- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow

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, Mr. Ahern also stressed: “We will always have a special relationship with the Democratic Party, and that will continue.”

Fair enough?

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.”

Only yesterday, this column reported that the Irish American Unity Conference accepted the resignation of Tom Madigan as its press coordinator after he had labeled the newly re-elected Mr. Bush a “chimp” and “stupid little twit.”

Hawaiian Charlie

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 Mr. 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Friedrich, who is asking Mr. 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 (www.ntu.org), 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 (USAID).

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.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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