Tuesday, September 30, 2003


A couple of week's ago, I was angry that my refuse collection service had been changed AFTER I had paid for it. We were to get one less collection each month in favor of a recycling collection.

Well, I was obviously not the only one complaining about this change. Today, stuffed in the letter box was the following note:
In response to feedback from our customers in the past week and in order to help householders adapt to the new recyclables collection Greenstar has decided . . . to collect normal waste in wheelie bins alongside your clear recyclables bag on the 1st Thursday of every month.
Nothing feels better than winning when you "fight City Hall".

New Europe - again

The Czech President has missed another opportunity to exhibit "well brought-up behavior". He is oppopsed to the draft EU Constituion because it supports the rise of a European superstate.

Hating the President

Two articles in two days on roughly the same theme - how hating the President has become commonplace. First Cathy Young in yesterday's Boston Globe and today, David Brooks in the New York Times.

The articles are very similar, were produced (presumably) independently and yet appeared on successive days although neither is really about or inspired by a specific recent event. While it is interesting to reflect on the hatred that many people feel towards the President (Clinton or Bush), I'm not sure what they're discussing is really all that new.

Neither writer mentions President Nixon, who was certainly hated. Lincoln, obviously, was hated by a large number of Americans. But, even without the paranoia of Nixon or the Civil War for an excuse, political life was pretty rough in the 19th century. The 1884 campaign between Blaine and Cleveland was vicious and they had no internet or talk radio to blame for it.

I think the primary difference today is that the campaigning never stops, not that it's any angrier.

Landslides in Mayo

I was listening to the Marian Finucane Show this morning and hearing, for the first time, about the landslides in North Mayo. I had heard or read some vague reports about flooding and roads being washed away, but until today I just hadn't realized how bad the devestation was in that part of the country.

I've been trying to figure out how this happened. Not how the landslides happened, but how is it that I could have been so oblivious to a natural disaster in Ireland. I can only surmise that either the national media basically ignored what happened or I simply wasn't paying sufficient attention. Unfortunately, I suspect the latter.

One of the effects September 11 and subsequent events has had on me is that I watch/listen/read the Irish news much less than I used to. Where I used to religiously watch the RTE news, listen to Morning Ireland, read Irish newspapers I now find hardly ever tune into RTE for news or do more than scan the Irish newspapers.

I have allowed myself to become increasingly dependent on the internet and news sources in the US. And, with DSL and digital television, I can enjoy the media almost as if I were in the US. On Sunday, I missed most of the All Ireland Final - an event I generally love - because I forgot it was on. I was too busy watching a program on NASN about American football - a sport I'm not even that keen on (it's not baseball).

All these media developements are great for keeping in touch with what's happening at home, but I now realize just how cut off from Ireland I have become. This is something I will have to work on changing.

Best sit-com ever

is the Phil Silvers Show (Sergeant Bilko) according to the Radio Times. Absolutely correct, but how neither I Love Lucy nor The Honeymooners is even in the top 20 is beyond me. The 1950s were the Golden Age for American television. It's been all downhill since the 60s. M*A*S*H was rarely funny. At least Friends isn't on this list.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Mongols in Iraq

Mongolia has sent troops to Iraq. There are a few interesting details here about a country of which I previously knew next to nothing.

Dunphy Show

The Dunphy Show's ratings are way down. I wonder if it's got anything to do with his pandering to the anti-American "establishment"?

Friday, September 26, 2003

Political Correctness

Henry McCarthy (from Ireland, but now living in England) lays out his case that Ireland is in the grips of "modern mullahs" who "eschew the bell, book, and candle and exorcise instead with the laptop. Through the media they have refashioned Ireland into a dreary place of conformity and self-censorship."

I'm not too sure that this phenomenon is only two years old (as Mr. McCarthy states), but I agree that it's amazing how much conformity there is here. I remember being surprised by the extent of media conformity in 1986, when I first came here as a student.

Letters to the Irish Times today

First, one by Ivana Bacik. She claims that Kofi Annan "delivered - in diplomatic language - a powerful rebuke to the US over the invasion of Iraq". The beauty of diplomatic language is that the same words can mean many things to many people. I've read his speech twice and I'm not sure where the "powerful rebuke" is. I suspect its contained in this section, so here it is (note how he rebukes those who simply "denounce unilateralism"):
Article 51 of the Charter prescribes that all states, if attacked, retain the inherent right of self-defence. But until now it has been understood that when states go beyond that, and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.

Now, some say this understanding is no longer tenable, since an armed attack with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time, without warning, or by a clandestine group.

Rather than wait for that to happen, they argue, states have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other states, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.

According to this argument, states are not obliged to wait until there is agreement in the Security Council. Instead, they reserve the right to act unilaterally, or in ad hoc coalitions.

This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years.

My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without credible justification.

But it is not enough to denounce unilateralism, unless we also face up squarely to the concerns that make some states feel uniquely vulnerable, and thus drive them to take unilateral action. We must show that those concerns can, and will, be addressed effectively through collective action.

Excellencies, we have come to a fork in the road. This may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the United Nations was founded.

At that time, a group of far-sighted leaders, led and inspired by [US] President Franklin D Roosevelt, were determined to make the second half of the 20th Century different from the first half.

They saw that the human race had only one world to live in, and that unless it managed its affairs more prudently, all human beings might perish.

Virtually all States agree that the Council should be enlarged, but there is no agreement on the details
So they drew up rules to govern international behaviour, and founded a network of institutions, with the United Nations at the centre, in which the peoples of the world could work together for the common good.

He then goes on to talk about the reforms that are needed in the way the Security Council functions.

There's no mention of Iraq in there. In fact, although the Bush administration laid out its case for pre-emptive war in a policy paper, at no time did it invoke that policy to justify action against Iraq. Rather, the President and others emphasised Iraq's non-compliance with the UN resolutions (17 of them, I believe) to justify the war. Resolution 1441 of last year was the basis on which the war was launched. The Bush Administration was clear at the time that this resolution was sufficient for war if Iraq failed to fully comply, which NO ONE has argued Iraq did.

The Secretary General also said: "Meanwhile, let me reaffirm the great importance I attach to a successful outcome in Iraq. Whatever view each of us may take of the events of recent months, it is vital for all of us that the outcome is a stable and democratic Iraq, at peace with itself and with its neighbours, and contributing to stability in the region."

Something Ms. Bacik's obviously not ready for as she finds "particularly worrying" the idea that the Taoiseach may send Irish troops to Iraq under a new resolution.


Apparently there are people from "every planet" in California. I suppose that's not really surprising, but hearing it from their governor is a bit of an eye opener.

Swedish Crown

Looks like the immediate impact of the Swedish vote on the euro is that their currency is strengthening, their national debt decreasing and imports from the EU are cheaper. I can't see how the europhiles in Britain can spin this in their direction.

Dire predictions for Sweden are not panning out. However, what happens if other euro countries start to question their participation in the euro? I'm thinking of the Germans, in particular.

It's not a topic too many in Ireland are that keen on, yet it's of fundamental concern to each of us and our economic well-being. It's bad enough we joined the euro when managing our own currency seemed the best option (balancing our currency along with our trade interests among the mainland European countries, the UK and the US), but what if some of the key members start getting shaky. It's still possible that the euro project will fail or that the main players (those who can breach the Stabilty Pact without sanction) might ask those peripheral members who are causing 'distortions' in the currency to drop out again.

It's always possible that the political forces that forged the euro could easily be reversed, at least partially. The euro was never an economically sound project and if the political justification founders, the euro will too.

Rules or a good suggestion

France is going to miss the euro targets (deficit of 3% of GDP) for the third straight year. I think this pretty much puts paid to the notion that there should ever be any sanctions on a member state for breaching the Stability Pact.

There is no way France can argue that they have taken "immediate corrective action" to get their budget back in line. So, the Stability Pact is really just a strong suggestion and not a set of rules that must be obeyed. I think that's probably a good idea, but why make such a big deal about it if the Pact had no real meaning? How do the Germans - supposedly so fearful of inflation - accept this?

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Jeannie Johnston

had to pay CAN$12,000 to get out of Montreal. The money problems with this ship are never-ending.

"Police-blotter mindset"

Democrats & Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee claim the media is only focusing on the negative aspects of what's happening in Iraq. They claim that the media is not reporting the positive news.

Micheál Martin's next step?

Making it illegal to smoke in your own car. He seems to consider New York's anti-smoking campaign such a magnificent model, I can't see how he wouldn't want to latch onto this.

"Pending bills introduced this year in the state legislature include one banning smoking in the privacy of a person's own car, leading smoking advocates to believe a complete ban on smoking is on the way".

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

'No neutral ground'

in the war on terrorism. I presume there will be a lot of people in Ireland tonight and tomorrow who will differ with George Bush on that score.

Suicide bombings work

They're not a sign of desperation, but a successful military tactic. At least, that's what Hezbollah believes.

Newshound is now back up

as of 2pm, Tuesday.

General Clark

Dick is thinks General Wesley Clark will be in the shake-up when the Democratic Party selects its nominee next year. I think his current poll standings are a reflection of the weakness of the current list of candidates.

Much will depend on how well Clark can defend his record. He was forced out of his post of NATO Supreme Commander by President Clinton in 1999. And, according to British General Mike Jackson, Clark wanted him to lead an assalt on the Russians after they had surprised Clark and others by securing Pristina airport during the Kosovo campaign. {This link fixed thanks to Dick.}

Of course, Clark also has to learn to make up his mind.

Newshound down again!

Now I'm mad. I don't know why, but the Newshound is down for the second time in two days. I can't contact the ISP either until they get their servers back up.

Monday, September 22, 2003

"Soccer is the most ridiculous thing - EVER"

That's a line from an ad for one of the sports talk shows that NASN picks up from ESPN and MSG in the US. Even though I watch a lot of soccer on t.v here, I laugh every time I hear that line. I just keep picturing Gary Lineker's reaction to hearing that.

"America is our father protector"

Here's an article that seems to reflect a much better picture in Iraq than I'm used to reading. I'd love to believe that this is a genuine reflection of attitudes among Iraq's Shia population.

The Dunphy Show

Over at Back Seat Drivers, John says I should watch the Dunphy Show despite the politics. He says he finds Eamonn challenging.

Fair enough. I haven't watched more than 10 minutes spread out over two episodes, but I found him simply infuriating, not challenging. The only question he asked Lara Marlow that I was interested in was whether (and I'm working from a foggy memory now) given that Saddam is gone was the war worth it? Her answer was one of those beautiful "yes, but . . . " responses that is totally illuminating.

Her 'but', was full of "if the UN had approved; if the Israelis had done this, that and the other; blah, blah, blah". If Eamonn were challenging, he could have followed up with "If getting rid of Saddam was so important, then surely all other considerations were secondary and it was open to the French, Germans and Russians before the war to join with the Americans even if their motivations for doing so were completely different".

A lot of the anti-war people seem to be forgetting that the US and UK did go looking for UN approval for the war and it was denied them. And, no matter what they say, if the inspectors had taken a year and found no weapons, Saddam would still be in power. His tyranny would have continued. And, whatever about the weapons of mass destruction or the links with Al Qaeda, the viciousness of his regime was well known before the mass graves were uncovered after the war.


The Newshound is down at the moment. I don't know what's happened. I've been trying to find out since around 9:30 this morning.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Dunphy vs. Kenny

I really don't much care about this "match-up", but last night I tried both for a few minutes. The Late Late Show didn't bother me nor did it entertain me. The Dunphy Show, however, had my blood boiling as Eamon was yapping about how we (Ireland) should be in Chirac's corner in his battles with America.

Last time I clicked onto his program, Dunphy was talking to Robert Fisk. It seems obvious to me that Eamon Dunphy is waging his own personal jihad against the US, which I hope will cost him viewers. I won't bother with that show again. And, in my futile attempt to do something, I will be staging a one-man boycott of Dolmio products, the only sponsor of The Dunphy Show I can remember.

"Think Different" - about the Dalai Lama

The other day I professed to not knowing too much about the Dalai Lama. Apple Computers uses the Dalai Lama in it's "Think Different" advertising camapaign, although not in Asia, where he's apparently not famous enough for their ads.

Turns out, he's in favor of India's thermonuclear tests, as reported by Christopher Hitchens writing in Salon.com. Hitchens lists other Dalai Lama views or actions that he finds more objectionable than I do, but are still not what I would have expected. I'm certainly thinking differently about the Dalai Lama today.

Overall, I find him less objectionable now than I did three days ago when all I really knew of him was what I heard from Richard Gere.

Thanks to Michael Kelemen for sending me the Salon.com link.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Sep 11 memorial

In the forest park in Donadea, Co. Kildare. I haven't heard about this before. The unveiling is this Sunday (Sep 21), but there's no mention of what time.

Dalai Lama

I'm learning more about the Dalai Lama. I should have known better than to trust what I've learned from the entertainment news.

It seems his biggest problem is that China is a bully.

Taiwan and the UN

"Taiwan is the only country in the world that remains excluded from the United Nations". The fact that Taiwan is not allowed to be a member of the UN is a huge black mark against the UN. Fifteen countries signed a letter requesting Taiwan's membership be added to the agenda for the just opened UN General Assembly. The US, Canada, all the nations in the EU are NOT in that list of 15.

And, why is Taiwan not in the UN? Because it's neighbor, China, "is a bully". Simple. True.

It pays to complain

On Monday, I vented my anger with Greenstar for changing the service they're providing after I've already paid for it. Anyway, yesterday, Mr. Arthur Smith of Greenstar told me (after a lengthy conversation about recylcing, Greenstar, possible new legislation and business ethics) that I will be receiving a refund for the three weeks' general refuse collections that I will not now be receiving. That should amount to around €19, which will cover the trips to the dump that I will now have to make. Others should similarly complain.

I have no problem separating my garbage for recycling; my problem is with the manner that Greenstar chose to introduce it. If we had been offered a recycling "wheelie bin" and an additional recycling collection as seems to be the rule elsewhere, I'd have been very happy. Instead, we have to (a) store all these recyclable products somewhere for a month and, more annoyingly, (b) find someplace to store normal household refuse once our wheelie bin is full during the two week period when there is no collection or bring it to the dump myself. I told Greenstar that I would hold them responsible if there is an increase in vermin in our neighborhood when people start storing bags of garbage in their back yards for days at a time.

On a related note, I have begun to separate my garbage as required under the new Greenstar regime. Both Greenstar and Wicklow County Council told me that somewhere between 65-70% of household garbage is recyclable. We'll see. I suspect my can will be pretty close to overflowing again next Thursday, despite my efforts to separate out plastic bottles, tin cans, and newspapers.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Dalai Lama on terror

I have to admit to not knowing too much about the Dalai Lama, but I have an impression of him in my mind. That impression will have to change after reading this about his visit to New York.

It's "too early to say" whether the war in Iraq was a mistake. The Times also reports that he said it might be necessary to combat terrorism with violence.

UPDATE: I wasn't clear enough when I said my impression of the Dalai Lama would have to change. I know that after reading Blog Irish's comment on this post. I suppose I would have assumed that the Dalai Lama was 100% convinced that the Iraq war was a mistake and that using violence against terrorists would be totally "counterproductive".

Now I know that just because the man is a favorite of the Hollywood types doesn't mean he cannot think rationally and reasonably about the world.

Our enemy, the French

"France is becoming our enemy". So says Tom Friedman today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

John Burns, NY Times

I read that article (post below) twice. The second time I read it I wondered what about the Irish and British journalists? Did they play that game too? Why is it only American journalists who are talking about the compromises that were made in order to report from Iraq?

Is it possible that so many of the British & Irish journalists were so blinded by their anti-Americanism that they were incapable of reporting the truth from Iraq and Saddam's government knew this? How many times did I read/hear Saddam is a cruel, wicked tyrant, but ... blah, blah, blah ... America's only after the oil? How much was that worth to Saddam?

My big problem with many of the reporters in Britain and Ireland is that too few of them actually investigated whether Iraq's oil was a realistic motivation for spending billions & risking the lives of military personnel. They never added up the gain from toppling Saddam, which in financial terms is strictly the cost of Iraq's oil from a post-Saddam government as compared with the cost of Iraq's oil if we had just paid Saddam for it, and compared that with the cost of ousting him and rebuilding Iraq. We don't know what price the Americans will pay for Iraqi oil in the future, but my instincts tell me that the US will net a HUGE financial loss on the Iraq war. And, that this financial loss was obvious before the war to anyone who cared to have a serious look at the issue.

Too many journalists don't understand the basics of profit and loss.

Journalism in pre-war Iraq

"This war could have been justified any time on the basis of human rights, alone." Maybe this wouldn't be a sufficient justification for President Bush (or for me, if I'm 100% honest), but I cannot imagine that Tony Blair, Ann Clwyd and others from Britain's Labour Party will not seize on this piece.

I found this link through National Review Online. This article is so revealing - particularly about journalism and how it operates under the gaze of administrations like Saddam's.

The writer is John Burns, Baghdad correspondent for the NY Times.

Dishonoring the dead of Sep. 11

"We dishonor the dead by going back to sleep. We must dedicate the balance of our lives to fulfilling the mission for which they gave the remainder of theirs: fighting international and domestic terrorism until this scourge has gone the way of poison gas and nuclear weapons - becoming a weapon that cannot be used".
Dick Morris writing in today's New York Post.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Selective discrimination

"Martin is as gung-ho as Bloomberg to see to it that an even more draconian smoking ban set to begin in Ireland next year is a success even though the men and women who run the country's hospitality industry says that, based on what has happened in New York, business could fall by 30 percent".
That comes from this article in today's New York Newsday about the smoking ban in NYC and today's "educational" visit from Micheal Martin.

Anti-American capitalist

David Horgan is not your typical anti-American. He's a director of an oil company. I remember hearing him (I think it was him or it was a colleague from the same company) on the radio either during or just before the war in Iraq and he was nearly incoherent as he rambled on about what the Americans were going to do in Iraq.

I was embarrassed listening to him. I wanted Pat Kenny (I think he did the interview) to cut him short, but he didn't. From what I was hearing, it seemed to me that this man was petrified that his contracts with Saddam's government would be void when a new order took hold. Maybe his business was on the line. I don't know, but I remember thinking to myself "when you make a deal with the devil . . . ". And, Saddam was the devil. There's no getting around that. And, this man's company had a deal with his government.

So what if the UN sanctioned oil deals with Iraq. Doesn't mean you have to step up and provide Saddam and his stooges with the legitimacy that they don't deserve. No need to facilitate the continued enslavement of the Iraqi people. My sympathy was minimal.

Well, he's still there and still complainging about the Americans. He doesn't want to deal with them. He wears his Ireland jersey to distinguish himself from the Americans.

Horgan complains about the "crazy" damage done by the military. Imagine bombing a telephone exchange? What possible military use could that have? Well, maybe, just maybe now, to enable government and military commanders in Baghdad to coordinate their actions with those commanders in the field? It's just a guess, now.

How high I've climbed

Can't see nothin' coming up behind

I make my way through this darkness

I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me

Lost track of how far I've gone

How far I've gone, how high I've climbed

On my back's a sixty pound stone

On my shoulder a half mile line

Worst Brings Out NY's Best: New York Newsday — (Sep 12, 2001)

63 Reasons to Hope: ABC News — (Aug 29, 2002)

Envisioning Downtown: New York Times — (Mar 1, 2003)

Our new hallowed ground: Dallas Morning News — (Aug 29, 2003)

‘What Are the Odds?’: ABC News — (Sep 7,2003)

Two Years After 9-11, Hope Springs From Ground Zero: Radio Free Europe — (Sep 9,2003)

Pushing a Rock, Day After Day: New York Times — (Sep 9, 2003)

New York stronger after 9/11, says Giuliani: Irish Examiner — (Sep 15, 2003)

Monday, September 15, 2003

Arrogance of monopoly

A company called Greenstar, which I had never heard of until this weekend, has apparently taken over our local refuse collection company. This weekend, they put a leaflet through my door telling me that from October 1, they are cancelling one of our weekly collections in favor of a recycling collection.

I have already paid for 52 collections this year, but with three months left they are changing the contract. I was just on the phone a minute ago and I was told that I was unlikely to get a refund for the three collections that I will not now be receiving.

I would have no problem with this if it were introduced at the beginning of the year, when I would then be able to evaluate whether I wanted to pay for such a service. I would also have no problem complying with their wishes if they were providing an additional recycling collection.

And, the real topper, there are two different companies collecting refuse in my neighborhood. However, I have also found out that Greenstar owns both of these! No wonder they don't give a damn about the customer.

I won't be the only one linking to this article . . .

Eoghan Harris gives a nice plug to this site, as well as 4 other Irish blogs - most of which I've linked to from here, in yesterday's Sunday Independent.

You're missing

You're missing when I shut out the lights

You're missing when I close my eyes

You're missing when I see the sun rise

You're missing


Andrew Delaney: The Guardian — (Sep 11, 2002)

A New York Native Who Loved His Town: New York Newsday — (Oct 11, 2001)

Craig Gibson

Ronald John Hemenway — (Jun 18, 2002)

An inventory of the lost: Chicago Tribune — (Sep 3, 2003)

Without a trace: Irish Echo — (Sep 10, 2003)

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Our fate is complete

We've got no fairytale ending

In God's hands our fate is complete

Your heaven's here in my heart

Our love's this dust beneath my feet

Just this dust beneath my feet

Hopes and fears of the families who can only wait: The Guardian — (Sep 14, 2001)

Couple begins to accept son's likely death: Cincinati Post — (Sep 17, 2001)

"Those Boys Were His Twin Towers": New York Newsday — (Sep 18, 2001)

'She was a guardian angel sent to us' — (Oct 1, 2001)

Saint Mychal?: Irish Emigrant

Friday, September 12, 2003

Irish Media and Sep 11

Blog-Irish has a great summary of how the Irish media reacted to September 11. Here was my own article, published in the Irish Voice in December 2001.

MaBear's personal reflection on that day is well worth reading.

September 11

Of course, it all comes back, except the shock. Now I know what to expect. Watching CNN last night I felt the same sickness, sadness and anger, no, make it rage, that I felt then.

New York isn't just a great city - it's MY city. I know I have to share it with a few people, but that doesn't stop me feeling enraged at what happened that day.

I always tell people I come from "upstate, north of Albany", which is true, but only partially. I lived in Queens until I was 9 and I went to college in the Bronx. After college, I worked and lived in the NYC area for four years before moving to Ireland. So, I have actually spent more time in New York than anywhere else.

When I think back to September 11, I also remember back to October 2000. I went to NY for the "Subway Series". Even though the result was awful, the atmosphere in New York that week was electric. I never experienced the city any better than it was then.

I remember the day after it ended, I found myself at the World Trade Center in a sea of Yankee fans. They were heading to their victory parade and I was looking for a place to hide. I bought a sandwich and a Coke and sat in the little park across the street just staring up at the towers. I remember thinking that I was disappointed — disappointed that my team had lost and disappointed that the 'ride' was over, but really glad that I was there for it.

The following spring I was in New York again. My wife and I brought the children downtown to meet my brother for lunch in a pizzeria in the mall beneath the Trade Center. My 6 year-old daughter wanted to go to the top, but the lines were too long so we told her "next time". It was the first thing she mentioned to me when I got home on Sep 11 — that now we'd never be able to go to the top of the World Trade Center. She was crying and that was all she could think to say, but I also knew she knew more, had seen more, than I wished she had.

I'll show you courage

You can call me Joe

Buy me a drink and shake my hand

You want courage

I'll show you courage you can understand

The phone line from Flight 93 was still open when a GTE operator heard Todd Beamer say: 'Are you guys ready? Let's roll': Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — (Sep 16, 2001)

I'm no hero, says NY mercy cop: The Argus — (Nov 13, 2001)

Hero of the Twin Towers: BBC — (Dec 15, 2001)

L.A.'s heroes still haunted by memories: Los Angeles Daily News — (Sep 1,2002)

Many Firefighters Say They're Not Heroes: Colorado Springs Gazette — (Sep 20, 2002)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Viper's in the grass

Hell's brewin' dark sun's on the rise

This storm'll blow through by and by

House is on fire, Viper's in the grass

A little revenge and this too shall pass

FBI Websites Document Evidence Against Bin Laden: US State Department — (Dec 15, 1999)

'Bin Laden's fingerprints all over these attacks': Daily Telegraph — (Oct 15, 2000)

Bin Laden: Steganography Master?: Wired — (Feb 7, 2001)

The Terrorists' Encyclopedia — (Summer 2001)

The Counterterrorist Myth: The Atlantic Monthly — (July/August 2001)

The Lion of Panjshir: BBC — (Sep 10, 2001)
NOTE: Shah Masood died after this report was filed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

More on Foreign Policy

{I just lost a long post and some good links on this topic.}

Dick and Jon are still debating the merits of Adam Garfinkle's article on Foreign Policy.

I just want to address a couple of Dick's points. Dick questions whether intervention in Iran, Chile, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nicaragua were ultimately in the interests of the US. In hindsight that question is easy to ask, but given the experience of the 1930s and 40s, it seems to me to be a sensible approach to stand up to a threat as early in its growth as possible. At what point did Manchuria, Abyssinia, China, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Yugoslavia, Norway, Holland, France and/or Britain become vital to US national security? I don't know, but that point was passed along the way to Pearl Harbor.

Dick also worries that Afghanistan may be heading into another civil war. That would be a disaster for the Afgani people. However, I don't think US national security depends on law and order taking hold in that country. Merely preventing Afganistan from resuming its role as host to Al Qaeda training camps would be sufficient.

Brush with greatness

My brother shared a Fordham University dorm room with Michael Alig in 1984. I'm sure I even met him. If I'd only known that he was destined for such fame and celebrity . . .

Monday, September 08, 2003

Michael Meacher

He claims his views were misrepresented. By whom? It was an article written by him that appeared in the Guardian that has caused him all the trouble.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Michael Meacher

This man used to be a government minister. But, now he's publishing articles using the most lurid conspiracy theories to push his anti-American views.

It seems pretty certain that US authorities bungled many opportunities to prevent the September 11 attacks, but there's no way that the US government allowed the attacks to happen by design.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Superpower without a military?

"71% of Europeans want to see the European Union become a superpower like the United States in order for the EU to cooperate better, rather than compete, with the US. However, 51% of those resist increased military spending, the survey found."

Does the word "fickle" come to mind? How do those people who want the EU to be a superpower imagine that will happen while defense budgets remain so neglected?

American defense spending as a percent of GDP fell sharply during the 1990s, but has risen again in the past two years. Projected defense spending for 2003 is 3.5% of GDP - approximately where it was in 1996. Defense spending in Europe is down around the 2% of GDP range (varies by country). How can anyone seriously expect the EU to become a superpower when it won't spend money on defense?

Is it war or peace?

I think this is a good summary of where we are in the War on Terror. If you ignore the cheap Clinton jibe and take his percentages with a pinch of salt (I suspect that those who are unsure is much, much larger).

By the way, he's considered ultra-right wing.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Foreign policy

Dick was not as enamored of the the Adam Garfinkle piece on foreign policy as I was.

Dick asks the question "what did they think would happen in 1953"? I suppose, obviously, they thought that Iran would not become a client state of the USSR, which was THE primary concern of US foreign policy in the early 1950s. They probably hoped it would develop along the lines of S. Korea or Spain. Not pretty, but acceptable in those times of global cold conflict with the USSR.

I suppose similarly, one could have asked about the Vietnamese people "what view of the US will the people have after this war"? Well, I would doubt too many would have said in 1974 that the biggest problem between the US and Viet Nam in 2003 would be that Vietnamese catfish farmers feel (rightly) they are getting a raw deal from the US.

As for the Mujahadeen, not all of them morphed into the Taliban. In fact, there were many different strands of the Mujahadeen and if the Taliban had not had help from Pakistan, it's doubtful they would have been able to establish their rule over much more than their stronghold in the southeast of Afghanistan.

"Unintended Consequences & Unlearned Lessons"

Thanks to Jon Ihle for digging up this article on foreign policy. It's fairly long, but read it first. Then read this one by Robert Fisk. His hindsight isn't even 20-20.

Smoking at the UN HQ

I'm opposed to the ban on smoking in New York and its coming here. However, I'm not sure I can agree with the Daily Telegraph when it says that banning smoking at the UN's headquarters will "put the future of international relations, already strained enough, into intolerable jeopardy".

The UN imposed a partial ban on smoking at its HQ in 1995, which has not been that successful. I presume the full ban will be just as successful.

However, this issue did get me wondering if the various embassies in Dublin and the consular offices around the country will be exempt from the Irish smoking ban.

Irish neutrality at "grave risk"

I'm not a fan of neutrality. I believe Ireland would be better served and more honest by being in NATO. If Norway, Finland and Denmark can manage to be in NATO, I don't see why Ireland can't.

However, even if I believed in NATO, I would not agree that allowing the US to transfer soldiers and arms through Shannon is a risk to neutrality -- AS LONG AS that facility is open to all who want to avail of it at the going rate under the same regulations. The Irish Examiner doesn't see it that way (yesterday's editorial).

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

E-mail scam conference

If you've ever thought about setting up an e-mail, money-making scam, then this conference is for you. There are still some places open.

NASN - health warning needed

Last week I raved about getting the North American Sports Network with its baseball (and other sports) on t.v. Well, I now think that maybe there should be a health warning. I've nearly overdosed on baseball since I got the channel in. Friday, live game, Milwaukee vs. Chicago. Saturday, 4 hour live game, New York vs. Boston. Sunday (no baseball). Monday, two live games, Boston vs. Philadelphia and then San Francisco vs. Arizona. And, then last night, a 5 hour, 15 inning game between St. Louis and Chicago. And, every one of those games was exciting. Another live game tonight.

My wife and children haven't seen anything other than baseball on the t.v. for a week now and I suspect they're beginning to hate it.

Ad from UTV Internet

The ad you see in the right hand column is the result of an arrangement I came to with UTV regarding their internet services in the past few days. I approached them and asked them if they'd like to promote their services on the Irish Eagle and Newshound after my own experience with them - setting up the service and the price they charged - was very satisfactory.

More on productivity

Loads of contributions on the productivity argument over the past 24 hours. Frank, Dick, Jon & Bran all chip in.

I'll just comment on one line from Dick. "Fear is a powerful motivator in a jittery economy. Take too many holidays or sick days and you might become dispensable"

My father used to say this about those who wanted extra (more than 2 weeks) vacation time: "If we don't need you after 2 weeks, we don't need you."

Minister Martin and the smoking ban

I heard Minister for Health, Micheal Martin, on RTE news yesterday being interviewed by Sean O'Rourke. When O'Rourke asked him about a possible threat to jobs in pubs & restaurants due to the smoking ban, the Minister cited the NYC experience of an increase in jobs in the hospitality sector in NYC from the spring of 2002 to spring this year despite the imposition of a smoking ban.

I was really hoping O'Rourke would have said something along the lines of, "I'm sure that's true Minister, but New York City's hospitality sector was devestated by the Sep 11, 2001 attacks and was still at its ebb in the spring of 2002. An increase was anticipated regardless of the new laws on smoking. The employment levels are not yet what they were in the spring of 2001."

Tuesday, September 02, 2003


Karlin Lillington of the Irish Times and Jon Ihle of Back Seat Drivers are having a "discussion" on the merits of the US vs. EU vacation time.

It's hard to argue with the premise that more vacation is fun and refreshing, but it also seems blatantly obvious to me that the less time you spend on the job, the less you produce. Sure, Karlin is a journalist and may be more productive after breaks, but I'm not sure that works the same for the guy who's putting radiators in new cars at the assembly plant.

And, productivity growth is vital for Europe.

When I read these words (from the ILO report) "European and other industrialized countries - while achieving slightly lower productivity growth rates on average than the US" and then read that the difference is that the US experienced 2.2% productivity growth over 7 years compared with 1.2% in the EU I have reason to suspect the rest of this press release. Considering the size of these two economies (US & EU) and that we're talking about a 7 year period, the difference between 2.2% and 1.2% sounds massive to me.

Also, Karlin makes reference to the fact that some EU states have lower unemployment rates than the US. Well, other than the UK, the rest of the states mentioned (Luxembourg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden)are small to minnow sized economies. And, just as there are regions in the US where unemployment is well below the national average, so it is with the EU (although Iceland is not in the EU, a fact overlooked by the ILO). The crucial fact remains that the EU's unemployment rate is well above the US rate.

One key factor not mentioned in the ILO report is that the US created 20m jobs in the 1990s while the EU created 2m.

Euro troubles

Sweden's PM has accused Germany, France & Italy of behaving improperly by not preparing for the downturn and, thus, hurting the euro. He also said that Sweden might have to delay joining the Euro if the stability pact rules fell apart. Well, first Germany, now France is in breach, falling apart can't be far behind.

Bad news for Ireland, but it was always a bad idea to join a currency with nations that only comprised about a third of your imports and exports. Joining the dollar made as much sense economically. Ireland should have remained out of the euro as long as Britain was out.

Footsteps in Time - end of the Cold War

"There can be little doubt that the most significant event in bringing the Cold War to an end was the arrival of a new General-Secretary as leader of the USSR in March 1985".

This quote comes from "Footsteps in Times" by Kevin McCarthy. This book is used as a school text book in Irish secondary schools in the Junior Certificate program. Whether Mr. Murphy is deliberately misunderstanding cause and effect is impossible to discern, but there can be "little doubt" that Mr. Gorbachev's selection as General-Secretary was a result of the pressure the Soviet Union was under by 1985.

The combination of Lech Walesa and John Paul II in Poland combined with American military, economic and social pressure on the USSR after the invasion of Afghanistan created the conditions that led to Mr. Gorbachev's rise to power. There can also be "little doubt" that he never intended for the USSR or its cold war allies to move away from Communism. His goal was to manage a change in the system, not destroy it.

John Paul II and Ronald Reagan had more to do with the ultimate demise of the USSR and bringing an end to the Cold War than did Mr. Gorbachev.

Not the worst example of anti-Americanism, but if ending the Cold War was a good thing (and Mr. Murphy obviously believes it was) then credit should be given where it's due.

School's back. So what's being taught in Irish schools?

One thing that I only realized last year was the extent to which a negative impression of the United States is reflected in the text books used in Irish schools. Of course, the individual teacher can make a big difference, but it's also true that for many teachers, what it says in the text book is "right" - particularly at primary level where teachers are generalists rather than specialists.

My children are tuned into this reality, but my problem is that most Irish school children are not. I'm not sure what the source of this anti-Americanism is, but I plan to highlight it as it surfaces during the school year.