Friday, July 23, 2004

I don't get it. The bold, italic, and link buttons still aren't showing up on my Blogger screen. what the hell is the point of a blog with no links? Oh, well, here we go again with the usual pile of shit from La Vanguardia.

They've hit a new low with their front-page banner headline today: "Aznar's government paid to get the U.S. Congressional Medal". Their own story inside proves the headline false. The Aznar Government contracted a legal firm to lobby for Spain and take care of PR. It seems that one of the various things Piper Rudnick did was lobby the House of Representatives in order that José María Aznar would receive a distinction from the U.S. Congress. Hiring the firm for its various activities cost two million bucks. The legal firm in question is the well-known Piper Rudnick. More than 70 nations, including Great Britain and France, have hired lobbying firms in Washington. Spain itself has had a lobbyist in Washington since Felipe González hired the first one in the 1980s.

The headline, though, clearly implies that Aznar's government paid cold hard cash for the distinction. Nothing could be further from the truth. Complete and total bogosity.

A lot of people over here aren't clear on what a lobby is, so I'll explain. A lobby is an organization that attempts to influence government policy in a particular direction. For example, the NAACP is the black civil rights lobby. It attempts to help fashion government policies that it believes will be beneficial to black people. It does this by issuing press releases, calling press conferences, talking to lawmakers and executives and bureaucrats, holding meetings, trying to get on the TV news, and so on. Other lobbies include the American Heart Association, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Association of Widget Manufacturers, and the AFL-CIO. The firm Spain hired had the responsibility of lobbying for Spain in Washington, nothing more and nothing less.

Everybody seems to be pissed off at Esquerra Republicana for being a bunch of loudmouthed jerks. The problem is that they have only one issue: Independence for Catalonia. That means that they're unproductive as members of the governing coalition. The Parliament is talking about something serious like the budget and up jumps some ERC idiot to complain about how Catalan isn't an officially recognized language in the European Union or whatever. They act like they're still in the opposition; their modus operandi is to attempt to torpedo anything that isn't related to The Only Important Political Question In The World. Maybe the easiest way to define them is as a bunch of stubborn, willful, pigheaded, not-yet-grown-up children.

In local quality-of-life news: they're going to kick the goddamn bongo-players out of the Parque Ciutadella. About time. There are hundreds of them there on Sunday afternoon and everybody for about a mile radius can hear them. Nothing against bongoers, let them bongo all they want, but somewhere where they're not bothering other people, please.

Oh, a couple of days ago they ran another bullshit misleading headline over an unusually foul and stinking article by Robert Fisk, in which Mr. Fisk recounts his interview with a Shiite cleric, to whose asshole his lips remain firmly attached throughout the piece. Fisk almost orgasms when the cleric dedicates one of his books to his brother Robert, with best wishes. The Shiite cleric says some nasty things about the Yanks--standard boilerplate crap, it's all a Zionist plot, whatever. And the headline is "US Trying to Steal Iraq's Oil." Now, that is a statement the Shiite cleric did make. However, running it as the headline all by itself is not precisely unbiased.

One of the more common Cataloony causes around here is the Estatut d'Autonomia. It seems certain elements want a new one. Now, the Estatut is the Catalan constitution. Francesc de Carreras points out some of the dumb arguments for a new Estatut: It's 25 years old. So what? Society has changed in 25 years. So it has, and if those people who believe the Estatut should be amended, perhaps they should explain to us exactly what they're going to change, which they haven't. The argument in the worst bad faith is that of the old leftists, who claim that the Estatut is too conservative because it is based on a political compromise. Very wrong. All basic governmental structures should contain as many compromises as possible. No one should get things all his own way, and especially not if he's a praying, believing, testifying Communist. And the most naive argument is that somehow a new Estatut is going to be the answer to all our problems because it will be so enlightened.

Andy Robinson has two pages on Michael Moore. They're so vile I can't bring myself to quote from them, except to say that Mr. Robinson is attempting to slide the fact that everything Michael Moore says is twisted (something admitted by even the Vanguardia's movie reviewer, who doesn't recommend the movie unless you like to watch TV political spots) past his readers by claiming that Moore demolishes all criticisms of him on his website.

Lance Armstrong has been taking an incredible amount of abuse this week. As you might have seen, the crowds along the roads have been enormous, barely leaving enough room for the cyclists, and Armstrong publicly blasted Tour management for poor security, saying he was afraid when riding through crowds of aggressive drunken Basque supporters and that he was more disgusted than anything else at the behavior of many drunken German fans. He criticized the record level of poor sportsmanship directed his way, saying he'd never seen it in cycle racing before: he's constantly spit on, insulted, and threatened. Chechu Rubiera, one of Lance's Spanish teammates, said he'd never seen anything like it, either, and that the crowd insults him merely because he's a member of the US Postal team. When Armstrong won yesterday, he was greeted with an enormous chorus of boos and whistles; seems that people, including the incredibly prejudiced Spanish announcers, thought he was arrogant or something for winning three stages in a row. What should he have done, ride less than his best? Throw the race? Let somebody else win? If I were Lance, I'd go out of my way to rip their balls off tomorrow at the individual time trial just to piss them off. I just hope nobody sticks a knife into him.

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