Monday, February 09, 2004

News from around these here parts: La Vanguardia is actually providing fairly decent coverage of the American elections. Their man, Eusebio Val, seems to be pretty much transmitting the conventional political wisdom regarding the Democratic primaries, without too much bias. Congratulations to the Vangua for not turning this into another anti-American festivity.

Otherwise, there's nothing much new. The election campaign continues with both sides slagging off the other and Zap promising the moon--now he's going to build 60,000 apartments per year and rent them to young people at a rate no higher than 35% of their salaries. Yeah, right. One thing about Spain is that politicians don't bother explaining where the money is going to come from when they promise us what they think we want. I mean, if, say, Kerry made that proposal tomorrow in the US campaign, the very first thing both his opponents and the press would ask him is "So are you gonna raise taxes or cut spending somewhere else in order to get this money to spend on this program?"

Looks like the conspiracy theory du mois in the Vangua is the American plot against the Catholic Church manifested in the novel "The Da Vinci Code". Enric Juliana brought it up, some other guy wrote a piece I didn't translate which condemned the book but doubted there was actually a conspiracy, and now Josep Miro i Ardevol, a Catalan nationalist and pretty extreme Catholic, has this to say:

Things are what they are. When an operation is well-organized, we should admit it. And "The Da Vinci Code" is exactly that: an operation against the Church from a high-level source, at least as good as the anti-Jewish poison of the "Protocols of the Seven Elders of Zion". In that case the real author, it was learned, was the Czarist police. In this one, from the beginning, it's notorious public knowledge that it is Daw (sic) Brown. But what we haven't learned yet is the collective that is supporting it, the same that amplified to the point of paraoxysm the cases of pederast homosexuality of some American priests. It's the American political collective, which the excellent journalist Enric Juliana has described in these very pages. It will not be their last operation while the Catholic Church, truly universal and gifted with a strong center, as is the Papacy, continues as an alternative to the hegemonic model of globalization.

a) We will give credit where credit is due. Mr. Miro i Ardevol shows no signs of anti-Semitism and denounces the Protocols of Zion as a forgery by the Okhrana, which is what they were.

b) Mr. Miro i Ardevol is alleging an American conspiracy against the Church. That is nuts. Period. One-third of Americans are Catholics. Does Mr. Miro think that one-third of the responsible people in the US government are not Catholic? Of course they are. How is a plot like that going to be managed? This is flat-out paranoia.

c) Mr. Daw (sic) Brown's book is a NOVEL. It does not pretend to be the truth. It is a mystery-thriller, apparently trying to appeal to the same crowd that likes those boring Umberto Eco books and that insanely confusing Robert Ludlum crap. The basic theme of a mystery is that things are not what they seem and the detective must discover how. Very often, the thing that is not what it seems is a respectable organization, very frequently the US government (Seven Days in May, Six Days of the Condor, The Manchurian Candidate, JFK, etc. etc.) In this case, the rogue organization is the Catholic Church. I cannot think of another popular novel in which the Church is the infiltrated organization. Let me repeat: for Christ's sake, this is a work of fiction! And it's coming out of the same "anti-Catholic" American media industry that is also producing Mel Gibson's ultra-Catholic version of Jesus's martyrdom!

d) It is reprehensible for Mr. Miro to minimize the damage caused by the pederast (NOT homosexual, the two things are completely different; the great majority of gays, like the great majority of straights, are not pederasts) priests in the United States. The problem is not so much that there were a few pederasts in the priesthood; every large organization attracts some bad apples. But if the Church had been responsible, it would have moved its pedos to positions in which they had no access at all to children. And it would have turned in those who were perving off with kids, or at least gotten them some professional help. But the Church was not responsible and it tried to cover up the scandal while not transferring the pervopedos to Greenland to convert the walruses. This is why the archbishop of Boston had to resign. That is a goddamn disgrace. The Church is terribly embarrassed in the United States and deservedly so, and it's going to take a few years of penance to recover its former moral status.

e) It would be an extremely bad idea for the Church to ally itself with Old Europe and the Thirdworldistas against the "hegemonic model of globalization", which I think refers to American / British-style semi-capitalist democracy. (Of course no modern state is anywhere near laisser-faire capitalism.)

Sports: FC Barcelona is on a roll; they beat Osasuna away 1-2. Not that Osasuna is a particularly good team, but they're pretty tough at home. Saviola scored and Ronaldinho manufactured a goal all by himself which he put away with a chilena (bicycle-kick). I must admit that Edgar Davids is playing very well and that the team has been winning since they acquired him. Now, he's earning a million and a half euros from Barca for less than half a season, but that's pretty cheap figuring that Kluivert is costing you four million a half-season and he ain't doing shit. Not to mention the uselessness of the very expensive Marc Overmars. I'd recommend that Barca do what it can to bring Davids back next year if he keeps playing like this. He's 31, and Juventus decided he was over the hill, but it looks like they, and I, might have been wrong.

In the Spanish league, it's Real Madrid with 52 points, Valencia with 50, and Deportivo with 46, who are way out in front of everybody else and will certainly win three of Spain's four spots for the Champions League next year. Madrid, an enormously talented team that has until now played close to expectations, seems to be getting better and better, but Valencia is keeping pace just two points behind, and if either of them falters Deportivo has a chance to get into the race, too. I really like Valencia. They're a terrific team, and they play together like one. They don't have the big superstars that Madrid has, but all their players are good and they all play their asses off. As for the fourth spot for the Champions League, right now it belongs to no one else but FC Barcelona with 37 points, followed by Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid with 36 each. Ronaldo is leading the league with 19 goals in 23 games, way ahead of Mista of Valencia with 13. Fernando Torres of Atletico has 12; rumor has it Barcelona is going to buy him for next season.

In other leagues: In Italy, Milan, Roma, and Juventus are way out ahead of everybody else. In England, it's Arsenal, Man U, and Chelsea bunched together at the top. Werder Bremen is out front in Germany but not by too much, with Bayern, Stuttgart, and Leverkusen behind them, and in Holland it's down to Ajax and PSV. Rumor has it that Barcelona wants to buy Van de Vaart from Ajax. Madrid is denying rumors that they're trying to buy Totti from Roma for next season.

Just a comment: I think that the United States was very lucky to have Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower as Presidents between 1932 and 1960, the critical years of the 20th century. Every other nation had some kind of problem with their leadership at some time during that period. In Britain Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain were jokers (Churchill wasn't, but of course he was half-American); in France so were Daladier and Blum and Laval, though not De Gaulle; in Italy so was Mussolini. Hitler and Stalin and Chiang and Mao and the Japanese militarists were no jokers, but they were also all extremely bad people. In the States, you may disagree with Roosevelt's 1933-38 New Deal proto-socialist economic policies, which I about halfway do object to, but except for that we had somebody dependable running the country at all times. And the New Deal certainly did not wreck the country; it just probably wasn't the best economic policy for the times.

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