One thing is clear: Not all Irish eyes are smiling.
Our latest saga from the old sod begins with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern praising the outcome of November's U.S. presidential race, saying "had Sen. (John) Kerry been elected, U.S. multinationals abroad would be subject to a new taxation, which would have had a significant impact on the Irish economy."
While expressing his congratulations and support for President Bush, Ahern also stressed: "We will always have a special relationship with the Democratic Party, and that will continue."
No, says one leading Democrat - and in no uncertain terms.
"Bertie is kissing George Bush's (posterior)," Stella O'Leary of the Irish American Democrats lobbying group doesn't mind saying in the Irish Echo newspaper. "Ireland is not, and could never be, so desperate as to compromise, to suck up to George Bush."
In related news, the Irish American Unity Conference accepted the resignation of Tom Madigan as its press coordinator after he had labeled Bush a "chimp" and "stupid little twit."
"The electorate that decided to give this stupid little twit four more years will get exactly what it deserves," The Beltway Beat quoted Madigan as writing to IAUC members the morning after Election Day.
"No more can the American people hide behind the administration and point to its colossal ineptitude and vacuous foreign policies and claim innocence," he said. "The people have now chosen to put this chimp back in the White House for four more years."
John Fogarty, IAUC's national board member, told this column: "We would not ordinarily discuss organizational matters outside the organization, but we are dragged reluctantly to answer your question: Tom has already communicated his resignation; I can confirm that Tom Madigan has resigned from the IAUC."
The Washington-based wholly American 501c(4) lobbying group calls itself a "nonpartisan" chapter-based human-rights organization working for justice and peace in Ireland.
On that note, Fogarty said, "The truth is many of our members come from both parties of the U.S., and probably several more parties after that, but they don't guide the principles of either side of our organization."
Thanksgiving must be just around the corner, as Bruce Friedrich just finished writing annual holiday greetings to the White House.
"Dear President Bush," he begins. "May we talk turkey?"
This year, the vegan outreach coordinator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the president to "correct the glaringly inaccurate statements about the presidential turkey pardoning that are posted on the presidential Web site.
"I'm also sure that you will want your pardoning speech to be factual.
"First of all, this is not the 57th consecutive turkey pardoning, as your Web site indicates, but the 16th. Although your site and news release state that President Truman began the tradition, President Truman actually ate the turkeys presented to him by the turkey federation.
"The first turkey not to be eaten was 'Hawaiian Charlie' in 1987, and it was your father who began the current tradition of actually 'pardoning' the birds back in 1989."
And what becomes of the pardoned fowl?
"(T)hese overbred turkeys have an average life expectancy of six months, according to (among others) Tom Brown, the manager of Frying Pan Park, where the turkeys are sent after their pardoning. In 2000, one of the turkeys died the day after the pardoning, probably from stress," suspects Friedrich.
We can confirm that turkeys from 2000 and 2001 were dead by the next year's pardoning, albeit the average life expectancy of the birds Bush has pardoned thus far is less than three months. (Katie lived the longest at nine months.)
"Last year's turkeys, Stars and Stripes, were both dead by Valentine's Day," says Friedrich, who is asking Bush to send this year's otherwise lucky turkeys to a farm-animal sanctuary rather than a working farm like Frying Pan Park that customarily sends animals to slaughter.
SNOOZE, YOU LOSE
More than 80,000 Americans are missing out on $73 million in federal income-tax refunds they're legally owed, says the National Taxpayers Union.
Each year, says the NTU, thousands of income-tax refund checks are returned to the Internal Revenue Service as undeliverable because the taxpayer has moved, changed his or her name, or simply because the check has an incomplete or improper address.
NTU President John Berthoud says his firm's online database, which can help people find out if there's money waiting for them, is actually much quicker and easier to use than the IRS' online version.
REST OF THE STORY
So who rebuilds Fallujah now that the U.S. military is mopping up its operations and securing the Iraqi city?
We do, through the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Prior to the recent fighting, USAID workers were already in Fallujah working with the district government, moderate sheiks and tribal leaders on 17 projects totaling $2.3 million. (Hopefully, all were spared during the fighting.)
Now, as soon as security is in place, USAID in Washington says it will re-enter Fallujah and begin neighborhood cleanups, clinic rehabilitation and municipal building repairs, all the time providing short-term employment to residents who will be returning to the city.
Upwards of 250,000 residents fled Fallujah, and USAID has been providing many of them food and relief supplies, such as tents, blankets, mattresses, plastic sheeting, jerrycans, buckets, and hygiene and health kits.
OBSERVING ELECTION DAY
Common Cause said yesterday nearly 210,000 people prior to and on Election Day called a nationwide voter-alert hotline to seek information about their polling places, make a statement about their voting experiences, or connect to their local elections boards, yet "almost half of the callers" failed to connect.
That makes us wonder why the much-hyped bunch of international election observers - representatives from 55 member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe- were in the United States monitoring on Election Day.
"Americans - why are you so fat?" Romanian observer Gyorgy Tokay, a 66-year-old Ralph Nader look-alike, asked Weekly Standard wordsmith Matt Labash while sharing Election Day lunch and beers at a Raleigh, N.C., restaurant.
"He also couldn't stomach our smoking prohibitions," Labash notes.
"It's a free country," observed Tokay. "And they do this for my own good? I want to die a sick man, not a healthy one."
Labash was assigned to shadow a small group of foreign observers - including a non-English-speaking trio from Kazakhstan - in North Carolina, where they were charged with preventing another Florida presidential election fiasco like in 2000.
"At Kerry-Edwards headquarters, (observers) One and Two raided the candy jar for Dum Dums, while (observer) Three pointed to a picture of John Kerry, exclaiming 'Vietnam! Vietnam!'" Labash writes.
"But mostly, as we were dragged to presentations by lawyers and board-of-election types, the day was an indistinguishable blur - hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer ennui. Several of the speakers seemed to have no idea the Kazakhs couldn't speak English."
Nevertheless, Labash reveals the trio "would then put their heads together, bat the ball around among themselves, then come up with a question that called their fraud-spotting powers of observation into question. Usually along the lines of: 'How many Democratic senators are running for John Edwards' seat in South Carolina?'"
Temporary barricades set up around the U.S. Capitol aren't just extra security measures or for the construction of the future underground visitors center.
For nearly two months - long before it was known whether President Bush would be re-elected to a second term - the lower terrace of the West Front of the Capitol has been closed for the construction of the 2005 presidential inaugural stands, which is no small task.
According to the architect of the Capitol, Alan M. Hantman, the West Front won't be re-opened until mid-February 2005 - five months after its closing - following the inaugural activities and the removal of the bleachers.
In his inaugural address, President Bush might consider quoting one of just nine quotations and inscriptions etched in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.
Among the more pertinent that ring true today:
- William Allen White: "Whenever a free man is in chains we are threatened also. Whoever is fighting for liberty is defending America."
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "We defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind."