Monday, July 24, 2006

What's New

So what's new with you? Read any good books this summer? See any good movies? I recently finished Violin by Anne Rice and am on the last 100 pages of Blackwood Farm by the same author. Blackwood Farm is very, very scary. I actually had a couple of bad dreams after reading it one night. Seriously. Her writing is so descriptive and you can tell by reading her work that Ms. Rice is someone who is very meticulous in editing her work. Speaking of which I sent her an email and she responded to me! I had written to her probably twice before in the last two months and did not get a response but I guess the third time is a charm. I basically said I admire your work etc. etc. and I was interested in when Christ the Lord is going to be released in paperback. November for those who are interested.

I never really enjoyed fiction that much until I started reading her books. I read Interview With the Vampire about a year or so ago. But stopped about halfway through for some unknown reason. I picked it up again last October and have been reading her books ever since. Once I finish Blackwood I will have read 11 of her books and don't plan on stopping any time soon!

Art is very subjective. So really I could never tell you who you should like or not. We all have our own preferences for things and really why we are drawn to one type of music or a particular author is really not something that can be definitively answered. Yes, we can give reasons. But who knows why we all have different tastes. But that is what makes the world go round.

Anyway, Rice's use of New Orleans as a backdrop to her horror is absolutely perfect. Much in the way New York City is to true crime. I have read many, many true crime books. New York City is the perfect landscape for true crime. From the concrete jungle known as Manhattan to the Bronx with its rough and tumble areas, to the vacation-like settings of City Island and Orchard Beach, to Brooklyn with its tough areas but also its artsy and ritzy areas as well, to the suburb-like Staten Island, and finally the all-purpose, multicultural Queens. New York City adds something to any outstanding story of crime with its uniqueness. This goes for New Orleans and horror. Having been there I can totally become engrossed in Rice's descriptive writing of the swamps, the city, the old buildings, the colonial mansions, etc. I guess that's why I keep reading her books. I am totally sucked in, no pun intended.

I have to hand it to Madison Square Garden Network and their ability to provide outstanding programming on a 24-hour sports channel without being stuck on one particular sport. Their two latest additions have truly enhanced MSG viewing. The Vault hosted by Al Trautwig goes back in time to great Garden memories on the ice and the hardwood. Meanwhile, the ageless "Mean" Gene Okerlund hosts a program of classic WWE from MSG. I remember fondly the days when once a month MSG would air three hours of live action from 33rd and 7th. Great stuff!

I have to say that I am a bit perplexed at how the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan have been shoved out of sight in the last week or so. Since this Israeli conflict started, we have gotten virtually no coverage of what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. This actually is good for President Bush, particularly with Iraq. Fighting has really heated up in Afghanistan as coalition forces and Afghanis retake towns from the resurgent Taliban. The news out of Iraq is more of the same with daily car bombings and it appears that a low-level civil war it taking place.

So there was David Gregory with his smug, haughty attitude criticizing President Bush for cursing at the G8. Yes, I'm sure we have all seen the tape countless times. But what was so amusing was Gregory pretending to be an impartial observer asking his panel what they know those really fair and balanced guys from the New York Times. Right.

One guy I really like from the NYT is Tom Friedman, author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, which I highly recommend. I saw him on with Tim Russert, another great guy. No one has a better handle on what is going on in the Middle East than Friedman. He is very fair and although he does have a fair amount of criticism of the President he is not one of these dorky, snickering weasels like said Gregory or Maureen Dowd. Ugghh.

Finally, I am still working on my novella but I have had mucho problems with blogger lately. It is very, very frustrating. But I will be posting more of it very soon. Thanks for checking in and keep coming back. Don't hesitate to leave comments.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My Thoughts Today On The Middle East Crisis

A quick look at what is going on in the world shows that things are quite bleak at this time. Israel is stepping up its offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon and there are reports of a full-scale ground invasion being imminent.

I support Israel as they are left with no choice but to go in and take out these terrorists.

However, I believe, and have always believed, that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to win the War on Terror. Bombs and missiles raining down on Islamofascists is one approach. But there has to be more to this in order to achieve peace long term.

Israel is on a very short leash right now. Europe is split in terms of support and the United States has stated that Israel has one week to get things done.

There are currently 14 world conflicts involving Islamic militants. Today, Ethiopia sent troops to fend off al-Qaeda types from taking down the feeble U.N. controlled government in Somalia.

In Iraq, it is not being called a civil war at the moment, but that is what it is. Six thousand people have died in Iraq in the last two months.

The world has got to get together and go after these terrorists with gusto or else we are going to be in a perpetual war that will never end and millions will die needlessly.

I admire Israel for taking it to the enemy. I admire the United States Marines for helping to evacuate thousands of Americans from Lebanon.

Georgian Republican and former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich believes we are in the early stages of World War III. This is a chilling statement. Because I believe Mr. Gingrich to be a very intelligent man and one who could be president, except for lacking in the charisma department.

The problem right now is their is a great deal of anti-semitism in Europe that has been bubbling for the last few years. Without a united front against the terrorists Israel will suffer mass casualties and it will become increasingly difficult for her to survive as a state.

The Iraq war has become more and more difficult because Europe was not united with America. This has caused thousands of people to lose their lives.

I wonder exactly what it will take for the world to truly unite in this war. Will there have to be a large scale attack in Europe? I hope not. I hope that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands do not have to unnecessarily lose their lives in order for the world to realize the threat of Muslim extremism is the most severe threat to civilization that most of us have seen or will see in our lifetimes.

I am also wondering when bin Laden and company will get into the act against Israel. I'm glad the marines are getting people out of Lebanon, however, I do not want to see a U.S. military presence in this conflict. We would be making our troops targets of the terrorists and we need to worry more about Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, where fighting has intensified in recent days and weeks.

I wonder exactly where this will lead. How far will this spiral out of control? I know one thing unless the world unites behind Israel fast. This is going to be a long, protracted war that could lead to a nuclear weapon being used for victory, by which side is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I have had major writer's block recently. I am hoping it was from the oppressive heat we experienced, which came to a thunderous ending last night. The weather is much nicer today with the air being more breathable. When it gets as hot as it was, it makes me want to fast forward life to September, when it will presumably be much cooler.

I must admit I have a bit of a resentment toward Walter's Hot Dogs in Mamaroneck. Now I am not the biggest hot dog eating guy around. But I went there in September only to have some punk slam a wooden sign in my face and say "we closed at 5" when in reality it was 4:59 p.m. I went there a few weeks ago and saw that there was about 20 people on line. I waited and waited. Waited some more. Even some more. Until finally I walked off the line and thought "Oh fuck this!" At least I think I thought it but I may have said it aloud.

I mean their hot dogs are great and so are their black and white milk shakes. But I don't need the wait. Besides Epstein's on Central Avenue is better.

Neil Smith got canned by the Islanders and all I can think is what a joke this is. Smith was part of a GM-by-committee regime that will not work on Long Island or any place for that matter.

Now that Big Deal Neil is unemployed. Wouldn't he be great as Sam Rosen's new broadcast partner for the Rangers. I know it is a longshot. But Smith has experience with ESPN and OLN, knows the intricacies of the Atlantic division and also knows the history of the New York Rangers better than anyone. He brought back that history and its importance when he was head honcho of the Blueshirts. Hey if George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin could play nice, so can Smith and the Dolans.

Best signings of the off-season are Michael Peca and Brendan Shanahan. One year deals for both players from Toronto and New York, respectively.

Boston will absolutely rue the day they gave Zdeno Chara five years. The big man disappears big-time in the playoffs. Two or three years would have been plenty.

Glen Sather do me a favor, please? Do not sign Brian Leetch. He just does not fit in with the Rangers and he is well past his prime.

Some things that will be heard in the NHL this season are that Dan Hinote will wear the bluenote in St. Louis, the Big 'E' plays in Big 'D', Jason Ward and Aaron Ward for the Rangers are no relation.

Stan Fischler reports that a game between the Rangers and Islanders at Yankee Stadium is in the preliminary stages of planning. I would love to see this. It was unbelievable when Edmonton and Montreal played outdoors in Edmonton in the Heritage Classic.

Finally, so if the Yankees miss the playoffs who will take the fall?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Start of World War IV?

The last week or so you may have seen various television pundits debating if we are at the beginning of a world war. I would definitely say a regional war, I am not sure of a world war, though. However, what number are we on in regards to world wars?

Numbers one and two were clearly defined. But I believe that World War III was already fought and won as a result of communism being defeated. Conservative estimates put the number of fatalities under the rule of communism at just under 100 million. Defining what exactly constitutes a "world war" can be subjective. I do believe that the involvement of many countries and the deaths of 100 million should be considered a "world war" by most. Were there not wars throughout the world fought against communism? Yes, of course. The United States and the U.S.S.R. fought several wars by proxy against one another, most notably Vietnam and Afghanistan.

So this brings us to the present. North Korea decided to shoot off some missiles on our Independence Day. The ones fired were duds, however, how do we know that this was not a ploy to make the U.S. think the arsenal of Pyongyang is impotent, when in reality they saved their "real" missiles for a later date. There is no question in my mind that China is behind this. With the G8 summit getting under way in St. Petersburg, Russia, China wants to distract President Bush from dealing with trade issues and would like to force the Bush Administration to deal with North Korea's nuclear ambitions. Make no mistake, either, that we are in a fierce competitive battle for oil as China and India continue to become more industrial.

So now that brings us to everyone's favorite region on the planet. The place where the three major religions were born. Where civilization essentially began. A place of great ruins and a rich history. Yes, the Middle East.

Israel has responded decisively and are in a "we've had enough of your b.s." mode. I applaud their response and the way they are doing it. Terrorism can not be tolerated. The kidnapping and murdering of soldiers can not be tolerated. Thus, Israel is doing the right thing. They have every right to defend themselves and to hell with the feeble United Nations.

Israel initially started with their onslaught against Hamas in Gaza. Then Hezbollah began firing rockets from their bases in southern Lebanon. So Israel is fighting a two-front war. According to FOX News, a senior Israeli intelligence official said 100 Iranian troops are in Lebanon and helped Hezbollah fire a missile that damaged an Israeli warship off the Lebanese coast Friday night.

So, let's examine this situation:

We all know the rhetoric that has been coming from Iran about wanting to wipe "Israel off the map" once they are able to acquire the "Islamic" bomb. According to WABC Radio's John Batchelor back in December, Israel planned on "giving the Iranian situation until May" before they themselves took out the sites where the development of nukes is alleged to be taking place.

I believe, this is the reason for such a strong response by Israel. They see America tied up with Iraq and Afghanistan. They see North Korea being a country that the U.S. will have to deal with immediately. Because let's say one of those long-ranged missiles fired did hit the intended target: Hawaii.

With all of that on the plate of the United States, it would appear impossible for America to militarily deal with the Iranians.

Given the fact that tough-talking France probably will not be the ones to take out the nuke sites in Iran and that the United Nations will drag their feet; throw in the fact that Israel has been directly threatened by a head of state, namely Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and what you have is the Israelis now in the process of dealing with this issue once and for all.

They know that Iran will get involved. Probably after Israel hits Damascus, Syria, where the top leadership of Hezbollah is holed up. So, let's say that Israel hits Damascus then Iran, who pulls the strings of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, will get directly involved, giving Israel reason to hit the alleged sites where nuclear development is taking place. According to the Associated Press, those sites include Arak, Natanz and the port of Bushehr where American intelligence analysts say the mullahcratic regime intends to develop weapons-grade plutonium.

Syria is a regime made up of Baathists, much like the now-deposed one in Iraq. So will that lead to the Baathists insurgency in Iraq now storming Israel? Al-Qaeda is also rumored to have set up camp in Gaza after Israeli withdrawal a year ago. Does that mean that bin Laden and the gang will become involved? I would bet they would since they always seem to be intent on staying on the front page.

The other scary part is the question of how many countries will decide to line up against the Israelis, which occurred during the six-nation war of 1967.

All of this plus Iraq seems to be teetering on the brink of civil war.

Will their be a domino effect?

Either way this is a very scary scenario for the Middle East which will have dire implications for the entire world. The safety of our troops in Iraq becomes more of an issue depending on the level of fighting. Hezbollah boss Sheik Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to increase the fighting, according to today's New York Post.

Of course, what type of impact will this have on the world economy. Is $4.50 per gallon of gas imminent?

The Middle East is a very dangerous neighborhood that is never quiet. This is one which requires us all to stay tuned.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Response To The New York Times

Do you think the far left has America's best interests in mind? Think again. But most importantly our soldiers risking their lives every day have something to say. Lt. Tom Cotton wrote this from Baghdad to the New York Times:

Dear Messrs. Keller, Lichtblau & Risen:

Congratulations on disclosing our government's highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.)

Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato's guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months' salary. As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry, and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion or next time I feel it I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and other laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,
Tom Cotton
Baghdad, Iraq

Cead Mile Failte

Cead Mile Failte or in Gaelic "A Hundred Thousand Welcomes." My goal is that one day I will be drawing a hundred thousand people to this blog.

Anyway, as you can see I have been pretty inactive on here the last few days. "Driving Toward Heaven" will continue next week as I will definitely post chapters three and four next Wednesday. Sorry, I know in a previous post I said it would be every Wednesday. But this week some things came up and I really have not been able to write anything at all which does not make me happy. :(

Actually, there have been many new visitors to this site lately. So let me explain exactly what this is all about. I wanted to have my own blog but did not know what to write about. So I decided to make it about whatever I wanted really. It is sort of like Seinfeld, which was about nothing. Well, this blog is about almost everything. News, sports, politics, music, poems, a short story or two. Perhaps someday I will pick one topic but that may be a bit boring.

"Rangers in Seven" is an expression that became infamous by a New York broadcaster during the New York Rangers run to their 1994 Stanley Cup Championship. For those that don't know it means the Rangers would win their best of seven series in the penultimate seventh game.

That little banner up above that says "Rangers Lead The Way" is in dedication to all those serving this great country. It is, in fact, the creed of the United States Army Rangers. The bravest of the brave as far as I am concerned. The U.S. Army Rangers astounding bravery was highlighted in the movie Black Hawk Down based on the book by Mark Bowden.

My favorite hockey team; my favorite movie. In my next life I want to come back as an Army Ranger.

On that same banner I will put some breaking news up there or big stories but mostly I will use it for lyrics from songs that I like.

So this is my blog: Sometimes organized, generally chaotic, inscrutable madness, hopelessly insatiable, hopefully insightful, predictably unpredictable!


Why We Fight

Deadly terrorist strikes in India this week killed many innocent people. I was sent this link as we stand in solidarity with the families of those who lost loved ones in the attacks. Terrorism, without question, is a global problem, that requires absolute unity in order for it to be defeated.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

America, Truly The Beautiful

First off a Happy Independence Day to you! Belated at that, but having trouble with blogger the last couple of days. I was wondering why so many people call it "the Fourth of July" or the "July 4th weekend." Yes, I know that is, of course, the day of this most important Holiday. Yet, we don't say the "25th of December" when referring to Christmas or that we are buying "October 31st candy" for Halloween. Or even, "man I had some hangover last January 1st." But we do see "4th of July mattress sales" and "come to our July 4th extravaganza" advertisements.

So what is the reasoning for this? Are there too many syllables in the word in-de-pend-ence? Are we celebrating it being the fourth day of the seventh month, or something way more important? I believe that not referring to July 4th as Independence Day in the same specific way as the aforementioned holidays diminishes its importance. Get a life, one might say. Perhaps. However, keep in mind how many people there are living in this country who are unable to identify where Iraq is or who the Secretary Of State is. My point being is that there are far too many people who lack a basic knowledge of the country they live in. Why?

There seems to be a sense of guilt in regards to this country's history. It may come across in a subtle way-and I don't know when it began-but there seems to be a great deal of revisionist history and also a great deal of demonizing of our Founding Fathers and what they represented.

Is America's history unblemished?

Of course not.

Does any living soul have an unblemished history?

Absolutely not.

Are people ashamed that wars were necessary to gain and preserve our independence?

Apparently so.

So let's play a game called "It's A Wonderful Life."

If the United States of America had never existed how many people would have lived under oppressive colonial rule? How many more millions of Jews would have been brutally murdered?

No one wants war, but it has been, at times, a necessity for the very survival of this nation and free nations throughout the world. America has been called upon to defeat the evil forces of colonialism, nazism, fascism, totalitarianism, communism, and now islamofacism. Yes, I said it, islamofacism. Terrorism is the means by which bin Laden and company attempt to spread their extremist views. I don't think you will see Attorney General Alberto Gonzales holding a press conference after a cell of Irish Republican Army loyalists from Inwood are busted.

The various colors that light up the sky during fireworks' displays is representative of the many types of people, views, religions, and dreams that make up the USA.

Like the late President Ronald"Dutch" Reagan I believe in America as the "shining city on a hill" in all its glory. America is a beacon of freedom and provides hope to millions around the world, especially the oppressed. By comparison to other nations around the world, America is a young country and sometimes shows its adolescence, but I believe America is by far the greatest nation on the planet.

For the most part we do get along considering the fact that America's diversity is incomparable.

Also, the U.S. has made more progress with racism and inequality in a quicker amount of time than any other society. In addition, for those who believe America is so bad, people are still doing all they can to come here. After all, we have an illegal immigration problem not an exodus issue.

So, I say Happy 230th Birthday America, but most importantly Happy Independence Day.