Wednesday, March 31, 2004

For all you people complaining about my use of the word "attentat", I did not make it up nor is it a sign of my ignorance of Spanish or Catalan, both of which I speak quite well, thank you.

Check this out.


e \At*ten"tate\, Attentat \At*ten"tat\, n. [L. attentatum, pl. attentata, fr. attentare to attempt: cf. F. attentat criminal attempt. See Attempt.] 1. An attempt; an assault. [Obs.] --Bacon.

2. (Law) (a) A proceeding in a court of judicature, after an inhibition is decreed. (b) Any step wrongly innovated or attempted in a suit by an inferior judge.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

It may be obscure today, but it counts as English.
In case you were wondering, the sources I use are the print issue of La Vanguardia every day, the print issue of El Periodico almost every day--I read it for free down at the coffee shop / beer joint on the plaza--TV 1 and TV 3 broadcast news most days, the websites of Fox News, CNN, TV 3, and Libertad Digital, the news and commentary websites at National Review, the New Republic, Slate, and Front Page every couple of days, and the blogs InstaPundit, Andrew Sullivan, HispaLibertas, and a whole raft of others. What you see here is a sort of digest of all those sources through my utterly prejudiced point of view.

It actually doesn't take me very long; I'm a fast reader, sometimes so fast I get careless and do something like call Solbes the next FM when he is to be Economics Minister. I check in on the TV news most days, but I turn it off after five minutes if there's not anything really interesting.

Anyway, here's the news. Judge Juan del Olmo has issued five international search warrants for, I guess, the five bombers not already in custody. One of them is Abdelkarim Mayati, who is said to be the commander of the hit team, operating directly under the Al Qaeda operative al-Zarqawa. Fouad El Morabit, one of the guys turned loose yesterday for lack of evidence, was just rearrested because they found his fingerprints in the shack where the bombs were made. Minor bungle there. Judge del Olmo arraigned two more arrestees, Antonio Toro Castro, Suarez the dynamite supplier's brother-in-law, and Moroccan Mustafa Ahmidam, two of whose brothers have already been arrested. One has been freed and the other jailed without bail. More arrests are supposedly on the way.

You know, I'll bet that the $70,000 of Al Qaeda money the Moroccan Islamist Combatants Group got was more than enough to pull this hit off. I see no signs of any real sophistication, World Trade Center-style, in this attentat.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

El Periodico, which is usually rather--how shall I put it? Bumwad? Bogroll? TP?--says that the cops have reconstructed how the 3/11 bombings in Madrid were carried out. Ten men placed the 14 bombs on the trains. Four of those who placed the bombs are already in custody; one is Jamal Zougam. The other six bombers' identities are known to the police, and they are all thought to have fled Spain. Numerous witnesses to the placing of the bombs and the actual explosions have identified these men, who are apparently all Arabs.

The bombers chose the date of March 11 specifically because it was exactly two and a half years after the 9/11 bombings, but they also planned to disrupt the March 14 elections, which they certainly succeeded in doing. Several of the bombers' conspirators are lowlifes involved in small-time drug and weapon trafficking, or small-time phone scammers--making it even less likely this was a professional job.

I really think that all they needed were ten guys to get on trains, leave a pre-loaded bag or two, and get off at the same station or, failing that, the next one down the line. They had somebody smart enough to figure out the train schedules, which isn't too hard since they're posted and given away on flyers at every station--though Zougam, for example, is clearly more than smart enough, you'd be surprised at the number of people who can't figure out something that simple--, they had somebody smart enough to make the bombs, and we know who he was, and they had the small-time prison connections that hooked them up with Suarez, the dynamite seller.

(Suarez and his brother-in-law got busted in 2001 with, get this, 84 kilos of hashish, three kilos of cocaine, 16 sticks of dynamite, and 94 detonators. What the hell were they doing out of jail? I know a guy in America who got six years in the slam for selling, admittedly, fairly large quantities of LSD through the mail, and he served all six in Leavenworth. Jeez. I couldn't smoke 84 kilos of hashish no matter how hard I tried, and believe me, I'd try.)

Then all the planners had to do was pass out the bombs, leave them on the trains, and bail out. I will bet that these guys who did the hit were mostly very low-level guys perhaps operating autonomously, though there's no question the money is Al Qaeda--no fanatic suicide bombers, no complicated training, nobody with specialized skills but one or two, nobody who had to plan five years ahead and get pilot training and all that stuff.

The brains behind the whole operation, Mr. Big himself, is one Abdelkarim Thami Mayati, a French citizen of Moroccan origin, according to the Moroccan cops. He is thought to be the operations boss of the Moroccan Combatant Group. The Moroccans have apparently arrested several dozen Islamic pro-terror activists and are sorting them out into people they're going to kill and people they're merely going to imprison, or something like that.
You'll want to read this one. It's titled Anti-Semitism: Integral to European Culture, by Manfred Gerstenfeld; Front Page links to it. It's a long article, twelve pages; the link is to a PDF. It is worth every second it takes you to read this.

And while we're on the subject, here's Victor Davis Hanson explaining a few of the basic ethical differences between the Israeli government and the terrorists.
Well, here's some more news from Spain. It hasn't even been a month since the 3/11 bombings and it seems like everybody's already forgotten about it. La Vanguardia is still running its biographical sketches of the victims, but the report on the investigation is on page 16. And it was only three weeks ago, on March 13 and 14, that everyone was screaming that the government had lied and they wanted the facts. Well, here's the facts, Jack: this was an Al Qaeda hit, the Moroccan Combatents Group is an Al Qaeda franchise, and Al Qaeda would have hit Spain whether it had sent troops to Iraq or not. You are at war with terrorism just as the rest of the West is, but the incoming Socialist government does not want to face this and so it's trying to avoid doing so, hoping Spain can get a free pass on terrorism if it is an obedient vassal of Al Qaeda. Wrong. The demands will just be higher next time. Now they know Spain scares easily, they're going to keep attacking here, and next thing you know we'll have to break off diplomatic relations with Israel or be forced to shelter terrorists here as long as they don't shit while they live. If you appease extortionists, they'll just come back for more, as anyone who has ever paid blackmail can tell you. And I thought Spain had learned something when Carod-Rovira tried to make exactly the same appeasement deal with ETA, in which Catalonia was declared an official terror-free zone (yeah, right, don't believe a word of anything ETA says, ever; Catalonia will get hit again just as soon as ETA feels like doing it.)

Anyway, a total of 22 persons have been arrested so far because of their connections to the 3/11 bombings. 14 of them have been arraigned and sent to jail without bail by Judge Juan del Olmo. The most recent hearing saw the jailing of Basel Ghayoun, a Syrian who was recognized by two witnesses at the scene of the loading of the bombs, and of a Moroccan named Hamid Ahmidam. Ahmidam's brother Said, another Moroccan named Fouad El Morabit, and a Syrian named Almallah Dabas Mouhammed were released without charges.

The five major figures arrested and jailed so far are Ghayoun and Moroccans Jamal Zougam, Mohammed Bakali, Mohammed Chaoui, and Abderrahim Zbakh. In addition, the apparently free-lance supplier of the dynamite, a Spaniard named Jose Manuel Suarez Trashorras, has been arrested and jailed. Two more arrests were made Monday; one is Suarez's former brother-in-law and the other is a North African.

The exchange of the Spanish troops in Iraq for new soldiers began yesterday; 160 left Zaragoza last night. Aznar demanded that Zap and the PSOE put their consent in writing; Zap did so grudgingly. Zap can't oppose the rotation of troops because the army guys there deserve to go back home; they've done the spell they were told they were going to do and now they must come home. But he's going to look like a real moron when he pulls the new troops out just a week after they all got there. Meanwhile, Zap promises that during the summer he'll double the size of the Spanish contingent in Afghanistan to 250; Afghanistan's OK, see, because the troops there are under UN command. But Iraq's not. You figure the logic. I can't. And Zap's not backing down on pulling all Spanish forces out of Iraq.

As for Zap's cabinet, there's a lot of speculation and few hard facts. Party baron Jose Bono will get Defense, Felipe holdover Pedro Solbes will get Foreign Affairs, and Jose Montilla, the Catalan party hack boss, will get some sort of super-Commerce ministry with several other fields like telecoms coming under it. There's also a shakeup in the PP; Rajoy stays on as party leader despite his defeat at the polls, because he would have won if not for the agitation on March 12 and 13. Angel Acebes is going to be his number two and Rajoy is putting his own people into the party organization posts. The names Carlos Aragones, Ana Pastor, and Jose Maria Michavila figure pretty big here, as does Eduardo Zaplana's.

Jacques Chirac (I'd rather off Jacques than jacques off) and his mess of a political coalition, the Union for a Presidential Majority, which beat Jean-Marie Le Pen in the last French presidential runoff (Jesus Christ. Here the French are criticizing us all the time and Jean-Marie Le Pen is the second-most-voted candidate for President in their country, not ours. And that crook Chirac, Saddam's towel boy, came in first) got massacred by the left in the French regional elections. The only place they won was Alsace. Now, you'd think this was great news, but the French Left is even worse than Chirac. The only French politician I respect is Alain Madelin.

Here in Catalonia they're already disobeying the PP's attempted overthrow of the idiotic American-ed-school-influenced school reforms that happened under the Socialists. They will not obey the regulations regarding tracking, a new less touchy-feely curriculum, professional training (for students), final exams, makeup exams, the flunking of students who fail more than three courses, and making religion an obligatory subject. I absolutely agree with all the proposed PP changes except for religion, which has no place in the public schools except when treated neutrally in history class.

They banned smoking in pubs in Ireland. That'll go over great there. Every single person I have ever seen in a Irish pub smokes. A lot. And bums cigs off you, because here's a dirty little secret: it's not just the Scots who are skinflints, it's 99% of residents of the British Isles. Interestingly, the subject isn't being treated hysterically over here in the Spanish media like the various smoking bans in parts of the United States are--you know, health police interfering with people's freedom, typical American Puritans wanting to keep people from having fun. Of course, it's not the Americans doing it this time, so it must be all right.

Rafael Ramos, in his typically imbecilic article on the subject, writes "It's the greatest revolution since the potato famine of 1847 and the mass emigration to the United States." Gee, Raffy, do the words "Easter Rising" or "Sinn Fein" or "Michael Collins" or "IRA" mean anything to you?

Monday, March 29, 2004

Here's Satan himself, Mr. Neocon, who along with Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz drinks the blood of Christian bab--oops, sorry, been reading La Vanguardia again. Here's Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard on why the Richard Clarke flap doesn't mean a damned thing. The exchange quoted is from the Congressional hearing; Gorton is Senator Slade Gorton of Washington state.

GORTON: Now, since my yellow light is on, at this point my final question will be this: Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001, based on Delenda, based on Blue Sky, including aid to the Northern Alliance, which had been an agenda item at this point for two and a half years without any action, assuming that there had been more Predator reconnaissance missions, assuming that that had all been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?


There have been occasions in the past when government officials properly took responsibility for actions under their direction that went terribly awry. Janet Reno accepted responsibility for the deaths in Waco in 1993. John Kennedy took responsibility for the Bay of Pigs in 1961. In those cases, apparently reckless U.S. government actions directly caused unnecessary deaths. On September 11, 2001, al Qaeda killed 3,000 Americans. It would be no more appropriate for President Bush to apologize today than it would have been for President Roosevelt to apologize for Pearl Harbor. Richard Clarke's pseudo-apology has cheapened the public discourse.
For information on who's behind the Madrid bombings, check out this Michael Ledeen piece in the National Review. I'm pretty sure the information Ledeen gives us is basically true, and if Ledeen is right, then this is all the same war, a position we've held to ever since 9/11.
Here's a nice article by David Greenberg in Slate. The subject is whether war Presidents always get reelected; Greenberg points out that both Lincoln and FDR had problems getting reelected in 1864 and 1944, respectively, and that Truman would have been defeated in 1952 and Lyndon Johnson defeated in 1968 if they had run. In addition, if Wilson had been capable of running in 1920--he'd been incapacitated by at least three different strokes and his wife was basically running the Executive branch--he'd have lost; by then the First World War was over, of course. George Bush I, a war president, lost in 1992, as we all know.

It seems to me that Bush is doing pretty well in the polls--from what I gather, they're running more or less 50-50--for this stage in the campaign. The Democrats have made all the noise, of course, and they'll keep making most of it until their convention at the end of July. Then it'll be time for the Republican convention at the beginning of September, and the Republicans will get the publicity bounce. This is nothing new or anything we invented; it's pretty much the standard pattern. Many reelected Presidents--Reagan in 1984 and Clinton in 1996 being the two most recent--had been much more unpopular at some point in their terms than Bush is now, or has ever been.

Here's my wild-ass guess, seven months and a half from the election: Barring disaster, Bush wins fairly handily though not hugely. He wins the election when he holds Florida and Ohio and wins a couple or three more states that the Dems won last time, say Iowa and Wisconsin. Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania are not impossible dreams. Illinois will be tough. If Bush wins Illinois it's a romp. He probably won't though, but that's a state I'd fight hard. Most of the battle is going to be in Florida and the Great Lakes states. The Dems will probably win in California, but I'd fight there too, at least for fundraising and local-candidate support. There's a lot of Republican sentiment in that state, and some grass-roots activity will force the Dems to spend hard-to-get money fighting there. If I were the Reps I'd write off New England (except New Hampshire and maybe Maine, and I wouldn't waste much money there over eight electoral votes), New York, and New Jersey. The Reps ought to win all the South and Plains states, no problem--if they don't, it's a Kerry romp--, and ought to do all right in the non-California West. The only places I'd out-and-out favor the Dems are Washington, Oregon, and New Mexico, in that order.
Read this piece by Michael Kazin from Dissent, which was picked up by Front Page, on the world's only rival to Noam Chomsky in mendacious anti-Americanism and pseudo-history, Howard Zinn. Mr. Zinn is the author of The People's History of the United States, a notorious conglomeration of conspiracy theory and falsehood. Kazin destroys both Mr. Zinn and his book.

I once owned a copy of said People's History. It was given to me by a good friend of mine named Jane, who used to live here in Barcelona. About Jane's only fault was a slightly hung-over '60s leftism (that and she was a packrat; she piled up amazing quantities of junk that should have been thrown away years ago as a goddamn health hazard); she'd actually been at Altamont, for example, and knew minor Beat poets and stuff like that. Anyway, she left that particular book to me when she went back to the States. I got about as far as the American Revolution before deciding that this was a complete waste of my time unless I wanted to do a seven-hundred-page Fisking. I then donated it to a charity auction some friends were having, where it went for five euros or so.

Maybe I should have burned it; it's undoubtedly gone on to poison another mind or two. It's been translated to Spanish and is a big seller over here, where it is of course taken seriously just as the ravings of Noam Chomsky and the gibberish of Susan Sontag and the pretentiousness of Paul Auster and the flat-out stupidity of Michael Moore are.
In Memoriam

We've been posting short biographical sketches of the people killed in the 3/11 bombings in Madrid. Our source is La Vanguardia.

Miguel Reyes Mateos, office worker, 37, Alcala de Henares. Miguel was a civil servant who worked in the Immigration department of the Labor Ministry. He leaves his parents and his three brothers; he lived with his girlfriend in Alcala. He was especially fond of his seven-year old niece.

Sonia Cano Campos, receptionist, 24, Coslada. Sonia lived with her parents. She was a lively and friendly person who loved going out, dancing, and having fun. Sonia went to dance classes to learn how to do sevillanas. She worked as a receptionist in a nursing home.

Enrique Garcia Gonzalez, electrician, 29, Mostoles. Enrique was killed while helping other victims; he was on the platform when the first bomb in the Atocha Station train went off. He jumped down on the tracks and began helping people out of the train; then the second bomb went off and killed him. Enrique's father is Spanish and his mother is Dominican; he was born in the Dominican and came to Spain when he was 13. He worked with his brother and his cousin installing air-conditioning. Enrique had three different children, 2, 4, and 6 years old, by different marriages. He enjoyed dancing and Caribbean music.

Teresa Gonzalez Grande, cleaner, 36, Vallecas. Teresa worked on the janitorial staff at the Universidad Complutense. She lived with her boyfriend in an apartment they had just bought. The university held an homage ceremony for her.

Anca Bodea, teacher, 25, Guadalajara. Anca was from Romania; she had arrived in Madrid last December. She worked as a language teacher for children and lived with some Romanian friends. She planned to go back to Romania for a visit soon. It took them a week to identify her body.

Francisco Javier Casas Torresano, painter, 28, Getafe. Javier worked as a computer operator, but he wanted to be an artist. He'd taken a course in painting and worked in a surrealist style. He was about to move in with his girlfriend. His friends remember him as creative and original. He was a good-looking young man with a big mop of black hair.

John Jairo Ramirez Bedoya, cleaner, 37, Torrejon de Ardoz. John was from Colombia and had been in Spain for five years. He was a small man, with black curly hair and a mustache. His wife is expecting their child. They planned to visit Colombia in November. John was saving up because his dream was to open a florist's shop.

Maria Eugenia Ciudad-Real, bank employee, 26, Leganes. Maria Eugenia had just begun her first real job fifteen days ago at a BBVA branch. She had studied business and was serious and hard-working. She leaves her parents and her brother, with whom she lived.

Angel Pardillos Checa, civil servant, 62, Santa Eugenia. Angel had worked at the Banco de Espana for more than
thirty years. He was from a small town in Aragon to which he and his wife returned every summer. He had a daughter and a son and three grandchildren he was wild about. His daughter had just gotten married six months ago. He was going to retire in a few months; they identified his body by the watch he was wearing, which the bank had given him when he completed his 30th year.

Daniel Paz Manjon, student, 20, Villa de Vallecas. Daniel was studying at the National Institute of Physical Fitness. He was an excellent soccer player and enjoyed singing and playing the guitar; he liked to go to clubs where singer-songwriters play. Dani was shy but had literally dozens of friends. He was on his way to gymnastics class when the bomb went off at El Pozo.

Carlos Soto Arranz, welder, 34, San Sebastian de los Reyes. Carlos had had some tough breaks; both his parents died when he was 14. He had to quit school and get a job. He was married; he and his wife had a 14-month-old daughter along with two sons of hers by a previous marriage. They formed a close family. Carlos also leaves two brothers.

Sergio Dos Santos, electrician, 28, Vallecas. Sergio was from Parana in Brazil and had been in Spain for six months. He had decided to emigrate and save up 7000 euros to buy a house back in Parana, but it wasn't easy even though Sergio was a religious man and led an ascetic life. Sergio leaves his wife and their four-year-old son.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Here's the news on the 3/11 bombings. They've discovered the house, little more than a shack, where the bombs were made. The fingerprints of Jamal Zougam and Abderrahim Zbakh--Zbach is the actual bombmaker--were found in the house, along with traces of dynamite and several detonators. Other fingerprints found are clues to the involvement of others, still not arrested.
Want some mindless Old European anti-Semitism? La Vanguardia's got it! They run an alleged humor page every Sunday written by some schmuck named Jaume Collell, which is really just about the least funny thing I have ever seen. Well, today we've got a big-nosed, thick-lipped, Der Sturmer-style caricature of Ariel Sharon and a "poem" signed by the "Marquis de Esade". Esade is a famous Barcelona business school, you see. That's supposed to be a joke. Get it?

Here's the original Spanish.

Ved el lider pacifista,
el mahatma Ariel Sharon,
que con sangria nazista
y muro de contencion

siembra la paz en los muertos.
¡Que notable judiada!
Miles de cuerpos yertos
que ya no protestan nada.

Los que fueron masacrados
son ahora los verdugos.
Sucede con los tarados
cuando gobiernan tarugos.

"¡Despierta, o Israel!"
dicen las Escrituras,
que si sigues con Ariel
te comeras tus basuras.

Here's the best translation I can do.

See the pacifist leader,
Mahatma Ariel Sharon,
who with Nazi bloodshed
and his wall of subjection

sows peace among the dead.
What a Jewing!*
Thousands of stiff bodies
who now can protest nothing.

Those who were massacred
Are now the executioners
That happens when the foolish
Are governed by martinets.

Awaken, o Israel!
Say the Scriptures
If you stay with Ariel
You will eat your own excrement.

* According to the Diccionario de la Real Academia, which I used to check and correct my translation, the Spanish word "judiada" means "A wrong or bad action, tendentiously considered as worthy of Jews."

This is quite possibly the most offensive and hateful thing I have ever seen printed in the Vanguardia. And, don't forget, it's on the "Humor" page.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

In Memoriam

We're posting short biographical sketches of the people killed in the 3/11 bombings in Madrid. Source: La Vanguardia.

Sam Djoco, laborer, 42, Torrejon de Ardoz. Sam was from Senegal, where he had a wife and six children ranging from three to 18 years old. Sam immigrated illegally to Spain on a raft in 1997, but he got his papers and had bought a small house, where he wanted to move his family. Sam's brother and his nephew, who lived in France, were visiting him when their family reunion was broken up by the bombing. Sam was killed at El Pozo.

Miguel Antonio Serrano, plumber, 28, Leganes. Miguel lived with his mother and his five brothers and sisters. He worked as a plumber with his brother-in-law. His friends say he was a funny guy who did good imitations and that he loved playing the guitar.

Pedro Hermida, bank employee, 51, Rivas-Vaciamadrid. Pedro was the director of foreign operations for Caixa Catalunya in Madrid. His co-workers remember him above all as honest and responsible; he was a union activist. He was married with three children; he was a family man who enjoyed movies and sports.

Esteban de Benito, 39, Santa Eugenia. Everyone called him "Tebitan". Esteban was married with two daughters; he loved motorcycles and soccer. He picked his daughters up from school every day and took care of them all afternoon. He worked as a home repairman; he could fix anything. He and his family planned to spend their next vacation on the beach in Alicante, where they had a small summer house.
For all you other ailurophiles out there, here's a story and a photo about a kitten in Germany that was born with four ears. Check it out. I've never seen a four-eared cat before, but polydactylism (extra toes) is very common among both cats and dogs.
The American press is now ahead of the Spanish press regarding the 3/11 bombings. Here's the Fox News story on the continuing investigation.

Friday, March 26, 2004

I have a question: What sort of normal heterosexual man dumps both Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz? Answer: None. But Tom Cruise has dumped Penelope after three years of being his beard. So, guys, she's now available, as if she probably weren't already since I doubt that ol' Tom was doing his manly duty by her. Nice publicity move by Penelope; guess she couldn't stand it any longer, though.
Looks like Zap's Spain has made a deal with the Frogs and Toads in Brussels, which, greatly simplified, means that Spain will accept less power in the EU executive in exchange for a little more power in the EU legislative and readmission to the Axis of Weasels. The Poles, left twisting in the wind, have been forced to sign on, too. Aznar and the Poles had been holding out for more power for the mid-sized countries in the executive branch.

According to the Vanguardia, Josef Joffe wrote in Die Zeit, in a front-page article titled "The Islamofascist offensive; Appeasement is not the answer; The Spanish people draw the wrong lesson from the Madrid attentats", "In Spain terror has, for the first time, terror has won an election." I admire Mr. Joffe very much; he occasionally writes in the American political journal The New Republic, mostly on European issues, and his articles are always worth reading. And Angela Merkel of the German Christian Democrats said, "No government can give in to terrorist blackmail. We cannot permit the terrorists to "divide and conquer" in Europe. Nobody should try to buy security in exchange for "good" behavior."

Meanwhile, the EU made a declaration on terrorism that actually might mean a little something; they proclaimed that they will defend any member threatened by terrorism by any means, not excluding military force. I guess that's sort of hard-line; at least it's some kind of line. They also declared March 11 to be the European Day of Victims of Terrorism, for whatever that's worth, and promised some sort of unification of antiterrorist intelligence under Interpol (one of the several Nazi innovations that continued after the Nazis were sent packing in utter defeat and eternal disgrace; others were the Coal and Steel Community, the autobahns, the Volkswagen, dubbed Hollywood movies, and the American rocket program.)

Aznar, who as you know is still Prime Minister, has made it known that the relief and replacement of the Spanish troops in Iraq--standard military procedure, pull units on duty out of the line after a certain time and replace them with fresh men, this has been planned for months--will happen on schedule on April 21, while Aznar will still be PM. (Zap will not take over until the first week of May.) He's asked Zap to commit himself on paper, since the Socialist Party has asked the Government not to make any important decision without consulting them. Good one. If Zap agrees that the relief should happen, he'll look pretty dumb pulling those guys out like three weeks after they arrive; if he disagrees with the relief, then he looks like a jerk for extending those soldiers' Iraq duty for three weeks or so after they were supposed to come home; and if he dithers, he looks like, well, a ditherer.

Gee, guess which big story NOBODY is paying the slightest bit of attention to? Let me give you a hint: it's on page 15 of yesterday's Vanguardia and page 13 of today's. That shows how important it is, really, in people's eyes. Let me give you another hint: it's the issue that supposedly brought the PP government down. Right! It's the investigation into the Madrid bombings!

On Wednesday Judge Juan del Olmo bound over two more suspects in the 3/11 bombings, who had been arrested over the weekend in the third wave of arrests. They are Moroccans named Rafa Zuher and Naima Oulad Akcha, the latter the only woman arrested so far. These people are going into solitary confinement with no contact with a lawyer. For the next four years; then they have to be tried. And the Spaniards have the gall to criticize the Americans for Guantanamo, where, by the way, the number of innocent people is, I repeat, approximately zero. One of her brothers, in prison in Salamanca for robbery and battery, is also a suspect. The other two are still awaiting arraignment.

The fourth wave of arrests happened Wednesday night and Thursday morning. All five arrestees are Moroccan. Three were busted in a small town in Toledo called Ugena and the other two were arrested in Madrid. The Ugena Three are big fish of some kind, probably sharks; they were residents of Germany and have been known as members of extremist Islamic groups for many years. The German police say they have ties to Mohammed Atta's Hamburg Al Qaeda cell.

So far, the arrestees have been connected to Al Qaeda networks in Morocco, Britain, France, Norway, Germany, and, get this, Iraq. The biggest fish arrested so far besides the Ugena Three are Jamal Zougam, one of the leaders and the man with the connections, and Abderrahim Zbach, who seems to be the actual bombmaker.

Gee, I thought El Pais and the Socialists and SER Radio were saying the Spaniards voted the PP out because they weren't finding out who did it fast enough and were covering up the truth about the investigation. This seems to me like pretty good police work and complete governmental honesty regarding the matter. The government spokesman even announced that some information was being held for obvious reasons regarding the secrecy of the investigation, and nobody even said boo.

The police investigation is rolling along, with many more arrests foreseen in the next few days.

Here's CNN International on the story. CNN's got another article on a Zap speech to a Socialist Party conference, in which he "bristled at the notion" that Spaniards were cowards. (Note: To be specific, we said, and stand by it, that those 40% of Spaniards who voted for the PP or CiU, or the Socialists in the Basque country, are not cowards. The rest voted for Zap or somebody even worse.) Anyway, here's CNN on Zap:

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pledged not to give in to terrorists, bristling at the notion that the Spanish are "cowards" when it comes to facing terrorism.

"No Spanish government has given into terror and no government will do that," Zapatero told a Socialist Party conference Friday.

He was referring to more than 30 years of terror attacks in Spain at the hands of Basque separatists.

True. The Spanish government and the Spanish people have never given in to ETA, to their eternal credit. They made some errors under the Felipe regime when they tried to "have a dialogue" with that gang of murderers, but Spain has never surrendered...not to ETA.

But the Spanish people gave in to Al Qaeda without firing a shot, when they elected a governing political party which promised to do exactly that. And, Mr. Zap, that new governing chickenshit political party is precisely yours.

(Oh, by the way, Mr. CNN, whoever you are, please call ETA what they are, terrorists. "Separatists" are PEACEFUL. I think the Basque non-violent separatist party Eusko Alkartasuna and the Catalan non-violent separatist Republican Left of Catalonia are a bunch of idiots, but they want a peaceful separation of their regions from the rest of Spain. They are attempting to come to power by democratic means. They are separatists, not terrorists. Terrorists are something completely different. Much as I disagree with them, the real separatists condemn violence and do not want to impose a dictatorship, unlike ETA or Al Qaeda.)
Here's Jose Maria Aznar's signed article from the Wall Street Journal yesterday; we'd have linked it then but we don't have a subscription. (Their featured article is subscription-only the first day; after that it's free.) Read it.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Here's what's going on in Spain. Again, we really don't have much that the American media doesn't have. Here's the report from CNN International.

Looks like in the European Union constitutional debate, Zap's Spain is going to bail and sign up with the French and Germans and accept a smaller slice of the power pie, leaving the Poles in the lurch.

They're making a big deal around here out of, get this, the humiliation of the Palestinian bomber boy who was intercepted by the Israelis, NOT KILLED, because the Israelis give a damn about human life and try to kill as few people who don't deserve it as they can. So they stripped him to his underwear and made him kneel down and pointed guns at him because, uh, HE HAD A BOMB. Jeez. If I'd been an Israeli soldier right there and then I'd have shot at anything resembling a suicide bomber. Thank God those guys were smarter and braver than me and held their fire. By the way, they've determined the poor kid is probably retarded. He will, of course, be well cared-for. The Israelis, unilke some of the regimes in their neighborhood, are basically decent.

Here's today's political cartoon by Toni Batllori in the Vanguardia. Batllori really does have his finger on local politics, though he's done some pretty awful anti-American and anti-Israeli stuff in the past. Anyway, Zap is a dwarf and Colin Powell is a giant whom we can only see up to the knees. Says Powell, "I've heard that you want to withdraw your troops from Iraq. Is that true?" Replies Zap, "If the UN doesn't take over, yes." Says Powell, "I'm not sure you are aware of the damage you could cause us, Mr. Zapatero." Zap replies, "Sorry." Powell asks, "What do you think about fixing something up with the UN?" Zap says, "No, 'Just plain No'." Replies Powell, "So 'Just plain No'?" Like you said about joining NATO?" Zap says, "No, at least for now we mean it."

The joke is that in the 1982 election, the Socialists ran on the anti-NATO slogan, "OTAN, de entrada, no," which I translated as 'Just plain No' but which has a fairly obvious double meaning in Spanish. Then they had a referendum on joining NATO, I think in '86, in which the Socialists flipped and supported Spanish membership in NATO. NATO membership won.
My friend Big T, the Man from Kazakhstan, wrote the following parable of the Spanish elections. I don't personally agree with him--I'd have voted to rehire the PP on the grounds that though I'll admit they are unaesthetic at times, I think they do a pretty good job. But it's well worth a read, and a lot of intelligent people agree with Big T, who (I'll keep this information very general in order to disguise his identity) was a teacher of business at a prestigious university program and is now some kind of computer genius. His passion is music and he knows everything about everything regarding the subject. He has seen several parts of the world that most people haven't.

Here's how trustworthy he is: Several of our friends have him do their tax returns. I'd ask him to do ours but one of Remei's cousins who works for a bank does it already.

Imagine the following situation.

A shop attendant is hired by the owner of a candy store. He is a good employee, works hard and increases sales for the store. Every day some people steal items (chewing gum) from the store, but there is a regular bunch of visitors (called #) who steal the most product near the counter.

When he talks with the shop owner and discuss the theft issue, the shop attendant blames all the theft on #. "You know how they are", he says. The owner agrees, but wishes that the shop attendant would just carry on with his job, avoid theft whenever possible, and did not blame every robbery on #.

Then, one day, while the shop attendant was at the back of the store tidying it up, hears some noise and, when he gets to the counter… all the chewing gum from the store disappears! The shop attendant doubts: Who was it? Was it #? Or somebody else? And it could not come at a worse time. Apart from the theft, he has been doing a good job (some customers do not like his manners, but he knows how to sell candy) and his contract is up for renewal the very next day.

But before he can think about it, the owner comes, sees what has happened, and asks for an explanation. The shop attendant goes for his usual story: "It was #. Always was, always will".

The owner is not surprised at the shop attendant's answer: He has been saying this every time he asked him, and certainly knows # is bad. But, in a surprise move, he says:

"Well, this time we shall be able to know who did it. I installed some in-store cameras and they filmed everything. Let's see what happened"

The film shows that it was... %%! The shop attendant is surprised. When he was at the back of the store when the robbery took place, the noises he heard were typical of #,… but could have been made by someone else. It was not #! What can he do now?

The shop attendant looks at the tape again. Ah! He recognizes one or two of the faces. They live not too far from the shop. He tells the shop owner: "Do not worry. I'll get them".

And off he goes. He spends the rest of the day looking for them and sending SMS to the owner reporting his progress on his search.

The very next day, he comes back to the shop, when his contract is up for renewal. The shop attendant says:

"Look. I made a mistake on blaming # for the robbery... But I have already traced some of the thieves and one of them has just been already arrested by the police. When thinking about my renewal, please consider that my track record shows that I have been a good employee (sales have increased while I have been working here). I know that theft is an area I can (and will) work harder. Now what do you say?"

The owner answers:

"Look, I know you have been a good employee on sales... but maybe someone else can get the same level as you do. However the thing that has been annoying me of late (specially yesterday) has been your attitude towards all the stealing in the store. I think that, if you had put on a bigger effort in trying to protect my shop - remember it belongs to me and you are my employee -, you might have detected not only our regular thief # but also %% as well. You always blamed # -bad people, up to no good, and guilty of a lot of things, I agree… but not this one- and this distracted you from the fact that there could be other people interested in stealing chewing gum”.

And then continues:

"I appreciate very much your efforts trying to find %%. They show that you can be and are competent. But do not forget that, when you were doing this, your were doing your job - as my employee -. I would not have expected anything less from you. Putting all things into consideration, yesterday night I made my decision: I am not going to renew your contract. I shall contract a new store attendant whom I expect to have a nicer attitude to the clients, work on theft and achieve your sales record."

The shop attendant does not move and is thinking of shouting "After all I have done for you!", but refrains. He knows who the next shop attendan will be. Yes, he is a nice guy but somehow inexperienced. The shop attendant knows that, in a year's time, he can get his job back. And remembers what qualities got him the gig the first time around: Incompetence from his predecessor and a good job interview (where he stressed efficiency as his goal instead of his bossy attitude).


Think about it and ask yourself/selves

1) Would you have fired the shop attendant?

2) Do you think that the shop attendant, despite his conduct and faults at handling the robbery, should have kept his job on the basis of his track record and quickness in finding the real thieves?

3) Would you consider that the shop owner has a moral obligation to keep the shop attendant because -although he caught him misinforming him thanks to the camera- the attendant rose to the occasion and got the thieves?

4) Is it your business / my business to care about how a shop owner hires his employees - as long as he fulfills his obligations, pays his taxes and is a law-abiding citizen?

Of course the shop owner might be making a mistake. We can say it to him, pointing at the sales increase.

Maybe the shop owner will say: "Thank you for your insight. I might be wrong, but I look at the full picture when making my decisions. Maybe I should forget about some faults from my employees, which I might be guilty of myself..."

Maybe he will take a deep breath, sign, look at us and say firmly "But, at the end of the day, it is my store".

Bonus questions

5) Discuss if our opinion about or the rationale behind the shop owner's statement ("It is my store") would change if he had said "It is my country" (from capitalist to patriot?), "My country, right or wrong" (a patriot with capitalist feelings?) or "My store, right or wrong" (patriotic capitalism? is it possible?).

6) Which of the following statements from the shop attendant to the owner is more likely to get his job back:

a) "Don't be stupid and give me back my job"
b) "Don't make a stupid decision and please give me another go at the job"

Apologies for any spelling / grammar mistakes. I hope that more people would listen to Nick Lowe-penned, Elvis Costello-rendered and Bill Murray-karaoke-Lost-In-Translation-performed "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" and wish for a lower rank for anger in the current state of the world chart (and this forum, which can host any opinion but does not need shouting, dissing, screaming, four letter words,... you know... for making good points)

Signing off with an extract from Otis Redding's "Respect"

Ooo, your kisses (oo)
Sweeter than honey (oo)
And guess what? (oo)
So is my money (oo)
All I want you to do (oo) for me
Is give it to me when you get home (re, re, re ,re)
Yeah baby (re, re, re ,re)
Whip it to me (respect, just a little bit)
When you get home, now (just a little bit)

Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB

The Man From Kazakhstan
Here's a rather joyful Spanish nationalist editorial from today's Vanguardia, on page 2, signed by the high muckety-muck Director himself, Jose Antich.

Less than half an hour of the meeting between Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the American secretary of state Colin Powell, at the end of the state funerals held yesterday in Madrid, was enough for the next Prime Minister to teach the Bush Administration the new rules of the game. In the first place, there will be a withdrawal of the Spanish troops in Iraq if the UN does not have control of the country by then. Zapatero insisted that he had made an electoral promise before 3/11 and that the terrible bombing committed in Madrid would not change his position. Although Powell already knew the decision of the next Spanish prime minister, for the Bush Administration the stopwatch has already started in order to give a necessary role to the UN, if it does not want to see the more than inevitable medium-term collapse of the international coalition in Iraq. Zapatero's position, welcome to Chirac and Schroder, also present in Madrid, will shake up the European chessboard and resituate Spain in the Franco-German axis, to the detriment of the Atlantic axis on which Aznar had based his foreign policy over the last few years. It is no accident that yesterday in the Moncloa [Aznar's residence] only Powell, Blair, and Polish prime minister Leszek Miller came to visit.

Oh, Zap's Spain is going to teach the Yankees a lesson, is it? Look: America hates to lose Spain as an ally, but if that's what Zap wants, that's what he's going to get. Spain is what we wargamers think of as a "desirable but not necessary" ally. Sorry to see y'all leave, but, hey, if you've decided you're going, don't let the door hit you in the ass. I imagine they will figure out some sort of formula, possibly some kind of UN command for non-Anglo-American forces in Iraq. That'll put those guys in the role of blue helmets and we'd have to occupy their areas (the northern parts of Shiite Iraq, very peaceful) militarily in order to actually have some law enforcement / security control over the zone, since they wouldn't actually be able to shoot at any malefactors in that case. But everybody's face will get saved.

Antich's last sentence is a shot at Aznar, by the way: after the state funeral, attended by dignitaries from all over the world, the only people who went to visit Aznar personally were Powell, Blair, and close ally Poland's Miller. Everyone else was kissing Zap's butt.
The Spanish left likes to portray Prime Minister Aznar as an American puppet, as someone whose decisions are made for him by the gringos in Washington. Nothing could be more false. Aznar is very highly respected, at least in conservative circles, in the United States, and Spain's support of the US was not taken for granted. The Aznar government was genuinely appreciated. Spain was a prime ally and its concerns got a damn good hearing. Spain hasn't seen unfriendly behavior from the United States for years, due to Aznar and his policies. Zap, on the other hand, seems to believe France has more to offer while the Americans peel off Germany from the Axis of Weasels. Warning to Zap: France is not popular in the US these days. You side with them and you'll get treated like they do.

Here's National Review's Jay Nordlinger:

Before we forget him — and we should not forget him — can we praise outgoing Spanish prime minister Aznar?

Said this bold, wise — this great — man two days ago, "When there's been an attack as brutal as Spain has suffered, when the fight against international terror is everyone's main battle, one must fulfill responsibilities. I think sending a message that you can beat terrorism with concessions is wrong."

And I think José María Aznar is a miracle.

I think Mr. Nordlinger means what he says.

Meanwhile, here's James Taranto from the Wall Street Journal:

A Spanish basketball team, Pamesa Valencia, says it may beg off on a scheduled game against the Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv because it fears terrorism, the Jerusalem Post reports:

Valencia announced yesterday that as a result of the increasing security threats in Israel after the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on Monday morning, the team does not plan to come to Tel Aviv for the match.

In a statement released on the club's Web site, Valencia said that "the climate of tension and the situation of violence which is only escalating are not conducive to playing basketball and that the team is not prepared to play under these conditions. The team's mental state is not good [because of the situation] and it will only get worse upon entering the warlike atmosphere, for the players as well as their families."

Maybe they should play in Spain, which is safe from terrorism.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Check out this piece by Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, who is reporting from Baghdad. Check out the first paragraph of his piece:

THE IRAQI PRESS CORPS routinely peppers spokesmen for the American military and the Coalition Provisional Authority with loaded questions about why U.S. soldiers are picking on innocent Iraqi citizens. The Spanish reporters here make it clear they're not sympathetic to America's role in Iraq. But nobody in the media covering postwar Iraq can top the Brits for injecting anti-American themes in their questions.

Now, why do you suppose Mr. Barnes particularly notices some of the Brits and all of the Spaniards are obnoxiously anti-American--rather than, say, Italians, Japanese, Danes, or Swiss, all of whom must have at least several reporters present in Baghdad? Gee, I dunno.

Here, also from the Weekly Standard, is Larry Miller's attempt at humor regarding the situation in Spain since 3/11. Miller manages to spell two words wrong in one paragraph ("Catalan" and "pelota") and doesn't seem to know that it wasn't Aznar who got beat in the election, it was his handpicked successor, Mariano Rajoy. Still, if you're a European who wants to know what a reasonably articulate and fairly well-informed American thinks about events in Europe, read this one. It might help you out if you're trying to understand the American Average Joe and what makes him tick.

I normally don't much like Joe Walsh but he had a song a few years ago that I thought was pretty funny called "Ordinary Average Guy", which is sort of what Walsh has been in music since the 70s, a blue-collar rock and roller, a Pete Rose kind of guy, not much natural talent but a lot of effort. If I recall, some of the words go like this:

On Saturday morning I clean up the yard
Pick up the dog doo, hope that it's hard
This afternoon I clean out the garage
My friend's got a Chrysler, I've got a Dodge
I'm just an ordinary average guy

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

While we're on interviews, in this one from National Review with Kenneth Timmermann, former New York Times correspondent who has lived in France for 18 years, there are all kinds of answers to interesting questions, like what was the deal between Chirac and Saddam, why the Bush Administration is so angry with Chirac and the French government, and what role oil really played in the Iraq War.

Here's a Bill Kristol piece from the Weekly Standard, in which he rather predictably gives Zap and the Spanish electorate a good verbal thrashing similar to those we've been handing out over the past few days. Kristol then goes all wobbly on us, saying that maybe the problem is that the United States isn't getting its message across to the people of other nations. Well, yeah, but that's pretty hard to do in someplace like Spain, where the universally anti-American media isn't going to help us present that message and, in fact, will label all American attempts to get its message across as blatant propaganda not to be trusted. As for appealing directly to the people, how do you do that without media cooperation? Kristol's just not in touch with reality about popular feelings toward the United States in Europe. He seems to think they can be changed. I know he's wrong.
La Vanguardia's back-page interview today goes to Angel Esteban, who is a professor of Latin American literature at the University of Granada. He's written a book about the friendship between Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Colombian author Gabriel "Gabo" Garcia Marquez; here are some excerpts from the interview. The interviewer is Victor M. Amela.

Q. To what extent are Castro and Garcia Marquez friends?
A. For both of them, this friendship is worth much more than love.
Q. But I'm sure something could break it.
A. Nothing. Nothing could break it up.
Q. Nothing?
A. Only the death of one of the two.
Q. That friendship is that solid?
A. Gabo has already said he won't set foot in Cuba if Fidel dies before he does. And Fidel doesn't have any other friends left except Gabo.

Q. Gabo is against the death penalty.
A. Yes. But he shuts up when Castro imposes it. A short time ago, despite the executions in Cuba--criticized by Saramago, Sontag, and Grass--Gabo avoided criticizing his friend Fidel.
Q. And why did it take so long to establish that friendship between Garcia Marquez and Castro?
A. Although Gabo wrote sympathetically about Cuba, and tried many times to get into Fidel's circle, Fidel didn't trust him; he saw him as an intellectual who "watches the bullfight from the seats". He trusted Julio Cortazar and, above all, Mario Vargas Llosa.
Q. Vargas Llosa! Who would imagine that today?
A. Vargas Llosa was a very active revolutionary activist, capable of placing bombs.
Q. And what broke up the Mario-Fidel romance?
A. The case of the revolutionary Cuban poet Heberto Padilla: Fidel considered one of his books of poetry "counterrevolutionary", jailed him, tortured him, and forced him to recant in public in 1971. This scandalized comrades Vargas Llosa, Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, and others, who signed letters protesting against this Stalinist attitude toward the revolution.

Q. Did Garcia Marquez sign too?
A. He dodged it. And in 1975 he traveled to Cuba and published "Cuba, from head to tail", a long report which describes the country as a perfect world of free and happy men.
Q. That was when he finally won over Fidel?
A. Of course; Castro ran to see Gabo at his hotel, and anointed him as his favorite intellectual, as his ambassador to the world. That is where this indestructible friendship was born.
Q. So Fidel Castro gains an invaluable propagandist, but what does Gabo get out of it?
A. An island. He's a hero in Cuba. He has a luxurious mansion in Siboney, free of charge, Beverly Hills-style, and a Mercedes picks him up at the airport, and nobody in Cuba has, like he does, access to the divine Fidel Castro, and he is happy strolling with him in a T-shirt and swim trunks.

Q. And doesn't he feel the slightest moral scruple about benefiting from a one-man dictatorship?
A. Fidel is his friend, period. For Gabo, that's above all else. Gabo deals with his scruples by making individual intercessions to get this or that dissident out of Cuba, and when he does this, he feels so powerful. He enjoys his only drug, power.
Q. Does power attract Gabo?
A. It fascinates him. And power is more powerful the more absolute and arbitrary it is. Observe that it is something that appears in all his books, it's an obsession.
Q. Are you insinuating some sort of psychopathy?
A. Gabo comes from a very poor family, and he himself didn't have a dime and was a nobody until he was forty. Being close to power makes him feel alive, makes him feel like somebody in this world.
Q. So why didn't he dedicate himself to politics instead of writing?
A. He could have been president of Colombia, but he didn't want to: logical, because that is merely a transitory power. It's better to deal with Torrijos, Mitterand, Clinton, Felipe Gonzalez, move in their circles, vampirize their power.
Q. Almost like a moth seeking flame.
A. Yes. And Castro, capable of holding that absolute, lifetime power over a people, is a brilliant, bewitching light. Blinding.
In Memoriam

We're running a series of short biographical sketches of the people killed on 3/11 in Madrid. Source: La Vanguardia.

Jose Gallardo Olmo, army corporal, 34, Azuqueca de Henares. Jose was from Sant Feliu de Llobregat, a suburb of Barcelona. He was a professional soldier. He had been in the airborne brigade and had been assigned to the prestigious First King's Immemorial Infantry Brigade for the last four years. (This would be equivalent to having served, say, first in the 101st Airborne and then in the Big Red One.) He was studying for the exams he needed to pass in order to reenlist when his term of duty expired. "He liked the military atmosphere, the Army was his life", said one of his comrades.

Liliana Acero Ushina, maid, 26, Entrevias. She was born in Ecuador, where she worked as a seamstress. She came to Spain a year ago; she lived with her older sister and brother-in-law, her niece, and two more brothers. Lilian and her sister both worked for the same family; they were still illegal aliens but were hoping to get their papers soon. The sister arrived half an hour late to work on the 11th; Lilian was on time. She was on the train that bloew up at Atocha. It took them until the 16th to identify her body.

Oscar Abril Alegre, student, 19, Coslada. Oscar was in his first year at the university; he was with his girlfriend on the train. She is still in very serious condition at the Doce de Octubre hospital. Oscar's sister often traveled with them, all three on their way to class together, but that day she got a ride from another friend. Oscar's family was from the small town of Alfambra, where they are known to the whole village. The entire population of the town, in Teruel province, chartered two buses to get to Oscar's funeral.

Adriyan Asenov, 23, and Kalina Dimitrova, 29, Torrejon de Ardoz. They were Bulgarians who happened to meet at Atocha Station a year ago and were going to get married on May 16. Adriyan was a well-built, good-looking guy, and Kalina had a cheerful, smiling face. They lived together, with Adriyan's parents and cousins. Kalina was a widow; her husband and a brother were killed in an accident in Bulgaria three years ago. Their train blew up at El Pozo. It took them three days to identify them.

Sandra Iglesias, secretary, 28, Torrejon de Ardoz. Sandra had lost an older sister in a traffic accident. She and her boyfriend were about to buy an apartment and move in together; Sandra was still living with her parents. She was very fond of her two nephews. She had very fair skin and hair and blue eyes.

Michael Michell Rodriguez, construction worker, 27, El Pozo. Michael was Cuban. He'd been on a flight from Havana to Moscow in 2001; when it stopped in Madrid, Michael walked off and requested political asylum in Spain. His mother and sister managed to get to Canada somehow; his father stayed in Cuba. Michael was working construction in the mornings, and in a Cuban bar in the evenings. He loved Cuban and salsa music, and his friends remember him as very Cuban in his relaxed approach to life.

Javier Rodriguez Sanchez, 54, and Jorge Rodriguez Casanova, 22, Alcala de Henares. Javier was Jorge's father. They traveled into Madrid together, Jorge for classes and Javier for work. Jorge was studying electronics, and Javier worked for the Spanish Savings Bank Association. Javier was a well-known union activist. They both enjoyed traveling and participatory sports like cycling, rock-climbing, and hiking. Javier was married twice, with three children with his first wife and a four-year-old son with his current wife. Jorge was a tremendous fan of Real Madrid and his favorite player was Zinedane Zidane; he was buried with Zidane's number 5 Real Madrid jersey.

Juan Carlos del Amo Aguado, chemist, 28, Coslada. Juan Carlos had just received his doctorate cum laude in organic chemistry from the Complutense a year ago; he was an intern at a major corporation and had written a scientific article which was to be published in a journal. His dream was to work in the field of applied chemistry in industry. He lived with his parents and younger sister, to whom he was very close.
Here's the news from Spain. We don't really have much that the American media doesn't have; here's Fox News's report.

A total of 14 suspects have now been arrested in connection with the Madrid bombings. Four more North Africans were arrested yesterday in the Madrid area, three in the run-down Lavapies district where already-jailed Jamal Zougam had his phone shop and one in the working-class suburb of Getafe. They will be arraigned over the next couple of days. One of these four new arrestees is a habitual criminal with more than 90 arrests on his record.

The five men in the second group of arrestees were brought before Judge Juan del Olmo yesterday. Four of them, Spaniard Jose Emilio Sanchez Trashorras and Moroccans Abderrahim Zbach, Abdelouhard Berrak, and Mohamed El Hadi Chedadi, were sent directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, see you in four years. They have been charged with, among other things, 190 murders. The fifth, Farid Oulad Ali, was released for lack of evidence.

Sanchez is a scumbag small-time crook; he used to brag about how he could steal dynamite from the mine he used to work at. When he was in jail (for drugs, weapons, and dynamite trafficking) he met some of these Friends of Ben Laden. They said they'd pay him well for some dynamite, 100 kilos of which he stole along with the copper detonators that were used. Zbach is believed to be one of the actual bombers; he left the courtroom crying.

Meanwhile, Le Figaro is reporting that the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi procured $70,000 from Ben Laden himself to fund the Islamic Combatant Group, the Morocco-based terrorist gang responsible for the Casablanca attacks that killed 45 and for the 3/11 bombings in Madrid. Jamal Zougam was apparently the contact in this operation.

Security vigilance is way up in Madrid, with all the National Police mobile units being called in except those at the French border and in the Seville-Cadiz area, where there's a strike that might turn violent (nothing to do with 3/11). There is especially tough security at Barajas Airport and at Atocha Station.

They're also preparing for the royal wedding in Madrid on May 22; the cops have been checking out every single building on the parade route. The couple (Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz) will ride in a covered, armored limousine rather than the horse-drawn carriages used at the Prince's sisters' weddings. A big show with pomp and circumstance and pageantry and fireworks and the like had been planned, but it has been called off at the express request of the royal couple.

Outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was on Tele 5 last night and he said, regarding Zap's proposal to pull Spain out of Iraq and the Coalition, "This is a very serious error...Making concessions to terror is not the way to defeat terror...Sending messages that terrorism can be confronted with concessions seems wrong to me, and it seems to me that weakening the international coalition that is fighting terror is a serious error, and the message that the terrorists get will be a message that benefits no one...We form part of a world threatened by Islamic fundamentalism...When threatened, you don't throw in the towel, you grit your teeth and hang on."

This is the man whose party was voted out of office. His words don't match Churchill's, but the spirit is the same. Churchill didn't get voted out of office until the war had been won, though. I'm afraid the People's Party has been voted out at the very beginning of the war.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Don't miss this longish Andrew Sullivan piece originally from the Sunday Times on Spain's surrender to terrorism.
Tim Blair has invited Franco Aleman and Golan from HispaLibertas to post in English on his site, so go check it out already. They link to this article from the Wall Street Journal by Andre Glucksmann which you also need to read. No Pasaran, whose title I feared until I saw their logo of Che with Mickey Mouse ears, has a translation of an interview with Glucksmann and other good stuff.

Here's an excellent article by Pablo Pardo, the US correspondent for El Mundo, trying to explain Spain's recent vote to Americans. It's really a very good piece. I disagree with Pardo on one point. He is right when he says that Spain does not understand the process of growing international interdependence that is called "globalization"; Spaniards often think they can pick and choose, selecting the aspects of globalization that they like and rejecting those they don't. So, for example, many Spaniards see no contradiction between enjoying the modern conveniences and pleasures of life (and Spaniards are good at enjoying things) that globalization brings them and the politically correct peacenik Third Worldist slogans they like to shout.

What happened between March 11 and March 14 was a master job of manipulation of the Spanish people, pulled off by both moderate and extremist segments of the Left, in which it was made clear to everybody that globalization has its risks. The majority of the Spanish people decided, foolishly and cravenly in my opinion, that these risks were unacceptable. Pardo tries to deodorize this dead herring but he just can't, it stinks so high. The Spaniards voted to bail on the Coalition and there's just no hiding it.

Now, there are several possible answers to the question of why the Spaniards are susceptible to fears of the risks of globalization. One is they historically haven't been very globalized, as Pardo points out. They're not used to having to deal with the complexities of international interconnectedness, and they often think that some combination of pacifism, solidarity with the poor, and a great faith in the virtues of dialogue is enough to get by in this world.

Two reasons for this might be that a nasty civil war was fought within living memory, and that the post-Franco democracy was born out of agreement and cooperation between almost all political forces, including ex-Franquistas, moderate democrats, and leftist parties, united in their determination not to have a second civil war. (The Basque Nationalists were just about the only people who didn't agree.) Those are two lessons right here at home about the evils of violence and the virtues of dialogue.

A third one is that the post-WW II development of the European Union may have had its many faults, but it has kept those damn Europeans from killing each other by the millions again and dragging us into it, so that's seen as another triumph of sweet reason and dialogue. (The other lesson that the Spaniards haven't learned is that peace, solidarity, and the like are only feasible when they are protected by large missiles and people willing to use them if necessary.) The trouble with the lessons they have learned is they only work when you're dealing with people who have learned to play by the same rules you have. You can't just decide you're going to opt out of international conflict if the other guy doesn't give you a chance to opt.
OK, get this one. TV 3, Catalan government television, and La Vanguardia have been doing everything they can to stir up feeling against Aznar, Rajoy, the PP, and the Americans. I think that the year and a half of posts I've put up translating their ravings to English are proof of that.

So here's TV 3's report this morning on the investigation into the Madrid bombings, which is being carried on by the same police and intelligence services that were at work before the March 14 election, supervised by the same PP politicians who were at work before the March 14 election.

Now, you'll remember that the story being put about by most editorialists in Spain is that the people voted for the Socialists because the PP were concealing information and lying. Virtually no one except for conservative elements of the Spanish media has even mentioned the fact that the terrorists won the election and that this was a vote of cowardice by everyone who didn't support the PP. (Or, I will admit, most CiU voters, or Socialists in the Basque Country.) Some of them were already cowards before the bombing and the rest of them switched over afterwards. It's like they're hoping the fact will just disappear if they don't even mention it. You'll remember that the day after the election I posted three quotations from the Vanguardia showing that their authors, including the well-known Fernando Onega, believed that the election result was a win for the terrorists. They haven't printed word one by any of these three guys on that subject since.

This is TV 3's report on that story--the third most important of the day for them--, eleven days after the bombing and seven days after the election. It begins wth the sentences, "The investigation into the 3-11 bombings continues. Day after day new details about the two attacks are becoming known."

Now, wait a minute. I thought you all agreed the PP government was a lying sack of incompetents. So how come we believe and even praise them now? And I thought you were all hysterical about knowing "the truth". Well, here it is, and you make it the third most important story eleven days later.

Here's what they've learned so far: The investigation is concentrating right now on looking for the safe house the terrorists must have used. It is believed to be in Alcala, where the stolen van was found and the bombs were placed on the trains. The terrorists are part of an organization called the Islamic Combat Group that is based in Morocco. Ten people have been arrested, seven Moroccans, two Indians, and one Spaniard. The Indians have been arraigned and charged with collaborating with a terrorist group; they are very small fry. Three Moroccans have also been arraigned and charged with 190 murders among other things. The other five arrestees, four Moroccans and the Spaniard, are to be brought before a judge this week. All are in jail without bail. In addition, the police are searching for several more suspects, at least some of whom they have identified.

According to La Vanguardia, the Spaniard's name is Jose Emilio Sanchez, an ex-miner. He has previous arrests on drugs and weapons charges and for, guess what, dynamite trafficking. It looks like he's the small-time scumball they got the dynamite from.

Jamal Zougam, one of the three Moroccans arrested immediately after the attacks, who seems to be the main conspirator as far as we know, has all sorts of nice friends. The police have had an eye on him for some time as being connected with radical Islamist groups and Al Qaeda, but they never got anything on him; he had a clean record. Zougam has connections to the 9-11 bombings, to planned terrorist attacks by Afghani mujihadin in Europe, and to what TV 3 outrageously calls "the struggle of the Sunnis against the Kurds in Iraq". I think that last phrase is a euphemism for "Saddam's brutal crushing of the Kurds".

Jesus Christ. According to La Vanguardia and TV 3, this one loser guy running a small mobile-phone shop that specialized in petty fraud has connections to Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Saddam all by himself. And then these same news outlets go around saying that Bush and Aznar lied when they connected the dots between those three outfits.

So let's see. Tremendous progress has been made in arresting the guilty people. They know which particular gang did it and they're on the trail of more of them. They know all about that gang's external connections. They know where the dynamite came from. It seems to me that this is a resounding police success and that no one in an official position has lied about or misrepresented anything. They got it wrong at first, as is logical--gee, somebody terrorbombs Madrid and it's pretty easy to jump to the conclusion that it was ETA, since they're rather in the habit of doing exactly that--but they were already giving out information that pointed to an Islamic group the very day of the bombings.

I think TV 3 and La Vanguardia owe Aznar, Rajoy, Bush, and Tony Blair an apology.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

In Memoriam

We're reproducing the short biographies La Vanguardia is running of the people killed in the March 11 bombings in Madrid.

Danuta Tersa Szpila, seamstress, 28, Alcala de Henares. Danuta worked as an nanny; she had been living in Spain for five years and had a Polish boyfriend whom she was going to marry back in Poland this summer. She had two sisters and a brother; the brother had also immigrated to Madrid. She had many friends in the Polish community and was also close to the family she worked for, whom she had been with for four years. Danuta was a pretty young woman, the sort you might not pick out of a crowd, but with a natural sort of beauty. She was tall and slim with long dark hair.

Iris Toribio Pascual, sales representative, 20, Vallecas. Iris was an only son. He (he was a man despite the name) worked for a mobile phone company; he was popular with the girls. Iris was an amateur disc jockey and was a techno music fan. He was well known among his many friends for throwing parties at which he would DJ. He was an excellent amateur soccer player with a strong left leg and was a big fan of the Rayo Vallecano team, with whom he had played in the youth section. He leaves his girlfriend, his parents, and his grandparents.

Rodrigo Cabrero Perez, student, 20, Getafe. Rodrigo was a second-year student in computer science at the Pontificia. He was very into role-playing games, and many of his friends were fellow role-players, among them his girlfirend, his younger brother, and even his parents. They formed a close group around him. He was standing on the platform when the train blew up at Atocha; the shock wave broke his neck. His was one of the few bodies recovered intact.

Javier Guerrero, computer operator, 25, Puerta de Arganda. Javier was a very handsome young man who looked a little like Antonio Banderas. He was in his fourth year of computer science at the Polytechnic and also worked part-time with computers. He leaves his family and a group of long-time friends. His body wasn't identified for a week; they identified him using a DNA comparison.

Antonio Sabalete Sanchez, civil servant, 36, Vallecas. Antonio was a civil employee of the Navy. He was married with a seven-year-old son; he had a degree in business. His friends recall that he and his wife were particularly affectionate people. Antonio had had a kidney transplant several years ago, so his friends say he was particularly enthusiastic about life. He was interested in computers and enjoyed working out. He and his wife had bought a new apartment and were waiting to move into it.

Francisco Javier Barahona, computer worker, 34, Santa Eugenia. Francisco Javier, his mother, and his sister formed a close family. He was his nephews' "Uncle Paco". He worked for Toyota, where he was well-known and popular; his family has received dozens of telegrams of condolence from people he worked with. He'd broken up with his girlfriend recently but was hoping to get back together with her. He enjoyed reading and yoga.

Nuria Aparicio Somolinos, lawyer, 40, Azuquena de la Sierra. Nuria was married with two sons of five and eight years. She worked for Schweppes in Human Resources, where her work made her known among her co-workers. She belonged to a social club, of which she was a lively member. She and her family used to spend weekends in the small town of La Bodera where she was born.

Francisco A. Quesada Bueno, office manager, 44, Rivas-Vaciamadrid. Francisco had an 11-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old son. He worked for the Overseas Credit Institute, where he was in charge of distribution of official publications. He enjoyed sports; he played soccer and belonged to a cycling club.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Here's an excellent piece on the last eight days in Spain by Walid Phares in Front Page. I highly recommend it. Check out this article from National Review by Robert Alt, who is writing from Baghdad, on the situation a year after the war began. Here's another one by Paul Marshall of Freedom House, again at NR, explaining the accomplishments of the Coalition in Iraq.
In Memoriam

The 202nd victim of the Madrid bombings died yesterday afternoon. 45 of them were foreign. 168 injured people are still in the hospital, eight days after the bombings, with four in critical condition and 20 in very serious condition.

We've been posting short biographical sketches of the people who died. Our source is La Vanguardia.

Jose Garcia Sanchez, bank employee, 45, Vallecas. Jose was a handsome man, tall and youthful looking though a little balding at the corners. He was the assistant director at a Bankinter branch. He had two sons and was married. Jose was going to present his model for office management to the yearly meeting of his bank this week; he was nervous because he would have to speak in public before all the big bosses. He and his sons were Real Madrid fans and were interested in karate. They were going to New York for Easter vacation this year.

Jose Luis Tenesaca Betancourt, student, 17, Madrid. Jose Luis's father immigrated from Ecuador six years ago, and three years ago he brought over his wife and Jose Luis. Jose Luis's father is a heavy machinery mechanic; his son was studying to be an actor.

Nuria del Rio Menendez, 39, and Marta del Rio Menendez, 40, office workers, Santa Eugenia. Nuria leaves her husband and a five-year-old son; Marta leaves her husband and her sons of 11 and 7 years. They were a close family; they spent every summer vacation together with their cousins in Asturias, on the north coast.

Laura Isabel Laforga Bajon, teacher, 28, San Fernando de Henares. Laura lived with two friends in San Fernando, though she was thinking of moving in with her boyfriend in central Madrid so as not to have to get up early and catch the train anymore. She was a dedicated teacher; she taught Spanish to Romanian and Chinese children in a Vallecas public school.

Ney Fernando Torres Mendoza, construction worker, 38, Vallecas. Ney was from Ecuador; he was on the train that exploded at El Pozo with his wife, on the way to work. Ney's wife, Lourdes Beltran, was seriously injured. Ney worked construction and his wife was a maid. They had come here eight years ago and have a year-and-a-half old daughter. Ney sent some money every month to his mother, brother, and five sisters back home. Ney had a lot of friends in the Ecuadorian community; his friends had come to his apartment to watch the Real Madrid-Bayern Munich soccer game the night before the bombings. It took them twenty-four hours to identify him.
Here's the latest from Spain. The five people, three Moroccans and two citizens of India, who were arrested on Saturday have been placed in preventive and "incomunicado" custody in Madrid by Judge Juan del Olmo of the Audiencia Nacional. Under Spanish law, they can now be held for two years without an indictment, which can be extended to two more years. Spain doesn't need a Guantanamo; they can lock these guys up for four years without even having to indict them, much less try them.

One of the guys Spain already has locked up is Abu Dahdah, nom de guerre of Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas. Abu Dahdah admits his connections with Jamal Zougam, one of the three Moroccans arrested Saturday and the only one who seems to have been a major conspirator. The other two Moroccans are named Mohamed Chaoui and Mohamed Bakali. The Indians are Suresh Kumar and Vinay Kohly.

Five more arrests were made last night, four Moroccans in Madrid, at least one of whom is believed to be one of the actual bombers, and a Spaniard in Aviles, near Gijon. The Spaniard is suspected of stealing the dynamite used in the bombings. Another hypothesis is that the terrorists had established a front company in some legitimate business like quarrying, mining, or road construction and used it to buy the dynamite, which was made in Spain by the Rio Tinto factory. This would involve serious infrastructure and implies that this particular gang of terrorists, most of whom seem to be Moroccans, has international connections, most likely with Al Qaeda.

(Note on my being wrong; I've been getting some grief on the Comments section for being wrong about ETA authorship of these bombings. Hey, this is the third time I've admitted I was wrong, and you'll note I presented all the arguments against my own case. I was also wrong about the election; I thought the leftist parties wouldn't be nearly as successful in most of Spain as they would be here in Catalonia. Other things I was wrong about that I admitted at the time: I didn't think Kerry would ever win the Democratic nomination, I thought Howard Dean would do much better then they did, and I thought Edgar Davids was all washed up as a soccer player. I even let Murph go back through my archives and grade my predictions for the year 2003 just a couple of weeks ago. So don't lump me in with Beirut Bob Fisk as someone who won't admit he was wrong when he was.)

One argument I've been hearing often recently is that "we're not concentrating on the War on Terror, we're getting distracted in Iraq, and so Bush is to blame for the bombings in Madrid."

Where do we start? Let's see.

A) there's a major roundup of Al Qaeda and allies going on right now in Afghanistan and Pakistan

B) getting rid of Saddam Hussein was getting rid of a tyrant who had money and power and used it to support international terrorism among other horrible things

C) I'm sure the American, British, and Coalition military and security forces are capable of taking on both Al Qaeda and Saddam's dregs at the same time

D) the Iraqi conflict happening now is our guys and the 98% of Iraqis who want to be left alone, against "resistance freedom fighters" who are either Saddamite Baath Party loyalists or international terrorists--some allegedly Basque--lured to Iraq because that's where the action is. Well, the more of them we fight in Iraq, the fewer we'll have to fight in, oh, say, Madrid

E) there has been a continuous stream of Al Qaeda arrests; it's surprising there have been so few attentats outside Israel and Iraq. If the anti-terrorist struggle wasn't working, then there would have been a hell of a lot more attacks in America or London or Paris or Barcelona. Since 9-11, the only really big one in the West has been precisely this one in Madrid

F) if these guys are going to bomb you and kill your people if you don't do what they say, you have two choices, fight them to the death or surrender. There's no opting out. They'll just bomb you again and up their demands, if you meet those demands the first time. Adolf Hitler used this strategy: first I want the Rhineland, then I want Austria, then the Sudetenland, then the rest of Czechoslovakia, then Memel, everyone giving in every time...until Great Britain finally said enough when he got to Poland. Spain seemed to understand this strategy against ETA, but it's obvious most of the Spanish people don't get it regarding Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Al-Aqsa Brigade, and company. You can't say it's not your war because it is, and not recognizing this is, as Cecil Adams would say, craven puppyhood.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Libertad Digital, the Spanish conservative news and politics website, has started up their own bitacora, which is Spanish for blog. Check it out if you can read Spanish.

From Front Page, here's Jamie Glasov interviewing Victor Davis Hanson on events in Spain and sundry other topics. Hanson says that recent events in Spain are the greatest chicken-livered surrender to the bad guys since the days of the Roman Empire, and he ought to know, since he's a professor of classics and an celebrated author on military history. Hanson is probably the only well-known American academic who also runs a family farm (which he inherited through several generations gone by).

Here's Ann Coulter, in an unusually good column. She's in an extremely bad mood about recent occurrences in Spain, and she sure has decided to let everyone within range know about it.

James Taranto from the Wall Street Journal links to a Rudyard Kipling poem that is, as Mr. Taranto says, apropos.

Here is Andrew Sullivan shredding an article from the Guardian on the New Republic's website. His last paragraph sums it up pretty well:

In Europe, there are no bad guys, even those who deliberately murdered almost 200 innocents and threaten to murder countless more. Ask yourself: If the Guardian cannot call these people "bad guys," then who qualifies? And if the leaders of democratic societies cannot qualify in this context as "good guys," then who qualifies? What we have here is complete moral nihilism in the face of unspeakable violence. Then we have the absurd canard that there is a "divide between Muslim and Christian communities." There is no such divide. There is a divide within Islam between a large majority and a small minority of theocratic, extremist mass-murderers, men and women who have killed Muslim, Christian, and Jew alike, young and old, and almost always innocent bystanders in free societies. That small minority has terrorized large populations, enslaved women, killed Jews and homosexuals, launched a war against Western civilians, taken over whole countries, and targeted individual writers and thinkers for murder. With them we need a dialogue? With them we need an unremitting, unrelenting, unapologetic war.

Here's Robert Lane Greene from the Economist writing in the New Republic on the same subject. And this is Fred Barnes from the Weekly Standard, writing on the most recent bombing in Baghdad (where he is currently).

Oh, yeah, if you're wondering why we didn't mention this one yet it's because it's bogus. The same bunch of jokers who claimed the blackout last year in the Northeast US and Canada, and the Spain bombings of last Thursday, have stated that they speak in the name of Al Qaeda and that due to Spain's cooperation in the recent elections Al Qaeda has declared a truce with Spain and will commit no more attentats here. The thing about these guys is that nobody knows anything about them and their claims are prima facie not credible. Still, this "story" got some media play this morning, so I thought I ought to mention it. Here's Fox News's story on this subject.
I've finally cleaned out my mailbox, so you can e-mail me again should you want to. Sorry; I haven't been real down-to-earth over the last few days, for obvious reasons. My e-mail, in case you don't know, is crankyyanqui at Please, if all you want to write is a comment on one of my posts, leave it in the Comments section. That way everybody can read it and it won't clog up my box. If you want to get in touch with me personally, though, feel free to write.

In case you didn't already know, I am throwing a party on the evening of April 10, the day before my birthday. I haven't had a birthday party for years. We're hoping for a good turnout of all my friends here and some of you folks from out there in cyberland. The famous Franco Aleman might even be present, and we're hoping for Trevor to show up. All readers who are going to be in Barcelona that day are invited; e-mail me for details. If you need a hotel or a pension, try the Hotel Suizo, the Hotel Rey Jaime I, the Pension Fernando, the Hostal-Jardin Pi, the Park Hotel, or the Hotel de Espana downtown; these are older, not so expensive hotels downtown with some character. In my neighborhood there is the Pension Lesseps, which is quite adequate. There is also the Pension Alberdi, bare-bones but clean and acceptable. They're both cheap. If you insist on a three-star business-style hotel, the Guillem Hotel is within walking distance of my place. And, of course, if you have plenty of dough, book a room at the Ritz. Xavier Cugat lived there in his inimitable style the last ten or so years of his life.
Four more arrests have been made in Spain related to the Madrid bombings, three in Alcala and one in Gijon on the north coast. Here is CNN's story; they've got all the information we have from the Spanish media, as far as I can tell. The four arrestees are all of North African origin and are thought to be some sort of direct conspirators in the bombings. Jamal Zougam, who looks like the only real conspirator of the five who had already been arrested, and his four co-bustees, went to their first judicial hearing today.

Zougam has some big-time connections; he has met with Abu Dadah, the boss of Al Qaeda in Spain. These guys are connected to the Courtellier brothers, two French converts to Islam, to Amu Qatada, Al Qaeda's man in London, and to the whole Finsbury Park organization in London.

Here's the BBC's report; they're saying that the Spanish cops are hunting for some 20 Moroccans as possible conspirators and that there have been major roundups in Barcelona and Madrid. The organization responsible is supposed to be the same guys who pulled off the Casablanca bombings; it's a Moroccan extremist organization with at least some ties to Al-Qaeda. It looks like I was all wrong about ETA participation in this hit. They might very well have had nothing to do with it at all.

The dynamite in the bag that didn't explode is being traced; it was produced by the Rio Tinto company here in Spain and was recently made and of good quality.

Meanwhile, the PP has declassified the reports it got from the Spanish secret service, which demonstrate that they were informing the people what they knew, and the preliminary reports they got from the cloak-and-dagger boys all said that it was ETA. So when the government announced it was an ETA job, they were going with the best information they had rather than trying to lie or manipulate anything. In fact, their sin was to go too far, to inform too much too fast without checking to make completely sure it was true.
Says Tikrit Tommy Alcoverro in today's Vangua after the terror bombing of a hotel in Baghdad that killed 29:

Next Saturday morning will be the first anniversary of the war in Iraq. The resistance began to remind us of this yesterday with a new massacre in the heart of Baghdad. In the upcoming days and weeks more attentats and massacres are expected, signs of the brutal vulnerability of a country and the failure of an occupation.

Wait a minute. I may be misreading this, but isn't Tikrit Tommy saying that this bombing is somehow the Americans' fault?

Here are a few more sentences from Tikrit Tommy's piece, chosen semi-randomly.

...This capital city, more and more dangerous and sinister...

...the Pandora's Box of this broken and directionless country... underground war that, as happened during the long period of terror in Beirut, is being fed by the intelligence services themselves...without forgetting the great powers...

...There is no doubt the level of violence will increase...

...The worst, in Iraq, is always yet to come...

Now, if your main source of news was La Vanguardia, after reading hysterical defeatism of this sort that TT produces on page 3 and Beirut Bob Fisk on page 6, day in and day out, how might your thinking about international issues be influenced? By the way, I've officially announced my surrender to Beirut Bob. I just cannot stand to try to debate the guy's stuff any more. He's got all the most negative aspects of the British stereotype: he's pissed off about the class system and he hates people he thinks are above him. He doesn't realize he despises those he thinks he himself is superior to--e.g. American soldiers--, but he shows it all the time. He believes himself to be very highly moral and that everyone else is wanting, and he believes mindlessly, foolishly, in the power of the anecdote over the statistic, which I find to be a peculiarly British trait. For Bob, one tragedy like an Iraqi family accidentally getting killed by an American bomb for being at the wrong place at the wrong time is sufficient argument to overcome the general truth that the military intervention has undoubtedly saved thousands of lives more than it has cost.

Oh, yeah, no matter how many times he's been wrong, like the time he claimed that there weren't any American troops in Baghdad airport when the Marines had already taken the place, he'll never admit he was wrong about anything, ever.

Zap's off to a brilliant start internationally. During his campaign he said openly that he hoped Kerry would win and Bush would lose in the American elections, which is not a very good idea if you're going to have to deal with said Bush until January at the very least and probably four more years after that. Luckily, Bush has been a good sport about it, calling Zap to congratulate him. And Kerry just came out and said, in flip-flop #381 of the week, that he doesn't want Spain to pull out its troops. Kerry said that he wanted Zap to "reconsider his position on Iraq. The events in Spain cannot be a reason to pull out. Together, all of us have an interest in the developments in Iraq. Terrorism cannot win through its acts of terror...In my opinion, the new Prime Minister should not have decided to retire from Iraq. He should have said that this will strengthen our determination to get the job done."

What do you know. First time I'm going on record as agreeing with anything John Kerry says. I just hope he doesn't change his mind before, say, tomorrow.