Friday, September 19, 2003

Thomas Friedman went so far as to call France an "enemy" of the United States a couple of days ago. I'd call them a "rival" at this point; they haven't crossed the line of an open casus belli yet. What does seem to be true is that the motive behind and the main point of their foreign policy is to demonstrate that they are important. Global security, fighting terrorism, eliminating dictators--all that stuff comes in second to polishing up the old grandeur.

I don't see any other motive for France's obstructionism regarding Iraq. The Vangua has been giving plenty of coverage to the Franco-German antics that have been keeping the rest of the world awake nights with worry, they wish anyway. The last one is that Chiraq said that America should "transfer power, as soon as possible, under the control of the United Nations, to Iraqi governmental agencies. To us that is a question of months, not years."

That's dumb because so far there's not a functioning native government of Iraq, just the beginnings of one; the United Nations is morally bankrupt and powerless; it's going to take years, not months, before we can leave Iraq; and you can't transfer power. You either have it or you don't. Though you can abdicate it, you can't transmit it. I vote that it's nowhere near time to abdicate our power in Iraq.

As a sign of who's got the power, the IMF has US economic growth at 2.6% in 2003 and 3.9% in 2004. That's the motor keeping the world moving, since Germany's economic growth is calculated at 0.0% for 2003 and France's at 0.5%. The US is looking at a 1.3% inflation rate and a 5.7% unemployment rate for 2004. That's all excellent news for President Bush, who can only be helped by a strong economy. Spain, by the way, looks comparatively healthy, with growth of 2.2% this year and 2.8% for 2004. Great for Mariano Rajoy and just another nail in the Socialists' coffin.

Here's Alfredo Abian's page 2 signed editorial from Wednesday's Vangua.

Clark, Bush's worst adversary

The nine Democrat politicians who had announced their intention to dispute with George Bush for the Presidency of the United States had as much chance of beating him as Rodriguez Zapatero does against Rajoy: slim, in order not to say none. However, the current resident of the White House has seen, finally, the worst adversary he could possibly have expected (barring last-minute surprises): the tenth aspirant to be nominated candidate is the prestigious retired general Wesley Clark. A convinced multilaterist and godfathered by Bill Clinton, this centrist military officer knows europe well. As commander-in-chief of NATO forces, he fought Milosevic in Kosovo, and he hasn't gotten tired of repeating that that diplomatic-military experience of the alliance is the only model that Washington should have followed after 9-11. Especially ciritical of the war in Iraq--Clark stated that hours after the fall of the Twin Towers, Washington proposed that he should relate the terrorist attack with Saddam Hussein, with no evidence--this ambitious Vietnam veteran has all the ingredients to make Bush nervous, of whom he said that he is a loudmouth who is not fit to be the president of the US. And Clark, the Democrats' Colin Powell though he is much less known, will be able to present himself before the voters as a true expert in defense and national security, unwilling to set his country and the world off on risky adventures.

Wishful thinking sopped up from reading the British left-wing press. Clark is little-known and not particularly popular, and it's pretty clear he's the Clinton-Gore stalking horse in these elections.

Crime Rates; Europe, 2002, US, 1999

Homicide, per 100,000

Luxembourg 14.01
Netherlands 10.87
Sweden 10.38
US 5.7
EU average 3.7
Spain 2.91

"Sexual felonies" Europe; forcible rape US, per 100,000

Sweden 94.89
United Kingdom 69.55
Norway 66.59
UE average 42.91
US 32.7
Spain 17.47

Robbery, per 100,000

Sweden 8170
United Kingdom 6174
Netherlands 5302
EU average 3504
Spain 1768
US 150

See, Spain is very safe. On the other hand, over here in most of nice, peaceful, Illustrated and Enlightened Europe, crime rates are, uh, worse than they are in gun-crazy America.

Six Barcelona bonehead "anarchists" started up a terrorist gang and sent a letter-bomb to the Greek embassy. They'd gotten hold of two pistols and a sawed-off twelve-gauge. The Guardia Civil arrested the lot. Throw the book at them. They'll probably get off alleging youthful idealism.

According to Jordi Vilajoana, mouth-breathing conseller de Cultura, 94% of the population of Catalonia can understand Catalan, down from 107% last year and 123% the year before. Ooh, not good. 74% can speak it and read it and 49% can write it.

Seems that Brits are flying down here on cheap return tickets between like say Bristol and Girona in order to stock up on cigs. They're about ten bucks a pack in England and about two bucks a pack here.

The Vangua is complaining that it's terribly uncivic for people to hang out their laundry so it's visible from the street. I can think of approximately fifty other bigger civic problems that the city might just be able to fix: traffic, parking, pollution, graffiti, picking up the trash, fixing the sewers in the Old City, beggars, street crime, bad driving, dog crap...oh, I could go on...but we're campaigning about hanging out your clothes on the balcony.

Hanging out your clothes on the balcony demonstrates that a) you're not rich, since you wouldn't hang them there if you had somewhere else b) you are clean, since you actually wash your clothes. Seems to me this campaign is aimed at the clean poor. How about a campaign aimed at the dirty rich, like say those middle-class kids who call themselves "squatters" and occupy property that isn't theirs?

We've got a squat down on the plaza. They've apparently been served notice that they're going to be kicked out; the cops must have a warrant. A lot of aggressive graffiti has been painted, advertising that there will be rioting. Good. Bring it on. I'm betting on Barcelona's Finest--well, OK, Barcelona's Barely Adequate.

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