Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fallout from the election: Zap and CiU are in no hurry to cut a deal, but I don't see any other way out for Zap. He's unlikely to get support from the PNV, and anyway he needs seven seats for a majority and the PNV only has six. Zap would also need the Canary Coalition's two votes, or the Commies' two votes, for the 176 votes in Congress necessary to seat him as prime minister.

CiU is making noises that sound like they want a coalition, with a couple of ministries in Madrid. And that's not all they're going to want. My guess is that the Catalan Tripartite falls apart sometime pretty soon because of the collapse of the Commies and Esquerra, and Montilla will govern from the minority with punctual support from CiU. As CiU considers itself the opposition party in Catalonia, it won't go for a coalition government in the Generalitat.

The Catalan Socialists want a big payoff for their huge win on Sunday that put Zapatero over the top. They want two or three ministries for themselves, and they want one of their people in the inner circle of the PSOE politburo. They're going to have to swallow the appointment of hardcore Spanish nationalist Jose Bono as president of the Congress, though.

Rajoy is going to stay as PP leader, though they're going to have a national convention this fall. I bet somebody else is chosen there, since Rajoy has lost twice already. La Vanguardia says that Madrid regional premier Esperanza Aguirre is maneuvering for the top spot.

The head that rolled at Esquerra was that of head counsellor Joan Puigcercós, who announced his resignation in order to serve as full-time party secretary. There's going to be a faction fight between Puigcercós and Carod-Rovira at ERC's convention in June. I hope they both lose.

Regional results in all of Spain:

Catalonia PSOE 25, CiU 11, PP 7, ERC 3, IU 1
Andalusia PSOE 36, PP 25
Basque Country PSOE 9, PNV 6, PP 3
Navarre PP 2, PSOE 2, NaBai 1
Madrid PP 18, PSOE 15, IU 1, UPD 1
Asturias PP 4, PSOE 4
Canaries PSOE 7, PP 6, CC 2
Galicia PP 11, PSOE 10, BNG 2
Valencia PP 19, PSOE 14
Murcia PP 7, PSOE 3
Castile-La Mancha PP 12, PSOE 9
Extremadura PSOE 5, PP 5
Cantabria PP 3, PSOE 2
Aragon PSOE 8, PP 5
Balearics PP 4, PSOE 4
La Rioja PP 2, PSOE 2
Castile-Leon PP 18-PSOE 14

So, basically, the PP either wins or breaks even everywhere but Catalonia and the Basque Country, where the moderate regional nationalists win much of the conservative and / or Catholic vote; Andalusia, the Socialists' historic heartland and recipient of much government spending; and Aragon, where the PP angered the locals with the damn water plan. Note that anti-Catalan Valencia is the region where the PP has the biggest advantage.

Atypical provinces: Sun Belt Almeria, in Andalusia, backed the PP; industrial Leon, in Castile-Leon, backed the PSOE.

Other news: The Eliot Spitzer scandal has made the news over here, and there's some whingeing about Yankee Puritanism, as usual. I figure the guy crossed three lines: 1) he's a law-and-order crusader, and he is a paying client of the organized-crime prostitution racket 2) he cheated on his wife, embarrassing her and their three children 3) he must be pretty stupid to be paying hookers while he's governor. If you're a single adult and you are sexually active, society pretty much figures that's your business. But if you're married and patronizing hookers, that's not.

How much you want to bet that he's some kind of desperate sex weirdo whose wife refused to cooperate with his kinky fetishes? That's the only logical explanation I can come up with.

Of course, I think prostitution ought to be legalized in official red-light districts, which would be established far away from residential areas. Then you can require medical checks and licensing, you can tax it, you can keep the kids away, you can drive pimps and organized crime out, and you can keep an eye on the prostitutes' personal safety.

In fact, I'd do the same thing with gambling; I'd legalize casinos, but only in the red-light districts, and I'd require by law that the casinos be as unattractive as possible: no alcohol or drugs on the premises, no entertainment, no restaurants, just gambling tables and slot machines. And I'd legalize drugs as well, and require them to be sold only in the red-light districts, too.

Get this: The Vatican came up with a new list of mortal sins for the 21st century. It's incredibly dumb. They are:

1) "Bioethical violations," such as birth control. Ridiculous. We should be giving out free condoms and Norplant to anyone who wants them to keep the birth rate down and control sexually transmitted diseases. Which, if the Pope pulled his head out of his ass, he would see as the biggest threat to human health in Africa's poorest countries.
2) "Morally questionable experiments." If we're talking Dr. Mengele or Brave New World, I completely agree, but the Pope means stem cell research, which is going to save millions of lives in the medium term.
3) Drug addiction. I thought drug addiction was now considered a disease. Talk about blaming the victim. I also thought alcohol was a drug. This means everybody in Ireland is going to hell.
4. Polluting. So everybody who drives a car is going to hell, too. Besides, the most pollution per capita is caused in poor countries where poor people use biofuels (wood and dung) for cooking and heat. Just like Jesus and all our ancestors until about 1900 did. These people are sinners? I don't see that they have much choice.
5) "Contributing to widen the gap between rich and poor." Ridiculous. Who cares if the rich get richer as long as the poor get richer too? If poor people's incomes double, and rich people's income is multiplied by five, is that bad? That's precisely what is happening around the world right now.
6) "Excessive wealth." What? You're a virtuous person who makes a lot of money because of his skills and abilities, makes generous charitable donations, behaves honestly in business, loves his fellow man, brings up a good family, and you're going to hell because you have a nice house and a Mercedes? Come on.
7) "Generating poverty." How precisely does one generate poverty? By making irresponsible decisions and flunking out of school, spending all your money on beer and fags, and knocking up three girls by the time you're 19? Any poor bastard who falls into that trap is going to have enough trouble here on earth, and it seems pretty harsh to punish him in the afterlife.

I have a positive view of Christianity in general and the Church in particular. Judeo-Christian ethics are at the heart of human society today. I think the Church does much more good than harm. I also think it is sometimes absolutely full of crap, and this is one of those times.

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