard Simpson, Daily Mail
13 October 2005

Now, more than 15 years on - and 30 years since first putting on his boxing gloves - Rocky Balboa is making another comeback.

Hollywood sources confirmed last night that Sylvester Stallone has agreed to star in the sixth instalment of the Rocky saga.

Filming starts in Los Angeles in December and Stallone, who will turn 60 next year, is also lined up to direct.

A spokesman from the star's agent Paul Bloch said: 'There is a script, but it has yet to get the green light.'

This is industry-speak for Stallone being in advanced talks, but having yet to officially announce his commitment to the project.

In Rocky VI, a lonely, poverty-stricken Balboa comes out of retirement and looks to keep his hand in with a few low-profile fights.

But his return to the ring causes a media frenzy and a promoter comes up with the idea that he should fight the heavyweight champion, Mason 'The Line' Dixon.

Stallone is understood to have been back in the gym in preparation for the role.

Although the film is to be made in Los Angeles, it is unclear whether it will be set in Rocky's hometown of Philadelphia. The supporting cast has not been announced.

Rocky will signal something of a renaissance for 59-year- old Stallone, who will turn 60 during filming, and comes as he attempts to revive his other career-defining role, Rambo.

The fourth film in that series is currently in pre-production and will also be produced by Stallone.

The actor became one of Hollywood's highest-paid leading men as the monosyllabic Rocky.

Sober Judgment Prevails

Nov 19, 7:56 AM (EST)

Lawmakers Reject Immediate Iraq Withdrawal

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republican-controlled House spurned calls for an immediate pullout of troops from Iraq in a vote hastily arranged by the GOP that Democrats vociferously denounced as politically motivated.

"To cut and run would invite terrorism into our backyards, and no one wants to see troops fighting terrorism on American soil," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said Friday night after the House, as planned, rejected a GOP-written resolution for immediate withdrawal.

The vote, held as lawmakers rushed toward a two-week Thanksgiving break, was 403-3.

At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message - stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message - that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said.

"The Worst Economy Since The Great Depression"

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - U.S. stocks ended higher Friday, with the S&P 500 Index reaching a 4 1/2 year high in a week of gains fueled by a rally in the technology sector, a drop in crude-oil prices and a decline in long-term interest rates.

In Friday's trading action, stocks benefited from a flurry of deals, strong results from Hewlett-Packard as well as an asset sale and raised earnings estimates from General Electric.

"This is just an extension of the rally we've been seeing," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist at CyberTrader. "The S&P is joining the party that the Nasdaq joined yesterday."

"We've had a little lessening concern on inflation and a little drop in interest rates although I'm not sure how long it will last."

Tower said all the merger and acquisition activity also lent support as it shows the confidence that corporate leaders feel and also the confidence of the banks and investors who make those deals happen.

On the broader market for equities, advancers had a 19 to 13 advantage over decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, and led by a 9 to 6 margin on the Nasdaq.

Volume was heavy with 1.8 billion shares traded on the Big Board, while 2 billion shares were exchanged on the Nasdaq.

Gold futures wrapped up the session with a loss, but surged 3.6% on the week, buoyed by continued strength on strong physical demand, central-bank buying and inflation concerns, but returned to negative territory once again by afternoon trading.

Gold for December delivery ended down 70 cents at $468.20 an ounce. On the week, it was up $16.80 an ounce. See Metals Stocks

On the currency markets, the euro staged a brief rally against the dollar after remarks by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, hinting that eurozone interest rates may have to rise.

Once the impact of Trichet's comments faded, so did the euro's gains. It was last up 0.1% vs. the dollar at $1.1759, after climbing as high as $1.1794. Against the Japanese yen, the greenback firmed, up 0.3% at 119.11. See Currencies

On the bond market, longer-term Treasury prices fell on Trichet's comments.

The benchmark 10-year note ended down 10/32 at 99 30/32. Its yield climbed to 4.5% from 4.45% at Thursday's close. See Bond Report

Oil prices ended at a five-month low, amid easing supply concerns. Crude for December delivery was down 20 cents at $56.14 a barrel in New York trading. On the week, the benchmark contract fell 2.4%.

"The supply picture is robust, and prices should continue to move lower," said John Kilduff, an analyst at Fimat USA. "Rising winter-fuel inventories, as expressed in this past week's reports, trumps the demand worries, at least in the short term."


Is that better?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Setting the Record Straight

President Bush has had an exit strategy from the onset of the military intervension in Iraq, conditioning the draw-down of American troops there primarily upon the viability of the gestating constitutional government and the ability of the new Iraqi security forces to protect it.

Armchair-generalship, negative nitpicking, skepticism, cynicism, and defeatism abound, however, and all aspects of the war at each stage of it have been second-guessed and hyper-criticized, from insistence that Hans Blix's bloodhounding was sufficient to keep Saddam honest, from accusations that the planning of the war was either carefully pre-meditated by an imperialistic PNAC cabal years before 9/11 or was rashly conceived of right after it without a second thought, that the rationalizations for the war were pretexts for base motives of personal revenge or greed, that its military invasion and execution was bound to--"Any day now"-- hit a wall of fierce resistance and get quagmired at the gates of Baghdad, that the occupation strategy was essentially ad libbed on the spot, that the development of the fledgling democracy is a "debacle" (which was the new buzzword in the hive of the waspy antiwar literati that, after a sensational debut, made its rounds in the salons and the blogosphere and was on everyone's lips and was passed around like a drunken debutante but is even now being worn out and is soon to join the has-been club of once-catchy words, mantras, and political battle-cries that you'll never hear again, like "Manichaean," "Abu Ghraib," and "Air America"), and that the training of the Iraqi security forces resembles the futile attempt to teach the proverbial dog that won't hunt how to track, shoot, pluck, and roast pheasant and can only result in the transformation of the Three Stooges into the Keystone Cops.

However, although there have indeed been the typical delays, mishaps, setbacks, blunders, and bloodshed that typifies every war since Agamemnon came knocking on Priam's gates, when one considers the "leaner and meaner" number of troops deployed in relation to the size of the area and the textbook-bound success of the air and ground campaign despite that ratio, and the challenge of understanding, accommodating, and then juggling the complexities of an exotic culture while simultaneously reprogramming political mores and assembling a constitutional republic from scratch during a reconstruction period plaqued by saboteurs and assymetrical warfare, and that two national democratic elections have already been conducted in an orderly fashion with enthusiastic, popular participation and minimal amounts of violence, that Saddam Hussein has been captured alive and well and is going on trial, and that the number of soldiers lost throughout this radical and historic two-and-a-half year endeavor is but two-thirds of the citizens lost at the catalyst of 9/11 and a percentile of those lost in Vietnam, be not angry. Be amazed.

Yes, there are difficulties, to be sure, as the president warned-- and victory is not guaranteed, as Republicus knows-- but to characterize Operation Iraqi Freedom as a "debacle" is like characterizing the self-evidently recovering U.S. economy of last year as "the worst economy since the Great Depression."

Or President Bush as "The worst president in the history of the country."

They're over-the-top exaggerations. They're lies.

The speed of the massive reconstruction and historic constituting has been rapid by any measure (except, of course, the anti-war crowd's), and progress on both conditions for troop withdrawal substantial.

It is tricky for the president to discuss this because he cannot--understandably--telegraph a withdrawal date to insurgent, chainsaw-wielding lumberjacks while the sapling government and security forces are still taking root (and make no mistake: it is no coincidence that the frenzy of tree-felling this past week coincides with the congressional deliberations for setting a troop-withdrawal date).

Also, he has staked his presidency on the success of this war (as the Bush-haters know, which should provide a clue as to why they're so determined to see it fail), so the new republic must be demonstrably viable and not a house of cards or else, should it collapse after a premature withdrawal, it would validate all the hyper-criticism and defeatism hurled by that implacable crowd and provide them with an opportunity to interpret and publicize the troop withdrawal as an act of cutting and running and a coveted concession of failure.

The loss of the Vietnam War was not a foregone conclusion until the United States caved from the domestic political pressures, broke its commitments, and abandoned the fledgling South Vietnamese democracy.

So Bush's concerns for both the welfare of the new Iraqi republic and his own political legacy are inextricably tied together, which is good for the Iraqis, because they can be assured of his undivided attention.

The time will come soon when troops can start coming home, and Republicus will pre-empt--right here-- the allegations from the antiwar crowd and the intersecting cult of Bush-haters (who are not necessarily--necessarily, mind you--one and the same) that it will have something to do with the vociferous political pressure they applied and proof that the mission was--all along-- a waste of time, treasure, and lives...

...before they turn their wrath against the evidence to the contrary, a functioning democratic government that, hardly "democratic" ("Hey, weren't those voting machines made by Diebold?"), will henceforth be considered an illegitimate puppet of American imperialism that oppresses "The People" (i.e. the Jihadists and other anti-Western dead-enders who will be effectively deterred by a fully-trained Iraqi army, and whose interests are the only ones the antiwar crowd's are serving).

Meanwhile, the prophecied civil war will be watched for with the same word-parsing and interpretation of signs that a Seventh Day Adventist engages in while on the watch for apocalyptic Armageddon.

But what we're seeing now is the civil war.

Anyway, the first condition for troop draw-down-- a fully-activated and functioning constitutional government-- is speedily approaching as scheduled (which is remarkable in itself).

It's being critiqued by the very-hard-to-please war critics and sneered at by the impossible-to-please Bush-haters, saying how there is no wall between Mosque and State but a one-way bridge to sharia, and therefore sets up a system that has more gender apartheid than was seen in Saddam's secular Baathist dictatorship, spites the minority status of the (insurgent-producing) Sunni minority, essentially establishes an Iranian twin, and so forth, but, again, that's just a talking down of Bush and All-Things-Bush the same way indeed that the splendid recovery of the traumatized U.S. economy was being talked down with Bush's presiding, talked all the way down to the absurd depths of Depression and Chapter 11 of the U.S. Treasury (Republicus has seen plenty of such hysterical claims; it is Bush who engages in fear mongering? Projection).

The Iraqi constitution is the most politically progressive document in the Muslim world.

Changing their angle, the hyper-critics then nitpick about the apparently-characteristic Bush cronyism or bemoan a deeper and dark "Neocon" machination and imperial puppetry exemplified by the weasly character of the Western-educated (Chicago University and MIT) Ahmed Chalabi, the deputy prime minister in Iraq and former interim oil minister ("A-ha!") and an erstwhile buddy of PNAC's Neoconservative Arch-Demon Paul Wolfowitz ("DOUBLE A-HA!!"), AND a major intelligence-supplier regarding Saddam's WMD stockpiles and ties to Al Qaeda ("TRIPLE A-HA!!!)," and whose face is plastered on the walls of Jordanian post-offices for, uh, ahem, embezzlement.

Yes. Excellent. But don't you see, my fellow Americans? We have a key governmental player in the highest eschelons of the Republic of Iraq--and who's from a family of Iraqi public servants, mind you-- whose opportunistic shenanigans resemble neither Saddam Hussein's iron-fisted brutalities nor the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa-slinging inquisitions, but instead a United States congressman's (D) own shenanigans during a typical day on Capital Hill.

What do you want? A WASPish Jeffersonian democracy? Fuhget about it. The Bible won't be on the best-seller list there anytime soon. Meet them halfway and give them free copies of Montesquieu's Persian Letters to get their minds off of the Mediaeval falasifas and start them thinking like Enlightened philosophes and they're on their way.

As for the second condition, i.e. the readiness of the security forces, Republicus has watched them--from afar-- grow from reports of insurgent infiltration and sabotage... to cowardice and refusal to fight... to reports of them being killed by the dozens as they lined up at recruiting stations... to their receiving of high marks as they fought alongside their liberators.

As a compliment, the ancients would say: "They fight like Greeks."

The new Iraqi soldiers say, ambitiously, proudly: "We want to fight like Americans."

President Bush had this to say on Veteran's Day:

I have said as Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And with our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with each passing month.

At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces.

General David Petraeus says Iraqis are in the fight. They are fighting and dying for their country and they're fighting increasingly well.

This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

The chronic war-critics like to quibble about the number of the ready Iraqi battalions and the mettle of the soldiers, and talk-down the quality of that condition just as they talk down the quality of the first (i.e. of the consitutional government).

And when the cult of Bush-haters hear the president praising the improvement of the Iraqi military forces, they automatically assume he's lying (because he's a lying liar who tells lies, that's why, so there), and presume the opposite (i.e. that they'll be unable to withstand a counter-revolution against the new government and will drown beneath the first wave of an insurgent tide).

But to set the record straight, Republicus has been personally informed--on good authority--that the Iraqi security forces are--as the president assured-- in far better condition than what the war-critic and Bush-hater would have you believe.

A White House staffer, who was in tune to the relentless negativity ubiquitously dispersed by the antiwar crowd while stateside, was sent to Iraq and just recently returned.

Not sure what to expect, he was surprised--and very impressed-- with the professionalism, elan, and esprit de corps of the new battalions.

Wide-eyed, he described their performance in response to an incident in Baghdad as "Performing at the level of our own Special Forces."

"Really," asked Republicus, "Level 1?"

Really. Observing a lightning deployment in response to a terrorist alert and beholding a crack squad of Iraqi soldiers operating independently of any American sergeant, the words he found to describe them were, in all reverence, "Bad-ass," and "hardcore," saying they demonstrated determination, a fearlessness of death rivalling any terrorist's, and unequivocal--and lethal-- results.

These weren't the Keystone Cops.

Republicus raised concerns that these were interloping remnants of Saddam's elite Republican Guard, and were liable to flip, turning on their teachers (i.e. us), and/or rallying around the next despot (perhaps within their very ranks), destroying the new constitution, and making vain the hopes, dreams, and sacrifices for victory, freedom, and peace.

No, Republicus was informed. This new generation of Iraqi soldiers think Iraqi, not Tikriti, Baathist, Shia, Sunni, or Kurdish.

Which is very good news.

So when the troops do start coming home, ignore the second-guessing that will gloat that Bush has caved to the antiwar crowd's demands and has conceded defeat, leaving the Iraqis to their own devices and disaster, and be assured that yet another phase of the mission has been accomplished.

On a brighter note--for the Bush-haters-- the same staffer did confirm the rumours that spats have erupted in the White House, most notably between the president and the vice president.

The vice president was overheard telling the president something to the effect of: "I'm getting tired of bailing you out of your messes."

There's a bone for ya, Jeff. Gnaw on that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

FYI: What the Democrats Said

President Bill Clinton: If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.

President Bill Clinton: One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.
President Bill Clinton: The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow.

President Bill Clinton: Their (i.e. the United States military in Operation Desert Fox) mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons...I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again...The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government.

Vice President and 2000 presidential aspirant Al Gore: Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.

Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger: (Saddam Hussein) will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, and some day, some way, I am certain he will use that arsenal again, as he has 10 times since 1983.

Massachusetts Senator and 2004 presidential aspirant John Kerry: All U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons.

North Carolina Senator and 2004 vice-presidential aspirant John Edwards: I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country.

Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy: We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.

West Virginia Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (WVA): There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid: Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think the president is approaching this in the right fashion.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein: If one believes Iraq is a real threat, and I do, and if the United Nations fails to act, then the only alternative is military action led by the United States.

Michigan Senator Carl Levin: The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as Saddam is in power.

Delaware Senator Joe Biden: This is a guy who is an extreme danger to the world, and this is a guy who is in every way possible seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Fast Forward...

Former-President Bill Clinton: (Removing Saddam)...was a big mistake.

Senator John Kerry: The country and the Congress were misled into war. I regret that we were not given the truth.

Senator Edward Kennedy: Instead of providing open and honest answers about how we will achieve success in Iraq and allow our troops to begin to come home, the president reverted to the same manipulation of facts to justify a war we never should have fought.

Senator Carl Levin: There's a lot of evidence that the administration went way beyond the intelligence that was provided for them.

President Bush:
I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials
didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it.

As president and commander in chief, I accept the responsibilities and the criticisms and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.