Thursday, May 31, 2007

Barcelona elections fallout: Now local Esquerra leader Jordi Portabella says he's bailing out of the Catalan Tripartite that governs the city, leaving it a Bipartite without an absolute majority. Hereu, as the most voted candidate, will probably have to govern from the minority. I have no idea on whether ERC will pull out of all its deals with the Socialists or not.

La Vangua is reporting there's a shakeup in Esquerra. They were probably the biggest loser in the elections, losing votes on the right to CiU and on the left to the CUP. The smoke-filled room guys seem to have decided that they're nationalists first and leftists second, and that the Tripartite deal they cut with the less nationalist Left has pissed off a lot of their more puritanical voters, who see any compromise with a non-Catalanist party as high treason. Now they're looking to deal with CiU to see what crumbs they can pick up. This sort of shoots down the Socialists' plan for the Tripartite to gang up on CiU, since one-third of it just changed sides.

Supposedly Portabella is trying to grab control of the party apparatus from evil Roveish political machine manipulator Joan Puigcercós.

Pasqual Maragall resigned as president of the Catalan Socialist Party. He wrote an open letter to La Vangua. Nobody cared. (Cue "Eleanor Rigby.")

Rumor has it that Madrid mayor Gallardón wants to run as number two ater Rajoy on the PP list in the general election, which is coming up in about 6-8 months.
One of the big scandals around here is the recent behavior of the Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalan regional police. (Note: Mossos d'Esquadra literally translates to "Boys of the Squad," which is about as gay and retarded a name for a police force as I've ever heard.) The last glob of poo to hit the fan is a hidden-camera video showing the Mossos beating up a Russian immigrant woman, who had done nothing wrong but come home drunk and make too much noise, at the Les Corts police station.

This is ironic for two reasons. 1) Catalonia and the Basque Country, as far as I know, are the only two Spanish autonomous regions to have their own police forces, supplanting the Policia Nacional and the Guardia Civil in most or all of their roles. This is something that Catalan nationalists have demanded for a long time, and they've finally gotten it, since the Mossos have taken over policing duties in nearly all of Catalonia. We were promised that real Catalan-speaking police would somehow be better than those nasty Spanish cops. It hasn't turned out that way.

2) Joan Saura himself, the leader of the Catalan Communist-Green coalition, is the interior counselor, in charge of the police. This guy and his wife Chemical Inma Mayol go around telling the squatters that they're against the system too. Saura and Mayol mouth every single stereotypically politically correct ideal that a Guardian reader would cream his jeans over, and now it's Saura in charge of the cops when they start beating up the citizens.

The Mossos have been involved in at least a dozen scandals lately, besides the beating of the Russian immigrant, which most certainly did happen because it's on video. There was the schizo they shot a few weeks back; I'm prepared to admit the cop did the right thing in that case, but it didn't look good around here. Last week some gypsy punk kid they arrested for his umpteenth robbery kicked out the back window of a moving Mossos car, jumped out, and got himself killed. Why wasn't he properly restrained and kept under control? This one is partly the Mossos' fault for negligence, and the story I've given of what happened is theirs. It may or may not be what happened. Normally I believe the police, but there's been too much smoke lately for there not to be a little bit of fire as well.

There was another beating at the Roquetes police station a couple of weeks before this latest one of the Russian woman. The riot squad's use of "kubotans" (which I have no problem with) against rioters pissed off all the squatters and their sympathizers on the way-out left. Something a little strange that got media publicity: some old lady in Barcelona got lost and a patrol of Mossos didn't help her, they dumped her on a cabbie who figured out what to do by himself and got her home. All added up, it doesn't look too good.

And, get this, the Mossos have held several ILLEGAL demonstrations, without a judicial or municipal permit, to demand their labor rights. Naturally, none of them got arrested.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Today La Vanguardia gives page 8 to Cindy Sheehan's "retirement," which doesn't strike me as an especially important international story. Comments: 1) Ms. Sheehan deserves the same respect as any other mother who lost a son in battle 2) Nonetheless, she is clearly unbalanced 3) The Democrats used her during two elections and then when they didn't need her anymore, they threw her away 4) She is more anti-American than anti-war or anti-Bush; she's definitely got a grudge against society 5) I hope she gets some psychiatric help.

Eusebio Val in the Vangua says, "Sheehan's problem was that she radicalized her invective to the point that she could only convince marginal sectors. It is true that surveys showed a majority opposed to the war, and last November's elections, owing partly to Iraq, took Congress away from the Republicans. But that does not mean that Americans applaud statements like 'Bush is the biggest terrorist in the world, worse than Osama bin Laden.' Being blatantly used by the regimes of Venezuela and Cuba didn't help her either. She got invited to the World Social Forum in Caracas and praised Chávez. She also went to Havana, to the glee of the Castro regime, demanding the closure of the Guantánamo military prison. These actions made her an easy target and cost her credibility."

Venezuela note: The closing down of Radio Caracas Television has finally brought the entire Spanish press out against the Chávez regime. The protests got good coverage. Now he's threatening to close down the country's other major channel, Globovisión, and CNN. It takes a threat to the media's status, power, and influence to really get it pissed off.

And Castro is claiming that Bush ordered his assassination. He said, "I am not the first or the last person whose death Bush ordered, or of those he plans to keep killing, whether individually or en masse." Now we know where the posters at the Guardian are getting their ideas.

Some kid in Russis stabbed 37 Caucasians (that is, people from Azerbaijan, Chechenia, etc.) to death in Moscow in nine months, for racial reasons. Seems he thought that Caucasians "oppressed the Russians," and that it was time to "clean up the city" and "punish them." Of course, there were no cries of outrage condemning the racism and violence of Russian society.

Fallout from the elections: The Red-Green-Brown Catalan Tripartite is going to put the squeeze on CiU, forming anti-CiU coalitions everywhere they can. They are hoping to take the provincial diputaciones in Girona and Lleida away from CiU, as well as such cities as Manresa, Figueres, and Ripoll.

Get this. Catalan regional president José Montilla said that many citizens did not turn out to vote "because they're satisfied with the government they have."

Word is that Nafarroa Bai is asking for way too much for any deal with the Socialists in Navarra to go down, and it's now quite likely that the PP will hold both the Navarra region and the city of Pamplona, though they'll have to govern as a minority in both. Looks like the PSOE should have accepted Rajoy's offer of a couple of days ago to swap the Canaries for Navarra; now it looks like the PP might get both of them.

Some proof of the "conservatives turn out to vote more reliably than leftists" thesis: The districts of Barcelona with the highest turnout were all middle-class CiU-PP strongholds: Tres Torres 63%, Sarrià 60%, Sant Gervasi-Bonanova 60%, Sant Gervasi-Galvany 60%, Dreta de l'Eixample 58%, Pedralbes 58%. The districts with the lowest turnout were all poor left-leaning and Spanish-speaking areas: Torre Baró 32%, Baró de Viver 33%, Trinitat Nova 37%. Vallbona 38%, Trinitat Vella 39%, Ciutat Meridiana 40%.

My neighborhood, the Vila de Gràcia, had the highest vote for Esquerra Republicana (16%), the highest percentage of "en blanco" (none of the above) votes (6%), and the lowest vote for the PP (7%). I don't fit in politically in this neighborhood at all, but they tolerate me since I'm a nice enough guy. Also, I never talk politics unless someone else brings it up, and even then I try to dodge the subject.

The National Court in Madrid acquitted eight of eleven alleged Pakistani terrorists who were going to blow up the Mapfre tower, one of Barcelona's tallest buildings, on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Three of them were convicted of raising €18,000 to send to "known members of an international terrorist network" and forging identification documents. Two got six years and one got seven.

Britain is going nuts over this missing child in Portugal business. Her name is Madeleine McCann, and it's the top story--or near the top--almost every day in England. This is as big a media circus as anything the Americans are capable of; in fact, the British sensationalist press is much better at mobilizing the peasantry than the comparatively clueless Yanks. Unfortunately, the poor girl is almost certainly dead. The guy who was "helping police with their inquiries" for showing too much interest in the case seems not to be responsible, as I've heard nothing else about him since he was detained temporarily.

Remember the guy who, when faced with a home invasion, shot the two robbers between the eyes with his target pistol a couple of months ago in a Barcelona suburb? They dropped all charges against him, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Oh, yeah. Today La Vanguardia got around to reporting that the US national soccer team is going to play Catalonia on Oct. 14. The game will probably be at the Estadio Olimpico on Montjuic, not at the Camp Nou. I picked up the story from Sports Illustrated on Sunday, and SI probably had it the day before.
Big news around here: Police arrested sixteen alleged jihadists around Spain yesterday, sixteen in Catalonia, one in Aranjuez, and one in Málaga. Fourteen are Moroccan and two Algerian. These guys are a cell that recruits volunteers for Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the fourth big roundup of Islamists accused of recruiting mujihadeen in Spain in the last eighteen months. You won't be surprised to learn that Baltasar Garzón is the investigating magistrate who ordered the arrests. The police confiscated lots of of computer equipment and mobile phones and the like.

Disquieting detail: One of those arrested was Taoufik Cheddadi, who is the imam in the Barcelona suburbs of Badalona, Santa Coloma, and Mollet. Cheddadi is "the president of the Amics (Friends) association and the former owner of a bookstore on Liszt street in Badalona. Cheddadi, who was in custody for 48 hours in 2002, is a well-known person who has a reputation for a pro-integration message and for his repetition of the idea 'Not all we Muslims are terrorists'." If Cheddadi is really mixed up in the recruiting of terrorists, this to me is a sign that his association is a mere front for his real operations. Makes you wonder if there are any more terrorists hiding behind NGOs.

However, of course, public and media opinion in Barcelona are convinced that Islamist violence is America's fault.

La Vangua runs a roundup on what the Europress thought of the Spanish elections. Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, The Independent, and the Corriere della Sera all agree that nothing very interesting happened. Their choice of newspapers to quote from is noteworthy, three French, one British, and one Italian; Paris is still the center of civilization for Catalans over about 50. I'd have found a German and a Portuguese paper to react and left out two of the Frenchies. Oh, well, who cares, it's not like it's important. Note: Spain pays surprisingly little attention to Portugal, even less than the US pays to Canada.

Oxfam wants the West to pay $50 billion to the Third World in order to counteract the effects of global warming. Yeah, right. When pigs fly.

On the American immigration plan: I can't say I'm for it. America should welcome legal immigrants, which it does; there's no better country except maybe Australia in which to be a legal immigrant, and if you take out citizenship you are treated as one of us, which is not true in continental Europe. But illegal immigrants are breaking the law, and you can't do that. What I would do is spend the damn money and build the fence all the way along the Mexican border, and then introduce a national ID card that you would need to show when getting a job, opening a bank account, etc., just like in Spain. It's not like we don't already have Social Security cards and drivers licenses anyway. Then, after we had the border closed, I would announce an amnesty for illegal immigrants who had no police record who wanted to pay a fine and take out a temporary residence permit; within two years they would have to pass a fairly simple test of English and American law and government. And, of course, we should continue letting in about a million legal immigrants every year.

The Cope Radio-El Mundo conspiracy theory blaming some combination of the PSOE, ETA, and the Bavarian Illuminati for the March 11 bombings is as dead as a doornail, thank God.

I was remiss in not linking to this very good article from the Wall Street Journal comparing Spanish and American politics. A must-read. Quote:

Primarily what many Spaniards prefer not to discuss in their politics is Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero's determination to assign official responsibility for the Spanish Civil War to the supporters of Gen. Francisco Franco. Some half-million died in that conflict. After Franco died in 1975, virtually all political parties were determined to make Spain a democracy and achieved it with a new constitution in 1978. As important, however, was the informal social pact to submerge the political bitterness of the civil war, no easy thing for Spain's people.

At the moment, the Spanish are doing a pretty good job of negotiating the emotional tripwires and tensions created by Mr. Zapatero's determination to dance with the ghosts of those awful years. But even an outsider feels a palpable concern that the volatile emotions always beneath the surface of Spain's politics have the potential to blow apart what has been achieved in the past 30 years.

This is a bit excessive; I don't think Spanish democracy is going to come anywhere near "blowing apart." He's right, though, that Zapatero is the first important Spanish politician to wave the bloody shirt of the Civil War since the restoration of democracy.

Remember Iberian Notes's position on the Spanish Civil War: We wish it hadn't happened, and we have no sympathies for either side, as both murdered thousands of their civilian "enemies" behind the lines. Our problem with Zap is that he's talking as if the Left were the good guys, when there were no good guys.

Monday, May 28, 2007

You wanna see some real insanity, check out this thread over in the Guardian. Some guy who doesn't much like Bush wrote a piece pointing out that Bush is not Hitler and America is not Nazi Germany. At least a dozen posters wrote in to declare that, yes, Bush is Hitler and America is Nazi Germany--and then it starts to get really wild. Highly entertaining. And a bit sad.
Here comes the morning-after elections report: In the municipals, the PP barely edged out the Socialists, 7,906,000 to 7,747,000 total votes. The Communists, who are basically a satellite of the PSOE, got 1,476,000; CiU, running only in Catalonia, got 723,000; Esquerra, which basically runs only in Catalonia, got 348,000; the Galician National Bloc, running only in Galicia, got 315,000; the PNV, running only in the Basque Country (but a member of the Nafarroa Bai coalition, which got 73,000 only in Navarra), got 310,000. Everyone else got fewer than 300,000.

Turnout was low. It was 63.8% in Spain as a whole, 53.8% in Catalonia, and 49.6% in Barcelona.

All the parties are, of course, claiming victory. I won't bore you with each side's self-puffery.

Right now it looks like the only major governmental change will be a Nafarroa Bai-PSOE takeover in Navarra, though the PP was the single most-voted party. We'll have to wait a few days for all the municipal coalition pacts to play out, but it looks like the PP is going to lose a few cities to a Socialist-Communist coalition despite getting the most votes.

By the way, the PP generally tends to do very well in cities, especially provincial capitals, where it gets the middle-class vote. This is true even in Andalusian cities, which are more conservative than the countryside.

Here in Barcelona, the final results are PSC 14 seats, down from 15 in the 2003 municipals; CiU 12, up from 9; PP 7, no change; ICV 4, down from 5; and ERC 4, down from 5. So CiU gained three seats and the Tripartite lost three, but the Tripartite stays in control.

Comments from La Vanguardia, who brought out all their pretty good writers for this one:

Montserrat Domínguez stresses the PP's success in Madrid, its "breadbasket of votes." She contrasts the traditional conservative Esperanza Aguirre, premier of the Madrid region, with the moderate Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, mayor of Madrid, and hints at a possible leadership struggle between the two at some point.

Fernando Ónega says that the PP is doing well at bringing out its loyalists but is not able to draw new voters. He adds that Miguel Sebastián was a poor choice as the Socialist mayoral candidate in Madrid.

Francesc-Marc Álvaro says that in Catalonia, the Tripartite has held on despite losing voters, and that Esquerra and the Communists were the biggest losers. He adds that the CUP, a loosely-associated group of extreme Catalan nationalists, has cut into Esquerra's youth vote, and that the Plataforma per Catalunya's results show that the mainstream parties are not dealing well with immigration.

Antoni Puigverd says that Catalan politics are gridlocked and that explains the high abstention, since the number of people who think their votes might change something is declining. He compares the Catalan Tripartite to the Italian Pentapartite, and says, "One day, as happened in Italy, the system will come crashing down, and that will be the moment for the hyenas. The disquieting Anglada (PxC leader) is slinking up, waiting for his chance."

Salvador Cardús says that 1) the parties should hold primary elections so that the citizens can choose the candidates 2) the PSC's power in Catalonia has increased 3) Esquerra are the losers, bleeding votes on the right to CiU and on the left to the CUP, the rad national socialists.

Francesc de Carreras says that the high abstention in Catalonia and especially Barcelona is surprising, that it shows that many Catalans are fed up with the status quo, and that Gallardón looks like a good horse to bet on for the long run.

Florencio Domínguez says that the PNV and Socialists will have to cut a deal to govern the Basque Country, that the split-up of the Basque Nationalist coalition of the conservative PNV and social democratic EA was not a good move, and that the Socialists in general did pretty well there.

Ángel Expósito does more than hint at a possible future conflict between Gallardón and Aguirre over the succession to Rajoy.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Some real results are coming in. Participation is very low, 53% in Catalonia. That would be pretty good for the US, one must admit.

Barcelona city council: Socialists 14 seats, CiU 12, the PP 7, Esquerra 4, and the Communists 4. The Tripartite stays in power with a 22-19 majority. Good result for CiU and the PP holds what it had.

The Socialists win Tarragona city; they'll govern in a Tripartite coalition.

Possible changes: Looks like a Nafarroa Bai-PSOE coalition will take Navarra from the PP. The PP may win the most votes in the Canaries and would presumably govern with the Canary Coalition. The Socialists will take the cities of Orense and Jaén from the PP.

Stays the same: Big PP wins in Madrid, Valencia, and Malaga. The PP holds most of Spain's provincial capitals. The PSOE wins Sevilla and Zaragoza, in addition to Barcelona, and the PNV holds Bilbao.

Small-party news: A pro-marijuana party did almost well enough to win a seat in the Navarre regional parliament.

The Plataforma per Catalunya did well in old-line, conservative Catalan cities; they took 5 seats in Vic, 4 in El Vendrell, 2 in Cervera, and one each in Manresa, Olot, and Tárrega. I can imagine a couple of Remei's relatives voting for the PxC. Ciutadans only did well in the heavily Spanish-speaking Baix Llobregat, winning 2 seats in Castelldefels and one each in Sant Boi, Viladecans, and Gavà.
It looks like the big news is there is no big news. The elections appear to have come out more or less as expected. Neither the Socialists nor the PP got a big surge of support, and neither one crashed and burned, either. CiU looks like two sides of a coin, gaining a good deal of power in Barcelona but losing Tarragona.
I've been following a few of the small political parties; the anti-nationalist Ciutadans aren't going to win a seat in the Barcelona city council, but they have a chance in several cities, including Figueres, Terrassa, Tarragona, Vilafranca, and Vilanova. The xenophobic Plataforma per Catalunya won three seats in Vic, and has a chance of winning representation in several places, like Olot, Tarrega, and Falset. The Partit Republicà Català, which ain't your mama's GOP but rather more independentista than Esquerra Republicana, has a chance of gaining representation in several cities as well.
The TV stations are reporting their exit polls. TV1 says that the results in the autonomous regions are the same as last time: PP absolute majority in Castile-Leon, La Rioja, Madrid, Valencia, and Murcia, and PSOE absolute majority in Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha, Asturias, and Aragon. The PP is the most voted party in Cantabria, Balearic Islands, and Navarre, but will have to form a coalition with local parties to govern.

In the municipal elections, it doesn't look like there are too many big changes. The PP keeps its absolute majority in Madrid, Valencia, Malaga, Alicante, Murcia, and Castellon; the PSOE keeps Seville, Zaragoza, and La Coruña; Nafarroa Bai may be the leading vote-getter in Pamplona, and the Communists hold Cordoba.

TV3 is reporting poor results for the Tripartite in Barcelona. The Socialists have 32% of the vote and 14-16 seats; CiU has 24% and 11-13 seats; the PP has 13% and 6-7 seats; Esquerra has 10% and 4-5 seats, and the Communists have 10% and 3-4 seats. Ciutadans has 4%, not enough for a seat. These results put the Tripartite on the edge of a knife, since the surveys right now give them 21 seats in a worst-case scenario, which is exactly what they need for a majority. The other big news from Catalonia is that the Socialists have taken Tarragona capital away from CiU.
They're announcing that participation is very low in all of Spain, especially in Catalonia, and most particularly in Barcelona. My guess is this is good news for the PP, since conservatives tend to be better at turning out their vote than leftists. They'll have the exit polls out at 8 PM, when the voting stations close, so we'll see.
Hey, get this, which I don't think the local press has reported on yet. The US national soccer team is going to play Catalonia, most likely at the Camp Nou, on October 14. Cool. I'm going. I'll wear a USA jersey. Let's see if I get lynched. Better carry my organ donor card. No flowers; please donate to the Humane Society.
El Periódico showed some courage today; of course, the big story is that it's election day here. So they ran an enormous picture of Fidel Castro on the front page with the caption, "Some politicians don't like to vote, either." Then they ran photos of Kim Jong Il, Hu Jintao of China, the dictator of former Spanish colony Equatorial Guniea, the king of Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the Chechen terrorists, with the caption "They don't like to vote, and they don't like it when other people vote."

Good job, guys. You've risen in my esteem.
Well, I'm not sure I did the right thing, but I think I convinced my wife to go out and vote for Convergència i Unió tomorrow. The conversation went sort of like this:

John: So who are you going to vote for?
Remei: I don't really give a crap. I don't think I'm going to vote.
J: Hey, it's the only chance you get to speak when it counts. You like the city government, vote for them, you don't like it, vote against them.
R: I don't really like any of the parties.
J: Neither do I, but you have to pick the least worst, or however you say that.
R: I'm not gonna vote for the PP.
J: I'm not even going to try...Look, you're always complaining about parking and traffic...
R: I like the Esquerra guy, he's nice to animals, but they're crazy, Carod-Rovira and ETA and all.
J: Look, you can vote en blanco, none of the above, and at least you're making it official you're pissed off.
R: No PP. No Tripartite. But I don't like Trias.
J: Well, you're voting for the party, not just the candidate...You like the Socialist guy better? The Socialists are reasonable, but you really wanna vote for the way things are?
R. All right, I'll go vote for Convergencia if you wash the dishes every expletive deleted day like you're supposed to.

I think I lost.

Friday, May 25, 2007

See, what did I tell you? Where I come from, if you squat in a lake that isn't your property, the cops come and take you away and throw your ass in the zoo.
It's been a week and a half since the last blog roundup, so here we go.

A Fistful of Euros posts on the Spanish elections and local expatriate parties.

The Rottweiler, thirsting for blood, savages apologists for Al Qaeda, and links to their torture manual.

Biased BBC shreds another biased report on Jewish history in the Middle East.

The Brussels Journal has a good think-piece titled "The Changing Face of War."

Colin Davies is going strong out in Pontevedra. If you like this blog, you'll love his.

Eursoc reports that Jack Chiraq is in big trouble and will quite likely be spending most of the rest of his life in court.

Expat Yank shreds conspiracy theorists.

La Liga Loca's indispensable Weekend Preview of the Spanish football league is up.

Notes from Spain has some good advice for people planning to move not only to Spain, but to any foreign country.

Observing Hermann links to a couple of articles on a survey of European hotel managers that ranks foreign tourists on level of popularity. The Americans, though loud, come in second overall after the Japanese and ahead of the Swiss. Yanks are known for trying to speak the local language, always trying the local food, being polite, and being good spenders. We were also voted the worst-dressed, which is fair enough, I suppose; the British are second-worst. The Brits came in fifth from last, as they're rude, noisy, and cheap; Germans are cheap but tidy and well-behaved; Japanese are polite and tidy, and good spenders; and the French, of course, came in last, refusing to speak the language or try the food. The Indians, Chinese, and Russians were also unpopular, ahead of the French but behind the Brits.

Playing Chess with the Dead is providing invaluable information to anyone interested in the Madrid bombings case. This is by far the most complete account in English.

Publius Pundit has photos of some real police brutality that our local squatters ought to have a look at.

¡No Pasarán! has a table showing the percentage of Muslims who believe that suicide bombing can be justified in different countries. Of Muslims aged 18-29, 22% living in Germany justified suicide bombing; 26% in the United States; 29% in Spain; 35% in the UK; and a whopping 42% in France. That's just awful. The results of this survey are going to give a lot of ammunition to those racists who dislike not only pro-jihadis but all Muslims, whether law-abiding folk or not. And those of us who dislike only pro-jihadis have a lot more people to dislike than we thought. I certainly would never have believed that a quarter of young American Muslims would justify suicide bombing.
Election day is Sunday; all Spanish municipalities and thirteen of the seventeen autonomous regions go to the polls. Today's the last day of campaigning, which is prohibited the day before an election.

Predictions: 1) No major changes. 2) Small changes: a PSOE-Nafarroa Bai coalition may take Navarra away from the PP, and a Catalan Tripartite coalition may take Tarragona city hall away from CiU. 3) High abstention; I'd be surprised if turnout was more than 60%. These elections haven't caught the public interest. Also, many voters are unhappy with both the Zap government and the PP opposition. That kind of describes me, for example. 4) If the PP does worse than expected, the knives may come out for Rajoy's head. 5) Ruiz-Gallardón will clearly be the future of the PP after he wins a fourth straight absolute majority, twice as mayor of Madrid and twice as premier of the Madrid region. 6) La Vanguardia speculates that Aznar's wife, Ana Botella, a PP city councilwoman in Madrid, may be Gallardón's successor as Madrid mayor. 7) The Communists will keep Córdoba city hall, the only important elective office they hold. 8) To sum up, these elections will be an indecisive tuneup for the real general election, which will probably be held late this year or very early in 2008. No party will do well enough to emerge as the clear favorite in the generals, and none will do so badly as to provoke a major internal shakeup.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Our local squatters are a bunch of middle-class punks who are playing terrorist. Check out this poster that I tore off the front door of a squat near the Plaza del Nord. It's professionally produced on glossy paper, about the size of an A3 sheet, and there's a blurry black-and-white photo of a riot-squad cop in a helmet with two TV cameramen wearing surgical masks standing behind him. (Obviously, they're wearing the masks in case of smoke or tear gas.) It's probably from that demo/riot they had last weekend downtown in which a squatter broke a cop's nose.

The text is:

Once upon a time those who wore masks
And their victims were those who resisted.
Now they have no shame
They show their faces on the screen
They are called JOURNALISTS
They report on torture,
Jails, and persecution.
Their hands are as clean
As their consciences
If their guilt does not disturb their sleep
Fear will
The road to freedom runs over them
Provocateurs of public opinion

This looks to me like a terroristic threat. Where I come from we throw your ass in jail for that, and good riddance. Of course, it's a threat against freedom of speech and freedom of the press as well. And these guys dare to call themselves "libertarian self-managing anarcho-eco-socialists" or some crap like that. It's a good thing there are only like a thousand of them, counting sympathizers. The rest of Barcelona is completely fed up with them; La Vanguardia denounces squatter vandalism and violence every day, which might be one of the reasons behind this most recent squatter threat.

Spanish society is very permissive, which is excellent for those who know how to enjoy their freedom while not bothering other people. You really can do pretty much whatever you want here except like kill your mom and bad stuff like that. You can walk the city streets naked while smoking a joint and soliciting transsexual prostitutes, if you want.

Of course, almost nobody does that. The problem comes along when people like the squatters abuse the freedom we have here in Spain, and certain elements of society (Chemical Inma Mayol and the Communists, your typical left-wing academics and El País reporters, and the Perenially Indignant (P.J. O'Rourke dixit) or Do-Gooder Internationale (dixit Jordi Barbeta)) try to justify the crap they pull on the grounds that they're really just liberals in a hurry working for societal change.

What they are is a bunch of nihilist terrorist wannabes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In case you were wondering about the worldview of TV3, Catalan government television, get the lead story on their 2:30 afternoon news.

Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Iraq, the secret CIA flights...The United States considers the world to be a giant battlefield where human rights can be trampled on in the name of the war against terrorism. That is Amnesty International's summary of Washington's role in the world, in an annual report in which the scenes, the crimes, and the victims of recent years reappear.

Amnesty International's report accuses some world leaders of fomenting fear with the sole objective of "strengthening their own power, creating false certanties, and not answering to anyone." In developed countries, and also in emerging ones, "the fear of being invaded by hordes of indigents (is used) to justify harsher measures against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers...

In reference, Amnesty cites US president George Bush, who it says "invoked the fear of terrorism in order to gain additional executive power that was not under the supervision of Congress or judicial review." It adds that thousands of persons are in custody, without charges or trial, in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantanamo. The organization believes that some of the 14 "high value" detainees, who were transferred to Guantanamo in September and who have been incommunicado for four and a half years as part of the CIA's secret program, "are victims of forced disappearance." The report says that 395 persons of 30 nationalities are still held at Guantanamo.

Iraq again receives a prominent place, as much for the abuses committed by the invaders, the insurgency, and Iraqi authorities. Torture, illegal arrest, assassinations, and executions are still practiced. In this sense, Iraq and the United States are among the six countries that carry out 90% of the executions in the world, along with China, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan.`Up to 1600 persons have been executed around the world in the last year.

Wow. With all the problems in the world, from North Korea and China to Venezuela and Zimbabwe, Amnesty and TV3 focus on the US and the democratically elected Iraqi government.

a) The world is a giant battlefield and it wasn't our idea, it was Osama's.
b) It scared me when Osama flew those airplanes into those buildings. I don't know about the rest of y'all, it scared me. So did London and Madrid and Bali and Casablanca. Bush didn't do any of those things. He's not the guy that scares me.
c) The imperialistic motivations assigned to the United States are plain bullshit.
d) Methinks Amnesty is conflating the legitimate rights of refugees and legal immigrants with the lawbreaking of illegal aliens.
e) Notice the negative spotlight always trained only on Bush.
f) Pretty much everything Bush has done was approved by Congress and reviewed by the courts. Saying anything else is a flat-out lie.
g) I am glad that thousands of people who were caught bearing arms in the terrorist cause are locked up without charges or trial, because if they're at Guantanamo they aren't blowing me up.
h) What do you want us to do with them? They're not ordinary criminals, and they're not legitimate prisoners of war, either. They're a new class of threat to society. I tell you what. Any country that wants us to turn loose the prisoners at Guantanamo: you can have them all if you promise they'll never leave your borders again. Any takers? I thought not.
i) How can they possibly say that the fourteen terrorists cited are "victims" of any sort? The people they killed and wounded are victims. These guys are murderers.
j) Notice the double mention of the dread CIA.
k) The moral equivalence assigned to the US and the elected Iraqi government, and the "insurgency," is outrageous. The Americans and the Iraqi government do not want to kill anybody. If there were no "insurgency," the Americans would go home and the Iraqi government would control the country.
l) Looks like they got a problem with hanging Saddam and his henchmen. I got no problem with that. In fact, I wholeheartedly support it, and I think they should hang more of them.
m) Note the repeated outrageous moral equivalence, that made between the US and Iraq on the one hand and China, Iran, Sudan, and Pakistan on the other. The US and Iraq execute convicted murderers after trial and appeal. (So do Japan, India, and Singapore.) The death penalty in those other four countries is applied to gay boys and raped women and Falun Gong protestors.

I think it's always funny when TV3, the sinkhole of corruption that sucks up literally hundreds of millions of euros a year, gets all moral and righteous.

TV3 is almost €1.1 billion with a B in debt, and the Generalitat (the Catalan regional government) has had to take that debt over. Since TV3 is totally publicly owned, that's 100% taxpayers' money.

Between 2006 and 2009 the Generalitat will subsidize TV3 to the tune of nearly €1.2 billion with a B. Again, that's taxpayers' money.

TV3 costs each Catalan taxpayer more than €75 a year. And it sells advertising. A lot of advertising. How can they possibly lose so much money? A TV channel should turn an enormous profit; it's been proven hundreds of times around the world.

It's not as if TV3 were any better than the other channels, either. Often it's worse, especially the homemade soap operas and the talk shows that only interview other TV3 personalities. Not to mention the same damn movies every weekend, "Mississippi Burning" and "The Shawshank Redemption" over and over again.

This is nothing new; here's a story from 2005 on TV3's losses and debts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm sure I've already posted about Barcelona's parrots, called cotorras argentinas in Spanish. I like them; they certainly brighten up the city, as pretty much the only other birds we have are pigeons, ring-necked doves, sparrows, and seagulls. They certainly make a lot of noise, and they're always "talking" to one another. Cotorras are green with a brownish front, about eight inches to a foot long, and they live in groups. They build huge apartment-house nests out of sticks around the tops of palm trees.

The Museum of Hoaxes has a piece today on "the urban parrot phenomenon" ; seems that these critters, which in English are called monk parakeets, monk parrots, or Quaker parrots, live in several cities in the United States as well, including New York and Chicago. Check out this cool site called Brooklyn Parrots, which includes lots of photographs.
News about the rapist who they turned loose yesterday: His victims were girls between 9 and 16 years old, which I did not know when I posted before. This makes it even worse, of course.

The problem here is that the old law, under which the rapist was convicted, says he's served his sentence and they have to release him; of course, they can't increase your prison sentence when they change sentencing laws, that's ex post facto. But there's just no way this guy should be out on the streets, just like there was no way the schizophrenic who the cops shot a couple of weeks ago should have been running around loose, either. Dangerous people need to be locked up to protect the rest of us.

Yeah, I know, locking crazy people up in the nuthouse is pretty harsh, and it's been greatly abused over the years, back when they sterilized the insane all over Europe and the US, or when promiscuous women were occasionally deemed insane and locked away, or when the Soviets threw anyone they didn't like into alleged "mental hospitals," where they were confined and drugged. And I don't like the government messing around with individual freedom, either, since we all agree that free citizens have the right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Being locked up sort of interferes with a few of these rights, and we most certainly cannot lock up a person who is an oddball but has always obeyed the law in the past, just because we think he might do something illegal in the future. (Example: the Virginia Tech shooter, who as far as I know had done nothing illegal before he actually started shooting people.)

However, if you have actually raped and sodomized and assaulted a dozen young girls, I think society has the right to say you're nuts and a public danger and you're not walking around on our streets. Or if you've committed assault and battery twenty times, most recently with a knife just a few days ago, as the schizo did, and you can't control your own actions. That wouldn't be locking up citizens because of what they might do but haven't done yet; it would be locking up citizens who have already proven that they rape girls and stab people. Repeatedly.

Other law enforcement news: The squatters had them a big old demonstration downtown a couple of days ago. Of course, they didn't have a municipal permit or anything, they just took over the Via Laietana and screwed up traffic all over the metropolitan area. They were very angry that large numbers of riot police blocked them off from the Plaza Sant Jaume and prevented them from destroying other people's property, so angry that they decided to take on the cops. One thug popped a cop right in the face and broke his nose. Now the squatters are pitching a fit because some cops use a kubotan for self-defense when attacked by rioters. Ooh, those bad cops with their plastic sticks the size of ballpoint pens.

Now get TV3's version of the events.

One thousand persons from the assembly of the Barcelona squatters' movement demonstrated on the downtown streets of the city against real estate speculation and to ask for more housing for everybody. They began their march on Portal de l'Angel street, in order to show that commercial areas like this, where many shops belong to large real estate companies, must be prevented, and spaces created for the citizens.

a) "Assembly"? "Movement"? That makes it sound legitimate or something, rather than a bunch of middle-class punks with bad attitudes playing at political radicalism. b) One man's speculation is another man's investment. What do they want, the government to nationalize all real estate? Well, actually, they haven't thought it through that far. c) More housing for everybody? As if they cared. All they want is to be allowed to squat everywhere they feel like, and to hell with everybody else. d) Of course large real estate companies own shops on main shopping streets. That's because shops on main streets are very desirable rental property and so very expensive, and only big companies can afford them. So what's the problem?

e) Of course, Portal de l'Angel is one of the most interesting streets in Barcelona for people-watching, because it's always crowded with citizens strolling (it's pedestrian-only), looking in windows, actually buying things, and the like. It's precisely what all American urban planners dream of, a downtown pedestrian street with some attractive buildings and lots of successful businesses that employ lots of people and attract lots of customers, 90% of whom use public transport to get there. However, the squatters are against businesses making money and providing people with the products they need and employing workers and investing their profits. This is why they smash those shops' windows and loot them every time they get the chance.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Well, they did something about street crime against tourists this morning, busting 18 members of a pickpocket ring made up mostly of Bosnian women. They're looking for 17 more. These folks are guilty of more than 1000 thefts in the metro and on the buses. The authorities say that metro security cameras have given them enough evidence to bust these people for belonging to an illegal organization, which they get prison time for, instead of for theft, which they get nothing for.

I don't know. I'm a bit suspicious at the timing, frankly. Why round them up right now? These people have been in the news before; we reported on them working the tourist bus route a while back. Some of them have been arrested dozens of times. Why do we only have enough proof to charge them under the Spanish RICO law now, right before the election? We had that proof months ago, or would have if the cops hadn't been scratching their asses as they usually do when faced with penny-ante street crime. Yeah, I know it's conspiracy-theory wackiness, but this smells a bit funny to me.

Other news: A dirtbag named Alejandro Martínez was convicted of five rapes, nine sexual assaults, and four counts of assault and battery in Barcelona about twenty years ago. He was sentenced to 65 years in prison; his "mental disturbance" counted as a mitigating circumstance, getting him a discount. Well, after 16 years in prison, Martínez is to be released. He has not participated in any rehabilitation program, and he has never received a prison furlough as prison officers considered him too dangerous. This guy is the perfect candidate for life imprisonment without parole ever. And he'll be back on the streets of Barcelona, where he will most assuredly rape somebody else.

Law courts are supposed to protect law-abiding citizens from scum like this guy. If he's back on the streets, the system's not doing its job. This guy is especially hateful because he victimizes the weakest among us for his own pleasure. I'm not afraid of him personally, but I am afraid for the women of Barcelona, whom he can overpower just like he used to.

So the Lebanese army is at this moment bombing the hell out of a Palestinian "refugee camp" that is an Al Qaeda stronghold. Somehow I doubt they have the precision techniques and equipment that the Americans and Israelis have. There are fifty dead already and more to come. Where's the moral indignation we'd see if America or Israel were doing this?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In case you were interested, here's some info on the "Larry the Lobster" Saturday Night Live skit. Turns out that the viewers actually voted to save Larry, but Eddie Murphy ate him on the next show. The Larry stunt was actually a first of its kind in interactive TV. And here's a recent case of a TV chef who turned a live lobster into carpaccio and offended PETA.
Cynthia McKinney gets an interview with La Vanguardia. Quotes:

"I investigated how the CIA and FBI served the interests of the big corporations against the African people and their struggle for freedom...Many African-Americans were recruited by the CIA in order to blackmail, threaten, and commit crimes for the benefit of those corporations...In memory of Dr. King I investigated his murder again and proved an evident connection between the American secret services and the crime. The truth is still hidden from the public." She accuses the US of supporting Kabila's forces in the Congolese civil war in order to grab the minerals. Of course, no proof of any of this is presented.

One thing about La Vangua, and the Spanish press in general, is that they're no good at distinguishing wackos like McKinney and Naomi Wolf and Jeremy Rifkin and that lot from serious people who have knowledge and informed opinions.

La Vanguardia ran a survey rating Barcelona residents' satisfaction with the city government's performance in several areas. I thought I'd throw in my own opinions. Remember, I like it here, and all criticisms are made constructively.

67% were satisfied with the Parks and Gardens department, to which I would give a C-, as they normally do a pretty good job, but on the other hand the psychedelic lizard at the Parque Guell was vandalized on their watch. Also, they prune back the trees way too much. I don't understand the Spanish predilection for pruning trees almost back to the trunk. 61% were satisfied with public transport, to which I'd give a B-. The Metro is pretty good and they're expanding it, but it should stay open longer on weeknights and till 3 AM on Friday. The bus lines I use are pretty good, too, but I've heard a lot of complaints from people that use major lines during rush hour.

58% approve of sports facilities, which I give a C, since the ones that exist are very nice, but there aren't nearly enough. Barcelona is a very crowded city and there's just not a lot of room, so we don't have the lovely municipal tennis courts and golf courses and soccer fields there are in the States. 55% approve of the city's cleanliness, which I'll give a B. It really is pretty difficult to keep such a large, crowded city that attracts so many tourists clean, and Barcelona does OK. It's cleaner and better-kept than many American cities. Major improvement: Citizens have gotten much better about picking up their dogs' poop.

53% are satisfied with "urban development," whatever that is, but I'm going to assume that it means new private and public construction both. I'm giving it an D, since the city needs to be massively rezoned to move industry and warehouses out to the suburbs and make Barcelona exclusively residential/commercial. 35% approve of policies toward crime, to which I'm assigning an F. There is too damn much street crime against tourists, everybody knows it, and if it isn't stopped the tourist goose is going to stop laying those golden eggs some time soon.

31% approve of traffic policy, which of course also gets an F. It's a tough job, I know, because Barcelona is so crowded, but they've done such a lousy job in my neighborhood; I blame them for the deaths of two idiot kids on a motorbike last year on my street. There's a sharp up-sloping bump in the pavement at the corner of Martí and Sors that wasn't marked with a sign, they hit it going too fast, they got thrown off into the side of a building, and were killed. All because a speed bump wasn't marked. Traffic in general is just hellaciously bad. Even New Yorkers would be appalled.

Meanwhile, the Generalitat surveyed 3000 teenagers between ages 12 and 16 in all of Catalonia. 28% admit riding a motorbike without a helmet, 25% have participated in a botellón (street drinking party), 16% have shoplifted, 15% have gotten drunk within the past month, and 13% have committed vandalism. Now, I'm going to assume that most of the vandals are also shoplifters and drunks, so let's figure that there are only a total of 20% with real problem behavior. That's still a lot, especially when you figure that it's not just boys, it's girls too.

Hey, everybody, don't be a moron and ride a motorcycle without a helmet. A friend's wife's little brother, aged 16, was killed a few years ago when dicking around on a motorbike without a helmet. The idiot teenagers who got killed on my street weren't wearing helmets, either, though I'm not sure they'd have done much good. Hell, riding a motorcycle even with a helmet is very dangerous, and I don't think I'd do it in Spanish traffic or on Spanish roads. I've had two students badly injured in motorcycle wrecks in Barcelona, one paralyzed and in a wheelchair and the other with cerebral palsy. The wheelchair guy is bitter but has accepted it, and the palsy guy hasn't accepted it at all and is probably a suicide candidate.

Note to Ben Roethlisberger: Spanish football players' contracts prohibit them from motorcycle riding and skiing and dangerous stuff like that. I don't know why yours doesn't. If I were your boss it would. Former Barça goalie and bad boy Carles Busquets once got in big trouble for dicking around on a motorbike, falling off, and tearing up his hands so he couldn't play for like a month.

The Barcelona mayoral candidates had a debate. It was really boring. My neighbor Chemical Inma Mayol has had recent plastic surgery, along with some botox. She was wearing a weird red thing that made her look like a tomato.

Somebody paid $73 million for an Andy Warhol painting. I wouldn't pay 73 cents for an Andy Warhol painting. Also, FC Barcelona and Re-Al Qaeda will get €1.1 billion (with a B) each over the next eight years for their TV rights. Hey, if that's what the market will bear, fine, but it seems like an awful lot of money.

Oh, yeah, more extracurricular fun in the French election. According to reports that have made the Spanish media, Nicolas Sarkozy's wife ran off with some other guy a few years ago and then, after a few months, he took her back. Also, Segolene Royal's squeeze, Socialist party leader François Hollande, supposedly had an affair a couple of years ago. Royal's price for forgiving him, goes the story, was that Hollande would stand down as a prospective presidential candidate and obtain the position for her.

Nobody seems to care, which is probably just as well. Let's see what kind of attention Rudy Giuliani's rather tempestuous sex life gets from the media and the public. That might be enough to cost him a couple of percentage points among primary voters. And, of course, there's Hillary, whose husband cheated on her not just once, but about six thousand times. That's weird. Most women would dump the bum. I can only assume that she hasn't done so either because A) she loves the big lug anyway or B) she's putting up with him for political reasons. I bet it's B.

M------ M----'s new movie at Cannes gets the front page of La Vangua's culture section, with the headline, "M---- spanks Bush again." Surprisingly, reviewer Lluís Bonet Mójica says, "M----'s rotund figure is present in several scenes, feeding his no less enormous ego." Bonet adds that the biased scenes in Havana prove that M----'s movie is "a pamphlet," meaning propaganda, "no matter whether they have a public health system there or not."

Speaking of which, La Vanguardia's Havana correspondent says that the Cuban army controls 65% of the economy, including vital sectors like food and drinks, construction, and tourism. That's right, folks, every time you drink Havana Club or fly to Varadero to check out the cheap hookers, the money goes to Fidel's army. Hey, all you Spaniards who think military service is evil: in Cuba everybody has to do two years in the army. Four million Cubans out of a population of 11 million are under army control, either a) in the army itself b) in the reserves c) in the militia or d) in "production and defense brigades."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Well, we've finally got some fun in the municipal election campaign. Moderate PP mayor of Madrid Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón was debating PSOE challenger Miguel Sebastián, and Sebastián pulled out a photo of a woman lawyer named Montserrat Corulla, who is mixed up in the Marbella corruption scandal (the "Malaya case") and who has been associated with Gallardón. Sebastián challenged Ruiz-Gallardón to explain his relationship with Corulla, and Gallardón angrily replied that it was personal, not professional, since of course he had to deny any connection with corruption.

So of course the entire country has jumped to the conclusion that Gallardón is cheating on his wife with Corulla, who is an attractive woman. Of course, this is Spain, and nobody cares; if anything, Gallardón wins some badly-needed machismo points. Rumors that he was gay started flying around a week or so ago when he appeared on the cover of a gay magazine called Zero. (Gallardón is rather a Rudy Giuliani type, socially quite liberal; he has presided over gay marriages, for example, in his capacity as mayor.) This ought to put an end to that.

Media feedback is that Sebastián looked like a real jerk. La Vangua's reporter Enric Juliana said, "A Socialist has been the first to open fire, American-style, on his adversary's private life...Wednesday night he began the possible self-liquidation of his promising political career...Like a good Latin country, Spain is only really liberal from the waist down...The media has launched severe criticism of Sebastián for having crossed the only line that is both red and Catholic: the line that separates sex and politics." In the news pages, of course, not opinion or analysis.

Juliana also interprets a defeat for Sebastián as "a personal defeat for Zapatero, the one who named him the candidate: he's the one who bet on Sebastián."

Report: The Basque Socialists met 25 times in secret with ETA-front party Batasuna between 1999 and 2006 in order to negotiate a truce. This is incredibly illegal, not to mention wrong, since the elected administration (Aznar until 2004, Zap since then), the Cabinet, the Parliament, and the proper executive departments are in charge of dealing with terrorists and forming anti-terrorist policy, not some self-appointed political hacks.

La Vanguardia's survey for the Barcelona city council: Socialists 34.9%, 15-16 seats; CiU 24.5%, 10-11 seats; PP 13.4%, 6 seats; Communists 12.3%, 5 seats; Esquerra 9.9%, 4 seats; Ciutadans 3.5%, 0 seats. The Tripartite scores a minimum of 24 seats, and only 21 are needed for a majority, which means that accidental mayor Jordi Hereu is going to be elected in his own right.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

We haven't done a blog roundup for a couple of weeks, so it's time.

¡No Pasarán! links to these pro-Cuban-democracy bloggers; their current campaign is in favor of "Cuban independence from Spain."

The Glittering Eye exposes Japanese chicanery in an attempt to start whaling again. There's no need to kill whales. People can eat plenty of other things. I know it's not a major issue, but I want whaling to be completely banned.

The Bad Rash has links to the dozans of minor parties running in the upcoming municipal and regional elections. Some of them are pretty weird.

Rare agreement between South of Watford and Iberian Notes: The Ecclestone-Camps thing in Valencia was totally bogus. Also, Playing Chess with the Dead continues its coverage of the Madrid bombings trial.

Roncesvalles is justifiably indignant. Not for sensitive souls.

Pejman has a whack at Andrew Sullivan and Ron Paul. Outside the Beltway has more.

Pave France reports on the Sarkozy cabinet, with lots of links.

Observing Hermann comments on Sarko's trip to Berlin.

A Fistful of Euros has thoughts on Eurovision and who is really European.

The Rottweiler chews off several of the Demo Cong's body parts.

Barcepundit points out more French hypocrisy, and hopes that Sarkozy will put an end to it.

Biased BBC has more evidence that the network is aware it might be just a little pro-Labour.

The Brussels Journal has a long, thoughtful post on multiculturalism and Communism.

Colin Davies comments on the Spanish economy and customer service in Spain.

Davids Medienkritik got an interview with Brent Scowcroft. Definitely check it out.

Eursoc opines on Gordon Brown and the EU.

Fausta warns of creeping censorship in Europe and America.

Kaleboel thinks the Generalitat's MinCulPop is nuts. Me too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

From El País:

Generalitat bans performance in which lobster is cooked

The play Accidents, by Rodrigo García, has been suspended at the Teatre Lliure because a lobster is killed on stage. The play, which consists of an actor cooking and eating the said crustacean (Homarus vulgaris), and which was to have gone on twice, yesterday and today, as part of the Radicals Lliure series of new works, has been denied the necessary authorization from the Generalitat because it violates animal protection laws.

The resolution, released yesterday by the sports and performances department of the department of public administration, said that the animal protection laws "expressly forbid killing animals as part of a performance," and that "the animal cannot be killed before the audience," though "exhibiting it once it has been cooked is not prohibited." The Generalitat denied "the application for authorization...because an invertebrate animal is killed in the performance."

In Rodrigo García's play, which will be performed in Reus in June and whose subtitle is "Killing to Eat," the tasty crustacean is cut up, cooked, and eaten to the tune of "What a Wonderful Day," without a doubt an ironic title for the lobster. A microphone in the animal's abdomen allows the public to sense its life going out, while another amplifies the noises made while preparing and cooking it.

Comments: 1) This is art? 2) Wonder how much the guy's subsidy from the Ministry of Culture was for this one? 3) I note that sticking bulls full of holes is still legal 4) Since when do you need the Generalitat's permission to put on a play? 5) Isn't this censorship? So where's Andy Robinson, who's so quick to sniff it out in New York? 6) The article was dreadfully written and I had to change all the sentences around to make them scan in English.

I remember about twenty years ago in the States some French chef came on the Today show to demonstrate grilling a lobster, and he chopped the critter up while it was squirming around, which grossed out Middle America because most of it had never seen a live lobster. It was definitely the media circus of the week. Another time, on Saturday Night Live, they bought this huge lobster that had made the news, and had a call-in vote on whether to eat it or let it live. The callers voted in favor of eating it, but they didn't actually show the lobster's demise. I imagine John Belushi probably ate it raw or something after the show.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

As you have already heard, Jerry Falwell died. I never could stand Falwell, and I have never liked the religious right at all. I think, however, that the left has generally overplayed his importance--Falwell was merely one of several '70s and '80s religious right leaders, and not the most influential. The influential guy was Paul Weyrich. Falwell and Pat Robertson were somewhere in importance between Weyrich and real clowns like Bakker and Swaggart.

Check out this Timothy Noah compilation of Falwell quotes showing that he was "a bigot, a reactionary, a liar, and a fool." Most of the quotes are pretty ridiculous, especially the God's punishing America with 9-11 bit. However, Falwell does seem to have a point about Islam, and he's right about global warming. Most of the rest is not any worse than most of the stuff your garden-variety leftist goes around spouting off.

And check out the hate spewed over at the Guardian's comments section:

"Good riddance to raving, ultra-rightist rubbish."

"I don't think I believe in hell, but if it exists, then its just gained one more resident. Fry, you evil bastard, fry."

"Such good news and I hope it's the beginning of a trend. The world needs fewer monsters."

"Welcome to hell, Mr Falwell! Hot enough for ya?"

"This news has cheered me up no end! Shame the bigoted hate-monger didn't die twenty years ago..."

"Falwell is dead. Good."

"He was a right wing religious fundamentalist and as such is no better than a suicide bomber."

These people don't seem to remember that Falwell never killed anybody. He didn't promote violence. He was no Fred Phelps. He was just a loudmouthed jerk like Bill O'Reilly, not a mass-murdering dictator like Saddam Hussein, whose well-deserved and entirely just fate was undoubtedly condemned by these Guardianistas rejoicing at Falwell's death.
Get this. Sixty percent of Spaniards think Spanish Jews are more loyal to Israel than to Spain. That means, of course, that 60% don't consider Spanish Jews to be real Spaniards at all. Disgraceful. 44% of people surveyed in five continental European countries, which included France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Poland, said Jews had too much international financial influence, and 49% said that American Jews had too much control over American Middle East policy. 39% said that Jews have too much power in business.

And get this. 47% said that Jews "talk too much about the Holocaust." Gee, only about six million of them got killed, so it's time they shut up already, just like those damn Negroes always complaining about being enslaved. Not to mention the Germans bitching about Dresden getting bombed.

News from these parts: The missing British girl in Portugal is the top story. Seems the Portuguese cops have arrested a British expatriate who lives in the neighborhood and took far too much interest in the proceedings of the case. She's probably dead.

Big trial verdict: an anestheologist in Valencia was convicted of infecting 275 patients with hepatitis C. Four of them died. Seems he was a junkie and he shot up with the same needles he was using on his patients. He got two thousand years in jail, but will have to serve a maximum of twenty.

Barça screwed up on Sunday night and gave up a last-minute 1-1 draw to Betis, a game they should have won handily. They are now in second place, tied with Re-Al Qaeda (stole that from Viz) at 66 points. Re-Al has the goal-average advantage, but, hey, there are four games left. Don't give up the ship just yet. Seems like the Barcelona media have already given up, though; oh, ye of little faith. Supposedly Iniesta started to cry in the locker room, which costs him quite a few macho points. Deco got all pissed off and smashed everything in the locker room, which is the response a fan prefers to see. La Vangua says they are definitely selling off a bunch of players at the end of the year, and nobody but the canteranos (Puyol, Valdes, Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, possibly Oleguer) is safe. I would definitely keep`Eto'o, and I would certainly not buy Lampard, Henry, or especially Torres, as gossip has. I like Navas, Villa, Jarque, Xabi Alonso, Albelda, and Alves. I'm not saying that Barça could actually get those guys, though if they sell Deco, Ronaldinho, or both, they'll have a packet of money to spend.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Breaking news: Nearly 400 illegal immigrants appeared this morning on the coasts of the Canaries, making more than 800 over the weekend. They're simply desperate to get out of West Africa, so desperate they risk their lives, since at least several thousand of them died at sea in 2006. If they make the Canaries, which most do, they're pretty much home free, since Spanish law makes it difficult to deport them. Often they simply fly the illegals to the mainland and turn them loose, and they turn up in a week or so in Barcelona selling fake Gucci purses in front of the Corte Ingles.
News from around here: Banned ETA front party Batasuna has set up a second front party, Basque Nationalist Action (ANV). The courts banned all ANV local tickets containing Batasuna members, but declared the tickets that don't include any to be legal. ETA-Batasuna will therefore be running under another name in the 133 towns whose tickets got the legal seal of approval, and, get this, Batasuna leaders Otegi and Barrena openly endorsed the ANV.

(Notes: The courts had previously shot down another ETA attempt to get on the ballot that was called ASB, which then of course disappeared without a trace. The local ticket is the party's list of candidates for city council; if the party wins, say, three seats, then the top three names on the party's ticket become council members.)

La Vangua's Cuba correspondent reports that Cubans are setting up illegal antennas to get American cable and satellite TV, and that the police go around checking all the electric cables hanging off the fronts and sides of Cuban residential buildings to see if any of them lead to illegal antennas. As you probably know, in Cuba, the only legal TV is government TV. The cops, of course, don't need a warrant to check your cables, and if you get caught you can get three years in jail. The regime called people who want to watch CNN or General Hospital or Seinfeld reruns "individuals who contribute to carrying out the Bush Commission's program to destroy the Cuban Revolution." So much for the freedom and dignity of the Cuban people.

Further election news: The Socialists think they have a real chance to take Navarra away from the PP, mostly because a Basque nationalist coalition called Nafarroa Bai (PNV + EA + Aralar) is going to pick up one-fifth of the seats there. That might knock the PP out of an absolute majority, and allow the Socialists to form a governing coalition. That looks like the only exciting race; the other Socialist targets, Madrid and Valencia, are firmly in PP hands.

La Vangua informs us that Catalonia's own nativist right-wing anti-immigrant party, the Platform for Catalonia, appeals mostly to intolerant young working-class males, and has had most success in four comarca capitals (more or less county seats) where conservative Catalan nationalism is historically strong, Vic, Manlleu, El Vendrell, and Cervera. Meanwhile, in Premià de Mar, a local independent anti-immigrant party has done well. The Platform has had little success in Barcelona and in its industrial suburbs. It's not necessarily the towns that have the highest percentage of immigrants where the Platform wins votes; seems that the Platform does well in towns where one immigrant nationality has moved into one neighborhood and concentrated there.

The article compares the Platform to the French National Front and Haider's FPO in Austria, but what it most reminds me of is the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, another regional party based on linguistic nationalism.

Barcelona example: Those jerks over by the Arco de Triunfo were going to hold a big old pot-banging demonstration to show the local Chinese that they were not wanted, but, in a good move, the Ayuntamiento closed them down for not having the right kind of permit. That's real class, demonstrating against your neighbors in their presence and pounding on metal pans so they can't avoid hearing it. I can't think of any more expressive way to say "You're not welcome here" than actually beating somebody up.

Look, if it's a conflictive group and the crime rate goes up and grandmas are getting mugged on the streets, I more than see your point, though I'd rather concentrate on individual bad eggs than blame the whole group-- we can't call all Ecuadorians gang-bangers just because a few are in the Latin Kings. But the Chinese are not generally known for being muggers or purse-snatchers. The only thing they have a reputation for around here is running sweatshops with debt-slaves, and I'm not sure exactly how true that is. Whatever, it is the kind of lawbreaking that a little competent police work ought to be able to do something about.
Says Francesc-Marc Alvaro, La Vanguardia's best columnist:

...When Sarkozy declared he was going to discontinue the 1968 brand name, he was not referring to the positive gains that European and Western society has irreversibly incorporated, such as equality for women, rights for minorities, an ecological consciousness, a more participative vision of democracy, and a new way of experiencing personal relationships both within the family and at work. All this forms part of the great current consensus, and is also accepted by the democratic Right. 1968 cannot be summarized superficially as a mere end to ties and bras. there was a change in mentality that was born among the well-informed elites and, with time, spread and took root.

Sarkozy, therefore, is aiming in another direction when he criticizes May 1968. His target is the dark side of 1968, that anti-authoritarianism that became totalitarianism in favor of Third World dictators; that pacifism that turned into the terrorism of the Gauche Proletarienne, the Italian Red Brigades, and the German Baader-Meinhoffs; that intoxicating nihilism that broke down classroom order; that disenchantment which mutated into the cynicism of so many ideological commissars, beginning with many of Mitterrand's, Gonzalez's, and Schroeder's collaborators: that moral superiority of the professional leftist, even after reality has proven his dogmas false; that adulteration of the terms "democracy," "memory," "anti-Fascism," "liberty," and "progress."

Among us, the two sides of 1968 coexist. The good side, which has modernized us and made us freer, and the bad side, which stimulates reactionary imposturing, nostalgic and decadent, and which scorns reality because reality has destroyed their old-fashioned analysis. Sarkozy has won his match against the dark side of 1968, that disastrous legacy that harms us every day. And he has done so, above all, by recovering the meaning of important words like "work," "effort," "commitment," and "responsibility." Every political battle begins by liberating hijacked words.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Kansas City had a big old prostitution-slavery roundup last week and ten people were arrested in lovely suburban Johnson County for importing Chinese women to work at "massage parlors" where sex for a price was on the menu. We have these all the time in Barcelona, too, though it's not always China where the women come from; I have it on some authority that most hookers in Barcelona today are Latin Americans. There aren't many Spanish hookers, at least not anymore.

The solution, of course, is to legalize prostitution in brothels in certain designated areas far from family neighborhoods; for example, in Kansas City I'd put them down in the industrial River Bottoms and in Barcelona I'd put them in the Zona Franca. You do that and you can also run medical checks on the prostitutes, besides keeping them off the streets, charging them taxes, keeping the pimps and the Mob out of it, and cutting down tremendously on murders of prostitutes.

By the way, I read somewhere that newspapers like Catholic Catalan conservative La Vanguardia get 5-10% of their income from the prostitution classified ads they run in the quaintly titled "Relax" and "Relaciones" sections. They ought to be a little ashamed of themselves.

A quick look through today's hooker ads shows that there's a lot of supply in the market, with prices as low as €20 for a "completo," whatever that is. Several ads stress that the woman is "white" or "Spanish" or "Catalan." Several explain the perversions they are willing to perform with you, including "French," "Greek," "Thai," and "Burmese." A few stress that they are willing to kiss customers, which prostitutes apparently do not normally do. There are some ads for male prostitutes and others for transvestites, which are unusually popular in Spain for some reason. Personally, transvestites gross me out; they're a bizarre caricature of real women.

Front page banner headline today in La Vangua: Mr. Formula One extended his contract to hold car races at the Montmeló racetrack outside Barcelona until 2016. Meanwhile, Mr. Formula One also said he had been misunderstood and had not tried to blackmail Valencians into voting for the PP over Formula One racing in Valencia. they are having a big hairy Formula One race at Montmeló today and there are something like 120,000 people out there.

FC Barcelona is just about to crash and burn. Real Madrid currently holds a one-point lead with one more game than Barça, who play Betis tonight in the Camp Nou. They had better win, after the Copa del Rey debacle in Getafe. The only title still open to them is the League, and if they don't win it I think there might be a housecleaning. Gossip around here is that Barcelona's practice sessions are too soft and the players, especially Ronaldinho, are out of shape.

One thing I remember Bill James saying was that baseball teams tend to switch back and forth between "players' managers" and disciplinarians. Frank is clearly a players' coach, and it might be time to bring in a tough guy for a couple of years. It also might be time to sell Ronaldinho, who is starting to look like a diva, or Deco, or both. I hate to get on Ronaldinho, he played so well for three years and won two leagues and a Champions, but if they sell him now they'll get a top price which they can invest in three or four younger players. Also, they need to clear a spot for Giovanni dos Santos, who is going to be a first-team player next year and may be a regular in two or three years. Also, if I were Barcelona, I'd sell off all my aging foreign players--Belletti, van Bronckhorst, Sylvinho, Edmilson, Giuly--and Motta, too. Yeah, I know they re-signed a few of these guys, but I wouldn't have.

Andy Robinson claims that people in Los Angeles were "horrorized" at Queen Elizabeth's "rigidity and coldness" when Princess Diana died. Uh, Andy, some Americans do pay some attention to the British royal family, but I don't think most folks in the US were particularly horrorized. Seems to me the overemotional reaction to Diana's death occurred in exactly one country, the UK, and it's cheating to try to hang Britain's moments of embarrassment on the Americans, too.

Al Gore and his acolytes have organized one of those big old PC music festivals about global warming called Live Earth for July 7; it will be held in seven cities simultaneously. Barcelona is not one of the cities, but guess what? They're going to have their own anyway! It's being billed as a "satellite concert," though from what I can tell it has no affiliation with the main organization. Two points. 1) It's not a free concert, you'll have to pay to get in 2) The city government is kicking in taxpayers' money for this political rally and self-promotional pseudo-event. They claim they might get Bruce Springsteen and Arnold Schwarzenegger to show up, along with Zap. Zap I'll believe.

Campaign news: Looks like the PP is going to repeat in Madrid and Valencia, both in the city and regional governments. Nothing else exciting.

Remember the characteristics of working-class Spanish men we were talking about the other day--you know, machismo, chulería, not getting down off your donkey, insisting you are right no matter what the evidence is, and the national motto, "We Laugh at Death"? Here's another illustration. Of course, the best part is when the guy complains that the road signs were confusing. Not only am I in the right, but it's society's fault!

Actually, he sort of has a point: Spanish road signs really are often confusing.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The most recent Spanish electoral campaign kicks off this weekend; this time it's municipal elections, for city council and mayor, and elections in I believe 13 of the autonomous regions, all except Galicia, the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Andalusia. Election day is May 27.

Remember, in Spain it's not like the US. In the US, on election day, you vote in a variety of different elections on the same ballot. In 2008 you will vote for president, congressional representative, senator (in about 2/3 of the states), governor (in most states), state representative, state senator, atate attorney general, mayor, city council rep, sheriff, and dogcatcher, not to mention different initiatives in the various states. We vote on all these positions, and most people vote for the individual candidate, not necessarily the party. "Splitting your ticket" is very common; that is, you vote for some Democratic candidates and some Republicans, depending on which person (not party) you prefer.

In Spain we only have four kinds of elections: municipal (City Council), regional (the Generalitat in Catalonia), national (the Congress of Deputies and Senate), and European (for the Europarliament). You vote for the party, not the candidate, and seats on the council or in the regional, national, and European parliaments are divided up proportionately. Then the party (or coalition of parties) that wins the most seats puts in its candidate as mayor, regional premier, or Prime Minister.

(Clarification: Of course, many people in Spain choose which party to vote for based on who its leading candidate(s) are. What I mean is your vote doesn't go to, say, Jordi Hereu for mayor of Barcelona; instead, it goes to the Socialist Party, and if they win the election, then their majority on the City Council puts Hereu in as mayor.)

Looks like the big municipal race is going to be Madrid; I don't see Barcelona changing hands, or any of the other major cities. Currently, the PP governs Madrid, Valencia, Málaga, Valladolid, and Palma, while the PSOE governs Barcelona, Sevilla, Zaragoza, and La Coruña. The PP will give the PSOE a run in Sevilla, but that's about it for any hopes of change. The PP dominates most smaller provincial capitals, even in Andalusia.

In the regional elections, the PSOE is going to make a run at PP-held Madrid, Balearics, and Valencia (I don't think they have much chance in any of them), and the PP is going to try to take Aragon and Asturias. The other regions ought to stay in the same hands they're in: Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura with the PSOE, and Cantabria, La Rioja, Navarra, Castile-Leon, and Murcia with the PP.

For lots and lots of information, check out this groovy special report from pro-Socialist El País (in Spanish).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Here's something I don't much like at all. Seems that a gentleman named Bernie Ecclestone runs this thing called Formula One which puts on car races. I have no interest in car races, which aren't nearly as cool as pro football or even Communist kickball (oops, I mean soccer). However, this appears to be a big deal, and Mr. Ecclestone's car race company holds one every year here in Catalonia at the Montmeló racetrack. Everyone in Catalonia is very proud, because car and motorcycle racing are very big here, as they are in most provincial and backward places. (Send hate mail to the Comments section.)

Now Mr. Ecclestone has promised the Valencia regional government that he will put on a big old car race in Valencia. Not on a real racetrack, but on a course through the streets of the city, which I have read that race drivers really hate. All the Valencia regional government has to do is pay Mr. Ecclestone €35 million.

And get this. Mr. Ecclestone says the offer to take the Valencia regional government's money is only good if the PP candidate, current regional premier Francisco Camps, is reelected. If he loses, then Mr. Ecclestone says he'll have his car race somewhere else.

Gee, I don't know, I'd vote for the PP in sixteen out of the seventeen Spanish regions, but in Valencia I'd be tempted to vote for, say, the Gypsy Nationalists or that wacko cult that calls itself the Humanist Party instead of Mr. Francisco Camps, just in order to inform him and Mr. Ecclestone that they ain't such hot shit after all.

And, by the way, I don't think the Valencia government has any business spending €35 million of the taxpayers' money on a car race. I know it's comparatively a drop in the bucket, but I still don't like it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rioting continued in France for the third consecutive night after Sarkozy's victory; 840 people have been arrested so far, and about 1200 cars torched. Things do seem to be calming down a little, and there was only serious rioting last night in Paris and its suburbs, Toulouse, and Lyon.

Seems to me this is a mixture of race rioting and street guerrilla anarchism--what they call kale borroka in the Basque Country. These racaille better have their fun now, because Sarkozy is going to crack down on this crap after he takes over, which is within about two weeks. You can't run a country with punks taking over the streets as they have been doing in France--or as the gangs do in some underclass areas in the States.

One real silly response I've heard going around the Guardian's comments section is that this rioting in France is bad, but American race rioting is worse. This is a rather off-the-wall comparison, since I have no idea why they're bringing in America. Also, have we had any real race rioting since the early '90s? I remember a couple of people got killed in Brooklyn, and there were the 1992 "Rodney King" riots, in which about fifty people died. I checked Wikipedia, though, and couldn't find any serious rioting in the US since then. This looks like the best we can do.

Another very silly response that TV3 is making a big deal out of is to attack Sarkozy for going off for a quick luxury vacation in Malta. Hell, I'd say he deserves a nice rest. And, no, I don't believe the story that renting a yacht costs €110,000 for three days. I might believe it if you told me that it cost €110,000 for the French secret service to protect him down there, but they have to protect him wherever he goes, of course. This is a complete non-issue.

I'm starting to think José Montilla is a pretty reasonable guy for a Socialist. He hasn't done anything stupid yet, and he shit-canned the regional representative in Madrid for saying that Montilla's predecessor and still party president Maragall was sick in the head. This guy, Martínez Fraile, is a buddy of Montilla's. La Vangua's take is that Montilla is warning his coalition partner, notoriously unreliable Esquerra Republicana, that he's not going to take any crap off them, either.

Interesting World War II stuff that might be true: A Dutch TV documentary says that KLM, with the help of Prince Bernhard, who was a director of the state-owned airline and pro-Nazi, helped Nazi war criminals escape to South America in the late 1940s. Specific accusation: Two of them were Eichmann and Mengele.

Interesting last line of La Vangua's article. "Holland is still debating the collaboration of its authorities with the Nazi regime, and the deportation of a large part of its Jewish and homosexual population to concentration camps."

Now, we know that some 110,000 Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, but I had never heard that Dutch homosexuals were deported en masse to concentration camps, or that anywhere near 110,000 of them died. Wikipedia cites estimates of between 5,000 and 15,000 gays (from all nations) killed by the Nazis--a tragedy, to be sure, but not precisely the reason the Nazis set up the death camps. My question is why La Vangua's reporter brought in homosexuals, when the debate is quite obviously about Dutch society's treatment of Jews.

La Vanguardia's banner headline today, though, is: "Catalonia largest jihadist center / 30% of imprisoned Islamic terrorists lived in Catalonia / High tension in Salt / Studies of threat of attack on Barcelona." Their sources are a think-tank study and a police officers' organization.

Big news: Every month approximately five Islamist terrorists leave Catalonia for training in Iraq, Chechenia, or Afghanistan.

Their story says, straight out, that extremist Islamist cells in Catalonia are recruiting suicide bombers for Iraq and Afghanistan, that the cops are getting cooperation from the "Muslim communities established in Spain," and that fundamentalist radicals camouflage themselves in areas with a large Islamic population, and then proselytize. Investigators are focusing on the 36% Muslim town of Salt, Girona's ugly twin sister, "the Islamic capital of Catalonia." Supposedly Salt's Muslims have been infiltrated by radicals, and there's an ideological battle going on right now between moderates and jihadists. The cops aren't ruling out an attack in Barcelona, but they haven't found much evidence that one is being planned.

Interesting bit: White flight doesn't only happen in racist America. 1500 Spanish citizens have moved out of Salt since 2004.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dear Lord, this can't possibly be true. Especially not this part.

Ms Hilton has told paparazzi photographers her sentence was "cruel and unwarranted", and to illustrate her point will appear on the front cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine in June wearing a zebra-print prison outfit while running away from models dressed as policemen.
Interesting piece in La Vanguardia on talented young Spaniards who go to the US for graduate work at universities or hospitals there. (Note: La Vangua has recently made a very big deal about some Chinese study ranking the world's universities. The top ten were eight American schools--Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, and the like--and the two obvious ones from Britain. Spain didn't have a single university in the top 200.)

The two people interviewed by La Vangua said the competitive atmosphere in the US gets the best out of individuals, that you have to work hard and be motivated, that people with talent get scholarships there, that US universities compete for the best students, and that European students don't appreciate their university studies because they're virtually free of charge.

Says economist Jordí Galí, currently with the Pompeu Fabra: "Many citizens of Catalonia and Spain have been in contact with American society. These persons have an important role in compensating for the antiquated anti-Americanism that rejects anything that comes from the US. It would be interesting to do a study on the perception these people have of the United States and to compare it with that of the average Spanish citizen. Only ignorance can explain anti-Americanism. Contact with the US can contribute to understanding the positive things about that society, to learn and import them."

Says doctor and researcher Cristina Nadal, currently at Barcelona's Hospital Clínico: "When you come back you realize how small your world was. You see the people are more homogenous than you thought and that our constant navel-gazing is a bity absurd. The anti-Americanism in this country is ridiculous. You can argue about a lot of things about the US, the Iraq war, Bush, but the country works and is doing well, and we have a lot to learn from it."

Comment: These folks are unusually pro-American for these here parts. Obviously, they enjoyed high status and lived comfortable lives there, and their ideas might be different if they'd been, say, teaching third grade in an inner-city elementary school. Still, it's refreshing for La Vanguardia to actually run a prominent article that's positive about the US, because believe me, it's unusual.
La Vanguardia's best columnist, Francesc-Marc Álvaro, reports on the Catalan reaction to Sarkozy's victory in France:

Sarkozy's victory was not popular in Catalonia, where the same old politically correct thing was to believe just as much in Royal as in Zapatero and his soft words and unfulfilled promises. TV3 blatantly showed us the mindset of this Catalan Wonderland. From our public television station's newsdesk, the big question of Sunday night to the correspondent in Paris was why Mrs. Ségolène did not win, since that is what should have happened. Catalonia always likes to talk more leftist than it really is, a large-scale imposture full of contradictions: for example, the grotesque example of those progressive leaders who send their children to elite private schools.

Here, almost nobody likes Sarkozy, although he is waving the flag of work and effort, positive values that fit in perfectly with Catalan meritocracy. Fear of the new president has struck deep into hipster Barcelona. Catalanists and Spainists agree in their support for the Socialist candidate. A Catalan radio survey last Friday showed an eloquent statistic: 73% of the calls were for Royal and 27% for Sarkozy. However, luckily, another truth has reached us from Perpignan. The Catalans of the north, who vote in France, are sure what they want. Nicolas Sarkozy triumphed in North Catalonia (Roussillon) with more than 55% of the vote. Why don't we listen to their point of view one of these days?

Something I thought was interesting: French citizens living abroad can vote in French elections at polling places set up by local consulates. The French who live in all of Spain went for Royal 51%-49%. Those who live in Madrid went for Sarkozy 54%-46%. Those who live in Barcelona went for Royal 58%-42%. Tells you something about the kind of expats that choose Madrid and those that choose Barcelona.

Looks like Zap's Berlin-Paris-Madrid Axis of Weasels has lost France and Germany. Now it's Zap all by himself with his buddies Chavez and Castro. It doesn't help that Zap actually participated in the Socialist campaigns in both Germany and France, endorsing and campaigning for the losers in both races and, of course, pissing off the winners. La Vangua says in its news pages that Zap has done a very poor job in European foreign policy, failing to take the lead in any meaningful initiatives while farting around with his brainchild Alliance of Civilizations.

Further comment on European nationalisms: Some Catalan nationalists are looking at the results of the Scottish election as a great victory, but they aren't considering the fact that the SNP did not win a majority and will have to pact with a non-nationalist party, likely Labour.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Blogging the French election (just scroll down, there's a long list of posts at nearly all of these blogs): Eursoc, Fausta, Nidra Poller at Pajamas Media, Pave France, The Dissident Frogman (back after a hiatus), Publius Pundit, and especially ¡No Pasarán! Check them all out.