Monthly Archives: December 2005

Upgrade/news

I've upgraded to WordPress 2.0 – a terrifying and yet ultimately simple process. Something odd had happened with the site: none of the links were working – how long had this been going on?!

Anyway, the new WordPress seems pretty good… sturdier and smarter. I will be implementing this across Gemma's and Ned's sites in good time. You can now subscribe to thebadrash.com by registering here.

Today is the last day of the first half of the decade. It hasn't gone that well so far.

Temptation

Gemma's about to get home, and I have a feeling that she has a Sony PSP with her to give me for Christmas. She's then going for supper, and I'll be left here alone in the house… just me and the PSP. How can I resist the temptation to tear its packaging off and start playing?*

*Probably didn't get any games to go with it though.

Law Lords rule on torture

The Law Lords have ruled very strongly against the use of evidence obtained by torture, wherever the torture took place. This landmark judgement means that the government must step down from its attempts to use torture based evidence in the cases of alleged terrorists.

In this instance the judiciary has acted correctly, as the legal buffer to an increasingly illegally-minded and murderous government. This is a major boost to the human rights movement in the UK, and represents a step back from the brink.

Other good news: Pinter's Nobel prize acceptance speech was a wonderful and hard-hitting piece of work. Margaret Thatcher's in hospital.

Wearing their swastikas on their sleeves

As if the last week of 'Spain Herald' weren't reactionary enough, top fascist writer Pío Moa today set the seal on their being ignored by this correspondent from now on.

In an article which accuses the Socialist party of being terrorists and anti-democratic, Moa states the case for Francoism in modern Spain.

Needless to say, this sort of rampant fascism is as utterly revolting as it is in denial of history. Y esta.

Extraordinary Rendition – the true cost of freedom?

The controversy building over what is euphemistically referred to as 'extraordinary rendition' – the abduction by CIA officials of foreign nationals who are then taken for interrogation to countries where they have no protection under US law – surely does more than anything else to uncover the perverse logic of the 'war on terror'.

The allegation, first published in September, is that the United States government has been holding people at secret prisons, some in eastern Europe, where they are interrogated freely by CIA officials, but are given absolutely no contact with the outside world. Needless to say, the abduction of people who have not been charged – and their forceful transfer to 'black prisons' – would be a horrifying contravention of international law and what most of us consider as some of the core values in or legal and social systems: habeas corpus, the Geneva Conventions and UN Conventions.

The US government has used a rather pathetic Wag The Dog fallacy to repudiate claims that they used British airports to illegally transfer prisoners: "We do not move people around the world so they can be tortured," said Stephen Hadley. You can always be pretty sure that you're on to a winner when the government starts answering questions no one had asked yet.

The awful thing, of course, is the fate of the people who are subjected to this treatment. The US government and their apologists will no doubt tell us that they are terrorists and represent a very real threat to security and peace. But this is not 1300. You cannot kidnap people and then tell us that it's OK – they're terrorists. This is the sort of thing which we all found so unpalatable about Saddam Hussein. Or Augusto Pinochet. These cases really prove that there is no regard for human rights in the anti-terror coalition. When they deny one man's rights, they deny everyones.

Read more on 'extraordinary rendition' here.

UPDATE:

Condoleeza Rice has made another worthless statement wherein she mixes further fallacies together in a big rhetorical pie!

"The US does not use the air space or airport of any country for the purpose of transporting a detainee when we believe he or she will be tortured," – a very carefully worded statement really answering a seperate question. This is really old hat political stuff.
She said rendition had been practised for decades and was "not unique to United States or to the current administration". – a very nice use of the Irrelevant Conclusion (Ignorantio Elenchi) fallacy. Top marks to Ms Rice for some sweet rhetoric here. Of course, the Irrelevant Conclusion fallacy is used in this case as a red herring. The question is: does the US illegally move prisoners around? It wasn't – how long have you been doing it and who else does it?

PP supporters seek a new civil war in Spain

Supporters of the right wing Partido Popular openly called for a new civil war during a pro-Constitutional rally in Madrid yesterday. The demonstration, attended by thousands of conservatives (and a number of neo Nazis) had been called to 'show support for the Spanish Constitution' ahead of next week's Constitution day public holiday. In reality, according to the Socialist government, the protesters were involved in anti-Catalonia movements, and this public meeting was organised as part of a strategy opposed to possible reforms of the Catalan statute of autonomy.

Using classic far-right wing language, PP leader Mariano Rajoy evoked memories of fascist dictator Francisco Franco with his claims "There is only one nation: the Spanish Nation. We are not a Nation made up of other nations, we are a Nation of free and equal people". The disputed changes to the Catalan statute would allow Catalonia to control taxation and even establish a high court which would become the supreme court for all cases conducted in the region. Right wingers and neo-fascists are angered by what they see as an attack on the homogeneity of the 'nation of Spain'.

In truth, however, most inhabitants of Catalonia are in favour of significant changes to the region's governmental power. The current regional government were elected on this platform and include a large number of Catalan Republican Left (ERC) members. It is therefore curious that the PP claim they are 'defending democracy' while simultaneously attempting to defy the democratic will of the Catalan people.

Ever since the former PP government launched a militarist ceremony in Madrid with armed forces chiefs and a giant Spanish flag at its centre, I have been convinced that the PP are not merely a modern conservative party as they like to claim, but that they are the genuine heirs of General Franco's political philosophy and attitude. Now, more than ever, I fear for the future of this country because I am convinced that the PP will win the next election. The number of Francoists is clearly approaching 50% of Spanish voters. I really cannot stress this too much: fascism is not a minority thing here. It really is a powerful and popular idea, and is perhaps reaching new levels of acceptance and organisation.

I fear for Spain because (other than ailing king Juan Carlos) I don't feel that there is any framework in place to prevent a possible coup or military rebellion. The EU ought to be able to help, but in reality it has never been tested in this sort of situation. The US would probably support a right wing rebellion. The rest of the world would likely ignore it, as they did in the 1930s. In short, the PP are willfully pushing Spain towards some sort of ideological confrontation, just as their grandfathers in the Falange did. They're playing a dangerous game, and unfortunately, they don't care.

The PP and their perverse approach to politics

Spain's political climate is warm at the best of times: the division between left and right is significant and has been ever since the beginning of the 20th century. But the current behaviour of the PP (Partido Popular, or Popular Party) – especially its repeated ideological attacks on the Socialist coalition are concerning.

From the moment they realised that they had thrown away a possible victory in 2004's general election – the result of an unpopular war and an attempt to mislead the public – the PP have made it clear that they were unwilling to work with the Socialists on any piece of legislation. They lied during congressional investigation into their handling of the Madrid bombings. They have attempted to prevent the restoration of papers stolen from Catalonia by fascist forces in the Civil War. They have refused to assist in inquiries into their conduct when in government – especially concerning the deaths of dozens of Spanish troops in an aircrash. they refuse to even discuss increasing elements of Catalonia's Estatut of autonomy. But more than anything else, the PP have engaged in a single-handed and dangerous war of slander, name calling, racism and bizarre accusations against all the parties of the left wing.

As soon as Acebes referred to the Socialist party as 'communists and anarchists', many have been aware that this was going to be the PP's strategy. Furious that their long term plans for Spain (further weakening of Barcelona as a financial capital, theft of water from northern provinces, increasing liberalisation of labour markets, etc) had been stopped (and in some cases, reversed), the PP clearly made a decision that they would exact revenge on the left wing coalition that had defeated them. And, to be fair to them, they've done extremely well.

Today, El País reports that after an ERC protest against ultra-right wing Catholic radio station COPE, the PP issued a statement accusing the Socialist party of perpetuating a "climate of tension and threats". When the inheritors of the fascist dictatorship's political philosophy start making accusations like that, all the while accusing everyone else of 'attempting to destroy the nation of Spain' – you know they've upped their game.