Sunday, January 26, 2003

It's an incredible day in La Vanguardia. I'm going to be here translating and typing all afternoon (hey, people, if you need an English-Spanish / Spanish-English translator with lots of experience, just e-mail me at Why? Because the only weapons we have against the idiotarians are logic, reason, facts, and ridicule in our war for the hearts and souls. Translating this vile steaming putrid suppurating filth (remember that disgusting room that Luke and Han Solo and Chewbacca get stuck in in Star Wars? Even more maggot-infested than that) gives us an ability to use those weapons against idiotarianism.

I've wondered whether what I've been doing here is mere "preaching to the choir", since I've been asked about it. I've decided that no, what I write is not going to convince too many people who have already decided that I'm wrong. However, it might convince some people who are right now sitting on the fence, not sure of what to think. It might also reinforce the opinions of those people who are predisposed to sympathize with my libertarian free-market hawkish perspective. So, since I'm not convincing a lot of Socialists and anti-Americans, am I wasting my time? I don't think so. It's not a waste of time at all to either provide more ammunition to your side or to try to bring over people who might not have made up their mind yet.

Now, what I need to try to do better is to focus my posts. I want some of them to give support to other people who share my ideas, and perhaps influence my allies on smaller points within the general framework of a democratic capitalist system (e.g. we may both be free-market on economics but you might believe in, say, exclusively private health care, while I would defend a mixed private-public system). But I want other posts to try to convince middle-of-the-roaders to come over to democratic capitalism, to vote for candidates and parties that support a democratic capitalist system. One thing I'm going to do in those posts is to cut down the ridicule and sneering (and bad language) that I so gleefully fill this blog with. Middle-of-the-roaders are people who aren't sure what they think, who can't choose between two or three or four options, and who are looking for someone to persuade them and win them over. Being straight-up, treating your opponents with respect, and trying to see the merit in opposing points of view while being firm in your own basic convictions is what will persuade the undecided of your decency and reliability.

Now we'll see whether I can actually do that. To paraphrase St. Augustine, "Give me good taste, credibility, and dignity--but not yet!"

Anyway, Cinderella Bloggerfeller has a post on today's Bartasar Porcel eruption. Someone also provided a rather free translation of Porcel's column at the Axis of Porcel HQ. Our translation here is somewhat more traditional yet less expressive. It's in italics. Wiseass comments by us which will only serve to annoy moderates and drive them away are not.

Models of War

The American secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has insultingly nicknamed us "Old Europe". Well, he did it to France and Germany, which means the same thing. Because if it turns out that Spain, because Aznar blindly follows Bush's war drums, is the New Europe, we're ready: we're Luis de Galinsoga's (a Francoist writer) "sentinels of the West" again! Rumsfeld adds that the new center of European gravity has moved to the east. Where? Russia, Chechenia, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, places they barely know the location of? I don't think Bush is ignorant, as they say; I think his whole team is. Besides, so inefficient in preparing war--these months of rummaging around bellowing at thousands of soldiers have exasperated the Americans themselves--or in hunting Bin Ladin like Aznar has done and is doing with the chapapote (Galician oil spill).

Comments: a) the last sentence is out-and-out incomplete, with no subject or predicate, and can't be justified as a case of intentional rule-breaking for stylistic purposes. It's a case of Porcel's not even bothering to go over the three or four paragraphs of rant that he sents in to the Vangua every day. b) Porcel knows less about preparing war than my cat Oscar. c) Note the standard canard that Americans know less about geography than the cultured Europeans. My response when confronted with someone who tries this one--"Americans don't know where Barcelona is"--is always, "Oh, I managed to get here just fine. You just fly from New York to MADRID--that's BARAJAS Airport, near Madrid, which is the CAPITAL of SPAIN. Barajas, near Madrid, is a BIG airport to which LOTS of flights come from New York. Then you change to a SMALLER plane to fly on to Barcelona." If they persist I say, "Look, give me one really good reason why someone in Kansas needs to know where Barcelona is. It's not like he cares or anything." Fisticuffs are normally threatened at this point. d) Note that Porcel proudly includes himself among the "Old Europeans" without any invitation at all to do so. e) Note Porcel's obvious bad faith; he knows perfectly well that Rumsfeld and Fleischer were talking about NATO allies Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and, yes, Bulgaria, rather than Russia and Chechenia and Serbia, as the "New Europe". Were I from a Western European country, I would not shoot off my mouth regarding what happened in the former Yugoslavia.

Saddam is a brutal dictator who is only good at oppressing the people and submitting it to hunger, but Bush wants to overthrow him, we don't know exactly why, unless it's to give it to other masters, like for instance his allies the Saudi rulers, one of the major embarrassments on the planet and who whip up the fundamentalism that blew up the Twin Towers more than Saddam himself. And all because of the chapapote! Why doesn't Bush go to Galicia and get what's there, which has even been blessed by Fraga (the conservative prime minister of Galicia, rather a Strom Thurmond figure). It's shocking that international politics have reached such low quality.
Comments: a) Nice "yes, but". b) More bad faith or just stupidity: Iraq will not be turned over to the Saudis. That is just not on anyone's agenda. c) The Galicia oil spill, of course, had nothing to do with American international policy. Porcel is blatantly trying to swing both disparate clubs the Spanish anti-Americans and anti-Aznarites are trying to bash Aznar on: the oil spill and the upcoming Iraq war, which are entirely unconnected.

But we should be specific: the minister in Washington labels us old-fashioned because we don't believe in war or in war without reasons. That is, Germany, with three horrible wars in a century, the biggest that humanity has seen, and France, unleashing them too or suffering from them, while the peace of the EU has broght us an unimaginable tranquility and prosperity, should embrace weapons because (America says so), with blind enthusiasm. Donald Rumsfeld: we must remember that name and, if we see him on one side of the street, cross over to the other side. Russia, massacring the Chechens yesterday and today, and with its gulags behind it, has become the model: uf!

Comments: a) Russia is not the model for anything. It's Poland, the Czechs, and Hungary who are the model. This was explicitly stated. Porcel's bit of bad faith and / or ignorance is repeated, making it clear that the first time wasn't a mistake. b) Mr. Porcel, you and the rest of the European Left did damn little to dump the gulags on the trashpile of history. c) The contempt for Rumsfeld is rather pathetic, since it's fairly obvious who the better man is when we compare Rumsfeld and Porcel himself, and anyone who's been writing a newspaper column which opines on international issues for like about the last fifteen years ought to know who Donald Rumsfeld is already. d) Europe has enjoyed peace since 1945 because of NATO and the American nuclear umbrella, not because of anything the European Union ever did. Since Mr. Porcel is so eager to consider himself alluded to by the phrase "the Old Europe", he might remember Old Europe's admirable skill and dexterity in handling the Yugoslavian debacle. Old Europe neither can nor will fight and so it tries to make a virtue out of this.

It's true that the United States was basic and decisive in freeing western Europe from Naziism and we must be thankful. But this constant desire to go to war, whether with the Rifle Association which has the country under siege, with General Custer and company eliminating the Indians, with the ferocious internal racism, with the exporting of films with demential violence, or with its protection for the dictatorships of the south, it is not at all convincing, no.

Comments: a) Note the SECOND "Yes, but" of this article. b) It's obvious that Porcel's concept of the US comes almost completely from the movies, not from any sort of research into or reading about the subject. c) Boy, a good Porcelazo doesn't come along too often, but when we get one, it's a good one.

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