Friday, October 06, 2006

Random thoughts while listening to BR-549 (by the way, I vaguely knew the lead singer for this band, Charlie Mead, back in Lawrence, Kansas, in the mid-'80s. He was the frontman for a very good semi-cowpunk band called the Homestead Grays back then.)

Elements of the PP have completely gone crazy with the conspiracy theory about the March 11, 2004 bombings. This one is just as dumb as the JFK conspiracy theory, or the ones going around about September 11. (Most widely heard theory recently around Europe: the Pentagon was hit not by a passenger jet, but by a cruise missile.) According to a sector of the PP (Zaplana-Acebes) and of the media (COPE radio, El Mundo), there was somehow a conspiracy among ETA, the actual bombers, and the Socialist party to blow up the trains in order to defeat the PP in the March 14 election.

People, come on. The Islamist cell, which was part of Al Qaeda, set off the bombs with no help from ETA, and the police and the Interior Ministry did their jobs correctly. Of course there are a few minor inconsistencies in the parliamentary report; there are going to be some unexplained aspects of every real conspiracy, and there's no doubt that there was a real conspiracy to bomb the trains--it's just that only Al Qaeda guys were part of it. Let me also point out that the initial police work which very quickly led to the real bombers was done while the PP was still in charge of the Interior Ministry, before Zap's Socialist administration took office--so how could law enforcement have been in on any Socialist-ETA plot at that time? People appointed by the PP are the ones who came up with the official report.

The most recent "piece of evidence" is something about boric acid. I haven't bothered to learn the details because it is just more conspiracy theory crap and I have better things to do with my time, like say clip my toenails or clean out the cat box.

Let me repeat. I don't like Zap. I don't like the Socialists. I would not vote for them. But they're not evil conspirators, they are the legitimately elected government. And I do not like the way that the Acebes-Zaplana sector of the PP is trying to undercut democratic institutions. Zap won the election, much as I may not like it, but he won. And the way to beat Zap in the 2008 election is not by whining about the 2004 results.

Rajoy is too mixed up in this conspiracy stuff to continue as PP leader--he's let the crazies get out of control. He must go so the PP can put up Madrid mayor Ruiz-Gallardon in 2008, who is the only candidate with a chance to beat Zap. Anything else is political suicide.

Also, of course, the Zaplana-Acebes-COPE-El Mundo rhetoric is seriously torpedoing PP candidate Josep Pique's candidacy in the Catalan legislative election set for November 1. Pique is a mild-mannered classical liberal, not a fire-breathing reactionary, exactly the kind of candidate who should do well in a globalized world, but the PP is going to come in fourth as usual, ahead of only the Communists.

The illegal African immigrants are still washing up on the Canaries; about twenty are known to have drowned yesterday when their cayuco capsized. The last bunch that came in was flown to Barcelona and turned loose into the care of non-governmental organizations. The Zap government does not know what to do with them, and its only solution is just to fly them to mainland Spain and dump them in the streets. Interestingly enough, what they all want is an expulsion order, because when the next amnesty comes the order is incontrovertible proof that they have been living in Spain since the day the order is dated. Of course very few illegals actually get deported, despite the Zap government's tough talk.

La Vanguardia reports that the Spanish contingent in Afghanistan gave Real Madrid uniforms to soccer and volleyball teams in the province of Badghis, where the Spaniards are stationed. Expect Carod-Rovira to denounce this repugnant centralism by tomorrow.

Fernando Garcia reports from Luxembourg: "The George W. Bush administration's obsession with preventive security is becoming bothersome and tiring, not only for citizens of the whole world but also for some European political bodies." Gee, Fernando, so sorry you find security procedures bothersome and tiring. So far they've worked, haven't they? Al Qaeda hasn't pulled off any more strikes in the US, has it? In fact, several Al Qaeda plots have been uncovered and aborted, isn't that right?

If citizens of the whole world do not like American security procedures, they do not have to visit the United States. If I did not like Spanish legalization procedures, I was under no obligation to solicit resident status in Spain. Makes perfect sense to me.

The "Moros y Cristianos" flap has hit the international news. Seems that many Spanish towns, especially in Alicante province, hold yearly celebrations commemorating the Reconquest of Spain from the Moors, and dress up and hold parades and the like. Of course, the Christians are the good guys and they always win. One standard part of the celebration is they make a dummy of Mohammed, put firecrackers in his head, and blow it up. Cool, I say. No one would object to a similar "Muslims and Crusaders" festival in, say, Damascus, commemorating Saladin's brave and chivalrous butt-kicking of the Christian Crusaders.

Well, what they've done is, under no pressure whatsoever, change the events of the festival so as to be inoffensive to anyone. Now, I remember it took a bunch of pressure from both inside and outside Spain in order to make them abolish traditional local festivals which featured cruelty to animals--there was one town where they threw a live donkey off the church tower, and another where they hung a live goose from a bridge and people in boats below tried to pull the goose's body off its head. Those quite revolting "festivals" were only banned in the '90s, and despite all pressure from civilized persons and countries, bullfighting is still very popular in most of Spain. It's particularly big in the Basque Country, for instance, as well as Valencia, Madrid, Castile, and Andalusia.

Language note: The word "moro" has two meanings in Spain, one historical and one an ethnic slur. "Moro", historically, means "Moor", referring to Muslims during the medieval and Reconquest period, and it is perfectably acceptable. In modern speech, though, referring to someone from North Africa, it's a slur, sort of like "nigger" in the United States. Politically correct Americans would be surprised at how much language we consider racist is in common usage around here.

Eulàlia Solé, billed as a "sociologist and writer," goes off her anti-American nut as usual today in the opinion section.

The country considered the most advanced in the world, the United States, has just institutionalized torture.

No, it hasn't. The only evidence there is that anyone was tortured is the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that was so far from being institutionalized--it was a unit gone out of control--that those guilty were promptly and severely punished by the US army itself.

Terrorism has increased, as everyone recognizes, though we are not dealing only with this evidence, but of the danger that every one of us may seem guilty of terrorism, arrested, imprisoned, and tortured indefinitely. It's that simple and horrible.

Does anybody really think that an ordinary person can be arrested, imprisoned, and tortured indefinitely by the United States government? Well, Ms. Solé actually does. She really believes that she is in danger of being thrown into a CIA torture prison. I think this is called "schizophrenia."

How many innocent people are currently in that situation? It is impossible to know, and much less from now on, when the torch-bearer of the West has given itself unlimited powers.

Does anybody really think that the US government has unlimited powers? Ms. Solé actually does. If the US government had unlimited powers, of course, Iran and North Korea and Al Qaeda would be as peaceful as little lambs, or dead, one or the other. And people like Ms. Solé, who did not put their lives or even careers on the line during the Franco years, as they well remember, would obviously be too terrified to speak up now.

Anyway, she then calls for European governments and citizens to mobilize against "such practices," charges that her telephone and e-mail are being tapped, which they aren't, and then analogizes the US to early Rome; she wants the plebeians of the world to rise up and "contain the power of the patricians and their praetors." Naturally, of course, this would involve violence, which Ms. Solé appears to think is OK when carried out against the United States.

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