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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Back to Minnesota...

I will be leaving for the airport within the hour for the flight to Amsterdam, and then the second flight to the Twin Cities. Travel has long since lost its excitement. I mean the physical transportation part of getting from one place to another. It's exhausting, especially international travel, the service and food aren't really very good, and there is always the decent chance that there will be some kind of delay. But heading back to MN to see my wife and family makes it very worth it. And it is still amazing to me that I can leave Prague at 9:30 in the morning and be in the Twiin Cities at 3:00 the same afternoon. Back in the olden days the trip would take weeks or months.

Anyway, I plan to keep posting while in the Twin Cities.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Elvis Costello ticks off Lorne Michaels

Thanks to YouTube here is the video of Elvis Costello performing Radio Radio on Saturdday Night Live way back in December 1977 (when I was a sophmore at the University of Minnesota - and had just met Steve of the linked web site Thus Spaketh Styopa).

From the web site www.zimbo.com on hosts and artists banned from Saturday Night Live by producer Lorne Michaels:

On December 17, 1977, Elvis Costello and the Attractions performed as a last-minute replacement for the Sex Pistols, who were unable to obtain passports. NBC and the show's producer Lorne Michaels didn't want the band to perform "Radio Radio", since the song protests the state of the media. The band defied them by beginning to play their song "Less Than Zero", stopping, with Costello telling the audience that there was no reason to do that song, and telling the band to play "Radio Radio" instead. It infuriated Michaels because it put the show off schedule, and the band were barred from performing again.

Note: Eventually Lorne Michaels put his grievances aside, lifting the ban, and Elvis Costello would appear as musical guest in 1989 and 1991. He also reprised his performance of "Radio Radio" with the Beastie Boys for a 25th anniversary special aired on September 26, 1999.

When you read the lyrics it's hard to believe that they were at all controversial.

"Radio Radio"

[Originally by Elvis Costello]

I was tuned into the light of the late night dial
Doing anything my radio advised
With everyone of those late night stations
playing songs bringing tears to my eyes
I was seriously thinking about hiding the receiver
When the switch broke cause it's old
Saying things that I can hardly believe
They really think we're getting out of control

Radio is the sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
Say you better listen to the Voice of Reason
But they don't give you any choice
Cause they think that it's treason
You had better do as you were told
Better listen to the radio

I wanna bite the hand that feeds me
I wanna bite that hand so badly
I wanna make them wish they'd never seen me
Some of my friends sit around every evening
And they worry about the times ahead
Everybody else is overwhelmed by indifference
And the promise of an early bed

You either shut up or get cut out
They don't wanna hear about it
It's only inches on the reel to reel
The radio is in the hands
Of such a bunch of fools
Trying to anesthetize they way that you feel

Radio is the sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
Say you better listen to the Voice Of Reason
But they don't give any choice
Cause they think that its treason
So you had better do as you were told
Better listen to the radio


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Music Video Theatre III - Elvis Costello's Veronica

I have always been a HUGE fan of Elvis Costello - since way back in 1977. He is one of the most prolific and versatile songwriters in the world. Surprisingly, he has not used music videos to much effect. Part of that is due to the fact that he hasn't had much success with top 40 singles - there may be only a couple, Everyday I Write the Book and this one, Veronica. Veronica is his highest charting US song - at #19.

Veronica, from 1989, is a very personal song about his grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers. The video whisks back and forth from the '20s to the present and back again, reflecting his grandmothers troubles with distinguishing between then and now.

A couple of other items about the song. While most artists lip synch to the song, Elvis, always the rebel, sings along much like you or I would to a song on the radio - not really caring if we are mimicking it perfectly. Also, the song was co-written by Paul McCartney as the two were collaborating quite a bit at this time. Elvis co-wrote a couple of songs with Paul on his album "Flowers in the Dirt". Forgive me, but the song sounds like classic Elvis, so I doubt that Paul's contributions were significant.

Veronica, written by Elvis Costello

Is it all in that pretty little head of yours?
What goes on in that place in the dark?
Well I used to know a girl and I would have
sworn that her name was Veronica
Well she used to have a carefree mind of her
own and a delicate look in her eye
These days I'm afraid she's not even sure if her
name is Veronica
Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes,
Veronica has gone to hide?
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
her name and steal her clothes
Did the days drag by? Did the favours wane?
Did he roam down the town all the time?
Will you wake from your dream, with a wolf at
the door, reaching out for Veronica
Well it was all of sixty-five years ago
When the world was the street where she lived
And a young man sailed on a ship in the sea
With a picture of Veronica
On the "Empress of India"
And as she closed her eyes upon the world and
picked upon the bones of last week's news
She spoke his name outloud again
Veronica sits in her favourite chair and she sits
very quiet and still
And they call her a name that they never get
right and if they don't then nobody else will
But she used to have a carefree mind of her
own, with devilish look in her eye
Saying "You can call me anything you like, but
my name is Veronica"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I have had great success with blogspot from the first day I started the blog. For someone as technically mediocre as I am, the fact that I could start a blog and make it reasonably appealing says more about blogspot than me. Last night I spent about 90 minutes researching and drafting a few posts since I like to get a few drafted and "in the bank" so I can post about one a day even when I'm busy or don't feel like blogging. I saved them but when I went later to post one of them they weren't there. They had vanished. Arghhhhhh...

I guess I'll try again, but not today.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Geographic bachelor...

Kathy and Noah boarded a plane out of Prague early this morning bound for Minnesota. We left the house at 4:40 this morning to get them to the airport for their 6:15 flight. The airport is only 10 minutes from our little village of Horomerice, which is good on days when we are traveling, but bad on most other days when the plane noice makes us feel like we're living in Richfield. Desite a slow line at the ticket counter I wathced them go through customs at about 5:20 a.m.

I now join several thousand other expat guys as a geographic bachelor. With schools out the families head back to wherever home is, with the guys joining for a week or two, but spending most of the summer alone in Prague. My previous longest time away from Kathy and Noah was just oen week - for numerous international business trips to places like Greece, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. I will headback to MN this Saturday for two weeks and then come back here for three weeks before Kathy and Noah return. I hope the time goes fast. I miss them already.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Viennese mime...

Or is that "performance artist? I don't like mimes. I also don't like clowns. But I'm sort of afraid of clowns, while mimes don't scare me at all. I just find them annoying. While walking through the city center of Vienna we came across this mime/performance artist acting like a statue on a pedestal. If you threw some money into the container at his feet he would let you take a picture with him, after handing you a prop sword or gun. I let Noah toss a Euro coin into the can and the guy gave him a fake gun and posed with Noah while I took a picture.

It wasn't until later when I looked at the picture I took that I realized how bad the picture is. First, Noah is too far away from the guy (maybe he has mime-fear?) so he has to lean over to put his arm on him. But...if he's a statue why is he putting his arm on Noah? He should be standing straight like a statue. It ruins whatever suspension of disbelief that otherwise would be created. Also, Noah is holding the gun straight on to the camera, so you can't really tell it's a gun. For all the viewer knows it's bagette. Finally, I realized that if you didn't put money in his can you could probably get a better picture since he should just stay still and not bother you while you snap away. If I'm ever in the same situation again I will use this hard gained wisdom.

Vienna - the city...

I'm just about through posting about our whirlwind trip to Vienna last weekend. Here are some pictures of the city center. The center is compact, with lots of outdoor cafes lining narrow streets, with lots of wonderful architecture. The city center is also mostly car-free which makes strolls easy and relaxing.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace...

Our trip to Vienna was just for the weekend, and we had to head back to Prague by about lunchtime on Sunday. So Sunday morning we spent at Schonbrunn Palace and gardens. We decided we could spend several days here on the grounds - palace, conservatory, mazes, zoo, Glorietta, etc.

From europeforvisitors.com:
Summer cottages have always been popular with wealthy Europeans, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise when Emperor Leopold I--ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire--commissioned a hunting lodge near the old Tiergarten, or Zoo, at Schönbrunn ("Beautiful Fountain") on Vienna's outskirts in 1695. What was surprising was the grandiosity of his vision: He ordered Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the greatest architect of the Baroque Era, to design a palace larger than Versailles. Fortunately for the Austrian Treasury, the emperor balked when the architect's estimate came in, and the Habsburg family settled for a more modest dwelling with only 1,441 rooms.

When Empress Maria Theresia ascended to the throne in 1740, she had Schönbrunn Palace expanded and redecorated in French Rococo style over a five-year period from 1744 to 1749. The palace was later occupied by Napoleon and surrendered to the Austrian Republic upon the abdication of the last Habsburg emperor, Charles I, in 1918. Today, the restored palace is both a national monument and an apartment house for a number of lucky Viennese.

Here's the view from the front of the palace looking up to the Glorietta.

Here's looking back at the palace from the Glorietta.

This is the conservatory. It reminded us very much of the one at Como Park in St. Paul. We didn't actually go inside, and will save this for the next (longer) trip to Vienna.

I have to include a picture of Noah. Here he is by the fountain

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Heurigen of Austria...

The “Heuriger” is a famous instiution the wine growing areas of Austria. A law - more than 250 years old allows Austrian producers of wine to sell their own wine and other products at their places with very low taxes. Heuriger is the name of the youngest wine. In September, soon after the first grapes are harvested, it is possible to enjoy the “Sturm”, the only partially fermented intermediate product that later becomes full wine. It is sweet and good but you could easily drink much more than you should. Most also sell food - simple meat and potatoes and other "stick to your ribs" German-type cuisine.

Here is the Heuriger we went to in Grinzing, Austria. Grinzing is on the far outskirts of Vienna, but it still only took about 40 minutes door-to-door from our hotel. A ride on the S-bahn and then a tram to Grinzing, and then a short walk.

Last Saturday evening in Vienna was gorgeous, and we ate and drank in the garden which is a standard feature of the Heurigen. There was a table of loud American tourists (or is that redundant?) but mostly it appeared to be Austrians.

There were two musicians - an accordian player and a violinist. Here an older gentleman patron wanted to sing a song that they were playing. His voice wasn't bad and you could tell that he was one of those guys who really loved life. He did a couple of songs before being distracted by a child at a table accross the way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fellow Minnesotans, welcome to Prague...

I was wondering why the hits on the blog took a jump this week, and then realized that it was due to my having registered it at twincities.com, the web site of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It's a fairly new feature so there are probably a limited number of blogs registered yet. To those of you visiting the blog via twincities.com, welcome! I, my wife Kathy, and our 9-year old son, Noah, moved to Prague last summer. I work for Radio Free Europe.

I started the blog in April, and like most blogs, mine has a general theme - our experiences in Prague and elswhere in Europe - but I also digress often into other areas that interest me (from music videos to Stewie from Family Guy). I hope you like what you see and come back from time to time to see what's up. Feel free to send me an email or leave a comment. I'll be heading back to St. Paul on June 30 for a two week vacation, but will continue to blog from MN.

Again, thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The giant ferris wheel (Reisenrad)...

One of the stops on Saturday morning was the Prater, Vienna's best known amusement park, which is just outside the center of the city. The only thing we did here was take a ride on the giant ferris wheel, or Reisenrad. It's different from most ferris wheels in that it has cars of about 4 feet wide and 10 feet long that you ride in. It was mostly destroyed by fire during WWII, but it was quickly rebuilt, and it offers a great view of the city.

From the web site aboutvienna.org:
The Giant Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad) was erected in 1897 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Empereror Franz Joseph I. The wheel itself spans 200 feet (about 60 m.). 15 cabins and the upholding structure weigh a total of 430,5 t and rotate at the speed of 0,65 m/sec.
In 1914 the Giant Ferris Wheel was the location of a sensational film stunt: Madame Solange d'Atalide managed to complete one round on horseback on top of one of the cabins. This would not be the only time that the 'Riesenrad' was featured in major films: The Third Man or Before Sunrise to name just a few.
In 1944, at the height of World War II, the Giant Ferris Wheel burnt down, but was rebuilt in 1945 - at the same time as St. Stephen's cathedral. The Viennese Riesenrad is the only giant ferris wheel of its time which is still in use today.

Sorry for the bad exposure, but I'll just blame the nice older couple (Austrian or German) who took the photo.

Here we are at the top of the ferris wheel looking at the next car.

A great view from the Reisenrad!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back from Vienna...

Well, we are back from our whirlwind trip to Vienna. It was 48 hours from leaving Prague to getting back. It's about a 4 hour drive each way. The point of the trip was to get a quick thumbnail view of the city to lay the groundwork for a longer trip later, and in that we were very successful.

The hotel was nice but not great. It was a "family" room that could accomodate three people, but in typical European fashion it was very small. Basically, there was room for a double bed and a single bed and not much else. Also on the negative side, the neighborhood didn't have much to recommend it. Not that it was a bad neighborhood, just kind of "blah". No cute shops or restaurants - just pretty much residential on the outskirts of the city. On the plus side, parking was free, breakfast was free, and it was right across the street from one of the many metro lines, so getting around the city was very easy.

We arrived at the hotel by around 9:00 PM on Friday evening after leaving Prague at 4:00. Traffic leaving Prague was horrendous, and not having a freeway around the city didn't help. We had downpours for the first two hours of the drive which didn't help our travel time. However, we got through the border to Austria quickly and without any problems. Surprisingly, both the Czech and Austrian border guards just glanced at our passports and gave them back to us - no stamps. We hoped for stamps.

We got up Saturday morning and had breakfast then went to the station and bought 24 hour passes that let us travel by train, subway, tram and bus. We hopped on the subway and went into the city.

There will be pictures from Vienna all week, but our first stop was Stephansdom, a church in the center of the city. The "Steffl" as the cathedral is called, was damaged by WWII bombers but was rebuilt and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. The foundations date to 1147.

The cathedral has an interesting mosaic tiled roof.

A mass was about to start so we had to stay in the back. It's truly a beautiful cathedral.

Kathy and Noah lit some candles at a side alter.

Friday, June 15, 2007

And then we are off to Vienna...

We are taking a quick trip to Vienna - leaving late this afternoon and coming back on Sunday afternoon. Vienna is only about 3 1/2 hours away by car and is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. This is meant as just a little exploratory trip to get the lay of the city for future longer trips. I'm not bringing the laptop so no posting until maybe Sunday evening when I may be able to put up some pictures.

Noah's last day of school...

This is Noah's last day of third grade and he finishes up at noon. It's a little different here than back home since the nature of expat life means there is a turnover of about 25% every year. So there are quite a few of Noah's friends that he won't see after today. He is both happy at completing the year and sad at losing some friends. However, the good news is there will be a whole flock of new kids when he gets back at the end of the summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Class Picnic...

Today Noah's 3rd grade class had its end of the year picnic. There was pizza and games and a good time was had by all. Thanks to Kathy, Mette, Tuana and a few other moms for organizing and running it. I can't beleive that Noah finishes the current year on Friday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hilton Party...

I thought I had posted on this earlier...but I guess I forgot. A week ago Friday we were guests at the Hilton for a going away party for Armin and Tuana. Their son, Ares, is a good friend of Noah. Armin is the manager of the Hilton - and just a few days after the party President Bush stayed at the Hilton and Armin met him and had a picture taken with him.

Armin, Tuana and the kids are going back to their native Turkey. They have invited us to stay with them if we go to Turkey, and we are strongly considering a visit next year. Turkey is probably my favorite country that I have visited. It is truly spectacular.

Here is Armin (center) talking to a few guests.

Here is Tuana (5th from right) with the other women guests.

Here is a portion of the food. There was another table with two chefs carving meat. The whole party was quite elegant.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Meeting the chairman...

There are VIPs in Prague this week. The June meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is being held here. The BBG overseas RFE/RL and the other "entities" such as Voice of America (VOA), Alhurra, Radio Sawa, Radio Farda, Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Radio and TV Martí. The BBG has a new chairman, Jim Glassman (at right), who was just confirmed last Friday and is replacing the outgoing controversial chairman Ken Tomlinson. I talked to Glassman for a few minutes after a meeting today at the Don Giovanni hotel, next to the site of our new new building. He is very bright, but comes across as a normal guy who you could discuss sports or politics with over a beer. Here is part of his bio from the web site leadingauthorities.com.

James K. Glassman is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington public policy think tank, where he specializes in issues involving economics and financial markets. In addition, he is host and co-founder of TechCentralStation.com, a website started in February 2000 that concentrates on matters of technology and public policy. He is also chairman of Investors Action, a new organization that aims to help educate and represent America's 100 million investors.

In November 2004, Mr. Glassman started writing a monthly column on investing for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. He also writes a weekly op-ed column on political and economic issues for the Scripps Howard News Service.

Between July 1993 and July 2004, he wrote a syndicated weekly column on investing for The Washington Post, which also appeared in the International Herald Tribune and other publications. He has also been investing columnist for Reader's Digest.

Mr. Glassman's most recent book, The Secret Code of the Superior Investor (Crown) named one of the top 10 investing books of 2002 by Barrons.

From 1987 to 1993, he was editor and part-owner of Roll Call, the twice-weekly newspaper that covers Congress. Prior to that, he had a long career in magazine publishing -- as president of the Atlantic Monthly, executive vice president of U.S.News & World Report and publisher of the New Republic. In 1972, he started Figaro, a New Orleans weekly newspaper, selling it in 1979. He was executive editor of the Washingtonian magazine from 1979 to 1981. He has also had extensive television experience, as host of Capital Gang Sunday on CNN and TechnoPolitics on PBS. He has appeared as a guest on the CNN's Larry King Show, ABC's Nightline, PBS's Charlie Rose Show and many others. His articles have been published in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Reader's Digest, and other publications.

However he is not without controversy. In the late 1990s he predicted the Dow would soar to 36,000 when it was only about 10,000 at the time. From Wikipedia:

Glassman is known for his market analyses and commentary on economics and equities investing. He is a long-term optimist and is quick to point out positive developments, which is clearly typified in his book Dow 36,000. In this book, published near the peak of the late 1990s stock market bubble, Glassman infamously declared that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was undervalued and would rise to 36,000. This prediction proved to be drastically off the mark.[1] In its introduction, Glassman and his co-author wrote that the book "will convince you of the single most important fact about stocks at the dawn of the twenty-first century: They are cheap....If you are worried about missing the market's big move upward, you will discover that it is not too late. Stocks are now in the midst of a one-time-only rise to much higher ground–to the neighborhood of 36,000 on the Dow Jones industrial average."[2]

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A swanky party...

Last week Kathy and I were invited to a big party at a local hotel - the Don Giovanni. This hotel is half a block from where our new building is being constructed, so I have already been talking to their management about working some long term arrangement for our visitors to stay there after we move. The Don Giovanni is basically a higher end tourist hotel, but it was just acquired by Dorint and will be making some changes to attract more business clients (and their higher profit margin). That timing of that will work out for us just fine. The party was to christen the new Dorint change.

It was very upscale, with free food and drinks and many door prizes (alas, we didn't win one). Before the free food they had a fashion show, which had 1930 as a theme. The host told us that in 1930 the Czech Republic was in a very prosperous and productive period and they wanted to say that it was heading in that direction again. It seemed odd celebrating the prosperous year that was 1930 since our great depression started in late 1929. I had thought the whole world had followed the US instantly into depression, but perhaps there was a lag. Anyway, it was a great time and here are a couple of photos.

This looks like it could be one of those "host a murder parties".

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Noah has an email account...

It seems that many of Noah's 9 year-old friends have their own email accounts, so we relented to the peer pressure and set one up for him at yahoo. It's wombasrock@yahoo.com. The Wombas are a soccer team on a cartoon called "Galactic Football" and he is really into it. Anyway, email is still very much a novelty to him, so I'm sure he would appreciate it if you dropped him a line even if it's just to say "hi".

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

This is where the magic happens...

I said that I would eventually get around to some detail about the office. Well, here is my office. It's not much, but it's home - at least for 9 hours, 5 days a week. It is one of only a handful of offices that faces inward to a courtyard inside the "cube".

The courtyard is where the smokers congregate, so there is always activity down there (this picture was taken early in the morning). Also, the courtyard is not at ground level - it is actually on top of the first floor.

This is the 5th floor conference room where the daily 10:00 editorial meeting is held. It has a great view of the skyline of Prague, including the castle. If you look closely you can see the castle in this picture.

You get a sense of the strange architecture of our building in this picture. It's basically a three story building that had an addition of a fourth and fifth floor on stilts. Here is the view to the interior of the cube from the 5th floor. That's a Voice of America satellite dish. There is a neat patio area on top of the third floor, but I've never seen anyone out there. In the background you can see the top of the TV tower - another Prague landmark.

Here is our building from across the street on the steps of the National Museum. Again, you can see how the top two floors were added later.

Here is the view the other way from the steps of the National Museum. I'm basically about 30 meters from the top of Wensceslas Square - the heart of Prague.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

ISP versus hated Riverside...

Yesterday was Noah's second real soccer tournament - the first was last month at the British School. ISP hosted this one, and the only other participant was Riverside - a small Christian school for expats. Noah's team played two 30 minute games, and there are so many kids on the team that they basically each played one of the games. Noah played the second game that ended in a 2-2 draw. Unfortunately, he failed to convert on an early penalty kick and so he was unconsolable. Some of his teamates blamed him for failing to win and he took it very hard. The lessons of team sports are many, and he learned some yesterday. I guess it was "character building". Anyway, today it's forgotten and we're on to the next shiny object.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Fred Thompson on Radio Free Europe...

He hasn't announced that he is running for president (yet) but he has been utilizing the internet to generate quite a bit of buzz. This is a shrewd move, since it gets his name out, he can control the message, and the cost is just about zero. A couple of weeks ago he posted a short video on YouTube responding to criticism from Michael Moore, and it was one of the most watched videos for days. Now, he has posted an article at townhall.com that praises "the Radios" - Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty - and asks why we don't have something similar broadcasting into Venezuela. It's an interesting question and an interesting read.

Well, he's done it. Hugo Chavez was already systematically silencing criticism of his autocratic rule through threats and intimidation. Journalists have been threatened, beaten and even killed. Now he's shut down the last opposition television networks in Venezuela and arrested nearly 200 protesters – mostly students. It’s a monumental tragedy and the Venezuelan people will pay the price for decades to come. Americans are also at risk as he funds anti-American candidates and radicals all over Latin America.

It’s equally tragic that the U.S. is in no position to provide the victims of this emerging dictator with the truth. There was a time, though, when Americans were on the front lines of pro-freedom movements all over the world. I'm talking about the “surrogate” broadcast network that included Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, often called "the Radios."

When Ronald Reagan was elected, he greatly empowered the private, congressionally funded effort and handpicked the Radios’ top staff to bring freedom to the Soviet Union. Steve Forbes led the group.

Cynics still say that the USSR fell of its own weight, and that President Reagan’s efforts to bring it down were irrelevant, but Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev say differently. Both have said that, without the Radios, the USSR wouldn't have fallen. The Radios were not some bland public relations effort, attracting audiences only with American pop music. They engaged the intellectual and influential populations behind the Iron Curtain with accurate news and smart programming about freedom and democracy. They had sources and networks within those countries that sometimes outperformed the CIA. When Soviet hardliners and reformers were facing off, and crowds and tanks were on the streets of Moscow and Bucharest, the radios were sending real-time information to the people, including the military, and reminding them of what was at stake.

Then we won the Cold War. The USSR collapsed in 1991, and America relaxed. Military downsizing began and the Radios began to reduce broadcast air time to target countries.

Now, of course, we know that the Islamofascists, many trained by the old Soviets, were making plans and plots of their own. Unfortunately, the plans to broadcast a pro-freedom message into Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Kurdistan and Ukraine were shelved or diluted. Reagan's ideological audacity was replaced with a more "diplomatic" tone.

And see where it's got us? Not only has Islamic totalitarianism spread without a true ideological challenge, many of the freed Soviet bloc countries are slipping back into repression. Russia is making the same old threats and even protecting Iran's efforts to build nukes.

We'll never know if Afghanistan might have rejected al Qaeda if America had actively engaged that country as we did those Eastern Europeans. We can't know if Venezuelans would have chosen liberty over the false security of authoritarianism if they had been challenged to face the issues. I do know, though, that it's time for a new generation of Americans to stand up for freedom -- like others before us. And this time, we’ll have a whole new set of media technologies.

Since President Bush isn't visiting us, maybe we should invite Fred Thompson.