Monday, June 30, 2003

When children are good, their parents permit them to breakfast upon cereals with over 50% sugar content. When they are bad, they get porridge. Well, you've all been very, very bad little readers, so today you get--you guessed it--a big old helping of Balt-O-Meal. That's right, old Balto finally finished his series on the United States, and you guys get to read the best parts! Here we go from last Friday:

Years ago I saw a sensational cartoon in the American press: a middle-class couple was eating dinner unworriedly in their house, while hidden under the table there was a Chinese with a knife between his teeth. the caption: "The Yellow Peril". And, without an atrocious fear, aggression has almost no motive. This explains, also, the philosophy of the neoconservatives we talked about yesterday. Which, nonetheless, is beginning to stop disrespecting Europe for its "cowardice" and "old-fashionedness", as has so often been said, and has begun fearing it: have not France and Germany demonstrated enormous moral and political strength by opposing the United States, which only had the support of modest, average countries like Spain? Not counting Great Britian as usual, of course. And the fact that the value of the euro has finally passed that of the dollar benefits American exports by lowering the price of its products, but it shows that when we go beyond missiles, the Old Continent stands firm on its rich complexity, as another influental American conservative magazine, the New Republic, laments, alarmed at the confluence of postnationalism that the EU is designing, becoming the standard of the anti-Americanism that is boiling in this world.

Oh, good Lord. A "Yellow Peril" cartoon? Maybe in the Hearst papers during Korea. Balt, please provide your source. Where did you see this? The meme that the Americans are pissing their pants in fear is repeated over and over in anti-American circles in Europe. Uh, Balt, don't underestimate the Yanks so easily. They've shown a great deal more courage in the last two hundred years than, say, the Mallorcans. Strength? France? In Le Monde Diplomatique's wet dreams. The one thing everyone outside France seems to agree on, no matter what other disputes they might have, is that the French government are a bunch of weasels. They've managed to deal themselves out of any major hand that's going to be played on the world scene in the next twenty years. And I'm not gonna be the guy who calls up Marty Peretz at the New Republic to tell him he's running a "conservative" magazine.
P.J. O'Rourke is grumpy about Hillary Clinton's novel over at Front Page. What I'm wondering is whether P.J. has been out-curmudgeoned by the blogosphere. Remember back in the late Eighties and early Nineties when P.J. seemed like the only hip guy out there taking on the idiotarians, and doing it with vicious irony? Remember P.J. tearing into the likes of homeless advocates, Sandalistas, and Soviet wannabes? Now everyone's got his own blog and is gleefully skewering all the latest stupidities of the Illustrated and Enlightened Among Us, or as P.J. used to call them, the Perenially Indignant, within hours of the occurence of said stupidities.

Now, this is a perfectly good article and a lovely Hillary-bash, for those of you who like that kind of thing (I certainly do), but everybody in the blogosphere has already written the same piece. Hillary's book is just so early June, and P.J.'s behind the curve on this subject. It used to be, ten years ago, that a guy had a couple of weeks of time to put an article together and have it still be current when it came out--you had TV, the daily papers, the weekly newsmagazines, and the "serious" political / critical journals, in that order of decreasing immediacy and increasing detail. You used to have some breathing space between when you wrote the piece and when it hit the Atlantics and the New Yorkers and the National Reviews as a still-fresh topic. No longer. P.J., time to join the blogosphere!

Here's Mark Steyn on getting felt up by dead racist Strom "Who the Hell Needs Viagra?" Thurmond. Lester Maddox just died, too. I calculate that the only old segregationists still not only alive, but in power, are the notorious Klansman Robert Byrd and South Carolina's other Senator-for-Life Fritz Hollings. Both Democrats. As were ol' Strom when he started out, and Jesse Helms, too. (Is Jesse dead yet? Boy, if anyone can filibuster St. Peter into letting him into heaven, it'd be ol' Jesse.)

Fred Barnes over at the Weekly Standard gives six reasons why Bush looks good going into next fall's elections. He's even daring to use the L-word--that is, landslide. I've been very good at picking elections recently, and I will stick my neck out right now and say Bush takes forty states in November 2004, and that's assuming the Dems nominate somebody electable like Lieberman. If Nader or somebody like Chomsky runs on the Green ticket and knocks a couple percent off the Dems' vote again, Bush wins forty-seven to fifty states.

NYAAH-HAH-HAH-HEE-HEE-HEE! See, the Dems have to move left, or at least they think they do, so that no one can out-left them this time around like Nader did last time. And, by doing that, they move even farther away from the center, which is where the votes grow and are just looking to be harvested by a war-winning President riding a strong economy. Their goofy far-left candidates like Kooch and Carol "What, Is That The F---ing Ethics Committee Again?" Moseley-Braun and Brother Al the Pimp and Howie Dean are going to pull the already very lefty Dem primary electorate even farther to the left by bringing out the university Socialist cadres and the Seattle antiglobo wackjobs, whether the mainstream Dems want it to happen or not. The Dems have tremendously high negatives; the Republicans don't. About half the people in the United States just cannot stand the sight of the Clintons or Algore; there's a hard core of 20-22% or so on the Left who hate Bush with a passion, but Bush's positives are well up in the 60s and his negatives are staying below 25%. Barring unforeseeable disaster ("PRESIDENT FATHERS JACKO'S ALIEN LOVE CHILD"), Bush gets reelected easily.
New Trends in Self-Body-Modification
by Alan Murphy, Guest Style Counselor

Is there a wave of copycat self-severing on the horizon? The Sydney Morning Herald reports an Aussie miner cut off his own forearm this weekend when it got lodged under machinery. According to a witness: "Col got out his Stanley knife... By the time the bloke had walked around to the other side of the front-end loader, Col had completely severed his [own] arm."

Most disturbing is the detail that, according to a psychologist, his action “may have been influenced by a case last month when an American mountaineer amputated his arm after being trapped for five days by a boulder in a Utah national park”.

So, is self-amputation going to be this summer’s fad, the hula-hoop of the 21st century? With the success of Jackass, anything is possible. John already tipped the colostomy bag to be the fashion accessory of summer 2003. Split tongues are just so last year, and trepanning came and went with only a few fashion pioneers prepared to have their crania drilled like a colander. However, self-amputation is so much bolder a statement, it’s so – like, radical – that it cannot fail to gain adepts before you can say Vincent Van Gogh. For those eager to do the deed, I recommend a story by Bill Burroughs, I think called “The Hand”, in which the hero chops off aforesaid member as an artistic statement. A store-bought box-cutter or Stanley knife costs only around $2.00 and was sufficient for the job in the case of the Aussie. Only thing we need is a summer pop hit to back up the trend. Suggestions?

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Check out Mlle. Sabine Howard. She's not only a babe, she's also smart. I hate people like that. But thank St. Hayek for her; she's actually bringing attention to "liberal"--i.e. free-market--thinking in France. If this woman can get 80,000 people out to hear her speak, maximum power to her.

My vote for hottest conservative babe goes to Michelle Malkin. She is truly stunning, one of those people Tom Wolfe called a sort of nuclear fusion meltdown among all the groups of people who have come over to the US. Michelle is part Asian and part black, obviously, and I bet she's got plenty of other ancestors from different places. And she's smart, too! This is great. Normally conservative writers are hairy old guys; Michelle is smarter than most of them and also a hell of a lot more attractive.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Here's a piece in National Review about Dennis Miller, the comedian; he's one of the few who have come over to the correct side, along with Christopher Hitchens and Murph, over the war. Check it out.

You know, we don't pay nearly as much attention to Dark Blogules as we ought to. It's Angie Schultz's blog; you'll recognize her name from the Comments section, in which she once famously exposed Vanguardia plagiarist Marius Serra. Her blog is intelligent, sharp and funny. Check it out. By the way, we're weenies--can't stand light type on a dark background--so Angie thoughtfully includes a link where we can flip the light-on-dark around to dark-on-light.
Cinderella Bloggerfeller wrote a light, funny little piece on avoiding cliches in one's writing. It's actually, like, witty and all, and it includes jokes that are generally better than mine. It is not the slightest bit controversial in any way. So guess what? Some moron is giving him shit in his Comments section. Jesus. Sometimes you can't please anybody. Go read his piece and then the Comments and give him some support.

Jesus Gil at Ibidem has an excellent historical debunking piece on the "Black Legend" of the Spanish Inquisition and its demonization. A lot about the Inquisition was not pretty but its victims were few, certainly if you compare them to the French Wars of Religion or the Thirty Years' War or the Protestant witch hunts (though the number of victims of the witch hunts is often as exaggerated as the number of victims of the Inquisition). One minor quibble: Jesus may be exaggerating the power and influence of the Masons. My grandfather was a Mason. He worked on the railroad. I've read--more like flipped through--his Masonic books. It's just a bunch of gibberish not much different from any other fraternal organization's mystical BS.

Still don't believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction? Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal. (Via Front Page.) And here's Byron York from National Review making a similar case.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Guess what, everybody! Baltasar Porcel is doing, not just an article but a series, on the United States! Of course I'm not going to spare you. Read it and suffer. He started it on Tuesday:

The Americans invoke God frequently and George W. Bush belongs to a church or cult (secta)--it's difficult to differentiate between them--which might be Anabaptist and is simplistic and, also, more or less fundamentalist, and for which he felt a frenzy of devotion when he grew up and needed to maintain ethylic sobriety. That is, based on Bush's self-evident possession of the truth, interpreted loquaciously by a Texan priest reading the Bible in a clean little clapboard church with a little garden, lying has become the great support of American politics. Bush has aggravated it because in the economic world, for example, it's beeen going on for a long time; let's remember Enron, accounting fallacies and legal frauds, definitely robberies of the citizenry, which is now affecting another giant, one of vast social responsibility, the company that controls 18%! of the mortgages in the country.

A) Bush, as I said recently, is a Methodist, the third-largest church in America after the Catholics and the Baptists and not precisely a cult. It is not seemly for Mr. Porcel to ignorantly slam the Methodists because he don't know a damn thing about them. Mr. Porcel shows here a great miscomprehension of the various Protestant churches, which is sadly very common in such a heavily Catholic-culture country as Spain. The Methodists, for folks who may not know, are a moderately liberal Anglo-American church, which originally split off the Anglicans in the late eighteenth century. They allow, nay, encourage, women ministers; they are not anti-abortion or anti-divorce or anti-gay. There are virtually no Anabaptist groups surviving. The Baptists, the only Protestant church bigger than the Methodists, have nothing to do with the Anabaptists or Germany; they are a further split off the Anglicans. They are generally more conservative than the Methodists, but there are several different brands of them. By the way, the Bush family is historically high-church Anglican. George W. converted to the Methodists when he married Laura. As for the lying and corruption in business crap, they've found about five or ten occurrences of fraud. Those people involved are being prosecuted. There is no indication that America under Bush is any more corrupt than anywhere else, and it is certainly one hell of a lot less corrupt than the Spanish Socialist Party.

X comments on this to me in his little office in the center of Wall Street, in New York, that miracle of miracles. Pure finance, the stock market, are the systematized miracle: from nothing to everything, from the nonexistent to the tangible. X's several computers vomit forth lists of numbers and names, but he is desolate: "Lying for so long, until disasters break out, like these top directors do, shows a hedonistic and publicitary ambition which has nothing to do with the strict Protestant moral. Old Henry Ford didn't even have a car. Tom Wolfe in his bitter novels has best portrayed this unhinged capitalism." He points to the huge void of the Twin Towers, right there, he adds: "Bush has made war on Afghanistan and Iraq to catch the terrorists and their terrible arsenal, but we know nothing of Bin Laden, of Saddam, or his chemical weapons. Tricks and failures, like the famous odyssey of Jennifer Lynch."

Mr. Porcel, who is X? Is he a real person or someone, as I suspect, whom you made up and in whose mouth you put words? No one talks like this except you yourself, you old blatherskite. Note further lack of comprehension of Protestantism and the absurd statement that Henry Ford didn't have a car.

He explains. The supreme heroic act of the Americans in Iraq consisted of the commando attack by the Special Forces on the hospital where Private Jessica Lynch lay among Republican Guards who had captured her after shooting her full of holes and torturing her without stopping. Well: Lynch's famous wounds were from a car accident and she was better cared for than the indigenous patients, the hospital had been abandoned by the (Iraqi?) soldiers a couple of days before, and what the commandos did was to grab stupefied docters and blow up doors that were open, while their television was filming it and Bush cried happily. And as for the legendary and amnesiac Lynch, they are selling various objects on Internet with her name trademarked.

First, note that this particular account of the rescue of Private Lynch has nothing to do with the truth. Second, note Mr. Porcel's scorn for the Americans' puffing themselves up as heroes. The truth, of course, is that no puffing up was done. Instead, alleged puffing up was invented out of thin air by the Left looking for something, anything, to criticize after the overwhelming Allied victory in Iraq. Third, I just Googled "jessica lynch" and "trademark", and then "brand name", and there are no products for sale. Mr. Porcel done told a lie.

Here's old Balt's next emission, from Wednesday:

Yesterday, regarding Bush, I alluded to the Christian fundamentalist cults and churches. It is like Islamic terrorism, though it seems difficult to equialze both concepts. And in the United States they have a notorious influence, while the Catholic Church, with its cases of pedophilia and homosexuality, which several bishops are mixed up in, is in anguish. These fundamentalists believe that the "Caucasian" or white race, descended from central and Nordic Europe, is the authentic descendant of the lost tribes of Israel and occupies a preeminent place in the divine plan for the Earth, while they hate the State because of its permissive legislation on abortion, attacking clinics to this effect.

WHAT?!? Balt, there are about eight nutcases in Assboink, Idaho, who believe that stuff. Please try to get your facts minimally correct. You see how hard it is to talk sense to Spaniards about the US? How is it possible when their brains are drenched daily in such drivel? And then they dare to call us ignorant.

Not long ago Eric Rudolph, suspected of the massacre committed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and who is linked with the cults Christian Identity, Army of God, Church of Israel, or is protected by them, was accidentally arrested after being one of the most wanted fugitives. We are dealing with a world that is primitive, obsessive, poor, psychologically stunted. Which after September 11 has acquired fierce power, with its preaching based on the idea that America's sins have been punished through Arabs and Moslems, inferior races and beliefs. But the Arabs are much more persecuted than these Christians.

WHAT?!?!? Oh, never mind. Balt wants to believe that America is sinister and evil. Informing him that, no, these groups are not precisely influential in America today will do him little good after the 847 BBC and Channel 4 documentaries Catalan TV keeps repeating over and over that he's seen.

Rudolph has shared media sensationalism with Hillary Clinton's memoirs, which have gained her 8 million dollars and which are selling well, though it seems not so much. I ask several young people in Soho and Brooklyn about them, but they shrug their shoulders; they know the book has come out, but they don't care. The "New York Times" type of press has been severe with the book. Those who buy, therefore, are people of a low cultural level who are stereotype fodder, a stubborn and wide middle class shrunken with fear after September 11 and mesmerized by Bush's tanks. But, is the interest in Mrs. Clinton's book based on the Lewinsky scandal and all? Not exactly: her readers know that she will go off on the tangent and that she is looking for money as she is testing the waters of a possible presidential future. That is, people buy the book knowing it is a scam, in order to know up to what point it is one.

WHAT?!?!? does that have to do with anything? Yeah, right, Balt, I can just see your skinny white ass down in the hood discussing Hillary Clinton's memoirs. Note the contempt Mr. Porcel feels for the ordinary American. Next time some European tells you he likes the American people but he doesn't like the government, explain to him that he is lying through his teeth. Do so politely. Wouldn't want to offend any Europeans, would we?

Now here's today's dose of Balt. Get a load of the absolutely shameless self-logrolling in the first paragraph.

Alexis du Tocqueville, the French thinker of the first half of the 19th century and whom today we would call a liberal or a democratic conservative, appears as one of the key historical characters in my novel "L'Emperador or L'ull del vent"; the other is, without a doubt, Napoleon. Or his immense possessive shadow. So, in Paris, not long ago, at the presentation of the Prix Mediterranee to this novel in its French version, a member of the jury, Jean Daniel, the director of the influential weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, talked to me about how they analyze the American neoconservatives who inspire Bush, for whom the European genius was Tocqueville, who as an aristocrat was a renegade from the Old Regime, accepted the revolution as an evolution, traveled to the United States rather than disdaining them, and studied its democracy with stunning lucidity. "For these neoconservatives he was the opposite of the French of today; we have become activists of anti-Americanism, they think for no reason," smiled Daniel.

Uh, Balt, I thought the neoconservative conspiracy was built on the works of Leo Strauss. Lord, I can't stand this anymore. You're going to have to read the rest of it for yourself. Try the Axis of Porcel HQ.

I have been accused of speaking scornfully of Catalan intellectuals. But, come on, if this is the best they can do, no amount of scorn is unjustified. And remember, Baltasar Porcel is the Official Catalan Candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Wouldn't it be great if they actually gave it to him one of these years?
FrontPage has a nice typically lefty-bashing article on the latest wacko protests in Sacramento. The first half of the story shows how nutty these extremist activists are; the second half rips into them for their propaganda against genetically modified foods. Anybody with the interests of people at heart is completely in favor of GM; the examples given in the article, a type of rice that contains vitamin A implanted from a daffodil gene, a sweet potato that is resistant to viral infection, and corn that contains a natural pesticide that is harmless to both humans and "friendly" insects, are exactly the kind of improved-quality food plant that will help the poorest people in the world obtain a better diet and higher quality of life for less money.
Jonathan from Puerta del Sol has a post on "the recovery of historical memory", which is rather a buzzword these days in Spain. It refers to an effort by apologists for the Spanish revolutionary Republic and by the political left--Vazquez Montalban is mixed up in this, of course--to call attention yet again to the atrocities committed by the Franco regime. Their website, which Jonathan links to, includes criticism of the conservative governing PP. They do not pretend to be neutral politically.

Now, I am completely in favor of historical investigation, and if this movement "for historical memory" unearths some new facts about how rotten Franco and his killers were, great. My problem with it, though, is that this is as one-sided as always. See, the revolutionary Leftist killers, the Communists, the Anarchists, the POUM, were just as bad as the Franquistas. They were ALL murderers. One famous Leftist murderer, Santiago Carrillo, is now a lauded hero of progressive socialism.

The thing, though, is that in both the Spanish and the international intelligentsia, the revolutionary Republicans are considered glorious freedom fighters while the reactionary Franquistas are condemned as Fascist scum. I haven't read anything, and I mean anything except for Pio Moa, a couple of books from the Montserrat press, and Stanley G. Payne, that has attempted to restore the "historical memory" of those tens of thousands of Spaniards massacred by the organized Left. On the other hand, I have read dozens of books and articles condemning the Franco repression, and if you read El Pais daily, you're sure to get three articles a week on what an evil bastard Franco was.

As I've said before, Iberian Notes does not take sides on the Spanish Civil War. We're in favor of the victims and against the killers. That means we detest both sides, the revolutionaries and the reactionaries, equally. We therefore cannot approve of this particular movement for "recovering historical memory" because it lionizes one side and demonizes the other. We demand that legitimate history remain as neutral and objective as humanly possible without picking sides, and we reject history written with a bias in order to make a political point as not legitimate.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The erudite and stylish Christopher Buckley has a very nice article on "Patrick Dennis" and his hit 1955 novel, Auntie Mame, in the Weekly Standard. Buckley describes Auntie Mame as a cultural breakthrough, a predecessor to the collapse of what remained of Victorian morals in the 1960s. Mame was promiscuous, irresponsible, brilliant, and full of fun, and the model for what we think of as an attractive, sexy, independent woman today.
Here is an excellent comment from NRO's Deroy Murdock pointing out the stupidity of the war on drugs and especially the war on cannabis. One of the reasons I appreciate Spain is its tolerance for cannabis use. I think it might be because all working-class men and most middle-class men over about 30 years old have done military service, and they learned to smoke dope in the Spanish Army. No kidding. There wasn't anything else to do, and Spain controlled northern Morocco (including the Rif, where more dope is grown than anywhere else in the world) until 1956 and the Spanish Sahara, due south of Morocco, until 1975. Spain still controls Ceuta and Melilla, outposts on the coast of the Rif, and the Canary Islands, just a few miles off the Moroccan coast. Andalusia is a short boat ride from the heart of the Rif. All these guys who were in the Army smoked dope, and they learned from personal experience that it's no big deal. Therefore they don't think it's some sort of evil monster.

By the way, I guarantee you Bill Clinton smoked tons of dope way back when. Everyone else who shared his political tendencies did, and Bill is not known for his ability to resist sensual pleasures. I've hated him ever since that "I didn't inhale" crap. He should have said, "Yes, I used to smoke pot. Now I don't. But I'm not ashamed of what I did, and I think marijuana possession and growing your own should be legal, or at the very least decriminalized, because it's pretty harmless, not as unhealthy as tobacco and alcohol. Anyone providing pot to minors should suffer the same penalty as anyone providing alcohol to minors, and those who operate vehicles or machinery are, of course, prohibited from operating under the influence." He should have had that answer all planned out because the question is pretty obvious.
Today the Vanguardia is leading off, again, with the Church's role in the opposition to a war on Saddam. The Pope is sending the former Papal nuncio in Washington, Pio Laghi, another Latin European in a high place in the Church, to jaw at President Bush for a while; the Pope may go to the UN to speak on April 11. Enric Juliana, Catholic bigot, says in an analysis piece, "Maybe many (antiwar) young people will suffer from a great disappointment soon, but they will keep in their memories the image of an old man dressed in white, who is at their side with the valiant stubbornness of an adolescent. They will have time to learn that the Pope of Rome was, in the year 2003, the "uncontrolled factor" (i.e. loose cannon) by the fine strategists of the American Enterprise Institute, and that the Vatican and republican France shared a side for once in history, so that the astute Dominique de Villepin, the hussar who enjoys the suave perfume of the violet, Napoleon's favorite flower, was not the only hero of the cause of peace."

Yecch. That's revolting. The Pope is the man who has declared a day of fasting and prayer in favor of "peace". He's taken a side and that side is that of the anti-American, pro-Saddam international left. The Pope is supporting a cruel and dangerous tyrant in the name of peace. There goes his place in history. The man who would have been remembered as one of the heroes of the struggle against Communism will now be remembered as a partisan of Saddam Hussein. The Kurt Waldheim episode had been forgotten; it will now be revived. Glenn Reynolds is ripping the Pope and the Church a new one, and he's not being entirely fair about it, but if you've got Glenn Reynolds mad it means that you've lost the American center. Reynolds is not always right but he is no radical on anything but guns, and he's plugged in to what middle-class, middle-income, Middle America think. You don't want to lose these people, and I think the Church has lost them.

I wouldn't be hammering on this so much if the Vangua weren't so insistent.

The eight Cataloony human shields left in Iraq (the rest, showing admirable good sense, got smart and took off after being treated to too many Potemkin tours of Baghdad; those remaining are hardcore ultra-leftists) will not be sent to a hospital. Instead they will be placed at an oil refinery, two electric power plants, a silo, and a water treatment plant. I don't think we're going to hit any of these places because we'd just have to build them again after the war. Meanwhile, most of the Brits went home after Rumsfeld made it clear that their presence didn't matter a damned thing to him. That is, when they heard they might actually get killed if they stayed, they cravenly fled back home. Cluck, cluck, cluck. Cock-a-doodle-doo! Bawk! Bawk! The Spanish Communist Party has sent a delegation to Baghdad. They weren't allowed to talk to anyone in the opposition, but they did get a meeting with Tareq Aziz in which they denounced, like, war and stuff. Maybe if we attack right now we can blow them straight to hell. It really wouldn't bother me if those guys never came back, and if they get killed the cause of death ought to be recorded as "suicide".

The Red Brigades are back in Italy, middle-class punks, wannabe revolutionaries, just plain assholes. Two of them shot it out with the cops on a Rome-Florence express; a policeman and an asshole were killed. Another policeman was wounded. The second asshole, a woman, has been arrested.

Jacques Chirac has announced a "new Franco-Algerian alliance" in Algiers in a "passionate speech" before the parliament. At least 100,000 people have been killed in Algeria since the 1992 military coup. More than 100 people were massacred by either government troops, paramilitaries, or Islamist radicals in the first week of January 2003 alone. 7000 people are currently listed as "disappeared" by no less than Human Rights Watch, not suspicious of pro-Americanism. Representatives of the Berber opposition in the Cabilia region east of Algiers were not permitted to meet with Chirac. And these people dare to criticize the Americans. France has been directly responsible for what has happened in Algeria both before and since they lost the civil war in 1962. Algeria was a French colony for more than 130 years. During the 1954-62 war both sides murdered and tortured civilians left and right, tens of thousands of them, and then the French ran off and left their Algerian allies to be massacred. No modern colonial power has ever behaved worse except for the Belgians in the Congo.

They actually had a cool anti-war protest here in Barcelona. First there was a manifesto that was a typical anti-Yankee tantrum, but then they read Lysistrata, the comedy by Aristophanes in which the women of a city at war refuse sex to their husbands until they stop the war. Well-known local actors, to whom I will give no publicity, were the readers. That's pretty classy; I much prefer Greek theater to the normal fare at a demo.
The Jedman apologizes for his poor spelling and comments on condiments.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Here's an article from the Public Interest on the intellectual bases of anti-Americanism, which go back a long, long time. Check it out. (Via InstaPundit.)
Here's Timothy Noah of Slate slamming President Bush, I think unfairly. Noah calls Bush both ignorant and a liar, based on two claims: 1) Bush said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq 2) Bush said all taxpayers will receive a cut in their taxes according to his plan.

Well, Timmy, no one disputes that Saddam had WMD. We all agree he used chemical weapons an the Iranians and the Iraqi Kurds. What's more, there were UN inspectors in Iraq searching for Saddam's WMD until 1998, in case y'all don't remember, and when Saddam kicked them out was when we got all mad and started building up an alliance against Iraq. Finally, among the UN Resolutions that Saddam broke was one in which the 15 members of the Security Council unanimously agreed that Saddam had WMD. The question was whether to trust the inspectors to find them or to go after Saddam militarily. That was a pretty famous resolution, good old #1411. Everyone on the Council, including Russia, France, Germany, and Syria, knew that Saddam had WMD. He seems to have gotten rid of them or hid them pretty successfully, but President Bush was not lying when he said, more or less, "We know they had them. If they've gotten rid of them, why don't they just say so and prove it? Therefore, I assume that they've still got them."

As for Bush's statement about his tax plan, Noah digs up a chart (which he links to) that shows that of the nearly 90 million US taxpayers, some 8 million will actually not see a tax cut. That's around 9%. Bush is guilty of exaggeration and hyberbole here, agreed, but what he said is pretty much true. The overwhelming majority, and 91% is pretty overwhelming, will have their taxes cut. Bush's statement would have been completely true if he'd included the word "almost". He really should have, but calling Bush a liar over this one is to get pretty persnickety about the meaning of "liar". I can think of a few lies told during the previous Administration that were considerably more blatant than this one.

I'm not calling Tim Noah a liar. Wrong? Yes. Incorrect? Sure. Anti-Bush? Of course. Full of shit? Well, yeah, I'd go that far. But he's not a liar. He is merely the possessor of stupid opinions.
Well, hell. Somebody's got to post on the conclusion of the Spanish football League, so I guess it's got to be me. With two games to go, Real Sociedad controlled its own destiny. They lost, putting Real Madrid in the driver's seat, and Madrid doesn't blow the big games. League title to Madrid, number 29 so far. Real Sociedad still had a great year; they're generally a midtable team but this year they put it all together and gave Real Madrid a genuine run for their money. Deportivo de la Coruna came in a respectable third and Celta de Vigo fourth. They all go to next season's Champions League. This is also a good showing for Celta, another midtable squad.

Valencia came in a disappointing fifth and Barcelona squeaked into the last UEFA Cup place for 2003-04. I wish they hadn't; they haven't been punished enough for me to be able to go back to them. Being left out of European competition altogether would have been an appropriate expiation of their sins. Athletic Bilbao was seventh, if that counts for anything.

The third UEFA Cup place goes to the winner of the Spanish King's Cup, which will be either midtable Mallorca or, get this, Recreativo de Huelva. Recre is one of the three teams that will go down to Second,along with Rayo Vallecano and Alavés of Vitoria. Coming up are Zaragoza, normally another midtable squad but fallen on hard times, and Albacete and Murcia, firm candidates already to be back on the elevator, but downward, next year.

FC Barcelona news: Frank Rikjaard is to be the next coach, not a bad pick. He's got a four-year contract, which means that they're giving him the reins. Txiki Beguiristain will be the technical director, general manager in American. Frank De Boer will be gone next year; they have already announced they won't sign him. Frank is pissed and threw a snit. Gee, Frank, Barça wanted you so bad they agreed to buy your brother, whom they didn't want, in order to bring you here. Then they paid you well for four years. Meanwhile, you sucked. You were supposed to be a good defender. You weren't. You were supposed to be able to make the long pass. You couldn't. You were supposed to play at a professional level. Half the time you didn't know where the ball was or only figured it out when it was too late. If I were going to be a jerk I'd say you voided that clause in your contract that says something about "the player must stay in shape and not get fat or anything." They are going to re-sign Cocu for one season at a reduced price. OK, I suppose, but don't let him start. If he's your fifth or sixth midfielder that's all right, if he comes cheap. The problem comes if you treat him as your second or third midfielder. Cocu should begin every game on the bench unless somebody's injured.

They are not going to pick up their options on Mendieta (good move) or Sorin; I'd buy Sorin if he came cheap. Riquelme and Kluivert are slated for "talks" with management; they're almost certainly going to get rid of Riquelme, who's just not very good, and they want to cut Kluivert's huge salary. This Turkish goalie they bought named Rustu counts as one of the three "excellent" players that the new Joan Laporta regime has promised us. He still hasn't gotten the two superstars, either.

Real Madrid news: the Vanguardia printed a really snotty story on how the Real Madrid players behaved like jackasses at the official We Won the League celebration they always hold at the Cibeles fountain in central Madrid whenever Real wins something. They are going to get rid of Hierro, which is a good move, it's time. If I were Hierro I'd retire. There's no point playing out the string for a couple of bad years with a bad team. He must have plenty of money already. They are also canning Vicente del Bosque as coach. He only won two Leagues and two Champions' Leagues in four years. I'd say that's extremely successful. He is apparently what they call a "players' coach", though, and what with all the huge egos in the Madrid clubhouse, now plus the biggest Madrid has ever seen, they're getting some guy from Manchester United who is, like, businesslike or whatever.

Monday, June 23, 2003

I love Barcelona. I really do. Hey, just a couple of days ago it was Corpus Christi, and they have a cool local tradition: on Corpus, in the fountains in the city's several medieval cloisters, they place an egg on top of the spout and the water plays with it; I assume the inside of the egg is blown out first. Anyway, though, the egg is continuously held aloft by the water spouting up. It's called "l'ou com balla"--"the dancing egg". It's pretty to see inside the cloisters at Santa Anna or Felip Neri or Sant Pau.

But I bloody well hate the verbena de San Juan, St. John's Eve. San Juan is a big holiday in Catalonia and they blow off tons of fireworks and everybody goes out and parties their asses off. There is an excellent fireworks display every year, but my problem is that every single kid in Catalonia is blowing off hundreds of firecrackers per second even as I speak.

I don't like big crowds or loud noises. They make me nervous. They frighten the cats. And I don't like party nights when everybody goes out and gets wasted en masse. It's amateur night, a whole lot of people who aren't used to drinking hitting it way too hard and getting smashed and puking all over the place and starting fights and generally acting like a bunch of morons.

Conclusion: If you like going out and wandering the streets and getting trashed and spending lots of money and being subjected to sharp loud noises and getting puked on, San Juan is your night. I will admit that the city's fireworks display is pretty spectacular for people who like that sort of thing. But except for that, I stay home on the night of San Juan.
Here's Joe Posnanski from the Kansas City Star--Joe and Jason Whitlock are the Star's big sports columnists, and they really are quite good. Joe is taking the piss out of St. Louis and its snobbish baseball fans. Kansas City and St. Louis have an, uh, "friendly" rivalry. So, for you furriners out thar, here's what we real Amurricans think of y'all: we don't even like those damn people in St. Louis, much less immigrants from countries whose name ends in Stan.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The Jedman went to see Pearl Jam at the "Sandstone Amphitheater" out in KCK. Here's his chronicle:

I went to the Pearl Jam Rock and Roll show. It was at the amphitheater. We met at Hooter's on the way out to the show. I went with one dude and two chicks. We ate 50 wings. It was great. I kept telling the chicks to pick up their paychecks before we left for the show. When we got out to the ampitheater, the sky was black. Thunder could be heard. Rain was spitting. The opening act played and right when they finished, it started to pour rain and it poured and poured. Then, the lightning came. I was lucky. I took my high tech rain suit. There was no cover anywhere. We were standing under the short awning of the beer stand, but the asphalt slopped down to the base of the stand and the water was pretty high up to my ankles. So, I had my rain suit and I decided to stand on higher asphalt and take the beating of the rain. That worked until I adjusted my collar and rain poured down my front and soaked my t-shirt. It poured rain for about 45 minutes with tons of lightning. With my power pack* I felt like a human jumper cable out there. Then, the rain seemed to let up a little bit and the show started. There was still lightning and the drunks cheered whenever the sky lit up. It was pretty dangerous. With the lights shining on the crowd you could see the rain still coming down pretty hard. The JAM played an hour of hard core PJ fan toons. Then, they played an hour of hits for the pop kids like me. Late in the show, there were some dudes without shirts on running down the hill and sliding on the grass. They did this over and over. Then, I looked over again and one of them was a chick without her top. So, it was the best of all worlds on many levels. There was a young, hot, drunk, wet, and naked party girl engaging in athletic competition. That was the best part of the night. What more is there. Aside from the front of my t-shirt getting wet, I was dry everywhere else except my feet. My shoes were soaked. I took my socks off and left them there. It was a class move by theJEDMAN.

*The Jedman has a pacemaker. This is one of the reasons that he is so into physical fitness now after years of being a lazy-ass beer-swilling slob. Gotta congratulate him for getting down to 195, which is pretty strong there for a big guy like him--he's six-foot-three and built solid, not skinny.
Headlines You Might See Every Day:

5. "Mideast Talks Stall"
4. "West Bank Violence Continues"
3. "Terror Attack in Israel"
2. "International Summit Planned"
1. "Tyson Jailed after Street Fight"
According to Catalunya TV, antiglobalimoron Jose Bove has been arrested in France and has been hauled off to jail to serve a ten-month sentence for, get this, destroying an experimental field of transgenic rice that belonged to a laboratory. Way to go, Jose, that's what I call doing your best to help out the poor in the Third World, opposing technologies that would allow agricultural production to increase. Of course, Jose doesn't give a rat's ass about the poor in the Third World, or the environment; his goals are a) to get as much publicity for himself as possible b) to bash the United States and c) to protect subsidies to French farmers. The story says some 800,000 idiots have signed a petition to get Bove's sentence commuted. I say they lock him up for ten more months for that McDonalds he trashed. Hey, if I go in and wreck a Catalan torradas amb pernil restaurant and smash everything and scare the crap out of the people in or around there (even if no one gets hurt) and cause thousands of euros in damage and lost income, I go to jail, on about twenty charges of destruction of property and simple assault, right? Things should be no different for Bove.

Libertad Digital is reporting that we hit a convoy in Iraq last Wednesday that might have been carrying Saddam and one of his sons; they are checking what's left of the convoy for DNA. I hope they got him. What a way to go, sneaking around like a rat. You didn't figure Saddam would go down gloriously leading his forces in a last-ditch defense of Baghdad, did you? I sure didn't.
My friend, buddy, and pal the Jedman had a Major League Experience related to Raytown, Missouri, for you Raytown followers out there. Apparently two characters in the story are named Raytown and Raytown II after their hometown. The thing about the Jedman is he has connections. He can get you Royals tickets and he can get you into the luxury box. You can watch the spectacle that is Major League Baseball from the comfort of the box, which has a fridge full of beer inside it. Should you be hungry, deli-tray snacks and hot dogs are available.

Actually, no kidding, the Jedman really can get free baseball tickets; we went three times last time I was there last August. We saw the Yankees, Twins, and A's beat the Royals; we thereby managed to see our hometown heroes get thrashed by the three teams that made the AL playoffs but not by the eventual World Series winner, the Angels.

No, that's not why I hang out with him.

Raytown trivia: "Mama's Family", that thing that started out as a long-running skit on the Carol Burnett show back in the Seventies (I know it got over to England) and then became a TV show on its own not starring Carol Burnett, was set in Raytown, Missouri.

Also, local witty and humorous disc jockey Max Floyd, who, of all things, is distantly related to me, is known to occasionally play his own version of "Raytown Sally", to the tune of Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally": "Raytown Sally, why don't you lose some weight..."

Anyway, here's the Jedman:

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
It was theJEDMAN's Major League Experience. I hosted several colleagues at a major league experience last night. Most of them were chicks. Before the experience, we hung out in Raytown. It was raining out so we hung out in Raytown longer than expected. My guests enjoyed several adult beverages. As we pulled in the lot at the stadium, my guests were fighting to see who would pay the parking fee, but I pulled out the parking pass and stated, "We are going big time tonight!" In the lot, it was still raining and I surprised my guests with ball caps. Each one received a ball cap. Inside the venue, I scored some free bobble heads. Each of my guests received a bobble head. At this point, I was looking like an excellent host. The experience started two hours late, but we stayed for the whole game. One of the members caught a foul ball. Not to be confused with Raytown, but Raytown II got hammered. Raytown II was leaning on me as not to fall out of the chair. So I purchased another adult beverage for this person. This is what I do. I love to make people happy and the rain didn't hamper theJEDMAN's major league experience. I'm theJEDMAN.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

There's some chat going on about the Ten Most Influential Blogs. Here's my take:

1. InstaPundit
2. James Taranto
3. Andrew Sullivan
4. Mickey Kaus
5. Steven Den Beste
6. The Volokh Conspiracy
7. Jane Galt
8. James Lileks
9. The Corner
10. Dr. Weevil

I'd put VodkaPundit on this list somewhere, but he doesn't like me--as a beginning blogger, I apparently committed a faux pas which, he has stated publicly, will not be forgotten or forgiven. Well, that's his problem, not mine, if he refuses to link to Iberian Notes--he's just closing off one more option to his readers.

By the way, the criteria for my list is: which blogs reach AND influence the most bloggers and blogreaders I know and respect? Most bloggers I'm cyber-acquainted with don't pay much attention to what, say, Alterman or Atrios thinks. I might well title this "Ten Most Influential Blogs in My Little Corner of the Greater Blogosphere".
This article from the Telegraph about street crime in Barcelona is sadly all too true. Muggings, pickpocketings, and purse-snatchings are much too common. Tourists who appear to be well-off are the main--really only--targets. Locals are rarely molested. The main culprits are Arab street kids. This is not racism. It is a fact. Holes in the Spanish legal and judicial system prevent us from either locking up the little bastards or deporting them. Yes, they were born poor--they now have plenty of ill-gotten cash and flashy name-brand sports clothes--and have had crappy lives. No, that doesn't give them the right to victimize those people who were not born poor and have not had crappy lives.

The Barcelona Tourist Board's response, which is provided by the Telegraph, is a lie. Nothing is being done, at least not effectively, against the street-crime wave that has been going on for several years.

For visitors to Barcelona:

1) You are a target. They recognize you as a foreigner. Remember this at all times.
2) They will not kill you. They very well might hurt you, normally in a take-down from behind.
3) Do not walk the streets wearing expensive clothes or jewelry. My mother stubbornly refuses to listen to me; she won't take off her (modest) jewelry in Barcelona. Something bad is going to happen one day. 4) Do not carry around camera equipment casually. If you want to take photos, plan to spend a day dedicated exclusively to that. Then stick the damn camera in your hotel safe. Or get one of those disposable cameras that cost ten bucks.
5) The Raval, the area to the left of the Ramblas, going up, is a no-go area after dark unless you are 22 with a group of four friends. If you are vulnerable--a woman, a small man, an older person--stay out of there after dark and be damned careful during the day.
6) The Ramblas is dangerous. Go there but be careful. You won't be mugged during the day--that's when the pickpockets operate. You very well might be violently mugged after dark in the Ramblas itself. It happened to me. Watch out for crowds of tourists at street spectacles.
7) The Plaza Real is dangerous. Party there at your own risk. The scene there isn't attractive for anyone not looking to get wasted anyway.
8) The rest of the Old City, to the right of the Ramblas going up, is a better and a safer area than the Raval, but still watch yourself and don't go down dark black alleys. It's better if there are at least two of you. EXCEPTION: the area right around the Picasso Museum. Watch it around there.
9) Consider spending more money and staying--and eating--in the wealthier and safer Eixample (the area in the center of the city with large, octagonal blocks, "north" of the Old City) or Sarria-Sant Gervasi (the area near and above the upper Diagonal). There are fewer tourists and virtually no muggers in those parts. Watch out for pickpockets in the area around the Pedrera and around the Park Guell.
10) WATCH OUT FOR SMALL GROUPS OF ARAB TEENAGERS. I'm sorry. I don't care if that offends anyone. Stay away from them. They will rob you and they don't mind if they have to hurt you.
11) The Barcelona city government is negligent in not clarifying the risks that a visit to Barcelona incurs. Barcelona is safe enough if you behave yourself as if you were in a dodgy part of Chicago or New York. If you do not take precautions, YOU WILL BE A VICTIM. One of these days those damned kids are going to kill a tourist from one of those luxury cruise ships and then the shit is going to hit the fan.
12) The Barcelonese themselves don't really give a shit. You'll get sympathy, but you'll also get "well, everyone knows that's a bad part of town" and "well, you shouldn't have had your wallet in your back pocket" and "we're sorry but there's nothing we can do." They don't particularly care because they themselves are rarely victims and you are just another tourist.

Anecdote. A couple of years ago I was in KC and I went to get my drivers license renewed six months before it ran out. The clerk down at the DMV got a little suspicious and asked why. I replied that I was going abroad and just wanted to make sure I had a valid license. She asked where and I said Spain. She said, "Oh, you'd better watch out in Barcelona, it seems like half the people who come in here for new licenses got robbed in Barcelona." If the first thing that comes to the mind of a typical, standard American, a clerk at the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles, when she thinks of Spain, is "Barcelona is dangerous" and not "Spain is beautiful", then we've got a problem, Houston. Over and out.

Here is the US State Department's take on crime in Spain from a tourist's perspective. Read it.

CRIME: While most of Spain has a moderate rate of crime and most of the estimated one million American tourists have trouble free visits to Spain each year, street crimes against tourists occur in the principal tourist areas. Madrid and Barcelona, in particular, report incidents of muggings and violent attacks, and older tourists and Asian Americans seem to be particularly at risk. Criminals frequent tourist areas and major attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, outdoor cafes, Internet cafes, hotel lobbies, beach resorts, city buses, subways, trains, train stations, airports, and ATM machines.

In Barcelona, a number of attacks have been reported on Las Ramblas, near the Picasso Museum, in the Gothic Quarter, in Parc Güell, in Plaza Real and on Montjuic. In Madrid, incidents have been reported in most major tourist areas, in the area near the Prado Museum, near Atocha train station, in Retiro Park, in areas of old Madrid including Sol and El Rastro flea market, near the Royal Palace and in Plaza Mayor. Travelers should remain alert to their personal security and exercise caution. Travelers are encouraged to carry limited cash, one credit card, and a copy of their passport; leaving extra cash, credit cards, passports and personal documents in a safe location. When carrying documents, credit cards or cash, you are encouraged to secure them in a hard-to-reach place and not to carry all valuables together in a purse or backpack. Crimes occur at all times of day and night and to people of all ages.

Thieves often work in teams or pairs. In most cases, one person distracts a victim while the accomplice performs the robbery. For example, someone might wave a map in your face and ask for directions or "inadvertently" spill something on you. While your attention is diverted, an accomplice makes off with the valuables. Attacks have also been initiated from behind, with the victim being grabbed around the neck and choked by one assailant while others rifle through or grab the belongings. A group of assailants may surround the victim, often in a crowded popular tourist area or on public transportation, and only after the group has departed does the person discover he/she has been robbed. Purse-snatchers may grab purses or wallets and run away, or immediately pass the stolen item to an accomplice. A passenger on a passing motorcycle sometimes robs pedestrians. There have been several reports of thieves posing as plainclothes police officers sometimes beckoning to pedestrians from cars. American citizens are encouraged to deal with uniformed law enforcement personnel only. Some attacks have been so violent that victims have needed medical attention.

Theft from vehicles is also common. Items high in value like luggage, cameras, laptop computers, or briefcases are often stolen from cars. Travelers are advised not to leave valuables in parked cars, and to keep doors locked, windows rolled up and valuables out of sight when driving. "Good Samaritan" scams are unfortunately common, where a passing car or helpful stranger will attempt to divert the driver's attention by indicating there is a flat tire or mechanical problem. When the driver stops to check the vehicle, the "Good Samaritan" will appear to help the driver and passengers while the accomplice steals from the unlocked car. Drivers should be cautious about accepting help from anyone other than a uniformed Spanish police officer or Civil Guard.

While the incidence of rape and sexual assault is statistically very low, attacks do occur. Americans should not lower their personal security awareness because they are on holiday. Spanish authorities have warned of availability of so-called "date-rape" drugs and other drugs, including "GBH" and liquid ecstasy.

American citizens have been victims of lottery or advance fee scams in which a person is lured to Spain to finalize a financial transaction. Often the victims are initially contacted via internet or fax and informed they have won the Spanish Lottery (El Gordo), inherited money from a distant relative, or are needed to assist in a major financial transaction from one country to another. For more information, please see the information sheet on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at

Here's Barcelona Business on safety in Barcelona:

Catalonia is Spain's third most frequently visited province, with Britons the most numerous tourists, followed by Germans. Barcelona was Britons' most popular 'city break' destination last year. Rising street crime reported in the UK press has caused more concern than the statistically miniscule risk of being hurt by ETA bombs.

Tourists in Barcelona are targeted by gangs using strangleholds and carrying knives and bottles. Baggage is snatched from hotel lobbies and tour coach unloading spots. Police inaction and a judicial vacuum encouraging reoffenders tempt hundreds of foreign professional criminals to the city during the tourist season. Official figures show that a crime is committed in the city every two minutes, up 7% on last year, with 65% of reports for assault or theft. Many attacks go unreported.

Criminal activity tends to break down ethnically: while eastern Europeans use various scams on La Rambla, the Old Town back streets are best for bag snatching, often at the hands of young north Africans. The situation is a disaster for racial harmony in a city only just coming to terms with immigration.

Armed international gangs hit Barcelona jewellers, well-stocked for the season, and bands of highwaymen (usually termed 'Peruvians' by the Spanish press) cruise Catalonia's highways on the lookout for foreign numberplates. Foreign motorists are more at risk this summer due to the confusing renaming of Catalonia's highways, with route names not appearing on international tourist maps (see Story, Roads renamed).

This Blogshares thing is kind of fun. I sold a hundred shares of IEIN in order to get some spending money and diversify, and bought some Ibidem, since it's the blog of record from Madrid; I bought some HispaLibertas because it's a damn good blog and because it's in Spanish--the Spanish blog market is growing now, it's booming; I bought some Puerta del Sol because it's a new blog that is going to become more popular--its owner frequently writes in our Comments section; I bought some Merde in France just because I like it; and I bought some Dissident Frogman because of the Frogman's unique perspective and his ability with computer graphics. He's moved, by the way.

Somebody should figure out how to get Cinderella Bloggerfeller into this. I'd buy his stock. I think his blog is a bit too complex intellectually for a lot of people (not you guys, of course, I mean the people from Raytown, Missouri, out there), but he consistently gets good links from InstaPundit and other well-known, high-profile blogs, and he's the only guy out there discussing writers like Glucksmann and Revel.

Friday, June 20, 2003

English-Language Movies Most Overplayed on Catalan TV:

5. All those movies about how wonderful life is in a crap neighborhood in Dublin based on Roddy Doyle books
4. Michael Collins
3. In the Name of the Father
2. Rob Roy
1. Braveheart
John Lilly sent me a letter, and it is absolutely spot-on. No fair commingling Franco's regime with the PP. There are about three connections: Manuel Fraga, President of Galicia, was important in Franco's cabinets through the 60s and 70s, but Fraga was considered pretty liberal for Spain at that time and he was one of the designers of today's Constitution. He has played ball democratically ever since the Transition. Fraga was the founder of the AP, the predecessor of the PP. Jose Maria Aznar, as a youth under Franco's regime, wrote several sophomoric articles praising the Franco National Movement. I'm glad none of you people can find any of the stuff I wrote when I was nineteen. Aznar's father was a pretty big wheel under the Franco government.

Aznar, however, is scrupulously democratic and has been so ever since he discovered sensible conservative politics during his university days. If he were American he'd fit well into the moderate Republicans. He'd be rather left for a Republican on government spending issues. Aznar might also fit in pretty well with the Democrat "far right", but those Charlie Stenholm Texas wheeler-dealer guys might be too corrupt for his taste. See, one of the things Aznar did was to clean up the Spanish conservative wing, getting rid of old Franquistas and local caciques. The most famous to fall were Cantabria's Juan Hormaechea, who did some jail time, and the PP's Balearic confederation, up to their eyeballs in corrupt construction-development sleaze.

By the way, several notable people who later joined the Socialists also worked in the government under Franco. To be fair, these were "technocratic" administration rather than ideological guys--somebody's got to take charge of the country's finances, for example, whether we've got a dictatorship or not. Two examples are former economics minister Miguel Boyer and the late former foreign minister, Paco Ordonez. Boyer has now jumped the Socialist sinking ship and is considered close to the PP.

Forgive me if this is an annoyance, but I don't know where else to
turn! In this Slate piece on the Beckham business the New Republic's F. Foer pulls THE
classic boner of latter-day offhand, ill-informed Spanish political
analysis. The relevant passage:

"Like so many European business stories, Real Madrid's success begins
with government help. Generalissimo Francisco Franco adored the team,
lounging around his palace on weekends and watching it on television;
his dictatorship allegedly secured Madrid the best players of the day.
And this is not only distant history. In 2000, Madrid's right-wing City
Council paid about $350 million to buy the club's training ground."

Now, I'm sure Mr. Foer would argue that he's only associating the PP
with the Franquistas because of their common habit of helping out Real
Madrid. Which would be false, if perhaps strictly defensible. In any
case, it seems to me that referring to the PP as "right-wing" in the
historical context of Spanish politics is pretty obnoxious in its own
right, and certainly misleading to an American audience: on many
important issues the PP is well to the left of, e.g., the Democratic
Party. On most issues, I'd say--and I tend to vote Republican.
Certainly the PP don't run around in patent-leather tricorn hats
jailing Communists, etc.

The NYT used to indulge habitually in this slander-by-implication--to
my great annoyance--but now they seem to refer to the PP as
"center-right," which is at least edging closer to the realm of
accuracy. I guess someone complained. Anyway, I can't figure out how
to get in touch with either the editors of Slate or Mr. Foer (short of
writing a letter to TNR)--although perhaps I'm not trying hard enough.

If this irks you as it does me, perhaps you'd like to comment on it
publicly. Or perhaps not. Anyway, thanks for the blog.

John Lilly
Here's a news piece from the Telegraph which says that Aznar is trying to play the American card to get Britain to turn over sovereignty or partial sovereignty or whatever of Gibraltar, and that Blair is hoppin' mad. Here's the opinion piece. This damn Gibraltar thing--the Spaniards consider Gibraltar España Irridenta and they want it very badly. They consider the current situation, with Britain owning Gibraltar, intolerable and unacceptable. They also know they can't go to war with the Brits over this. So they continually pressure the British, and everybody else who might have some influence over them, to turn over Gib. Now, the problem is that 99% of the Giblets don't want to be turned over to Spanish sovereignty, and the British can't just turn 'em over without their say-so. This isn't like it was Hong Kong or something. Or, more accurately, Spain ain't China. Next thing the Arabs are going to start yelling for Gib to be turned over to them, since they did, after all, hold it from 711 to 1492, while Spain only held it between 1492 and 1714.
Derb from National Review has been reading Sir Martin Rees and he's feeling despondent and fatalistic. Cheer him up! Send him an e-mail in favor of your state's sodomy law!

Thursday, June 19, 2003

This is kind of funny. Iberian Notes is being traded on Blogshares; it's going for $148 a share and it has skyrocketed since the postwar blog blahs. So go out and buy some if you're playing! It's probably not a blue chip, more like at the small-growth-company level.
Oh, yeah, here's a good story from Australia, home of John Pilger, Saddam's propaganda pimp, that InstaPundit linked to. It completely debunks the horror stories that certain elements of the media, such as the Pimp and Beirut Bob Fisk, spread about the so-called genocide of the Iraqi children during the embargo.
The Times of London takes Michael Moore apart. Check it out. (Via Andrew Sullivan). I'm going to start carrying this article around with me and pull it out the next time I run into an Intellectually Aggressive Brit.

Intellectually Aggressive Brits are working- or lower middle-class Englishmen--you don't often find this phenomenon among other inhabitants of the British isles, or among women--who have been to a (red-brick) university and who have a degree in something useless like English lit or education. These people are acutely class-conscious and know exactly where they fit in the English social scheme, which is here: Guardian readers who think they're smart enough to run things but know they'll never get another chance in A. T. (After Thatcher) England, so they simmer in the anger and shame that their irrelevance causes them while lecturing on labour history at the local polytechnic somewhere gray like Nottingham or Sunderland. If they can't hack even that, they show up down here. I enjoy listening to them lecture to me about Barcelona after having been here three months.

Anyway, you, as an American, can expect to get a good talking-to by this brand of Brit. He will lecture you up one side and down the other on the perfidiousness of your home country, and he knows it's true because Noam Chomsky or Robert Fisk or Michael Moore or Naomi Klein or (formerly) Christopher Hitchens or Mr. Unfunny Self-Hating Yank Comedian Bill Hicks (whose basic joke was a bitter diatribe against ignorant fat people from Iowa who had the gall to visit Britain, his adopted homeland) says so. No point in arguing with these guys; they've got their minds made up based on what they consider Received Truth.

I met up with three unpleasant Brits of this type this very week, one at the coffee shop and the other two in separate visits to Miguel's downtown. All three approached me; I did not initiate any of these conversations. I prefer, when alone in public, to mind my own business; however, I will talk courteously to anyone who starts talking to me. Now, this is an unusual week; I normally get one of these a month or so.

These folks all lit into me about the United States and got Intellectually Aggressive when I didn't roll over and start whimpering like Bill Hicks and the other Self-Hating Yanks (note: most Yank expatriates are self-hating in one way or another; some are more extreme than others, but, let's put it this way, they've read Howard Zinn's History of the United States and haven't read Paul Johnson's) they've run across. In fact, I managed to get two of the three all tangled up in their own logic by simply questioning the premises behind their assumptions, which are often laughable; amazing how much more Intellectually Aggressive Brits think they know about the US than Americans themselves. Jeez, a Brit who is a friend of mine but just a little I.A. once told me in all seriousness that George Bush was a fanatical born-again Christian; Bush, of course, is a Methodist. The third guy, though, launched into this long story about how there were no Cuban troops on Grenada and nobody got shot and how, get this, it happened in 1993. Fortunately, I had to go home right then, having discussed what I had to discuss with the bar's owner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

American Movies Most Overplayed on Spanish TV:

7. All those slapstick parody movies with Leslie Nielsen
6. Those damn Chevy Chase vacation movies
5. Thelma and Louise
4. Fried Green Tomatoes
3. Those pieces of crap with Clint Eastwood and the ape
2. The Shawshank Redemption
1. Mississippi Burning
OK, here's the Vanguardia's take on the David Beckham signing. Joan Laporta, then a candidate for FC Barcelona's presidency, negotiated a deal with Man U's directors in which Barcelona would buy Beckham from Manchester United, subject to Beckham's approval, which was announced on Tuesday, June 10. Beckham announced then that he did not want to come to Barcelona. Somehow the Barça's "entorno" managed to miss these statements, Laporta was elected president Sunday, and until approximately yesterday it was assumed that, no matter what, the Barça had Beckham tied up.

Wrong. The deal that brought Beckham to Real Madrid was made in Sardinia last Friday and Beckham gave his approval yesterday. Madrid will pay Man U 25 million euros. The Vangua's story does not say how much Madrid will pay Beckham.

This is actually a good move for Madrid for three reasons. First, Madrid already has the structure of a team, and the Beckham piece fits into the puzzle. He'll play right midfield next to Figo, at right wing, and Zidane in the center, who plays behind forwards Raul and Ronaldo. Madrid's starting eleven will look like this: Casillas; Salgado, Hierro, Helguera, Roberto Carlos; Figo, Beckham, Zidane, Makelele; Ronaldo, Raul. They'd do well to replace Hierro, who is at the end of his career, but except for him, this team is hard to beat on paper. Salgado could be upgraded, but he's OK, not a problem, he's on the national squad. If you were looking for somebody to buy and you were Madrid, though, he'd be the first guy you'd replace after Hierro.

Second, Madrid has the money to spend. They've got the big bucks, and they've got a plan set up in which they buy one superstar at his peak every year. You can get away with this if you have big, big money, and a successful squad to build on.

Third, Beckham will help Madrid's marketing and merchandising business a great deal, and Madrid is allowed the luxury of hiring players who will bring money in to the club from off the field. Barcelona does not have that luxury; it needs to put together a winning team before it worries about T-shirt sales.

Oh, and fourth, 25 million euros is a hell of a good deal for Beckham if you figure he's 29 and you'll get about two or three more good years out of him. Compare this with some of the prices from the last few years for big stars and with some of the prices being thrown around for guys that the Barça is interested in:

12.5 million for Chivu, Ajax Amsterdam's central defender. That's pricey for a defenseman, and he'd also use up one of your four "extracommunitarian" spots because he's Romanian. He's only 22, though. And Barcelona needs someone who can play defense.

16 million for Kezman, PSV Eindhoven's center-forward. I thought we already had Kluivert and Saviola. Of course, I wouldn't mind getting rid of Kluivert and Saviola. Another extracommunitarian--he's Yugoslav. And he's 24, so you could get five or six years from him. But two-thirds of Beckham's price?

15 million for Makaay, Deportivo's center-forward. OK, if we're getting rid of Kluivert and Saviola. He's proven he can play well in the Spanish league. But he's 29 and right at his peak. I don't like spending big money for guys over about 26.

15 million for Deco, Oporto's center midfielder. We already have eighteen of those guys. Only if you're going to get rid of Xavi and Gerard or Cocu. He's 24, a good age to buy a player.

Other players in the rumor mill are Ronaldinho from Paris-St. Germain (I bet he costs more than 20 million) and M?rquez and Luisao from Monaco.

Barcelona has already signed Rustu, one of those many anonymous goalies with some experience out there, just like Dutruel and Enke and Hesp and Bonano and all the other goalies they've gone through over the last few years.

Now, supposedly, Laporta has 50 million with which to sign "two cracks (i.e. superstars) and three good players." Right. Let's look at who you have. De Boer and Cocu's contracts run out and I would not re-sign either of them. The club wants to negotiate with Kluivert to reduce his salary. I just bet he don't go along with that. So sell him. He's a good player, but he's earning superstar money and he's not playing like one. Sor?n and Mendieta have been "rented" from the clubs who own them; I would buy Sorin and send Mendieta home. Alfonso and Geovanni are now being "rented out"; I'd get rid of both for whatever I could get for them. They want to get rid of Riquelme and wouldn't mind unloading Rochemback. This leaves next year's team looking something like this: Rustu or Valdes, Gabri, Puyol, Navarro, Sorin; Motta, Xavi, Gerard, Overmars; Kluivert and Saviola. Ouch. That team sucks. You need two central defenders, two wingmen, one on each side, and two forwards.

They ought to think about buying a few Spanish players: maybe Atletico's Garcia Calvo, maybe Munitis from Racing, Joaquin from Betis for sure, Morientes if he comes cheap, Luque or Tristan from Deportivo, De Pedro from Real Sociedad--Joaquin on the right and De Pedro on the left would be a damn good pair of wingmen--maybe Baraja or Vicente from Valencia.

So how about this squad: Valdes; Puyol, Chivu, Garcia Calvo, Sorin; Joaquin, Xavi, Gerard, De Pedro; Ronaldinho and Kezman. With Laporta's 50 million and the, say, 25 million you'd get in a fire sale of Kluivert, Saviola, Riquelme, Rochemback, Alfonso, Geovanni, and Overmars, that ought to be doable.

They have decided on a coach: Guus Hiddink, who just won the Dutch league with PSV Eindhoven and was South Korea's coach in the 2002 World Cup. He has also coached Valencia, Real Madrid, and Betis. Not a bad choice, though I didn't know we were willing to accept Real Madrid's sloppy seconds.
Here's Dinesh D'Souza in Front Page on reparations and why they're not only a bad idea, but unjust. And check out this piece that Mickey Kaus linked to on the Council of Europe's proposal that might force us bloggers to give equal time to those we criticize. Now, that's not prior-restraint censorship, but if they actually begin enforcing this rule, I quit. I have no desire to provide a forum in which the SocioCommunists get half the space to express their ideas. Let them start their own blogs and get into the marketplace of ideas on their own merits.

Oh, well, if this dumb thing actually goes through, which it won't, we'll be able to make El Pais give us tons of space to spout off our points of view.

Here's Victorino Matus from the Weekly Standard on the most recent European conference at Lake Como. I hope he's right and that the Western Alliance will be able to patch up its wounds, and it suffered plenty. The Americans will not forgive the French for a good little while; they feel truly betrayed over the French threat of a Security Council veto. The Yanks would not have objected in the least to an abstention mixed with some anti-Bush rhetoric, but the threatened veto is not seen as the action of a friend who disagrees with you; it is seen as the action of an enemy.

Still, though, it's about time to get our relations back on track. I vote we don't do the French--or the Germans or the Belgians--any favors over the next few years, but that we don't become their open enemy either, and that we don't do anything petty and childish in seeking revenge. We should treat them fairly and politely but without warmth. It'll take a while to wake up those friendly feelings again, but it can be done, and that is much more important than the temporary fun we've been having bashing the French. Not that they didn't deserve it.

Oh, just a comment. There have been several short articles in the Vangua about the "xenophobic anti-French campaign" in the United States, based apparently on decreased sales of French wine and the wave of French jokes that swept the US this spring. Jeez. They dis us all the time, right and left, over nothing. It is absolutely impossible to pick up a newspaper in continental Europe that doesn't contain an anti-American slur somewhere; if nowhere else, the TV section will insult most of the movies on that night. But we tell a few jokes like the French rifle advertised for sale--never fired, only dropped once; that's the one that seems to make them the maddest--and there's a xenophobic campaign going. Jeez.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Here's the BBC's take on the FC Barcelona presidential elections and on the "possible signing" of David Beckham, which the Barcelona sports papers are reporting as nearly a done deal while the British press is saying no way he's coming to Barcelona. If I were Beckham I wouldn't come anywhere near a team that won't be back in the Champions' League anytime soon, and if I were the Barça I wouldn't try to sign him anyway since he's a player at his peak with only one direction to travel in his career--downhill. Players at their peak are at their highest price based on their past accomplishments--and they have one or two more good seasons left in them before they're clearly in the decline stage. You don't buy a player at his peak because he's already accomplished most of what he's going to. You don't buy seventeen-year-old kids, either. You buy players between 21 and 23 or so. These guys have already established that they're developing players--they're not just phenoms, but they're still cheap because they haven't accomplished much yet. They may not turn out to be great but they'll be at least competent.

Murph says that I might be right footballistically, but that the whole deal with signing Beckham is the publicity and the marketing. I say that the best publicity and marketing policy is having a winning team and that Becks is not the way to go to build a winner.

Also, who's going to be the coach?

Speculation by Murph: Joan Laporta will have the shortest honeymoon as president in history, since Real Madrid will almost certainly sign Beckham sometime this summer. "The squeals of delight from Laporta's pijo backers will turn to howls of rage when Becks puts on the white shirt, and he will be lame-ducked," says Iberian Notes' Official Inside Football and Political Ideology Prognosticator.
First Axiom of Sustainable Forum-thought, according to Our Dear Leader:

This phenomenon is formulated thus: "The internalization of the consequences in time and space is the basis of sustainability". Restated in practice, this means that everyone has to learn to "eat dirt".

From a speech by Mayor Joan Clos of Barcelona, November 2002, linked to below.
Just a Year to Go--Forum 2004

We preview Barcelona life in the immediate future
by Alan Murphy and John Chappell



All Barcelonans will be obliged to appear naked at the Diagonal Mar Fine Arts and Sustainable Urbanism Peace Camp at 6.25 AM tomorrow for the inauguration of the “International Workshop on Gender-neutral Encounter on Clothes-Optional Peace and Arts Sustainable Governability Project for Solidarity”. Organic pita bread and garlic-lentil casserole will be served for breakfast. All citizens must bring their pita-bread ration card, from which two Forum Solidarity Points will be subtracted.

Those with “NO TO WAR” already tattooed on their left buttock cheek will be exempted from the Semiotic-Workshop on Body Messaging this evening. Those who have not yet fulfilled their solidarious commitment will have the message tattooed this evening. All citizens with surnames A-M will report to the Rigoberta Menchu Tattooage and Ethical Body-Piercing Commissariat at the site of the Lenin Barracks in Plaza Espanya by 22.00. Those with surnames N-Z will report to The Jose Saramago Forumization and High-Colonic Enema Institute, at the Port Olympic, also before 22.00.

Failure to comply will result in obligatory attendance at the Sustainability of Solidarian Forum-Thought, to be held at the Manresa Rock Quarry from August 1-31 2004.

As you all know, our right buttocks are being reserved for the “ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE” message to be inscribed there for the gala Closing Ceremony. Expect another directive on this during September.

Yours in solidarity,



Announcement published in LA VANGUARDIA and other newspapers on May 16th 2004.

For further information click here for Our Dear Leader's 2001 speech on Forum-Thought.
Click here for the Ur-vision of the Forum by Our Dear Leader in December 2002.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

David Skinner revisits his piece about the Toni Morrison PSAT question; of course, we were right. The sentence as it stands is grammatically correct. Also, it's patronizing to black people and just plain false, which was Skinner's main point. But it's not ungrammatical. We also point out to Skinner that we, at least, understood his point, as is demonstrated in our previous comment on this.
Damn, it's hot here in Barcelona, well over ninety F. This is unusual. Barcelona summer weather is normally low or mid-eighties by day, high sixties at night. I went down to the roast chicken stand to get Remei and the cats their Sunday chicken, and I thought I was going to die in there, what with the chicken roaster being on full blast. You know what's gross? People bring glass jars to the chicken guy and he fills them up with the chicken juice that's dripped to the bottom of the roaster. Ick.

It's normally pretty tolerable without air-conditioning, which we, along with most people, don't have. It's becoming much more popular these days, though, since affordable A/C units that actually work and can cool a whole apartment are on the market at less than a grand.

My strategy: Ventilation first. In Barcelona it's important that your apartment be oriented toward the sea; you get the breeze off the Mediterranean and sun in the morning. Our place, of course, fulfills that criterion--we're picky about this when finding a place to live.

Then, when at home, relax and take it easy while wearing as little 100% cotton clothing as possible. Are you overheated now? Is your T-shirt one of those 50-50 cotton/polyester things? There might be a connection. Take it off, just to be on the safe side.

Also, get a tall glass. Fill with ice cubes. Add 1/3 cheap rosé wine, 1/3 orange juice, and 1/3 Fanta lemon or 7-up. Take in moderation as needed.

It's fruit season here--I swear I've been eating a pound a day of apricots and cherries, which are at the peak of their season. Strawberries are now in decline but still available. They have these little yellow plums here which aren't much bigger than cherries--those are good.

Now it comes out. Remember the big nude-o photo shoot some joker set up on Montjuic a few days ago? Turns out our city government paid 100,000 euros to this joker Spencer Tunick to get everybody naked and pose them so he could photograph it. All in the Holy Name of Art, of course.

The circus in the Madrid region continues. The PP is calling for new elections. The Socialists are yelling that it's not fair and are accusing everyone of being corrupt. Everyone is pointing out to the Socialists that you can't charge corruption with no evidence, which as of now they don't have any of. The PSOE doesn't want to go to the polls again because they'd get creamed after this most recent enormous political gaffe. They have lost and they have lost badly. Even if they eventually wind up getting to keep the Madrid regional presidency, they are the laughingstocks of the country.

Every time Esperanza Aguirre, the PP candidate, comes on TV, she can barely restrain herself from cracking up. The irony is intense, since the Socialists have always demagogically smeared Aguirre as being stupid--supposedly when Saramago (Jose) won the Nobel Lit prize, she asked "Who is this woman Sara Mago?", which I don't believe because it's far too obviously an urban legend--and Esperanza the Supposedly Stupid is smiling like the cat that swallowed the canary while Zap is really quickly trying to make everyone forget that it was the "traitors' " votes that got him elected as boss of the Socialists.

The other thing is the Socialists did, in the early '90s, exactly the same thing as the PP is being accused of wanting to do now, in the so-called "caso Piñiero". The PP had won by a narrow margin in the Madrid region and two PP representatives turned coat and went over to the PSOE, giving them the presidency. Now the PSOE is accusing the PP of doing exactly what they did--benefitting from the votes of turncoats.

By the way, "to turn coat" in Spanish is "cambiar de chaqueta". I wonder which of the two languages the calque originates in, or whether we both got it from the French. Stands to reason the French would be the ones to invent that particular expression.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

A couple of Kansas City natives are big news in the Vanguardia today. Tom Watson, who won five British Opens, had a terrific first round at the US Open and is still one of the leaders--he won't win, of course, but it was nice to see him have such a good first round. The Vangua seems to appreciate him and gave him a nice big sports feature story and a photo.

I have actually met Tom Watson. In the summer of 1984 I worked as one of those awful people who waylay you in the mall--in this case Metcalf South in Overland Park--and ask you if you want to help with a market research survey. I was sent out to get men 25 to 49 or whatever for a soft drink taste test study, which I am positive was part of the introduction of New Coke. I saw this gentleman walking through the mall, not knowing who he was. Seemed like a nice fellow, well-dressed and all--I never stopped people who looked grumpy or in a big hurry, even though I was supposed to. I stopped him and asked him to participate and he said sure and I brought him back to the testing center, where I was immediately informed that I had somehow snagged Tom Watson, the famous golfer. Mr. Watson was very kind and shook hands all around and was surveyed, and then we turned him loose.

The thing is he didn't have to do that. He went out of his way to help out a kid making a minimum wage job--or was too nice to say "Go away and don't bother me," whatever--, and the kid didn't even know who he was. So I always root for Tom Watson.

There's also a back-page interview with Pat Metheny, who is in town. Metheny is one of those guys whose talent and creativity you have to respect, but whose music I'm not particularly interested in. I know Metheny and his brother, Mike, have done a lot for the Kansas City jazz scene, but he sure sounds like a jerk--and a schizophrenic--in this excerpt from the interview:

Q. Would you play for Bush?
A. No! No way! No.
Q. They say music soothes the savage beast.
A. Yes, but the beast has to have a certain sensitivity. And in this case, seriously, I don't think there's any sensitivity there. There is nothing that makes me think that Bush has the most remote appreciation of beauty.
Q. Is silence better?
A: I've never experienced it. We live in a world where silence does not exist. I always hear things.

I know it's "the savage breast", but the misquotation has made it over to Spanish and is now an accepted saying.

Now here's one for Andrew Sullivan's Sontag Award. It's Paul Auster, who is very popular here among our local Illustrated and Enlightened--a good rule of thumb regarding fiction is if the Barcelona critics like it, it's probably a bunch of pretentious crap. Anyway, he's in town for a month because the Catalan regional government has named his wife the Invited Author of 2003 with our tax money, and the Vangua gives him space for some cogent political analysis here.

Auster explained yesterday how the Bush Administration irritates him, just the same as the New Yorkers, "who are much more liberal than the rest of the country", t the point where some are already asking for independence. "A poetry magazine ran this headline on its last front cover: "USA OUT OF NYC". To the writer, "The Bush Administration is the extreme right, not even conservative. It's obvious what they're trying to do: destroy the (state?) governments, drive them to bankruptcy, so that they'll be unable to help anybody. Everything will be privatized except the armed forces. Bush is the devil, evil. He brings disaster. We had no right to invade Iraq. With "preventive war" we can invade any country in the world, because we're always threatened by something. Bush wasn't elected, he lost the elections and there was a legal coup d'etat."

Auster, by the way, shows his philistinism regarding Spanish culture when he states he is going to Madrid to meet Pedro Almódovar and then to Granada to see Lorca's house. Oh, jeez, has any American ever heard of any Spanish writers except García Lorca, who is massively overrated and is still known--not read by anyone but Spanish lit majors, though--today largely because of the manner of his death? Trust me, people, forget all that crap about how Lorca reaches down into the soul of Spain and puts the depth of sensitivity of the pueblo de España into words on the printed page. Spare me that "Verde que te quiero verde" stuff. And I personally wouldn't bother crossing the street to talk to Almódovar. We'd have nothing to say to one another. He would hate me and I probably wouldn't like him.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Here's Roger Kimball taking apart the press and the frenzy over the "looting" of the Iraqi national museum.
Here's some lovely invective from loudmouth Ann Coulter:

According to an ABC poll, 48 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of Hillary, 53 percent of Americans don't want Hillary to ever run for president, and 7 percent of Americans have been date-raped by Bill Clinton.

And if this open letter from Dick Morris to Hillary is the truth, Bill Clinton is guilty of assault and battery along with probably over a thousand other felonies. You know, I just don't see Eisenhower beating up on one of his political advisors. Ignoring or scorning, maybe. Tackling and trying to punch, no.
The political circus in Madrid continues. It looks very much like the two defectors from the Socialist Party are going to throw the government of the Madrid region to the PP. There goes the Socialists' big electoral prize and boy, are they pitching a fit. Manuel Chaves, the Socialist party president, says that "economic and development interests that do not want the Socialists to govern in Madrid" are behind the two Socialist defectors. Gas, the Commies' leader, is accusing the PP of somehow being behind "a conspiracy to change and twist the majority will of the citizens of Madrid who decided that the left should govern." The PP is going to sue Gas for slander. Typical leftists; there's always a secret conspiracy of nefarious forces of evil thwarting them from making the world perfect for The Children.

The PP's response to the Socialist accusations of conspiracy is, says José María Aznar, "Solve your own problems." Adds Mariano Rajoy, "If you've got problems, don't blame them on everybody else." They say that the Socialists are the ones who put these two people on their electoral list and they are the ones who were unable to maintain their loyalty, so this whole circus is their own damn fault. Touché. Score one for Aznar and Rajoy.

The press is disgusted at this show of complete incompetence on the part of the Socialists and their striking out blindly in anger when they don't get what they wanted. There is near-complete unanimity, except in El País, the Socialist house organ, and the SER, the Socialist radio network, that the conspiracy and corruption accusations are unfounded. Says Alfredo Abián in the Vangua's page 2 signed editorial, "At this late stage in the game, the new PSOE is springing more leaks than the Prestige (the ship that sank off Galicia). And at the rate things are going, there are few doubts that we'll have the PP for a long time more." The Vangua's lead editorial on page 28 blasts Zap and Gas and their ilk, "(Saying this was) a maneuver by the PP to prevent the PSOE-IU coalition from governing in the Madrid region and not justifying it with accurate facts and evidence is no more than a simple insinuation that, for one thing, contributes to the poisoning of the political climate."

Enough of these clowns. They couldn't manage to catch the clap in Tijuana.

The sociologists strike again. The Soc department at the University of Barcelona, domain of Eulàlia "Chemical Lali" Solé (from now on Inma Mayol is "Anthrax Inma"), has a study out on homosexuality and adolescence. Now, this is a serious subject, and gay kids frequently do have psychological problems. I imagine that a lot of real work has been done on this subject and that it's something that is generally considered as significant among health and education professionals in the West. But is it true that in the US 30% of teenage suicides are caused by homosexuality-related traumas, as they say? I doubt it.

Check out these quotations from sociologist Ester Nolla, "We have to break with heterosexual language and neutralize heterosexuality as we did with sexism", and from sociologist Öscar Guasch, "The Spanish state practices a regime of apartheid, promoting a heterosexual lifestyle."

Oh, Lord. Look, people. Heterosexuality is the norm. 95% of human beings are heterosexual. Heterosexual behavior is necessary for the propagation of the species, which according to Charles Darwin is the goal of each living organism: to reproduce itself. Now, for some reason, 5% of people are not heterosexual. That's fine. As long as you're kind and honest and fair and considerate and love your neighbor, you're ace with me. I don't care what you do in bed or where you go to worship or what continent your ancestors came from. Hell, we're all originally from Africa anyway. But trying to deny that an enormous majority of people are heterosexual and that all societies consider heterosexuality as the norm is just plain nuts.

Something else about this so-called study that bugs me is that it is clearly activism masquerading as science. Its purpose was to "analyze the problems of discrimination and violence that affect non-adult gay or lesbian persons in Catalan society." That's begging the question. What the point of the study would be, if it were legitimate, would be "Do gay and lesbian adolescents face problems of discrimination or violence in Catalonia?", and my answer would probably be, "Yes, but don't a lot more people than gays and lesbians suffer from violence and discrimination in schools, especially at the hands of bullies? Isn't violence and discrimination against anyone a problem? And isn't the best way to stop it a hard line on discipline in the schools, punishing any student who uses any violence, verbal or physical, against anyone, and kicking out the ones who don't want to be there and just cause trouble? Let's look at the problem as a whole instead of focusing on only those victims who are homosexual, and let's crack down on those who are causing the problem."

Oops, that would, like, imply that actions have consequences and we wouldn't want to get into that. It would also imply that one has a limited number of chances to fuck up before one is officially labeled a fuckup, and that's not very inclusive, is it? These damn sociologists are the ones who caused all the goddamn problems in the schools anyway with their goofy dictates.

Note: The Vangua's photo shows some sociologists sitting around a table, on which is prominently displayed a book titled, "Paula tiene dos mamás." I'll bet you dollars to pesetas that it's the Spanish translation of that educational classic Heather Has Two Mommies.