Friday, April 30, 2004

La Vangua's back-page interview goes to one Jean Baudrillard, who isn't sure what he is, "whether a philosopher, a thinker, a metaphysicist, a moralist..." I'd call him simply another long-winded, pretentious wanker with a Ph.D.

A: ...We live under the illusion that we are the masters of our actions, but I do not believe we are responsible for our own lives.

Q: That would lead us to amorality.

A: Yes, yes, or to immorality. I think we live on a double plane. In one, according to the social and moral rules. The other one depends on fate, on something else, on unpredictable things, on meaninglessness, and that reality is so intolerable that we invent a meaning. But I advise people not to let the meaningless level of life out of their sight.

Q: But you define yourself as a moralist.

A. Good and evil, in the end, exchange places. An excess of good produces evil and vice versa; it's a sort of perverse effect that annuls the dividing line between good and evil.

Q: We could establish the frontier at the respect for human life.

A: Existence isn't everything, it's even the least important of things, it's raw material. We think the human being was made in order to live and be happy, but that is just our system of values. To other cultures, happiness and the individual mean nothing. We should relativize our culture and beliefs.

That is about the most nihilistic alleged philosophy I've encountered. Not to mention totalitarian. His "double plane of life" is instantly identifiable as the Freudian id versus the superego. That's nothing new or original. And exactly how does an excess of evil produce good? Think about the Holocaust. Yes, it produced Primo Levi's writings and Anne Frank's diary. And not much else good to balance out all that evil. Finally, one reason I prefer our Western culture to many others is specifically its respect for human life; Baudrillard thinks we should become more like those other cultures!

I don't want to get involved at length in the absolutism versus relativism debate here; I'll merely state that it's been a question that real philosophers like Kant and Aristotle and Mill have been debating for the last 2500 years or so, and Baudrillard has failed to add anything to the discussion except to say we ought to think in a more relativistic way. The main counterargument here, of course, is that if you believe in human rights you're an absolutist--you're saying that no matter what the circumstances are, people have certain rights and violating them is wrong and evil. Remember that bit about "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."? (Jefferson had originally written "sacred and undeniable"; Adams and Franklin suggested the change.) The Founders were absolutists on human rights. If you "hold a truth to be self-evident", you're saying, "Look, dude, this is what I believe and there's going to be no changing due to circumstances. What's wrong is wrong, period."

Ima Sanchis, the interviewer, neatly carves up Baudrillard in her last three questions / statements. Good job, Ima!
Boy, the news that American troops have done some pretty nasty things to Iraqi prisoners has been a bombshell over here. First things first, no ifs ands or buts. The American armed forces are investigating the soldiers involved in this incident and they will be disciplined. Several officers' careers will be ruined and the individuals who appear in the photos will undoubtedly spend some time in the stockade. If anything less happens--if there's an attempt to sweep this under the rug--I will be outraged.

This behavior is not typical of American troops and an example must be made in order to demonstrate that we do not tolerate the cruel treatment of prisoners.

Now, what these people did was psychologically torture and humiliate Iraqi prisoners. Comparisons to Saddam Hussein's torture chambers are ridiculous, and accusations that more than a handful of US troops are bad eggs, rogue elements, cruel bastards, whatever you want to call them, are ludicrous. The claims made by the person in charge, Sergeant Chip Frederick, that he had not been given proper instruction from above on how to interrogate prisoners are ridiculous. Gee, buddy, you ask them questions, and if they don't answer, you ask them the questions again. Somebody will talk eventually. You do not blindfold them, put them on a beam, put electric cables in their hands, and tell them if they fall they'll be electrocuted, and then be dumb enough to photograph the whole thing. One would think any idiot could figure this out. Those excuses don't wash.

Just a comment. This guy's name is Chip Frederick. Now, if there's ever a fratboy name, this is it. I will bet you ten-to-one this electric-cables stunt and this posing of prisoners in simulated homosexual scenes are techniques Chipper picked up during his fraternity years. Both of them sound like typical fraternity hazing crap. My old high school classmate, Walt Neidner, who was in Sigma Nu at the University of Kansas, can serve as witness that at his fraternity they did something very similar to the electric cables, and I've heard several people say that they had to simulate homosexual acts as part of initiation.

(Note to fraternity members: Yeah, yeah, I know, 99% of you would never do anything like what Chipper did, and of course you're right, you wouldn't. It's no more fair to say all frat guys are bad because of what Chipper did than it is to say that all American soldiers are bad because of it. During my time in college I never heard of any real fraternity atrocities; once the SAEs got busted for putting somebody in the hospital by forcing him to drink, another time they almost got kicked off campus for stealing cable TV, and the most notorious thing that happened was one of their pledges ordered a pizza and then attacked the black girl who delivered it. Of course, they kicked the guy out, and he was arrested and jailed. That was about it. That and the Acacias were forced to disband, I think by the national headquarters, and they wrecked the house, which cost a whole lot of money. These were both loser fraternities at KU during my time, at least. Those guys were not cool, they were jerks. Most of the other frats were considerably higher-toned and more respectable.)

Thursday, April 29, 2004

All right, River City! This is Dr. Johnny Fever and I am burning up in here! And now here's Les Nessman with the news...

Well, let's see. In today's Vanguardia Andy Robinson has a smear piece on John Negroponte. Meanwhile, the Thais had a shootout with some Islamic fundamentalist rebels in the southern part of the country and killed more than a hundred of them. They figure that Jamaa Islamiya is behind it; there have been multiple terrorist attacks against police officers, Buddhist monks, and just plain civilians that are likely their work, and Jamaa Islamiya's operations chief was arrested in Thailand last year.

The Vangua also has a story saying that the US is very happy about the expansion of the EU to 25 states. First, most of the new additions are former Communist states that are now strongly pro-American. Second, this is a further guarantee of continued peace in Europe; the US doesn't have to worry about any more trouble in these parts and can focus on other areas. Third, this is of course going to be a boost for the new members' economies, and American business is expecting to benefit in the long term based on the theory of the rising tide lifting all boats. Fourth, France's influence in the EU will be diluted. It looks like Eusebio Val, Vangua correspondent, has picked up Danielle Pletka from the American Enterprise Institute as a regular source, because he quotes her extensively in his story and says that her statements were made directly to "this newspaper", i.e. he himself. He's used her at least once before as an exclusive source. Excellent. This is evidence that Val is trying to report both sides of the story, at least somewhat, since Pletka is obviously pro-American and conservative. Val's articles that quoted Pletka were both quite moderate in tone. Say what you will, this is better than Xavier Mas de Xaxas, and a hell of a lot better than Spain's Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and Robert Fisk all rolled into one, Rafael Ramos, a disgrace to the profession of journalism. Since journalism is one of the lowest professions existent, ethically speaking, calling Ramos a disgrace to it is strong language, which I fully intended. I would put journalism at its worst, Ramos's journalism, somewhere below prostitution, which is at least a fair deal, assuming both parties agree to the arrangements.

Zap went to Berlin and licked Gerhard Schroeder's taint. Spain is officially in the Berlin-Paris Axis of Weasels. Said Schroeder, "I've spoken with French president Jacques Chirac, and we are in agreement to propose a close collaboration between Germany, France, and Spain that could result in the launching of joint initiatives in the European sphere and the international sphere", said Schroeder. Specifically, Spain is going to dump the Poles and roll over for the French plan to divide power among the various EU countries; that is, Zap is going to accept less power for Spain in the constitutional carveup than what Aznar and the Poles were holding out for. Also, specifically, there is lots of talk that the Bermuda Triangle of Europe is going to propose some kind of resolution in the UN related to who ought to be in charge in Iraq; I suppose what they're hoping for is a UN resolution mandating that the US turn over control of its forces in Iraq to the UN, which the Americans and British would undoubtedly veto but which is the kind of grandstanding that Socialists and anti-Americans like to do.

Zap's next stop is Paris, where he will lick Chirac's taint.

There are rumors running around the Spanish media that the Americans are refusing to collaborate, and are actually being obstructive, in the Spanish pullout from Iraq. Spain's military spokesman denied this, of course, and I can't imagine that the Americans are actually interfering in the military actions of an "ally" or doing anything that would put Spanish troops in any sort of unnecessary danger.

Jordi Pujol, retired Catalan Prime Minister, gave a quite reasonable talk yesterday. Pujol is an old fox, and I have a good deal of respect for him because he is a conservative politician with impeccable anti-Franco credentials (he was jailed for three years and was tortured several times). He has always defended freedom and democracy, though his economic ideas are more conservative / mercantilist than liberal / capitalist; he's a Christian Democrat in spirit if not in name, and he takes the social responsibility of the state very seriously. Pujol, like most Continental Europeans, believes that the state's role is to take care of the citizens, rather than to serve the citizens. He is not altogether closed to influence from outside, though, and has always been very pro-business, though somewhat protectionist in his pro-Catalan bourgeois small business stance. I had three complaints about Pujol while he was PM of Catalonia: he had no idea what a balanced budget was, he had a demagogic tendency to play the Catalan nationalist card when he was criticized, and he was rather an old-style cacique regarding things like the awarding of government contracts. But, hey, he's personally honest and his friends aren't any bigger thieves than anyone else in Europe. Especially not when you compare them with France.

Pujol's very reasonable on foreign affairs. He wants to be friends with everybody, both the French and Germans and the US; I don't know if this is possible but Pujol wants to try. It's a respectable position for a conservative politician who believes that Spain should stay in the second rank of powers internationally, which was one of the main points of Pujol's talk; he accused Aznar of thinking that Spain was a more important player than it really is: "Sooner or later you will see the real strength each one has."

He pointed out that "if what France is trying to do is destabilize the United States, then Spain should stay out of it," that Europe and the US "need to understand that they need one another", that Europe should become "an ally of the United States and not its altar boy," and that therefore both sides should prepare themselves to work together and, importantly, should not "feed the desires of those in Europe who want the United States to fail." Pujol then called those people "stupid".

I don't agree with everything Pujol says, I never have, but he is somebody who it is worth listening to. There's a Spanish expression: "If you keep your mouth closed, you won't swallow any flies." Pujol has kept his mouth shut since leaving office, and when he opens it it's usually to say something fairly serious.

Judge Garzon believes that a guy named Amer Azizi, an important Al Qaeda operative in Spain, is the connection between the Al Qaeda cell behind 9-11 and the other Al Qaeda cell behind 3-11. Azizi and Said Barraj were present at an Al Qaeda summit in Istanbul in October 2000 and Azizi organized the meeting in Tarragona before 9-11 where the final plans were apparently laid down. Said Barraj is wanted--there's an international warrant out on him--as a 3-11 conspirator. These two guys are the link. This same bunch of people, the Terrorist International, were behind ALL the terrorist bombings, not to mention a major player in Iraq. I cannot believe that anyone in his right mind can fail to see that we, the West, are at war with these people, and Zap's saying "Well, we don't want to fight, so please don't attack us anymore" is not going to work.

By the way, there is heavy speculation that the still unidentified seventh terrorist killed when they blew up the Leganes apartment is either Barraj or Azizi.

Here is the dumbest thing La Vanguardia has done for a long time. On the front page, a jump headline says, "Mark Spitz states that US may not compete in Olympics". Well, it turns out that Mark Spitz got interviewed by the BBC and he said something about maybe the Americans won't go to Athens because it will be too dangerous. Now, Mark Spitz is a private citizen who doesn't know any more about it than you or I do. He's not on the Olympic Committee or the Swimming Federation or whatever; he's just a guy who won a bunch of medals 32 years ago. Yet they stick this on the front page. Sheesh.
Travelling Shoes has got an excellent post on the question, "Who is Javier Robert?" Seems that as part of the Oil-for-Food scam, three people in Spain were on the list of people who were bribed by Saddam with oil coupons. Two of them were Spaniards of Arab origin, and the other is one Javier Robert, who doesn't seem to exist. A couple of the more sensationalist Spanish magazines, Interviu and La Clave, have suggested that "Javier Robert" is really Javier Ruperez, the Spanish ambassador in Washington. Interesting if true.

James Taranto links to Baltasar Garzon's continuing investigation into the Spanish connection with 9/11. We know that Mohammed Atta and the Al Qaeda boys met with a bunch of other conspirators in the months before 9/11 in out-of-the-way hotels in Tarragona and Salou, very close to Barcelona. What they're trying to figure out is exactly who is connected to whom and to what because, let me tell you, there are so many Mohammad Thises and Abu Thats and Abdul The Other Things involved in the whole Al Qaeda / Terrorist International spiderweb that I can't believe the cops can keep it all straight, because I certainly can't.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Well, the promise that Zap's bailout from Iraq would result in, like, peace and love and stuff, was broken by Moqtada Al Sadar's Shiite militia, who attacked Spanish patrols near Najaf twice within 24 hours. Ironically, it was the same bunch of guys who got attacked both times. They get shot at and kill two terrorists, get back home, go out the next day, get shot at, and kill six of them. Somebody ought to put these dudes in for a medal. That's pretty courageous, that is. The second shootout lasted more than two hours, when the patrol got ambushed by Al Sadar's men. They opened fire from their armored cars and called in reinforcements: soon fifty Spanish troops were on the scene. They took seven prisoners, four of whom were turned over to the Iraqi police and the other three, wounded, were taken to the Spanish base and given medical treatment. A large weapons cache, of explosives, grenade launchers and grenades, and machine-guns, was captured. The Spaniards took no casualties. Congratulations to these brave soldiers; I think they've demonstrated the Spanish Army can fight well. Too bad these proven troops who've seen battle are now being sent home. Our contempt for Zap certainly does not extend to the Spanish military and police forces.

La Vangua is reporting that the Americans have Fallujah surrounded and that there are about 2000 terrorists holding out inside, of whom some 200 are foreign "activists", one of whom is our friend Musab Al Zarqawi of Al Qaeda, a major suspect in the 3/11 bombings in Madrid. Mr. Al Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, is considered the brains behind the foreign Islamist presence in Iraq. He is also behind the brains of a planned chemical attack in Amman that might have killed tens of thousands of people; two weeks ago the Jordanian authorities rounded up six terrorists and sent four others to the land of 72 virgins. These guys had twenty tons of chemical explosives and poison gas that they were going to use against the secret service headquarters, the "Ministry of Information", and the prime minister's office.

La Vangua is also echoing the anti-Kerry campaign the Bushies are doing so well at encouraging. They point out Kerry's rotten record in the Senate on defense, opposing eight major defense systems (MX missiles, B-1 bomber, Apache helicopter, F-15 and F-14 planes, and Sparrow, Tomahawk, and Patriot missiles), opposing the first Gulf war, flipflopping on the Iraq war, and the personal questions about his character brought up by the "did he throw his medals away?" flap and his other political actions during the Vietnam War. Do the Dems really think this guy is electable? I see him as very vulnerable on his Senate record, where his votes have been lefty Democrat as a rule. I don't know how well lefty Democrat is going to play in Florida or Pennsylvania or Ohio or Michigan or any other of the battleground states.

Note for foreigners: to simplify matters, Kerry should win the Northeast and the West Coast. Bush should win the interior West, the Plains states, and the Southeast. The war is on in the Midwest, the triangular area between Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh, and Florida, which is atypical because everyone there has moved from somewhere else and the place is full of blacks, Cubans, crackers, old folks, Jews, and rootless suburbanites, all of which tend to run up big votes one way (Cubans, suburbanites, and crackers Republican, the rest Democrat) and wind up canceling one another out, so you never can predict what's going to happen.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

La Vanguardia's line on Zap and the Iraq pullout is that Zap was right when he said that there was no chance that by June 30 for the UN to take over Iraq politically or for the Americans to turn command of their military forces over to the UN or some other organization. Therefore, Zap did the right thing, especially since Spain is now going to line up with Paris and Berlin rather than Washington and London. Carlos Nadal says that Zap is an "open and dialoguing man" who with "the complete right" has "changed the direction of Spanish foreign policy". He adds that the Madrid-Paris-Berlin should elaborate a real foreign policy alternative to America's.

So much for the alliance. See, when your newspapers are saying that Spanish foreign policy has been correctly and appropriately changed in order to oppose the United States, and that your government should and will ally with others in order to provide an alternative to (i.e. sabotage) American policy, and when you yourself set non-negotiable conditions that are clearly prima facie unacceptable before taking the unilateral decision to pull out of a allied military operation, it seems to me that you don't want to be an ally anymore.

If that's true, Zap, if you want to bail out of the Western alliance, just say so, and then don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Spain will likely be treated by Washington with more respect if its government becomes an out-and-out opponent of America rather than a weaselly undependable pseudo-ally, which is what it is right now. Better to be honest, open, and disliked than scorned, laughed at, and disliked, which are the two choices open to Spain regarding its policy toward the US at this point.

The big news today, though, is the Real Madrid-FC Barcelona soccer game tonight. Although Valencia is in first place, tied with Real Madrid at 70 points with five games left, the Madrid-Barca games are the two big events of every Spanish soccer season; it's the biggest rivalry in Spanish sports. What we all have to do is go down to one of the various local bars if we want to see the game, though, because it's on pay-per-view. The bars, completely illegally, show the game on their TV and fill the place with beer drinkers. It's actually kind of fun to go down there, if you can deal with the drunken screaming of idiots who know even less about soccer than I do hollering at top volume "Falta! Penalti!" every time a Barca player kisses the turf. That and drinking warm beer. They always sell out of cold beer by the end of the first half or so.

Anyway, Barcelona is making a serious comeback. They started the season horribly, but since about Christmas they've been winning steadily. They're in third place on 63 points--but if they win tonight (of course therefore Madrid would lose), and if Valencia loses to Athletic Bilbao, which is entirely possible: Athletic's in fifth place and playing at home, and they have a pretty good team--then they'll be four points behind Valencia and Madrid with four games to go. That, my friends, is an end-of-season pennant race; Deportivo de la Coruna seems to have fallen by the wayside and will likely come in fourth.

The lineup will be Valdes, whom I don't particularly like, in goal; a defense of Reiziger, Puyol, Oleguer, and Van Bronckhorst, which has finally stabilized and allows surprisingly few goals; Cocu, Xavi, and Davids in midfield, all of whom are solid team players, Xavi more of an attacking player and Cocu and Davids more defensive; and Luis Enrique, Ronaldinho, and Saviola at forward. Luis Garcia, who normally plays left wing, is out and Luis Enrique, who is over the hill and playing out his last season, will sub him. Notice that Kluivert doesn't get to play anymore. He's gone. I bet he winds up with some mediocre Italian or English team, one of your Middlesbroughs or Brescias. Madrid will play their standard lineup except with Solari in for Ronaldo. I predict a pretty good game. Barca has nothing to lose, and I'm sure they are going to come out at full speed and bombard Madrid's area with every decent ball they get. Madrid, on the other hand, is nervous; they've been slumping lately and their fans are angry. They need a win badly, for psychological reasons, though a tie would probably be enough to knock Barca out of the race for the title, leaving them seven points back with four games to go.

Here's a call for protectionism from the business pages of the Vangua today; it's by Pedro Nueno, in response to what they're calling "delocalization" around here--that is, companies moving high-wage, low-skill factory jobs to places where the wages are lower and the skills are equally low. This is something that's been going on, I dunno, since the enclosure movement in Great Britain at the very least. Probably it's been going on since as soon as the division of labor began.

Anyway, get this. "So while we can still think (and have ideas thanks to God), we workers should not take our jobs lightly and the politicians should not touch anything that works. Just the contrary: they should be sensible and facilitate everything that the industries we still have ask." Boy, if that isn't a petit bourgeois call for the protection of the position their small businesses currently hold, then I've never seen one. "We" workers should work hard and the government should give companies tax breaks and tariffs and subsidies and restrictive anti-competition regulatory laws. Never mind that all this protection comes at the expense of the Spanish consumer, forced to pay higher prices due to the lack of competition on the supply side of the market.

Mr. Nueno's attitude is not uncommon over here, and it shows several traits of Spanish thinking that Americans often find a little strange. One is the idea of the small-company boss as patron of the workers, completely dead in America but still alive over here. The state is also thought of as the workers' protector rather than the people's servant. Second is the curious contradiction between the utter economic conservatism (NOT liberalism / capitalism) of the Spanish people--they want mercantilism, protection, low growth and low risk, above all security--and their professed leftism. If the tradeoff for what they want is delayed innovation, frustrated entrepreneurship, fewer individual opportunities, weaker long-term performance, and a second-rank position in the world, they're willing to pay those prices. Third is the idea that no matter what a public question is, the state should take at least some role in deciding what the response is going to be.

Friday was Sant Jordi, a pleasant holiday here in Catalonia. As you probably know, the "tradition" is that men give women a rose and women give men a book. Some enormous proportion of the books bought in Catalonia every year are bought for Sant Jordi. And the gypsies and homeless people put up flower stands and sell roses all over the city. It's kind of nice. People get out in the streets and there are Catalan flags and roses all over the place.

On Saturday Remei's cousins had the annual reunion out in Cervera; a good time was had by all. We went to this restaurant that's inside the storeroom of an old bakery under the city walls, and the food was excellent this time. (Once they all decided to go to this place in Odena where they served rabbit paella, which half the people wouldn't eat, and this nasty sweet local wine. It was just awful. Another time we went to this dump in Igualada that specialized in deep-fried frozen food, or at least that's what they served us.) Course one was various platters of salt shrimp and steamed mussels in a vinegar sauce, steamed small scallops with olive oil and garlic, xato (pronounced sha-TOH), which is a salad with escarole and salt cod and a spicy peppery sauce called romesco, and roast artichokes and mushrooms with olive oil and black pepper. I wiped out a whole platter of artichokes and mushrooms and let the others eat the mollusks, which kind of gross me out. Simple, excellent quality food. Course two was ternasco, which is more or less a beef rib with a huge chunk of greasy meat on the end, slow-cooked in the oven. (This place's specialty is stuff they cook in their big old oven, of course). As a non-mammal eater, I got escalibada, which is a salad of roast red pepper, eggplant, and onion, roast setas, which are wild mushrooms, and a big old roast potato "al caliu" with garlic and olive oil. Good stuff. Course one came with "vino turbio", a young white wine from Galicia that goes well with seafood. It's called "turbio" because it's not clear. Course two came with a very nice red wine from the Cervera area. I'm no wine expert but this was pretty good stuff. It's made with Tempranillo grapes, the Spanish red standard, and it's hard to go wrong with a good solid Tempranillo wine. Dessert was a cake, which was very mediocre as usual--I don't much like Spanish pastry, it's too dry and too sugary for my taste, and they don't use butter--but the brut cava that accompanied it was good. Coffee and brandy after dinner, of course, and if you'd wanted a cigar you could have had one, though only Tio Jesus did. Get this. Thirty bucks apiece. Everything but the cake top-notch, and the cake was prepared correctly and pleased everyone else; I just don't especially like Spanish cakes.

Also, of course, the family doesn't hassle me about being American or foreign or talking funny Catalan. They hassle me about why we don't have any kids and stuff like that.

I think the best Catalan cooking is the simple kind, with first-class ingredients and tried and true recipes and cooking styles. They've got these fancy places that charge a couple of hundred bucks, like Ferran Adria's restaurant, serving whatever's the latest Nuevo Wavo, and that's fine if you like that and can afford it, but it is hard to go wrong in a down-to-earth real Catalan place.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Good God, it's puff piece week in La Vanguardia for Manuel Castells. He must be their pet intellectual, since this talk he gave yesterday gets page 11 of their "Living" section. It's sponsored by the Pompeu Fabra University, the Godo Group (the people who own the Vangua), and the Count of Barcelona Foundation. supposedly the lecture was the first course of a Master (Spanish for worthless certificate of attendance at some seminars) in Direction of Communication and Multimedia Group Enterprises. Get this: Josep Maria Casasus, worthless and incompetent La Vanguardia ombudsman, is the director of the course, and there's a photo of Castells and Casasus along with the puff piece. The story includes a couple of paragraphs on what a genius Castells is. Here's his conclusion: "Today, of all the information available in the world, 97% is digitalized and 80% is on the Internet. Therefore, each one of us can construct his own hypertext. It is a total revolution, which changes concepts and directly affects the mass meada, constantly eroded over the last 20 years. We do not live in an era of virtual reality, an incorrect expression, but of real virtuality, understood so as the dominant culture is the one that is supported by electronic systems of communications". How much does this guy get paid for spewing this nonsense?
Dis is "Lefty da Horse" wit da news heah from da Gambino boys heah in Barcelona. Oh, hell, that's going to get me into even more trouble than Speedy Gonzalez. Screw it. Anyway, the Vangua reports that Washington is seriously pissed off at Zap's sudden withdrawal--can I call that coitus interruptus? Anyway, Sebi Val has gotten hold of someone he identifies as "a high civil servant in the Administration"--somehow I doubt that anyone of importance is leaking to Sebi--who says, "We completely respect the political decision to withdraw the troops, but the way it's being done is very disappointing and unprofessional. They didn't coordinate it with the commanders on the ground. It's causing us problems in order to cover very important positions. And it could put operations and lives in danger. It's just not the way allies behave toward one another. The president is very, very angry." Anybody still laughing about my placement of Zap's Spain at number two on the Administration shit list? I repeat: from what I read, which is all I know about it, Washington can handle opposition, such as what Germany did. But it won't stand for getting jerked around, which is what France and now Zap's Spain have done. This is why there's some rapprochement between the US and Germany, but not with France, not in the very least.

Sebi goes on to say, "The acid language of the American administration shows to what point the Zapatero government's decision has hurt, above all for the most inopportune moment at which it took place, exactly when the US and Great Britain were trying to involve the UN more and promote a new Security Council resolution that would allow the incorporation of more countries in Iraq's stabilization." This is a pretty serious accusation if Sebi is right. Zap just plain screwed up. He's way over his head. He had no idea what was going on regarding Coalition strategy, or if he did, then he chose to do exactly the wrong thing in response.

Miguel Angel Moratinos, the new and highly unqualified Foreign Minister, is trying to put a happy face on things. He said something about how the Americans wanted him to be a mediator between Israel and Palestine--he must be dreaming--and some guff about looking together into the future, not to mention maintaining the "privileged relationship" between the US and Spain. Didn't work, says Sebi. Powell wouldn't hold a joint press conference with him, and Condi Rice's office won't even comment on her meeting with Moratinos.

Says Jose Bono, Spain's new Defense Minister, "The Spanish government does not foresee that the United Nations will take charge of Iraq politically and militarily because there are countries that at this moment will never turn over the command of their troops to a different general who is not of the nationality to which the troops belong." OK, Jose's rationale here is that since the US will not turn over the command of its 125,000 guys over there to anybody else, especially when nobody else but the Brits is providing more than about 2000 troops, and especially not to the useless United Corrupt Dictatorial Third World Nations, therefore Spain should leave the Coalition. Real smart.

Added Bono, "Spain is an autonomous state and never again, never again, not while Zapatero governs, will it turn its back on the United Nations or the Spanish people in order to give a handshake to a partner like the Government of the United States." So, Joe, what you're saying is that Spain's allegiance to the NATO treaty is less significant than to the UN, and should the two come in conflict, you'll go with the UN rather than with the US or, by extension, NATO. Shows what Spain's word on a treaty is now worth. Zap and Moratinos and Bono are headed straight for international isolation; their only friends are going to be the Axis of Weasels and the Lula-Chavez-Castro bunch. Oh, yeah, and Al Qaeda, of course.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Here's a very interesting piece from the New Republic on who Al Qaeda's new recruits are. I do not doubt that there are a few radical youths here in town who would at the least shelter anyone who they thought was a real terrorist and would do so just for kicks. Some of these squatters are real idiots and a couple of them have already been busted for collaborating with ETA. The great majority, of course, are just stupid kids playing revolutionary, but I'll bet you a combination plate that within the next couple of years we'll see at least a couple more of the local doofus squatters behind bars for collaborating with terrorists.
Andrew Sullivan links to this upcoming event called the Copenhagen Consensus, sponsored by The Economist among others, in which opposing papers regarding ten subjects (like, say, "Climate change") will be presented on the twin issues of the environment and economics. The idea is to see how we can best use the free market in order to define what a reasonably acceptable environment is, what improvements can be made immediately (Legalize DDT! Stop malaria! Two million human lives a year! Environmental damage minimal! Incredibly cheap! or Promote genetically modified foods! They're cheaper and more productive both in the short and long runs, and besides they have added positive characteristics that make them, say, rot less easily or possess additional vitamins! or Make sure that everywhere in the world there are large supplies of those salt-glucose-and-liquid IV bags for people with epidemic diarrhea! That's basically Gatorade. So cheap and would save so many human lives!) and then to make the most logical choices for the future.

Gee, this could be something we could get at the Forum of Cultures here in Barcelona, right? I mean, this actually sounds like they're going to talk about important stuff from a realistic point of view based on, like, facts and other difficult things like that. I bet people who attend the Copenhagen Consensus will actually learn something, and who knows, may even go home and do something to change policy.

Naah. The point of the Forum is for a bunch of fruitloops, flakes, and nuts to all pat one another on the back about how moral they all are and to make some money for some real estate developers with good connections in the Ajuntament.
Here's some more Manuel Castells.

3. The bombing and occupation of Iraq were not the Iraq War. The war started afterward, according to the strategy of assymetrical confrontation, in which each side uses the methods that benefit it most. The United States, bombings and technology. The resistants, bombs, attentats, guerrilla warfare and, now, the kidnapping and murder of foreigners.

First, Manuel, lay off about the horrors of the bombing; several hundred Iraqis, and I emphasize the word hundred, who were innocent civilians, were killed in the combat stage of the war, which can be said to have ended with the American entrance into Baghdad. This is a terrible thing. It's also one of the cleanest bombings in history; it did what it was supposed to, which was knock out Saddam's command and control, and it killed very few innocent people compared to the positive good it did. This is because the Americans tried their very best to kill as few innocents as possible. All Brits in disagreement might look up "Dresden" or "Hamburg". Any German in disagreement--well, there are a whole lot of things he ought to look up before getting all righteously indignant about this one.

The thing that's really pathetic about Point 3 is the moral equivalence Castells makes between the "resisters" and their use of murder, terrorism, kidnapping, and the like, and the Coalition, which follows the laws of warfare, is consistent with the laws of each participating country, and commits no unprovoked violence. Castells actually justifies terrorism since it's the only weapon the terrorists have to carry on their struggle.

4. The capture of Saddam and the death of his sons did not diminish the resistance. In reality this intensified with the passage of time and the experience of occupation. Which demonstrates that it is not acolytes of Saddam Hussein who are the source of opposition to the occupation, but the proverbial Iraqi resistance to all occupiers, reinforced in this case by Islamist activists from other countries who, now, are intervening in Iraq.

This guy flings so much bullshit that you almost have to deconstruct him word for word. 1) Resistance, my ass. Terrorists and Saddam Fedayeen. 2) Iraq is a hell of a lot better place now than it was during the Saddam regime. Anyone not recognizing that is deluded. Mr. Castells is deluded. 3) "It is not acolytes of Saddam Hussein..." What exactly does Castells think the Saddam Fedayeen is? 4) "Iraqi resistance to all occupiers"? Iraq has never resisted a single occupier. Hell, it didn't even exist as a concept, much less a country, until after World War I. "Iraq" wasn't even the standard geographical term for the area, which was and is Mesopotamia. For about the six hundred years before that it had been part of the Ottoman Empire. Before that it was part of the Abbasid Caliphate. Before that it was part of the Persian Empire. It was also occupied at various times by various hordes of Turks, Mongols, and the like. As for Iraqi resistance to the British, when the Brits overthrew the pro-Nazi Iraqi regime during World War II, nobody made a peep because they knew the Brits were not going to brook any nonsense. 5) Check out the logic. The fact that terrorism has arguably increased in Iraq since Saddam's capture proves that loyalty to Saddam is not a motivation of the terrorists in Iraq. Says Mr. Castells. I think a real logician could find at least seven fallacies in that one. 6) "Islamic activists from other countries"? How about "crazed bloodthirsty fanatics with the blood of millions on their hands"? 7) These terrorists were in Iraq before and after the Iraq War--remember the names Ansar El-Islam, Abu Nidal, Al Zarqawi, and so on? Note that Mr. Castells admits that much of the "resistance" is now made up of foreign "activists". Well, since those people are our sworn enemies, aren't we much better getting rid of them now in Iraq than three years from now in Missouri or La Mancha?

Good Christ, this guy is one of the most dishonest writers I have ever encountered. As Mary McCarthy said about Lillian Hellman, "Every word is a lie, including 'the' and 'and'". More Castells tomorrow. By the way, this jackass Castells gets a nice puff piece on page 36 in the Vanguardia today; he will apparently speak at the Pompeu Fabra University tomorrow evening on how we communicate in the Internet era. There's a whole paragraph on how distinguished and important Mr. Castells is.

HEY ASSHOLE! This is how we communicate in the Internet era! By Internet! Fuck you, Castells, and your moral relativism, love for terrorists and dictators, and hate for America! Down with Old Europe! Down with appeasement! Down with the terrorists! Down with Zap, Chirac, and Schroeder! Long live classical liberalism, democracy and capitalism!
Well, there's some news. Honduras and the Dominican Republic are going to pull their troops out of Iraq, and Thailand is considering doing so. Everybody else in the Coalition is standing firm.

Tikrit Tommy Alcoverro has left Baghdad. He did so by taking an armored car to the airport, after of course getting a special pass from the coalition authorities so he could get through the roadblocks. Originally he wanted an armed escort to the airport, to be provided by either the Spanish embassy or by Coalition armed forces. He says this himself. Question: Is Tommy chickenshit or is Baghdad really that dangerous? In either case, it doesn't look like Tommy got outside the Hotel al Mansur too often while he was its honored guest.

There's an unconfirmed story going around that Al Qaeda was going to try to blow up the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester during the Man U-Liverpool game on Saturday, when 60,000 people would have been there. And there are still those who doubt that Al Qaeda and the Terrorist International's war is against all of us.

According to the White House, Aznar telephoned Bush in order to disapprove of Zap's decision to withdraw the troops. Bush mentioned the "frank" conversation he had with Zap; in diplomatese, "frank" means "angry". The Vangua's writers, Sebi Val and Carmen del Riego, got ahold of Danielle Platka from the American Enterprise Institute, who apparently said it was a "terrible shame" that Spanish troops were leaving Iraq. Of course they managed to mistranslate that. In both American and British English, saying that something is "a shame" is a means of passive criticism; it means you don't like something very much, but you're not going to point fingers at the people responsible. "It's a shame our team lost so many games this year," for example. The correct translation to Spanish would be "una terrible lastima". Sebi and Carmen managed to translate it as "una terrible verguenza", though. "Verguenza" is a pretty strong word in Spanish, and it means "something you should be ashamed of" or "something that makes you lose face or look bad". So instead of Platka saying "It's too bad the Spanish troops are leaving", which is what she meant, they've turned it into "The Spanish should be ashamed of themselves that their troops are leaving". There's a major difference in meaning.

Judge Baltasar Garzon has arraigned four of the Algerians arrested in January 2003 in Catalonia. They were then freed after several months in jail without bail for lack of evidence. Now they've been re-arrested because they may have collaborated with the establishment of the 3/11 terrorist cell. The mobile phone timer of the bomb that didn't go off at Atocha Station was the same brand and manipulated in the same way as the mobile phone timer that was used in the Bali bombing. When these four Algerians were arrested back in 2003, the cops wondered why they had manipulated mobile phones, dismantled digital clocks, and large quantities of electrical cable. The arrestees' defense was that they worked in the electric installation business. They also alleged that a quantity of chemicals found were merely "laundry detergent" and that a "viscous liquid" found was not an ingredient for homemade napalm but a waterproof material used to repair swimming pools. Anyway, their names are Mohamed Tahraoui, the ringleader, Smail Boudjelthi, Ali Kaouka, and Mohamed Nebbar.

The Vanguardia article points out, "The (January 2003) arrests were used by Aznar as an argument to justify his support for the US in the Iraq War." And a damned good argument they seem to have been. These guys were planning to hit Spain all along. They had at least two sleeper cells that could be activated at any time in place long before 3/11 or even 9/11.

In happy news, two of the three unidentified terrorists from the Leganes suicide bombing were identified as Mohamed and Rachid Oulah, whose sister was arrested as a conspirator and is in jail and whose brother is serving time for robbery, which is probably why he wasn't connected with the plot, too. Unidentified terrorist number three is suspected to be Said Berraj. All three had an international arrest warrant out on them. The other speculation going around is that body number three is that of a previously unknown boss of the Tunisian, until now thought to be the director of the 3/11 cell.

As you certainly know, some dirtbags removed the body of Francisco Javier Torronteras, the policeman killed in the Leganes explosion, from his tomb and desecrated it. The police believe that the profaners are family or friends of one or more of the arrested or dead terrorists because of the severe amount of violence done to the body; it was chopped into pieces and burned. They also believe that the desecration was planned because the desecrators knew in advance which of the 15,000 niches in the cemetery belonged to the officer. The only other hypothesis, that of some sort of satanic rite, has already been laughed out of town.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Here are a few interesting questions from Libertad Digital's blog:

In addition to surprise among the allies and approval among Spain's enemies, the withdrawal from Iraq of the Spanish troops raises doubts about the real motivations of the prime minister when he made the announcement unexpectedly on Sunday, the second day of his term:

1) If it was a decision based on the conclusions drawn from the secret meeting of Bono (the new Defense Minister) and Rumsfeld and in the impressions they had developed before the Parliamentary debate (Thursday), why wasn't it announced during that debate when, specifically, the leader of the Opposition (Mariano Rajoy) asked Zapatero insistently to confirm his plans regarding the Spanish presence in Iraq?

2) Zapatero promised that he would wait until June 30 to decide whether the troops would stay on; what led him to flagrantly break this promise in the first decision he made?

3) Zapatero said, categorically, there would be no turnover of military command to a UN multinational force (i.e. that the US would not do so); why, then, did he repeat during the Parliamentary debate that he hoped said organization would act as an umbrella for Spanish presence?

4) The Prime Minister has stated that Spain is withdrawing from Iraq in order to continue contributing to the stabilization and democratization of that country: how exactly does he plan to do this?

5) The Prime Minister promised that his new style would be based on dialogue and consensus before making big decisions. What happened to that promise when he presented his first serious decision as a fait accompli, not only to the Opposition in the Parliament but to his own Council of Ministers?

6) What does the Prime Minister plan to do with the Spanish troops stationed in Kosovo, where the international intervention was also made without UN approval?

To which I'd add 7) How likely is it that an instant withdrawal from Iraq was the Communists' and Republican Left's price for their support?
Yep. I was right. Spain is number two on the shit list, starting approximately now. Check out this BBC report. Mr. Bush and Washington insiders are most displeased. This is fairly strong diplomatic language. Here's what Fox News has to say. And check out Greta Van Susteren's poll at Fox News: go over there and vote! Look at the lower left part of Fox News's front page.

Spain's Prime Minister -- consistent with his campaign promise -- has ordered all Spanish troops (about 1300) out of Iraq. What best describes your opinion?

A) There are not enough Spanish troops in Iraq to make a difference
B) I am furious the Spanish are pulling out. Americans should not and won't forget
C) I don't blame Spain for pulling out. Iraq is a mess and not getting better
D) None of the above

Click here to read my daily Gretawire blog
Watch 'On the Record' weeknights at 10 p.m. ET
This is not a scientific poll.
Here's some more Manuel Castells.

2. Bush had three reasons to invade Iraq. The first was the application of the new doctrine of preventive action in order to neutralize states considered hostile and with the future capacity to develop arms of mass destruction before they can do so. The second, the control of the immense petroleum reserves of Iraq as an insurance policy against a possible crisis in Saudi Arabia. The third, a personal question of Bush's, to revenge the murder attempt on his father, as well as finishing the unfinished job of liquidating an old ally out of control, Saddam Hussein. To this were added the economic interests of the oil companies and others, like Dick Cheney's Halliburton company. Blair's motivations were also of a geopolitical order: to animate the danger of uncontrolled states and reaffirm the historic alliance with the US. Aznar's motivations are well-known: to place Spain, and himself in addition, in the world first division, as he assimilated Iraq, world terrorism, and ETA terrorism in order to recruit a powerful ally in his personal crusade. And the same for everybody else, from Berlusconi to the Eastern Europeans and even Japan, taking advantage of the opportunity to reinforce its ties with the US and moving away from their environments, looking for the protective umbrella of the superpower.

Mr. Castells, let me make something clear. Again, it's going to sound arrogant, and it probably is. Spain lives under the Anglo-American protective umbrella, and it's ridiculous to deny it. Spain would probably not be able to hold Ceuta and Melilla if not for American and NATO protection. To maintain its domestic independence within its claimed borders, which include those two Spanish cities on the African coast, Spain is dependent upon Great Britain and the United States, the enforcement arm of NATO, since Spain spends less money on defense than any other Western European country. Spain is effectively a US-UK protectorate, as it was during the entire Cold War. For reasons of national pride, Spain is often loath to admit this.

Other points: A) Note that in Mr. Castells's conspiracy mindset, every single country that participated in the Iraq invasion had an ulterior motive. Gee, Mr. Castells, you tell that to the Poles or the Ukranians, or to the Spanish soldiers who were and are still in Iraq. Or the Dominicans and Guatemalans. Or the Gurkhas. Or the rest of the Brits. Or the peshmerga. I don't want to be there when they give you your deserved thrashing. I have a tender stomach.

B) Isn't it just possible that Mr. Aznar believed that opposing dictatorships and terrorism was the morally correct, non-chickenshit thing to do?

C) Mr. Aznar demonstrated courage, something that Mr. Zapatero has yet to show any trace of.

D) Mr. Blair has demonstrated an unfailing ability to waffle and wobble and get himself into minor Mandelsonesque scrapes and try to please everybody on the small stuff, just like Bill Clinton. Unlike Mr. Clinton, Mr. Blair has always been dead straight right on the big stuff when it counted, as in Northern Ireland--it's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than it was--, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the War on Terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Tony Blair may be the most courageous politician alive. I agree with him so strongly on international issues that I forgive him all his other weaknesses and I trust his instincts, both political and ethical.

E) Mr. Castells has no concept of how the world economy works. Oil is 1% of international trade. The United States could be self-sufficient in energy for the foreseeable future, and I mean hundreds of years, if it were willing to pay the price it would cost--say $50 a barrel--to start major work on oil shale and higher tech to suck more out of the enormous oil, gas, and coalfields we've already found, not to mention all that's out there to find. The United States's GDP is NINE TRILLION DOLLARS. Energy is a tiny piece of that. (Weapons are even tinier: they're something like 0.06 percent of world trade.) And if we wanted to steal oil from the Gulf anyway, we'd just grab it from the UAE or Qatar or Bahrein or Kuwait, all of which would roll over and play dead for us if we kept their rulers in the luxurious appearance of power. No need to go to war. Besides, war is BAD for business. And Halliburton is making almost nothing, a few dozen million dollars, off its contracting in Iraq. Nothing at all on the global scale. There's simply no economic motivation there. The problem with oil is that countries who get their hands on it tend to become blinded by the easy money and go corrupt and dictatorial--see Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, Saudi, Libya, Nigeria, Indonesia, etc.--and become international dangers.

F) No United States President could get the necessary consent that Mr. Bush got from the Congress--we're still not sure whether John Kerry actually really meant to vote either for or against on this one, it depends on the day--merely in order to avenge an attack on his dad. That assassination attempt, for which Clinton shot a few missiles into Baghdad, counts as a casus belli, by the way. Just one more reason it's more than fair for the US to have overthrown Hussein.

G) "Preventive action" goes way back in history. It's nothing new. When we blockaded Cuba back in '62 that was preventive. We prevented the Russians from setting up intermediate-range missiles with which they could actually blow us up (now we know that Kennedy knew the Russians knew their other delivery mechanisms weren't worth a damn). The point of the Vietnam War was to prevent the Communists from taking over Indochina. The Israeli attack in the Six-Day War in 1967 was a preventive strike, as was the Israeli destruction of Iraq's French nuclear plant.

That's about all of Mr. Castells I can take for today. I swear this is the most ignorant person I have ever seen take himself so seriously.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Zap's stated motivation for ordering the immediate withdrawal is that no steps had been taken toward moving to UN control of Iraq. Seems to me he might have mentioned this on Thursday during the Parliamentary debate preceding his takeover; Thursday he gave June 30 as his deadline for withdrawal.

I don't think Zap, the PSOE, or Zap's voters understand that such unilateral behavior--because this really is unilateral, unlike anything the Americans have done--is going to get Spain into very serious political trouble internationally. This is completely amateurish and unprofessional. You do not suddenly announce major policy changes all on your own. Not even the Americans do so. I'm just afraid that Spain is going to suffer for a very long time after Zap is long gone, because Zap has proven that he is a coward who can be intimidated. 3/11 was merely the first warning.
Well, Zap's bailing. All Spanish troops in Iraq are to be pulled out immediately. We really don't have anything FoxNews doesn't already have.

Based on Zap's decision, we can draw two conclusions: A) Zap is chickenshit. If any bad guys even look at him funny he's going to run cowering to obey their dictates. B) Zap lied. He said that he wouldn't pull Spanish troops out if something could be arranged through the United Nations. Now that he's Prime Minister he has immediately changed his tune; this is, of course, the very first Prime Ministerial decision he has made. Spain will pull out no matter what, right now.

It seems to me that Zap not only lied to the Spanish people, though those who voted for him aren't going to care, but to the American government. If this move of Zap's was a surprise to Washington, which I bet it was, Spain is now number two on the shit list after France. Washington can tolerate opposition but will not stand for being jerked around, at least not as long as Bush is in charge.
In case you're wondering who this Manuel Castells guy is, here's his resume which he himself posted on the Web. He seems to be some sort of respectable authority in the field of sociology. But if he's this dumb, ignorant, and bigoted about international affairs, what must his sociological works be like? Based on our upcoming series of Castells' analysis of the war in Iraq, I'd say his use of sources is faulty and incomplete, his logic is childish, his prejudices are blatant, and his level of credulity is high.
If I ever meet this guy Manuel Castells I'm going to bop him on the head with a rubber chicken repeatedly while shouting "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Then I'll spit in his drink and put my cigarette out on his tie.

Anyway, he has this piece in Saturday's La Vanguardia. It's titled somewhat grandiosely "Iraq, Year I". Here it is.

...The Iraq War has changed the geopolitics of the world and affected our everyday lives. That's why it might be useful to reconstruct the process which has led us to the explosion of Iraqi popular anger against the forces of military occupation, including the Spanish soldiers of the Plus Ultra brigade.

"Explosion of Iraqi popular anger"? I think "minor terrorist offensive, now quelled" would be more accurate. And what's this "affected our everyday lives"? Is he talking about 3/11 in Madrid? Is he implying that the Iraq War was the proximate cause of that attentat? If he is, he's lying.

We now have new information, which has become known through a tenacious effort of societies and journalists to learn facts that our governments had hidden or manipulated. The following summary is based on that information.

Manny, you and Beirut Bob and Tikrit Tommy are heroes, you really are. Are you saying the Spanish, American, and British governments covered up the truth? That's a very strong statement. It seems to me you need some pretty strong arguments to back that up.

1. The Iraq war had little to do in its origin with the struggle against Islamic terrorism, though the barbaric attack of 9/11 created the psychological conditions to apply a previously decided policy by the group of neoconservatives who arrived to the White House with Bush. Nor was it related with weapons of mass destruction that Iraq received from the US and other Western countries during the 1980s but that were no longer effective in the moment that they were used as the pretext for an attack. In fact, as Narcis Serra has written, the attack by the US and its allies occurred precisely because they knew that those arms didn't exist, because otherwise they would have taken more careful precautions the heavy losses and potential biological or nuclear contamination that might have resulted from the invasion. As I wrote in an article in El Pais, in October 2002, and as Clarke's recent testimony before the American Congress confirms, the war on Iraq had been decided before September 11 and active preparations began at the end of September 2001. Everything else was political maneuvering in order to try to obtain UN approval. The CIA lied to Powell, Powell repeated the lies in the Security Council, and many European leaders, not all of them conservative, accepted these lies as convincing proof.

It is not news that both the Clinton and Bush administrations had been planning military action ever since Saddam expelled the UN inspectors in 1998. The US had total and complete justification in any attack on Iraq after that date, because Saddam had broken the cease-fire he signed back in 1991. Not only that, but Saddam's air force repeatedly violated the no-fly zones and actually attacked American and allied aircraft during the 1990s. That is also a violation of the cease-fire and another casus belli. Bill Clinton did nothing, however. Bush came into office determined to do something about Saddam, and after 9/11, Iraq became Priority Two after Afghanistan in the War on Terror. See, the War on Terror is being fought on several fronts: against terrorist gangs like Hamas and Al Qaeda, against rogue states and failed states like Afghanistan and Iraq who give aid and comfort to terrorists, here in our own countries with police and security work, at the intelligence level. Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction was merely one of the multiple arguments in favor of the attack on Saddam's regime. We know he had them--everyone admits that, he actually used them--and we know he was maintaining his weapons programs active, but we still don't know what he did with the stuff we know he had, if that makes any sense. That does not constitute lying by the CIA or anyone else. I repeat, Saddam's WMD were only one of several cases for war and not the most important.

No, the mistake that was made was Bush's going anywhere near the UN. He should have just said, in the wake of 9/11, "Look, we're going after anyone who even smells like an Islamist terrorist. Anyone who wants to help can. The rest of you, whatever, but we recommend you stay out of the way. And if that's arrogant, remember, we just got hit hard by these guys and they are never going to do it again if we can help it. So stick it. The United Nations is irrelevant, as we have several legitimate cases for war against just about everybody but Israel and Turkey in the Middle East and we do not need anyone's approval in order to take them up."

Nothing Dick Clarke said was news to anybody, and the interpretations that Castells makes of that little tempest in a teapot are ridiculous, is is the claim that the Americans knew Saddam had no WMD and the evidence is that they didn't properly protect themselves against said WMD. That is truly insane. American troops were very well protected against WMD and American leaders took the threat very seriously.

Oh, yeah, the United States never sold Saddam anything resembling a chemical weapon. In fact, the only thing we ever sold him were some 60 helicopters in 1989, after the Iran war ended but before the Kuwait invasion. Those were non-military helicopters, but Saddam converted them for military use. That's it. Saddam's arms sources were the Soviet Union, China, and France. Not the United States.

Castells has six more points but I can't stand any more of this crap today, so I'll be giving you a point or two more a day.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Zap is now Prime Minister, and may the Good Lord have mercy on us all. If you want to read about it, here's Fox News's story. I don't really have anything more to say.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Get the angle La Vanguardia takes on this particular pair of stories from Wednesday, April 14. The first one is about a new DVD player that can be programmed to cut out or bleep over scenes of violence, sex, or bad language from the movies it plays. Sounds fine to me. If you want this kind of DVD player, you can buy one. If you don't, you don't have to. Nobody's forcing anything on anybody. In fact, this ought to be good for the movie business, because now conservative parents will allow their kids to see PG or R DVDs in the knowledge that the unpleasant stuff has been cut out by this new player.

So Alex Barnet's headline is "USA introduces DVD with digital censorship". Here we go again. It's that stupid but oft-repeated meme that Americans are rigidly Puritanical. Says Alex:

The product reflects the worries of some parents about some content, even in movies directed at a family audience, tolerated by the industry. It arrives on the market at a time when there is an obvious offensive in the United States in favor of the censorship of audiovisual products. One only needs to remember Janet Jackson's flash during the broadcast of the Super Bowl or the delay with which the Oscars were broadcast in order to control it.

Oh, jeez. Everyone's already forgotten about Janet and the Super Bowl--the Vanguardia must be the only news medium in the world still trying to keep that story alive-and as for the five-second electronic delay, it's widely used on almost all radio and television broadcasts to make sure nobody on Al Franken's talk show calls anyone else a fucking son of a bitch on the air.

Look, people, this is not censorship. Censorship is the exercise of what they call prior restraint. That means if you want to say or write or broadcast something, you have to submit it to a government censor, who can then eliminate the parts that are not permitted. You do not have to do this in the United States. The government cannot stop you from expressing your ideas except in certain very specific and narrowly defined cases (e.g. you can't advocate the armed overthrow of the government of the United States, you can't make false advertising claims about a product, you can't lie under oath, you can't incite a riot, you can't make a bomb threat whether true or not, you can't spread insider information in the financial markets, you can't maliciously publish or broadcast a false story that damages someone's reputation, you can't threaten anyone with violence, et cetera.) These cases are also generally reflected in the laws of other democratic states, often with certain local exceptions; for instance, in Germany you can't spread any sort of Nazi ideas and propaganda, while in the US you can as long as you don't openly incite people to violence. British libel laws are considerably more restrictive than their American counterparts.

Anyway, now get this one. The headline is "Beckham's affairs endanger his image in the US."

Sorry, but 98% of the American population has never heard of either David Beckham or his wife, and frankly there's no reason for them to: Beckham plays a sport we don't like or care anything about (imagine Barry Bonds endorsing a product in France and you'll see what I mean), and his wife isn't particularly attractive or interesting, nor has she ever done anything to become well-known in the States, since the Spice Girls went over like a lead balloon over there.

This is going to sound very arrogant but I think it's true: in the show business world you're not a real big star until you've hit it big in the States. That's why no soccer players or formula one drivers are really big international stars. Other examples: Kylie Minogue, the Pet Shop Boys or whatever the latest British pop music fad is, Oasis, Cliff Richard, all French, Italian, German, or Spanish pop bands. Catherine Zeta-Jones had to marry Michael Douglas to get her chance; Penelope Cruz had to be Tom Cruise's beard for two years; Antonio Banderas had to start something up with Melanie Griffith, of all people.

An orchestrated publicity campaign against the Becks or a sex scandal of surprising proportion. This is the question that millions of people in the United States are asking about the great media star of world soccer, David Beckham.

If you substituted the word "thirty-eight" for the word "millions of", or the words "Great Britain" for the words "the United States", that might be fairly accurate.

During a period in which tolerance in sexual matters is below minimum in the United States, and censorship clamps down on anyone who forgets, the scandal of Beckham and his alleged lovers could leave him out of the game before it even starts.

Huh? There's NO censorship and the attitude toward sexual matters has been becoming freer, more open, and more tolerant in the United States over the last hundred years, with big jumps in the Twenties, the Sixties, and the Nineties. In fact, the US led the way in the Sexual Revolution, and sixty or seventy years ago many Europeans and especially Latin Americans were criticizing us for being too sexually open, and especially for the degree of power that women had in the US.

Jeez, the big political question now is whether gay marriages should be legal, with lots of people arguing on both sides. There are countries where the big political question is whether gays should be stoned to death or not. Also: in the United States the divorce and abortion laws are much more liberal than those in many European countries, and Spain is the prime example. Abortion on demand here is technically not available, though it is widely practiced; you need to get a doctor to certify that you will have psychological problems if you have the baby. That's not real hard to do. Divorce is technically available but in practice is difficult to get; it requires a long legal process and a lot of money. That's why so many forty-fiveish people around here are "separated" but not legally divorced; "separated" is a fairly easily obtainable legal status available here which means you can screw around again and not be cheating, and that some court has divided up the property and the kids, but you're still legally married. Talk about societal hypocrisy. Jeez. Just legalize abortion and divorce if you're going to permit them de facto.

The story goes on to say that Beckham is going to appear in the new version of the movie "The Pink Panther", though the deal hasn't been signed yet. Aha. Now let's put two and two together and play conspiracy theory. This story is bylined Maria Ortega in Los Angeles, which means that she was fed the idea for this piece from Beckham's and/or "The Pink Panther's" LA publicity people. The problem is that nobody has heard of Beckham in the US; he's not a big star there. As the story says, Beckham does advertisements for Pepsi, Adidas, and Vodafone. I know Adidas doesn't do much business in the US (it's Austrian, I believe) and I don't think Vodafone is there at all. As for Pepsi, has anyone in the States actually seen Beckham in a Pepsi commercial over there?

So what they want to do is make him a big star in the States. Step One is get him heard of. A good way to get lots of publicity is to cook up a sex scandal; it doesn't even have to be true. But people might care if they can somehow get the story to actually break in the US. Then Step Two is get him in a movie that American people might actually go see. That'll establish his name, at least sort of, and if the movie does well Beckham might get a shot at another, perhaps a starring role this time. His people are thinking Arnold Schwarzenegger here, turning his sports career (which will be over in 5-7 years) into a movie career. I'll bet Step Three is dumping his wife, who just is not going to make it in the States, or even in Spain, and picking up a Hollywood actress. Expect this within 1-2 years; Penelope Cruz would be an excellent choice, because she's popular in the US and in Spain, and it would definitely be in Beckham's interest to stay with Real Madrid for a while.

In the United States the sexual slips of show business stars are not forgiven, and proof of that is what is happening to Kobe Bryant, the star of the LA Lakers basketball team, who has seen all the companies he advertised for break off with them after he was accused of rape by a young woman in Colorado.

WHAT? Is this woman crazy? Sexual slips are a great way to get publicity and attention, especially in the US. As long as your practices don't include dead people, animals, or kids, you'll have no problems. Look at Madonna or Britney Spears or Jennifer Lopez. These women are notorious for their bedroom antics and they're also extremely popular (well, Madonna is getting close to the has-been level). Look at Hugh Grant and his experience with the hooker (played up; Hugh needed publicity) or Eddie Murphy and his deal with the transvestite hooker (hushed up; too weird; Eddie got away with it) or George Michael and his getting busted for soliciting in a public bathroom (played up; George needed publicity and was a has-been among straights anyway). Look at Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, for God's sake. Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood and I don't know who else have traded in old wives for new ones and nobody cares. It's rumored that Cruise and Kevin Spacey and whoever are gay and that doesn't hurt their careers; hell, Ellen and Rosie and Anne Heche got lots of good publicity for coming out as lesbians.

Here are the only people I can think of who got in real trouble and why:

Michael Jackson. People are not fans of repeat child molesters, which is what the cops say Jackson is.

Kobe Bryant. He's not in trouble for having sex with some girl. He's in trouble for allegedly raping her. There's a minor difference. See also Tyson, Mike.

Woody Allen. Everybody was creeped out by the Soon-Yi thing. The universal reaction was, "That's just gross".

Pee-Wee Herman. He creeped everyone out, too. What a freak. First public masturbation and then kiddie porn.

Roman Polanski. Uh, people, the girl was thirteen years old. There are three words for that: Statue Tory Rape.

Ted Kennedy. Drove drunk off a bridge and drowned a campaign worker; attempted cover-up for several hours. Expelled from Brown University for cheating. Notorious for throwing drunken parties after which women claim to be raped. Oops, sorry, what am I saying? Massachussets, home of Representatives Barney Frank, whose roommate was running a gay prostitution ring out of his house, and Gerry Studds, who got in trouble for seducing male congressional pages--both were reelected--loyally elects Big Ted to the Senate every six years anyway.

Last paragraph.

The press, nonetheless, has not ceased its attacks. "Bla Bla bla", said the Daily Express, and the Daily Mirror said, "Bla bla Bla".

Uh, yes. Those are British tabloids. No one in America reads them, absolutely no one. The question is whether Beckham is going to make his way into the American market or not. To do that he needs to get into the American supermarket tabloids. That, of course, is what this is all about. It's a nice publicity strategy by Beckham's press people: get yourself accused of a minor sex scandal that's not really damaging and parlay that publicity into a movie role.
Here's some wacky shit from this week's La Vanguardia. Tikrit Tommy Alcoverro has a feature about the Hotel Al Mansur in Baghdad, where he's staying. He likes the Hotel Al Mansur because he can watch Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya TV ("threatened again by the coalition authorities"), because his friends like the correspondents from Italian TV and Le Monde Diplomatique are staying there too, because it's "better protected"--although "it's not a fortress with high walls, barbed wire, and American tanks", because it has a garden and is far away from the street, and because "there are very few Americans among its clients".

Tommy notes, "(The Hotel Al Mansur), across from the burned-out Ministry of Information, was the location of many official acts, the preferred hotel of the guests of the overthrown regime. Its discotheque, now closed, famous among the Baghdad golden youth, was frequented by Uday, the murdered first son of Saddam Hussein. It was one of Uday's favorite places for his scandalous erotic adventures."

Fascinating. Just a few notes: a) How can La Vanguardia claim that its correspondent in Baghdad is neutral and unbiased when he openly states that he does not like Americans as individuals? What would be La Vanguardia's reaction if a reporter for the Washington Post openly stated on page six of his newspaper that he disliked Spaniards so much he refused to stay in the same hotel with them? b) If the Hotel Al Mansur is safe and protected, as Tikrit Tommy seems to think it is, who's protecting it? If it's not the American tanks and the barbed wire, then it must be, uh, the other guys, I'd think c) Tommy sure lets us know what his favorite news sources are, and they ain't CNN or even the BBC or Reuters d) Are the same owners running the hotel now as when it was the regime's semi-official hotel? If so, why would Tikrit Tommy want to stay in a place owned by Saddamites? e) Uday, "murdered"? How about "got his cruel depraved sadistic ass sent straight to hell where he belongs"? f) "Scandalous erotic adventures"? I thought the term was "mass gang rapes" g) How about rephrasing one passage as "across from the happily burned-out 'Ministry of Information', really Saddam's propaganda and disinformation department, where European journalists and politicians were paid off by Saddam's bagmen"?

My conclusion: From now on, when I go to a hotel, I'm going to ask if there are any Spanish foreign correspondents staying there. If so, I'll find another place to stay. Wouldn't want to get too close to those people; their dishonesty, prejudice, stupidity, simplism, ignorance, and corruption might be contagious.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I promised you a translation of leftist Joan Barril's daily back-page comment in El Periodico. Now, one must keep in mind that Mr. Barril's intelligence quotient is below-average even for Spanish journalists, and that the Periodico is the local downmarket newspaper. Well, he's all irritated because Prince Felipe and his mistress, Letizia Ortiz, whom he is to marry--had their luggage searched at the Miami airport according to U.S. law.

Everything's going by the boards. That famous super-Spanish sentence, "You don't know who you're talking to," was cut to ribbons in the VIP room in a Florida airport. The Prince of Asturias and his companion saw some small-time bureaucrats dig through their belongings and caress their underwear. Until now the headlines of the Palace press normally included, in any regular report, something like "Prince Felipe goes to a disco to dance just like any other young man of his age." With this drum-beating, they were actually trying to show that he wasn't really just like any other young man. And as his moment to reign approaches, Felipe de Borbon doesn't have too many more chances left to do what other men of his age normally do. The Spanish Crown is an able administrator of gestures. Its popularity rests on this ability. Within a few months [when he marries Letizia Ortiz] the heir to the throne will be less of a prince and more of a heir. This implies distance and institutional values. And institutions cannot dance in discotheques. A question: In what ways can the heir continue being like the men of his age? [He's 36 or 37, I think.]

And suddenly Captain America appears to return Felipe de Borbon to his strictly human condition, which is what we who are his subjects like. All us Spaniards are equal before the law; that goes without saying, the law of the United States, which is the only law that allows itself the maximum illegalities. The heir to the throne and his future bride were one step away from being subjected to the abuses that the dancer Antonio Canales [Canales has a police record in Spain] was the victim of in the New York airport, not to mention so many other anonymous Spaniards who have had taken away from them ballpoint pens or glasses with metal earpieces, because everything that's sharp might be as serious as a rubber axe or the Hiroshima bomb. Neither artists nor allies enjoy any sort of favor before the paranoia of the American government. The condition of being a prince doesn't exempt you from anything before the real prince of darkness. Some day, probably distant, when voting has led Bush to the forcible abdication which his brother can't save him from and when Felipe de Borbon is Felipe VI, the no longer so young monarch will have the chance to go on an official visit to the US and will ask for his police record, and the report of the incompetent agents of the incompetent Condoleezza Rice on the contents of the luggage which the future king was carryint on his prematrimonial visit to the Bahamas. It will be a good story to tell his children and grandchildren. But it will also be an explosive political lesson. The lesson that where there is an emperor the heir to the throne does not rule. And that any idiot from the Bush administration can continue making enemies even among friends.

I do not think that one man represents a people. I don't especially care about flags either. But I would like, every once in a while, somebody really important, not just the mayor of the municiplaity where that restricitive airport is to be found, somebody to apologize. One begins decrying the disrespect to the Prince and one may end up decrying the bombings of Baghdad. At bottom, you see, it's all the same. I'm the boss. You're not.

Boy, that's one of the most outrageous manifestations of hurt national dignity I've ever seen. Hey Joan Barril: Isn't it true that we American citizens have to obey Spanish law when we're in Spain? If we didn't, that would be called "extraterritorality" and you would be denouncing it right now. Well, Spanish citizens when in the United States have to obey American law, and being the fuckin' Prince of fuckin' Asturias will get you a fuckin' cup of coffee over in the States. If you have a fuckin' dollar, that is. Over in the US you have to pay for what you order even if you're the Prince, Don Felipe, by the way, no more of this walking out of the disco at six AM without settling up your bill. This ain't one of the fuckin' terraces on the fuckin' Paseo de la fuckin' Castillana.
You may have heard that the Barcelona city council has declared Barcelona an official anti-bullfighting city, whatever that is. It's non-binding, and it's highly ironic that a city with TWO large bullrings (one is in disuse--supposedly it's going to be converted into a shopping mall--; the other is one of Spain's four or five most important, with a regular program on which all the major bullfighters appear) should get all persnickety now.

MY PERSONAL FEELINGS: I don't like bullfighting at all. I've seen two bullfights, one in Mexico City and the other in Madrid, and I know whereof I speak. I never watch bullfighting on TV. Never. Hey, I'm a vegetarian. I don't eat mammals or birds or fish--well, fish at restaurants, ok, but rarely. Meat, never. This is not something new; I've been doing it for the last twenty-five years.


It's cruel to animals. It sure is. The bull gets stuck full of holes by the picador and by the bandarilleros before getting run to exhaustion and then butchered by the matador in what is almost never a clean kill. It's an ugly sight.

It's an old cultural tradition. Yep, that's certainly true. Spectacles with bulls go back to at the very least the Mycenaeans in the Mediterranean, and were practiced in Greece and Rome. Bullfighting as we know it has not changed a great deal since the 17th century, I don't think. Bullfighting is also central to the culture of most parts of Spain; major centers include Pamplona, Bilbao, Valencia, Burgos, Toledo, and Madrid, as well as Sevilla, Cordoba, and Malaga. And Barcelona.

Bullfighting's not Catalan. Rotundly false. There are gazillions of historical records showing that bullfights have been held in the Spanish style in Barcelona since as long as they have been anywhere else in Spain. A bad bullfight, famously, was the spark for the Barcelona riots on St. Jaume's Day in 1835; this was a serious urban rebellion that was brutally crushed. There are two large bullrings in Barcelona, and both are constructed in what's called here the modernista style; they date from the turn of the last century. This was before the influx of Aragonese and Valencian and Murcian immigrants in the teens and twenties that hard-shell Catalans accuse of being responsible for the alleged introduction of bullfighting here. Also, bullfighting has a strong local presence in some smaller katalanitsch towns in Catalonia, like Olot, Cardona, and several of the towns on the lower Ebro river.

The bulls have a good life and they wouldn't exist anyway if not for bullfighting. True. They live in nice open fields for three years before getting turned into pot roast. And the particular breed of bulls used for corridas de toros is bred specifically for bullfights and has no other use. Also, they eat the bull, or at least they did before the mad cow disease thing. I don't know if they've permitted the sale of toro de lidia again or not, but normally you could go down to the market and buy some steaks from the bulls that had been fought in the local corrida. You could argue that the cattle bred for slaughter are killed just as ruthlessly as bulls killed in bullrings, and you could argue that there's no moral difference because we eat them all. It's hypocritical to argue that we shouldn't make a spectacle out of death, because our society constantly does that; people all over the world get pleasure from hunting and fishing, and that's killing for fun just as much as bullfighting is. At least in a bullfight the bull has about a 50,000-1 chance or so. In the slaughterhouse that chance is zero. And as for fox-hunters who oppose bullfights, that's even worse than hypocritical. Fortunately, I believe there are few of these people.

It's Anglo-Saxon cultural imperialism. Well, yeah, a lot of the ignorant criticism of bullfighting you see does come from England, and specifically from the tabloid press. But that conclusion is a little hysterical. Incredibly, that's what one of the PP guys in the Barcelona city council said in response to the anti-toros measure.

We're gonna look like real jerks at the Forum of Cultures. Heh, heh, heh. Snicker, snicker, guffaw, guffaw. In about a month the Big Politically Correct Multiculti-Katalanitsch Fiesta Excuse-To-Put-Tax-Money-Into-The-Hands-Of-Well-Connected-Real-Estate-Developers, officially called the Forum of Cultures and already touted as Barcelona's answer to the Millenium Dome, is going to kick off, and supposedly peace-and-love PC fruitcakes and nutballs are going to congregate here, and meanwhile down at the Monumental Jesulin de Ubrique and Fran Rivera are going to pincushion some large, angry cattle to the cheers of thousands of real spectators from Barcelona and Spain--despite many claims, tourists do not make up the majority of bullfight spectators except maybe at third-class Costa Brava resorts like Lloret. That is going to look just great. I think I'll get a job as a barker for the bullfight empresarios, touting and shilling trilingually among the crowds of foreigners milling about the front gate of the Forum. That is, assuming there are any foreigners.

CONCLUSION: Sorry, folks. If you eat meat and wear leather, then you've got no more right than anyone else to oppose bullfighting. You, too, benefit from cruelty to animals, and more specifically, to mammals. I don't oppose bullfighting. I will not patronize it ever again. I do not watch it on TV. I would probably avoid buying a product advertised by a bullfighter. I do not buy the scandal magazines that often capitalize on the private lives of bullfighters. But if people want to watch it, and many Spaniards do, you can't outlaw it. The best you can do is regulate it and make sure it's done under certain recognized procedures.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I've been seeing the word "Vietnam" used with some frequency in the international press; the conservative magazines have acknowledged the hue and cry by running pieces either denying Iraq is similar to Vietnam or pieces stating defiantly that Iraq is like Vietnam, dammit, and we should have won there too.

Here's my unconsidered opinion:

The enemy in Vietnam was the North Vietnamese, with the Viet Cong as their South Vietnamese arm and aid coming in from China and Russia, both possessors of nuclear weapons. The enemy in Iraq is the local branch of the Terrorist International. They receive funds and support from outside, but at a much smaller level than did the NVA/VC. The only states that tolerate them are rogues or have rogue elements inside them.

The enemy always had a safe base to retreat to in Vietnam. That is not true in Iraq. The Al Qaeda / Saddam Fedayeen boys in Iraq have nowhere but Fallujah and Tikrit to hide.

We lost about 55,000-60,000 men in Vietnam. In Iraq we have lost about 600 during the war and postwar combined.

During Vietnam we had some of the European states in our corner, at least sort of, because they were scared of the Russians. Now we don't. So what's the difference?

During Vietnam we weren't sure what we were doing. Now I think there's some kind of plan to isolate and go through areas where the terrorists are concentrated, but I'm still not convinced we know what we're doing. The confusion isn't nearly as great as Vietnam, during which the military leadership was clueless--as was the civilian. Still, though, I'm more than a bit worried on this front. I'm hoping to see more successes like that in Fallujah, where the foreign journalists are already talking up massacres, by the way.

As for atrocities, to my knowledge there was only one committed by Americans during the Vietnam War, and that was My Lai, an eternal disgrace to America. Some 200 innocent villagers were murdered. But that only happened once. If it'd happened more times than that someone would have talked; the reason we all heard about My Lai was because more than several people who knew what had happened blew the lid off the story, including the helicopter pilot from outside the unit who saved several lives and convinced some of the men to stop killing. There's no way you could cover up something of that degree. As for the photos of the naked girl (she lives in Vancouver now) and the ARVN officer shooting the VC in the head, we remember them because they were brutal. They were also very rare occurences, which is why you don't remember any other Vietnam photos. The Americans have not committed any atrocities in Iraq, nothing even close despite everything Beirut Bob and Tikrit Tommy have to say.

Our soldiers are professional volunteers in this war. In Vietnam many were conscripts.

That was the jungle and the rice paddies. This is the desert.

Our equipment is a hell of a lot better than theirs, not necessarily true then in the case of say, rifle patrols.

The media is trying to sabotage the war effort in both cases. Fortunately, this time we have alternative media, the Internet.

I'll bet you can think of a few hundred more comparisons or contrasts.
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was elected the next Prime Minister of Spain on March 14, three days after the 3/11 bombings that killed almost 200 people, because of a masterful propaganda campaign based on Zap's promise to appease the terrorists by pulling out of Iraq.

Now the CNI, the Spanish intelligence service, has reconstructed the videotape that the seven 3/11 terrorists who blew themselves up in the Leganes apartment made, in Arabic, on March 27. The Leganes suicide explosion happened on April 4. Here is the CNI's transcript of the videotape, found in the ruins of the apartment, translated into Spanish, in today's La Vanguardia. The translation to English is mine.

In the name of Allah, the Kind and Merciful,

Blessed be Allah, whose promise is kept and who succors his servants, and who defeated the ahsub himself. Peace and blessings be on the last of the pure messengers, our prophet Mohammed, Allah bless and save him.

After determining that the situation has not changed and after your new governor announced the beginning of his mandate with more fighting against Muslims and the sending of more crusader troops to Afghanistan, the Companies of Death and Ansar Al Qaeda have resolved to continue the path of blessed jihad and resistence, until everything (unintelligible) in the name of the struggle against terrorism. Therefore the brigade located in Al-Andalus has decided not to leave here until your troops leave their Muslim bases immediately and unconditionally. If you do not do so within a week from today, we will continue our jihad until martyrdom in the land of Tarek Ben Ziyad.

Know that you will not enjoy safety and know that Bush and his Administration will not bring you anything more than destruction. We will kill you in any place at any time.

There is no difference between civilians and soldiers: our innocents die by the thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq; is your blood more valuable than ours? We will bloody your people, we will kill you, we will carry the war to your houses, and you will not be able to sleep.

We act fairly: "Fight he who attacks you, in the same way he has attacked you."

I say a few words to all those who have suffered injustice or aggression under the accusation of participating in the operations of March 11: You have followed the hadiz of Mohammed, Allah bless and save him, who banished the Muslims who lived together with the polytheists.

You know the Spanish crusade against the Muslims, and it has not been so long since the expulsion from Al-Andalus and the courts of the Inquisition.

We are sorry for your injustice but our jihad is above everything, because our brothers are murdered and their throats cut all over the world.

Blood for blood! Destruction for destruction!


Yep. This one was all about Iraq and the evil Yankees. Right. Looks to me like Al Qaeda has made its position pretty clear. "We will kill you." They say that twice. I think these Al Qaeda people and their allies, from Hezbollah to the Taliban to the Saddam Fedayeen, have it in for Spain. I don't think withdrawing Spain's troops from Iraq would be the most intelligent thing to do at this moment. I don't normally believe terrorists, but when they kill almost 200 people and then claim they'll do it again, and then blow themselves up, I tend to believe them. That convinces me.

They want a fight and they mean to provoke one. Zap seems to think if he gives them our lunch money they'll go away.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Well, anyone wondering what the cost of appeasement is has to look no longer. The terrorists who committed the 3/11 bombing and who blew themselves up in a Leganes apartment a week ago had already made a videotape with their new demands: they were going to do something else really bad if Zap didn't pull Spanish troops out of Afghanistan, too. You'll remember that Zap promised to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq back before he was elected, and has sworn to carry through on his promise. Sounds to me like the Spanish people elected Zap because he was offering to appease the terrorists in the hopes that they won't commit any more 3/11s. Well, that's not enough for them, as we remember saying several times. This is not an isolated war; this is the War on Terrorism and you can not pick and choose your enemies. They've already picked and chosen you.
Check out this bit from James Taranto's Best of the Web.

"Tall, dark and handsome, Prince Felipe of Spain has exactly what it takes to be a royal heart-throb," according to a profile in Hello!, a British celebrity magazine. "Like his father King Juan Carlos, he's a natural charmer, and from his mother Queen Sofia, he's inherited reserve and a gentle demeanour":

"Some people think I'm too serious, but I believe I've got a sense of humour," he told HELLO!. "I like to think of myself as being no different from anybody else, with my failures, qualities, frustrations, joys, worries, everything. . . . A king should not lose his perception of what it is like to be somebody normal."

He's not even king yet, and apparently it's already too late. The Miami Herald reports that "Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and his fiancée pitched a royal fit at Miami International Airport Thursday night, when screeners insisted on searching the future king's luggage--just as they would any Average Joe's":

Members of the prince's entourage called the required inspection of their private belongings an ''insult'' and ''humiliating''--sparking a diplomatic flap that has the United States and Spain on the brink of a protocol war.

They could have avoided the screening if they had arranged for a State Department or Secret Service escort. And the prince's group actually did get special treatment. Lauren Stover of the Transportation Security Administration tells the paper they were searched privately in a lounge by "top-notch screeners with VIP experience." That apparently isn't good enough for the Spanish. "We don't consider this the proper way to treat our future king," an anonymous consular official tells the Herald. "It's a breach of protocol."

This is news? You bet it is over here. The local leftists, not normally known for much giving a crap about the royal family, are pitching a hissy-fit over this one. Tomorrow I'll translate Joan Barril's rant in El Periodico.

One thing the Spanish press are not saying is that most people flying from the Bahamas to Miami on a private jet are strongly suspected of being involved in either cocaine trafficking or money laundering, which is most likely why His Royal Highness got searched--oh, yeah, that and it being the law and all.

Conclusion: The Spanish royal family can kiss my ass. It's going to be a hot day in hell when they get any favors done for them. If they are displeased, let them call up Zap and his future foreign minister and have them register their official complaints with President Bush. Fat lot of good that'll do as long as Zap is running this place.