Monday, February 23, 2004

Well, let's see. The Democrat primary race is down to John Kerry and John Edwards; everyone else has either dropped out or is Dennis Kucinich. If I had to choose between the two, I'd pick Edwards to be the next President, though of course I'd prefer Bush to either of the two. Kerry's a Northeastern left-liberal who's never done anything of importance politically and who can't keep his positions straight. How much you wanna bet the ticket will be Kerry-Edwards, though? I don't think Edwards has a chance at winning the Dem nomination for President, though it's still theoretically possible if he should suddenly sweep a bunch of primaries. Kerry beat him in Virginia and Tennessee, states next to and rather similar to Edwards' home state of North Carolina; Edwards was playing with home-field advantage and lost.

The Spanish press is playing up the possibility that Cheney will be dumped as VP for somebody else, and that that somebody else will be the designated official candidate for 2008. I doubt it, myself, unless Cheney is to be shifted to a major Cabinet or security post (like, say, State, when Colin Powell goes? Or CIA?) Meanwhile, the good news for the Republicans is that Ralph Nader is going to run again. He cost Gore the election in 2000 when he hived off three million votes that would have gone to Gore and put him over the top in several states that he lost to Bush. I figure that only a third or so of the people who voted for Ralph next time will make the same mistake this time, but 50,000 votes may well make the difference in Michigan or Ohio, two of the key states up for grabs.

(Request to readers: Can anyone give me a URL for reasonably current state-by-state polling results, you know, "Alabama: Bush 54%, Kerry 43%"? Or whatever.)

Over here in these parts, ETA has stated that they did not make any kind of deal with Carod-Rovira regarding the ETA truce in Catalonia. Carod-Rovira denies that too. So I figure there are only two possibilities here.

A) Carod is a lying sack of merda and so are the etarras. They did make a deal for a truce in Catalonia. Evidence: The truce did happen. Carod had called for such a thing in the past. And did he really think he was going to convince ETA to lay down its arms all by his little self? So why did he go to the meeting in the first place?

B) Carod is an idiot. He really did think he could convince them all by his little self. ETA screwed, blued, and tattooed him. ETA used the meeting with Carod to confer some political legitimacy upon themselves; they were the ones who leaked the story in the first place. ETA is continuing to take advantage of the opportunity to gain all the headlines they can in order to recuperate some of the political influence they have been losing as they have been growing weaker. (The government estimates there may be as few as 200 active etarras left.)

Or, of course, there is possibility C), that Carod is both a lying sack of merda AND an idiot. I tend to go for this one, myself. This whole Carod-Rovira mess is going to cost the Socialists tons of votes in Spain outside Catalonia and the Basque Country. Most of those people are probably going to abstain rather than vote PP, so right now I like Rajoy with close to an absolute majority partially due to a low turnout of the Socialist base, who don't much like Zap's bumbling and weakness. His ridiculous election slogan--"ZP", which is supposed to stand for "Zapatero Presidente"--isn't going to win him any support, either, except from the Spanish Guild of Newspaper Cartoonists and Cheap TV Humorists.

Speaking of idiots, Federico Trillo, the Minister of Defense, fucked up majorly. Early Saturday morning, after a dinner with PP party activists, he said, "I wish I'd been Minister eight years ago to invade Perejil Island so we'd have gotten fishing rights from the Moroccans." Perejil is the tiny island off the Moroccan coast, which is Spanish territory, that was occupied by Moroccan troops and then reoccupied by the Spanish in 2002. Fishing rights in Moroccan waters have always been the source of controversy between Spain and Morocco. Now, he was almost certainly drunk off his ass when he said that, which doesn't make him less of an idiot. Anyway, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ana Palacio had to apologize to the Moroccans four times before they were satisfied. Trillo needs to go, but if I were Rajoy I'd want to wait until after the election and hope meanwhile that everybody forgets about this, rather than drawing everybody's attention. On the other hand, a quick resignation for family reasons never hurt anything, either. Minimum fuss, minimum bother, put in somebody like Fast Eddie Zaplana, and kill controversy before it starts.

Here's a funny one. Drunk driving is in the news again; a lot of people are talking about the carnage on the Spanish highways and ways to cut it down. One proposal is a zero-tolerance law, which seems a little strict to me. I'd prefer for them to effectively enforce the current limit of .08 before making the laws stricter. Anyway, the Spanish papers are making a big deal about this very civic practice suggested by a French cabinet minister in which, among a group of people who go out, one doesn't drink and he drives everybody else. Many Spaniards seem to think that we should follow the example of our wise, cultured neighbors to the north and adopt said practice, which is claimed to be one reason behind the decline in highway deaths in France. Huh. That's a good idea, but it seems to me I've heard it somewhere before. Can't think where...

One thing that is making Barcelona a more and more attractive place to live is the arrival of immigrants from around the world. Lots of wealthy Northern Europeans and artsy kids from London have been coming down here for years to enjoy the good life. But immigrants from outside Europe are becoming an important part of the city. Ten years ago there were very few foreigners from anywhere except Morocco. Now, they're coming from all over the place. Here's a list of statistics from La Vanguardia about the numbers of "non-Community immigrants" in 2004 and 1996 (in parentheses). The figures are from the city government.

Most Numerous Non-Community Nationalities in Barcelona, 2004 (1996)

1. Ecuador, 32,496 (202)
2. Morocco, 13,594 (3196)
3. Colombia, 13,307 (703)
4. Peru, 13,163 (2094)
5. Argentina, 11,437 (1871)
6. Pakistan, 10,198 (614)
7. China, 7195 (804)
8. Dominican Republic, 6777 (1066)
9. Philippines, 5871 (1854)

I'm completely in favor; I've seen how the immigration of new groups from South Asia and the Middle East and Latin America has changed America for the better within the last twenty-five years, and the same thing is going to happen here. Welcome, everyone.

Barcelona won away, 0-1, at Valencia on a header by Gerard, and they won without Davids. That's their fifth straight win, and a good one, against a top team in their stadium. Barca didn't try to play pretty soccer; they set up a defensive scheme and ground out a win, which strenghtens their hold on all-important fourth place with a five-point lead over Athletic Bilbao. That's just more good news for Real Madrid, which opened up its lead over second-place Valencia to five points. Madrid slaughtered Espanyol, 2-4. Espanyol had better start playing a lot better real soon or they're going to find themselves in Second Division again at the end of the year.

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