I Wanted To Feel Better About A Dead Osama Bin Laden

May 2, 2011

I found out via twitter last night that we finally killed OBL the SOB.

I thought I would feel more. I wanted to smile, I wanted to run into the streets with my American flag and make it feel like a personal V-E Day or V-J Day. It feels good; just not dance of joy happy, with apologies to Perfect Strangers.

I just do not feel like we won much right now. I do not know how much power Osama bin Laden still had over al-Qaeda.

Maybe it was the nine years it took to eliminate this evil or maybe it is because I know these cowards who want to kill innocent people and take their own life in the process are still alive and are planning to inflict more pain.

These people are terrorists and not Muslims. There are over a billion Muslims in the world. If their beliefs were the beliefs of all those who practice Islam, I doubt I would be able to type this. In Islam, Moses, Jesus and Mary are prophets not enemies. We must never forget this. I just want the Islam community to stand up and do more to let everyone know that they truly condemn these actions and these men are terrorists and not Muslims.

We can never be the people we were on September 10th. At that time, we believed that we were so innocent and so worry free. We brought everything on our airplanes and our military were nice to look at, but we were not really sure how much of it we needed.

I can only remember that on September 11, 2001, I was driving in my car and witnessed with my eyes the planes strike the Twin Towers. I did not see it on TV. I had one of the best seats in the house.

In an hour, New York City looked like Beirut. Our skies had become a battleground that you only thought existed in the movies. The image of a constant tornado over downtown Manhattan for a week after the attack never leaves your mind.

The first word that came into my head was vulnerable. We were attacked and our world was never going to be same. I remember the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, calling 9/11, the day the party ended. He was right. Our way of easy, protected life had been changed forever. The mainland had been attacked for the first time in over a century. But, this time there was no real army, just a few crazed individuals thinking that by doing such evil with airplanes they were destined for nirvana.

We can remember that it was our American soldiers that finally got rid of one of worst evils the world has ever known.

American troops are not going to withdraw out of Afghanistan or Iraq today. We killed one of the founding fathers of al-Qaeda. I would feel foolish to believe that the followers of bin Laden are going to lie down and raise up their white flags. That is not their M.O. They will likely view the death of bin Laden as murder and they will consider him to be a martyr. We must remain vigilant because just like after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, they will want to come back and they seek more destruction.

I want our troops to have their day down the Canyon of Heroes and feel the love and truly know that the American people thank you and know that you are a force for good to defeat evil that threatens our glorious way of life. Your sacrifices are never to be forgotten.

President Obama needed this, our military needed this, and the American people needed something to feel inspired about our country again. Sometimes it is a hockey game, sometimes it is killing public enemy number one.

It does not guarantee him re-election like some have said. It does help his chances and it does change the image of an Administration that has been told that it was not doing enough to secure the country. That is undeniable.

But tomorrow, gas prices will still be rising, unemployment will still be way too high, foreclosures will still be taking place daily, we have a 1,000 page health care reform law that nobody seems to fully comprehend, corporate greed will still exist, wealthy people will be getting richer, while the poor will continue to fall further behind, and our politicians will always be the best that money can buy.

James Carville will always be correct in saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” For today, that takes a pass to say, “It’s about freedom, stupid.”

I am hopeful that news of Osama bin Laden’s death is a spark to curing some of these ills and make people feel even more pride to live in such a wonderful country.

I want to feel better, but I know a future disaster may only be the next tweet away.


A Forgotten Disaster Just One Month Later

May 5, 2009

What if there was an event that killed almost 300 people from 10 different countries, injured 1,200 people, and left 35,000 people homeless that hardly made news? What was this event? When did the event take place? It was just a month ago. This was the L’Aquila earthquake that took place in Italy.

The reason I am writing this is because I wanted to make a donation to help the people of Italy. I tried to google to find relief funds, or organizations that were accepting donations and I really found very little. I did not even know if any of these charities that were set up online were legit. Honestly, I have no idea what it was that drove this story under the rug. Is it because Italy is not a third world country? Is it because there was no news media photos or video that said look at these starving, desperate people? Was it because the economy is in the dumps and agencies would be afraid that Americans would not give any money or support to Italy and keep it all for themselves? I tend to disagree. Americans are very generous, sometimes too generous, look how much money we lent to failing banks and other companies. Sorry, bad joke. But, we do donate to many causes, Americans gave millions of dollars to starving children
in Africa, millions more after the tsunami, and the list goes on and on.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised the people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip,$900 million! So, the US, in a time of a struggling economy where many people are out of a job, cannot make ends meet, and are watching their taxpayer dollars go to fund foolishly insolvent banks, failing automobile manufacturers and fraudulent insurance companies just lost a needed $900 million to Palestine. Palestine, a place that does not really give a flying fart about America, and where some of its people danced in the streets while our country was attacked on September 11th! Oh, it is not just a Democrat rant, I cannot equally stand the billions that went to Iraq, and that we have received very little from that money, and most importantly lost
4,284, American men and women
, and not including the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that were also killed since this war began in 2003. You may ask, what the heck does this have to do with the earthquake in Italy. Well, here goes. The amount of money that the United States State Department
gave to Italy in emergency relief funding, hope you are sitting, down,$50,000! It equates to about $1.42 to each person left homeless. Why did we even bother giving anything, what an insult! The Italians would have been much better off financially if they were enemies of the United States than friends. The US would have given billions. Instead, here’s your 50 grand, um, maybe you can buy the last American made car with that money. I thought the Obama Administration would be the one to mend the fences of our allies that the Bush Administration allegedly severed? $900 million to an enemy state and $50,000, to a friend in need does not make me feel that great that this is change. You may wonder, did the Italians give anything to the US during a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina? The answer is yes. Italy donated 80,000 pounds of supplies to Mississippi that was sufficient to give 12,000 to 15,000 of people needed aid.

Does anyone know how much the State of Palestine or Hamas gave to the US in aid from Katrina? I tried to find it I came up empty. If someone knows the answer to this, please feel free to leave a comment. Many Palestinian-Americans did have charities for Katrina.

May 6, 2009, will mark the one month anniversary of the earthquake and the 22 subsequent aftershocks that followed the 6.3 Mw quake.

While it was admirable of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to say that the Italians are ‘proud people’ and had sufficient resources to deal with the crisis, it was not necessarily the most intelligent decision. It may be true. But, then again, it may have been true in World War II, when the Americans came to Italy’s rescue. But, that does not mean that we as human beings still cannot show solidarity and give our support any way that we can. One day the country may not be as blessed and will not forget your generosity in a time of need. The Italian Premier also said that the homeless from the quake should consider the Easter weekend that the homeless should enjoy a camping weekend. I am hoping that something was lost in translation, but it does not appear to be the case. The recovery effort in Italy has been tremendous and has saved many lives. Maybe, if Italy did not have the proper rescue tools this story would have made more headlines.

A month later, swine flu dominates the headlines. The number of people who have died due to swine flu: 28.


First Trip to Citi Field

April 23, 2009

Ah, my first trip to Citi Field. I have the 15-game Friday pack, and it is the first time I have ever had a ticket plan with the Mets. My tickets are in Left Field in the Promenade Level. The ticket is $20 per game.
There is plenty of parking, with about 14,000 less seats and the more spots available due to the construction being completed this makes it easier to get to Citi Field by car. Be prepared to pay $18 to park. I like to park by the Marina, it is the easiest way out after the game. If you can take the 7 train, it’s only about a 15 minute trip from Grand Central Station.

Shea is nothing but a square piece of dirt right now. Only the memories remain. Many of those memories are shown around the walls of Citi Field, which does have an Ebbets Field facade to it.

Anything was better than Shea. This is true on so many levels. Escalators that work perfectly, there are even elevators, and the support staff at Citi Field are nice and friendly, and you almost forget you are in New York City. They must have hired a 1,000 people. Luckily, most of the people that worked at Shea seem to be living at Shady Acres.

This place is about the concession stands. They surround the concourses. The prices were about the same as Shea. The food options were robust. I ate before the game. A hot dog is $4.75, $6.50 to $7.50 for a beer, there are burger places, pizza, sausage & peppers, tacos, burritos, etc. Behind Center field is the Shake Shack that is very popular with even more options. The one problem with that place is that the scoreboard blocks your view of the field while you are there. It was cool to see the old Mets sign with the NYC skyline above it that used to be over the old Shea scoreboard.

Bill Veeck once said that, “The knowledge of the game is inversely proportional to the price of the seat.” He said this decades ago long before there would be 5 levels of club seating, seat licenses, waitress service to seat, etc. God, if he was alive today, what he would say. There are 5 Clubs at Citi Field, a different one for the ticket you hold. I do not have access to any of them. I have sat in Club Seats before, it is nice, but it is only good if you get free food with your ticket. Most of the Clubs at Citi do not give you free food. The real Met fans who probably sat in the Orange and Blue Levels in the past have mostly migrated to the top. The infamous Cow-Bell Man is up with us. Most of the “Let’s Go Mets” chants started with our sections, the people who paid 3 figures for the seats seemed content to sit on their hands, and hope the Mets win by at least 2 points.

My seat is no wider than it was at Shea, but there is more leg room and cup holders at every seat. And the rows are situated where you can see over someone regardless of height instead of looking between people’s shoulders. I am in the 6th row of section 534, I have a very nice view of the field, every seat faces home plate, which was something that was an adventure at Shea where you had to turn your body to see the pitcher. The height of my seat is about the equivalent to the Mezzanine level at Shea, so the view is not necessarily a nose bleed view. There are obstructed views and my seats are not immune from that. Because the seats overlap the Left Field wall, anything hit to the wall cannot be seen below you. I knew this when I bought my tickets, but, I wanted to be part of this place, and I was not going to spend thousands to get the perfect seat.

It is not a big deal to me that the seats are green and the wall is black. Everyone will learn to live with that. The Phillies have blue seats and a green wall at their park which does not really match their colors either. I would have rather seen a nice design built into the seats like the ones that exist for the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Manchester United.

The Jackie Robinson Rotunda is very nice, but it is 45 years too late. This should have been part of Shea and not Citi Field. The Mets have 47 years of history on their own. Yes, most of it is tragic and laughable, but some it is actually historic. The Mets are only one of three teams since the 1962 expansion to capture multiple World Series titles. The Blue Jays and the Marlins are the other two, and the only team to capture 4 Pennants. While, I am huge Brooklyn Dodger fan, I am in the 90 per cent majority who was not alive to see Jackie play. I would say only about 2 or 3 per cent of last night’s attendance actually saw a game at Ebbets Field, my father, who is 68, is in that 2 or 3 per cent.

While Dodger fans loved Jackie, he was not their favorite Dodger, the fans of dem Bums favorites were Pee Wee Reese, the most beloved, the Duke of Flatbush, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, who also managed the Miracle Mets (and should be in the Hall of Fame!), Roy Campanella, and the Reading Rifle, Carl Furillo were all more popular in Brooklyn than #42. What I would have done with the Rotunda would be to incorporate all 3 New York National League teams, the Dodgers, the Giants, and the Mets into one. The Field does not really have much at all in terms of Mets items associated with it. The banners hang from high flag poles out in Right Field and are hardly noticeable. Citi Field almost makes the Mets feel like a first-year expansion team with hardly any history. Now, I am not saying we needed to make a Benny Agbayani, Mel Rojas, or Tsuyoshi Shinjo Rotunda, but I think true Met fans wanted to see pictures of Tom Terrific, Doc, Darryl, the Kid, I’m Keith Hernandez, Ronny Darling, Mike Piazza, Johnny Franco, Gil Hodges, Davey, and some pictures of today’s Mets stars adorn the building. Everyone likes to wax poetic about Brooklyn, and it is a special place, and the borough is making a renaissance, but if Brooklyn was so great, how come the team moved just 2 years after a championship. You can blame Walter O’Malley and the city all you want, but attendance numbers dwindled, and the Trolley Dodgers are never coming back. We have the Mets, and the true fans bleed orange and blue, not blue and white. I look at the New England Patriots, a team that has been around for the same number of years, and with actually less history, now has a new stadium, a team Hall of Fame, a shopping area called Patriot Place, pretty good ticket prices except for the Club Seats, and that place is all about the Patriots. Citi Field should be all about the Mets.

Now to the actual game, seeing Gary Sheffield hit his 500th Home Run was special, and only done 24 other times, but what made it even more memorable was that it tied the game. A game that the Mets were cruising after the first inning, but fell asleep for the next 6 innings and trailed 4-3. Gary’s pop off the bench gave the Mets a spark that in recent years was sorely missing. The bullpen was tremendous, keeping the Brewers off the scoreboard for 4 innings, and Luis Castillo, a cross to bear for Met fans, comes through again in ’09 with a walk-off winning RBI infield single.
The crowd was about 36,000, last night, about 6,000 short of a sellout. Unfortunately, I think there will be fewer sellouts due to the high ticket prices, and that the celebs and CEO’s that that the Wilpons thought would flock to the park, are here, but the demand was not overwhelming, due to the economy and the greed of the Wilpons’ favorite season ticket holder, Bernie “Arthur Ponzarelli” Madoff.

I will be making a trip to the new Yankee Stadium this season; I drove past it last night, and it looks jaw droppingly good. I will have a write up about the $1.6 Billion new Coliseum for the Bombers. I think the Mets $800 Million was pretty well spent, it will take a while to get used to the home field, but it is our home, and hopefully the memories, like the one I had last night, will add to the Ulti-Met times to come.


Congrats Tar Heels.

April 8, 2009

So much for my prediction.

North Carolina did what Louisville and UConn could not do. The Tar Heels dictated the game and 10 minutes into the game UNC had their foot on the gas pedal and was not lifting it for the rest of the night. It was as dominant a performance as you will ever see in a championship game. Do you ever remember a game being finished that early? The Spartans were not built to come from behind by 16, 9 minutes into a game, few teams are. Michigan State had a great year, but North Carolina had a great season, and it ends with Roy Williams’ 2nd NCAA Title.


2009 NCAA Final Four Championship Pick

April 6, 2009

I had Michigan State out in the second round. I really did not know too much about the Spartans, only that I thought they played in a weak Big Ten Conference. I was wrong. It’s the beauty of sports, you do not ever really know.

I just know a couple of things, first, it was not that long ago that we were saying that Roy Williams could not win the big one, no one says that about Tom Izzo, second, Michigan State in this tournament is not who we thought they were. They are clearly much better. Throw that meeting in December in the garbage. I remember in high school the team I played for, lost by 28 in one of our early conference games. Later that year, we played that team again in the Semifinal of our county tournament, and won by 4. Tournament basketball is a whole new ballgame. You play different as a team when you are on a run in a tournament. If you play like a team, and the Spartans certainly do that, then you can accomplish the near impossible.

UNC is a great team, and they should win on Monday night, but this Michigan State team that some did not even have in the Regional Semifinal, and few had them playing this Monday night can shock the world. The thing is; they wouldn’t shock themselves. Those guys in green probably would not ever want this season to end, they are playing their best and it is something when you are in a tournament you want to bottle up and keep forever.

With all of that being said, it just takes one game, one night, and one team to outplay the other.

My pick: Michigan State 79, North Carolina 75 (In Overtime)


Recap of Jon Stewart’s Interview With Jim Cramer

March 13, 2009

I really liked Jon’s interview with Jim Cramer. Jon’s questions and video evidence of Jim bending the rules was terrific. But, Jon is pointing his blame at the wrong person. The blame in this are the investigative financial reporters, lies not just at CNBC, but every network that had a chance to expose more of the fraud.

Is CNBC at fault, sure it is. Is it more at fault than the CEO of Bear Stears, Wachovia, or Lehman Brothers? No. Are reporters more to blame than a clueless Federal Reserve or an incompetent Securities and Exchange Commission? Heck no. Those are the people he should be interviewing.

Jim Cramer is not really better than anyone else on Wall Street. He really does not pretend to be. He has taught me and many others a few things about the stock market. I have made money thanks to his recommendations, my research, and working with my financial planner. Anyone who just listens to his advice without doing any additional research is crazy. Could he have known more than he led on? Probably. But, even if he did, few would have listened. You can go back to my youtube clip on Peter Schiff where he was completely laughed at, click on the link if you don’t believe me. Most of us were making money and we were happy and did not care that we were skating on paper thin ice.

The stock market and the economy reminds of me of baseball in 2009. We knew years ago that these players (companies on Wall Street) were artificially juiced, but we really did not make a stink about it until it hurt us in our own pockets, or if someone hit 73 home runs in a single season that we did not personally like. We liked seeing McGwire belt out 70 in a year, even though we knew he was a fraud. He brought us to watch baseball again and the 500 foot homers were really cool. But, when Bonds was doing it, the red alerts went off. Over 100 baseball players, like Wall Street executives were nothing but pathological liars.

The people that Stewart should have asked his poignant questions are the CEO’s, and other executives that are actually in banking, not an entertainer. We can question and learn from the past, but we have to have the right people step forward and be honest. It is 2009, and the damage has been done, it is time for new ideas, honest solutions and never going back to the days of being sold a fraudulent house of cards. Interviewing Jim Cramer is about equal to interviewing Tim McCarver.

By the way, I loved how during the last commercial break there was a commercial for Bank of America. What a double standard, that is! Hey, we can pick on banks all we want, but we will take their advertising dollars! Welcome to the Daily $how!


Blasts & Duds from the Oscars

February 25, 2009
It is time to bring back the popular column of Blasts & Duds from the
Grenade.  Today, it is all about the 81st Academy Awards.  The
Oscars have always been good for some great Blasts & Duds over the
years.  Let’s see how this year stacks up:

BLASTS

1.  The Academy Selections – I wrote my 2009
Oscar picks
a couple of weeks ago, and many of picks came true. 
The Academy did not really have a surprise in the bunch.  Penelope Cruz
winning for Best Supporting Actress may have been the only winner that could
be classified as a surprise, but not a real big one in my eyes. 

2.  Kate Winslet  – Boy, she made up from her
"so surprised to have won" routine at the Golden Globes.  You
are a great actress, Kate, it’s ok, it is not a surprise anymore.  I
thought she gave a very good speech, and was classy throughout.  Brava! 

3. The Presentation of the Acting Awards – Great call by
the Academy to bring back 5 winners from each acting category to present the
awards.  You can’t beat seeing people like Robert DeNiro, Sophia Loren,
Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, and so many others was a true tribute to
the screen.  I liked how they were able to talk a little about each
performance and it did not feel rushed. 

4. India – The Slumdog from Mumbai, became a Hollywood
millionaire on Oscar night.  Nominated for 10 Oscars, they took home 8. 
And since, there were two nominees for Best Song, they went 8 for 9. 
Danny Boyle took home Best Director and Christian Colson sealed the night
with the Best Picture Oscar.  Indian music was rewarded with A. R.
Rahman winning for Best Musical Score and Best Song.  Slumdog
Millionaire had a fairy tale finish not only on the screen, but on Oscar
night. 

5. Jerry Lewis - The Academy rightfully bestowed their
Humanitarian Award for him.  While his health may not be at its finest,
his spirit felt strong.  I am very glad that they finally got around to
doing this, while this legend of a person is still with us.  I only
wish he was able to speak longer. 

6. Hugh Jackman  – I know people have gone back and
forth on this.  I liked how his opening act was not political, but
reached out to just about everyone.  While, he certainly was not
as good as Billy Crystal hosting, he did not take away from the awards. 
Hugh is an Australian gem.  He can host this show anytime, as far
as I am concerned.

7.  The Camera Crew & The Stage – Alright, I
won’t be shy, I loved that the camera crew panned to Angelina Jolie &
Brad Pitt while Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black were presenting for
Best Animated Feature.  +1 to the camera crew and directors from ABC. 
The Stage looked amazing, with that Swarovski crystal curtain.  Well
done.  

8. – Dustin Lance Black - A well deserved Oscar that was
followed up by a very inspirational speech.  It was heartfelt and real. 
You could tell he was very nervous, but it was something he needed to get
off his chest.  It must have been quite an honor for him to have won
this award for Milk, and to see how Harvey Milk’s story inspired his
own life is very impressive and memorable. 

9. – No Music Cut-offs – It was nice that people who won their
awards were not cutoff after 15 seconds of talking by the band.  
There should be a time limit, but at least give them a minute or so, to
thank and describe their feelings on one of the biggest nights of their
careers.  

DUDS

1. Sean Penn – Ok, ok, we get it, you are America’s
Douchebag.  If I ever met Sean Penn, I’d probably shake his hand with
my right hand and want to knock him out with my left hand. He is a
tremendous actor, and while I thought he would finish 2nd for Best Actor; I
was not upset that he was the winner.  But, dude, can you leave
political crap at home.  It has no place at the Awards. 
Republicans are not the devil, and not everything you think is right,
actually is.  You could taken a page from your screenwriter, Dustin
Lance Black, on how to give a speech that gives thanks and sends a message
with pride and dignity.  Oh, and when you get a chance, could you
remember to thank Harvey Milk, he might have played a part in your victory. 
That reminded me of Julia Roberts thanking 4 million people and not even
mentioning Erin Brockovich’s name in her speech.

2 – The Great Unknown - The question we all are left
with in our minds; what if Mickey Rourke had won?  No one has any idea
what he would have done had he won Best Actor.  We can only guess and
say what is on our minds, but it will always be one of the most unknown
questions in Oscar history. 

3. – Ben Stiller – It does not help that I am not really
a big fan of his to begin with, but I did not really think his Joaquin
Phoenix impression was funny.

4.  Anne Hathaway – Should be more like Anne
Go-away.  First, she is not pretty.  Maybe, I am in the minority
here, but I know I am not alone.  She has eyebrows reminiscent of Bert
from Sesame Street, a big beak for a nose, and when I see those teeth, I
want to re-do the Go-go’s classic hit, "We’ve Got the Beat," to
"She’s Got Big Teeth."   Second, I do not really think
she is that talented as an actress, either. 

5.  Eddie Murphy – He was not given the easiest
task, but he seemed to have some difficulty reading off the monitors. 
I am hoping he is not into any drugs or something else.  

6.  Beyonce & Queen Latifah – I like both of
them.  I just thought their choice of song were questionable.  In
the movie Dreamgirls, Jamie Foxx’s character says to Beyonce’s
character, Deena, "You know why I chose you to sing lead? Because your
voice… has no personality. No depth. Except for what I put in there." 
While it was just a movie line, there is some truth in it.  Beyonce
could not resist throwing in a snip of "At Last".  Please,
just leave that to Etta James.  As for the Queen, a lovely voice, and
one with depth, but "I’ll Be Seeing You" just did not seem to fit
her, in my opinion.  

7.  Bill Maher – Straight from the Sean Penn school
of Douchebagness, Bill decided to put a smarmy little comment about his
documentary not being nominated and that people who believe in God are
responsible for the world’s ills.  Sorry, Bill, but about 95% of the
people do believe in some form of a God around the world.  We all DO
NOT think like you, so please, do not act like we do.  I am sure
Bill was so upset that later that night he smoked 3 bowls worth of pot and
had 2 escorts to carry him through his lack of winning an Oscar. 

8.  In Memoriam Montage – We always like to see and
remember who passed away in the past year in film.  The one problem was
that the way it was filmed by the cameras, you could not see some of the
people who died due to bad angles and long distance shots by the cameras. 

My overall grade for the 81st Academy Awards is a B-plus.  It was
more of a blast than a dud, and it did justice to a very good year in
movies.  The ratings were up 13 per cent over last year. 


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