Friday, October 31, 2003

The Evil stakes

It seems that this page is more evil than the internet commentator or back seat drivers.

I'm so evil that I'm going to let my kids go trick or treating today.

"Parents have a responsibility not to allow their children to be exposed to these evil celebrations. What might seem to some as innocent children's games is a "little fox" that can open the door to satanic influence and even demon possession in some cases. Children can be tormented with a spirit of fear that can come through this involvement that stays with them throughout their lives. It also introduces children to witchcraft, making it easier for them to become involved in cults and occultic activities."

Thursday, October 30, 2003


The Newshound is 98% EVIL. Maybe I'll see some growth in the stats tomorrow? The Irish Eagle is more "balanced" — only 42% evil.

Not Vietnam

"The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge — a murderous band of Saddam loyalists and Al Qaeda nihilists, who are not killing us so Iraqis can rule themselves. They are killing us so they can rule Iraqis." Tom Friedman, from today's NY Times.


Back after a week away. I had thought I'd do some updates while away, but that didn't pan out.

I'll start you off again with something historical - George Washington's rye.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Disaster strikes

I was supposed to be nearly in Boston by now. However, due to weather, flooded roads and a car accident (nobody hurt, Thank God), I'm still in Dublin. However, in order to guarantee making it on time tomorrow, we're leaving so early that a Newshound update will be impossible. There are plenty of blogs out there that might help you through the day. Try the Broom of Anger, Slugger O'Toole, and Belfast Gonzo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Thanks Matt

"Coming up, Robert Fisk on Israel and Iraq". That's all I need to hear to know it's time to turn off TodayFM.

N. Ireland

I may have been premature in my "wondering" if the Newshound's days are done. Seems that may not be quite true.

We're losing the peace

"Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American." & ". . . some also blame America because they expected so much more from her".

Sobering quotes and these articles really give you pause for thought about the problems a country, even a powerful one like the US, has when they end up in charge of peoples and cultures they don't really understand. Of course, the most heartening aspect of these quotes is that they are both from Life, January 1946.

N. Ireland

For seven years I've been following the minute details of N. Ireland political life on the Newshound. I can't help but wonder if today is the beginning of the end for the Newshound.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Harry Browne & Baseball

It's not often that I agree with Harry Browne, but his "review" of baseball on the radio for Saturday's Irish Times had me nodding my head in agreement several times.

First of all, Browne and I support the other New York team, the one that is not the Yankees and whose logo is not adorning the baseball caps of thousands of young Irish people, the Mets. And, we both appreciate how great baseball on the radio can be. I grew up outside the range of New York's television signals, so I spent many, many summer nights listening to the radio when I should have been watching the Love Boat or Dallas.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Soccer in America is politically correct

I'm apparently not the only one who feels this way.

"In America, soccer is essentially a stultifyingly safe and politically correct suburban past-time. As a New York Times writer recently bemoaned, 'The game in the U.S. has become shorthand for happy families. A typical ad, which once might have taken baseball as a symbol of upper-middle-class values, now features a beaming child kicking a ball, with a text that begins: 'While Jessica takes an afternoon off to focus on scoring goals, her parents' Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch focuses on meeting her family's goals.' The American game has come to be seen as a protective mother's heaven: nonviolent, suitable for children and female-friendly.' It's perhaps no wonder that the next generation of ambitious young male American athletes would rather pick up a baseball bat or watch the superbowl. Even golf is more macho than soccer." --- Andrew Sullivan, Sunday Times

"I think the flirtation that prosperous yuppie parents are presently having with soccer fits in with the rest of this execrable phenomenon of political correctness. Politically correct Americans today positively love scourging their own flesh with guilt over all the success our country has enjoyed on the global political stage, and all the rowdy fun we've had at home. So instead of taking Junior to a Little League baseball game and teaching him how to chew tobacco, spit, and then wash his mouth out with cold beer after the game, Dad packs the lad in the minivan, drives him to a soccer game, tells him afterward that it's not about winning, it's about teamwork and aerobics, and takes him to the salad bar at Wendy's on the way home. We can only pray that this aberration will soon pass.." --- Jeff Smith, Tuscon Weekly

And, although he doesn't use the term 'politically correct', it's what he's thinking:

"No other activity in life requires so much effort for so little reward. Ninety-nine per cent of the action has virtually no bearing on the outcome of the game. Herein may lie the explanation for why so many of my government-bureaucrat neighbors in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., have a love affair with soccer.

In soccer, every mother's child is above average. There's no shame in losing and a tie is the likely outcome. The game's egalitarian philosophy extends to the absurdity of giving every kid a trophy at the end of the season.

I am convinced that the ordeal of soccer teaches our kids all the wrong lessons in life. Soccer is the Marxist concept of the labor theory of value applied to sports -- which may explain why socialist nations dominate in the World Cup. The purpose of a capitalist economy is to produce the maximum output for the least amount of exertion. Soccer requires huge volumes of effort but produces no output. " --- Stephen Moore, National Review

Friday, October 17, 2003


Jon at Back Seat Drivers takes me to task for taking the Pittsburgh letter writer too seriously as the writer obviously had his tongue in his cheek. And, he's probably right. I should have waited and read that letter again later as I was punch drunk at that hour, having been up watching baseball all night (see below). {Still, people from the Pittsburgh area do take their football very seriously indeed.}

However, I still contend that FIFA's attempts at getting soccer to take off in the US are as much cultural imperialism as what Hollywood does in Europe. He says that Hollywood doesn't promote cultural imperialism, which is true. Only, there are many people in Europe who rant and rave about cultural imperialism as if MGM, Disney and Time Warner were all following some master strategy. And, again, I agree with Jon about FIFA's motivation for promoting soccer in the US - MONEY. That just happens to be exactly the same motivation for promoting Terminator in Europe.

Jon takes issue with my description of soccer as politically correct in the US. Well, that I stand over. Soccer is loved by those who would prefer the US to be less "American" and more like everywhere else. I've often heard people in America pining over soccer because it's "the global game" as if baseball and football are too parochial.

Youth soccer is generally mixed gender (which I suspect stunts the development of the American men's game, but is a great explanation for the success of American women). Boys and girls compete on the same teams under rules that, from my observation, make the game much tamer over there than what I've seen in an average school boys or school girls game over here.

Jon also says that soccer is the sport of choice where he grew up, attracting the best athletes. That could be true of my town too. I don't know the current situation there, but when I was a kid the town funded soccer, but not baseball, because soccer was mixed gender. If that isn't politically correct, then what is? I don't know if this happened (or happens) in other towns today, but that memory still rankles.

Soccer is almost non-existent in the inner cities (other than immigrant communities) or small towns from where most of the top basketball, baseball & football players come. {Last night, the NY Yankees fielded a team with 6 non-Americans and only 3 Americans in the starting line-up. Baseball is actually the sport of choice in much of Latin America and in the Far East.}

I have no doubt that as the US population continues to grow, soccer will find a niche for itself among immigrants. I applaud that. That many of these immigrants will go to see their "national" team play rather than the MSL is hardly a vote of confidence in the sport in the US.

In time, soccer may even grow into a full time big league sport. But, it's way short of that now. Although the average MLS game attracts "more than 14,000" people, the average NHL game attracts 16, 500. Each NHL team plays 40 home games (as opposed to 15 home games per team in the MSL). Total NHL attendance is close to 20m per season, whereas it's nearer to 2.2m for the MSL. {Note: there are 6 NHL teams in Canada.}

Long night

The Newshound may suffer this morning. Have been up since 1am watching baseball. It's being called one of the greatest games ever.

Please let me know if there are glaring errors.

Soccer is sports terrorism

So says a letter writer to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "On a recent Friday night (a high school football night) in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, I witnessed parents allowing their children to play this anti-American sport instead of exposing them to the ritual that is high school football in western Pennsylvania."


I watch a lot of soccer (although, not the past month with so much baseball on NASN) and enjoy it. However, when I was living in the US, I didn't like it and I still hope it fails to take off there.

FIFA's continued insistence on spreading soccer to the US is as much intentional cultural imperialism as anything that Hollywood does. But, in true American fashion, there are no government moves to restrict the sport's development. Instead, soccer is trying to make its way by gaining market share. It has failed, time and again, despite all the hype about the development of soccer in the US.

Soccer is the "PC" sport of choice in the US, but it has not really captured a significant market share. It remains a minor sport in terms of fans and revenues, although the kids programs continue to thrive.

The writer is also down on women's sports, for reasons that make no sense to me.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Pope transformed the world

So says Philip Jenkins. Kevin Myers says the Pope is "quite simply the greatest living person in the world".


India Knight, writing in the Sunday Times, says that's what we're turning out nowadays instead of boys.

Despite its shortcomings, I thought parts of this column were interesting. Her sons' friends are "feminised". Boys generally are discouraged from "roaring down the stairs brandishing weapons and playing cowboys". She notes that boys have a "pointlessly aggressive streak", which cannot be wished away.

She's right about that. Boys are aggressive. Agressive and competitive. Boys are naturally - and yes, nature, not nurture - much more aggressive and competitive than girls.

This move to lessen the aggression and competitiveness of boys is also one of the key reasons for boys falling behind in education. Boys need a much more disciplined environment. That aggression and competitiveness has to be properly focused and put to work to encourage boys to learn. All this "understanding" is only playing into boys' hands when they desire to be doing anything other than learning.

Another problem for boys in modern society is that there aren't enough of them around. From my observation, girls can be happy only when they play in small numbers. 2 or 3 at most. Boys, however, like to play (& hunt?) in packs. Modern society's smaller families have eliminated this prospect for many boys. When I was a kid, my 3 brothers and I could always find another 6 or 7 boys to play ball with. That's no longer true in most US (and I'm guessing, UK) neighborhoods. Families are smaller, houses are more spread out, both of which reduce the chance of a "pick-up" game breaking out. Boys are lucky to find another 1 or 2 boys to play with.

{One of the benefits of living in a non-descript housing estate in suburban Dublin is that there are just under 4 million children living in the 100 houses in the neighborhood. I don't think we'd get that in the US.}

Her point about books for boys not being masculine enough was interesting, only, I couldn't help wondering if boys read books. I guess I did for a while when I was a kid. I read the Hardy Boys - the first 6 or 7 were the best - but after that I have no memory of reading anything for about 4-5 years (ages 9-14). Other than the sports pages, that is.

I could live without Germain Greer's "appreciation of the beauty of young men". Also, preventing boys from expressing themselves ("girls suck") doesn't have to be because such expressions are "womanunfriendly and divisive", but because such expressions are crude and vulgar. I would discourage my son from saying "girls suck", but if he said he "can't stand girls", that would be fine by me.


I know, I know. I've been raving about this since I got it. But, anyone who has a passing interest in baseball would have found this past two weeks simply amazing. Last night's Boston vs. New York game was incredible.

If you're interested in getting the service, let me know.

It's as if I've been forced to live as a vegan for 12 years and now suddenly it's Smith & Wollensky every night.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Where to empty your bin

Dick suggests Joe Higgins's garden seeing as he is one of those responsible for preventing the garbage trucks from making their rounds. I had the same idea when listening to Gerry Ryan this morning.

Ryan has been insistent that "Dublin is different", which I'm willing to accept. So, why don't the citizens of Dublin come up with a new means of funding their refuse collection? I don't mind how they do it so long as I don't pay for it. I'm already paying €330 per annum to have my garbage collected. I don't have any great desire to pay more to remove Dubliners'.

"Please put that out"

The proposed new anti-smoking law to take effect in January will apply to the family home if you have someone working there. Home help, child minder, whatever. If someone works in your house, you will no longer be allowed to smoke in your home (at least that part of it that the home help has access to) while they're working. That's what the Health & Safety Authority are proposing.

From today's Irish Times (free to all):
People working in other family homes will be able to complain to the HSA about any potential breaches.

However, the HSA spokeswoman said she did not expect many complaints from this sector.

"People who work in family homes usually have a very good working relationship with their employers," she said.
I'm not sure what authority the HSA would have to enforce the proposed ban, but I had thought that the law would be such that anyone could complain about smoking - even if that person's not an employee. A nosey neighbor or (more likely) a spouse of a home worker should be able to call the smoking ban hotline.

If employees can agree with employers that smoking can be allowed, which seems to be the essence of what the HSA is saying here, then what if bar staff waive their rights to have the smoking ban enforced? Can they do that? I assume the public can say no, but what if 20 workers in a small office or factory all agree to allow smoking? What then?

I would have thought that either smoking is banned from the work place or it is not. If smoking is banned from the work place, then that should mean that anyone who has people working in their house would be violating the law if they allowed smoking in their home regardless of whether it bothered the house owner, any resident of the house or anyone working there.

Smoking should also be banned in any work-related part of a house that provides Bed & Breakfast. So, kitchen or any living quarters for guests would be off limits for smoking - even when there are no guests present.

I don't accept the premise that few people will complain therefore we shouldn't have any concerns about going ahead with this proposed change in the law.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

American honors traitor

He was a war hero who changed sides in the middle of the war. Now an American wants to honor Benedict Arnold by placing a gravestone near the Arnold family crypt at a church in England.

If he had chosen to side with the British from the outset, that would be fair enough. Many people remained loyal throughout the war and did what they could to help the British. But Arnold betrayed the cause he supposedly believed in for money. He should not be honored.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Democratic missionary

Taiwan's former President figures he has 10 years (he's 80 now) to help Taiwan become a "a normal and complete country". He believes that the Chinese government is constrained by the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the US military.

His point about the Olympics is interesting and probably has some merit, but I don't think he should consider US support as an automatic. Whether the US supports Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack will depend largely on the mood in the US and the trigger for such an attack. As the US becomes increasingly isolationist, as I believe it will throughout this decade, Taiwan may find itself all on its own.

The ANC must go?

Last Friday, Lara Marlowe writing in the Irish Times (subscription required) described the "lawlessness" that has taken hold in Baghdad. The tone of the article was, of course, that the Americans are to blame for this. And, of course, to some extent they are. They removed the regime and are responsible for maintaining law and order.

However, it is also true that under Saddam, Baghdad had a fairly "crime free existence". That's how oppression works. People are afraid to get out of line and the justice system doesn't bother with the niceties that we westerners expect. As Ms. Marlowe notes, in 2002 only 174 people died of gun shot wounds in Baghdad, a city of over 5 million people.

In August of this year, she reports that 518 people died of gun shot wounds. If someone who knew nothing of Iraq before reading this article were asked, they'd surely indicate that the US had attacked the Garden of Eden. The tone indicates that Ms. Marlow believes that life was better for these poor people when Saddam kept the peace. Of course, the 174 who Ms. Marlow mentions do not include any of those who were found or are yet to be found in the mass graves.

For the sake of comparison, let's look at Johannesburg. There are 15 murders a day (approx. 450 per month) in Johannesburg, a city of 2.2 million. Ms. Marlowe doesn't provide us with the overall murder rate for Baghdad, but she notes that the morgue receives 20-30 bodies each day. She then reports that this is three times the daily number before the war. So, if we assume that all these additional bodies are murders, then we're looking at a murder rate of approximately 14-20 per day or a rate not much different than Johannesburg, which is half the size of Baghdad.

This does not mean that mayhem and murder is acceptable, but it does provide some scale to what is going on.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Schwarzenegger for President?

I don't know who wrote this piece for the Irish Independent, but whoever it is doesn't realize what a drawn out process changing the constitution is. Two thirds majorities in both houses have to call for the change, which then must be approved by three quarters of the state legislatures. I sincerely doubt there will be any change at all with regards to who is eligible to be President.
Clause 5: No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
It is beyond doubt, however, that it is not going to happen before the 2004 elections, which would be required for Schwarzenegger to be on "the Bush ticket as vice-presidential candidate".

Bush losing the peace

That's the headline from today's editorial in the Irish Independent. As I'm not on the ground in Iraq, it's hard for me to accurately judge whether this is true or not. All I have to go on is the press, some of which is negative and some of which is positive about developments in Iraq. But, there are points here that do need to be addressed.

First, there were some contracts awarded to US business interests since the war ended. It's US taxpayer money, predominantly, that is rebuilding Iraq. However, as this article makes clear (referenced below), it has not been all going the way of American commercial interests.

Second, it seems beyond dispute that there was a general breakdown in law and order in the days following the fall of the regime. However, it also seems clear to me that oil wells are military targets and would be captured by invading forces, whereas the looting and disorder in the cities was more a result of the power vacuum that arose when the Iraqi military and police just vanished from Baghdad on April 9. An argument can be made that the Americans should have seen that coming, but I don't think it was in any way a deliberate strategy. The Americans expected to work with the Iraqi police force when they had ousted the regime, which is what they did in Europe and Japan after WWII.

Third, most of the rebuilding that the Americans have to do has almost nothing to do with the bombing. Other than the communications infrastructure, most of the rest of the rebuilding work that has to be done is the result of neglect by Saddam's regime. The Americans are rebuilding schools, hospitals, roads up and down Iraq. Almost none of these were damaged by military action. In fact, I believe that the administration may not have paid sufficient attention to reports that much of Iraq's infrastructure would have to be rebuilt. The oil industry is a good example of that.

And, in the most amazing section of this editorial, the writer notes that Iraqis are "resentful that the US has not been able to give them a better life". I'm not sure that's true at all and it seems to fly in the face of the poll of Iraqis taken in late September.

I think this Indian article is a better summary of Iraq today.


I've often heard it said here that Irish people have a special bond with Boston. Well, here's a large part of that Boston experience that I'm not sure Irish people know about, but I suspect many can relate to.

I always remember my first day at my first 'real' job. A guy from Boston was starting the same day. When our new boss asked us about ourselves he had this to say to my co-worker about growing up in Boston
That's good. You learn how to handle disappointment from a young age.
It's that New York attitude that Bostonians HATE.

September 11 -- 1649

Ryle Dwyer says that maybe Americans should be forgiven for remembering September 11 seeing as the Irish still haven't forgotten what Cromwell did 350 years ago.

He also cites, erroneously, President Bush's State of the Union speech on the Uranium from Africa claim. The word "Niger" was never mentioned by the President. Here's the exact quote:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
I know this fact is very inconvenient for the anti-Bush and anti-Blair folks out there, but last time I checked Niger was a large country, but a pretty small piece of "Africa". Here, see for yourself.

Poor Ryle Dwyer, he also confuses an election, which Arnold Schwarzenegger won easily against a long list of other candidates, with a referendum, which the recall essentially was, and which Davis lost by a substantial margin. Dwyer even rounds the results incorrectly to boost his argument. He says Schwarzenegger got 48%, when he actually got 48.7%. The votes against the recall (or votes for Davis) were actually 44.7, not 46%.

Not a good day for Mr. Dwyer fact wise, but why worry about that, right?

Sports Saturday Bonanza

Rugby, soccer & two baseball games. At least 10 hours of sports viewing to get through today.

It doesn't get any better than this.

Friday, October 10, 2003


Rest-assured Frank, I never for one minute imagined that the socialists were in favor of decentralization. It's just that I believe they're undermining the case for centralization. Here's how.

They're making the case that the method for funding this service should not be the current bin charge. They are advocating using income tax, if necessary, to cover the cost. Fair enough, if that's what Dubliners want. Then ask Dubliners to pay an additional 1% (or whatever it would cost) to fund their refuse collections.

I don't believe the government can turn around and start funding bin charges out of the national exchequer now because so many people have bought homes in neighboring counties where they have had to pay for refuse collection. There'd be hell to pay if Dubliners suddenly had the bin charges decision reversed while suburbanites are still forking out €300 or more (my bill is €330) PLUS paying taxes to underwrite Dublin's refuse collections.

Therefore, some local funding method is required. I'd love to hear that they will levy a Dublin income tax to cover the bin charges. It would be the beginning of real local government here.

On a related topic, I believe the Green Party is the only political party in Ireland that advocates something along the lines that I outlined below. It's exciting in that "I'm afraid to admit I agree with them" way. We don't agree on much.

Incidentally, it's a core principle of the Republican Party in the US "that the most effective government is government closest to the people".

GNP, GDP? -- again

I realize that this is probably not that important, but it's gotten in under my skin now. I'm sure practically nobody out there (other than, possibly, William Sjostrom) cares.


Another Canadian newspaper is singing Ireland's praises, this time it's the National Post. This article contains the same figures as in the Globe and Mail article, but this time it clearly identifies the numbers as GNP income.

I don't know what to make of it. I have checked the OECD web site and could find no GNP figures at all. And, the GDP figures I found were for 2001 and not 2002, which is referenced in this article. {NOTE: On Oct 3, the OECD did release 2002 GDP figures, but when you click on the "per capita" report, it only has 2001 data. The OECD has probably forgotten to update its web site.}

Based on William's explanation, I'm guessing that the OECD has released 2002 figures that show Ireland in 2nd place in terms of output and not income.

"Bin tax"

I haven't commented on the "bin tax" dispute - the political dispute in Ireland at the moment - primarily because I'm naturally opposed to the fringe left-wing parties that are leading this dispute, but I admire how these people are undermining the excessive centralization of power we have in Ireland.

It seems obvious to me that what's good for Dublin may or may not be good for the rest of the country. If the people of Dublin would rather pay for their refuse collection with an income tax, I say that should their choice. Why should I, in Wicklow, have a say in that matter? My elected representatives should not be involved. However, that also means that any income tax collected to pay for refuse collection would have to be levied in addition to what Dubliners are already paying into the national system. It would have to be a local income tax.

In fact, this argument applies across a whole range of issues. Why should I pay for education in Donegal or police in West Cork? Why should someone in Shannon pay for the streetlight outside my house or our local hospital? I believe that most of the tax we pay should be local. There are very few items paid for by our taxes that are truly national. The Irish military is a sad and neglected institution. The Gardai are both the state police and local sheriff. Why? Why shouldn't the people of Bray decide if we are to have full time or part time police and fire departments and how many people we should have in each department. Why shouldn't we pay for that?

I think we should have elected local representatives that make decisions according to what the people in their area want. The Dail really should be a part-time institution. If decision-making were localized, we would only need them to sit for 6 weeks per year. Imagine how much family time, which they always say they'd like to have, they could enjoy. Of course, we'd only have to pay them part-time wages too.

Unpopular Euro

A few weeks ago I speculated on what might happen if the Germans began to reconsider the Euro. Well, a recent poll shows that they already have reconsidered it. Even the French aren't that keen now.

Of course, there's no chance yet of the German government actually acting on what the people might want, but it could someday. Ignoring the public will only ensure that this issue festers. Think "bin tax", only a much bigger scale.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Per capita income

William (an economist) has responded to my question below about Ireland having the second highest per capita income in the world.

It seems that the answer is, "No, it's not true". William cites a report from the OECD, which shows Ireland is 4th, not second in GDP per capita. But, more importantly, he explains the difference between GDP and income (GNP), which I had confused as had the Globe and Mail.

So, Ireland is 4th (accepting the OECD report that William cites) in productivity, but 9th in income. My initial reaction to this is that we (in Ireland) are getting ripped off. But, then I think about those low tax rates that the IFSC banks & other foreign companies here exploit and I wonder if that's the source of our great productivity. It's not that we necessarily work harder, it's just that our corporate taxes are lower.


I should have pointed out earlier that I totally disagree with Richard Cohen's assertions about western culture and genocide. Cohen writes:
The only places where a Western culture has successfully transplanted itself are those where great population pressure and genocidal methods were used to extirpate the indigenous peoples. This is what happened in the United States.
First of all, I don't accept that the Indians were victims of "genocide" . There was no "planned or systemic extermination" of the Indians. Western culture and the diseases that came with it did more to eliminate the Indians than anything that was planned or systemic.

Secondly, does Cohen believe non-western cultures supplant the native cultures entirely peacefully? How did peoples from the Arabian peninsula (Arabs) come to dominate such large tracts of land in North Africa and West Asia? Does he think they were invited in?

He didn't need to throw in that bit about western culture and the United States. It only spoiled his article.

Israel's future

Frank is less pessimistic than I am (see below) about Israel's future. That's because he has hope in the one prospect that would secure Israel's future — liberty, democracy, & prosperity coming to Israel's neighbors.

He's right. If those countries surrounding Israel adopt political systems based on freedom and justice for their citizens and begin to address the problems that their corrupt, tyrannical governments have neglected and/or caused, then Israel has a real hope for a better future. So, I shouldn't have implied that there was no hope.

It's just that there seems very little that Israel can do to help itself.

Europe vs. the US

Frank does a great job "fisking" Andy Storey, lecturer in "Development Studies" at UCD, who believes Europe is not anti-American enough. Hmmmm. Regardless, Frank takes him apart.

Jim Hoagland claims that Europeans will use "campaigns of political attrition" to try and aid the Democrat challenger, whoever that might be, in 2004. Hoagland quotes one German academic "The main lesson to be learned from the Iraq war is to be learned in Washington: You have to plan and cooperate with others under established rules".

Yet, for me as an American, the question is what use are the established rules when I see a continent that won't arm and defend itself, that cannot prevent genocide on its doorstep and doesn't recognize that the Middle East status quo created the conditions that led to a sneak attack on the US, resulting in 3000 deaths, and which could have been much, much worse.

No, I say to hell with these "established rules". "Established rules" are no reason to take or not take military action if it's in the interests of the United States.

Meanwhile, the Times of London has another upbeat article on life in Iraq.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Israel's doomed

Yes, I know that's pretty gloomy, but it's what I've felt about Israel's future for a while now. I just can't see how they are going to defeat an enemy that is playing the long game very well — making accommodation impossible, life unenjoyable and money harder to come by.

Richard Cohen says that the only course of action of the Israelis is to pull back to the 1967 borders. I don't believe that for a minute. In fact, I suspect tha pulling back to the 1967 borders will convince Israel's enemies that victory can be had in a shorter time-frame.

Yet, the current strategy, building settlements & responding in anger and desperation after each bombing, is no better. In fact, I can think of no strategy that will defeat the forces of terror that are lined up against Israel. Israel's damned if it does and damned if it doesn't.

If I were in charge of Hamas (or Islamic Jihad), this is how I would defeat Israel:

1. Keep targeting civilians so that living in Israel no longer appeals. Many, many Israelis hold or are eligible to hold EU passports - particularly in the former eastern bloc nations that are now joining the EU.

2. Ensure that all those who have immigrated to Israel regret their decisions. This will cause more outward migration.

3. Birth rates - even those these sorts of trends are often too "determinist" (I'm not sure if that's the right word or even a word), but it does seem that the percentage of Jews in Israel is certain to fall as their birth rate is much lower than the Arabs'.

The combination of these three and the economic cost of constant warfare will drive out the most productive Israelis, which will hasten the collapse of Israel's society.

I really doubt Israel will be here by the time its 100th birthday comes along in 2048.

Iraq war and US business interests

Wasn't one of the arguments put about by the anti-war folks that this war was being fought to further US business interests? Can someone explain how this helps US business interests?

English soccer

What an awful few days for professional soccer in England. I wish these kind of events were rare and not a problem for baseball and other sports, but they seem endemic in all major league professional sports.

People like me - sports addicts - will never turn the games off or stop going to the stadium, but I suspect that many of the more casual fans will be discouraged from parting with their cash for these sports. If that happens, it will lead to big changes in how top level sports leagues are organized. It'll be painful, but it probably won't be a bad thing if the incentives to cheat are removed and the athletes are forced to live more like normal people.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

More on Iraq

Pat Buchanan has an article in his new magazine asking how we can define victory in Iraq. Buchanan was (and is) against the war, but not for the same reasons as so many in Ireland are. His view is that if no American interests are really at stake, then we have no business getting involved. He's skeptical regarding nation-building or even funding overseas development.

Although Buchanan is a terrible political candidate, his views do represent a segment of the American "right". He's opposed to free trade, immigration, and an interventionist foreign policy. My own suspicion is that if Iraq does become a mess for the US, views such as Buchanan's will become more wide-spread.

Many in Ireland (and Europe generally) seem to believe that the battle in the US is between "unilateralist Bush" and "multilateralist Democrats" (whichever), however I suspect that greater isolationism is the most likely outcome if the US does fail in Iraq.

Per capita income

I hadn't realized that Ireland had the second highest per capita income in the world. No wonder Canada wants to copy Ireland.

Can this really be true?

McAleese & China

I don't know what the protocol is for visits to China, but surely this bit of forelock-tugging was beyond the call of duty, "We see China as strategically and morally an extraordinary force for good in the world." This is from Mary McAleese's "exclusive interview" with Xinhua News Agency, the state news agency of China.

I'm not sure the people of Tibet, Taiwan, or the members of Falun Gong would agree with China being described as "morally an extraordinary force for good". I'm not sure the people of Hong Kong would agree. In fact, we don't even know if any of their own citizens would agree as they live under a repressive regime. Does this enhance their capacity to act as a "force for good"?

I don't accept that China is "strategically" a force for good, but I understand necessity of some "white lies" if you're looking for some economic sweeties. But, "morally"? That's a step too far.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Kay Report

Best editorial I've seen on the weapons hunt from today's Washington Post. Was the administration wrong about what we'd find in Iraq. Yes. Do the administration and the intelligence agencies have a job to do to determine what went so wrong? Yes.

Equally, was Saddam still pursuing WMD? Yes. Was he a threat? Yes, but that threat would have been much greater once he had received a clean bill of health from the UN and the inspections/sanctions regime was lifted.

This is the most difficult part of the whole enterprise. The administration knew it had to tackle Saddam, knew he was no good and was sure he was doing something, but they never really knew what it was. After September 11 they had to remove Saddam because of his character and that was the long and short of it.

There's good news from Baghdad

Although there are still shootings and violence, it's apparently more focused - on US troops. Normal life is taking hold.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Ronan Tynan

handed a win to the New York Yankees on Thursday. Or, at least, that's what the Minnesota Twins manager believes.

North Korea

The Irish Times has an editorial (subscription required) on the problem of North Korea's nuclear program. The key sentence in the editorial is this one:
The question that has to be asked, therefore, is whether the pre-emptive strategy has made the situation worse, not better.
That may in fact be the question, but the answer may not be the 'yes' that the Irish Times assumes it to be. "Classical deterrence and containment" that the Times endorses was what was used in the 1990s. Unfortunately, North Korea continued developing its nuclear program in violation of the agreements it had with the US. So, the N. Koreans were neither contained nor deterred from developing their program. And, as last year's intercepted shipment of arms from N. Korea to Yemen illustrated, it's not beyond reason that a N. Korean developed nuclear weapon could end up in the hands of those same people who used commercial airliners with such devestating effect 2 years ago.

The Times says that the US is in no position to threaten intervention due to its difficulties in Iraq. That may be partially true, but it's equally true that the US Navy and Air Force are virtually standing idle now as their missions are essentially complete in that region. The primary reason for not intervening now is that there is no way that the US could prevent the total destruction of Seoul, which is only 50 miles from the border. America's 37,000 troops are only a token when compared with the 1 million N. Koreans on the other side.

However, it's equally true that the US cannot allow N. Korea to develop nuclear weapons that would put Japan, which is now discussing developing their own nuclear program, and, ultimately, the west coast of the US at risk. It seems to me that any faltering in these negotiations will lead to war, but probably not until the spring. Say, just after Colin Powell's 6 months deadline for handing Iraq over to the Iraqis.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Saudis - being helpful - more

I should have added that the missing 28 pages are probably part of the reason why the Saudis are suddenly so helpful too. I wonder if they're toning down the hate.

Russia and the CIA

This new (old) tone from Mr. Putin will be music to the ears of all those Russian analysts with the CIA. Now they can say that they were right to remain focussed on Russia (while middle eastern terrorists were plotting actual large scale attacks on the US).

The Kay Report

It's amazing how many people have leapt on the Kay Report as "proof" that Saddam had no WMD and really posed no threat. Kay himself says he
cannot emphasize too strongly that the Interim Progress Report, which has been made available to you, is a snapshot, in the context of an on-going investigation, of where we are after our first three months of work. The report does not represent a final reckoning of Iraq's WMD programs, nor are we at the point where we are prepared to close the file on any of these programs.
This says to me that another report will be forthcoming. However, many of the anti-war folks are using this report to justify their stance. What happens if Kay's next report indicates that he has found more solid evidence of a weapons program?

I had assumed that most people on the left were of the opinion that this Kay led hunt was not as legitimate as the Blix led hunt of last winter. Now that they have used this preliminary report to justify their stance, what happens if the next report undermines their position? Will they accept defeat or then claim that the Kay team was always a tool of Bush and Blair?

As far as I'm concerned, this report is sufficient to justify what President Bush said about Saddam's intentions and what he might get up to if left unchecked. And, since I didn't believe in maintaining the status quo - 25,000 US forces in Saudi Arabia, no possible internal overthrow of Saddam's regime - I still believe the war was justified.

Saudis - surprsingly helpful

H.D.S. Greenway says that the Saudis have "have finally awakened to the extent to which their kingdom has become a cauldron of terrorists. In recent weeks US officials have been pleasantly surprised at how much cooperation the Saudis are willing to give combating terror, starting with a greater effort to choke off funds to bogus charities".

Wilson/Plame spy 'scandal'

I'm still hoping to learn whether this is a non scandal, a minor scandal or a major scandal. Outing an undercover agent, if that's what happened, is a serious offense and the Bush Administration & CIA need to clarify that as soon as possible.

If possible. Peter King, writing in today's New York Post says that the CIA is running a covert operation against the Bush Administration. He claims this operation is intended to deflect attention from the agency's deficiencies, highlighted in September 11 attacks. If King is right, then there is little hope of the CIA and Bush Administration agreeing anything about this Wilson/Plame matter. And, the US has a much bigger problem than whether the identity of one spy was revealed.

This, if true, would be a total shock to the Irish left. They believe that the CIA and Bush administration are essentially one and the same.


It's amazing to realize that people in other parts of Europe are "worse off" than I am. Although, we're not getting Chicago's baseball games either on my beloved NASN. Channel 5 in England has the rights to the "prime-time" game, and the Cubs' games have all been prime-time this week. And, Channel 5 is not available to anyone living in this Republic.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


They say that "absence makes the heart grow fonder", but what about when all you feel is hatred? What do you feel then if you're a long way off?

Well, yesterday, I watched the NY Yankees lose and it felt really good. I'm 3,000 miles from home, there isn't a Yankee fan around to annoy me (other than by e-mail), yet I was still nervous when I thought Minnesota was going to blow it near the end.

So, I've grown no fonder of the Yankees or their fans. Two more days like yesterday and my October will be a happy one.