DUBLIN DISPATCH. This is the way politics should be. On a visit to Dublin this week, I happened to be in Grogan's public house at 11 a.m. The occasion -- as though one needs an occasion to be in Grogan's -- was a press event to celebrate a month-long tribute by the city to At Swim-Two-Birds, the Flann O'Brien masterpiece which is merely the greatest novel ever written by the hand of man, as part of Penguin International's "One City, One Book" series. There was a spirited public reading of "A Pint Of Plain Is Your Only Man," the epic poem by Jem Casey (the Poet Of the Pick), which is one of At Swim's many highlights. We were all joined in applause by Miceal O'Nuallain, who not only is the late author's brother, but also is most famous as "The Brother," one of the several inconvenient hecklers who enlivened the column written by his sibling in The Irish Times under the name of Myles na Gopaleen. Early on, Catherine Byrne, the incumbent Lord Mayor of Dublin, stopped by, as did her chain of office, which looks very much like a bauble Mr. T gave up on somewhere between Rocky III and "The A Team." As we may see over the next couple of years, American politicians only wear chains involuntarily.

--Charles P. Pierce