Catalonia declares independence from Spain

Well, la mierda ha golpeado oficialmente al fan:

The Catalan Parliament voted to declare independence from Spain on Friday afternoon, with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and 2 blank, in a 135-member chamber.

The Speaker, Carme Forcadell, read out part of the resolution from the Speaker’s chair before separatists voted.

Opposition parties abandoned the chamber. Xavier García Albiol (PP) said separatists were cowards who were afraid of Spanish criminal law and that is why they wanted to vote in secret.

Junts Pel Sí asked for the vote to be secret, and the Speaker agreed, despite opposition protests. Those MPs who had remained behind placed their ballots in a box placed on the Speaker’s table.

After the vote, the members remaining in the chamber sang Els Segadors.

The Spanish government’s response was swift. Within minutes of the Catalan Parliament’s declaration, the Spanish Senate overwhelmingly voted to activate Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution. Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy used this law to dissolve the Catalan government, and announce provincial elections to take place on December 21st.

On the foreign relations front, while the United States State Department issued a statement supporting Spain’s efforts to keep Catalonia within the country, Russia is playing a different game. El País reports that a Russian envoy has opened an office in Catalonia:

A politician from South Ossetia known for his political affinities with Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Barcelona this week, with the goal of establishing ties between Kremlin circles and a hypothetical independent Catalonia, according to Spanish intelligence sources.

Dimitri Medoyev, the de facto foreign minister for the partially recognized republic of South Ossetia, was on an official visit in Catalonia on Monday and Tuesday. During this time he met with business leaders and opened an office “to promote bilateral relations on humanitarian and cultural issues,” according to reports in Russian public news organizations such as Sputnik.

Before visiting Catalonia, Medoyev stopped in the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto just as they were holding referendums to ask Rome for greater autonomy. While he was there, Medoyev met with local and regional leaders.

Neither the Catalan government nor separatist authorities in South Ossetia would comment on whether Medoyev met with high-ranking Catalan officials or lawmakers during his Barcelona stay.

While it may be easy to reflexively dismiss such moves by Russia, it may not be wise to do so. Russia is clearly interested in, at the very least, understanding the secessionist movements that are on the rise across Europe. These movements, along with the populist movements, are clearly on the rise. And they’re paying very close attention to what happens to Catalonia.

Take, for example, the statement Scotland’s External Secretary made, even though it has not recognized Catalonia:

“We understand and respect the position of the Catalan Government. While Spain has the right to oppose independence, the people of Catalonia must have the ability to determine their own future. Today’s Declaration of Independence came about only after repeated calls for dialogue were refused.

“Now, more than ever, the priority of all those who consider themselves friends and allies of Spain should be to encourage a process of dialogue to find a way forward that respects democracy and the rule of law. The imposition of direct rule cannot be the solution and should be of concern to democrats everywhere.

“The European Union has a political and moral responsibility to support dialogue to identify how the situation can be resolved peacefully and democratically.”

Basically, Scotland is telling the European Union that it better work to peacefully address the tensions between Spain and Catalonia. Otherwise, it will seek out partners who indicate that they will listen to secessionist movements.

Such as Russia.

Meanwhile, libertarians, while encouraged by the possible breakup of a larger political entity, do not exactly see Catalonia becoming a free market paradise anytime soon. As Robert Wenzel notes:

Catalonian secessionists are mostly hardcore leftists, who would push for an oppressive leftist government in a separate Catalonia. On the other hand, Spain is putting on display its iron fist and its desire to rule.

While this is certainly the case, if Catalonia were to actually break free from Spain, there would be knock-on effects that could be positive for freedom that we haven’t contemplated at this point.

For example, as smaller regions breakaway from larger political units, it will become that much more challenging for larger countries to service debts incurred to maintain their welfare states. If welfare states actually buckle under, while there could be intermittent turmoil, there would also be opportunities to dismantle welfare programs, thereby allowing for greater freedom.

However, that is getting ahead of the current situation. What matters now is that Spain and Catalonia are at an impasse. Whatever happens going forward, let us hope that, at the very least, there is very little if any violence.

 

Seymour Hersh: The US attacked Syria knowing sarin wasn’t used in “gas attack”

In an earlier post, I documented my disgust with President Trump when he launched Tomahawk missiles against Syrian targets, in apparent retaliation of Syria’s use of sarin gas in an attack.

However, Seymour Hersh reports that while the American intelligence community knew that the Syrian did not use chemical weapons in general, and sarin particular, in the attack in question, Trump ordered the bombing anyways.

On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives.

Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

Hersh’s article is lengthy, and is worth reading in its entirety. However, the jist of the article is clear and, frankly, shocking.

 

Trump tweets on Obama turn tables on Democrats

For months, Democrats have tried to come up with some sort of evidence, any sort of evidence, demonstrating that Trump was somehow colluding with the Russians to win the 2016 election. Since November, all of the heat was generated by the left, and directed towards Trump.

However, earlier today, Trump launched four tweets that not only can the Democrats not ignore, but will more likely send them into an uncontrollable tizzy.

Frankly, what Trump did was ingenious. He took what the Democrats have been arguing all along, and reframed the discussion that puts the spotlight squarely on them.

When Democrats whine about how Trump’s tweets are not presidential, it has nothing to do with maintaining the dignity of the office. However, it has everything to do with trying everything they can to control what he says.

The Democrats simply can’t handle Trump. Their policies don’t work, and they can’t intimidate him into backing down.

The fact that they have no idea what Trump will post next makes them extremely uncomfortable.

Good.

 

Trump stabs supporters in the back by attacking Syria

I have a confession to make.

I voted for Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

I did so for two reasons. First, I considered my vote for Trump as one great, big, metaphorical middle finger to the political establishment and mainstream media, who tried to coronate Hillary Clinton as President. Second, I thought that if Clinton wasn’t elected president, we would avoid going to war with Russia.

Boy, was I a fucking idiot.

The US attacks Syria

Last night, the US military launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian air force base, in response to Syria’s presumed chemical attack against civilians earlier this week.

I say “presumed” for two reasons. First, there has yet to be an independent investigation of the incident. Rather, the elite’s assumption that Syria is guilty is presupposed in their collective Zeitgeist. Second, this attack is eerily reminiscent of an incident in 2013 that Obama tried to use as a pretext to attack Syria then. However, there is significant evidence to suggest that Syrian rebels mishandling of its own chemical weapons led to those deaths. Fortunately, opposition across the Western world, including the UK Parliament, did not allow Obama the popular support for such an attack.

That opposition included one Donald J. Trump.

Besides, the timing of Syria using chemical weapons at this juncture makes absolutely no sense. Its military, with Russian help, has made significant progress against ISIS, particularly in western Syria. Why would Assad use such weapons when he told a Croatian newpaper that he so other “option except victory”? In fact, Peter Ford, UK’s former ambassador to Syria, argues that not only is there no evidence that Syria conducted such an attack, but that such an attack would have been “self-defeating.”

Trump’s attack gave the neocons the jollies

Such inconvenient things as facts, history, and logic rarely have seemed to have troubled Trump in the past, and have certainly not gotten in the way of his attempt to “act decisively”. In his remarks at Mar-a-Lago that were reminiscent of a third-world tinpot dictator, Trump said that:

There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council.

(Notice that his statement says that there can be no dispute rather than doubt, thereby implying that there can be no discussion even though we may not know the full truth…)

Meanwhile, neocons in both parties are having collective orgasms in response. They are elated that Trump is flexing American military muscle once again in the Middle East. And Trump has gathered enormous support from left and right as a result.

So much for Trump playing 4D chess

Nevertheless, Trump now finds himself with three huge problems he didn’t have before yesterday’s strike. First, many of his supporters who voted for him feel betrayed. Some of the most vocal Trump supporters, including Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Mike Cernovich, Justin Raimondo, and Ann Coulter have been withering in their criticism of Trump’s decision. A significant portion of his base has permanently evaporated, and rightfully so.

Second, Trump will now be facing calls from both left and right within Congress about whether their authorization is required before any further action. Whether there will be sufficient pressure within Congress for such authorization remains to be seen. However, Trump’s unilaterial action won’t be quieting Constitutional questions anytime soon.

Lastly, nothwithstanding the U.S. warning Russia of the attack before it happened, the nuclear power is furious at Trump’s actions.

Furious Vladimir Putin has called the US airstrikes on Syria an ‘illegal act of aggression’ and suspended a deal to avoid mid-air clashes with American fighter jets over the war-torn country.

The Russian President warned of grave damage to relations between Washington and Moscow after 60 Tomahawk missiles were fired at al-Shayrat airbase near Homs.

Syrian Army officials described the attack as an act of ‘blatant aggression’, saying it had made the US ‘a partner’ of ISIS, the ex-Nusra Front and other ‘terrorist organisations’.

While Putin warned of grave damage to US-Russia relations, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev went one step further and warned that the attack “was on the brink of military clashes with Russia.”

In short:

(Yes, I know there’s a grammatical error in the tweet. I was pissed. Sue me.)

Where do we go from here?

There have been several theories floating around the internet about why Trump initiated the attack. Frankly, I don’t care. Trump’s attack on Syria was idiotic, illegal, immoral, and irresponsible. It could lead to the US clashing with a thermonuclear power over a country on the other side of the world. We have literally everything to lose, and next to nothing to gain.

We need to figure out a way to stop this madness before it’s too late.

St. Francis, pray for us!

Hail Mary…