Monday, November 19, 2007

Public opinion is massively against the riot the "anti-system" squatters put on a couple of nights ago. A peaceful demonstration would have gained them a little sympathy, perhaps, but attacking the police with those metal construction-area fences and smashing shop windows was going way too far. The main target of despotrication is Joan Saura, the Communist head of the Interior department, in charge of the regional police, the ones that were attacked. Saura has in the past spoken in favor of rebellious youth. Now he looks very weak.

I cannot believe that the people of Barcelona, after the blackout and the Great Transport Snafu and this latest riot, are going to go back out and vote for the Tripartite at the next municipal election. But they will. No matter what a lousy job they do, they have a big enough machine and patronage clientele to put them over.

La Vanguardia has a rundown of all the squatter riots in the last two years: August 16 and 17, 2005; December 17, 2005; March 19, 2006; June 28, 2006; October 5, 2006; May 19, 2007. And now this one.

The campaign for the March 9, 2008 general election is already well under way. PP leader Mariano Rajoy promised to eliminate income taxes on anyone who makes under €16,000 a year, which sounds good to me; this would affect the majority of retired people and the working poor, some 7 million people. Rajoy also wants to limit the governmental powers of the autonomous regions, establish a two-thirds majority in Congress for reforms that affect the Constitution, guarantee the right to use and learn Spanish in the educational system, declare that there will be no negotiations with ETA, and establish that the most-voted party should govern, rather than allow coalitions of minorities. Not much of this is new except the tax cut.

That's a winning platform if they present it the right way. It would help if they had canned Rajoy, who is personally uninspiring; I think Madrid mayor Ruiz-Gallardon would clearly stomp Zap in the election, but Rajoy--well, who knows. If he loses this one, he'll have to resign as party leader, and I just hope neither Acebes nor Zaplana takes over.

The surveys are saying that Hugo the Chav might well lose the December 2 referendum he has called "on the constitutional reform aimed at implanting a totalitarian regime," says La Vanguardia. The latest survey says 66% will vote No and only 28% Yes. "The most reliable polls show that his support has diminished in recent weeks because of his closeness to Cuba, threats to private property, repression of the students, scarcity of basic foods, growing crime, and rejection of a presidency-for-life with full powers."

La Vangua, meanwhile, has picked up on the Barry Bonds story, and guess what? They played the race card just as I predicted they would, asking whether "there are racist ingredients in these scahdals." They mention Marion Jones and Michael Vick as well. Gee, I dunno. The Vick case has nothing to do with drugs; he was running an illegal gambling ring on dogfights that he put on. He'd be in deep shit whether he was black, white, or green. And as for doping, seems to me that Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens, and Jose Canseco are all in a heap of trouble, too, and they're all white folks. Not to mention all the cyclists, including Landis, Hamilton, and Lance Armstrong.

As for real crimes, African-American Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens defensive star, didn't even have to go to jail when his posse killed somebody and he tried to cover it up. And African-American Adam "Pacman" Jones just received a suspended sentence after starting a free-for-all fight in a Las Vegas strip bar, in which a security guard was shot and paralyzed. And African-American Tank Johnson spent a few days in jail after his best buddy was killed in a fight, along with multiple drug and gun charges. Lewis is still in the NFL, and Johnson may be allowed back this year. Jones might be allowed back next year.

If there were real racism against black athletic stars, I have a feeling that these guys would all be serving very long sentences.

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