Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Like seemingly every teenager in Ireland, my daughter has a mobile phone. Of course, she loves sending and receiving texts.

What she isn't as fond of is that her father loves sending texts too. I use the web to send her texts for free. What she really hates is that I have been using text messages to send her math problems. Math's not her favorite subject (it was always mine, which is why I majored in it in college) so we do a little extra work when we can. I send her the problems by text so that she can have them done before I see her later in the evenings.

Math problems by text - you never see that in any ads for mobile phones. If this became common practice, it would probably cause a collapse in the teen-dependent mobile phone market.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Ram Stew

For the 4th straight year, the mighty Manhattan Jaspers have won the Battle of the Bronx. Someday the Fordham Rams will be a real team again.

Canadian anti-Americanism

Sociologist Nora Jacobson, who lives in Toronto, has an op-ed piece in this morning's Washington Post in which she describes Canadian anti-Americanism. It seems that liberal Americans may find anti-Americanism tough to take when they "flee to Canada".

For much of this article you could replace "Canada" with "Ireland" (possibly "the EU") and it would be just as valid.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Urine-infested Liffey

This has to rate as a bad moment for Bord Fáilte. This headline, "Urine-infested river called threat to Dubliners' health" is just beneath this pleasant picture of the Liffey on the Toronto Globe and Mail's home page.

Of course, it's not a great moment for the Globe and Mail either. I don't think "urine-infested" is correct. "Rat-infested" — sure, but not urine-infested. Any wordsmith or grammarian out there who can speak with more certainty about this?

U2's new album - Last Word

G R E A T!

As I said a few days ago, I don't make quick judgments. Now I feel confident. I've listened to it often enough and taken in the lyrics sufficiently. This is one of U2's top three albums (Joshua Tree & Achtung Baby are the other 2). The last album was pretty darn good. This one is better.

If you want to read a much longer, grander review by someone who's in tune with my assessment, read Kevin Tanner.

Still a bit of a mystery as to why they left off Fast Cars from the US version, the track that contains the album title in the lyrics.

"Banned in Hohhot"

A Mongolian heavy metal band, Hurd, have been thwarted in their attempt to play in front of 2,000 fans in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia by the Chinese Authorities.

It may seem like a minor issue, but is a good illustration of the problems China has with ethnic minorities. The Chinese government simply doesn't trust its own people.

People with money in their pockets thanks to greater prosperity are unlikely to take this kind of thing forever. China will be lucky if it's still in one piece by 2050.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

"It isn't the turkey, but the idea that we care for". So said a soldier in the Army of the Shenandoah on Thanksgiving Day in 1864. He was responding to the generosity of the "Loyal North", from where turkeys and other Thanksgiving fixings were sent to the men serving in the Union Army. The Washington Post has a good editorial about Thanksgiving during war time, remembering Lincoln's Proclamation for Thanksgiving 140 years ago this week.

I'll try not to repeat myself this year. What I wrote last year applies pretty well again this year (although the NY Post link is now dead).

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, especially my fellow Americans here in Ireland (Carrie, William & Jon) AND those Irish bloggers with whom I regularly engage in debate: Mick, Frank, Chris, Dick, Peter & Gavin.

Irish Passport

Stephen McKinley has an article in this week's Irish Echo about whether carrying an Irish passport is a safer option when traveling in some of the world's troublespots.

I'm quoted in the article. As is always the case, the quotes give part of the story, but not all of it (and that's more my fault than Stephen McKinley's). I'm quoted as saying that I saw the Irish passport as an "optional extra".

I never really invested much emotion in any passport, no more than I did in my drivers license or other government papers. I just saw the Irish passport as another government document.

That doesn't mean I'm not proud of my Irish roots or happy living in Ireland today.

I suppose if I was being forced to give up one of the passports it might become an emotional issue. Probably because I was born with a right to both an American and Irish passport I didn't think much about having either one. As the article mentions, it was only since September 11, 2001 that I have started to consider what the passport says about me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Pony up time!

It's time again for the Newshound's fund-raising drive. Feel free to join in!

In many ways this is a tough proposition - convincing people to voluntarily pay for an on-line service. I have to admit I don't really find it "embarrassing" (thanks for the plug Mick), but it does actually require a lot of effort. However, there is a lot of satisfaction when people do subscribe and obviously, I have a great regard for subscribers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

U2 news

By the way, if you're interested in U2 you might like to visit the Newshound's News of the Irish pages, where news U2 news is currently flavor of the month. There is also an archive of U2 news links.

Be afeared

Another item that I nearly missed thanks to all the election hoopla last month. Tears for Fears is whole again. And, they're touring. I'm just head over heels thanks to that news.

Not in the picture

U2 gave a free concert in Brooklyn yesterday. I'm still trying to figure out what the band intended by choosing this location. The Brooklyn Bridge is definitely a nice back-drop, but the missing towers behind it make the background much more non-descript than it used to be. I don't believe this is unintentional.

I'm not trying to say anything negative, but I'm trying to guess at the symbolism of that exact shot, which was one of the most identifiable New York City scenes.

They were filming the video for All Because of You, which contains the lyric
Some people get squashed crossing the tracks

Some people got high rises on their backs

I’m not broke but you can see the cracks

You can make me perfect again

Phone call

The priest who I talked about last week called me last night in response to my letter.

We had a pleasant chat. It goes without saying that he and I will never agree about these things. It's also the nature of these things that it was only after we hung up that I thought of all sorts of excellent points that I could have made.

I explained that basically I was outraged that he compared the Marines behavior in Fallujah with what happened at Auschwitz. He indicated that he hadn't intended that, but that he simply wanted to make a point about man's inhumanity to man. I don't want to get into a 'he said, then I said', but I didn't buy that and said as much. There's no comparison between the Marines at Fallujah and the Nazis at Auschwitz. NONE.

He led the conversation in all sorts of directions - the shooting of the injured Iraqi last week, Dresden, Israel, the ridiculing of Chirac & Schroeder by Americans (he visits the US regularly), what Jesse Jackson recently said, etc., etc., etc. - basically it was a wild chase through all of America's "transgressions". Needless to say, I countered each of his statements and nearly choked when he mentioned the treatment of Schroeder and Chirac. (I pointed out that this was as nothing compared with the venom directed at George Bush by Europeans.)

In the end we basically agreed to disagree and I got off the phone feeling better for having written to him.

It's probably a measure of how bad the fall in Mass attendance is that he enthusiastically asked me to come again - twice. I explained that his is not my parish and he accepted that. I think he was more concerned that I was another occasional attendee at Mass who had been put off for life.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Price of the album

I can't understand why the U2 album is so much more expensive here than it is in the US. Cheapest I've seen it for here is €13.99. In the US it's RRP is $13.99 (€10.73). Amazon.com has it for $10.99 (€8.43) plus shipping, of course.

I'm pretty sure that someone in Ireland could buy the album and have it shipped here for less than it costs in the local stores.

UPDATE Nov 23, 7:20pm — I only just found out that anyone buying the record in the US will only get 11 songs, while British & Irish customers get 12. Not sure why that is, but it probably helps explain the extra cost here. The missing song is Fast Cars.


I hadn't realized that the new U2 album wasn't available in the US yet. Only found out just now at Amazon.com. Do I ever feel "hip"!

I got the new record on Saturday (in the supermarket - not sure why anyone waited outside for 24 hours to buy it). I never make quick judgments when I buy a new album. I have to play it - a lot - before I decide. And, even then my opinion doesn't always jive with others. I actually like Pop (prefer it to Zooropa), but I know a lot of U2 fans do not.

Anyway, so far, my favorite songs are City of Blinding Lights, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own and Yahweh. When you listen to the last of those, you'll feel you should be looking skywards and throwing your arms up to the heavens.

All of this is subject to change at my whim.

I'm not sure I'll ever fully take to the lyrics of Love and Peace or Else, but I love the music.

One week later

Politics again at Mass yesterday. This time I was at my usual parish.

What a difference.

No, the priest didn't lead us in a version of God Bless America, but he spoke briefly about the difficulties that Catholics face when voting. He mentioned issues - help for the poor, abortion - and how candidates from rival parties may be strong in only one of these areas.

I was wondering if I was reading too much into what he said until on the way out I heard a woman walking near me say, "Did he just defend those who voted for Bush"? Nothing overt, but a very subtle "back off" to anyone in the congregation who might be quick to condemn Americans for reelecting President Bush. All in all, it was about as political as I like my homilies.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Criminals Yea — Catholics Nay

Rocco Buttiglione wasn't suitable for a post on the EU Commission, but apparently being a criminal or former Communist government apparatchik is all right.

Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party apparently let the cat out of the bag (RealAudio) when he stood up in Strasbourg yesterday and named Mr. Jacques Barrot as having been convicted in France in 2000 on embezzlement charges.
After receiving the conviction, however, Barrot, a close ally of France's President Jacques Chirac, benefited from a presidential amnesty which also made it illegal to make any public mention of the conviction under French law. The statement was part of a wide-ranging attack by Farage against several members of the new Commission, which he concluded by saying that “nobody would buy a used car from this Commission”. Political group leaders reacted vehemently to the attack by saying the European Parliament should not be used as a place for defamation and warned he could face criminal sanctions for slander.
So, technically Mr. Barrot is clean. In fact, because Mr. Farage made his statements in Strasbourg he may now be the subject of legal proceedings because it's illegal in France to discuss this publicly.

Before yesterday, none of the French MEP's knew about Mr. Barrot's convictions.

Transparency, how are you?

A fellow member of the "dumb"

Christopher Hitchens got some space in the Daily Mirror last week to take issue with the paper's front page from November 4.
I don't mind being shouted at, while having discussions around the dinner table or the studio set. After all, I have done some yelling on my own account.

What I do mind is the pitying glance, or the heavy sigh, that is deployed these days. I am not ready to be patronised, or condescended to, unless by someone of some eminence who has earned that right. And even then I regard it as a sign of weakness rather than strength.

To be frank about it, I don't know all that many geniuses in the anti-Bush camp. In Britain, I gather, conceited nonentities such as Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy (neither of whom could be elected as mayor of Hogwallow, Nebraska, in a bad year) are treated as serious party leaders, while George Galloway and Tariq Ali pose as leaders of an "anti-war" movement.
{Link found thanks to Slugger O'Toole.}

Is this why Kerry lost?

I almost forgot this. On Nov. 5, the Irish Examiner had a light piece about a man from Limerick who went to visit his daughter in Washington, DC. While he was in his daughter's apartment, the phone rang and he answered it.
Mr Lowe from Limerick got the surprise of his life when he picked up the phone when staying with his daughter in Washington DC last Monday.

The former US President [Bill Clinton] was on the other end of the line canvassing votes for Democratic candidate John Kerry.

“He asked me to give my support to the Democratic candidate John Kerry. He talked about his qualities and the experience he would bring to the White House if elected president.

“However, I had to tell him I didn’t have a vote and that I was over for my daughter’s wedding.

“When I told him I was from Limerick he was delighted and said he still remembers the great welcome he got in Limerick during his first presidential visit,” said Jim.
Now, it's a nice story, don't get me wrong. But, if you consider that Bill Clinton's time the day before the election was a valuable resource, why was he calling anyone in DC when he clearly should have been focused on Ohio (or Florida or any knife edge state)?

Is this indicative of how the Democrats used their resources? Did they waste valuable time calling people in states (and DC) where the outcome was not in doubt?

Indifference to drugs in sports

Dave Hannigan, writing in the Irish Echo this week, takes a good shot at Ireland's sporting bodies and their lackadaisical attitude to drugs in Irish sports.
That a proven drug cheat is gainfully employed by a club at all says something about the culture around doping in Ireland. Everybody laughed when Colonel Gaddafi's son retained disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson to train the Libyan national soccer team. What's the difference between that and Hendricken working in provincial rugby? None at all. Except that Johnson was probably being paid more lavishly for his efforts.
I can't help wondering if some of the young athletes who have died recently are somehow connected to this indifferent attitude to performance enhancing drugs in Irish sports.

Evangelicals in NYC

Interesting article from the New York Times last Sunday that I've been meaning to mention. The number of evangelical Christians in New York City is thought to be between 1 and 1.5 million. And, the number is rising fast.

The Times article says that it's still difficult to assess what political impact this will have, but it seems certain that it will move the political center to the right.

Maybe this article will be the start of the Times's effort to understand Christianity today. I'm far from an expert on the variations in Protestantism, but I'm aware that there is a difference between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists even if I'm not realy sure what those differences are.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Taiwan = Ireland

So says an editorial (also on today's Newshound) from the Taipei Times. Sun Yat-sen is Taiwan's Oliver Cromwell and the "Mainlanders" are the Protestant ascendency.
The colonial ascendency imposed its symbols, its history, even its language upon the people it colonized and this is the heritage that some among the pan-greens now seek to dismantle. Sun, for instance is no more than the father of Taiwan than Oliver Cromwell was of Ireland. He is a totemic figure of the colonial power. The 1911 revolution has as much relevance to Taiwan as does prime minister Winston Churchill's wartime leadership of Britain to the happy denizens of today's Dublin.
Of course, the Chinese do not like these attempts to portray Sun as an outsider or to portray Taiwan as a separate nation.

{Reference for some items mentioned in the editorial: Sun Yat-sen controversy, the ruling DPP is also known as the "greens" and they are more pro-independence than the opposition KMT, also known as the "blues", who are more pro-China.}

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Caring relationships

The Archbishop of Dublin believes that couples, including homosexual couples, living in relationships other than marriage should be granted some of the legal rights currently available only to married couples.

This seems fair enough to me. Seeing as this whole debate has been dominated by "rights" and not by what is best for society, then those rights should include all people who live in dependent relationships. I bet for every gay or lesbian couple living in Ireland there are five houses with two brothers or two sisters or a widowed parent living with a single child. This seems particularly common in Ireland.

However, all relationships are not equal in terms of the benefits that accrue to society from those relationships. Marriage of one man and one woman is the bedrock of our society. Marriage does include the pro-creation and raising of children. No, it's not exclusively about that, but without children or at least the possibility of children, marriage has no meaning.

We all depend on the future generations. We want tomorrow's children to be the honest cops, brave soldiers, wealth creators, willing tax-payers and carers of the elderly when we reach old age. That goes for the gay man as much as it does for the father of six.

Someday European (& American & Japanese & Chinese etc.) society will realize that undermining marriage was a big mistake and benefits exclusive to those for whom children are a possibility and/or a reality will be renewed. Until then we can just sit back and watch as our society commits gradual suicide.

Commemorative plaque

Lisa Allison was a 21 year old student in 1996 when she went home to Liberty, TX to visit her family. Lisa had earlier survived a battle with thyroid cancer and now she was preparing to work in the hotel industry once she had finished her studies at the University of Las Vegas.

It was 8:30pm on April 3 and Lisa had a date the following day, so she took her father's car to the local car wash to get it cleaned. Unfortunately for Lisa, an animal named Robert Brice Morrow was at the car wash when Lisa got there. Morrow kidnapped Lisa and murdered her. He beat her severely and slit her throat before he tossed her body in a near-by river.

Robert Brice Morrow. This is the man who some people in Cork want to commemorate. They want to scatter his ashes and erect a commemorative plaque to him in the graveyard in Kilmurray.

I've said before I'm not a death penalty supporter. I still don't see why opposition to the death penalty has to mean honoring, which is how this seems, those who are executed for heinous crimes such as Morrow's. Let him be buried in Texas.

I'm sure the people of Liberty are outraged. Why shouldn't they be? Wouldn't the people of Clare be outraged if someone in the US decided to commemorate Brendan O'Donnell in a similar fashion? I bet they would.

Sanctions didn't work

What other conclusion is possible when you read that Saddam and his cronies netted $21 B I L L I O N thanks to their subversion of the sanctions regime? It wasn't only the oil for food program. In fact, most of the $21bn was thanks to an oil smuggling operation that western governments ignored.

I wonder if George Galloway's name will (has?) come up in the Congressional Hearings? He said that the Daily Telegraph's report that he was one of those who benefited from Saddam's 'generosity' was a dagger through his "political heart".

Monday, November 15, 2004

It's not just RTE that hates America

At Mass yesterday (not my usual parish), the priest took time during his homily to tell us about his recent trip to Auschwitz. He talked about how nobody spoke inside the camp other than the guides and about the conditions that the Jews lived in while in the camp. He mentioned how cold it was during his visit and how tough life was for those who had minimal shelter and no heat. I thought it a little odd that he seemed to think of it as an under-equipped refugee camp, but I figured he was assuming that we already knew the more horrible aspects of Auschwitz.

He then changed tack and started talking about Fallujah. Outrageously, he compared the US military's decision to not allow the Red Crescent aid trucks into Fallujah with the Nazis behavior at Auschwitz. His last line was that "nothing had changed in 60 years". I was totally flummoxed. I didn't hear a word for the rest of Mass. I couldn't work out if he had said what I thought he said or did I mishear him. Yet, I know I didn't mishear. I was fuming.

Part of me was annoyed that I didn't shout at him there and then. It's just not my nature and not what I would consider appropriate behavior at Mass. Still, I felt impotent, which only made me angrier.

The worst thing is, he didn't give me the impression that he was a radical or given to extreme views. I really suspect that he believes this view to be mainstream.

This sort of thinking is all too prevalent in the Irish Church. I remember Bishop Kirby making some silly remarks before the war in Afghanistan started (Sep 11 made no impression on him), although nothing as ugly as this. Sometimes I think this is the priests' only way of being on the side of those who are "hip and happening", as if uttering the most grotesque anti-American lines will help them win friends among the liberal media.

All it accomplishes is annoying me.

The Truman Show

Mark Sullivan's Armistice Day tribute to Harry Truman is like a slap across the face for anyone who doesn't realize how far today's Democratic Party has drifted from Truman. Sullivan argues that today's Democratic Party is closer in spirit to the Progressive Party of Henry Wallace, who ran against Truman in 1948.


Now I'm looking forward to seeing The Incredibles, which I'm assuming my kids will want to see, when it comes to Ireland.
While The Incredibles' battle against conformity and mediocrity screams anti-oppression to some, it's obviously Randian to others. In that sense, the film is being touted as the latest proof that, on top of everything else, the right wing has even wit and creativity on its side these days: This is a world turned upside-down!
This article {NOTE: link will be valid only until Wednesday) is more than a film review. It's a funny take on the differences in superheroes that appeal to the right and the left. The right likes their heroes to simply be out there fighting evil. The left likes them to be "conflicted".

The authors of this column, Suzy Hansen and Sheelah Kolhatkar, finish up with a discussion of the real life superheroes of the left – celebrities.
But if all the celebrities disappeared, who would the Democrats have left? Who would their spokespersons be? In the past year, the left had the Dixie Chicks telling Brits they were embarrassed to be from Texas; P. Diddy’s bizarre "Vote or Die" campaign; Michael Moore decrying American stupidity; Bruce Springsteen singing on the campaign trail; Paul Newman slumming it, knocking on doors.

What kind of heroic, larger-than-life figure could occupy that Hollywood void? If Republican hero Curt Schilling, brave, bloody-ankled, faith-based athlete, challenged a liberal to fight, who could match him? A George Soros?

"I would be in favor of Empathy Man," said Mr. Rall. "The man who plants the seeds of empathy into the cold, stony heart of the average red-state American."
Empathy Man!!! That just about sums it up.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Does RTE HATE America?

I'm sure there are people in RTE who don't, of course, but listening to Tom McGurk and his guests summarizing the morning papers on today's "Sunday Show" led me to consider whether RTE does in fact HATE America. If radios had pores, my radio's pores would have been seeping hatred by noon.

Ireland's rugby squad wins tune-up

That should be the headline in today's sports sections after yesterday's game between Ireland and South Africa, which Ireland won 17-12. Instead, it's mostly "Ireland moves into big league" or "Ireland's heroes have the last word" or "O'Gara leads Bok-busters".

Well, next week Ireland has to contend with the USA! Go Eagles!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Dumb - now 60m Strong!

That's right. President Bush's total popular vote is now over 60 million.

{Thanks to NRO for this link.}

Thursday, November 11, 2004

What am I missing here?

Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, goes before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and NO ONE even hints that he should step down NOW. The OCI receives a fair amount of public money. Is there any other government-funded body that would get away with sullying Ireland's international reputation, which Hickey admitted yesterday, as this one has? Shouldn't somebody's head roll?

I'm obviously not seeing the full picture here. Why isn't the OCI held accountable for the behavior of the athletes the taxpayers fund? When the FEI was notified that ABC Landliebe had failed a May drug test, didn't they inform the OCI? If not, why not? If yes, why didn't the OCI put O'Connor off the team? There's nothing in the Olympic rules which says you cannot suspend an athlete who fails a drugs test, is there?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


That's the word that the president of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland, Avril Doyle, used to describe Cian O'Connor's Athens gold (& Waterford Crystal's blue ribbon, which will surely have to be returned). Tarnished is putting it mildly. Fraudulent is more accurate.

O'Connor's caught. Ireland's had three gold medal winners since 1960. Two of those were cheats. Michelle Smith in 1996 and now O'Connor. Is Ireland the new East Germany? Obviously not, but I wouldn't be surprised if some people outside Ireland began to think so.

Pat Hickey has been at the helm of the Olympic Council of Ireland for both scandals. Will he now resign? Shouldn't he?

By the way, somebody might want to update the OCI's web site.

The 'new Irish' come home

The New York Times reports that the Irish neighborhoods in and around New York are being "de-greened" all over again. I witnessed the first re-greening in the mid-1980s. In the years I was in college in the North Bronx, the number of Irish accents heard in the local coffee shops, bars and pizzerias just seemed to explode.

I won't condone illegal immigration, but I do have sympathy for those who now feel that they have to leave due to the tighter restrictions on illegal immigration. The Ireland that most of them left is gone and the costs, particularly housing, are astronomical for those who missed the boom.
Mr. Finn, the emigrant advice officer in Dublin, agreed. "They are not returning," he said of the Irish from America. "They're remigrating to a different country."
I can't understand why Ireland and the US cannot agree on a certain number of visas that each country would make available to the citizens of the other. Rather than sending home those who would like to stay, the governments could facilitate a trade.

5,000 visas a year is a small number and I don't see why the US and Irish governments cannot make that many available annually. If 5,000 proves to be too many, then reduce the number and if it is too few increase it. As long as criminals and those who would be a charge on the state are screened out, I don't see what either country stands to lose.

UPDATE: Nov 11, 10:35am

A friend has reminded me of President Bush's "temporary worker" proposal for illegal immigrants already in the country. This plan outraged conservatives at the time, but it seems it will get the green light. Although the plan is targeted at the millions of illegal Mexicans in the US, it would presumably benefit some of the illegal Irish too. Maybe those who left for Ireland after last Tuesday's vote were too hasty?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Aer Lingus

Two recent articles about the National Airline in the US press. First, the Boston Globe on Aer Lingus's efforts to be the first low cost carrier on the Transatlantic route. The article offers some explanation of the gamble that is about to be undertaken by the airline we Irish taxpayers own.

The second article is from the Baltimore Sun. It seems that Baltimore/Washington is no longer part of the airline's plans. I wonder if this means that Aer Lingus will not return to the Washington area?

Arafat's in a "grave" condition

One of my clearest memories from elementary school was the homework assignment given to us by our 6th grade teacher. We were supposed to come in every morning with a snippet from that day's news. What I remember is the desperation among us to be the first called so that you could use "General Franco".

Time always moves slower for kids, but my memory is that for weeks on end the first kid called on each morning would report that "General Francisco Franco remains in a 'grave' condition". He just seemed to refuse to die. {Saturday Night Live got great mileage out of this after Franco's death. Each week Chevy Chase would report that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead".}

Now, almost 20 years later it's déjà vu all over again with Yasser Arafat.

UPDATENov. 11 7:55pm: Arafat's now conditionally in a grave.

Kerry Campaign - the sequel?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Boston . . .

All I could think when I saw this headline "Kerry run in '08 called conceivable" in today's Boston Globe was "Hmmmm — then again, maybe not."

I'm going to go on the record now and predict that any Kerry run at the White House in 2008 will be a very brief run. I suspect this is more about the battles inside the Democratic Party between the "Clintons" and the "non-Clintons".

Crash barriers

I'm obviously not a road engineer, but I had no difficulty in recognizing that a small bush and a patch of grass were insufficient "barriers" to prevent a car, truck or bus from crossing the divide on a motorway. Every time I drive along the M11 I consider how flimsy that hedge is.

In the region of the US where I grew up (NY, NJ, MA - probably the same everywhere), no highway would be built with a small "grass and bush" divide. Most new roads (by new, I mean post World War II) have a much bigger gap and generally the central divide has a significant dip so that anyone leaving the road will not find their way into the on-coming lanes.

By the way, wasn't this issue settled in favor of crash barriers after the accident on the Chapelizod by-pass 7 or 8 years ago? That was the one where a bus full of school children had a very lucky escape. I guess the fact that no one died meant that there was no reason to do anything about it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Semper Fi

The Marines are ready.
Now, their own ignorance and arrogance will be their undoing. They believe that they can hold Fallujah. In fact, they have come from all over to be part of its glorious defense. I cannot describe the atmosphere that exists in the Regiment right now. Of course the men are nervous but I think they are more nervous that we will not be allowed to clean the rats nest out and instead will be forced to continue operating as is.

Its as if a window of opportunity has opened and everyone just wants to get on with it before it closes. The Marines know the enemy has massed and has temporarily decided to stay and fight. For the first time, the men feel as though we may be allowed to do what needs to be done. If the enemy wants to sit in his citadel and try to defend it against the Marine Corps and some very hard Soldiers... then the men want to execute before the enemy sobers up and flees. . .

Every day, insurgents from inside Fallujah drive out and wait for Iraqis that work on our bases. Once the Iraqis leave they are stopped. The lucky ones are savagely beaten. The unfortunate ones are killed. A family that had fled Fallujah in order to get away from the fighting recently tried to return. When they got to their home, they found it taken over by terrorists (very common). When the patriarch showed the muj his deed in order to prove that the house was his, they took the old man out into the street and beat him senseless in front of his family.

Summary executions are common. Think about that. Summary executions inside Fallujah happen with sobering frequency. We have been witness to the scene on a number of occasions. Three men are taken from the trunk of a car and are made to walk to a ditch where they are shot. Bodies are found in the Euphrates without heads washed downstream from Fallujah. To date we have been allowed to do nothing. . .

Once again, we are being asked by citizens who have fled the city to go in and take the city back. They are willing for us to literally rubble the place in order to kill the terrorists within. Don't get me wrong, there are still many inside the town that support the terrorists and we cannot expect to be thanked publicly if we do take the city. There is a sense of de ja vu with the refugees telling us where their houses are and asking us to bomb them because the muj have taken them over. We heard the same thing in April only to end up letting the people down. Some no doubt have paid with their lives. The "good" people who may ultimately buy into a peaceful and prosperous Iraq are again asking us to do what we know must be done.
From a letter home written by a Major in the Marines. {Found thanks to Alaa's site}.


Alaa's got some tough words for everyone as the battle for Fallujah begins. He wants al Jazeera shut down or at least off the air. He wants martial law. (He has that now.)

Mostly he wants no more pussy-footing around:
Friends and allies: this is War and a very serious and dangerous one too. Do not underestimate the enemy. In Iraq you have at least 80% of the population on your side and desirous of change and success in creating the new society. Anybody who tells you otherwise is simply a liar. Wars are terrible and cruel but what must be done must be done. Remember what it took to defeat Nazism, Fascism and Japanese Militarism - the flattening of most of Europe and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, horrible as that may have been. Yet both Europe and Japan recovered and eventually enjoyed tremendous prosperity and peace, and the outcome of the horrors of war was entirely in the interest of all the “conquered” peoples. Why was that? Very simple! The right side won the war. The right side must win this war too, for the sake of our future generations and world peace.
We've all been so distracted by the election, but the future of Iraq will likely be decied over the coming days and weeks. I was glad yesterday when at Mass we were asked to pray for the people of Iraq. They need it now as much as they've needed at anytime over the past 18 months.

What they've had to endure is bad enough. It would be infinitely worse if it was all in vain.

Terry Prone

Could someone get Terry Prone a job with RTE teaching their reporters and analysts how to open their eyes so that they can tell us what they see and not what they want to see? Probably also a good idea if she did some work for the Irish Times.

I've been meaning to say this for a while, but I think Terry Prone might be the most sensible columnist in Ireland. I don't always agree with her, but I never feel like she's ever browbeating or insulting me. She observes, then she reports and then she offers her analysis. Would it be too much to ask that one or two others do the same?

There are so many good passages in today's short column, that I feel like reprinting the whole thing. Instead, I'll give you this:
Up to last week, we thought America was a big diverse society, but this week we learned they were really one big Bible belt hiding 51 million [obviously should she means 59m] religious fundamentalists from us. Gun totin' religious maniacs, all of them: anti-abortion, anti-stem-cell research. Beer drinkin', boot scootin', Bible-totin' unsophisticates, too thick to deserve democracy.

Or that's what liberal Ireland, Britain, Europe and east coast America would have us believe.

It boils my brains to be so embarrassed by people I normally agree with.
You might have to register to read this article, but it's worth it. She goes from the US election to the Buttiglione affair. Each sentence is a scoring punch.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Earth to Lawrence O'Donnell

Poor old Lawrence O'Donnell. He generally comes across as an intelligent analyst. He's obviously not taking Tuesday very well at all.

I was watching the McLaughlin Group yesterday and O'Donnell actually said that the blue states could secede in twenty years. This is all based on the findings that indicated that the red states spent more federal tax dollars than the blue states, which paid more in taxes. {I'm not so sure that this study was all that it was cracked up to be at the time, but maybe more on that later.}

What O'Donnell's not taking into account is that the country is not so neatly divided as he'd like to imagine. Remember the maps by county? Based on O'Donnell's analysis, the only whole states that could secede are Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. What happens when NY State tries to secede? Won't all the red counties then secede from NY State? Not a very likely scenario, is it?

Will someone please get a big glass of milk for O'Donnell? He obviously just needs to deal with his agita.

UDPATE: Nov 10, 4:45pm
O'Donnell's fellow McLaughlin Group participant Tony Blankley has more on O'Donnell's secession talk.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Seethe or smile?

For the most part, the past few days have been unbridled joy for me. Funny thing is, I wasn't that desperate to see Bush win. I went to bed on Tuesday night thinking that a Bush loss was more likely than a win. Yet, I knew that the Senate and House were going to be more Republican than they were before Election Day, so I figured that Kerry was pretty well boxed in. I assumed he'd govern cautiously for 4 years and be turned out in 2008.

Then the vitriol started pouring in. First it was on the radio. Didn't matter what station I tuned in. The anger was palpable. So was the bigotry. The terms used to describe those who voted for Bush would not be allowed if used about any other group of people. Those who are not part of the news teams were the worst. DJ's and other puff presenters excelled themselves in displaying their ignorance.

The following day, the newspapers weighed in. Simon Jenkins (in both the London Times and Irish Independent), Fintan O'Toole, the Daily Mirror, etc. are only the tip of the iceberg.

Most of the time I just laugh. You people and your high and mighty tone - I'm laughing in your face!

Every so often, however, it gets under my skin. I resent that I am compelled by law to pay in order to be reviled by RTE. I hope by the end of this weekend sanity will return to those who were clearly unhinged by Tuesday's results.

More from the Mirror

The paper that called me "dumb" has another intellectually challenging story on its front page today. An actor in a soap opera has been fired.

Well, I'm stumped. No way I can grasp all of the nuances of this one. If only I was as smart as the Mirror's readers.

It seems that after publishing that front page the Mirror has received some e-mails from Americans, both dumb and otherwise. Here's my favorite:
YOU send your convicts to one of the most beautiful places on Earth while you stay home in the fog and you call us dumb? - Russell Betts, Palm Springs, California

We don't like complexity

And, just in case you think that the Daily Mirror is the only purveyor of the notion that Bush supporters are dumb, here's Fintan O'Toole {sub. required} in Thursday's Irish Times:
a majority of American voters prefer to imagine a world divided between the Righteous and the Evil-doers than to deal with the complex problems of their vast nation.
You see? We couldn't possibly have recognized complex problems and rejected the solutions offered by Mr. Kerry as ineffectual. No, we're simpletons. We see the world in simple terms and want simple solutions.

Just because the Bush campaign was able to convey what it was about in straight-forward and consistent terms does not mean that those who voted for him consider him to be simple or that his policies will be simple.

On the other hand, Mr. Kerry offered mutiple solutions to the same problems. In other words he offered confusion because neither he nor the electorate was exactly sure what he was offering. And, it's as simple as that.

Extreme right, etc.

Can someone explain to RTE, the Irish Times, etc. that President Bush is no more governing from the "extreme right" than Bill Clinton governed from the "extreme left"? It's completely illogical to presume that more than 50% of the American population are at the extreme right. If President Bush were governing from the "extreme right" he'd have won an extremist's percentage of the vote.

President Bush is NOT Jean-Marie le Pen, who managed only 18% of the vote in the French Presidential election.

The centers in the mythical "left-right" divide are not the same in the US and Ireland, but that doesn't excuse the extremist Irish media from trotting out the label "extreme right" for President Bush.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Hey, what about me!

William of AtlanticBlog.com fame was at the US Embassy for an Election Night bash on Tuesday. Why didn't I get invited? I'm miffed (which I'm hoping is the opposite of giddy).

I would have thought that with all the free-loaders with @state.gov e-mail addresses in the Newshound database that at least one of them might have thought that I might enjoy an Election Night get together.

Well, I never!

To all single American liberals:

You have options.

Our man in London!

Ambassador David Johnson has defended my honor and that of 59 million other Americans with a letter to the editor of the Daily Mirror. The Ambassador was responding to the front page in yesterday's edition of that paper.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

By county

Here's the map by county. It's not just red states and blue states. It's a red country with some blue spots. Not much change from 2000.

UPDATE: Here's a different map which shades each county according to the % of the vote for Bush or Kerry. This really puts paid to all the "nation divided" talk. We had a vote. Some voted for Bush and some for Kerry, but we're not as "polarized" by region as many would have it.

{Map found through NRO.}

Conspiracy theory

Yasser Arafat was supposedly not that ill when he arrived in France on Saturday. Now he's apparently in a coma and it sounds like the end may be near.

Here's the conspiracy theory: Chirac is having Arafat finished off as a sort of "make it up to Bush" gift?

Im so dum!

Yup. Dum. Thats me.

Didnt even no that til I red the headline on front page of todays Daily Mirror. At leest there are 59 million others just as dum as me.

This front page sums up so much about the arrogance and ignorance of so, so, so many people in both Britain and Ireland (and the US too, it has to be said). Still, I never thought I'd see it in a newspaper headline.

Interestingly, in the edition I saw on sale here, there is a quarter page size picture of the area between Serena Williams's legs as she sits in a short skirt, presumably minus underwear. The Mirror's sense of good taste compelled them to draw in a tennis ball over the crucial area so I can't be sure. These are the people who are lecturing me - printing pictures that are a complete invasion and pandering to, . . ., whom? Their oh, so intelligent readers?

Gimme a break!


Just wondering if the people of Boston are so down over the Kerry defeat that the Red Sox big win already seems a distant memory. I seriously doubt it, but listening to reports yesterday referring to "gloom" in Boston (BBC) seemed ironic. It was only last Saturday that more than 3 million people lined the streets of Boston (& the Charles River) to cheer the Champions. Does anyone seriously think that 3 million people would have lined the streets to cheer John Kerry?

Baseball is so much more important than politics!

Is it really FIVE months til Opening Day?!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The west

George Hook was "astounded" to learn that 60% of Americans go to church regularly. This is the level of ignorance about America that exists in the media here. America is the most religious country in the western world by a long, long way. The differences between the US and W. Europe in this regard are vast and go a long way towards explaining the chasm in worldviews.

The US is becoming more religious (Christian) and W. Europe is increasingly secular/Islamic. The whole concept of the "west" died when the Berlin Wall fell. Too many people still don't seem to recognize this. We still obviously have much in common, but gradually what we have in common is becoming less significant and what separates us is increasingly significant.

More resources

Listening to RTE and I can't shake the feeling that some Democrats are not learning anything. Republicans are bible-thumping morons. Rich, bible-thumping morons. That's the essence of what RTE's reporter, Robert Short, just said was the reaction of one Democrat he talked to in Boston.

Also heard NY Representative Joe Crowley playing the poor mouth on RTE claiming that Republicans always have more money to spend as if this is why they lost. This is not true.

If these are the lessons Democrats are taking out of this election, the Democrats are doomed to go on losing.

Deliberately misled?

Dick Morris suggests that the exit polls deliberately misled us yesterday. This "is a national scandal", according to Morris.

Time to concede

John Kerry's Campaign Manager, Mary Beth Cahill, said
The vote count in Ohio has not been completed. There are more than 250,000 remaining votes to be counted. We believe when they are, John Kerry will win Ohio.
That's 75,000 more than Ohio's Secretary of State estimated, but whatever. If we take her figure as accurate, that would mean that Kerry would need to win 194,000 of those to overturn Bush's current lead. That's 77%, which is 28% more than he's won in the first 5.5m votes counted. Sounds pretty unlikely. (Even more unlikely if the Sec. of State's estimate is right - Kerry would need 89% of the provisional votes).

I had high hopes that Kerry wouldn't pull "a Gore" and would want to end this gracefully. He may yet. I think he needs to do so, early today, for the good of the country and himself. I don't think his political career is over, but it will be if he disgraces himself now. He'll be Al Gore II, which cannot be an attractive prospect.

UPDATE 4:35pm: Kerry has conceded. It's the right thing to do.

Peggy takes it

Some consolation for the Democrats losing the national elections - the Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives - comes in the race for Family Court Judge in Albany County. My old pal, Peggy (a.k.a. Margaret T.) Walsh won handily.

Bush wins

"Polls wrong, Irish Eagle's tea leaves and chicken entrails prove right"

I thought I might see that headline on front pages of Irish Independent or Irish Times this morning.

The best thing about the results from yesterday's vote is that President Bush has won on all fronts. He will be well ahead in electoral votes and he's well ahead in the popular vote. (I know, I know. It doesn't matter, but I'm so tired of hearing about this from the last election.)

A clear cut win is the best thing for the country.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

President Carter

A great reminder of the disaster that was the Carter Administration from Amir Taheri in today's NY Post. I'd like to believe that if John Kerry were somehow to be elected today that he wouldn't adopt a Carter strategy.

5th most important election!

After cutting open a live chicken this morning to examine the entrails, the picture is still pretty fuzzy. I still think a Bush win more likely than a Kerry win, but obviously it was easier to pick the winner of the Yankees - Red Sox series (even if I got the margin wrong).

I don't agree that this is the "most important election" ever or even in my lifetime. As far as I'm concerned the following elections were more important:
  1. Carter vs Ford 1976 - After Watergate and the Nixon resignation, this election was important just because it showed that the system still worked
  2. Carter vs Reagan 1980 - Carter was an extremely weak President and this election was between those who wanted to manage America's decline gracefully and those who wanted America to rise again
  3. Bush vs Gore 2000 - The idea of a President Kerry doesn't put me off anywhere near as much as a President Gore would have. He was clearly loony at the time (and this cost him the election, which he should have won handily) and has only proven more loony during the past 4 years
  4. McGovern vs Nixon 1972 - regardless of whether the Vietnam War was right or wrong, it would have been a disaster to allow pacifism to assume a dominant role in US politics

270 NOT 277

The Irish Times editorial today attempts to explain the Electoral College, but misstates the number of electoral votes needed to win. 270 votes will win it for either George Bush or John Kerry, not 277 as stated in the editorial.

The Times's editorial also claims that "[n]ewly registered voters are predominantly young, black and poor". I doubt a majority of the newly registered voters are black or poor. Young? Maybe. Disproportionately black and/or poor is possible, but not predominantly.


There have been some smelly sports stories recently, but this one takes the cake. The 'B' Sample taken from Waterford Crystal at the Olympic Games was stolen on October 21 (only confirmed yesterday) while in transit between Paris and Newmarket, England? What?!!

There's further confusion.

The head of the Equestrian Federation of Ireland, Avril Doyle MEP, was told by Mr. Bo Helander, General Secretary of the International Federation, that the 'B' Sample was on the way to Hong Kong when she asked last Friday. This morning, Ms. Doyle reported that the EFI's offices had been broken into overnight.

This is all just too bizarre. Will we now have sightings of this horse's urine sample all over Europe?

It seems that if the 'B' Sample is not found, O'Connor will get to keep the gold he won in Athens because the authorities will not be able to confirm the positive test, although there may still be a blood sample in the Paris lab.

This is one weird story. All I can say about this is, "You've got to be taking the piss".

Monday, November 01, 2004


Painful as it is to admit, using the Revenue Commissioners online tax filing system was a real treat. Other than the obvious annoyance at having to pay so much in taxes, of course.

I really wish Aer Lingus was as committed to its online customer experience.

More dangerous?

There are some things that are simply known. No evidence or proof is required. One of those, according to the Irish media, is that the world is more dangerous thanks to the Bush Administration.

The Irish Independent says so in its editorial today. The proof of this is that Osama bin Laden was on t.v. the other day.

Well, I'd like more proof. Is the world safer or more dangerous today? I find it very difficult to answer that question. However, I think it goes without saying that America is safer than it was on September 10, 2001. Impenetrable? No. As safe as it should be? Possibly not, but definitely safer.

But, what about the rest of the world? (Isn't each country's government charged with its nation's security, just as the Bush Administration is charged with defending America?)

There's a view here and in Britain that the world was safer before President Bush. Was it? Wasn't there a deadly war that killed hundreds of thousands in Europe during the last decade? Has President Bush done anything to undermine the prior Administration's work to end that conflict?

Has the Bush team sat back quietly while millions were killed in Africa, as happened during the last decade? No, in fact, the Bush Administration has been pushing the UN & EU for a tougher stance against just such a possibility in Sudan. In S. America, the Bush Administration has helped President Uribe mount a successful offensive against rebels, which has the support of 70% of Colombians.

No major wars in Asia have broken out. So, what is so dangerous about today as compared with the previous decade?

What's happened is that our delusional security has been shattered and for many in Ireland this is the real problem. They want their delusions back.

Land of 100,000 welcomes?

Gemma O'Doherty writes in Saturday's Irish Independent that some Americans no longer feel welcome in Ireland as a result of the prevalence of America-bashing.

Is this over-stating things? Maybe.

When I first came to Ireland in the mid 1980s anti-Americanism in the media and among students was pretty strong. It's hard to assess whether it's more common or more virulent today because (a) I'm no longer a student and (b) there's a lot more media, although there's still no definitive pro-US media outlet.

What may also be a change from the 1980s is the anti-Americanism among those who benefit most from America's global dominance - the soft, comfortable, urban middle class. I had no experience of these people when I was a student, so I don't really know what they thought in the 1980s. Today, however, I'm regularly harangued by those who drive big cars, live in nice homes, vacation twice annually and generally thrive under America's wing at the expense of the "exploited third world".

The popular view is that the war in Iraq has created anti-Americanism in Ireland and that most people are only opposed to "Bush's war", not anti-American. This is hogwash.

The media was building the case against America before the first US bomb had struck in Afghanistan in October 2001. Irish Anti-Americanism wasn't born in Iraq, it just reached new levels. It wasn't born in Afghanistan either. In fact, what has actually happened is that the 'normal' anti-Americanism was pushed aside during the Clinton years thanks to President Clinton's involvement in the N. Ireland issue. Any American who was here during the first Gulf War or the last years of the Cold War can confirm this. I would bet it wasn't much different during the Vietnam War.

Despite all the anti-Americanism, it's not so strong that it will force me to move. You have to be thicker-skinned than that - and I don't feel afraid here, although I probably wouldn't venture out in my Bush-Cheney baseball cap. I only wear that when I want to rile someone.


Hard to get a good picture of what might happen tomorrow. Despite the optimism of Democrats and pessimism of Republicans I know, I believe Bush will win. I'm not in the US, so maybe I'm misreading the tea leaves, but nearly everyone I know lives in the deep blue of Kerry country, which may explain the views of my friends and family.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the future of polling is at stake. So many polls, so many wildly different conclusions. Only one can be correct, right? Well, it's possible that none will be correct and that the only sensible option is to look at an average of the polls.

I haven't had a chance to fully digest this analysis yet, but I love all the math.

Wal-Mart - occasion of sin?

Father Mike Gleeson of St. Anthony's parish in San Gabriel, CA, (& formerly of a parish here in Ireland) is one of those activist priests who loves a trendy cause. He campaigned against nuclear weapons, he campaigned against the Iraq war and now he's helping lead a new moral crusade - against Wal-Mart.

Obviously, I don't know Fr. Gleeson, but I've met and known priests like him in the past. Generally, if it's hip and trendy to be against something, they're against it. But, if they have to take a stand in support of the faith they are charged with promoting, their support's often lukewarm at best.

{I wonder if yesterday Fr. Gleeson said anything along the lines of this letter from Bishop Loverde of Arlington, VA?}

I don't really have any problem with people who want to oppose Wal-Mart. I'm not a huge fan, but neither am I a fanatical opponent. I sometimes shop there when I'm in the US, but I also think the stores can be dirty and the products cheap.

Regardless, I don't think Wal-Mart represents a moral issue and Fr. Gleeson would do well to take a back seat in the campaign to keep Wal-Mart at bay.

One more thing. Fr. Gleeson said Wal-Mart is "the greediest corporation on Earth". Just because a company is successful does not necessarily mean it's "greedy". I would be willing to bet that some of the shop-owners who stand to lose out if Wal-Mart does open in the area are much greedier than Wal-Mart. They're just not as good at running a business.