Archive for January, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. and Me

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Monday, January 21st, 2008, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The financial markets are closed, and I have the day off from work. Whatever the morning rituals are, I missed them, given that days off involve sleeping until noon.

Normally I would say that MLK Day does not have any special meaning for me. Before the politically correct crowd tries to play the race card, I do not know many non-Jews that even know who the Lubavitche Rebbe Menachem Schneerson was. Martin Luther King Jr. was a hero to many. To me he was a decent man who made great speeches and tried to improve society. Yet his death occurred before I was born, so I do not feel any emotional pull from his existence.

Yet this MLK Day is different. MLK Day is always on a Monday in January, but this year it is specifically on January 21st. This is significant to me because on Monday, January 21st, 1985, 23 years ago today, I had my Bar Mitzvah.

A Bar Mitzvah is a very sacred ritual in Jewish culture. Shortly after a boy’s 13th birthday, this rite of passage is when a boy becomes a man.

Becoming a man is a relative term. I was not allowed to stay up later, and I certainly was not allowed to smoke, drink alcohol, or curse in my home. On the flip side, I did not have to worry about paying bills or holding an actual job outside of school. The only adult task I had was the painful, arduous process of writing thank you notes to all the people that gave me Bar Mitzvah presents, mostly in the form of cash that I never got to see. My parents held it until college, when I had all the spending money I needed.

So much has changed in the last 23 years since I had my sacred ritual on Dr. King’s sacred day. While so many things have changed for the better, from internet communication to advances in medicine, race relations remain a charged issue. Relations between blacks and Jews could be significantly better.

One thing that many of Dr. King’s supporters have forgotten is that Dr. King wanted a better society for all people. Dr. King was not a racist or an antisemite. He had a deep respect for Jewish people, and he believed in the goodness of non-Jewish white people as well. He did not have rose colored glasses. He knew racism existed. Yet he also knew that the silent majority consisted of good people.

I do not see this optimism in the black leadership of today. I see racism and antisemitism, led by race hustlers that benefit from conflict. Some would say that without struggle, there is no progress. This is reasonable. What is not reasonable is to argue that the struggle has been pointless, and that there has been no progress at all.

For those who see no progress, they have ignored one biracial man, one woman, one latino, and one Mormon all being considered for the highest office in the land, the President of the United States. These people were children once, and as adults, Dr. King’s dream truly is being advanced. This is our society entering adulthood as well.

Being a man is not about a simple ritual. It is about making hard choices that adults have to make every day. It is about taking personal responsibility for actions, without blaming other races and genders for internal problems. It is about refusing to accept failure as institutional.

It can start with small decisions. As a teenager, I did not drink, smoke, or do drugs. Today I am a productive adult in society, and I still do not smoke, drink or do drugs. I do not have out of wedlock children, which is one of the leading causes of our decaying moral society. 1/4 of white children are born out of wedlock, and a staggering 2/3 of black children are born to unmarried parents. This is not the fault of racism. It is simply moral failure.

Martin Luther King Jr was a flawed man. He ran around with women outisde of his marriage to Coretta Scott King. Yet he still managed to be a good father, and his children today are decent members of society.

There are so many pitfalls in society today, and to simply believe that better days ahead may seem simplistic. However, if one does not believe that better days are ahead, why go on? Dr. King became a leader at a time in history where an entire race was barely more than 3/5 of a human being. Yet while there is still room to go, there has been so much improvement, and to deny this is to deny reality.

Racism and antisemitism are despised by most people. The days of publicly humiliating races and creeds in office buildings are long gone. Yet even though things are so much better, those that benefit from spreading poison speak loudly.

The day of my Bar Mitzvah, I had a black girlfriend. She was also Jewish, the adopted girl of white parents. We were both too young to understand the significance of an interracial relationship, but why is becoming aware always a positive thing? When I look back, I realized that it was not race that broke us up. We were kids, and she broke it off because we lived 45 minutes apart and could not see each other.

We start in such a hurry to grow up, and then we spend our adult years trying to slow the clock as it rapidly advances. When all is said and done, very few of us ever make a difference in this world. We enter with nothing, we leave with nothing, and there is virtually no evidence that we ever existed. Some may find this depressing, but it is reality.

Yet to the small circle of people who know us, we matter greatly.

If there is anything we can and should take away from MLK Day, it is that dreams are possible. Miracles happen every day. Two years after Dr. King was assassinated, the United States put a man on the moon.

On January 21st, 1985, I was young enough to believe that all people were capable of loving and helping each other. One year later Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev shook hands.

On January 21st, 2008, I am old enough to believe that all people are capable of loving and helping each other. At the very least we need to tolerate each other. We have to. We are stuck with each other. So we can either spend our lives attending protest marches and rioting in the streets, or we can reach out and help our neighbor.

One year from now, George W. Bush will no longer be President. This is a joyous thought for some, a saddening thought for others. One year from now, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day rolls around, a new leader will have been just sworn in.

That leader will have much work to do. It will require rolling up sleeves, but it will also require a heavy dose of optimism. Somewhere out there is a 13 year old boy about to have his Bar Mitzvah. He will be 36 one day, and when he looks back on his journey, it will all have been a waste unless life is better in the future then it is now.

I believe this boy will be ok. Things turned out fine for me, and I will help this boy along. So will members of other communities, because he will be playing with their children, and those kids will be too young and naive to hate, unless their parents teach them badly.

Dr. King wanted love and peace to be spread. He believed that we are all God’s children. The best thing we can do to honor his memory is buy a much bigger dinner table, and make sure that good people of all races and creeds are invited over to break bread.

Let us all say, in a thunderous voice, “Amen.”

eric

NFL 2007-2008 Title Games Recap

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

For those who want detailed analysis of the Nevada Caucuses and the South Carolina Primary…take the d@mn day off. I am.

The AFC and NFC Title Games were today.

Screw Hyperbole. Say a prayer for Steve at No Runny Eggs, who is a Packer fan.

http://norunnyeggs.com/

Let’s get it on!

San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots was the AFC Title Game.

On paper it had the potential to be the worst game veer played, and if somehow the NFL could place the Colts in the game anyway instead of San Diego, it would be watchable. This is why I am a fan and not anybody who knows anything despite over a quarter of a century watching the game.

As for the Patriots having their bags packed for the Superbowl, it would be hard to blame them, except Bill Bellichick has probably convinced them that they are a terrible 17-0 team that has accomplished nothing.

For the Chargers, both Philip Rivers and Landanian Tomlinson started, although Tomlinson was clearly not healthy. Tomlinson played sparingly in the first quarter, and then not at all. With heavy winds, the Chargers went into the wind in the first quarter. Yet despite having the wind at their backs, the Patriots had little success. When Tom Brady was intercepted, the Chargers started at the New England 40 yard line. Rivers got the Chargers inside the 10, but his 3rd down pass was ruled incomplete in the back of the end zone. Nate Kaeding’s 26 yard field goal with 3 minutes left in the first quarter put the Chargers up 3-0.

All that did was make the Patriots mad. They stormed down the field, and a little over one minute into the second quarter, Lawrence plunged in from a yard out to put New England up 7-3. San Diego came back with a 65 yard drive, but again the Chargers bogged down inside the 10 yard line. Another field goal cut the gap to 7-6.

A gorgeous punt was downed at the 4 yard line, and the Chargers then blundered. Rivers was intercepted, setting up a Brady touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney and a 14-6 Patriots advantage with 4 minutes left in the half. San Diego did add a third field goal with 8 seconds left in the half for a 14-9 game at the break.

Rivers had a pair of interceptions in the first half, and on the first drive of the third quarter, Brady had his second interception. Again, the Chargers made it inside the 10 yard line. Again, they bogged down. After taking a timeout, on 3rd and 1, a lateral run was blown up in the backfield. A fourth field goal had the Patriots clinging to a 14-12 lead midway through the third quarter. Brady led the Patriots down the field with relative ease, helped along with strong running from Maroney.

Yet on 3rd and goal, Brady was intercepted in the end zone by Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie then made a mistake himself by trying to run it out rather than kneel in the end zone. Too many players think they will go coast to coast, but it is hard to argue with Cromartie since he has gone the distajnce this season. Yet this time, rather than start at the 20, the Chargers started at their own 3 yard line. After one first down, they punted. A booming punt by Mike Scifres had the Patriots starting at their own 33. They went down the field again, and Brady’s touchdown pass to Wes Welker had the Patriots up 21-12 with 12 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.

San Diego reached the New England 36, but after a couple incomplete passes, with 9 1/2 minutes remaining, the Chargers passed up going for it and kicking a 53 yard field goal, opting to punt. The Patriots took over at their own 12 yard line. The Chargers never saw the ball again. 9 1/2 minutes of clock later, the game had ended. The Patriots will be going to their 4th Superbowl in 7 years. 21-12 Patriots

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers was the NFC Title Game.

First of all, anybody that refers to Big Blue as the New Jersey Giants should be shot. As for the game, the temperature at game time was one degree below zero, the third coldest in playoff history. Football is a man’s game, which is why I wore a short sleeve shirt today, unlike my friends, who wore long sleeves. Granted I was wrapped in a blanket in my Los Angeles apartment, but I was short sleeved nonetheless.

Brett Favre came out throwing successfully, but the running game was slow to develop. The Packers punted on their first drive, and Eli Maning took the Giants into the red zone. A pass to the end zone was dropped, although Al Harris had good defensive position. A 29 yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes put the Giants up 3-0 with 5 minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The Packers had no success moving the ball, while the Giants could not convert in the red zone when another 3rd down pass was well defended. Another field goal put the Giants up 6-0 with 12 minutes left in the half.

The Giants were dominating the game statistically. They led in time of possession by more than double, and led in plays by exactly double, 22 to 11. The Packers then muffed the ensuing kickoff, starting from their own 10. The Giants were in complete control everywhere except the scoreboard. One play later, Favre had a midrange sideline pass to Donald Driver, who outraced the entire New York defense for the go ahead touchdown. Just like that, a Green Bay team that had 27 yards of offense now had a 90 yard touchdown completion and a 7-6 lead.

After a Green Bay punt pinned the Giants at their own 7 yard line, the Packers got the ball back around midfield. A 20 yard Favre to Driver completion set up a field goal, giving the Packers a 10-6 lead with 90 seconds left in the half. Manning did bring the Gmen as far as the Green Bay 35 thanks to a deep pass to Plaxico Burress, but a second deep ball to Burress at the goal line was ruled incomplete. With 11 seconds left in the half, the Giants bypassed the 52 yard field goal attempt and went for it on 4th and long. Manning was sacked, ending the half.

The Giants went right to work in the second half, with their opening drive helped along by two costly defensive penalties. An Al Harris interception was nullified by an illegal contact penalty on Harris, and a third down incompletion was offset by a questionable roughing the passer penalty. On 3rd and inches from the Green Bay one yard line, Brandon Jacobs fumbled , but the Giants recovered it. they were short of the goal line, but had enough for the first down. On the next two plays, the Giants were stopped short of the end zone, but on each play the Packers jumped offsides. Brandon Jacobs finally barreled in, and the 7 minute drive had the Giants up 13-10.

Tremon Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards to the New York 39. On 3rd down, a twice deflected pass was caught short of the first down. Yet this time it was the Giants who hurt themselves in the worst possible way as Sam Madison was called for a personal foul penalty. from the 12 yard line, Favre’s second touchdown pass went to Donald Lee, putting the Packers up 17-13 with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The teams became mirror images of each other as Dominic Hixon returned the kickoff, allowing the Giants to start at their own 43 yard line. Manning threw a sideline pass to Amani Toomer that was ruled inbounds at the Green Bay 12. Mike McCarthy challenged the call, but the reception was upheld. Ahmad Bradshaw rammed it in from 2 yards out, and the Giants retook the lead 20-17 with just over 2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Giants led in time of possession at this point 28 minutes to 15 minutes.

After a 20 yard completion to Driver, the Packers had the ball at the New York 31. This was a couple plays after Favre threw a deep ball into triple coverage, which luckily for the Packers, fell incomplete. Favre then got greedy again, and another home run ball this was intercepted. Unfortunately, the ball was fumbled back on the interception return, as offensive lineman Tauscher fell on it for a 10 yard gain after all the confusion. Tom Coughlin’s head exploded, justifiably so. The Packers connected on a field goal with 11:46 remaining, tying the game at 20-20.

Dominic Hixon had another strong return, as the Giants started from their own 40. Eli Manning took the Giants to the Green Bay 34, but on 3rd and 5, he called New York’s second timeout. When play resumed, his pass to Amani Toomer was dropped. An offensive pass interference penalty was accepted, giving the Giants 3rd and 15 instead of 4th and 5. The issue was rendered moot when the Giants gained 10 yards on the next play. On 4th and 5 this time, a pass was deflected and caught short of the first down, but defensive pass interference kept the drive alive. From the 28, a pass into double coverage was knocked away by Al Harris. On 3rd and 7 with 7 minutes remaining, Green Bay on defense took their second timeout. Each team had one remaining. On 4th and 7, Tynes came out for a 43 yard field goal. The kick was wide left.

Green Bay went three and out, and had only 31 yards of offense in the second half at this point. The Giants started their next drive at their own 37 with 6 minutes remaining. On 3rd and inches with 5 minutes remaining, Manning took the quarterback sneak over the first down marker. On 3rd and 9 just shy of midfield, an exhausted Green Bay defense dug deep and made the big play, sacking Manning. Biamilia got a good jump, although this was not another offsides penalty. The Packers took over at their own 17 with 2:48 remaining. After 3 plays and 18 seconds, the Giants took their final timeout.

R.W. McQuarters fielded the ball at midfield and fumbled it. Two Packers had a clear shot at it, tried to pick it up rather than falling on it, and the Giants recovered, starting at the Green Bay 48 with 2:15 remaining. Ahmad Bradshaw then ran up the middle, broke several tackles, and raced to the end zone. The go ahead touchdown was brought back, nullified by an offensive holding penalty. The Giants faced 1st and 20. The Giants faced second and 15 at the 2 minute warning. A completion to Steve Smith went just past the marker. It clearly looked short of the first down, so the officials decided to do a booth review. The call was reversed, setting up 3rd and inches. Ahmad Bradshaw shook off a tackle in the background, and gained 8 yards. A completion to Steve Smith went for 10 yards. With 4 seconds left, Manning calmly spiked the ball.

Tynes came on for a 36 yard field goal attempt. It was not only a chance at redemption, but a trip to the Superbowl on the line. This time the snap was high, and the kick was a knuckleball that went way wide left by a Wisconsin mile. The game went into overtime.

I have two dear friends, one in Phoenix and one in New York, that are Giants fans. I had the phone in my hand, but there was no congratulations call just yet. I trusted that they were still alive after the last missed kick.

On Favre’s second play from scrimmage, he was intercepted by Corey Webster. The Giants began at the Green Bay 34. On 4th and 5 from the 30, Tynes came out for a 3rd time. This was a 48 yard attempt for a guy who had missed from closer. The Packers decided not to call timeout to ice the kicker. Tynes nailed it, and the upset was complete.

Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin, Michael Strahan were going to the Superbowl after 3 road wins in the playoffs, and 10 straight road wins overall. Archie Manning celebrated with some nondescript fat white guy that still has not been identified. Brett Favre and the Packers were going home. The 18-0 Patriots will be waiting for them. In 2 weeks we play Superbowl XLII. If it is anywhere near as exciting as the NFC Title Game, it will be worth watching. 23-20 Giants, OT

Next Sunday is “dead week.” There is nothing on television. Inbetween bouts of uncontrollable sobbing, I will turn on the television crying, “this cannot be.” In 2 weeks we play the Superbowl, in 3 weeks the Pro Bowl, and after that, only 7 months until the 2008 season kicks off. At least the draft is something.

Bill O’Reilly picked the Giants over the Packers, which reminds me that there is a Presidential race going on. Somebody somewhere cares. The next two weeks is about football.

The Warm and Fuzzy Bowl will be played between those two sweet individuals, Bill Bellichick and Tom Coughlin. They are both Bill Parcells disciples, except they smile less. A Tuna Bowl without the Tuna…there might not be a single pregame quote.

Are you ready for Superbowl XLII!!! Phoenix Arizona here we come!

Giants vs Patriots…Let’s get it on!

eric

Calling all Minnesota Veterans

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

I often receive requests from people around the world to blog about certain topics. I try to accommodate people, but sometimes the subject matter is just not relevant. A couple days ago I received a request from a retired Veteran of the War in Afghanistan. His request of me is more than relevant. It is important. So rather than briefly discuss his remarks, I will present them in their entirety.

http://vetsforfreedom.org/

“When I started to write down my vision, I wasn’t certain of my intentions. I had always felt that as a soldier it was my duty to serve and not get involved. As I wrote this, I began to realize that as a soldier I was already involved. I had taken an oath to defend the country and I needed to take a stand. My intentions became clear to me. I wanted to inspire other soldiers to take a stand for what we believe in and enact change. My intention is for veterans to get involved at home to influence the direction of the country we are willing to die for. My intention is to inspire veterans to attend the caucus on Feb 5th.
With that latest polls still showing that the war is the #1 issue for the 2008 election, it only reinforced my conclusion. The war is not a partisan issue, the war is an American issue and I want the Americans who sacrifice for that issue to be involved in the decisions on that issue. We need to have a voice in who is elected to represent us!!!
I chose the email address of saintmichael@charter.net for 2 reasons. I live in the city of St Michael, MN and Saint Michael is the patron saint of Paratroopers. What better name to represent veterans.
This is meant to be a chain email. I need it to be forwarded to as many people as possible in the next month. Please keep it going until Feb 5 and please attend your precinct caucus. The only way we can implement change is to spread the word and get involved by getting elected as delegates.
Sincerely,
Jason Meszaros
U.S. Army Veteran – Afghanistan
St Michael, MN
My Vision: Courage and Integrity in Government.
As Veterans, whether a soldier, sailor, airmen or marine, we lead from the front in the GWOT everyday. It is time for Veterans to lead from the front in the Transformation of America. It is time for our leadership, experience, courage and integrity to influence the direction of America.
What does the Caucus really mean to a Veteran?
The caucus is where Americans truly have a voice. The caucus is the process in the system to choose the candidate and choose the stance the party takes on an issue, such as the Global War on Terror. What you won’t hear on TV or from candidates and what most people do not know is that ANYONE can attend the caucus. Any group (Veterans) can attend the caucus. Anyone can be elected as a delegate. The delegates are the ones who get to choose the platforms of the parties and more importantly, the delegates CHOOSE the candidates. We need Veterans, Family, Friends, and Supporters of Veterans to get elected as delegates. That will give Veterans the voice to truly influence the direction of the country. I believe veterans have earned the right to have a voice.
Why am I telling you this?
I want to inspire Veterans to attend the MN caucuses. I want Veterans to come together as a group and be represented in the political parties that run this country. I want Veterans in MN to commit to attending the caucuses on Feb 5.
Why should I care?
Veterans have the leadership, experience, courage and integrity necessary to run this country. The only way to get our voice truly heard is to get involved in the system and that will lead us to transform the system. There is no doubt that people do not trust most politicians in today’s America. By providing an influx of Veterans into the system we can create the possibility of courage and integrity in American Government. People can trust Veterans who already know how to serve.
How do we transform the system?
Attend the caucus on Feb 5. This is a non partisan movement. If you are a Democrat attend the Democratic Caucus. If you are a Republican then attend the Republican Caucus. Either way Veterans need to have a greater influence on this country from both sides of the aisle.
How do I know where my caucus is located?
MN SOS web site can tell you where your precinct is located? You can also call the Major Political parties for information on the caucus locations.
Republican Party: http://www.mngop.com/pf/
Independence Party: http://www.mnip.org/
What else can I do to make a difference?
Forward this email on to as many Veterans, Family, Friends, and Supporters of Veterans as possible. Spread the word to as many people as possible. We have 1 month to inspire as many people as we can to attend MN Caucuses on Feb 5.
Why Mission Impossible?
It may seem impossible to think that we can significantly influence the course of America. The transformation begins in 1 month with MN Precinct Caucuses. The commitment to attend is small but the impact is incredible. Imagine the impact that 10,000+ Veterans surging into the MN political system can do to enact change.
How do I get more info?
Send an email with your question to: saintmichael@charter.net
What should I do if I am committed to attending?
Step 1. Identify your caucus location.
Step 2. Send me an email letting me know you will attend and the location of your caucus.
Step 3. Show up on Feb 5. It is that easy to make a difference!!!
Saint Michael
Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as “one of the chief princes,” and leader of the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. He has been honored and invoked as patron and protector by the Church. St. Michael is the patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness.”

This cause is noble. May it flourish. Thank you to all our Veterans. Thank you and welcome home.

eric

The Jayson Blair Times Descends Into Madness

Friday, January 18th, 2008

The Jayson Blair Times is descending into madness. It is now officially the equivalent of a drug addict unable to come clean. It is in a downward spiral, and it is determined to drag everybody down until there is nothing good in America left. We can argue over whether it takes a village to raise a child, but it seems that it only takes a newspaper to burn the village.

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2007/06/the-collapse-of-the-jayson-blair-times-palestinian-style/

http://michellemalkin.com/2008/01/24/americas-fishwrap-endorses/

For the sake of full disclosure, for those who truly do need to be hit upside the head with a bar towel to know they are in a bar, I find the paper formerly known as the New York Times to be a contemptible piece of trash run by disgusting individuals that long ago gave up on concepts such as honor and integrity.

I want to make it crystal clear that my objection to this paper is not political. I disagree with liberals. I detest the JBT. I detest the fact that they will allow blind partisan hatred to get in the way of making America happier, healthier, and safer.

I am a conservative blogger. Yet if you are a liberal, you will be welcome on my blog. You will not be castigated. I will treat you politely. We will disagree, but you will be welcome as would any guest in my home. When watching football on Sundays, I know some of the guys sitting on my couch are liberals. They know they have a place to watch the game. I want my blog to be equally welcoming.

The JBT would rather destroy than reach out. They are sinking in readership because they have taken so many repugnant actions that only their most ardent ideological warriors will read them.

Some people will bemoan the state of politics today. They will say it has gotten coarser. We were better off before Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the blogosphere lit up society. Things were so much more peaceful “back then.”

No, society was not more peaceful. There was not harmony. Debate was merely stifled. When a liberal says, “Be bipartisan,” what they really mean is, “Shut up and agree with me.” The New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, and NPR ruled with iron fists…iron liberal fists. Conservatives were simply not allowed to speak. The debate is coarser today because liberals have not been able to silence and bully the conservatives back underground.

Yes, there are plenty of strident conservatives out there. They will argue that they were bullied, so therefore they have every right to get down and dirty. This is wrong. This is how entire groups of people who have been victimized in the past seek vengeance rather than justice. Some people run for President fueled by this vengeance. What conservatives should do is what most of them are already doing. Do not get in the gutter, but be a worldwide group of ombudsmen that expose every liberal lie. This is a full time job when it comes to the JBT, but here are some examples of how they have sunk.

They became the JBT by promoting Jayson Blair himself. He was unqualified, and incompetent. He continued to rise in the ranks, passing over better qualified and longer tenured caucasian employees.

Affirmative action is a sensitive issue. I have enraged many conservatives myself by not being rabidly against it. Yet at the same time, promoting Jayson Blair hurt everybody. The critics of affirmative action made him the poster boy in an attempt to destroy an entire structure meant to help people. Where the JBT went wrong is that they sacrificed quality in favor of ideology. There are plenty of capable black people in America, a majority of them liberals. Instead of picking somebody who happened to be black, they picked somebody because he was black.

Yet the Jayson Blair imbroglio was a molehill. Other scandals have been mountains.

In 2004, Mary Mapes and Dan Rather used their powerful positions at CBS to try and bring down President Bush. In conjunction with the JBT, memos that were “fake but accurate” made it on the air. If the new media did not exist, John Kerry would have won the election. That in itself is not the tragedy, since many people wanted him to win. The real horror would have been when the scandal erupted after he was sworn in. His Presidency would have been paralyzed. It would have made Monicagate seem like child’s play. America would have been irreparably harmed.

Yet just because President Bush was reelected does not mean we can all say, “no harm, no foul.” Attempted murder is not murder, but it is still awful. Whether or not President Bush shirked his military duties would have been a legitimate story if there was hard evidence. CBS and the JBT let ideology trump quality, and let emotion override facts. They continued to hasten the destruction of their own brands.

If trying to rig an election was sinister, then trying to get innocent Americans killed was bordering, if not crossing over, the line of good and evil.

The JBT has gone beyond reporting the war in Iraq and the War on Terror. They have openly cheered for America to lose. This is treason. It is sedition.

Some may ask how an inanimate object can hurt or harm anything. This inanimate object has a flesh and blood owner. His name is Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger, Jr. Pinch Sulzberger has a long history of despising his own nation. Like all rich children of guilty white liberals, he managed to join the counterculture. Unlike others who took part in that wretched movement of drug loving hippie excess, he never grew up. While his father, Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger Sr., was a liberal, even he had his limits. He asked his son who he would want to die in a conflict between an American soldier and a Vietnamese soldier. Pinch replied, “The American soldier should die because we invaded his country. The Vietnamese soldier is just defending himself.”

One does not have to support a war to wish that our soldiers come home safely. Pinch has continued his warped thinking to this very day. On the day that Iraqis voted in their third democratic election, The JBT chose to break the wiretapping story involving the Bush White House. Reasonable minds can disagree on whether this was a story to begin with. Yet the story could have been reported one day earlier or one day later. It was not time sensitive. The day of the Iraqi election was historic. To give it short shrift was horrifying.

Yet even more horrifying was the JBT giving away secret troop movements, endangering the lives of American soldiers. This is not about right vs left. It is about right vs wrong. Our troops may overwhelmingly vote republican, but they conduct their missions with honor, regardless of who at any moment in history is their Commander in Chief. Those who say they “support the troops” cannot condone this activity. These young men and women should not be blown to kingdom come because one man is against war in principle and American victory in practice. Ideology has blinded him. There is no decency left.

In the last few days alone, there have been three more big black eyes at the Gray Lady.

The first is mild in comparison. It involves the furor of the paper in general for hiring commentator Billl Kristol, who happens to be a conservative. Notice I did not refer to him as “conservative commentator Bill Kristol.” He is a human being first, and I do not recall the Wall Street Journal refer to “liberal columnist Al Hunt,” when he was a columnist there. That is because the WSJ was able to place quality above ideology. This allowed it to export both.

Daniel Finkelstein, the editor of the Times of London, wrote a brilliant article questioning why a movement obsessed with diversity would object to a columnist offering ideological diversity.

http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2008/01/an-open-letter.html

The reason is because that type of diversity is frowned upon.

“A quality newspaper should have columns reflecting a wide variety of opinions, even those uncongenial to the majority of its readers. While the bulk of a paper’s columnists may reflect the publication’s character and view, there must always be space for an alternative opinion.”

Apparently Mr. Finkelstein believes the JBT is reasonable.

“Considering that Kristol represents a large strand of American opinion (even if it is a smaller strand of NYT reader opinion) it is entirely unremarkable that his columns should be commissioned.”

This is because ideology is what they want, quality is irrelevant. Expanding the readership is only irrelevant for people who want to grow their business. Judging by the collapsing stock price, Pinch simply does not care about increasing circulation.

“The job of a reader’s editor, surely is to defend the rights of its readers, all of its readers. It is not to start picking a “Fantasy Columnist” team to reflect his own politics. What of people who agree with Kristol? Do they not deserve the protection of the reader’s editor?”

Clark Hoyt, the ombudsman at the JBT, did not want Mr. Kristol hired because he had the nerve to criticize the paper in the past. Internal dissension is healthy. It avoids groupthink. Come to think of it, the very things that the JBT has accused the Bush Administration of being guilty of is what has affected the JBT itself.

Mr. Hoyt stated, “This is not a person I would have rewarded with a regular spot in front of arguably the most elite audience in the nation.”

Mr. Finkelstein’s reply was brief, to the point, and deadly accurate.

“Isn’t this the most pompous sentence you have ever read in your life?”

This is the JBT mindset. They have between one and two million readers, and think that 7 billion people agree with them. Even for liberals, this is too much arrogance.

The second black eye is a repeat of 2004. Many people feel that Rudy Giuliani is the strongest republican candidate (Disclosure: I am supporting Rudy Giuliani for President). While many on the left and right are not fans of Rudy, he was the frontrunner in the polls for some time. Then a scandal broke about secret service protection for his mistress, now his wife, Judi Nathan. In the end, there was no scandal. The expenditures were legal, and charged to the appropriate account.

So no harm, no foul, right? Wrong. The scandal was on the front page. The retraction was on page 37. Rudy Giuliani might still become President, but if he does not, that scandal is what sent him down in the polls. The JBT failed to get President Bush in 2004, but they fired their guns on Mayor Giuliani, and derailed a strong republican…and more importantly, a staunch advocate of an aggressive continuation of the War on Terror. Ideology reigns supreme, and any man further to the right of President Bush with regards to the Bush Doctrine must be destroyed.

Yet if attacking one man falsely is disgusting, continuing to disparage our troops is vile.

The newest story slandering the troops comes in the form of the JBT Claiming that 121 murders have been committed by American troops returning home to American soil. This is to show returning soldiers as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder induced crazed, murderous lunatics. The story has already been debunked, since when taken as a percentage, American civilians who have not served in the military are 5 times more likely to commit murder. Soldiers are better behaved, more disciplined, and less violent. They are not “killing machines.” They are humanitarians who love America, and defend our citizens. To portray the entire group as murderers is to hate the troops.

It is not that the JBT is liberal. It is that they are pernicious, wrong, and unapologetic. They get the story wrong, issue mealy mouthed apologies, and continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Sometimes honest mistakes happen. More often than not, the paper engages in deliberate smears.

It is no wonder that the JBT and its ever dwindling number of readers despise Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and their less popular brethren. The JBT repeatedly lies. They have always lied. Only in recent years are they getting caught.

The New York Post does not have this problem. The Wall Street Journal does not have this problem either. It is not that they are conservative. It is that they are obsessed with getting the news right. Not right politically, but right accurately. On the rare occasions they make mistakes, they issue loud mea culpas. They also have liberal columnists, or to be more accurate, columnists that happen to be liberal. They are not token hires. They simply write well.

My blog will succeed because my belief in conservatism, while strong, is secondary to my obsession with integrity. I will be wrong from time to time. I will blow a story. Yet I will place the value of my brand above my pride.

I will not allow myself to become the conservative equivalent of the JBT, because conservatives have to be thrice as good as liberals to survive. The main stream media loves to show conservatives fouling things up, so they can claim that everybody does it. I will not fall into that trap.

The JBT will continue to rot from its arrogant liberal head. They prefer madness to goodness. Quality is job zero. They will burn the village, and yes, some decent republicans will get singed. Yet the JBT will be burning right next to them, their own reputation burnt to a crisp, tattered and charred.

Conservatives will be better when the Gray Lady gets euthanized. Liberals will not realize this until later on, but they will be better off as well. Society will be better.

The JBT is the politics of personal destruction. The debate will be less coarse when they expire worthless. This will not eliminate liberalism. Another liberal publication will take their place, obsessed with avoiding the same mistakes. They will choose honesty over treachery, and a rich, deep national debate can continue, free from hatred and lies.

I hope there are enough liberals that value integrity enough to prove me right.

eric

My Interview With Mona Charen

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

I had the pleasure of meeting columnist and author Mona Charen In December of 2007. I attended a policy forum in a Synagogue in San Francisco hosted by the Jewish Policy Forum. After the forum had ended, she agreed to do an interview with the Tygrrrr Express.

She is the author of the best selling books “Do Gooders,” and “Useful Idiots.”

Her columns can be read in political publications such as National Review and Townhall to religious papers such as the Jewish World Review.

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/charen.html

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/monacharen/archive.shtml

She is also a Jewish conservative republican Neocon that puts her principles first, which is good for those who know her given that those principles are decent and well grounded.

I also want to say one other thing about Ms. Charen. She is one of the nicest people I have ever encountered. I drove her and a mutual friend back to their respective hotels after the policy forum had concluded. She is a patient person, finding humor in the fact that only yours truly could get lost using a GPS tracker. After 16 consecutive right turns, I realized that we were only 196 laps away from completing the Indy 500. While “Right Turns” is Michael Medved’s book, Ms. Charen would have been trapped in San Francisco had we not at some point allowed ourselves just this once to turn left.

Only after we saw a street known as “Bush Street,” did I realize things would be fine. First of all, David Frum wrote “The Right Man,” about the President, and even in San Francisco, to get anywhere successfully, one had to pass through Bush Street.

Ms. Charen found some of the above remarks funny, which only proves how overwhelmingly gracious she is. As for the conversation in the car, it shall remain confidential out of respect for her privacy. Nevertheless, to say she was delightful to get to know was also an understatement. I also feared that if she was not dropped off at her hotel safely, her next column would be about a planted blogger from the Daily Kos or Moveon.org trying to derail conservatives by any means necessary. I am a genuine conservative, and she was dropped off safely. I wanted her to have a safe and easy flight back because her flight to San Francisco had her near a passenger downing five vodkas. Contrary to rumors, as a friend of mine at the event pointed out, it was not Senator Ted Kennedy causing the problem.

To know Ms. Charen is to like her. With that, below is my interview with Mona Charen.

1) How does a nice Jewish person from a good family end up, horror of horrors, politically conservative?

I became a conservative in part because I listened to talk radio before it was cool. In the 1970s, Barry Farber held forth on WOR in New York City. He was a North Carolinian, silver-tongued Jew, who was a staunch anti-communist and conservative. I learned a great deal. Also, my parents were becoming more and more disenchanted with the Left and the Democratic party during the 60s and 70s.

2) A large segment of our society seems to have an irrational fear of anyone deemed “religious.” Do you feel this is true, and how do you balance your deep commitment to your faith with the noble goal of educating some Americans who may unfairly consider all religion to be equated with zealotry and intolerance? 

That sounds like a question from someone who lives in San Francisco! I think most of the country is not at all uncomfortable with religion. This is the case only in liberal-land.

3) What can ordinary citizens do, besides donating money and buying your books, to help win the War on Terror? What obligations do we have, and how can we help?  

Vote. Write letters to the editor. Send cards and gifts to the troops.

4) It is one thing to ask people to have faith in God. It is much tougher to ask people to have faith in Government. What does our government do right, and what does it need to do better so people can start believing in their government again?

As a conservative, I don’t necessarily want to encourage trust in government. A good skepticism about government is healthy. But I would encourage faith in American ideals and American civic culture – and those are under unceasing assault by the Left.

5) Without giving an endorsement unless you choose to do so, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the five main republican candidates? 

See my column on Romney.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWExZDFjMzYyNDU4MzUzMTA3OWEwYjZmM2FhMWIxZDc=

6) With regards to foreign policy, what have we done right, and what have we gotten wrong, in the last 8 years, and what steps need to be taken to improve the situations that require improvement?

This question would require a book – and perhaps I’ll write it but not today.

7) What were the main challenges you faced in your life? What were your greatest successes, and what do you need more time to accomplish?

I’ve had challenges aplenty. But I’m a believer in dogged hard work. It has gotten me through many difficult situations.

 

8.) Our country is incredibly polarized. Outside of another 9/11, is it even possible to unite Americans? What can be done to help reduce the acrimony among Americans today?

I grieve at the level of vulgarity and viciousness that is commonplace on the internet. I’ve always tried to be polite and civil when I debate Democrats and liberals. We need a return of the concept of shame in many areas of American life but perhaps we can start by shaming those who engage in vitriolic political attacks and personal invective.

9) Who are your three favorite American political leaders of all time?

Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. Very unimaginative you may say but there it is. Hamilton for his vision and brilliance; Lincoln for his genius with the English language; and Washington for being the purest incarnation of the democratic idea in the whole history of the world.

10) Who are your three favorite world political leaders of all time?

 Churchill, Moses, and Anastasius I (he cut taxes and provided a strong defense).

 

11) What would be the main qualities and criteria you would look for with regards to potential Supreme Court justices? Could they disagree with you on major issues, and still be qualified? How do you feel they should rule on the two second amendment cases in front of them?

My model for a Supreme Court justice is John Roberts – impeccably well qualified, informed, humorous, temperate, and wise.

12) Many Jews see Judaism as being in lockstep with liberalism, even though the highest for of Tzedakah involves helping someone achieve self-reliance, a very conservative philosophy. How do you explain the synthesis between Judaism and political conservatism to others?

 Judaism also requires self-discipline, marital fidelity, respect for the sanctity of life, and a reverence for tradition. It requires us to teach our children the laws of God and to be strong in the face of our enemies!

 

13) Former Attorney General John Ashcroft once said that if the law conflicted with his religious beliefs, he would resign. Alabama Justice Roy Moore refused to obey a law requiring that he remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom, based on his beliefs. Has American law ever conflicted with your religious beliefs, and how did you or would you handle this conflict?   

 Well, there are laws with which I disagree but they have not caused a crisis of conscience. I disagree with the abortion regime in America but I do my best to change people’s minds.

14) Without delving into your personal life, what would you want Americans to know about Mona Charen the person? 100 years from now, what would you want people to remember about you, and what would you hope the history books say about you?

I have tried to live as well-balanced a life as possible. I hope people who know me would say that I do practice what I preach. I’ve put my family before my career. I try to treat everyone as I would like to be treated. And I think I’m a great appreciator of the talents of others.

I would like to again thank Ms. Charen for her time, her pleasantness, and her thoughtfulness. Those qualities emanate through her columns.

I wish Mona Charen much happiness and success always.

eric

 

Motor City Primary, Sin City Debate, Selma Forever

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Quick plug…Tonight I am a guest on www.newsradiomagazine.com at 6:45pm PST.

The republicans had a primary in Michigan. Mitt Romney was the winner. After a deep analysis, this tells us…absolutely nothing. The only thing that can truly be determined by observing Detroit is that the Lions are still terrible. The republican primaries have told us zilch. Mike Huckabee won the activists in Iowa, John McCain won the rebels in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney won his de facto home state where economics is key. Fred Thompson wants to win his fellow Southerners in South Carolina, and Rudy Giuliani very well could win his fellow New Yorkers in Florida. We know nothing, and attempts to dispute that would make us liberals, aka liars.

As for the fun and games involving the Las Vegas democratic smackdown, first, I offer a brief musical interlude.

“I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got…may lord please let the dice stay hot…let me see a seven with every shot…Viva…Las Vegas…Viva…Las Vegas.”

(in Elvis voice) Thank you very much.

That song has so much testosterone it should be used in male enhancement ads.

Speaking of those needing male enhancement, the democrats had a debate in Las Vegas. Before providing the recap, it is important to note that while the location of the debate was Las Vegas, Nevada, and the issues facing America are global, the democrats running for President are permanently entrenched in Selma, Alabama.

Yes, Selma, Alabama. There has been no progress, nothing has changed since 1863, the system is rigged, blah blah blah, wake me up when you can speak without being boring.

Forgive me for being unsympathetic to a culture of victimhood, be it feminists who preach strength and burst into hysterical tears, or racial hustlers who talk about uniting people while benefiting from hostility and divisions to line their own pockets.

While Al Queda is plotting to continue to engage in global terrorism, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are arguing about who is more authentically connected to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I am sure this 1960s version of street cred will save us when our cities are burning and subways are being bombed because our politicians were busy fighting about nonsense.

Bombs have gone off in London, Bali, Madrid, and Glasgow. The terrorists did not care what color, gender, or religion the victims were. They did not discriminate.

Barack Obama may be a lightweight, but he does not seem to be a bad guy. The Clintons are throatslitters, and they are prepared to play the race and gender cards if that will be their ticket to power. I do not think Hillary is a racist. She just has a bloodlust for power, and if that means tearing America apart along racial and gender lines to further her own ambitions, so be it. John Edwards sees two Americas, and I wish he would go to the other one. I see two Americas as well, North and South. Perhaps Edwards can be deported to Brazil. It might make him appreciate the USA more.

As for Hillary, perhaps the walls are finally closing in, and like a cornered animal, she will fight to the death. If this bloodies the democrats, allowing republicans to win, that allows her to try again in 4 years instead of 8 years. I say that the walls are closing in because of the results in Michigan. Yes, she won, and she will spin it as a triumph. The truth, never to be confused with anything emanating form the mouths of the Clintons, is that Hillary ran unopposed. She scored 55% of the vote, with uncommitted approaching 40%. That is a loss everywhere reality exists.

Yet the reason Hillary is a disaster is because she is simply a dour person. She is against everybody in her way, but does not seem to be for anything except getting elected. Barack Obama is likable. The one time he came across as unlikable was when he was condescending towards Hillary, saying she was “likable enough.” He paid the price in New Hampshire. Yet he is much more likable than her overall. He is black, but he has gone out of his way to appeal to voters of all stripes. He is not running as the “black candidate.” Hillary is the female candidate. Her gender is her rationale, and she knows men do not vote for her. Since Obama appeals to many, Hillary needs to peel away by any means necessary. As she gets desperate, she gets racially tinged. She does it through her surrogates, but we are responsible for those we associate with.

So despite the fact that Selma Alabama was four decades ago, and most people agree with civil rights, and want harmony, harmony helps Obama and hatred helps Hillary. If it takes burning a village to get elected, Hillary will do it. When Hillary destroys Obama as a human being and wins the nomination, she will continue to use racism, sexism, and every other ism to defeat republicanism. Obama is wrong on issues. Hillary is poison. For those who want to talk about change by claiming nothing has changed, support Hillary. For democrats who want to get beyond the racial and ethnic divisions that hurt all of us, support a man who happens to be black, but would rather reach us all.

Or better yet, for those more interested in 2023 than 1863, vote republican.

For those who want to go back to 1863, below is the recap of the democratic debate. The positive of this debate was that the lower tier was removed, and the big three remained, the way the debates should be. The bad news is that all three are losers.

Let’s get ready to rumble! The Michael Buffer debate recap is below.

Moderator Brian Williams got the debate off with a bang by diving into the current controversy involving disputes over who was closest to Martin Luther King Jr.

Hillary Clinton immediately announced that neither race nor gender should play a role in the campaign. She praised Barack Obama and John Edwards. She blamed her exuberant uncontrollable supporter for the flap, and then blamed republicans.

Obama agreed with Hillary. He said race has always been an issue, but we cannot solve challenges unless we come together.

Edwards said as a Southerner, it is personal for him. We have made progress, but have more to do.

Tim Russert asked Obama about his staff accusing Hillary pushing the racial angle.

Obama took full responsibility, saying his staff was overzealous on the issue, and that he told them to stop. He also stated that all 3 candidates were committed to racial equality, and that he would be judged by whether he can help All Americans on issues such as home foreclosures and foreign policy. He nailed it.

When asked if their was an attempt to marginalize him as a black candidate, he stated it was not. He said that the American public could see through that. When asked about his loss in New Hampshire, he said race was not the issue, and that Hillary won fair and square. He was taking the high road, and very effectively. He said, “Change will happen because the people determine it.”

Hillary was asked if Robert Johnson would be axed from the campaign based on his comments about Obama, given her prior statements about all her campaign staff being accountable. She did nto directly answer the question. She blathered about the stakes being high, and disavowed the comments herself. All she said about Johnson was that he retracted his comments. She ducked.

Edwards was asked why choosing between the first woman or first black candidate should not be awful, in terms of being forced to choose. Edwards spoke of his own personal beliefs, and how fighting for the issues that matter trumps the rest. He spoke passionately, but ducked the question.

When asked what a white male can do against historic candidacies, he expressed pride in the democratic party for it’s diversity, but smartly pointed out that Obama and Hillary asked not to be judged by race or gender.

Obama was asked about his comment saying Hillary was “likable enough.” Obama stated that he regretted the way it came across. He stated that all 3 candidates were good people, but that he was the one to bring people together, and would be truthful with the American people.

Edwards was asked if he and Obama were ganging up on Hillary. Edwards said if it looked that way, it absolutely was not that way. He then went into his stump speech.

At this point, Osama Bin Laden was laughing himself silly at these questions, thrilled that the focus was off of him and onto nonsense. Also, a heckler started ranting about race based questions, but it was not Bin Laden, just some unwashed liberal.

Hillary was asked about her husband’s comments about Obama, and how he would be trounced by the republicans. She stated the party would be unified in November, and that she was ready to lead from day 1. Perhaps she did not hear the question. She ranted about how “pathetic” it was that President Bush was “begging the Saudies to lower the price of oil.” This was a lie, but again, this is Hillary.

She also said she has “heard voices for 35 years.” I will resist the urge to take it out of context by bringing up Eleanor Roosevelt.

Russert then asked a very pointed question. He acknowledge that Hillary feels she is the most prepared, but he asked her if Obama and Edwards were at all prepared to be President. Shockingly enough, she ducked, stating that was for the voters to decide.

Obama was asked about his comment about one of his weaknesses, that he is not an “operating officer.” He stated the Presidency is not about schedules and paperwork. It is about vision, bringing together the best people, and solving problems. It was a legitimate answer.

Each candidate was asked about their greatest strength and their greatest weakness.

Obama said his greatest strength was to bring people together. His greatest weakness is his being disorganized with paper, and that he should not be given papers until 2 seconds before he needs to use them. He needs good staff to help with his mess of an office.

Edwards said his greatest strength was his fighting for his beliefs, for children. His weakness was his powerful emotional responses to pain around him. He cited one of his many examples he trots out to tug at heartstrings. That is a phony answer because many would not consider that a weakness at all.

Hillary stated that she is passionately committed to what America stands for. She wants to be a change agent, especially for children.

She then admitted that her sincere flaw is her refusal to answer questions honestly, and that she is corrupt. Just kidding. She did finally admit that she gets “impatient and frustrated when people don’t seem to understand that we can do more.” You see, it is everyone else’s fault. She gets “very concerned about pushing further and faster than others are ready to go.”

Will somebody please remove this woman from her sky horse already? The question was about trying to humanize the candidates, and despite her one calculated moment of almost crying, she was back to being Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons. She should just say she is perfect and be done with it.

She then stated that while bringing people together is important, she knows how to run the bureaucracy. She then laced into President Bush, and implied Obama would take the same approach with regards to implementation.

Obama clarified his position, took a jibe at President Bush, but did not hit back at Hillary. He did stumble in continuing his answer, although he did recover and say that the issue was not managing the bureaucracy where Bush went wrong, but in his failure to bring people together.

Obama was asked about false rumors about him on the internet, most involving his Muslim heritage. Obama stated he was a Christian, and answered an undignified idiotic question in a dignified manner.

Osama Bin Laden joined the Brian Williams fan club, and declared NBC News the official station of those that care more about garbage innuendo than worldwide terrorism.

Barbara Walters was then brought in to ask Hillary what kind of tree she would be. No, not really.

Hillary was then asked about Citigroup and Merrill Lynch going to foreign nations for help with the mortgage crisis. Hillary was asked if this was wrong. Way to lob a softball, Brian. Hillary expressed outrage, and then blamed Wall Street for the irresponsible behavior of American citizens. Yep, big, bad rich people are always wrong. She blamed the President for refusing to bail out businesses. If he did, she would blame him for bailing out the rich.

Edwards bashed the rich. This got Osama Bin Laden angry because he is rich. His support for democrats might slip if they can raise his taxes. Perhaps Edwards wants to withdraw troops from Iraq and direct them at Wall Street given his love of class warfare.

Obama correctly pointed out that part of the problem is that we do not have an energy policy. He did get in some Bush bashing, but his was milder, as before. Also, he seemed to be the only one of the three actually discussing policy issues. He stated that the administration does not believe in oversight. Again, Obama is completely wrong in asking for more regulation, but that is a policy difference. He wants more regulation. It is the wrong stand, but at least it is a stand.

Russert asked Edwards about voting in favor of the 2001 bankruptcy bill, and whether he regretted his vote. He immediately stated he was wrong. Edwards can be very slimy. He simply disavows past votes. Yet on the other hand, he is willing to apologize, something Hillary will not do. Even if Edwards is calculating, he stated he was wrong, and that usually ends discussion of an unpleasant vote. He did mention eliminating big banks as the intermediaries between colleges and students trying to get loans.

Hillary was asked if she was wrong to vote for the bankruptcy bill. She did say she was wrong, but then stated that it never became law, and she was glad about that. She started unequivocal, but then quickly did equivocate. Unlike Edwards, she just cannot let herself be wrong. She then bashed Countrywide Financial. She stated these issues fall hardest on minorities. She was practically screaming, but yet loudness is not emotion.

Obama stated that he opposed both the 2001 and the 2005 bankruptcy bills. He is able to agree with Hillary on an issue, say almost the same exact words, yet come across as cool and reasonable. In the past debate, he was seen as aloof, and it hurt him. This time he was just calm and cerebral, and it helped him. He also did tell one hard luck American story in the way John Edwards would, but Obama comes across as less deliberately heart tugging.

Basically, Hillary was grating, Edwards was sugary, and Obama was reasonable.

Obama was asked a fabulous question from an elderly retiree. The retiree was living on dividend income, and was scared that democrats would raise the taxes on dividends by letting the Bush tax cuts expire. This question was brilliant because it blasted the notion that the stock market is for the rich, and old ladies cannot be yelled at. It was a legitimate policy question that every democrat should be forced to answer. Democrats like to portray republicans as wanting to throw old people on the streets, but its is the democrats that want to tax one of their sources of survival, dividends.

Obama said he would exempt middle income folks from taxes on dividends. He then wandered off into unfairness in the tax code anyway. Obama feels that rich people living on dividends should pay more. He does not understand that investing is real work. Again, while Obama is fundamentally wrong, debates are about how candidates discuss issues, and he showed a clear grasp of his own plan, and what he would do.

Hillary was asked about freezing interest rates to prevent foreclosures, and if she understood the long term ramifications of such a measure. Apparently the questioner took Economics 101, which Hillary did not. Hillary tried to sound like an economics professor, insisting she knew better than the Federal Reserve. She then used the term “green collar jobs,” which is either a new term to describe environmental professionals, or a made up term. I cannot say either way.

The candidates were then allowed to question each other. FINALLY!

Brian Williams jokingly stated that he did not know if this was a good or bad idea. Whether the questions themselves were good or bad, it is an excellent idea.

Edwards stated he would not be preachy or holier than thou, which meant he would be. As he laughed, Obama sat stone faced, in this case justifiably so. Edwards wanted to know why Obama and Hillary take money from drug companies.

Obama stated that if a mid level executive sends him money because he likes his hopeful message, that gets recorded as a company donation even if there is no coordination. It is a fair point, although the contributions might not be voluntary. Obama did state that he cosponsored a proposal to have public financing of campaigns, and that he received many donations from small donors.

At this point Brian Williams proved to be completely incompetent by stating that he misspoke, and that the candidates were not allowed to ask two questions, or one of each other opponent, but only one question in total. That meant Edwards questioned Obama, but could not question Hillary.

Again, this was not the fault of the candidates, but it definitely blindsided them. It also hurt Edwards, who most likely would have questioned Hillary and not Obama if given the choice, rather than tell him he could question both of them.

Hillary asked Obama to join her in helping end the War in Iraq. She then bashed President Bush. Apparently she does not even like to question her opponents, preferring to talk about herself. Obama was wrong. Hillary is not likable enough.

Obama quickly agreed to work with her on this. For a hard woman like Hillary, she missed an opportunity, serving her primary opponent a softball. Obama took the softball and ran with it, mentioning that we were on pace to be in Iraq until 2018. He also managed to discuss the issue without the rancor. Obama disagrees with opponents. Hillary despises enemies. I learn this by simply listening to them.

When asked by the moderator if they supported Obama’s vow to bring troops home in 2009, Hillary and Edwards said yes. Russert then reminded all 3 candidates that when asked in a prior debate to pledge to have all troops out of Iraq within their first year in office, they all refused to make that pledge. Russert stated that he “was hearing something much different tonight.” They all tried to protest simultaneously.

Obama tied to straddle the fence, as the others nodded their head. When Obama brought up President Bush, Hillary stated that it was not just President Bush. She blamed all the republican candidates.

Hillary then took a bold gamble by criticizing John McCain on the war, which even republicans running against him are loathe to do. He said we might be in Iraq for another 100 years. Of course, this does not mean we will be at war that long. McCain compared it to still having troops in Germany and Korea, which are not war zones.

Hillary then said the most truthful thing she has ever said. She stated, “The republicans have an entirely different view than we do.”

Yes Hillary. We do. We’re right. Your wrong. Thank you for just giving us the clip that should be used in every single republican campaign commercial from now until November.

Edwards then said it was dishonest to say you will not have troops in Iraq to protect people. Yet he then said there will be no permanent military base and no combat troops. Huh? It must bother Hillary that Bill Clinton and John Edwards can say this stuff but she cannot.

Obama pointed out the discrepancies in Edwards’s position(s). Edwards disagreed, but Obama said Edwards offered a “distinction without a difference.” Obama won the argument, perhaps because he was right.

Hillary was asked about colleges losing Federal funding for banning ROTC and military recruiters form campuses. She was asked if she would vigorously enforce that law.

She said she absolutely would. She then criticized President Bush on support for the military, so I guess she is better on military issues than he is. She is the audacity of hope minus the hope. When asked about Poison Ivy League schools currently breaking this law, she hemmed and hawed.

Obama promised to enforce the law. He then spoke about national service in exchange for college money, similar to Americorps.

Edwards promised to enforce the law. He then shifted to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These candidates wanted to spend as little time as possible talking about punishing universities that simply break the law by banning military personnel on campus.

Obama brought up Walter Reed, and how this administration has failed our veterans.

Hillary feigned outrage about a new military brain injury.

The candidates were then asked about Yucca Mountain, giving them an opportunity to suck up to Nevada voters. We have to store nuclear waste somewhere, and the Nevada desert is good enough. Asking them to be against Yucca is like asking them to be against ethanol subsidies in Iowa. It begs for gutlessness.

Obama was against Yucca from the very beginning. He seems to have been against everything from the very beginning. I wonder what he thought of Adam and Eve.

The debate was mostly civil, but finally Hillary took the gloves off. She pointed out that Obama was supported by Excelon Corporation, which supports Yucca, and that Edwards voted for it twice.

Obama and Edwards both said they were against Yucca, but they seemed scared to death to take on Hillary.

Edwards did state that while Obama was open to nuclear power, and Hillary, by her own words was “agnostic,” on the subject, he was firmly against building more nuclear plants.

Hillary again pointed out that Edwards ducked the question. Yes, this was ironic, given that all Hillary does is duck questions, but she was nevertheless right. Edwards got defensive and stammered as Hillary smirked.

Obama voted for the 2005 energy bill and Hillary voted no. This bill benefited nuclear power, and Obama was asked about 29 new plants on the verge of being built.

Obama stated that he supported the bill because it also supported clean energy alternatives. If we could figure out a cost effective and safe way to use nuclear power and a safe way to store it, we should do it.

Hillary referred to the bill as the Dick Cheney lobbyist bill. She then rambled on, and said oil companies do not need enormous profits. She mentioned windfall profits taxes. Liberals get angry when Hillary is referred to as a socialist, but this is socialism. It is income redistribution pure and simple. Calling Hillary a socialist is not an insult. If she chooses to see it that way, then that says more about socialism being wrong than anything else.

Edwards was asked what to do in place of nuclear power, since wind and solar would not be sufficient. Edwards then pointed out that Hillary raised the most money from big special interests, including this industry. Edwards calling Hillary a hypocrite is the same as before when it was done to him…ironic, hypocritical itself…and right.

Edwards then crossed the line by saying that America was the “worst polluter on the planet.”

Hillary said she was against coal unless it could be clean, and she wanted “large demonstration projects.” She then stole some Obama’s rhetorical style, minus the appropriate voice inflection of course, and stated that this was like landing a man on the moon, and a President must lead. It was a fair point in terms of elevating the significance of the issue.

Obama eloquently stated that ordinary citizens had to contribute to help make change. It was reminiscent of JFK and his “ask not…” speech. I credit him for having the guts to say that the people have to contribute to solve problems.

When asked about making immigration the official language, Edwards danced around it as long as possible. He said we should “help” people learn English.

Hillary was then served a major softball. She was asked if a Hispanic voter who said that Hispanics would not vote for blacks represented her views?

She then said she was a racist. No, of course not. She disagreed with the comments.

She said that the “agenda for Hispanics and African-AMericans is the agenda for America.”

Obama stated that Hispanics would vote for a black man and made the crowd laugh and clap loudly by saying, “In Illinois they all voted for me.”

Once again, human touch versus programmed robot, with Obama sounding authentic and Hillary sounding like…well…her.

Obama stated that he stood with Ted Kennedy and John McCain on immigration. Perhaps he was trying to destroy McCain by praising him, rather than bash a war hero on the war, Hillary’s approach.

Obama was asked about the high dropout rate among black men from high school. Obama stated that we need more money pumped into early childhood education. This continued a theme with Obama during this debate. He is wrong with regards to the solutions, but at least he answers the d@mn questions. He stated that we have solutions, but not urgency in the White House on education issues.

He also then spoke about the necessity of black fathers to take responsibility, and that as a man who grew up without a father, he understood.

This might have been the one debate moment in any of the debates where Obama answered a question in a way that none of the other candidates would have been allowed to answer. A white candidate, especially a republican, bringing up black fathers, would have gotten protest calls. Obama can discuss it. Life is not fair. It should be discussed.

Hillary kept saying that the debate was a “black-brown” debate. I can only imagine a republican using that rhetoric, such as former President Bush referring to his grandchildren as the “little brown ones.” Hillary then sucked up to the debate organizers and mentioned her 35 years of blah blah blah.

Edwards stated that we needed “second chance schools.” I do not know what that means. There are reform schools.

Russert then brought up the homicides of young black men, which of course became a gun control issue rather than a personal responsibility issue.

Hillary was asked if she would implement a national gun registry for each firearm sale. Hillary said yes, and that she was “against illegal guns.” All good people are against that, but that did not seem to matter. Hillary of course took a swipe at the NRA without mentioning them. SHe also accidentally said something telling. She pointed out that she understood that “the prevailing political winds” did not allow for much more gun control.

Again, this should be a campaign issue. The prevailing political winds should not be what guides people. Convictions should guide people. I would respect Hillary if she would simply take her chances and say she favored gun control. I would disagree with her, but at least it would be an actual stand. We know she favors gun control, but she cannot come out and say it. At least now we know she admits to being a political coward, afraid to offend anyone. She is one day going to perish by “strangulation by triangulation.”

She did promise to reinstate the assault weapons ban, but said she supported the Second Amendment. She did acknowledge that she backed off a national licensing registration plan, which I thought she said she favored a few minutes earlier.

Obama stated that licensing gun owners “cannot get done.” The man about hope was not hopeful on this one. He alluded to the NRA by name. He stated we should crack down on gun abuse.

Edwards said he was always against gun registration. He also said that he would reinstate the assault weapons ban. Brian Williams got confused and announced that the debate was in Los Angeles and not Las Vegas. Hillary cackled.

Hillary was asked about her tough rhetoric about being prepared for a terrorist attack shortly after criticizing Karl Rove and the White House for saying virtually the exact same thing. She shifted the debate to Homeland Security.

Obama was asked if other candidates exploit 9/11. The ball was soft and light as a feather as it approached him. He did state that Clinton was using fear to score political points. He promised to be honest and straightforward with the American people. He actually did mention Osama Bin Laden.

Hillary was asked if she felt that Al Queda would be more likely to attack America if Obama was President as opposed to her. She said no, but then reaffirmed that she would be ready for day one. That fine line was shrinking. She stated that when President Bush does it, it is invoking fear, but when she does it, she is just being calm.

Edwards was asked if it was appropriate to talk on the telephone to Pervez Musharraf on the day Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, which could have given him cover and legitimacy when the people were angry at him for Bhutto’s death. Edwards said it was appropriate, but then stated that he called somebody in Musharraf’s office, but not him. Ummm…yeah…ok. Edwards then explained that he talked tough, which would mean something if he was not merely a private citizen running for President, as opposed to an actual political leader.

The candidates were then asked a useless question that Brian Williams somehow thought was meaningful. The candidates were asked at what moment they decided to run for President.

Hillary stated that she decided over New Years one year ago. No, she really decided it whe she was in the womb.

Edwards stated that he decided in December a year ago. No, he decided in 2003, when he ran the first time.

Obama also stated that in December of 2006 he made the decision. No, he began exploring it shortly after being elected to the Senate in 2004. He elicited laughs when he said his “wife is extraordinary, and his children are above average.”

This debate had the potential to be the best one among the democrats since it eliminated the distractions and contained only the 3 major candidates. It turned out to be the worst because Brian Williams is an imbecile.

Yes, Tim Russert was as good as ever, but Brian Williams needs to be for universal health care so he can have cranial-glutial extraction surgery covered by his plan. His questions were atrocious.

As for the candidates, this was not even close.

Hillary Clinton performed dreadfully. She was back to her wooden, stiff, obfuscating, parsing self. As I said, earlier, strangulation by triangulation.  She was better than Brian Williams, but the worst of the candidates.

John Edwards split the difference. He did not stand out, but was better than Hillary.

I disagree with Barack Obama on almost every issue, but for a man that I often refer to as an empty suit, he brought the substance for this debate. He spoke about issues, and did so in a crisp, clear manner.

In fact, Obama was the adult on stage, which I have not said in past debates.

These candidates are all, to quote Hillary Clinton from earlier, “pathetic.” Yet this was about picking the best of the worst.

Barack Obama clearly won this debate, by a landslide.

eric

Tony Blair in Los Angeles

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair came to Los Angeles yesterday to give a lecture within driving distance of my home.

I had every intention of going, but due to being flooded my first day back at work, by the time I picked up the telephone to call the people putting on the event, they had left (several minutes early I might add). So I did not meet Prime Minister Blair, and I did not directly hear him speak.

I have had such bad luck with the Blair family. I attended a conference in 2006 where his wife Cherie Blair was speaking, and I saw and met every speaker except her (caught in traffic, I am not a morning person).

A dear friend of mine attended Tony Blair’s speech, and he transcribed the event specifically at my request. Although he is (like me) a fierce partisan, I asked him for 100% description and 0% analysis. Based on his integrity, I can say that Prime Minister Blair’s remarks below are accurate, and in their proper context.

In March, I will be going with this same friend to hear Australia’s former Prime Minister John Howard. For that one, I will be there in body, not just in spirit.

There was a question and answer session afterwards, but due to length, that will be covered later in the week.With that, I bring you the comments of Prime Minister Tony Blair .

“Good evening

It’s a pleasure to be with all.

This is an important time for the United States.

There are challenges to Global Security

This week I was in Oman, had dinner with the Sultan, then Jerusalem, then London, then I took the Eurostar train to France, and then a plane to LA.

There are 100 languages spoken in LA. It represents the world today.

I tried to do a press conference in French. I once meant to say I liked many positions
of (former socialist leader) Lionel Jospin. Instead I said that I desire the French Prime Minister in many different positions. This brought a new meaning to “entant cordial (cordial intent).”

In the world today,  We all live our lives in an increasingly global community.

a)  There is increasing interdependence. The U.S. subprime mortgage issue can lead to a Euro recession.

b)  The internet. I never had a mobile phone while in office. I got one day after I left office.
I sent my first text message to a friend. “Who are you?,” they asked.

Changes happen fast. Genetics, science…revolutionary diagnoses for treatment of disease…healthcare will change.

The scale of globalization is changing. The pace is ever increasing.

Politics has not yet caught up.

There are 6 challenges the world faces today.

1) Global terrorism–

Post September 11th, we still do not yet understand the depth of extremism. Not just the Taliban and Saddam. This situation will not resolve itself. This will take a generation or more to remove.

Iran, Iraq, Pakistan…it is all of them. All of the issues are related. Madrassas in Pakistan    reach one million plus children, who aretaught all day strict Koran instruction and nothing
else. Extremism is now quite deep.

The Execution of a teacher in Afghanistan for teaching girls recently is another occurrence.

They frame the debate on terrorism as Islam vs. the West 

Modern and moderate people vs. the extremes is our frame.

How do we take on the challenge?

We fight military against military.  We must not back away from threats.  We must
be prepared to fight. Yet we must also fight the ideological battle of ideas. The level of ideas we must fight.

As the special representative for the Middle East…if we can create a lasting peace…Israel secure and Palestine democratic and indepedent….that peace will symbolically express a coming together.

There is vital importance to the Middle East peace process. I enjoys being there and working the issue. The Holy Land is extraordinary. Jericho is exciting. Where are the walls?  They fell down! 

2)  Poverty

In Africa and elsewhere ,3 million children die a year from famine  conflict or disesase. This is preventable, and to prevent it is amoral imperative. Extremists are exploiting poverty.

Education about preventing disease and  conflict is in our self interest. Africa is important therefore. We should not just donate money. We need partnership and responsibility and better governance.

3)  Climate change

Precautionary principles are the keys to protecting the planet.

Kyoto expires in 2012.  Only a few countries met their targets.

The world needs the U.S. and China. They will only each do it if the other gets into it.

The G8 plus China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico totals 75 percent of emissions.

Our energy dependence on unstable parts of world hurts our security.

This is a huge challenge. We need a global deal on climate change within 2 years.

We must cut greenhouse gas emissions…rollback…give the planet a chance for sustainable
growth.

4)  Immigration

This is a big issue everywhere.

With globalization, growth in the global economy drives climate change and economic migration. 200 million people every day are on the move. The West cannot absorb all the numbers. Asia and South America face this too.

Massive patterns of migration lead to tensions. Immigration plays a beneficial role in the world economy, but also needs to be controlled, not unlimited.

Ellis Island is great but must be controlled too.

5)   The global economy and trade.

This is linked to oil and energy.

How do we improve trade? World trade talks are now stalled.

People fear workforce displacement…economic downturns…oil wealth…sovereign wealth
funds…Arabs buying the world. How do we open up global trade?

Are we able to succeed or not is key. The last world trade round helped the global economy.

6)   China

The scale is tilting towards China and India. Each will have a population greater than the  USA and Europe combined and doubled.

Behind the numbers lie creativity. Shanghai is 1st world. Southern India’s bio tech industry is first world. The USA is 4 percent in agriculture.

China has 65 percent of their work force in agriculture…we need to figure out how to get them all into industry.

How do we deal with them on climate change? China has doubled their consumption of coal. Every 4 days a new coal plant is being built. Will China development be benign ?

Solutions will require collaboration. Partnerships will be required Unilateral action is ok if necessary but multilateral action is needed for solutions.

There is hard action and soft action. Hard action is people using their military to protect their self interest. Soft action is people using diplomacy to achieve peace through economic investment.

We need a muslular multilateralism. We need republican minds and democratic means.

The United States and Europe must work together. The world needs this.

We need the hard and the soft, based on certain values.

The only way to solve problems is through our superior way of life, our convictions and beliefs, that the people will choose freedom,  democracy,  justice,  and fairness.

We are in it together.

The world is interdependent and moving fast.

We need values based solutions.

We need to be optimistic about our opportunities. What a world of possibilities can be opened up to our children.

We must move past constainsts and prejudices to make the world a better place.

The Good Friday accord came about only because we were relentlessly optimistic. The Irish are people great—the world is better because of this.

Are you open to the new world?”

eric 

Why a Rudy Giuliani win benefits American politics

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Politics is broken. This is agreed upon. The solution to this problem cannot occur until the problem itself becomes crystallized.

The primary process is in tatters. Primary season is becoming shorter ans shorter, and general elections are getting loner and longer. In 2004 America had an 8 month general election. In 2008 it is expected to be 9 months. We spend more time campaigning than governing, and the candidates that win the nominations are often not vetted.

The blame for this falls on the political parties. For some reason, grown men are scared to tell people in Iowa and New Hampshire to shut up, sit down, and quit acting like they matter. The reason they matter now is because the parties are too gutless to tell them otherwise.

Large states such as California got tired of being left out in the cold until June, when nominations were already decided. So they moved their primary up to March a couple election cycles ago. Other states, not wanting to be left irrelevant by California, “leapfrogged” ahead of them. Two days after celebrating the ball dropping into the new year, voters were caucusing. This has got to stop.

Iowa is not representative of America. Neither is New Hampshire. Both of these states are overwhelmingly caucasian. Yes, Nevada and South Carolina have been given some prominence to pacify Hispanic and black voters, respectively, but many candidates have dropped out before these contests. For republicans, Iowa is simply a place for Christian activists to nominate whichever candidate promises to ban abortion and gay marriage. That is how Pat Robertson can do well there, and Ronald Reagan can lose. If only these Christian activists understood that in the other 49 states, the War on Terror, the War on Terror, war in Iraq, and the economy are important. Shouting in the town square about culture wars is all it takes to win the Iowa caucus.

New Hampshire’s state constitution requires that it be the first primary in the nation. Why should the other 49 states be bound by that? In 1996, Delaware tried to have a primary four days after New Hampshire, which demands 7 days space. The candidates boycotted Delaware. This year it was Wyoming that got ignored. Why should Delaware and Wyoming be any less important than New Hampshire and Iowa.

Some say the answer is tradition. That is garbage. Traditions become obsolete. This is why slavery no longer exists, and animal sacrifices are virtually nonexistent. The reason Iowa and New Hampshire get to go first is pure political cowardice. California, New York or Texas should simply break the rules and dare the parties to challenge them. This will destroy the system for good.

This is what Florida is doing now. They are daring the parties to punish them. The parties say they will, but I suspect the parties will back down under fear of losing the state in a general election.

This brings us to Rudy Giuliani.

For the sake of full disclosure, I am backing Mayor Giuliani for President. I believe he is the right man for the job. The fact that he can help destroy the primary process is icing on the cake.

Rudy Giuliani has decided to ignore Iowa and New Hampshire, and bet all his chips on Florida, which holds its primary January 29th. His strategy is that winning Florida will give him momentum going into Super-Duper-Tuesday on February 5th, when large states such as New York, New Jersey and California hold their primaries. All of those states have strong moderate streaks, which benefits him.

This is a risky strategy because it has never been tried before. To simply ignore Iowa and New Hampshire is seen as suicidal. Exceptions can be made, such as in 1992 when Iowa Senator Tom Harkin ran a favorite son campaign. As a general rule, snubbing these states is usually a death sentence.

Some will argue, quite correctly, that Giuliani refused to compete because he knew he could not win. This analysis is completely correct, but it misses the big picture. What does it say when the national frontrunner, ahead in major states with diverse populations, cannot win in Iowa? It says that Iowa is out of wack, not the candidate. Iowa elects Popes. Giuliani is not a Pope. Mike Huckabee, who cannot compete anywhere else, gets a victory in Iowa, simply because he is a religious Christian. If anything, this is borderline bigotry. It is also foolhardy to ignore the War on Terror simply because several thousand people care more about the lives of the unborn to the citizens alive today facing terrorism.

It is not just Huckabee. Pat Robertson’s strong finished should have invalidated the Iowa Caucuses a couple decades ago.

Primaries cater to the extremes. General elections cater to middle America. Giuliani is a general election candidate. He puts states in play that republicans could never win with a candidate such as Mike Huckabee. This forces democrats to spend money defending states they would normally win automatically.

In the past, candidates that have tried to argue that competence was more important than ideology have gotten their heads handed to them. Ideology does matter. On foreign policy and economic issues, Giuliani is a conservative. Yet on social issues, the activists refer to him as a RINO (Republican in name only), which is ironic given that nobody outside of Iowa asks their opinion.

So Giuliani chose to refuse to compete in a state that he knew he could not win. This is much better than trying to compete and losing, which is why the Mitt Romney campaign is supposedly imploding. Romney came in second in Iowa and New Hampshire, yet his not winning was seen as losing, even though he lost to a different opponent in those two states. This is nuts.

With the democrats, Hillary Clinton is inevitable (I still believe she is), then she loses Iowa, then Barack Obama is inevitable, then Hillary wins New Hampshire, and now Hillary is back on top. 48 states have not even decided yet. John Edwards may be the strongest general election candidate, but if he loses South Carolina he is done. This is where he was born, but if not for Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina may not be his very last chance.

I want Giuliani to win because I believe he would be the best man for the job, although John McCain and Fred Thompson are both good men. My reasons for supporting him are based on policy issues, not politics or strategy.

Yet political strategy could be forever altered if Giuliani wins the nomination. More candidates will have the guts to to tell Iowa and New Hampshire to go to hell.

This does not mean big states should trample small states. Retail politicking is important. However, it should be rotated, so that other small states like Maine and North Dakota get a fair chance to choose a President. Alabama can be the first southern state instead of South Carolina. Missouri can be first instead of Iowa.

Rudy Giuliani is engaging in a bold and risky strategy. If he fails, the media pundits will only proclaim the ever important relevance of two irrelevant states. They will cite John McCain as proof. McCain is an American hero, but the only reason he is elevated in this race is due to his winning New Hampshire eight years ago.

I want the primary process in its current form to be destroyed. In 1996, Pat Buchanan won New Hampshire with 27%. Bob Dole had 26%, and Lamar Alexander had 23%. By coming in second, Dole was able to have everybody rally around him to head off Buchanan. Alexander was pressured to drop out, even though he finished only 10,000 votes behind Dole at most. Dole even stated that had he come in third in New Hampshire, he would have dropped out, and perhaps Alexander would have taken his flannel shirts to the White House.

The field is littered with cerebral general election candidates that could not appeal to the hard core activists. The democrats had Paul Tsongas and Bob Kerrey in 1992, and Joe Biden and Bill Richardson in 2008. The republicans had Dick Lugar, Pete Wilson and Lamar Alexander in 1996, and any one of them would have been formidable general election candidates.

If Rudy Giuliani wins the nomination, and then wins the general election, it will be interesting to see how Iowa and New Hampshire vote electorally. Will they be that petty and spiteful regardless of actual issues? Time will tell.

If Rudy Giuliani becomes President, the democrats will start campaigning to defeat him in 2012 before he even takes the Oath of Office. Then the real challenge will be if these democrats have the courage to try to fire him without shoving their heads up the hides of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Primary season used to start in earnest in March and continue through June. Then the summer was a time to relax, and the campaign began after Labor Day, and lasted 10 weeks. Even with an all news all the time cycle, Americans should at least attempt to put the genie back in this political bottle.

Support Rudy Giuliani to win the republican nomination for President. Regardless of ideology and affiliation, it would be a victory for political moderates and a potential death sentence for two small states that have blackmailed politicians for decades.

Rudy Giuliani has stood up to terrorists and won. Now we shall see if standing up to Iowa and New Hampshire activists can be done without committing political hara kiri. For those in the other 48 states, I hope so. I do not trust people to stand up to Islamic lunatics if they cannot stand up to a few thousand middle aged white men who think that God gives them a divine right to choose the leader of the free world, with zero input from the rest of America.

eric

NFL 2007-2008 Divisionals Recap

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

The Wildcards are done, and 12 teams are now down to 8.

My plane hit the ground at noon, giving me enough time to take a cab to my office, retrieve my car, stop at 7-11 to pick up a hoagie, soda, and chips, get home, finding my DirecTV not working, call up and blister them with a profanity laced tirade, get the problem fixed, and have the big game on my big screen just in time.

I am a nice guy, but don’t jack with my NFL.

As for the Divisionals, let’s get it on!

Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers–The teacher versus the student, the apprentice versus the master, the rain birds versus the snow cheese. The Walrus Bowl was here. Mike Holmgren, aka the Walrus, won a title with Brett Favre and the Packers. Now he is letting his tusks bark orders to Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks, where he took them to a Superbowl appearance a couple years ago.

With snow flurries coming down and the Packers at 13-3 and rested, they were expected to roll. However, in 2002, the Packers lost at home to an upstart Atlanta Falcons team led by then free citizen Michael Vick. The snow flurries did not intimidate a 9-6-1 team, as the 12-4 Packers went down in flames, a playoff shocker. It was their first loss ever in the Playoffs at Lambeau.

History looked like it was repeating itself early on. Green Bay started on their own 18 yard line. Ryan Grant promptly fumbled, Seattle recovered, and within the opening minute the Seahawks led 7-0. On the next drive, the Grant fumbled again, Seattle recovered again, and a Matt Hasselbeck touchdown pass had the Seahawks up 14-0 only 4 minutes into the game. This game was already turning into a shocker.

Football is often about the changing of the guard. In 1995, Brett Favre and the Packers were upstarts, when they went into San Francisco and smacked around the defending Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers. They beat them up, forced fumbles, went up 21-0, and coasted. In 2002 the Packers were on the reverse end, and the guard had seemingly changed again. Yet several years later, the Falcons are in tatters, and the Pack is back.

Down 14-0, they still had 56 minutes left to come back, and Favre stayed calm, throwing passes in the snow, a couple of which went for long gains. The drive culminated in a touchdown pass that cut the gap to 14-7. There were still 7 minutes remaining in the first quarter, and by the time Seattle got the ball back for the kickoff, the snow had started to come down hard. The game had the potential to be a Winter Wonderland. This was fitting, since walruses like frozen tundra. Ryan Grant atoned for his earlier mistakes, and his one yard plunge with one minute left in the first quarter deadlocked the game at 14-14.

The beginning of the first quarter was a nightmare for Green Bay. The first play of the second quarter was a disaster for the Seahawks. This time it was a Seattle fumble, and a Green Bay recovery at the Seattle 19 yard line. Ryan Grant rambled inside the 10 yard line, and then Favre threw a perfect touchdown pass to the back up the end zone to Greg Jennings. The Packers now led 21-14.

On Seattle’s next drive, Hasselbeck fumbled the snap on 3rd and 1. Seattle recovered, but short of the first down. They received a break when Green Bay roughed the kicker. The 15 yard personal foul penalty allowed the drive to continue, setting up a field goal that cut the Packers lead to 21-17.

Green Bay drove right back, and Brett Favre made a play that only he could make. While escaping a sack, he came close to stumbling to the ground. It was 3rd and 8 from the Seattle 14, and somehow he maintained his balance, and completed what looked like a half shovel pass, half shot put. His riverboat gambler instincts lead to interceptions, but they lead to touchdowns as well. At 38, he is still gambling. His completion set up a 3 yard touchdown by Ryan Grant, who had redeemed himself fully at this point. After being down 14-0, Green Bay led 28-17 at halftime.

Green Bay went down the field with their opening drive of the second half, and Brett Favre’s short dump off pass to Brandon Jackson went for another touchdown and a 35-17 Packers lead 4 1/2 minutes into the second half. Seattle did move the ball deep into Green Bay territory, but they bogged down in the red zone. A 27 yard field goal by Josh Brown reduced the deficit to 35-20 with under three minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Seahawks fought hard, but the Packers had too much firepower. Ryan Grant broke off a 41 yard run, and when the 3rd quarter ended, Green Bay had first and goal at the Seattle 4 yard line. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Grant had his 3rd touchdown tun, and the Packers had a 42-20 lead.

With 8 minutes left, facing 4th and 10 at the Packers 40, Hasselbeck’s pass fell incomplete, ending any chance of a Seattle comeback. Ryan Grant looked like the goat early on. His fumbled had Seattle up 14-0 only 4 minutes in. 56 minutes later, he had3 touchdowns and 201 rushing yards. All was forgiven. They will either host the Giants, or more likely, travel to Dallas, for the NFC Title Game. Favre had 3 more touchdown passes, and the entire NFL is glad he keeps coming back to play. Well, the Walrus might not be happy about it today, but he will be back as well. 42-20 Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots–The unbeaten Patriots were trying to become the greatest team in the history of football. The Jaguars, with a hard hitting attitude emanating from head coach Jack Del Rio, were not going to back down.

The Jaguars took the opening kickoff, and soon faced 4th and 1 at the New England 44. Del Rio decided to go for it, possibly thinking it would be the best way to keep the Patriots and their prolific offense off of the field. This was not a bluff to draw the Patriots offsides. David Garrard rolled out, and completed a deep pass to the 10 yard line. A couple plays later with the Jaguars faced a 3rd and goal. Garrard was about to be sacked when he threw a touchdown before going down. The replay showed that his knee might have hit before he threw the ball. Bill Belichick was about to challenge the call, but the Jaguars kicked the extra point just in time. The touchdown stood.

The Patriots came right back, and with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Tom Brady had his first touchdown of the game. With the score tied 7-7, the Jaguars made the first blunder of the game, which cannot be done if a team is to survive against New England. The Patriots started at the Jacksonville 29. On the first play of the second quarter, Lawrence Maroney plunged over from one yard out to propel the Patriots to a 14-7 lead.

This is where most teams fold. Jacksonville is not 16-0, but they scratch and claw. Maurice Jones-Drew fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Jacksonville had to start their next possession from their own 5 yard line. All David Garrard did was take them the length of the field. From the one yard line, a false start penalty pushed them back. For most teams, those penalties are drive killers. Again, the Jaguars are not most teams. Garrard calmly threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to Ernest Wilford. Midway through the second quarter, the game was tied 14-14.

The Patriots marched down the field again, but came away empty when a 35 yard field goal attempt was wide right with one minute left in the half. With 21 seconds left, Jacksonville could not make a first down, and New England called a timeout to stop the clock. It was actually the first punt by either team in the entire game. The Patriots took a knee, and the teams were deadlocked at the half.

The Patriots took the opening kickoff of the second half and went 82 yards in 11 plays, eating up over 6 minutes of clock. It culminated in a fake statue of liberty play, where Brady Faked the handoff, and threw a touchdown pass to Wes Welker. The Patriots led 21-14, and every time they took the lead, the question would be whether or not Jacksonville could come back.

The answer was yes, but not sufficiently. Both teams moved the ball with relative ease, but Jacksonville would bog down in the red zone. After a field goal cut the gap to 21-17, New England went down the field again, and Brady threw another touchdown pass. As well as the NFL MVP has played this year, Tom Brady was off the charts in this game, completing 26 of 28 passes. The only 2 incompletions were dropped. Jacksonville, down by 11 in the fourth, stayed calm, and drove inside the 10 yard line. Yet again, their drive stalled, and again they had to settle for a field goal. They were still in the game at 28-20, but would get no closer.

A touchdown would have kept things within reasonable reach, but when New England came back with a field goal of their own, the lead was back up to 11 points. Garrard tried to rally Jacksonville back, even converting one fourth down. Yet another fourth down pass was intercepted by Rodney Harrison, sealing the win for good.

Jacksonville had a great season, and they played tough. Yet New England is 17-0, and two wins away from immortality. While San Diego is still alive, the whole world waits for Indy and New England to battle again. In the meantime, Jacksonville goes home and New England soldiers on. Jacksonville was not the best team this year, but they have a nucleus that could reach the Super Bowl very soon, Just not this year. 31-20 Patriots

San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts–This game had all the makings of a blowout. San Diego beat the Colts in San Diego earlier in the year, but they tried so hard to lose the game it was ridiculous. Peyton Manning will not throw 6 interceptions today, and Adam Vinatieri will not miss another 29 yard field goal. San Diego led 23-0, and that missed chip shot preserved a 23-21 victory. The Colts are not about revenge. They are simply a much better team.

The Colts took the opening kickoff, and drove straight down the field. Along the way, Manning converted a 4th and 2 at the San Diego 38. Several plays later, the field general threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark put the Colts up 7-0. The drive took 6 minutes. Philip Rivers moved the ball on San Diego’s first drive, but was then intercepted by Kelvin Hayden at the Colts 24 yard line. The Colts were marching down the field again, and it appeared the rout was on. Marvin Harrison, back from almost 3 months of injury, caught his first reception since he went down. Unfortunately, he was hit, fumbled, and San Diego recovered at their own 22.

Rivers took San Diego all the way to the end zone this time, completing the drive with a touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. The blowout was a deadlocked game at 7-7 with only 8 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Chargers had slowed the pace of the game with their drive of over 7 minutes, which they had to do. Manning brought the Colts right back, but after completing his first 14 passes on the day, a pair of incompletions stalled the drive. Vinatieri nailed a 46 yard field goal to put Indy up 10-7.

The Chargers again moved with relative ease, but when the drive stalled, Nate Kaeding’s 48 yard field goal bounced off the right upright. The Colts started in terrible field position when Bob Sanders was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting Kaeding after the miss. Sanders took his hand and playfully slapped him upside the helmet. It was not malicious, but it was taunting. Nevertheless, Manning still had 1:46 on the clock and all 3 timeouts. Manning had the Colts in field goal range with 30 seconds left in the half and one timeout. The first half nearly ended in an absolute shocker when a pass by Manning was high, bounced off of Reggie Wayne’s hands, and was intercepted and returned by Antonio Cromartie 89 yards for a touchdown. The stunned Colts crowd was given a break when a holding penalty during the return nullified the touchdown. The Colts led 10-7 at the half.

One of the keys to the second half would be injuries. Marvin Harrison and Antonio Gates were both playing, but whether they were at full strength was debatable. What was not debatable is that opening the half without Ladanian Tomlinson had the potential to be devastating for San Diego. He bruised his knee in the first half, and was standing on the sidelines as the second half opened. So with the Chargers supposedly in deep trouble, all Rivers did was take the Chargers 83 yards, with a touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson 3 1/2 minutes into the second half giving the Chargers a 14-10 lead. This touchdown counted, and this time the Indy crowd remained stunned.

One person who would not panic in this situation is Manning. He completed several passes in what was almost an entirely passing offense. Finally the Colts went to the gound, and Joseph Addai ran three straight times to the 10 yard line. He appeared to get hurt on the last run, and his not being in the game at the end of the drive proved critical. On 3rd and 3 from the 4 yard line, Manning’s quick pass bounced off the receiver, and was intercepted at the 2 yard line by Eric Weddle.

As if things could not get any worse for the Colts, the Chargers tried to run the ball without Tomlinson. Two running plays gained only 4 yards, but defensive linchpin Bob Sanders remained down after making a tackle. 3rd and 6 was less important than Sanders, who was the difference between the Colts having Superbowl rings from last year and exiting the playoffs. The Chargers went nowhere, and the first punt of the game, from their own end zone, set the Colts up smack dab at the 50 yard line.

Two passes later, with Addai still on the bench, the Colts were at the San Diego 22 yard line. On 3rd and 3, a running play was blown up in the backfield. This did not matter because Manning saw the Chargers hurrying off of the field trying to make substitutions, and deliberately snapped the ball. The offsides penalty gave the Colts a first down and goal at the 10 yard line. Addai came back into the game, but Manning went to Reggie Wayne for the go ahead touchdown. The Colts led 17-14, with 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.

Knowing that the Chargers had to throw the ball, the Colts collapsed. On 3rd and 15, with the Chargers in complete disarray and the crowd at a fever pitch, Rivers completed the first down. On the last play of the third quarter, a simple swing pass followed by awful defense led to a 56 yard touchdown and a 21-17 Chargers lead. In a game that had already had Harrison and Gates hurt, and Addai and Tomlinson added to the list, Rivers landed awkwardly on his leg and fell down on the touchdown pass. He was not touched on the play. The teams entered the 4th quarter hobbling, and the Colts were 15 minutes away from blowing what was supposed to be an easy victory.

The first play from scrimmage of the 4th quarter was a 25 yard pass interference penalty that put the Colts at the Sn Diego 45. The next play was along gain to the 20 that was offset by a 15 yard offensive personal foul penalty. Facing 1st and 25, the next play was an incomplete pass, but a defensive holding penalty gave the Colts an automatic first down, although 10 yards back from where they were a couple plays earlier. Both teams settled down, but with 13 minutes remaining, the Colts did not move past midfield again on the drive, and the Colts punted for the first time in the game. The ball could have been downed at the one, but the Indy coverage team stepped on the goal line, giving San Diego a gift touchback.

The Chargers did not have Rivers or Tomlinson on the next drive, and Billy Volek could not move the team. Mike Scifres punted for the second time, and the Colts started at their own 43 with 11 minutes left. Facing 3rd and 9, this time it was the Colts that made the big play when it counted. A pass to Anthony Gonzalez, followed by one misstackle, went for a 56 yard touchdown. Replays showed that Gonzalezx stayed in bounds, but Norvelous Norv Turner challenged the call anyway. The touchdown put the Colts up 24-21 with 10 minutes left, and cost San Diego a timeout.

Bob Sanders returned to the game, but Rivers did not. Neither did Tomlinson. Bill Volek completed a couple passes, and a 3rd and 4 pass was incomplete, defended by Sanders. Yet a personal foul facemask away from the play by Marlin Jackson kept the drive going. A screen pass went for 27 yards to the Indy 15 yard line. From inside the one yard line, Volek snuck over the goal line, and the Chargers led 28-24 with 4:50 remaining.

Manning and the Colts retook the field from their own 22 without Harrison. Three passes and one minute later The Colts were at the San Diego 39. On 2nd and 5 and 3rd and 5, Manning decided to go deep to the end zone rather than throw for the marker. On 4th and 5 from the 34, the Chargers called their second timeout. Manning completed a bullet to Dallas Clark, and a 15 yard defensive personal foul for a facemask on Shawn Phillips had the Colts at first and goal at the 10 yard line with 2:56 remaining. On 4th and goal at the 8, the Chargers held.

Last year when the Colts beat New England, they did it by running the ball late in the game. This year they ran Addai on first down, but then inexplicably decided to start throwing it. Three incomplete passes later, and the Colts were on the verge of another postseason collapse at home, and the Chargers were on their way to a won against a superior opponent, just as they did in the 1994 AFC Title game against Pittsburgh.

With 2:01 left in the game, the Colts had all 3 timeouts, the 2 minute warning, and the Chargers backed up at their own 8. The defense had been beaten up all game. One first down could end the game. With 1:49 left, the Colts took their first timeout. The 3rd and 4 was the entire season. The Colts held, and took their second timeout with 1:42 left. The keyto everything was the fact that the Chargers took over at 2:01 instead of 2:00. The extra timeout saved the Colts. Scifres exploded with a 66 yard punt. The Colts took over at their own 33 with 90 seconds remaining and one timeout.

A 3rd and 5 pass to Reggie Wayne appeared caught until Wayne was drilled by Marlin McRee. Not only did the Colts face 4th and 5, but Wayne did not get up, forcing the Colts to use their final timeout on an incomplete pass. 1:03 remained. The 4th down pass to Dallas Clark was dropped.

Network executives across the land committed suicide, as the Colts vs Patriots matchup will not happen. The Patriots should demolish the Chargers, but then again, the Colts were supposed to as well. The defending champs are out, and as Chris Berman reminds us…”That’s why they play the games.” Like 1994, a San Diego team not nearly as good as its rivals somehow beat them. Manning passed for 402 yards, but again had to have one of those hang dog “Dino the Dinosaur” type press conferences to explain why his team lost a game they had no business losing. Tony Dungy might retire, and I hope he does not apologize for a game that the players blew. 28-24 Chargers

Before getting to the last game, one unfortunate aspect to the AFC Title game is that it features two teams lacking in class. The Colts are a dignified team, with Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning staying humble, even when winning a Superbowl. While the Patriots trash talking and their coach’s aloofness is well known, the Chargers are awfully unimportant given the level of trash they talk. Shawn Merriman did his “lights out” dance at the Colts 50 yard line (after a second down play no less) a year after complaining about New England doing it to them. Philip Rivers seems to enjoy taunting opposing players and fans. He is acting like the second coming of Ryan Leaf, although with more success on the field. His verbal abuse of Denver’s Jay Cutler seemed odd given that Cutler is a laid back guy, and San Diego was winning the game handily. Today Rivers went after the Indy fans. He yelled about how he would be back in the game after his injury. He did not come back. The Chargers won a playoff game, but might want to drop the smugness, especially since the franchise has zero Superbowl wins. As Art Modell, former owner of the Browns and Ravens used to say, “Losers should say very little…winners even less.”

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys–Eli Manning took the opening drive and went right to work. He converted a 3rd and inches by the nose of the football, and then threw a short strike to Amani Toomer. Toomer broke through some awful attempts at tackling, made it around the corner, and raced down the sidelines for a gift touchdown three minutes into the game. As much as people want to blame Jessica Simpson, she did not give up a 52 yard touchdown on what should have been a 5 yard gain. After an exchange of punts, Tony Romo threw a short touchdown pass to Terrell Owens to tie the game 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter. The drive was helped along by hard running from Marion Barber.

The game remained tied until Barber plunged over from a yard out with only 53 seconds left in the half. The Cowboys had 20 plays on the drive, which went 90 yards and ate up 10 1/2 minutes of clock. The Giants, without a Barber of their own since Tiki retired, have their own bruiser in Brandon Jacobs and a new phenom in Ahmad Bradshaw. Yet it was passing that was needed in the final minute, and Manning delivered. An additional 15 yards for a personal foul facemask penalty set up the Giants at the Dallas 23 with 28 seconds left in the half. On 3rd down, Manning threw a perfect strike to Boss, setting up a 1st and goal from the 4 yard line with 11 seconds left and one timeout. Another perfect strike by Manning, this time to Toomer, tied the game with 7 seconds left in the half. Like other playoff games this weekend, a supposedly easy win for the home team was a struggle. In the playoffs, nothing is easy, as the teams went to the locker room at 14-14.

The Cowboys took the opening kickoff of the second half and mounted a 14 play, 8 minute drive that culminated in a field goal and a 17-14 Dallas lead. While the Giants punted on their next drive, Dallas inexplicably wasted a timeout before the timeout. When Brandon Jacobs barreled in from one yard out 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Giants had a 21-17 lead, and another playoff shocker was potentially in the works. The Cowboys could not move the ball on their next series, but a solid punt was downed at the New York 3 yard line with 9 1/2 minutes remaining. The Giants failed to pick up a first down, and Dallas started at their own 44 with 7 minutes left.

On 3rd down and 9, a deep pass went incomplete, but a defensive illegal contact penalty against the Giants kept the drive alive. The Cowboys, after an intentional grounding call that was as questionable as previous calls on both teams, faced a 3rd and 20 at their own 49 yard line. The Cowboys then compounded the problem by taking their second timeout. 4:03 remained. A Hail Mary was incomplete. Cowboys, despite only one timeout, decided to punt on 4th and 20. The Giants took over with 3:46 left on their own 11 yard line.

The Giants played it more ultraconservative than Jesse Helms, refusing to throw. The Giants punted at the 2:07 mark, which meant that the Cowboys would get the ball back under the 2 minute warning, losing that clock stoppage. The Cowboys took over at the New York 48 with 1:50 left and one timeout.

On 2nd and 1, they failed to convert on the ground, but a 3rd and 2 busted play allowed Romo to buy time and execute a shovel pass for a first down. The Giants called a timeout due to an injury on defense with 31 seconds remaining and the Cowboys 22 yards away. A false start pushed Dallas back 5 yards out. Dallas took their final timeout with 26 seconds left after a 4 yard pass to Jason Witten did not get out of bounds before forward progress was stopped. Romo got nailed on the next play, an incomplete pass that forced 3rd and 11. A pass to the end zone to Creighton was incomplete. 16 seconds remained.

10 years ago, Terrell Owens was the hero, as his pass reception from Steve Young in 1998 propelled the 49ers to a miracle win over Green Bay. Could Owens be the hero again?

No. Romo’s pass into double coverage was not even intended for Owens. It was intercepted with 9 seconds left. Another playoff shocker was in the books. Also, 1998 was the year the Cowboys lost a playoff game at home against an inferior team, when the Jake Plummer led Cardinals, who lost to Dallas twice that year, beat them in Dallas. Again, they failed to beat a team three times in one season, losing the one at home that counted most.

Dallas outgained Big Blue by 336-230, and led the G-Men in time of possession 36 1/2 minutes to 23 1/2 minutes. Yet Dallas was done, and the Giants will soldier on.

The few remaining NFL and television executives that did not kill themselves over the AFC results jumped off a bridge once the Dallas matchup against Green Bay dissolved.

Colts vs Patriots and Packers vs Cowboys would have been ratings blockbusters, and clashes of Titans.

The NFC Title Game is now the New York Giants @ the Green Bay Packers, which should be a terrible game. The Giants do have a shot, although they lost 35-13 at home to Green Bay in Week 2. They are 9-1 on the road, having won 9 straight since the opening week loss to…Dallas.

The AFC Title Game is now the San Diego Chargers @ the New England Patriots, which should be an even worse game. The Chargers have no shot whatsoever. The Patriots humiliated the Chargers 38-14 early in the year, and this one should be more lopsided.

Sticking with the 10 year anniversary 1998 theme, Randy Moss was on the 1998 Vikings team that should have coasted to a Superbowl win, only to blow up in the playoffs. Terrell Owens was a hero 10 years ago, but not this time. Randy Moss was not the hero 10 years ago, but this time he can be.

Going back even further than that, 1993 was the last year both # 1 seeds made the Superbowl. Since the Bills and Cowboys, exactly one of the top seeds (never both of them) has gone down in flames every year. This year the Cowboys have gone down, which according to the trend, and every ounce of reality, means the Patriots will be fine. Besides, the Colts had the best shot to take them down, and that will not happen now. The Giants are back in the NFC Title game for the first time in 6 years. The Cowboys have lost 6 straight playoff games.

Nobody is surprised that one Manning is still alive and one is done for the year. The shocker is that Eli plays next week and Peyton does not.

As for the subject of class, Tony Romo’s press conference should be mandatory viewing for children in need of learning what class is about. He took the questions, made no excuses, and expressed his love for the game. When the idiotic questions about Jessica Simpson came up, he deflected them with dignity. Jessica Simpson does not play offensive line, and in the 4th quarter, neither did the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants defense belted the Cowboys offense when it counted. Romo not only showed his love of the game, but his respect and knowledge of the game’s history. He cited John Elway’s Broncos going 13-3 in 1996, blowing up in the playoffs at home in the divisionals, and then coming back the next year to win it all. The Cowboys lost a game, but the league gained an ambassador.

One player that has never been classy is Terrell Owens. Yet he deserves his due. His press conference was sincere. Regardless of his past, he broke down in tears, and fiercely defended Tony Romo. He said, “This is my quarterback…this is my team…don’t blame my quarterback. It’s not his fault. It’s not fair to blame him.” I give Owens all the credit in the world for refusing to make excuses, and for refusing to place blame. He also strongly defended coach Wade Phillips. This bodes well for Dallas, and proves that people can change for the better.

Any Given Sunday…indeed.

7 days until the title games.

eric

From the NYMEX to LAX

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

I had the pleasure Friday afternoon of visiting the floor of the New York Merchantile Exchange, aka the NYMEX.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is where shares of companies such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola, IBM and General Motors are traded. The NYMEX is where people trade commodities, also known as futures. Futures can best be described as “stuff.” Tangible physical items are traded here. Crude oil, heating oil, unleaded and natural gasoline, and platinum are traded here. The NYMEX also contains the COMEX, where gold, silver and copper are traded.

(Other commodities such as corn, beef, and pork are traded in Chicago)

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2007/08/an-interview-with-jim-rogers/

Getting on the floor of the exchange is not as easy as it was before 9/11. Luckily, the people I work with had some connections. It was worth the experience.

The NYMEX in some ways is exactly like the Eddie Murphy-Dan Akroyd movie “Trading Places.” There were men yelling, screaming, and gesticulating wildly in a manner that might only be legal on a trading floor.

Some of the images I had were true, and some were completely false.

I showed up wearing a suit and tie. Because I was heading to a Jewish Sabbath dinner after work, I wore my Star of David Israel necktie. Normally I do not wear anything in the office that expresses a political or religious viewpoint, but I did not expect my tie to be a focal point. I also wore my 1940s style black fedora, because it was cold outside.

I was surprised to see that the traders on the NYMEX were dressed in khakis and sneakers, with no neckties. They are not allowed to wear blue jeans, but black jeans are permissible. This is in direct contrast to the NYSE, where strict business attire is required. In fact, the NYSE offered to buy the NYMEX, and one reason the traders are opposed to this is that they refuse to dress up. The NYMEX is in short walking distance to Wall Street, but perhaps the dress code does not cross the divide.

As for the wall, it is adorned with gigantic monitor screens as well. The screens have tons of price quotes on them. Yet the traders also now walk around carrying small devices similar to laptops, and there are tons of computer terminals on the floor. It may seem strange to have computers on the floor when they are all along the wall, but it was explained to me that the computers on the wall, while not completely for show, do not have real time up to the second price quotes. They are 20 minutes behind, which is no different than an average investor checking their positions online at home.

I asked why they do not just update the machines, but apparently the expenditure was not deemed necessary. The screens look pretty on the wall, and that is that. Traders that have worked there a long time still occasionally get confused, and have to remind themselves that the prices on the screens on the wall are wrong.

While some futures trade actively, there are some that have less volume than one would think at certain junctures. This means that for all the screaming, hysteria, and running around, there are periods of calm and quiet where the traders literally just stand around. Everybody stands. For those who have heard the expression of having a “seat” on the exchange, a seat just means a license to trade on the floor. It does not mean anybody has a physical seat to sit down in. Everybody stands.

There is less jostling than one would think. There is plenty of room. Every once in awhile a fistfight might break out, but this is rare because like any office, these people work with each other every day.

Everything is done by “open outcry,” meaning somebody walks into a room, announces they have something available for purchase or sale at a certain price, and the first people to shout that they want it, get it. A fraction of a second in yelling is the difference between transacting or getting left behind.

Yet the free time periods are strange as well. On the Pacific Stock Exchange, which does not exist in Los Angeles anymore, the traders actually did sit down. When they were bored, they would sling rubber bands at each other. They would get fined for that, but would do it anyway. Then they started flicking index cards at each other.

The NYMEX seems even more strange, although perhaps I caught them on a weird day. One of the traders was Jewish, so when everybody saw my hat and tie, they realized another Jewish person was amongst their midst. As for what happened next, if I was not a part of it, I would not have believed it.

Only people who work on the NYMEX are allowed into the pits, also known as the rings. An exception was made for me because of my attire. This Jewish broker led me into the trading pit for crude oil, and he and I started dancing Israeli style as fellow traders sang “Hava Negilah.” They clapped in rhythm as would be done at a Hebrew wedding. For those who wonder how this relates to finance, I am still scratching my head on that one. Nevertheless, they took a liking to me, and said I could come back any time.

The gold traders have their bizarre rituals. Every day, at 13 minutes and 13 seconds after 1pm, or 13:13:13 military time, they cheer and yell “Yay!” for a few seconds. It does not matter what the market is doing, and the traders of other commodities still have no idea why they do this. In fact, it gets frustrating when they are losing money and other guys are cheering in celebration. When asked why they do this, they replied, “We don’t know. We just do.”

No pictures are allowed to be taken on the floor of the NYMEX, which would have been discouraging if the traders actually obeyed rules. Several pictures were snuck in, although after the last one, a very big, burly fellow let me know not to do it again. I did not test him.

As for television, the screens were not fixated on CNBC or Bloomberg Television. Those channels focus more on stocks than commodities, and the quotes at the bottom are stock quotes. The televisions on the NYMEX were tuned in to Fox News. When I inquired as to why, the traders replied that the television was irrelevant, and that they would be happiest if the televisions were tuned in to ESPN or the NFL Network.

The NYMEX was an exciting place to visit, and on busy days, is most likely a thrilling place to work. Nevertheless, everything comes at a price. With all the money the traders make, one would think they could at least have desks with actual chairs and tables.

The last thing I will offer is that unlike airports in the United States, where one passes through a metal detector, the NYMEX has much more stringent security. There are three separate metal detectors, with additional security measures inbetween the checkpoints. With trillions of dollars flowing through financial exchanges, these precautions are necessary. The traders do not mind. All they have to do is walk down the block and see the hole in the ground where the towers once stood.

As for the Tygrrrr Express, this exhausting week in New York has concluded. Saturday morning finds me taking a morning flight home, reaching LAX by noon. This gives me 90 minutes to get to my office, pick up my car, drive home, and be in front of my television for the first NFL Divisional playoff game. The second game will be tivoed due to Saturday night being my birthday party. Sunday will be football, sleep, and nothing else.

Given the pouring rain in New York, I will kiss the sweet ground when I reach LAX.

Yes, seeing the NYMEX allowed me to see what I love most about New York itself, the action packed thrill of high finance. Seeing LAX will allow me to see what I love most about Los Angeles, that being gorgeous weather, and most importantly, my warm comfortable bed. Domicile, sweet domicile. There is nothing like it.

eric