Archive for September, 2008

Live from Las Vegas, Updates from Iraq

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

The Tygrrrr Express is in Las Vegas, attending Blogworld Expo.

While I am learning how to be a better blogger, today’s column is not my own.

When people ask me where I get my information, I tell them that I listen to people that know what they are talking about.

One of my readers, Eagle 6, knows what he is talking about.

Below are two stories from Iraq as of a couple days ago.

My team went on a Humanitarian Assistance visit a couple weeks ago. We had
hundreds of pounds of rice we were giving to a community, and we thought it
would be great because the Iraqi Army was in charge of handing it out, and
since the Mayor was also there, it was an opportunity for him to gain status
within the community. Ignorant of our arrogance, we neglected to recognize
that in a democracy, even a fledgling one, everybody has a vote. As we
parked in the open area to make the delivery, two local mullahs came out and
began screaming at the Mayor for being a traitor and friend to the
“occupying infidels”. The Mayor responded with an equally harsh rebuttal.
Soon, there was a large crowd of military-aged males forming groups of
threes and fours, and the Mullahs and Mayor continued yelling, spitting,
shaking their fists, and piercing one another with angry eyes and bulging
throats…

Finally, the Mayor called for the arrest of the two Mullahs, but prior to
being led away, the Mullahs ordered their people to not touch the food.
They were taken to jail, yet released later in the day.
Meanwhile, the angry young men formed a semi circle around the Iraqi Army’s
grain-filled vehicle, arms across their chests, daring the locals to take
needed food from the invaders or their traitorous Iraqi Army supporters…
Ah, but for the compromise and love of youth and innocence… a young
black-haired girl, 7 or 8, skipped between two of the hard-hearted Iraqi
young men and placed a tentative hand on a 25 lb bag of rice… knowing she
couldn’t carry it, she looked beyond the band of belligerence and spied what
was likely an older brother… a slim young man of about 12 or 13 also
slipped through and assisted his sister with the bag, and other youths then
made their way to the truck, as Iraqi Soldiers and adolescent young men and
women off-loaded the bags of rice and took them home.

Future operations will include visits to local Mullahs to articulate
Coalition Force involvement in the area. Rather than having Quick Reaction Force,
snatch and grab, and combat-oriented Soldiers in this Area of Operations, we are an
enhanced Military Transition Team supplemented with a team of Civil Affairs,
Human Contact Team, Provisional Reconstrcution Team, and Explosive Ordnance Detail
elements. Our stated role in life is to mentor the Iraqi
Army. Since we have also assumed control of this Forward Operating
Base, some of our implied tasks are also to manage Sons of Iraq contracts, maintain
the Reconciliation Program (a program designed to allow former informants and others
“on the edge” to work for the police, Army, of Sons of Iraq) , assist with the “hold/build”
phases of the strategy via CA and PRT, and serve as a referee in City Council and Joint
Security Meetings.

What really makes this story and our interaction with the locals a hoot and
a challenge is this: part of the Mayor’s neck is missing from surviving an
IED blast outside his home last year. Two of his brothers were killed by Al
Qaida. Conversely, his first cousin is the head AQI leader in his town, and
this Al Qaida Iraq (AQI)’s brother is the principal contractor for all major construction in
the same town (hired by the Mayor), and the other brother is a teacher and
lead recruiter for local AQI… So the Mayor is not just playing both ends
against the middle – he’s doing a three or four dimensional dummy dip
dance… But if there’s a positive side, he was able to maintain order by
arresting the local Mullahs in public.

We went to a Memorial Service for an Iraqi Captain who was killed along with his driver via an IED about a month ago. We had been conducting a recon of our Traffic Control Points, Observation Posts, and command posts in support of an operation we supported, and the enemy waited for our heavy vehicles to pass prior to detonating against his light-skinned vehicle.

I had intended to attend the funeral, but fortunately, something else came up. I understand the family ripped into the battalion commander pretty hard, so our presence would have exacerbated an already explosive environment. The family since apologized to the Bn Cdr, and we were welcomed to the Memorial Service.

It was gut-wrenching. There was a podium on the carpeted stage and round glasses containing unlit, multicolored candles lined the front of the stage. Separate packets of wooden matches were placed alongside each glass-encased candle. I had the misfortune of choosing a candle with a short wick, so under the watch of hundreds of eyes boring into my back, I couldn’t light it…and just as my fingers’ flesh began burning, it lit…so I impulsively blew the match out and put it on the carpet in front of me…at which time the match stick glowed and began smoldering the carpet…and I had blown the candle out with the match…so while I struck another match, the glowing stick of the other match kept smoldering, so while I was lighting the candle, I simultaneously pushed my thumb down on the embers, trying to put it out…both my thumbs are blistered now, but the candle was lit, and the building survived.

The ceremony began with a gentleman singing “dirges in the dark” but without the upbeat background of American Pie… haunting melodies with women weeping loudly in the background. Then a gentleman recited a poem describing the life of Sayed Mahmoud, and I didn’t need to know the language to understand the heartfelt tribute to a true hero. They played videos and snapshots in time of this young Captain, with music playing…and women wailing, and men standing at attention, somber at the loss of a brother. Although many of the Iraqi Soldiers were on leave in various parts of the country, they gave up their leave to crowd the place with brothers-in-arms paying their respects to a fallen Soldier. The Mayor invited us to supper afterwards… the Ministry Of Interior rep asked us to meet… and people lined up to shake our hands and give us their blessings. It sounds flippant to say that this death of a Soldier, this sad occasion is a sign of success in Iraq, but when we can celebrate with former enemies, we are one step closer to unity.

eric

My Interview With Governor Linda Lingle

Friday, September 19th, 2008

At the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle.

http://hawaii.gov/gov/governor/biography

http://hawaii.gov/gov/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Lingle

I have always been a fan of hers. Governor Lingle is a Jewish republican. It still astounds me that a place with few Jews and few republicans would elect her. Maybe I should not be astounded. Thrilled is a better word.

I visited Hawaii in 2006 and 2007, attending the Pro Bowl both years. I wanted to meet her, but that is the busy time of year for the legislature. The closest I got was the front row at the 50 yard line of the Pro Bowl. She flipped the coin on the field to start the game.

Governor Lingle has a deep commitment to her Jewish faith. The local Chabad Rabbi is Rabbi Krasynyanski, who sometimes prays with her. The hotel I stay in when I visit Hawaii is the Ala Moana. The Chabad House is located in that hotel, allowing me to pray with Rabbi Krasynyanski as well.

http://www.chabadofhawaii.com/

Governor Lingle is a rock star in Hawaii, and definitely a rising star in the Republican Party. Out of 33 bills that came before her in the last legislative session, she vetoed 27 of them, signing only 6 of them. As a conservative, I admire her. As I said, as a Jewish conservative, her being in office is a thrill.

Before getting to my interview with her, I just want to express that while the outpouring of affection for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is well deserved, I am shocked that Linda Lingle does not get the same amount of attention. She would have also made a fabulous Vice Presidential nominee. Hopefully a future ticket will have her on it.

Linda Lingle gave a fabulous speech in support of Sarah Palin at the convention. Below are some of the highlights.

“Mere words, no matter how eloquent, will never replace decisive action and real results.”

“Sarah Palin is a leader and a winner.”

“Being a Mayor in Hawaii or Alaska is outstanding preparation for higher office. People in Hawaii and Alaska will tell you that we are doing just fine.”

“Sarah Palin lacks experience? The other side has no experience! Zero!”

“The other side has never managed a multi-billion dollar budget…or managed anything for that matter.”

“Mayors and Governors are CEOs.”

“Alaska was criticized by some as a small state. Alaska has the same number of electoral votes as Delaware. You can fit 250 states the size of Delaware into Alaska.”

I have to admit that I really wanted to meet her. Even as I was ending my last evening at the convention, I had lamented that despite doing over 50 interviews with many Senators and Governors, I had not interviewed her.

For those who wonder why her in particular, the reason is cultural. I am deeply committed to my religious faith and my political beliefs. I take great pride in seeing Jewish republicans succeed. Arlen Specter and Norm Coleman are fine Senators, and Eric Cantor is one of the top members of the House.

Yet Linda Lingle is a Jewish Republican Governor. I want to see a Jewish President in my lifetime. I want that Jewish President to be a republican. Governors get elected far more often than Senators.

As a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition Leadership, I can tell you that it is more than just getting republicans elected. It is about bonding with other Jews. That is why it is not the Republican Catholic Coalition.

My friend Larry Greenfield, the California Executive Director of the RJC, was the one that persuaded me to attend the convention. On the third night of the convention, I told him that I was having a wonderful time, but I still wish I could have interviewed Governor Lingle.

Later that night, after Sarah Palin gave a speech that electrified the entire planet to the left of Leon Trotsky, the crowd spilled out into the halls. I was a fish swimming upstream. As I tried to get past the herds and reach the convention floor, I wondered who my next interview would be.

Among the throngs, I ran into Larry Greenfield. He said, “Hey buddy, have you met Governor Linda Lingle?”

Larry knew I would be wide eyed. He had a genuine look of happiness on his face, as if to let me know that when he is standing before God and wants testimony, I would be happy to vouch.

He then turned to the Governor and said, “This is Eric. He is a Jewish republican blogger. He gets a ton of traffic.”

I was surprised she did not have a bunch of security around her. Then again, they may have gotten swallowed up by the crowd. I told her that I was a big fan of hers, and mentioned praying with Rabbi Krasynyanski. She was very receptive, and expressed her admiration for him as well.

I also let her know that my mother is active in her local Chabad in Florida, and that my mom cried when reading about the Governor. My mom was just very inspired. The Governor was touched by this.

As for doing a “walk and talk” interview, it was more like a “try to stand up and not get crushed and repeat the questions over the yelling throngs” type of interview. Nevertheless, the Governor was quite gracious. Also, even though I was not appointed by anybody, I tried to protect her to make sure that the crowd did not crash into her. I was walking ahead of her up the stairs, and backwards. That way I could make sure she was ok.

Despite the chaos, the interview was completed, and both of us reached our destinations safely.

1) How does a nice Jewish republican woman become Governor of Hawaii, a state not known for Jews or republicans? How did you get elected?

LL: “The key is to work hard. I have a good team around me. People know that I care. Also, I ran at the right time. There was a corruption scandal in Hawaii at the time. Hawaii is a democratic state, so the democrats were the ones linked to the corruption. I am a reformer and a fiscal conservative.”

2) Does Judaism in any way apply to your job?

LL: “My upbringing gives me empathy for others.”

3) Who are your 3 favorite political heroes?

LL: “I have heroes, but my main heroes are personal. My grandmother is my hero.”

4) What are the most important issues of 2008?

LL: “Security. This involves national security and the economy. Economic health is economic security.”

5) How would you like to be remembered 100 years from now? What would you want people to say about Linda Lingle the person?

LL: “As somebody who tried to do the right thing for America. Again, as somebody that worked hard with a good team around her. As somebody who cared.”

As we were finishing, I saw a crevice near the railing that provided daylight from the throngs. I moved out of the way so her staff person could usher her to a quieter area.

I wished the Governor goodbye and then completely reversed gears, walking back towards the convention floor, where I was initially headed.

I skipped Hawaii in 2008, but will go back in 2009. It will again be for the Pro Bowl, meaning that the legislature will be in session. Nevertheless, I will send regards through Rabbi Krasynyanski, and very warm regards they will be.

eric

My Interview With Colonel Orson Swindle

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

At the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota, I had the deeply humbling honor of meeting and interviewing Lieutenant Colonel Orson Swindle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Swindle

http://www.hunton.com/bios/bio.aspx?id=16727

While Colonel Swindle has had a distinguished career in the military and in government, he will probably be most remembered by many as the Vietnam prisoner of war that once shared a prison cell at the Hanoi Hilton with Senator John McCain.

One of the reasons McCain is so respected is because he has that difficult to define quality known as “gravitas.” Colonel Swindle has gravitas. Anybody can give a political speech. Colonel Swindle is a testament to a truly great human spirit. I cannot begin to fathom his strength of character and courage.

Colonel Swindle was escorting fellow POW Colonel Bud Day to an interview when I approached them. Colonel Day is 85, and while Colonel Swindle is not a young man, he and his wife kept a wall around Colonel Day to keep him from getting jostled by the crowd.

For those who have not heard the story, Colonel Day was brutally beaten and tortured, as were Colonel Swindle and Senator McCain. Colonel Day pleaded with John McCain to rebreak his arms and set them properly. McCain did not want to do this, but Colonel Day insisted. McCain broke his arms, and reset them using bamboo. Today Colonel Day has the use of his arms.

Regardless of political affiliation, true greatness is found in men like Colonel Swindle, Colonel Day, and Senator McCain. We are free because of them.

Below is my interview with Colonel Orson Swindle.

1) What are the most important issues of 2008?

OS: “This is about the Presidency. It is not America Idol. This is real, not imaginary.

Major issues in this campaign are education, the economy, and Social Security.

We need a leader to bring people together and get things done. John McCain is a leader.

John McCain has dozens of character representatives. I am one of them. People will put it all on the line and tell you what kind of man John McCain is. Name 5 people that are willing to do the same for Barack Obama.

John McCain is proven. He’s been tested. He has integrity. He is an intellectual. He offers loyalty. He has courage.”

2) Who are your 3 favorite political heroes?

OS: “Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan.”

3) You spent 7 years as a prisoner of war. How did you get through it? How did you survive?

OS: “During the tough times…it was mostly tough times…you just hang on. That’s all you can do. You hang on. You don’t give up. You can’t give up. You are driven not to give up. It’s your sense of honor.

That, and you pray to God.”

4) How would you like to be remembered 100 years from now? What would you want people to say about Orson Swindle the person?

“He made a difference.

Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Most people spend their lives wondering if they made a difference. Marines don’t have to wonder.’

I’m a marine.”

I was too choked up to ask any more questions. I am in awe of the man.

I thanked him for his time and his service, but it was not enough.

Thank you again Colonel Swindle. God Bless you sir. I’ll tell you what I told John McCain when I met him, and what I tell every veteran I ever meet.

Thank you, and welcome home.

Welcome home sir.

eric

Wall Street–Yes to Moral Hazard, No more bailouts ever!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I am a creature of Wall Street, and proud of it.

I have been in the financial services industry for almost 15 years. I wanted to be a stockbroker before I even knew what that meant, thanks to Alex P. Keaton on “Family Ties.”

I believe that anything business can do, government can do worse. Virtually everything except for the military should be privatized. Social Security should certainly be privatized.

I am a creature of Wall Street. My firm has an office on Wall Street. I work there from time to time.

I am a rah rah cheerleader for corporate America. I believe that what is good for big business is good for America.

Therefore, if you are a big business…and I don’t like you…then nobody likes you.

If you are Wall Street…and I am not defending you…then nobody should defend you.

Before getting to the recent financial inconvenience (it is not a meltdown or a crisis, so I refuse to call it that), keep in mind that the left in this country knows nothing about business. They would destroy every business if they could, because they believe business is evil.

Not all CEOs are corrupt plutocrats. CEO pay is not out of control.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, was the gold standard for executives. Some criticized the fact that he received a golden parachute of about one billion dollars. Some people feel that no CEO deserves that much money.

That uneducated argument is nonsense. Jack Welch took a 14 billion dollar a year company and turned it into a 500 billion dollar a year company. Therefore, a one time payment representing approximately 1/5 of 1% of the companies revenues is quite reasonable.

What is not reasonable are when CEOs get paid for doing a lousy job. Michael Eisner received millions at Disney as the stock languished for a decade. AFter the tragic death of Frank Wells in a helicopter crash, Eisner was rudderless. The Ovitz debacle, where a 90 million dollar severance package was given to a man that was fired after 14 months, was Eisner’s undoing.

Another awful CEO that should never be on television is Carly Fiorina, the former disaster that headed up Hewlett Packard. John McCain should get as far away from this woman as possible. I never thought I would ever agree with Paul Begala, a man that is rarely right about anything. Yet he was absolutely correct when he pointed out that Carly Fiorina was incompetent. The Compaq merger was a debacle, and she fired 18,000 people, drove the stock price down, and was deservedly fired.

Yet Carly Fiorina and Michael Eisner are geniuses compared to some of the current CEOs on Wall Street. Neither of them destroyed their companies totally. Maybe they would have if they had been given more time, but this did not occur. As is usually the case with Wall Street, the system worked.

Where the system is not working is with the current bailout climate.

Investing in any financial product outside of U.S. Treasury Bills involves the risk of loss of investing principal. Risk is the concept of moral hazard.

Since the beginning of time, people have looked for riskless investments. Attempts have been made t remove the moral hazard from investing. This only makes matters worse.

The 1987 stock market crash nearly brought down the entire U.S. financial system. It was much more serious than the situation today. The 1987 crash was the result of too many people trying to use “portfolio insurance” to protect themselves from market downturns. Portfolio insurance was just a fancy way of describing a strategy of using options, which are risky themselves. The options were meant to be the equivalent of “stop loss orders.” Any trader will let you know that stop loss orders are not worth the paper ticket they are printed on.

When companies and individuals do not feel that there is a moral hazard to their decisions, they simply take bigger risks. What keeps individuals and companies in check is the notion that their actions could have adverse consequences.

This brings us to the notion of bailouts.

There may be a situation where a government bailout of a corporation is justified, but I cannot think of one. Companies should simply be allowed to go bankrupt.

http://michellemalkin.com/2008/09/24/illegal-immigration-and-the-mortgage-mess/

Most human beings have to depend on themselves or their families. If I fall on hard times, I do not receive a bailout. When tough times hit, I or most small businesses do what  should be done. Costs are cut, and acquisitions are delayed or denied.

Airlines are a prime example. Now they blame the high price of fuel oil. Before that they blamed 9/11. Before that they blamed the Ides of March, one eyed Jacks,  suicide Kings, and any number of  mythical excuses to  hide an unavoidable truth…the CEOs did lousy jobs. Thankfully, the government did not bail these pathetic excuses for companies out. The government let them sink or swim on their own. The government was right.

For some reason many on Wall Street should be rewarded no matter what. Wall Street absolutely should be rewarded for bringing in sky high profits. Multi-million dollar bonuses do not bother me in any way. However, incompetence should not be rewarded.

The government bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This was wrong.

The current crisis began because a bunch of home owners bought homes they did not understand and could not afford. It was not greedy lenders. It was greedy individual buyers. I have nothing but contempt for these people because I do not own my own home. I would love to own my home. Property in Los Angeles is simply too expensive. Do not buy anything if you cannot afford it or do not understand it. I do not understand real estate, and what little I know tells me that the prices are higher than what I can afford. Therefore, I do not buy real estate.

Americans are hooked on credit. The President said America is addicted to oil. Americans are addicted to credit. I own a 55 inch big screen television. I bought it factory refurbished after doing some research and getting a warranty. I paid $800, not $8,000. I drive a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Siera. I paid $2,000 for it. I own it outright. No, it is not a fancy car. It is not sexy. On the rare occasions I have a high class function in another city, I rent an expensive rental car. I still come out ahead.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac simply took insane risks. The reason they did this is because they believed that the government would bail them out. These companies should not have existed to begin with, but try making that political argument. After all, what is the purpose of government if not to guarantee all Americans housing?

When these companies failed, the Federal Reserve should have burned the financial village. They did fire the CEOs, and they did take over the two entities, but this was not sufficient. They should have sold them to private corporations. Incentives could have been provided, but the current bailout only encourages further bad behavior.

The Fed got it right with Bear Stearns. The Bear Stearns situation was not a bailout. JP Morgan bought the company at a fire sale price. This was a smart business decision by JP Morgan, which has largely steered clear of the current inconvenience. Some lamented that Bear Stearns ceased to exist. After all, it was such a venerable institution. So what? So were my grandparents. We all die.

Then Lehman Brothers crashed. The Fed got it perfect. They basically told Lehman Brothers to (redacted) itself. Imagine that, an adult corporation being forced to take responsibility for their own actions.

Wall Street was making spectacular profits as little as a couple years ago. The stock market hit an all time in 2007. The problem was that some of the risks necessary to achieve these products was excessive. Some of the companies were leveraged to the hilt.

Merrill Lynch is being bought at a fire sale price by Bank of America. This is positive. Merrill Lynch had a choice of either being acquired or collapsing like Lehman. The CEO of Lehman refused to accept life as anything other than an independent firm. Pride wenteth before the fall. Luckily the CEO of Merrill Lynch did not have the emotional connection that plagued the CEO of Lehman. The CEO of Merrill was new to the firm. He would rather walk away then command a sinking ship.

Some will blame corporate greed, the culture of deregulation, and republicans all over the world for this tragedy. Those people do not know a stock from a bond from the inside of their own orifices, so answering them is unnecessary.

No government regulation can force people to obey moral hazard. What governments can do is reward companies for ignoring moral hazards.

The best example of a non-scandal was Enron. Enron was a corporate scandal, but not a government scandal. The critics of the President believed that he was corrupt because he was from Texas, and so was Enron. I am sure these same people ignore the fact that Jeffrey Dahmer and Barack Obama both had roots in Illinois.

Enron was simple. They went to the government and asked to be bailed out. The President and Vice President, supposedly friends of big oil, told them no. This was the right thing to do. The scandal would be if they had bailed Enron out. They let Enron collapsed. Good.

Some will argue that innocent workers get hurt. Yes, this does happen. Yet even many of these innocent workers could have made better decisions. They did not have to invest their entire savings in company stock. The word diversification is not a new concept. One of the stocks in my portfolio had a terrible week. Another one, even in this climate, had a fabulous week.

The solution is to leave business alone, and let bad businesses fail.

Now I will advocate something that will enrage many. We should let Social Security go bankrupt.

Some will be in shock at that comment, but nobody on the left truly wants to fix it. They think that this current financial situation justifies leaving it alone. After all, given the tough stock market conditions, why privatize it?

Because in this case inaction is what is hurting it. A lack of taking risk is a bigger risk. The solution is not to avoid all risk. It is to take reasonable, calculated, measurable risks.

Some corporations took obscene, wild risks. Social Security is too conservative. It is going bankrupt from lack of any risk at all. Putting it in some balanced Mutual Funds is not the same as investing it all in options on garbage.com.

So what if Social Security were privatized, and then it went bankrupt like Lehman?

People would suffer. Then others would step in and save it, not out of patriotic duty, but for the best reason possible…a financial incentive.

For every bad CEO, plenty of good ones exist.

Let Lehman burn. They did it to themselves. The CEO and the Board of Directors destroyed this firm. Yes, thousands will lose their jobs, but they will find other jobs. Times will be tough for them. They may or may not have legal action against the CEO and the Board. While some of them will be innocent victims, taxpayers absolutely cannot subsidize this firm. Not unless Lehman wants to pay my student loans.

The Fed is now loaning money to AIG. This loan should be at fair market value, and must be repaid. The CEOs must be forced out as a condition for this money. If this does not occur, then our government will be rewarding AIG.

Some will argue that these bailouts are necessary to calm nervous investors.

Investors are not nervous. The stock market has been resilient. It is down less from the high than the bear market of 2000-2002 was. There are plenty of value stocks, and some growth stocks, that pay solid dividends.

I did not own stock in Lehman or Bear Stearns. I do own shares of several financial stocks. Many of those shares are down. However, they are a portion of my portfolio, not the entire portfolio. Also, with rare exceptions, I won the shares outright. I did not purchase them on margin. I own less of them, but like my car and my television, I own them outright.

I will not miss Lehman. Nor should you.

I believe in Wall Street. I celebrate the success of Wall Street.

Like any industry, there will also be failures. Let those failures happen.

Capitalism involves winners and losers, and Wall Street is based on merit. The losers should be ruthlessly punished, not rewarded. The winners will be the ones that conduct their business ethically, successfully, and with a reasonable amount of risk.

The solution is to say yes to moral hazards.

There should be no more government bailouts. Not now, not ever.

eric

My Interview With Hugh Hewitt

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

At the Republican Convention, I interviewed Hugh Hewitt.

http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog

Hugh Hewitt is one of the top conservative radio talk show hosts in America. He is also the preeminent political blogger in the country. He will be putting on Blogworld Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center from September 19th through the 21st.

http://www.blogworldexpo.com/

I initially met him at the Reagan Library at a function sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

I went up to him very politely, and explained that I was a blogger. He looked at me, and instantly understood why I told him that. He replied in a friendly manner, “You want a link.”

I absolutely did. I did not know this at the time, but he actually did read what I gave him. Although he said I could contact him at any time, I did not want to take advantage of his generosity. Every 3 to 4 months, I would submit something to him. He was encouraging, and when I let him know that I was beginning my own radio show, he sent me a very supportive email.

At the Republican Convention, it was nice to finally sit down with him, with him being the interviewee.

The interview is below.

1) What are the most important issues of 2008?

HH: “The War and the Supreme Court. John McCain will win the former, and he will appoint well to the latter. Barack Obama will do neither of these things.”

2) What issues are most important to you personally?

HH: “The same as number one. The War and the Supreme Court. 6 of the Justices are 68 years of age or older. It is vital that the right Justices be chosen to replace them.”

3) What is the future of blogging? Where do we go from here?

HH: “We are really in the trenches, and we have to be prepared. The Daily Kos slimed Sarah Palin, and it is going to get dirtier. The blogosphere on the right must push back responsibly.”

4) How would you like to be remembered 100 years from now? What would you want people to say about Hugh Hewitt the person?

HH: “Nobody will remember me in 100 years. If I am remembered, I would like it to be as a man of faith and a great husband.”

5) One of the things I learned the hard way early on was that once it is on the internet, it is there forever, and errors in judgment can damage brands. What advice can you give bloggers regarding branding?

HH: “Building a brand takes time. The key is to promote yourself, not other people. One of the things that you personally did correctly was send me links to your own blog. You also didn’t do it every day, but when you thought you had written something of quality. So many bloggers send links to various articles they have read, rather than directing people to their own work. I read the articles you sent me.”

I thanked Hugh Hewitt very much for the interview, but the biggest surprise was yet to come. Later on that evening, I stopped by his radio show with a nervous request. I asked him if I could make a brazen request, but for the sake of ethics, it was a very nervous one. Without stating what the request was, since it can be inferred, Hugh Hewitt is one successful person that truly does believe in lifting up other potential talent. I thanked him for his time, which occurred on the second night of the convention.

I was having a conversation with somebody else on the third night of the convention when Hugh Hewitt saw me. He was doing his radio show, and called out my name. I turned around, and he motioned me into his guest chair. For two to three minutes, I was a guest on his show. While I have a lighthearted side, I kept it very professional, in keeping with the dignified and high brow manner in which he conducts his radio show. I spoke about the purpose of my blog, which was and is primarily about combating ideological bigotry.

For those who do not know, two to three minutes on his show is enough time for a blogger to be flooded with congratulatory emails. I sent Hugh Hewitt a thank you note, but I did not realize that my biggest thank you was yet to come.

After Sarah Palin’s speech, I ran into him again. In all fairness, he was in the same place, and I kept walking back and forth. Nevertheless, he asked me my opinion on the speech. It was at that moment that I remembered the advice from my dad, which was that when somebody very important asks your opinion, answer quickly and intelligently, and then shut up. The Tygrrrr Express was going to be a ramble free zone.

I told him that I felt that Sarah Palin was the second coming of Margaret Thatcher. I also expressed that she had more testosterone than the entire Democratic Party, and that one woman pointed out to me that she also had more of it than much of the Republican Party. He seemed amused by my comments, and offered his own opinion on Palin, which was also highly favorable.

I wrote a column about Sarah Palin’s speech, published it, and came back to Los Angeles. The last thing I told Hugh Hewitt was that given how nice it was of him to have me as a radio guest, I had no more favors to ask him. From then on, whenever I saw him, it was just to say hello. The more someone give a person, the less the receiver should ask for.

Sitting at my desk in Los Angeles, my friend congratulated me on Hugh Hewitt publishing my column on his site. I had no idea. I raced to the site, and right at the top was what I had asked for the first time I met him. He had given me a link.

For those who do not know, one link from Hugh Hewitt causes a blogger’s traffic to explode. It was a spike that rivaled the ascension of the price of oil. Like the price of oil, I have come down from the Hugh Hewitt High, but am still sitting at a healthy, light, sweet, level.

So all in all, I interviewed him for several minutes, and he then interviewed me. I had linked to him, and he had linked to me. Besides, who knows? Maybe there are actually people in this world somewhere that have heard of me and not heard of him. Theoretically it is possible. My relatives read my blog more than his. Well, some of them anyway. Maybe I even increased his traffic by a fraction of a percentage.

Either way, I have one obligation to Hugh Hewitt, but it is the same one I have to myself. I must continue to write well. Hugh Hewitt has stayed successful because he zealously guards his brand. I was vetted for an entire year before he took a chance on me. Letting him down or giving him pause to regret that decision is not a viable option.

I thank him for his kindness of spirit, and for his taking a calculated risk on a raw talent with potential. Like oil, I could sometimes use a refinery to smooth out my product.

It has been a pleasure getting to know Hugh Hewitt. I wish the very best for him always.

One day, when my success is staggering, I know who my first guest will be.

Thank you Mr. Hewitt. Thank you very much sir.

eric

My Interview With Armstrong Williams

Monday, September 15th, 2008

At the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota, I interviewed radio personality Armstrong Williams.

http://www.armstrongwilliams.com/

Some would describe Armstrong Williams as a black conservative, but that is not how the Republican Party works. He is a conservative that happens to be black.

He is fun, brash, and most importantly, right.

I became a fan of his 15 years ago when he was debating Bob Beckel on the CNN show Crossfire. They were arguing about affirmative action, and Beckel seemed stunned when Armstrong said, “I don’t need your help. I’m not inferior. My kids will beat your kids fair and square. We don’t need your help.”

If you ever want to read an inspiring column, read his Father’s Day tribute to his own father. It is a column for all time.

I spoke to Armstrong a few weeks earlier as a call in guest to the radio show “Political Vindication.” I asked Armstrong about whether or not Israel should attack Iran. I wish I had been taking notes, since his answer was brilliant. All I can say is that he believes Israel has every right to defend itself, and it might have to strike Iran. If this happens, America should support the action.

When I met Armstrong, he graciously agreed to an interview. The interview is below.

1) How does a black man in America end up a republican? What about the party appeals to you?

AW: My parents are 3rd generation republican. They never left the party of Lincoln. The GOP belongs to me, I don’t belong to them. They share my beliefs. It’s my party, not the other way around.

2) What are the most important issues of 2008?

AW: Redistribution of wealth. Barack Obama wants to raise taxes. He wants to raise capital gains taxes and payroll taxes. Everybody should pay the same rate. Those that make more will still pay more in dollars. Having so many people exempt mkes things worse. People take no interest if they have no stake. When everybody has to pay some share, they care more.

Illegal immigration is also an issue. It affects the economy, and education. The problem is that when you mention illegal immigration, people turn their heads away. It’s too explosive.

Lastly, all these issues pale in comparison if there is another terrorist attack. I give credit to President Bush because he has kept us safe. The price of gasoline, the price of food, and the mortgage issue are all meaningless if the terrorists attack us again. We have to keep things in perspective. President Bush took the fight to the terrorists. So will John McCain. Will Barack Obama take the fight?

3) Who are your 3 political heroes?

AW: Justice Clarence Thomas, C. Boyden Gray, and Justice Janice Rogers Brown.

4) What issues are most important to you personally?

AW: Escaping the cultural plantation. The left talks about diversity, but  diversity is not about race.  The democrats are out to lunch.  They are still damaged from the results. Look at the democratic primary. Clinton and Obama  have not recovered  from playing identity politics. Americans want Americans, not small groups.

5) 100 years from now, how would you like to be remembered?

AW: No Child Left Behind. My ideas and opinions cannot be purchased. My beliefs are my own. My values are strong. I am willing to die for my beliefs. We have to love something greater than ourselves. I have been to Greece, Rome, and Egypt. Hopefully 100 years from now people will see our freedoms, and see a thriving democracy. Hopefully I contributed to that.

Armstrong Williams then did something very nice. He allowed me to be an on air guest to his radio show. We were on for 10 minutes, an overwhelmingly generous gesture on his part. His producer is also hip and funny as well. We chatted politics, and on the air I brought up identity politics.

6) Armstrong, the republicans have great men like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and Armstrong Williams. The democrats offer Barack Obama and John Edwards. Are the democrats bigoted against the follically challenged? Can John McCain break the glass ceiling in the modern era so we can elect a bald President?

Armstrong and his producer laughed on air, and off the air let me know in a nice way what I freely admit, that I have some screws loose. To hear his response to this and other issues, listen to his radio show.

It was my honor and privilege to meet Armstrong Williams. It was a thrill to have him interview me.

I wish him a ton of success, because he achieved his success the conservative way…he worked hard and earned it. Now if only he can get his taxes cut so he can keep more of what he earns.

eric

NFL 2008–Week 2 Recap

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

The Oakland Raiders, fresh off of their thrashing at the hands of hated Denver, may be on their way to 0-16.

More importantly, my NFL recaps are about to become as pathetic as the Silver and Black.

I take pride in closely watching the games from my condo in Los Angeles, and live blogging the games. I hate being away from my home on NFL Sundays. I pay for the NFL Package, and realize that every week I am not at home, I am wasting money.

I did get to watch Week 1 from my LA home. I will now embark on a stretch of Sundays that will take me away from my home. This will be the longest stretch away from my home on NFL Sundays since…well, birth, I guess.

Week 2 finds me in Chicago. Week 3 has me in Las Vegas. Week 4, I will be in New York. After a brief Friday in Atlanta, Week 5 finds me in South Florida. Week 6, which was supposed to be my return to LA, has me back in NY. God willing I will be back in LA for Week 7.

Thankfully all of these places have television sets, some of them in sports bars.

With that, below is my attempt at my Week 2 NFL Recap, live from Mother Hubbard’s Sports Bar in Chicago.

Chicago Bears @ Carolina Panthers–A blocked punt for a touchdown had the Bears up-7-0. Brandon Lloyd recovered the blocked punt for the score. A 26 yard field goal pushed the lead to 10-0. A long punt return set up a Carolina field goal with seconds left in the half to make it a 10-3 game.

The Bears did take a 17-3 lead, but developed fumbleitis in the second half. A pair of turnovers led to 10 Carolina points and a 17-13 game. The game would have been tied had one touchdown not been called back by a penalty. With 4 minutes left, Delhomme went deep, and a perfect bomb had the ball at the one foot line. Carolina scored on the next play and led 20-17.

The Bears went to work, and at the 2 minute warning, faced 4th and 1 at midfield. The Bears ran up the middle into a Carolina brick wall. The defense stoned the Bears, and Carolina ran out the clock. The Panthers are 2-0, and already this year’s Cardiac Cats. 20-17 Panthers

Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals–Tennessee has a solid defense, but Vince Young is out for the next several weeks. More importantly, there is a cloud swirling around young regarding the state of his mental health. I hope this young man with everything to live for bounces back personally and professionally. Veteran Kerry Collins started the game, and led the Titans to a 7-0 lead against the hapless Bengals as Lendale White barreled in from one yard out. Chris Perry ran it in from 13 yards out to tie the game, but an 11 yard touchdown pass from Collins to Justin Gage just before halftime had the Titans led 14-7 at the break. A field goal pushed the Titans lead to 17-7, and another touchdown off a blocked punt by Keith Bullock effectively put the game out of reach. Tennessee is not pretty, but they are 2-0 because they are tough. 24-7 Titans

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions–Aaron Rodgers could be the next Brett Favre, but playing against the Lions doesn’t count. 3 touchdown passes had the Packers up 21-0 early in the 2nd quarter. One was a short pass set up by a Ryan Grant run, with the other two bing long throws. It was the second straight week the Lions fell behind 21-0. Rodgers had 209 yards passing in the first half. Somehow, the Lions kicked a field goal to pull within 21-3. James Jones and Donald Driver each had touchdown receptions.

The Lions moved the ball on their next couple drives but could not reach the end zone. 3 field goals had the Lions within 21-9.

Although the Packers added a field goal to go up 24-0, Detroit finally crossed the end zone, and the score was 24-16 with 13 minutes remaining. A safety made it 24-18, and a 47 yard catch and run from Jon Kitna to Calvin Johnson had the Lions up 25-24 in a shocker with under 8 minutes remaining. Were the Lions going to pull off a miracle finish?

No. The Packers kicked a field goal, intercepted a pass, and had Brandon Johnson run the ball 19 yards for a score, and a 9 point lead. Kitna was then intercepted by Pro Bowler Charles Woodson, who raced 43 yards to paydirt. Kitna was then intercepted again for another touchdown, and the Packers ended the game the way they began it, with a blowout. 48-25 Packers

Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars–Perhaps the Jaguars are overrated, but it is quite possible the Bills are significantly improved. Buffalo took an early 7-0 lead on a Marshawn Lynch run, and the Bills led 10-3 at intermission. The Jaguars took the lead 13-10 in the 3rd quarter, and then the defenses hunkered down. Josh Scobee nailed his 3rd field goal early in the 4th quarter to put the Jaguars up 16-10.

Buffalo retook the lead 17-16 on a 5 yard Trent Edwards touchdown pass with just over 4 minutes to go. Jacksonville could not move the ball. With 29 seconds left, Buffalo added a field goal for insurance. Both teams have played a pair of tough games, with the gap between them being small. Nevertheless, the Bills might be for real. 20-16 Bills

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs–JaMarcus Russell went right to work and led a time consuming drive. As is the case with the Raiders, the drive bogged down. A Sebastian Janikowski field goal had Oakland up 3-0. Kansas City turned it over in their own territory, but from 1st and goal, the Raiders settled for another field goal and a 6-0 lead. The offense was inept, but the defense was solid. Perhaps Rob Ryan should throw more temper tantrums. His tirade during the week was appropriate. At least somebody on the coaching staff has passion.

The second half saw the Raiders start in excellent field position. Russell, an anemic 3 for 11 for 30 yards passing in the first half, threw 3 straight incompletions to start the second half, and the Raiders punted. When Kansas City punted back, one of the Raiders tried to pick up a wobbling ball at the 3 yard line, even though the entire football world knows that you leave it alone. The Chiefs recovered the fumble, but thankfully the ball was ruled down since the Chiefs touched it first.

From their own 3, a McFadden run got the ball to the 25. Another McFadden run went for a 50 yard gain. McFadden was pulled down and fumbled, but the ball went out of bounds. From the Kansas City 25, more runs set up 3rd and 4 at the 19. McFadden then ran around the end, and stretched the ball past the pileon for a touchdown. 5 runs, 0 passes, 97 yards, 91 of the my McFadden, and the Raiders led 13-0 midway through the third quarter.

After a Kansas City punt, Darren McFadden ripped off another 25 yard run. The Raiders moved the ball well, but failed to convert a 3rd and 3, and punted. Kansas City took over at their own 15. Damon Huard, who was having a more miserable game than Russell, was sacked for a 10 yard loss as the 3rd quarter ended.

The Chiefs punted, and for the second time in the game, the Raiders punt return team was awful. The ball rolled to about the 10 yard line from the 40, where an Oakland return man picked it up again. He was tackled at the 15. On 3rd and 6 form the 19, an incomplete pass was thankfully bailed out by defensive pass interference. Another 3rd down, this time a 3rd and 8 near midfield, was converted on another Darren McFadden run with the Chiefs smelling pass. The drive stalled when McFadden could not pick up 3 yards on 2nd or 3rd down. The Raiders had eat up 7 minutes of clock time, and Seabass nailed a 40 yard field goal to put the Raiders up 16-0 with 7 minutes remaining.

Kansas City took a touchback, and a juggling circus catch moved them to midfield. With 5 minutes remaining, the Chiefs had 3rd and 10 at the Oakland 29. Despite playing mistake free most of the game, the defense jumped offsides. The Chiefs converted on the next play. A defensive pass interference call had the Chiefs at first and goal at the 8 yard line. With 4 minutes left, facing 3rd and goal at the 4, the Chiefs called time out. A touchdown pass to Tony Gonzales from 3rd stringer Tyler Thigpen followed by a successful 2 point conversion closed the gap to 16-8.

Johnny Lee Higgins returned the ensuing kickoff to the Chiefs 48. A strong run by Michael Bush ended in a fumble, which the Chiefs recovered at their own 35.

As the entire football world knows, the Raiders cannot finish games. That is coaching. The defense was stout the whole game, and the offense could not do anything right when it counted. The defense stepped up big again. On 3rd and 19, Thigpen was intercepted by Kirk Morrison. The Raiders took over on their own 40 and stayed on the ground.

Michael Bush carried the load with McFadden taking a breather. With 90 seconds left and the clock running, the Raiders faced 3rd and 5. A delay of game with 59 seconds left stopped the clock. Bush not only converted the first down, but he ran for a touchdown, icing the game with 51 seconds left.

McFadden had 161 yards, Bush added 90, and Fargas had almost 50 before leaving the game. The Raiders gashed the Chiefs for about 300 yards on the ground. 23-8 Raiders

Indianapolis Colts @ Minnesota Vikings–Something is wrong with the Colts offense. Joseph Addai had 9 rushes for 4 yards, as the Vikings built a 9-0 lead. Peyton Manning was intercepted once. The Vikings extended the lead to 12-0 early in the 3rd quarter. The Vikings kept kicking field goals as they built a 15-0 lead. The Colts finally cracked the scoreboard on a Joseph Addai one yard run, leaving them down 15-7.

Embattled quarterback Tavaris Jackson was sacked by Dwight Freeney, and fumbled at his own 18. Seconds into the 4th quarter, Adam Vinatieri missed a 30 yard field goal. On their next drive, Manning was intercepted. Yet the Vikings failed to ice the game when Ryan Longwel missed a 48 yard field goal.

Manning had a horrible game, but finally began clicking.

The Colt took over at their own 39, and 3 Manning passes followed by a 2 point conversion by Dominic Rhodes had the game tied 15-15 with 6 minutes left. After an exchange of punts, the Colts got the ball back with 1 minute left at midfield. Manning did just enough, and with 3 seconds left, Vinatieri nailed a 47 yarder to win it. 18-15 Colts

New York Giants @ St. Louis Rams–The Giants may not be super, but the Rams are a mess. Eli Manning came out throwing the long ball, and a 33 yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress had the Giants up 7-0. A long field goal pulled the Rams to within 7-3. Field goals were the order of the rest of the half, with the teams trading them. The Giants led 13-6 at the break.

A 10 yard pass from Manning to Amani Toomer had the Giants up 20-6. Marc Bulger then stepped back, and fired a 45 yard bomb to Torry Holt, who made a juggling catch off of the deflected pass. The Giants insisted they had intercepted the ball, but the tie went to the offense. The Rams trailed 20-13 with 11 minutes left.

A comeback was not in the works. Eli Manning kept firing, and by the time he was 20 of 29 for 260 yard passing, the Giants were winning in a rout. Justi Tuck also added a 41 yard interception return for a score in addition to Manning’s 3 touchdowns. 41-13 Giants

New Orleans Saints @ Washington Redskins–Washington moved the ball well, but did not crack the end zone early on. A 22 yard field goal followed by a longer field goal had the Redskins up 6-0. A fumble return for a touchdown put the Saints up 7-6. Sean Suisham made the two field goals, but he also missed two of them as well in the first half. The Saints added a field goal, and Suisham connected on a 3rd one, as the Saints led 10-9 at halftime.

The Saints took a 17-9 lead, But Jason Campbell brought Washington right back. A touchdown closed the gap, but the 2 point conversion was intercepted, and the Saints led 17-15 with 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. On the last play of the 3rd quarter, Reggie Bush ran a punt back 56 yards for a touchdown and a 24-15 lead. The Redskins closed to within 24-22 with 6 minutes remaining. The Redskins got the ball back, and Campbell went for all the marbles. He found Santana Moss for an 80 yard touchdown and a 29-24 Washington lead with 3 1/2 minutes left.

The Saints could not move the ball. The Redskins took over, and at the 2 minute warning, faced 4th and 2 at the Saints 35. They decided to go for it, and a completed pass allowed them to run out the clock. 29-24 Redskins

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks–This game disgusted me, not because I care about either team, but because in only the second week, I am now eliminated from my suicide league. Unbelievable.

A 27 yard run by Julius Jones had Seattle up 7-0 only 3 minutes into the game. 3 minutes later a 10 yard run by Terrill had Seattle up 14-0, and the route was on. No, it wasn’t.

San Francisco made a couple of field goals, and then Seattle added one of their own to lead 17-6. With 5 minutes left in the half, after a nullified interception, J.T. O’Sullivan threw a 3 yard touchdown pass for a 17-13 game. Seattle added another field goal before the half.

The key play in the game came when Seattle faced a 2nd and 14 from the San Francisco 25. Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted by Willis, whose 86 yard return tied the game 20-20. Hasselbeck was intercepted again on the next drive, and with a short field, Frank Gore ran it in from 2 yard out for a 27-20 San Francisco lead.

Hasselbeck then led a 15 play drive that ate 7:21 off the clock to deadlock the game at 27-27. After a punt, another 9 play drive set up a 32 yard field goal that had the Seahawks up 30-27 with under 8 minutes remaining. San Francisco battled back with a 12 play drive that led to a 28 yard field goal to tie the game again with 2:42 left. Seattle went nowhere, and the 49ers had a 41 yard field goal attempt to win it on the final play. The kick was wide right.

In overtime, the 49ers got the ball first. On 3rd and 7 from their own 23, O’Sullivan found Isaac Bruce for a 33 yard gain. A few plays later Joe Nedney redeemed himself with a 40 yard kick to end it.

I hate suicide leagues. Gggggrrrrrrr. 33-30 49ers, OT

Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Last week, Matt Ryan’s first NFL pass was a touchdown. Week 2 brought the reality check. The Bucs have a defense. 30 seconds into the game, Ryan was intercepted. From the Atlanta 19, the Buccaneers quickly took a 7-0 lead. A 14 play drive taking 6 minutes off of the clock later on in the first quarter set up a 2nd quarter touchdown to put the Buccaneers up 14-0. The game was never competitive as the Tampa Bay Defense cracked down, as it does. 24-9 Buccaneers

Miami Dolphins @ Arizona Cardinals–The Arizona Cardinals have a superstar quarterback, and his name is Kurt Warner, not Matt Leinart. Warner is turning the Cardinals into the new Greatest Show in the Desert. Yes, they played the hapless Dolphins, but Warner still has plenty of arm. He passed for 361 yards and 3 touchdown passes. Both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquon Boldin had at least 140 yards receiving, and each one of them had at least 75 yards receiving on one play. It was an aerial show. The team racked up 445 yards of offense.

A 79 yarder to Fitzgerald went for one score and a 79 yarder to Boldin set up another one as the Cardinals led 14-0 after one quarter. The Dolphins eventually scored during garbage time, but he game was so out of hand that Leinart was allowed to come in and throw two passes, completing one. For the first time since 1991, the Cardinals are 2-0. 31-10 Cardinals

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos–This game was ridiculous. After a quiet 1st quarter that had Denver up 7-3, the second quarter became a pinball machine. 38 points were put on the board, 24of them by Denver. Philip Rivers finished the game 21 of 33 for 377 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Jay Cutler was an insane 36 of 50 for 350 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception.

Denver was coasting 21-3 in the 2nd quarter when Darren Sproles returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-10. After a Denver field goal, Rivers found Chris Chambers for a 48 yard touchdown pass to pull within 24-17. After a touchback, with 2:25 left in the half, Cutler took Denver straight down the field, and a touchdown with 2 seconds left in the half had Denver ahead comfortably 31-17. The second half was a reversal of fortunes.

The Chargers took the kickoff, nd 4 minutes later, Rivers found Chambers again, for a 31-24 game. Denver could not move the ball in the 3rd quarter, and a pair of field goals, the second one only a minute into the 4th quarter, Had Denver clinging to a 31-30 lead.

After a touchback, Denver began a time consuming drive that took almost 9 minutes off of the clock. From the 4 yard line, Cutler was intercepted, his only mistake of the game. The ball was fumbled on the return, which should remind San Diego once and for all to kneel down and stop trying to return them in traffic. Nevertheless, the Chargers took over from their own 9.

With 5 1/2 minutes left, Rivers needed 2 passes. A 21 yard pass to Vincent Jackson followed by a 66 yard pass to Darren Sproles had the Chargers up 38-31 after a successful 2 point conversion. 4 1/2 minutes remained.

Cutler went to work, and methodically drove Denver down the field. from the San Diego 39, a 20 yard pass to Stokely had Denver at the 19. They reached the 2 yard line, fumbled the ball away, and then had the fmble call reversed. Then Cutler was sacked. With 24 seconds left, Cutler hit Eddie Royal for what was believed to be the tying touchdown.

Mike Shanahan, who perhaps had lost his mind, decided to go for the 2 point conversion. The entire world knows you kick the extra point in that situation. Then again, Cutler found Royal again, and the Broncos had won a thriller. This might be the game of the year at the end of the year. Last year the Chargers walloped Denver by a combined 64-6 over two games. Revenge was sweet for Denver. 39-38 Broncos

Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans–Due to Hurricane Ike, this game was postponed until November 9th.

New England Patriots @ New York Jets–No Tom Brady? No problem. Brett Favre? Not enough. The Patriots were still themselves, and so were the Jets.

An ugly first half had the Patriots up 6-3. In the 3rd quarter, New England took over. Brett Favre was intercepted once, and the 3rd quarter turnover had the Pats at the Jets 31. Cassel, who had no turnovers, directed a short scoring drive to put the Patriots up 13-3. A field goal increased the lead to 16-3.

The Jets did manage one long scoring drive, and with 10 minutes remaining were within 16-10. Yet Cassel, who was not thrilling, managed the game just fine. A 5 minute drive set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 4th field goal, putting the game on ice. 19-10 Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns was the Sunday Night game. This was an old fashioned AFC North defensive slobberknocker. The teams banged heads for the first 30 minutes, with the only score coming on an 11 yard Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Hines Ward.

In the 3rd quarter, from their own 16, Big Ben began to move. A 36 yard completion set up a 48 yard field goal that had the Steelers up 10-0 in the Dawg Pound. Cleveland managed a 12 play, 6 1/2 minute drive that culminated in a 31 yard field goal of their own, closing to within 10-3 with 90 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.

Nither team could muster offense, but the defenses were spectacular. With 11 minutes left in the game, Cleveland began a drive on their own 20. A 23 yard Derek Anderson pass had Cleveland at their own 43. They methodically moved down the field, converting 3 third downs. However, on 3rd and 7 from the Pittsburgh 20, they failed to convert. The drive had consumed 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. Coach Romeo Crennel decided no to go for it. The decision may have been questionable, but the defense had been solid all game. Phil Dawson nailed a 37 yard field goal, and the Steelers were clinging to a 4 point lead.

Crennel’s decision was reasonable, but did not pay off. On 2nd and 10 from the 31, Big Ben completed a 19 yarder to Heath Miller at midfield. Another 19 yarder to Willie Parker forced Cleveland to use all their time outs. The Browns did get the ball back on their own 26 with 26 seconds remaining, but Anderson was sacked, and the Steelers escaped. This game was another example of a 2-0 team and an 0-2 team being inches apart. 10-6 Steelers

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys was the Monday Night game. Wade Phillips is a very respected defensive mind. Jim Johnson is one of the best defensive coordinators in football. Yet those who took  the under had lost by halftime. This game was insane.

The Eagles had the ball for 11 minutes in the first quarter, yet trailed 14-6 thanks to a 72 yard pass from Tony Romo to Terrell Owens and a 100 kickoff return. The Eagles exploded for 24 points in the 2nd quarter, and Donovan McNabb was on fire, passing at will.

With the score 14-13, Tony Romo went back to pass from his own end zone, fumbled, and Saw the Eagles recover for a gift touchdown and a 20-14 Philly lead. An exchange of touchdowns followed by an exchange of field goals had the Eagles up 30-24, and that was only had halftime.

Both McNabb and Romo fired at will in the second half, with Dallas taking the lead, and Philly taking it back 37-31 one minute into the 4th quarter. On the next Dallas drive, the Eagles finally stepped up, but not until the Cowboys were in field goal range. A 47 yarder pulled the Cowboys to within 37-34 with 10 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Cowboys defense stiffened in the 4th quarter, and after an actual punt, a rare occurrence inbetween all the missiles being lobbed, Dallas marched again. From the Philadelphia 37, Romo found Jason Witten for a 32 yard gain down to the 5. Marion Barber barreled in from a yard out, and Dallas led by 4 points with 4 1/2 minutes left.

With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Eagles took over at their own 22. At the 2 minute warning, Philly was just shy of midfield. At that point the drive bogged down, and on 4th and 17 from their own 42, the Eagles tried a hook and ladder play. After a couple of laterals, the play ended up short of the first down, and the Cowboys had prevailed.

These teams have a rematch later in the year in Philadelphia, and a possible rubber match in the NFC Title Game is not farfetched. The Eagles are back, McNabb is Healthy, and both teams are loaded. On this night, the only thing to be said is “How Bout Them Cowboys.” 41-37 Cowboys

eric

The Bill O’Reilly-Barack Obama Smackdown + David Letterman

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Barack Obama went on the O’Reilly factor for an extensive interview with Bill O’Reilly.

I saved this column for Saturday, because I do not consider anything involving Barack Obama at this time to be hard news. If he ever offers an actual policy proposal that is achievable, I will reassess the situation.

Make no mistake about it. Obama did not do this interview because he gave his word and said he would. He did it because his icy cool veneer is gone. Sarah Palin is the new hot (boy is she ever) ticket in town, and Barack is running scared. He should be.

Nevertheless, I credit him for going on. Motives are irrelevant, and are opinion at best. My column is an admitted opinion column, so I am allowed offer it. The accusation against Obama is that he is an empty suit, bereft of substance. Going on O’Reilly and answering tough questions only makes him look better if he does well.

In addition to Bill O’Reilly, Obama went on David Letterman on September 10th. While I disagree with his politics, Letterman was brilliant after 9/11. His first show back on September 17th, 2001, was instrumental in helping America see laughter through the tears.

(I also like when he interviews Martha Stewart)

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http://www.themarthablog.com/2008/09/how-to-create-your-own-blog-let-us-show-you.html

After talking about the campaign, the discussion turned to 9/11.

Letterman referred to Rudy Giuliani as “our savior.” He pointed out that now issues such as terrorism were things Obama had to think about. He asked Obama what he would have done after 9/11? Obama is an expert armchair quarterback, and this was a nice softball lobbed over the plate.

Obama praised Giuliani for keeping calm and clear. He also stated that George W. Bush did the right thing going after the Taliban, and that he would have done exactly the same thing President Bush did. Where they diverged is on Iraq, which Obama continues to see as a distraction rather than a focal point.

Obama then criticized President Bush after 9/11 for telling people “to shop.” That advice was right then, and it was right now. He said a lot more, but Obama is running for President, and it is easier to criticize another than tout actual accomplishments of oneself, especially when those accomplishments are mythical. Obama then went into his stump speech.

Letterman then asked another softball about whether Obama, who was not in Washington at the time, thought that Washington was in chaos after 9/11.

Obama deftly handled this one, calling 9/11 a “shock to the system.” He specifically said that his interest “was not playing Monday Morning Quarterback.” It was a smart answer. He then went back to the stump speech about how “we have not taken steps since then to make us safer.” He is wrong, but he has his opinion and I have mine.

Letterman asked exactly what focusing on Afghanistan actually means.

Obama spoke of stopping narcotics trafficking, regarding the poppy fields. Then he went into criticizing former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. This is an area where Obama is completely wrong. He speaks calmly and rationally, but that does not make his analysis intelligent or reasonable.

Letterman did not challenge Obama, but then again, his show is comedy, not hard news. The discussion turned to Obama taking his children to Disneyland, effectively ending what little substance the interview had. After going on O’Reilly, speaking with Letterman must have been sheer joy.

Obama did show graciousness by praising President Bush for working hard on trying to cure AIDS in Africa. Obama readily acknowledged that President Bush promised to spend the money, and followed through.

The interview ended on a genuinely funny note. Obama spoke of how understated his 87 year old grandmother is. When he told her that he won the nomination, she replied, “That’s nice.” Letterman then asked if Obama was “nervous that she might vote for somebody closer to her own age.” Obama laughed and remarked that just to be safe, he “was sending her out to all the local bridge clubs.”

Letterman was fun. O’Reilly was business.

As for O’Reilly, some will say that O’Reilly is a partisan, but that argument does not wash. If O’Reilly beats him up, the backlash would generate sympathy for Obama anyway. Therefore it benefits both men for O’Reilly to ask tough and fair questions.

When asked if we were in a War on Terror, Obama replied in the affirmative. When asked who the enemy was, he immediately cited Al Queda and the Taliban. The answer was perfect, and I wondered why Obama didn’t simply say that months and months ago.

He stated that Iran was a “major threat,” but then simply mentioned that Saddam and Al Queda were unrelated, which had nothing to do with the question.

He said that it is “unacceptable” for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, which would be a “game changer.” He simply could not muster stronger words.

He stated that even mentioning the possible use of force would be “tipping our hand.”

It is moment like these that make me say that Barack Obama is well intentioned, but wrong. He is timid, and adverse to hard power.

He mentioned that during the Bush years, we were not “working as closely as possible with the Europeans.”

O’Reilly then made an excellent point. “We could ratchet up whatever we are going to ratchet, and then Obama will say, ‘Blank you, we will do whatever we want.'”

O’Reilly tried to get Obama to admit that the surge worked. Obama is very clever, and delivered a new line.

“The surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated, including President Buish and the other supporters.”

This is incredulous. It went better than even those who believed in it from the
beginning, and yet he is right? Now that is brazen.

O’Reilly refused to let Obama off the hook on this one.

“If it had been up to you and Joe Biden there would have been no surge.”

Obama then blamed President Bush for pre-surge problems.

He then said, “We reduced the violence, but Iraqis still haven’t taken responsibility.”

This is absolutely false. Yes, they have. Political reconciliation absolutely is taking place.

At this point O’Reilly shifted to Afghanistan, and forcefully told Obama, “You’re not going to send ground troops into Pakistan Senator. You know it.”

Obama spoke about cutting off aid to Pakistan. O’Reilly pointed out that this would let Islamic fundamentalists taking over. Obama blamed Pervez Musharraf.

Obama then pointed out that if he had Osama Bin Laden in his sights, he would be taken out, at which point O’Reilly mentioned that anybody would do that.

O’Reilly was pushing hard, but Obama pushed back. He is totally unprepared to lead America, but he was prepared for this interview.

Barack Obama simply cannot bring himself to admit he was wrong about the surge. If Obama was in power instead of George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein would still be in power. A vote against the Iraq War was a vote not to remove Saddam. Barack Obama was wrong.

The conversation then turned to the economy and taxes.

When confronted with the fact that the Bush economy was better than the Clinton economy, Obama simply claimed the statistics were lies. O’Reilly blamed illegal immigration for depressing wages, and Obama disagreed. O’Reilly claimed that Obama was playing class warfare. On payroll taxes, Obama refused to say that there was a cap. Obama used the words “progressive income tax.” O’Reilly called it wealth redistribution and socialism. O’Reilly called him “Robin Hood Obama.”

Obama disputed that the debt increase had anything to do with the War on Terror. He blamed the Bush tax cuts. Obama called the wealth redistribution “neighborliness.” He also claimed that it was not a “prohibitive rate.”

The discussion then turned to the various associations that have tarred the Obama campaign.

As O’Reilly ticked off the names, Obama seemed angry, but the man does not lose his cool.

Obama stated that he went to church to “worship God, not a pastor.” He then insisted that he never heard Pastor Wright’s comments, despite attending church twice a month.

Obama did accuse O’Reilly of hyping Ayers, and mentioned that Ayers was 40 years ago. O’Reilly pointed out that Ayers made offensive statements a week ago.

They sparred over an education bill that AYers and Obama worked on.

Obama cleverly pointed out that Bill O’Reilly should not be blamed for the other bad things said on Fox News, with Sean Hannity being specifically mentioned. This was the way of deflecting Obama’s showing up at the Daily Kos convention.

O’Reilly asked Obama to name one friend on the far right he had, and Obama could not name one. For some reason, O’Reilly apologized for asking what was a fair question. O’Reilly apologized twice in this segment, for reasons that made no sense.

The conversation then turned to oil and alternative energy. It was at this point in the debate, and it was a debate, that Obama made his best point. When O’Reilly asked the legitimate question of whether or not wind, solar, and other alternative ideas for energy were a potential waste of money, Obama brought up JFK and the space program. The point was fair. JFK did not know that this would work. He believed it was worth the expenditure. I personally believe that some proposed alternative energy expenditures are a waste, but Obama handled the issue well.

“Discovery and research and innovation involves putting money in a pot and seeing…it’s like venture capital.”

That was a clever line. It takes a greeniac agenda and tries to make it sound palatable to Wall Street.

O’Reilly tried to pin Obama down on his opposition to nuclear power, and Obama stunned me by saying he would agree to build nuclear power plants. This is a major policy shift, and a flip flip if he backtracks.

Yet Obama would not shift his position on drilling in ANWR. Yet he again said the following:

“This notion that I am against nuclear power is just not true.”

It has been for the entire campaign. This should be the defining comments of the interview because it is a major philosophical pronouncement.

Also, the tone between the two me was very friendly during this exchange. Obama was jovial, and O’Reilly was more subdued. O’Reilly asked for specifics, in terms of how many plants Obama would build, and Obama promised to send him his plan, and discuss it in a subsequent interview on the show.

When O’Reilly turned to foreign policy, he asked Obama an interesting question.

“Why won’t the Germnans fight in Afghanistan?”

Obama naturally blamed George W. Bush for “souring our relationship with the Europeans.”

O’Reilly asked if Obama would wave a magic wand and make everybody like us. Obama reinforced his commitment to diplomacy.

When asked about the U.S. missile shield in Poland that is antagonizing Russia, Obama would not give a clear answer.

“I believe the missile shield is appropriate, but I want to make sure it works.”

That is a typical weaselly, mealy mouthed answer. He would not say if he would keep it or not, and the notion that we would support a defective shield is garbage. If the shield works, what would Obama do? Only he knows, perhaps.

Obama pointed out “two areas where we can have leverage over Russia. Commercially, Russia is tied to Europe. , and the Russian stock market has plummeted since the Georgia invasion.”

When O’Reilly shot back, “Putin doesn’t care,” Obama had a flawless answer.

He pointed out that, “There are some billionaires in Russia that do care.”

Obama came across as very cerebral, and I wish he could understand U.S. economics with such depth.

O’Reilly ended the interview with a softball about basketball. Yes, I mixed sports on that one.

The interview was fair, and Obama did reasonably well enough. He finished very strong in the last segment.

He was dreadful at the Saddleback Forum with Rick Warren. He was fantastic when he spoke to America in 2004. This was not his best or worst, but it was good enough. He should do more of these forums. It shows that he can enter an area where he will not be fawned over, which again lends credibility to his comments.

eric

My Interview With Pete Hegseth

Friday, September 12th, 2008

At the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota, I had the honor and privilege of seeing Pete Hegseth, the National Chair of Vets For Freedom.

http://www.vetsforfreedom.org/

I originally met Pete Hegseth earlier in 2008 in San Francisco at an event put on by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

I have either met or spoken to several members of the Vets For Freedom organization, including Jeremy Christiansen, Jason Meszaros, and Nathan Martin.

I interviewed several of these men including Pete Hegseth on the radio several weeks ago. Pete Hegseth was on his way to Iraq to assess the recent progress of the surge.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/TheGGRNetwork

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2008/08/vets-for-freedom-back-to-iraq/

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2008/09/vets-for-freedom-my-interview-with-jason-meszaros/

When I saw him on September 3rd, 2008, he had just returned from Iraq several days earlier.

Many people have opinions about Iraq. They develop those opinions from various “sources,’ such as third rate newspapers.

I get my information from men like Pete Hegseth, who were just there.

These young men are not politicians. They are soldiers. If they look me in the eye and tell me we are losing, I will report that. We are winning, as of last week.

With that, below is my most recent interview with Pete Hegseth.

1) Pete, what did you see?

PH: It was an incredible experience. I went back to Samarrah, where I was in 2006. In 2006 it was a different situation. Not a single shot was fired while I was there in 2008. I did not even wear a helmet. I walked around in a baseball cap.

I stood above the Golden Mosque and watched them rebuild. A couple of years ago that would not have been a place to stand. If I was a sniper, that would be an area I would target people. Now I am able to stand on top and watch the rebuilding.

For 30 minutes I was completely exposed. My only security was the people who had turned on Al Queda. They are now empowered, not intimidated.

There was a classic counterinsurgency in this city.

I actually sat across from and had drinks with a guy that had previously been on a high value target list. He is now on the Samarrah Rescue Council. He told me that in 2006, he was probably shooting at me and trying to kill me. I told him that in 2006 I was probably shooting at him trying to kill him. We laughed. He is now part of the government.

2) Are the gains sustainable?

PH: The gains made could be lost. We are winning, but it would premature to declare total victory. Those that want to declare victory and bring troops home now could reverse the gains. A premature withdrawal followed by a dismantling of the Sons of Iraq would be a major mistake.

3) How would you like to be remembered 100 years from now? What would you want people to say about Pete Hegseth the person?

PH: I would like to be remembered as someone who played a small role in making the United States of America safe. I was one small part of generations of AMericans, military and civilian, to help make America great.

One of the things that Pete Hegseth and other military leaders have stressed to me is that looking forward is what matters. I have met many soldiers, and in general they do not deal with politics. They will not tell me who they are voting for, and I do not ask. All they ask is that they be given the support of the American people. They define support as supporting their missions.

They do not armchair quarterback and ask what we should have done in the beginning, or whether we should have even gone into Iraq. They role up their sleeves in 100 degree heat, understand that we are there now, and do whatever it takes to get the job done, and get it done right.

There is universal widespread praise for General David Petraeus. He understood that insurgenices are about people.

As Pete Hegseth pointed out to me, we could have killed that one man in 2006. Another one may have taken his place. Yes, in war, you have to shoot to kill, but General Petraeus, who literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency, managed to flip the people away from Al Queda onto our side. Al Queda’s overreaching helped us, but the Iraqi people needed to see that we could be trusted. We gave our word, and we kept it. This is why a former enemy could share drinks with a Vet For Freedom as a co-fighter.

The surged worked. We are winning.

Thank you Mr. Hegseth. Thanks to you, the Vets For Freedom, and Veterans everywhere.

Thank you very much.

eric

9/11/8–My Interview With a 9/11 Survivor

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Rather than talk about 9/11 from my own perspective, I want to bring you an interview with somebody who was in the building.

On September 11th, 2001, one of the worst days in American history occurred, and I thank God that my friend Kevin survived.

Kevin had recently graduated from the University of Southern California, and worked as a trainee at my firm. I was a 29 year old manager that was attending USC’s MBA program at night. In my spare time I was a DJ on the campus radio station.

On Saturday, September 11th, 2004, Kevin and his fiancee were on campus for a football game. The USC Trojans were back to back national champions, and looking to win it three straight years. Kevin stopped by the campus radio station, where I interviewed him about that day three years ago.

Below is the transcript of the interview.

Eric: Three years ago I was working at a company in Burbank. We had a rookie trainee, 22 years old, stars in his eyes. The company ships him out to New York for some training. He was in the second tower, and got out with very little time to spare. His story is a harrowing one, but also life affirming. So Kevin, I am just going to turn it over to you. Tell us your story. What was that day like? How did the day start? Take us through that day.

Kevin: Thank you Eric. Taking me back, three years ago from today it’s amazing that we were at a training class of 300 people that were starting at the World Trade Center starting on Monday, September 10th. You couldn’t believe the view from the 61st floor as we met as a group, and we were so excited about our two month stay at the World Trade Center for our training program. September 11th started out as beautiful as the day before. We got to the building, went up to our floor, and went to the training program.

About an hour into the program, we were dismissed for a 20 minute break. It was during that break that the North Tower was struck by the first plane. We were actually able to see the fire. Still on break, I went over to this conference room, and saw that the North Tower was on fire. Here I was, standing there, like I had concrete shoes, because I couldn’t move. Yet I had to move because I had to warn the other people in my training class. So I ran over to the lobby area on my floor 61 and everybody was already evacuating. So I did like everybody else and joined the crowd and started down the stairs. We got down to about floor 55 when somebody came on the loudspeaker and said that an unidentified plane had struck the North Tower but that the South Tower was secure.

There was a discrepancy with the news media because reports came out that we were told everything was fine and we should go back to our office, but the speaker over the loudspeaker never said that. All he said was that we should, “remain calm, do not panic,” and people took that as “go back to our office.”

Well I stayed right there and felt like I was safer in the stairwell, and within 30 seconds the second plane hit the South Tower as we all saw on tv and all I could remember was that it was a huge jolt, a violent collision. The stairwells cracked, and we knew that something terrible had happened. We continued our descent rather down 55 more flights of stairs and got to the bottom, and as we got outside, we looked up at the towers, and both of them were on fire, in flames. For me, it was just a sense that this was probably not the best area to be around, so I tried to get as far away as I could. I got about 10 blocks away, and that’s when my tower, Tower 2, collapsed, about 20 minutes after I had gotten out of the building.

It was such an eerie thing, hearing the people screaming on the bottom of the streets, and you could hear the rumble of the towers collapse, and I thought, how many people had died. Soon after, the North Tower fell. It wasn’t until I was able to connect with my family that I felt some sense of strength. Especially with me being from California, I had no direction, nowhere to go. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that 3 years ago, 300 people from all over, our second day of training, that all of us were able to get out alive.

Eric: 20 minutes must seem to you like a lifetime now, but it was that soon after you had gotten out that the building collapsed.

Kevin: Absolutely. Everybody was wondering what had happened. We didn’t know if it was a bomb or a plane. Soon after the buildings were crumbling down. To think that as I was going down the stairs I watched 30 fireman go into the building. I thought afterwards that I don’t think they made it out. Those faces will always be etched in my mind.

Eric: I remember being in a cushy office in Burbank thinking it was going to be like any other day. When the towers got hit, the first thing I thought of was my family. I was born and raised in New York. Everybody was there. The second thing that occurred to me was that our firm had offices in that building, and I knew that you were in that building.

Now my job usually consisted of bureaucratic jobs like helping people figure out their paycheck, dealing with certain complaints. I’ll never forget the phone call I got from your father asking me, “Where’s my son?” There’s no amount of manager training that’s going to prepare you for a situation like that. The one thing your father told me on the phone was that he was not that close to you at the time.

Kevin: Right.

Eric: He was worried that he would never get a chance to tell you so many things that fathers tell their sons.

Kevin: Right.

Eric: He must have stayed on hold for 3 hours and I must have dialed a million numbers, and…I’d like you to just talk about your father, what that phone call was like, and how that relationship has been since.

Kevin: Well you’re right Eric, at the firm in Burbank, when you took that call, my dad and I had kind of lost touch for a few years for whatever reason. He had this sense on 9/11, I had mentioned in passing that I would be going out to New York for training, never told him when, never told him what day, never told him it was going to be at the World Trade Center, and he had this feeling as he saw it on tv, he had this feeling that I was there, and he made this call to the Burbank office.

It was then that he had called me in New York soon after I had spoken to you. We had this powerful phone conversation. He was in LA, I was in New York, on the phone, and we have…we’ve fostered a better relationship since then, and it’s been neat that we could look back. It’s unfortunate that it had to take something like this, but since then, our relationship has been great ever since that day.

Eric: One person who is in the studio today is your fiancee (now wife) Elena. I remember being on the phone with her and she was equally worried obviously. Elena, you being 3000 miles away….First of all, let me say, it’s good that after all this time you are both still a happy couple because a lot of couples could not handle the stress of that day. I would like you to talk about that day as somebody who was here in LA, but had a direct emotional connection to Kevin. What was that day like, and how have the days been since as you plan your wedding?

Elena: Well, that definitely was the most difficult day I have ever experienced. We didn’t know if Kevin was ok, and I automatically…we hoped for the best, but didn’t know if he was going to make it out. Like you, we made a million calls to the hotel, we both have family in the East Coast, in Boston. We prepped them up, told them to get in their cars and drive towards New York. We weren’t sure if Kevin would be in a hospital. Luckily Kevin was able to contact us 2 hours later. I then came to your office to tell you he was ok, and that was when I met you.

Since then, it has definitely made Kevin and I both kind of look at our lives differently. Every day is a day we should appreciate, and we appreciate each other, and our families, and our faith. We are excited about planning our wedding, and yeah, it was something tough to get through.

Eric: When is the wedding?

Elena: April 23rd.

Eric: Fantastic. I want to ask you Kevin, how tough was it for you to go back to work and go back in the office when you came back? Here you’ve almost been killed. You’re a rookie at the firm, and rookies in our industry, they eat dirt. They don’t get paid a decent salary. So you have to build a business from scratch. How are you able to just go to work?

Kevin: Well Eric, I think, when I got back to Burbank, I felt this overwhelming sense of purpose. I felt I was given a second chance. I was so happy with how the firm treated me as a survivor from that disaster, they really did all they could to help me build the business. I teamed up with some partners in the Burbank office, and that really was a great decision for me. 3 years later the business is strong, and healthy, and I really have learned a lot in that time. I am really happy with where I am at. I am happier to be marrying Elena, sitting next to me. She has been such an incredible force for me, she really is my best friend. That is going to help us as we get married. That will help my business, and we will be so happy together. Things are working out.

Eric: What did you do after you got to safety, after you got to the hotel? What did you do? Did you watch the news? What was going through your mind? How did you get through the next few hours just dealing with an incomprehensible situation?

Kevin: After the streets, and the smoke, and the debris, and the dust settled, we all got back to the hotel and met in the lobby. It was an incredible experience because every time a member of our group walked in we all cheered. We all had to sign in and they would then send a wire to our branches to let them know that I had checked in. Then we went immediately to the bar.

(laughter)

We were in the bar, watching CNN, and really just hung out as colleagues, hugged each other, embraced each other, cried with each other, and we actually that night were missing 20 trainees. They never checked in. Like anybody would, we thought the worst, that these people died in the tower. I had said before that everybody made it out.

There is actually one funny story. Most of the people, some lived in New York and New Jersey, they just went home. They never checked out, they just went home to their families. They were accounted for. One guy, a funny story, he exited the World Trade Center that morning, found the nearest taxicab, said, ‘take me to North Carolina.’

(laughter)

The cabbie just drove him to North Carolina. So that guy was unaccounted for for a few days, but eventually he did…he was fine. He put the cabbie up for a night or two.

(more laughter)

The guy then went back to New York City.

So, it’s just amazing that all these people from all walks of life, we all came back, we all made it out. Our company actually lost 7 people out of 5000. We were the largest tenant in the South Tower, and it’s amazing that so many were saved.

Eric: Given that you were not from New York, and that was your first experience, what was your impression of New Yorkers throughout that whole tragedy? How did you find them as human beings?

Kevin: Well you know, going out there, everyone said that the typical New Yorker is brash, and abusive, and all this stuff…and I’ll tell you, those people, when the chips are down, those people are at their best. I don’t know how I would have gotten back to my hotel if it wasn’t for the New York people telling me which Shelbourne was, to go left, to go right, and extending helping hands to me as I traveled from the World Trade Center ruins up to my hotel which was actually 50 blocks North from the Towers. I had this overwhelming feeling that this group of people, that these people were united. What a great sense of unity amid so much tragedy that these people were there to help me.

Some guy from Burbank, from LA, and they extended a helping hand. They were tough, and they really were willing to help me, and that is something I will never forget. Elena and I have actually talked about going back to New York for the gorundbreaking of the New Tower, and it would be great for us to be there, and see all the strides that the city has made. I have nothing but great things to say about the New York people.

Eric: What is your faith in terms of your relationship with God before and after the tragedy? Did something like this reaffirm your faith, did it shake your faith, was there no change? Have you felt any spiritual connections since that day and those events?

Kevin: Well, obviously during the attacks, I remember going down those stairs and praying to God that we would all be saved. I mean there was a moment there when I was on the 55th floor, the 50th floor, the 40th floor, when I felt I was never going to get out of there. We knew that the building got hit pretty hard by the cracks in the walls and everything else, so yeah, I prayed, and said ‘Please, it’s not my time. I don’t want to go. There is so much more I have to do.’ As I got out of the tower and I knew I was safe there was still this sense that you know, was there another building that was going to be hit? I remember walking up the streets and thinking that maybe another building was going to be hit by an airplane, and was I safe at that point? Looking back 3 years later I think my faith is stronger. It’s hard not to think about getting a second chance, that it wasn’t my time. I think, gosh, I was on 55, and that plane hit on around 79 or 80, 20+ floors below, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today. I have a lot to be thankful for. Elena and I are so blessed. I think our faith is so much stronger since that day.

Eric: I can tell you that I issued a meaningless proclamation in our office that day. Because I knew that there was no teeth to it. Whenever somebody in my family would get sick, my grandfather would say, ‘Nobody is dying in this family.’ He will take care of it. Somebody in the family gets cancer, something will happen to take care of it. He finally died when he felt that everybody in the family could take care of themselves.

I remember in our office when one of the sales assistants was thinking the worst, I said to her, I must have snapped at her, ‘Nobody is dying in this office. Not in my office.’ Now I’m aware that there was nothing I could do about it, but I kept telling everybody ‘Not today. Nobody in this office is dying.’ I remember when we got the news, I went over the loudspeaker and announced that you were alive. People were high-fiving, they were hugging, because we realized that even though that there was going to be a lot of pain and suffering, and there was going to be plenty of time for that, ‘Not in our family.’

Kevin: Right.

Eric: You were a member of our family. You were a new member, and it was good to know that you were ok.

One thing that I really like to ask you is how do you feel in terms of justice? Do you seek vengeance, do you have hatred in your heart towards the people who did this, do you feel that maybe there is something the United States did, are we too arrogant a country? Did we do anything at all to deserve what happened or was this just evil at its worst? Expand on that if you can.

Kevin: Well Eric, I’ve said many times, initially after the attacks, the anger was very obvious. I remember my cousin Lincoln and I were out in Boston because I actually took a train to Boston after the attacks and stayed with family for 5 days. We wanted to sign up and join the military. We obviously after a couple of beers had this epiphany that we wer egoing to be these soldiers that were going out to fight this war that we thought was justified.

You know, I think that I can’t believe that human beings would do this to other human beings. You know, whether it’s the West vs the East, or us vs them, I’m not sure about that, but all I can say is, God loving people I don’t think seek harm to other people. This was obviously a blatant attack on human lives. That’s the part I don’t understand and makes me angry, and how would people want to inflict such harm on other people.

Our course of action has been very strong, and I think it needed to be strong. I fully support our President, I think it’s justified, and we need to protect ourselves here on our own country’s soil. The ultimate idea is how human beings could do this to other human beings, that is the issue I think.

Eric: Now 3 years since this tragedy, on the anniversary of this tragedy, you are going to be doing what any normal person, what any decent person should be doing today. You are not only going to be going to a football game, but a USC football game.

(laughter)

So, is today completely normal for you, or in the back, little down deep, is it not?

Kevin: Well you know I think that I couldn’t imagine anything else better than being at a sold out 92,000 plus USC football game at the Coliseum on 9/11, especially 3 years after the anniversary, and yes, I have had many phone calls this morning from friends and family, and Eric, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here. It was great to hear your voice yesterday. I think that is what is special for me, connecting with my loved ones on this day. They will always remember how it felt, and how worried they were for me, and I’ll always remember connecting with them and saying that I was ok. That will always be what this day reminds me of. It’ll be great to see…to be with my friends here at the game, and also think what a great country we have. So it’s a special day for us. It’s also great that we’re here with all the other USC fans as well.

(laughter)

Eric: What would make the perfect day for you one year from today? What would make September 11th, 2005, a fabulous day?

Kevin: While I think, a couple things. If there is another USC game a year from now, that would be fine.

(laughter)

I’m ok with that. Like I said before, if Elena and I can get back to New York, and if it’s on the 4 year anniversary, that would be awesome. Just to think back 4 years from that day that what a tragic experience, and yet here we are, 4 years later, married, doing so well, and that’s something that we’ll always remember.

Either being in New York or being with other USC Trojan fans I think would be a great thing for us.

Eric: Well, I can’t thank you enough Kevin. You’ve been very generous with your time. We can continue on if you’d like to, if you have other places you need to be we can bring it short. I have a million questions I could ask you, but I want to make sure I am not taking it out of your tailgating time because I know how important that is.

(laughter)

Kevin: Well I know that my cellphone keeps ringing so we probably have to get back to the tailgate. I do want to thank you for having us here. It was a wonderful time. It was great to see you as well. Again Eric, my family speaks highly of you and how you handled that situation that day. They all called the office and said, ‘Eric took care of it.’ So I wanted to thank you again.

Eric: Well I paid them handsomly to say that.

(laughter)

All I can say is that it’s impossible for me to think of September 11th without thinking of you, and even though you and I probably hadn’t talked in 11 months and 29 days…

Kevin: Sure.

Eric: September 9th and 10th rolls around, and I’m calling your office what seems like every 4 hours, desperate to get a hold of you…

Kevin: Absolutely.

Eric: Now that we’ve got this archived on cassette, and soon on CD, from now on, the world is going to hear your story.

Kevin: Absolutely.

Eric: I just want to say that on a day like this when we think of so many tragedies, and I don’t want to minimize the tragedies, because we have had Spain on 3/11, we’ve had Russian schoolchildren..there is a positive message that I think comes out of it. Correct me if I am wrong, but that positive message is that we are stronger than they are.

Kevin: Right.

Eric: We are tougher than they are. The fact that you are here, that you are able to talk about it, and the fact that you’re able to go to a game and you’re able to laugh and joke, that you’re not having nightmares every night…is it fair to say that even though they won that battle that day that we’ve won the war of civilization?

Kevin: I think so because I think I’ll never forget the picture of the firemen that were in the rubble that held up the American flag. There was 3 of them that day, that even though there was burning building behind them, they realized that our country is going to continue and go on. I think that is what the terrorists didn’t realize. Our buildings might have been knocked down, and people died, but this country is so strong and our people are so united, and so that will never change. I think that if this was a wake up call for a lot of people to say, ‘We need to look at ourselves and look at the world and make sure that we are unified, and really unified for the causes of freedom.

Eric: Kevin, one of the reasons this country is so strong is because it has got people like you. I appreciate you taking the time to tell your story. Thank you very much.

Elena: Thanks Eric.

Kevin: Thanks Eric.

Eric: Be well and God Bless.

Kevin is now a successful stockbroker and a happily married man. Most years I still go about 11 months and 29 days without calling him. Then 9/11 rolls around, and he dominates my thoughts. Neither he or I will ever forget that day.

Rather than end today on a heavy note, I will say that my way of healing is by flying.

On September 11th, 2005, I broadcast my final radio show on the USC Campus.

I then vowed to fly every 9/11. It was my way of fighting back.

On September 11th, 2006, I flew from Los Angeles to Oakland to sit 50 yard line, front row, as the San Diego Chargers took on the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football. It was the first week of the season, and the jets flew on high and proud before the game.

On March 11th, 2007, the 3 year anniversary of the Madrid bombing and the exact midpoint from 9/11, I began blogging.

On September 11th, 2007, I was in Chicago on Business. I flew that morning to New York. It was the first time since 2001 that 9/11 fell on a Tuesday. I made my way to 6 Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey for Sean Hannity’s Freedom Concert featuring Lee Greenwood. The audience used their cellphones to light up the night sky during the song, “God Bless the U.S.A.”

On September 11th, 2008, I have a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago. 9/11 is a day to hug your loved ones, and the love of my life, the Chicago Cannonball, will have a warm greeting for me.

Hug your loved ones, and get on a plane. When we fly, we win.

Below are the lyrics to “Permanent Flame,” the song I wrote on July 30th, 2006. It is dedicated to those we lost on United Flight 93.

Permanent Flame–In memory of the United 93 Heroest

7/30/6 PERMANENT FLAME

Chorus: NEVER FORGOTTEN…PERMANENT FLAME

NO LONGER HERE, BUT YOU’LL ALWAYS REMAIN

3000 GONE…BUT NEVER IN VAIN

HONOR THEIR MEMORY…TAKE BACK THE PLANE

1a) September 11th, 2001

Started so normal, ended so wrong

American airplanes, turned into guns

Fired on our towers, that stood proud and strong

1b) Black clouds from New York…to the Pentagon

60 years after 1941

American steel…will never yield

Look at the hole, in the Pennsylvania field

1c) Beamer and company, saw America attacked

Our Capitol saved, because they fought back

Ordinary people…scared but so bold

Rose to the challenge…told the world “let’s roll”

Chorus

2a) Some blamed the US, but nothing we did

Justified the murder, of innocent kids

Since then we’ve had Bali, London and Madrid

We try to save the world, across the global grid

2b) 2002…Afghanistan

Liberated a nation, routed the Taliban

2003…war in Iraq

Saddam in jail…democracy on track

2c) September 11th, 2004

36 months, since the start of the war

Less people airborne, scared to the core

What can we do…we must do more

Chorus

3a) An ordinary man…I see in the mirror

But now I understand…the picture is clearer

Only total victory…in the war on terror

Will make America…for all our children better

3b) Our soldiers fight…because the cause is right

So our children are safe…when tucked in at night

Donate your dollars to police…and those who firefight

Money left over…go book that flight

Chorus

4a) September 11th, 2006

Chargers vs Raiders…I got my tix

From LAX…TO OAK

Don’t worry mom and dad, I’ll be ok

4b) I need to do this, it helps heal the pain

I’ll get home safely, so don’t be afraid

I’m only one link in an American chain

If others join me, we can take back the plane

4c) So call up United, Delta and Southwest

Show all the world our American best

Take back our freedom…take back the sky

For our fallen heroes…American Eagles let’s fly

Chorus (2x)

May God Bless the USA…again…Let’s roll.

September 11th…2007

En route to New York…I point to the Heavens

The war we will win…and evil we’ll sever

September 11th, 2000-Forever

America Forever!

A peaceful September 11th to you all. God Bless America.

eric