Sunday, December 10, 2006

Odds & Sods

Greetings and salutations, or something like that.

So will we once again abandon Muslims? The Iraq Study Group released their report this week and are basically saying that we should retreat. It has been suggested that the U.S. sit down with Iran and Syria in trying to get those two countries on board. Good luck! Both of those nations have been funding the insurgency and I really doubt that they are going to do anything to help our cause. Some suggest that the last thing either one of those terrorist-supporting regimes would want is an unstable Iraq. However, I put to you that this is precisely what they are seeking. They want to humiliate the United States and her allies and then be able to take over a war-weary country which would make Iran the undisputed power in the Middle East.

Time after time appeasement has shown to be ineffective, and that's exactly what we would be doing if we sat down with either Iran or Syria. Engaging in dialogue to me would only be window dressing and little else. If we decide to give up any leverage then we would really put ourselves behind the eight ball. The U.S. has to also carefully consider when dealing with Iran, how it would impact our negotiations with North Korea and other regimes that wish to pursue getting nukes in the future.

I believe I have stated on this blog before, that in the past we have abandoned Muslims, and in some ways this report suggests that we do the same thing again. We were of no help in the aftermath of Afghanistan ousting the Soviets in the 1980s and again when we encouraged the Shiites to rise up against Saddam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War. I actually don't even see us being helpful in Darfur where a genocide is taking place as we speak. Of course the rest of the world has been absent in regards to the continual genocides that occur in Africa, but we are the lone superpower and have to take the lead on these issues, like it or not.

After Pearl Harbor the United States was able to field an incredible army that was victorious in World War II. Why the Iraqis have not stepped up in a similar way is mind boggling to say the least. I hope that the folks in charge in Iraq and more importantly the populous, do realize that we can't stay there forever and that maybe now they will have a greater sense of urgency and get things going in the right direction.

I would also like to see a bi-partisan committee put together to examine how we fight wars, when we should use American forces, and how to fight an insurgency effectively, if defeating an insurgency is at all possible. I don't think that all is lost in Iraq, and I do believe that there should be a shift in strategy, but a complete pullout or even a partial pullout is premature at this point. That's the reality. We would all like things to be different but they aren't.

In the future we really have to understand what we are attempting to do if the U.S. does decide to invade a country again. The goals have to be clearly stated and when they are met we have to leave. I submit to you that we have already achieved our goals which were stated before the invasion in March 2003. We got rid of Saddam and his sons, changed the regime, established a democratically elected government, looked for but did not find WMDs, and captured many of Saddam's top henchmen. We have trained an Iraqi army and police force, however, they have not been able to consistently stand up to the insurgency. Why that is, I don't know, but I certainly would love to know exactly why.

The bottom line is that Iraq can not be allowed to fall into the hands of the Shiite regime in Iran nor the al-Qaeda folks.

Let me also say that we did not achieve our goals in Afghanistan. Yes, we caught or killed many member of al-Qaeda, however, we did not capture the big fish. Ditto in regards to the Taliban. It seems as though Afghanistan is the forgotten war, which I just can't understand. But let's just add that to the list of things I can not grasp about our government.

So now we turn to the frivolity of pro sports. The New York Rangers played there most complete game of the season Saturday afternoon in their 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators, on the road no less. The defensemen are playing much better than they have at any time during the season and the forward lines seem to have a pretty good balance. Henrik Lundqvist made some truly phenomenal saves and seems to have bounced back well from his dismal first period performance against the Islanders. I expect Hank to start against the Florida Panthers tonight.

The line combos that were reported elsewhere that I mentioned the other day were in fact accurate. I am definitely a little puzzled by Adam Hall's fall from grace, but the lines right now seem to have good chemistry.

Jarkko Immonen plays a well-rounded game and seems to always have on his thinking cap. I don't know if he is the number two center that the Blueshirts want heading into the playoffs, but that is obviously a long ways off. Let's give Immonen some time to adjust to playing in the NHL. Apparently Head Coach Tom Renney will do just that according to quotes in today's New York Post.

The Rangers set the tone early in Ottawa with the likes of Ryan Hollweg throwing the body around as New York were the aggressors early. Martin Straka scored his 16th as he continues to play the best hockey of his career, Jaromir Jagr scored a vintage 'Jags' goal with a wrister from the high slot, and who else but the former Red Wing Brendan Shanahan to score the empty netter.

Brian Leetch's name continues to be bandied about as being a possible addition to the Blueshirts' blueline. Reportedly Leetch will play for only the Rangers, so stay tuned...

I previously posted about the retirement of Joe Nieuwendyk. Thinking back about his career it's amazing how he had an impact on the New York Rangers without ever lacing up the skates for New York. Before he was dealt from Calgary to Dallas, the Blueshirts showed a strong interest. Neil Smith, the GM at the time, refused to part with Christian Dube in a deal for Joey N. who would have been a perfect second-line center behind Mark Messier.

Fast forward to the summer of 1996. The Rangers go out and sign Wayne Gretzky. For some reason the folks at MSG told Smith he could either sign Pat Verbeek who had scored 41 goals and 82 points in 61 games before injuring his shoulder in a game against Buffalo when he crashed into the crossbar. Ouch! Or he could sign hulking d-man Jeff Beukeboom. Smitty went with Beuk a crowd favorite. Most Rangers' fans thought that Smith would compliment Gretzky with a scorer on his flank. Naturally, after letting Verbeek walk, he would then go out and deal for Brendan Shanahan who was playing for the Hartford Whalers. Again, Smith refused to put Christian Dube in a deal that would have included Alex Kovalev.

Verbeek went on to win a Cup for Dallas in 1999 and Shanny went on to win three Cups in Detroit. Christian Dube? He went on to have an "illustrious" career playing in Switzerland.

There was not enough room on the Rangers for both Mess and Gretzky, so after the '97 season Messier headed for Vancouver. Rangers' management offered Mark Messier a one year deal that would not have paid him more than "The Great One," but not less either. Mess reminded MSG that he brought them their first Cup in 54 years. He was already incensed that The Garden had signed Knicks' free agent Patrick Ewing first and that Neil Smith hadn't even paid much attention to him until it was too late. Both sides deserve fault in what was an ugly divorce that did not benefit either party, but MSG blew it in this one.

I often wonder if the Rangers had in fact signed Verbeek and Shanahan what would have transpired. Nonetheless, the top two lines would have looked like this:


Oh well, dare to dream!

The Rangers were never able to find a suitable scorer to play with Gretzky. Luc Robitaille managed only 24 goals playing with Wayne before being injured. Ironically, he got hurt just before he was about to be sent to the L.A. Kings for Kevin Stevens, a deal that would be made that summer. Kovalev, meanwhile, managed only 13 goals in 45 games before blowing out his knee and being done for the season. That really screwed up the top two lines. The Broadway Blues then had to use such notables as Vladimir Vorobiev (five goals in 16 games) and Daniel Goneau (10 goals in 41 games) for offense. Still, they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, largely on Mike Richter's outstanding play.

By the way, Robitaille would eventually end up with the Detroit Red Wings where he would play a key role in the Wings' 2002 Stanley Cup Championship. Head Coach Scotty Bowman seemed to be able to bring out the best in all of his players, including Robitaille and some other former Rangers who were pretty much inept on Broadway. Gee, and Chris"Mad Dog"Russo once said that the eight-time-Cup-winning-coach Bowman was overrated. Hmmm...

Getting back to my original point, if Joe Nieuwendyk had been traded to the Rangers, things would have been much different. Gretzky never would have come to New York and Messier would probably never have left. But that's life I guess.

I'm not planning a parade just yet because the Knicks are 8-14. But they are much more cohesive than last year. Larry Brown did a horrible job with the Knickerbockers, despite his stellar career. That is always going to be a blemish, as far as I'm concerned, with Brown's career. I basically think he tanked it, so shame on Brown.

If only the Knicks could find a way to win at home where they are 3-11.

Randy Johnson, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, and Roger Clemens? Let's say the Bombers do sign Kei Igawa and let's say he is pretty good. Fine, there is a bit of a logjam in the starting rotation but stick with me for a second. Does this starting staff in any combination win a World Series for the Yankees. Am I the only one thinking that this time next year Joe Torre will be talking to Fox or ESPN about being an analyst and that Brian Cashman will be looking for work elsewhere? Call me nuts, and I've been called worse, but I thought the Yankees were about winning championships. The question I have right now is which upstart team will beat the Bronx Bombers in the first round? But it's still a long way until the season starts, so let's see if Cashman has any tricks up his sleeve.

I can't overstate how good Christ The Lord by Anne Rice is. I thoroughly enjoyed her latest masterpiece and look forward to her next book. I also can't overstate how much I admire Rice's writing and her obvious thoroughness in research.

Speaking of thorough research, MSG's Fifty Greatest Moments has been superb. But there has been a couple of mistakes. The first one being when they showed the Rangers opening their season against the Buffalo Sabres less than a month after September 11, 2001. Their was a tremendous ceremony before the game honoring the NYPD and FDNY hockey teams. The narrator said that after 9/11, symbols of New York took on greater importance. While he was saying this they showed two fans wearing "Kovalev" and "Lundqvist" jerseys. Uh, Hank wasn't even a thought back in October of 2001.

The second being that they got the main event for Wrestlemania wrong. It was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T versus Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper. Jimmy Snuka and Bob Orton did not fight in this one, but served as cornermen. They also left out that Billy Martin was the guest ring announcer. But I guess we all make mistakes, oh yeah, except Mike Francesa.

I saw an interview with Joe Namath this week and the strangest thought popped into my mind. Do you remember when Namath appeared on The Brady Bunch and threw a pass to I believe Peter Brady?

Britney Spears went underwear shopping on her birthday last week and reportedly spent $2,600!

Boy I sure am glad photos of Marilyn Monroe practicing her lines in front of a mirror are being released. Do we let anyone rest in peace?

I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton will be our next President. I hope I am wrong, but I just can't see anyone stopping the Clinton political machine. Can you?

Finally, finally, finally, it is said that everyone should get eight servings per day of fruits and vegetables. But what constitutes a serving? Obviously, one strawberry is not the same as one banana. Your help is much appreciated!


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