Big news today: debates. The American press seems to think that the three main Republican presidential candidates, McCain, Romney, and Giuliani, all did rather well in yesterday's debate. TV3 ran a surprisingly neutral report that was actually informative on this afternoon's news. As for the French presidential debate between Sarkozy and Royal, consensus according to La Vanguardia is that Sarkozy won and that he should defeat Royal fairly easily. A Le Figaro survey said that 53% of viewers said that Sarko was "more convincing," to only 31% for Royal.
Other French election reports: Bayrou voters said Sarkozy won by 51% to 25%. The Socialists are claiming that the Le Figaro poll was fixed, which means they know they're going to lose. Le Pen has called on his 3.8 million voters to either abstain or vote for Sarkozy. Though Bayrou has announced he will not vote for Sarkozy, 21 of his party's 29 parliamentary deputies have endorsed Sarko. Royal, in a huff, accused Sarkozy of "the height of political immorality," which played very badly with viewers--especially when her information about the education measure she called immoral turned out to be completely wrong. She also screwed up badly when Sarko said that more than 50% of French electricity is produced at nuclear plants and she corrected him, saying it was 17%. Wrong. It's 78%. Le Parisien said that Sarko won on points, but not by KO.
I dunno. I'm not a gambler, but if I were, I might put a hundred bucks down at one of those Internet sites on Sarkozy to win, whatever the odds are. Sounds like a better bet than, say, the Mavericks over the Warriors, or the Bears over the Colts.
Crisis in Cuba: Three deserters tried to hijack a plane to Florida and killed two Cuban army officers. They will, of course, be executed. Wonder if the European Left will condemn the death penalty when Castro carries it out? I don't think they have yet, since Castro's sent at least several thousand persons to the firing squad in his forty-some years in power. The regime has of course blamed the Americans.
Eusebio Val reports from Washington in La Vangua about some ridiculous lawsuit in DC, and points out that America is much too legalistic and that some suits are "dementedly disproportionate and absurdly Kafkian." He's right, I'm afraid; one of the problems of having a legal system to which people can turn for justice is that some folks are going to abuse their privilege. Still, don't toss out the whole system because a few people are gaming it; instead, block the loopholes. Especially get rid of "punitive damages" in civil court; punishment is the business of a criminal court.
Isabel Pantoja is still all over the news. I don't particularly care. Convict the crooks and jail them, as they deserve, but stop bothering me with up-to-the-minute news reports on whether she was wearing sunglasses or not as she walked out the jail door. By the way, there were a lot of reports a few years ago claiming that la Pantoja was, uh, muff-diving with radio host Encarna Sanchez and singer Maria del Monte. More proof, I suppose, that real lesbians are nothing like the ones that appear in porno flicks. (This ought to pull in a few extra visitors today; "lesbian" and "porno" always bring in the Google hits.)
This week there's been rioting in Madrid's Malasaña (which I think translates to English as "Bad Lasagna") district, as hundreds of drunken youths fought it out with the cops two nights in a row about nothing in particular. Fifty people were injured, among them police officers hit with bottles and stones. One cop had both forearm bones broken. Lock these punks up. Blowing off a little steam is one thing and vandalism and violence are completely different.
Meanwhile, the Catalan regional police killed a schizophrenic who'd gone violent and was carrying a pick and s screwdriver. This guy had twenty arrests for violent behavior, including a stabbing just a few days ago. He freaked out two nights ago and his family called the cops. He ran away and they couldn't find him until 5 AM, when he armed himself and attacked the police in front of his house, swinging the pick, and a cop shot him. The second shot hit the schizo's father in the leg. Police authorities say it's a justifiable homicide, and will take no action against the officer. The court will hold a hearing today, and will almost certainly press no charges.
That sounds like the right thing. The cop thought his life was in danger and he fired. Now let's see La Vanguardia be so fair with the next Brooklyn cop who shoots somebody he thinks is going to pull a gun. (Cop shoots man in Brooklyn. International news. Cop shoots man in Malgrat de Mar. Local news.) By the way, it's quite clear that the schizo should have been locked up for everyone's safety; much clearer, for example, than in the case of the Virginia Tech shooter.
A total of nine people were killed in the Palencia gas explosion and building collapse. Two bodies have not been recovered yet.
My neighbor Chemical Inma Mayol, Communist candidate for mayor of Barcelona and current city councillor, yesterday said, "A los okupas se los desaloja de buen rollo," which translates as something like, "When we close down a squat, we do it in a cool way." Barf.
Antena 3 is going to do a TV series in which viewers vote on "the greatest Spaniard in history." They did this in the UK, where Churchill won, and in France, where De Gaulle won. They also did it in Portugal. Oops. Longtime dictator Antonio Salazar won. Now they're worried that Franco is going to win in Spain; they've been collecting votes by telephone and on the Internet for about three weeks, and Franco is one of the top vote-getters so far. They've worked out a Plan B in case Franco does win; they're also doing a general survey of the Spanish population, and will use those results in case of a Franco landslide.
Now, of course, the call-in vote isn't scientifically valid, since it's what they call a self-selected survey; only those people who feel strongly about the question call in to vote. Many people with strong feelings about such questions are kind of nutty, so I wouldn't be surprised if Franco does win the call-in vote. There are enough wacky Spaniards nostalgic for Franco to tip the vote their way, though of course the majority of Spaniards are not pro-Franco now.
Annoy a Spanish leftist! Vote for Franco here!
(Actually, my honest vote is either Cervantes or Velázquez. I suppose Cervantes's presence at the Battle of Lepanto tips the scale his way. If the question is about the US, my vote is for Lincoln. If we're limited to the 20th century, Eisenhower.)