Thursday, July 21, 2016

GOP Convention: A Few Thoughts

I wasn't going to write about the party conventions since there is already so much coverage. That said, however, I am going to write a brief post about the GOP convention so far.

I think a lot of the speeches were, frankly, excellent. And mind you, I am not generally a fan of American political speeches. They are generally overwritten, overwrought, and overloud. Our politicians have lost the ability to give interesting speeches or to engage in non-scripted debate. There are a few exceptions: Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, and Allen West are names of living politicians that come to my mind first as those still possessed of the gift of the gab. There are others, of course, but in general it is a lost art. Oh, yes, there's one more, Ted Cruz--more on that to follow.

I thought that VP candidate, Indiana governor Mike Spence gave an excellent address: modest, self-deprecating, folksy, in a genuine way not in a Hillary way, witty, and well-delievered. He provided some sharp analysis of the current mess we are in and, I think, made a good case for voting Trump and not Hillary. This seemed a superb introduction for most of America to Pence. Mission accomplished.

Other speakers of note were Sheriff Clarke, Patricia Smith, the Trump boys, and Newt Gingrich who had the tough job of following Ted Cruz's speech. I thought that Chris Christie's speech was great, and would have made a good Diplomad post, but, in the end, I don't know if it didn't come off as a bit over the top and am not sure how it played with the undecided. But, it's the speech I would have delivered had I been invited to speak . . .

OK, Ted Cruz. I have long admired Ted Cruz and thought that he would eventually have a good shot at being president. He is extremely smart, well-read, articulate, a fierce debater, and a genuinely great orator. His July 20 address to the GOP convention was a very fine piece of writing and delivery. I have no doubt that he wrote it himself. He had some stirring passages about protecting freedom, and the cost that some pay to protect our freedoms. He had some excellent swipes at the power-mad Obama-Clinton school of thought. It, however, was an exercise in extreme narcissism and self promotion that will, I think, prove as fatal to him as the defective torpedo that the USS Tang fired on its fifth and last war patrol in the Pacific. I don't know what target exactly the Cruz missile sought to hit, but I think it circled back and got him.

At a minimum, it was, indeed, a classless act, as the RNC labelled it. In that address, of course, Cruz declined to endorse Trump for president. It seems that Trump had read the speech ahead of time, but decided to let Cruz deliver it. That is either an act of great generosity by Trump, giving the lie to those who see him as an authoritarian bully, or a decision to follow the dictate attributed to Napoleon, "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."

That is all for now.

Please note that none of this post was lifted from any speech by Michelle Obama.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Obama World: Spinning, Spinning, Spinning Out of Control

The destruction of the West continues apace.

On today's world scene, Islam is the world's second greatest mass murderer and oppressor, not just because of the gruesome terrorist acts it commits all over the world, but because of the way it deals on a daily basis with the hundreds of millions of humans, perhaps 1.6 billion, it holds in its sway. Islam's world is one in which intellectual pursuits are discouraged; independent thought suppressed; tolerance, peace, and compassion rejected; women treated like sick cattle; and nonbelievers as worthy only for conversion, enslavement, or death. That said, however, Islam, like the old rent-a-car slogan about being number two, needs to try harder if it wants the number one spot.

No, Islam is not the greatest threat to Western civilization and lives. The number one spot is held by progressivism, or as it is often mistakenly called in the USA, "liberalism." I noted back in April 2013, that when dealing with liberalism, one should remember,
"Liberals love humanity and hate people." Oh, and by the way, liberals will get you killed. Yes, killed. Modern liberalism kills people, and does so by the millions, all in the name of humanity, of course. It should have a warning label that asks you not to practice liberalism at home, or something along the lines of "I am a trained professional, do not attempt liberalism on your own."

Liberals hate all sorts of people but their special, most lethal hatred is reserved for the poor and the "uneducated." They kill the poor by the bushel, by the ton, by the hectare . . . they kill them at home and abroad. No poor person is safe from the lethal loving embrace of the liberals.
I have expanded further on that more recently after the Paris attacks of last November,
I see articles arguing over whether the attack is Al Qaeda or ISIS. Whether this attack is typical of this group or that one. I have said this so many times that I am reluctant to say it again. The issue is not Boko Haram, Hamas, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Jamyat Islamia, or any other terrorist band. The issue is not Islamist "extremism," or a nutty fringe of Islam. The threat we face comes from Islam and the progressive delusions that have allowed Islam to plant itself in our midsts and flourish, grow and operate with near impunity. My friends, as I have written many times (here, for example) progressivism will get you killed. Progressivism, also a totalitarian belief system, is clearly now the deadliest creed on the planet, and has formed a Molotov-Ribbentrop-type pact with Islam. 
Progressivism, above all, is about denying reality and promoting delusion. 
The cost of progressive delusions is seen every day. The people of Paris just paid that cost, yet again,
And, again, when dealing with Clinton's brand of progressive delusions,
Her whole poverty pandering schtick also stinks of progressive deceptions and delusions. She makes no mention, for example, of the progressive-encouraged destruction of the black family. She ignores that black Americans suffer higher levels of poverty because, unlike Jackie Robinson who features earlier in her speech, many have allowed themselves to become wards of the state, looking to the state to solve the problems created by being wards of the state. As noted above, other "races" which have avoided the loving embrace of government have done well. She, furthermore, seems going back to advocating the lunacy that helped create the financial collapse of 2007-08, forcing banks to make loans to unqualified applicants.
So, once again, we see in Nice, France, the murderous cost of progressive delusions. I bet that, like most of the people killed in London, New York, Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando, etc, most of those killed by the Muslim murderer in Nice were progressive sorts who would have been outraged by the politically incorrect view of Islam as a threat. The statements coming from world "leaders" would seem to show that, even after yet another example of Islam in action, our progressive overlords do not see Islam as a danger; they do not recognize the consequences of the progressive insistence on allowing the Muslim invasion to proceed.

In addition, here at home, our own "leader" cannot bring himself to condemn the wild children of progressivism who shout for the death of cops, and is then "surprised" when cops are killed--as they were today in Baton Rouge by a Black Muslim. As is the case with the other Muslim murderers, the progressives tell us that the cop killers of Dallas and Baton Rouge are just deranged, petty criminals, not "really" members or followers of Islam or Black Lives Matter, and that we should be cognizant that the misdeeds of white Christian society have created the feelings of resentment and revenge that lead to mass murder.

We just have to get used to the new "normal," one in which cops and children die for our sins.

Welcome to the Obama World of Distorting Mirrors, where nothing is quite as it seems.

It gets even better.

We, for example, get lectured by Corrupt Hillary, Obama, and Kerry that Trump is reckless and dangerous when he casts doubts about the utility of NATO. Muddled, intellectually dense tweets and press releases go out praising the value of that multinational alliance, and calling for an "intelligence surge" (whatever that is) as the way to fight radical terror. Meanwhile, of course, John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry is in Moscow basically surrendering NATO to the Russians, who have been mocking NATO ships and planes without mercy for the past months, much like the Chinese who are busy paving the South China Sea. Kerry implores, nay, begs the Russians to help in Syria by doing something undetermined that we cannot or will not do for ourselves--just as he begged for their help in getting the Iranians to sign the phony nuke deal.

Meanwhile, of course, the bottom has dropped out of the NATO ship: Muslim hordes sweep through major NATO cities, literally raping, murdering and pillaging almost at will, and a cornerstone of the alliance, Turkey, implodes in a confused blood-soaked coup, counter-coup, followed by an Islamist purge of secular Ataturkism. The leader of NATO, the United States, is nowhere to be seen except, as noted, in Moscow begging for help, attending vacuous conferences on "global challenges," on the golf course, or deep in meetings with race hustlers such as Al Sharpton.

NATO is dead, but Trump must not say it.

Spinning, spinning, spinning.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

How Much Blood, Mr. President, How Much Do You Need?

Nice, France, Bastille Day. As this is being written, a terrorist act has claimed the lives of some 73 persons and the injury of over 100. We await the pro forma statement from the White House about thoughts, prayers, standing with the people of France, pledging our support, yeah yeah, yeah. I doubt we will hear anything about the terrorist being a Muslim motivated by the Koran. I doubt we will even hear anything about motivated by a "perverted, extreme, radical form of Islam." Sure we will hear the mind-numbing yada-yada about extremism, not giving up our way of life, vowing to protect Muslims from the impending backlash, and, of course, not to give into fear and hatred, oh, and remember the Crusades and so on and on.

One more time: the basics.

As I have written a zillion times the war against Islam is a 1400-year-old one. Better said, Islam has been attacking the West for 1400 years. Once upon a time, the West fought back, and Islam was confined to dusty, forgotten corners of the world. That has changed thanks to oil money, technology, and, of course, insane Western immigration policies that have allowed Muslim boots on the ground in the West.

We get lectured, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, that Islam is not violent; that the mass killers in the growing list of cities around the world, are not real Muslims; that Islam is a "Religion of Peace." OK, sure. I have noted many, many times (here, for example), that we are told,
"99% of Muslims" are not terrorists. Is that true? I don't know. From where does that number come? I don't know. Let's, however, go along with the gag. Let's assume it is accurate, and come up with our own equally valid "99%" statistics. Some samples follow; I am sure you can turn this into a drinking game--but not around Muslims because drinking offends them (unless they are Saudi diplomats in Islamabad). 
Did you know that, 
-- 99% of the Japanese did not attack Pearl Harbor?
-- 99% of the Nazis did not kill Jews or Gypsies, or invade Poland?
-- 99% of the Communists did not engage in Stalin's or Mao's purges?
-- 99% of the Germans killed in Dresden had never bombed England?
-- 99% of the Italians did not invade Ethiopia?
-- 99% of the Iranians did not occupy the US embassy in Teheran?
-- 99% of the Al Qaeda membership did not fly airplanes into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon? 
And so on, and on, and so what? What does that "99%" prove? Just one thing: There are consequences in the real world to belonging to organizations or following ideologies and leaders that commit atrocities. That's the way it works. If 99% of Muslims are not terrorists, and do not support terrorism (that's the big "if") where are they? 
Do we really need to go on?

President Obama, Islam is an existential threat to us and to our allies. Period. It seeks global domination. It will use openly military means, e.g., the ongoing battle in Syria and Iraq, guerrilla/terror means as we have seen on our own streets, and use our tolerance and belief in diversity against us.

You, the ostensible leader of the West, have failed miserably to identify the enemy and, of course, to develop a strategy, a total strategy not just a few bombing missions in Syria, to defeat this enemy. In fact, you have acted in a manner that makes many of us feel, wonder, and think if you're not rooting for the other side. You even go out of your way to encourage Middle Eastern Muslims to emigrate to the United States. Why?

How many more innocent people must die? It's Islam that is killing them.

President Obama you are a disgrace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Dallas Memorial: Obama Ruins It

This won't be long. I had debated whether even to comment on this since so much already has been said. On, however, reading the text of what Obama said at the Dallas memorial for the five police officers murdered by Black Lives Matter (BLM), I wanted to add my own thoughts.

You, of course, can read his comments and reach your own conclusions. We still have that much liberty left. Anyhow, I found the speech, well, appalling.

He apparently starts off well enough with some words, that I am not sure given what else he has said and done, he actually meant,
We’re here to honor the memory, and mourn the loss, of five fellow Americans -- to grieve with their loved ones, to support this community, to pray for the wounded, and to try and find some meaning amidst our sorrow. 
For the men and women who protect and serve the people of Dallas, last Thursday began like any other day. Like most Americans each day, you get up, probably have too quick a breakfast, kiss your family goodbye, and you head to work. But your work, and the work of police officers across the country, is like no other. For the moment you put on that uniform, you have answered a call that at any moment, even in the briefest interaction, may put your life in harm’s way.
He then tells a little about each officer who was murdered in the rampage. That's all fine and appropriate. It doesn't take him long, however, to fly into progressive land.
And then, around nine o’clock, the gunfire came. Another community torn apart. More hearts broken. More questions about what caused, and what might prevent, another such tragedy. 
I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we’ve witnessed over the past week. First, the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, and the protests, then the targeting of police by the shooter here -- an act not just of demented violence but of racial hatred. All of it has left us wounded, and angry, and hurt. It’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened. And although we know that such divisions are not new -- though they have surely been worse in even the recent past -- that offers us little comfort. 
Faced with this violence, we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged. We wonder if an African-American community that feels unfairly targeted by police, and police departments that feel unfairly maligned for doing their jobs, can ever understand each other’s experience.
And he's off,
[A]s for those who use rhetoric suggesting harm to police, even if they don’t act on it themselves -- well, they not only make the jobs of police officers even more dangerous, but they do a disservice to the very cause of justice that they claim to promote.

We also know that centuries of racial discrimination -- of slavery, and subjugation, and Jim Crow -- they didn’t simply vanish with the end of lawful segregation. They didn’t just stop when Dr. King made a speech, or the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were signed. Race relations have improved dramatically in my lifetime. Those who deny it are dishonoring the struggles that helped us achieve that progress. 
But we know -- but, America, we know that bias remains. We know it. Whether you are black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or of Middle Eastern descent, we have all seen this bigotry in our own lives at some point. We’ve heard it at times in our own homes. If we’re honest, perhaps we’ve heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts. We know that. And while some suffer far more under racism’s burden, some feel to a far greater extent discrimination’s sting. Although most of us do our best to guard against it and teach our children better, none of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune. And that includes our police departments. We know this.
Was this the place for this cheap analysis?

This ceremony was for the fallen officers not for the dead in Minnesota and Louisiana under conditions not yet fully investigated. This ceremony was not about slavery and Jim Crow. I am going out on a limb here: much like the nonsense about Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown once the facts come in, I suspect the initial narrative about what happened in Minnesota and Louisiana will prove false. Whatever else Obama might claim later, in this speech he justifies the claims of the racist terrorists of BLM, and dismisses their violent rhetoric as merely "suggesting harm to police." He, of course, will be meeting at the White House in the next day or so with BLM and other race baiters, such as Sharpton and Jackson, as he continues his efforts to divide, confuse, and radicalize America.

The worst, most destructive president in our history.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Something a Little Lighter: Guns

I find myself very down since the Dallas massacre, and increasingly outraged (I know, I should not be anymore) over the lack of leadership coming from the White House and other top levels of the government. Our leaders foster division instead of unity. Unlike in the X Files, "the truth is not out there," the truth sits right in front of our noses. I go on progressive websites, and comment boards, and read nonsense about the threat posed by "right wing extremists." Since when did Black Lives Matter become a right-wing extremist group? Words have no meaning anymore in prog land . . .

The development I long ago feared is happening. We see a Molotov-Von Ribbentrop pact between leftist terrorists and Muslim terrorists, aiming to take down their common enemy, Western (read white) civilization. In addition, I remember something I wrote years ago while I was in Sri Lanka and later Indonesia. I wondered then why terror groups seemed so enamored of what I labeled the "CNN effect," a giant dramatic explosion or big attack. I know from personal experience, those kind of events are relatively easy for security forces to discover and head off. The real terror, in my view, comes from "little" terror. I had noticed the impact the Washington DC sniper had on American society, and thought that were I a terrorist that's the way to go; especially with the advent of 24 hour cable news and social media, coordination is not hard. Simultaneous or sequential sniper attacks or even guys on motorcycles shooting at motorists and pedestrians in multiple cities across America, Canada, Australia, and Europe would have a devastating effect on the ability of ordinary citizens to lead ordinary lives. I think we have started seeing this horror come to fruition.

All this was on my mind as my number two son and I drove to Temecula to pick up my S&W 686 from the nice folks at Faith Armory. According to the paperwork from the once great State of California, I could not claim my gun before 11:20:02 am on July 9. We arrived a bit early in my dusty but trusty 2005 Chevy Trailblazer (the car that will not die!) and had a look around. My son has applied for concealed carry, and one of the requirements for getting it is, well, you must have a gun to carry concealed--within the logic of the whole insane CC process in California, that's probably the least irrational requirement. He settled on a just-arrived, and very nice S&W MP9c. It came with two California compliant magazines: a 7+1 and an 8+1. I had not seen this model before; I own a full size MP40 which is terrific, but a bit large for CC. He presented his ID, took and passed the test (28/30), went through the safety demo, plunked down his cash, and . . . gets to wait ten days. I wanted one, too! Alas! The kindly salesman informed me that I could only purchase one handgun/month. Since I had bought my 686 on June 29, I would have to wait until July 29, before I could buy another, and then, of course, wait ten more days. I will be back! I also have my eye on an 870 Express Tactical, much like the ones I had in Pakistan, Guatemala, and Bolivia.

The digital clock finally ticked over to 11:20:02; the hold on my gun purchase was released. The salesman went into the back, and soon returned with the iconic S&W plastic box with my goody inside. He had me examine it, did some more paperwork, and finally it was mine!

California has just passed a loopy law meant to restrict ammo purchase by requiring a background check on every such purchase. I asked how this would work once the law came into effect. The salesman said nobody has any idea; the store personnel await guidance from Sacramento's progressive overlords who increasingly run our lives. He suggested I buy ammo now, lots of it. I already had ordered a bunch of the fun stuff from Cheaper than Dirt (arrived in two days!) and am ordering more. Lots more.

We are heading for some very bad times.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Dallas Massacre: Progressives, You Built It, You Own It

A mix of outrage and disgust overwhelmed me as I read and heard about the massacre in Dallas of at least five police officers and the wounding of several more. As you all know, the shooting came at the end of a "Black Lives Matter" rally organized to protest police brutality. The media and the other purveyors of politically correct double-plus-good group think labelled it a peaceful protest, well, peaceful except for 12 cops being shot, a 7-Eleven looted, and a few other such minor things. Imagine, if you will, if this had happened at a Trump rally . . . it would have been blamed on Trump's hateful rhetoric and racism.  

Once again, however, contrary to the approved Hollywoodesque narrative, we see that it is the left, the progressives, the purveyors of approved thought, the protected ones, the Democratic Party constituents who engage in lethal violence. Five decent police offers lie dead, with more struggling to live. The day before this atrocity, of course, the Progressive Supreme Commander, off on some pointless trip to Europe, and his minions, e.g., the dimwitted governor of Minnesota, the Congressional Black Caucus, lectured us on our racism, and on the need to reflect on our society, etc. In fact, even after this massacre, we have the usual idiots, and, of course, I do mean Reverend Jesse "Never Waste an Opportunity for Some Press" Jackson still going on and on about Trump and white racism. Give it a rest, Rev, give it a rest. Go reflect on how you and your corrupt associates--including your ex-con son--have betrayed the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let's be blunt: The people responsible for these killings are those who did the killings. Period.

But, you want to talk about the atmospherics for the killings?

OK, let's do.

An atmosphere of lawlessness exists in the country which I have not seen since the 1960s, along with an atmosphere of officially sanctioned stupidity which I have never seen before. The public schools, the universities, the media, the politicians high and low, and the well-oiled armies of NGOs and other activists for the growing legions of aggrieved multiculturalists and their politics of subgroup identity, now operate detached from reality, oblivious to the consequences of their obliviousness. We witness, as noted before, the exaltation of mental illness, leading to the triumph of insanity, including criminal insanity.

At the highest levels of the political structure, the Clinton Crime Family operate with immunity and gain lavish wealth and power. At the same time, we little people are subject to a mounting "lawyerfication" of our lives: more and more regulations and laws telling us what we can and cannot do; dictating that we must buy ridiculously expensive government-sanctioned health insurance, for example, or face fines; that we must not object to sharing our bathrooms with the mentally disturbed; and that we must disarm for the greater good--the evil ones have guns, so we must not. I guess that last dictate makes sense to types such as AG Lynch, who goes all pecksniffian telling us to confront terrorists with love and compassion, while she, herself, lives secure behind high walls and well-armed agents, and travels in armored vehicles and dedicated aircraft.

The growing and loopy legal code sets up confrontations between citizens and police over nonsense. Every time a law is passed, it reaffirms the belief in the death penalty. And the progs love passing laws! Showing their detachment from reality, they never ask, who enforces these laws? The answer: armed agents of the state do. Death is always a potential outcome of enforcing these laws by police officers such as the ones murdered in Dallas yesterday, or the ones who have to enforce laws against selling DVDs on the streets of Baton Rouge or single cigarettes in New York City. The progressive overlords, of course, consider cops disposable; use once and throw away.

The progressives have created an atmosphere of confrontation, conflict, and confusion; one in which no definition holds, no tradition is sacred, everything is fluid and flexible and transitioning. They will not let us use our common sense, as noted above, and say what we all know: e.g., Bill and Hillary Clinton should go to prison; Nancy Pelosi should be in a senior assisted living facility; Obama should not be President; Islam is a threat; Democrats are responsible for most violent crime in America; and, oh, yes, Black Lives Matter are terrorist thugs. I repeat, we all know that the Black Lives Matter "movement" is a hate group, a violent terrorist organization, protected by the same progressive bien piensants who cannot say "radical Islam."

The cops are heroes who should not have to risk their lives for progressive madness.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Running with the Bulls . . . Again

Ok, Ok, it's July 7, and we all know what that means: Running of the bulls in Pamplona! So here, in response to absolutely no demand, is my reprise posting on my own experience in Pamplona some years ago . . .

Running in Pamplona . . . 

OK, Hemingway fans. You all know what today is. Yes, it is July 7, the first day of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, or Iruña if you're a Basque nationalist, in Navarra, or Nafarroa if you're a Basque nationalist, and which, again depending on whether you're a Basque nationalist, is in Spain or in Euskadi. The condemned bulls that run towards the bullring and death don't care about that stuff, nor do the thousands of drunk foreigners who descend on the place destroying its charm, and risking death at the hooves and horns of huge beasts with nothing to lose.

Despite my deep admiration for British history, philosophers, actors, scientists, writers, book stores and museums, much of my life has revolved around Spain, or Euskadi, depending on whether you're a . . . never mind, you know the drill. My mother was a Spaniard, as is my wife--well, Basque if . . . ---and two of my kids were born in Euskadi or Spain. I love Spanish food (best in the world), art, literature, and history, this although my father's ancestors got thrown out of Illescas (Toledo Province) in the fifteenth century for refusing to convert and ended up as dhimmis in Morocco. My late grandmother kept a box holding the supposed keys to "our" house in Illescas for when we "returned." I told her that the house probably now lay under a shopping mall; she died in Morocco refusing to believe that. Being a callow person, however, for a good paella or crab dish (I will kill for txangurro) I forgive past injustices--I, however, do not vote Democrat as I have some standards.  

Back in July 1978, having not yet joined the Foreign Service--did that the following month--I was visiting my then-girlfriend and now wife in San Sebastian (Donostia, if you're . . . ) We decided to join her cousin and her soon-to-be husband on a road trip to Pamplona. We had to promise the girls' parents on pain of death that we would stay with relatives, and that men and women would sleep in separate rooms for the overnight in Pamplona. They piled themselves and their supplies into their SEAT 850, and we did likewise with my soon-to-be father-in-law's ten-year-old SEAT 600 (see below).

A good car when you're going to run from the bulls
The driving distance to Pamplona was not great, probably some 110 kms, about 65 or 70 miles. This, however, was before the freeway that now connects the two cities. It was a grueling mountain drive for our little and heavily laden cars. The 850 overheated several times and we had to stop--and had some great sandwiches and wine, yes, wine is recommended for mountain driving. I hardly got the 600 out of second gear and rarely exceeded 30-35 mph, and there was a minor CO vent into the car. That tiny, noisy SEAT, however, never quit. We arrived over three hours later, dizzy, deaf, tired, and cramped, but alive.

Those were tumultuous times in Spain. The Great Dictator had died some thirty months previous after nearly four decades of rule. The succession to power in Madrid was not at all clear. Long buried themes from Spain's amazingly complex history had come bursting to the surface. Among those, of course, was the issue of separatism, in particular Basque and Catalan claims to their own national identity apart from the five centuries of Castillian domination. Backed by the USSR, the GDR, Libya, Cuba, and Basques in Idaho, the ETA, a terrorist organization modeled on the much older IRA, was conducting violent urban warfare against the traditional symbols of Castillian power, e.g., Spanish banks, the telephone company, the national railroad, Madrid-named governors, pro-Spain Basque politicians, and, of course, the Guardia Civil and the Polícia Nacional. Pamplona and Navarra were caught in the middle. Both Pamplona and its province had long been claimed by Basque nationalists as part of the historical Basque homeland. Even if one accepted some dubious historical interpretations by these Basques, Navarra and Pamplona had undergone major demographic shifts over the decades and centuries. One could no longer consider the population of Navarra and Pamplona as predominantly Basque, either culturally or "racially." ETA and the Basque nationalists, however, could not accept that.

The mood in Pamplona had become ugly, especially in the wake of arrests in previous days of several Basque militants. We arrived in the midst of this darkening political scene in our smoky SEATS with our sandwiches, wine, and sausages. We had to park on the outskirts of town in a raw and only partially developed industrial area. We, however, were young, and away from parents, so a bit of a walk into the center of town didn't bother us. Although the drunk and partying foreigners seemed oblivious to their surroundings, as we got into town those of us a bit more tuned in noticed right away that things were not cheery. We saw fist fights between pro- and anti-ETA youths. The riot police presence was visibly growing with every passing hour. We saw lots of very nasty pro and anti Spain graffiti in Spanish and Euskera. Since we had arrived late, we decided not to check in with my wife's relatives, and headed straight to the bullring to try to get tickets for that day or the next. We walked down the streets where the wooden barricades had been erected for the running of the bulls. We found it impossible to get to the bullring's ticket booth. A large and increasingly boisterous crowd blocked the entrances and filled the plaza in front of the arena. The bullfight for that day was about to begin.

We heard a "Pop!" My wife, the "expert" on bulls, shouted, "Oh my God! They fired the warning rocket! That means the bulls will be charging down this street!" She then did a move that would have made Fosbury proud; she made it over the wooden barricades in record time. I move slower, and remember saying, "The bulls don't run in the afternoon." Another "Pop!" Then more in rapid succession. Lots of yelling and screaming, horns honking, a police siren, a panicked mob pushing down the street where I stood--that's much scarier than bulls. I climbed up the barricade. I saw some people with blood streaming down their faces. More "Pop!" "Pop!" coming from the bullring. I jumped down to where my wife stood and said, "Somebody is shooting!"

Somebody was indeed shooting. The unpopular governor of Navarra had arrived at the bullring to officiate the event. The crowd went wild, booing, stamping their feet, shouting in Spanish and Basque for him to get out, "¡Fuera! ¡Fuera!" They hurled comments about his mother's membership in the world's oldest profession, and her marital status at the time of his birth--nobody can beat Spaniards when it comes to colorful insults. The idiot governor, later assassinated by ETA, sent several members of the Guardia Civil into the center of the arena to announce with bullhorns (appropriate) that the bullfight would get canceled unless order and decorum returned. Mistake. First, never cede the physical high ground to an opponent; second, don't threaten him with a consequence he doesn't care about. The crowd launched a shower of seat cushions, bottles, shoes, chairs, anything throwable onto the cops. One Guardia got hit in the head by a full wine bottle. His colleagues did what panicky cops have done since time immemorial. They began firing. They fired pistols and automatic weapons into the stands and the crowd. A human stampede ensued, not to mention fatalities and many injuries.

To make a long story only slightly less long, the bulls got a reprieve that day. The city of Pamplona, however, exploded. Within a couple of hours or so the telephone company building was ablaze. Running battles between armed and shooting cops and groups of bottle and molotov cocktail throwing youths raged all over town. I told the future Diplowife, "We might want to leave right about now." For once she did not disagree, and with her cousins we walked back to our cars. We were starting them up, when some Guardias approached and asked what we were doing. "We want to leave," we whined. "Not allowed. The city is closed to all traffic, in and out." This made no sense, but they had the guns.

We had never checked in with my wife's relatives; her parents and those of her cousins were almost certainly learning about the mayhem on TV and radio and knew nothing of our fate; the phone company building was a pile of smoldering rubble; and all this, of course, was before cellphones: we were cut off from the outside world. In such a situation, what do you do? You party. My wife's cousin had heard of a fair or carny not too far from where we had parked. Away from the center of town, it offered the promise and hope of fun and safety. Off we went.

Her intel proved accurate. We found a fair with rides and other attractions, and food. We ate sandwiches, drank beer and coffee, and won stuffed animals, appropriately enough, at a shooting booth. By now, it had gotten dark; we could see the glow of the fires in Pamplona and hear police, fire, and ambulance sirens. We would have to sleep in our cars and hope the siege ended by morning. We decided to take a final ride on the merry-go-round. No sooner had we mounted our wooden steeds and begun our slow pointless orbit, a frantic crowd came charging through the fairground. They were fleeing cops who let fly rounds here and there. "Pop!" "Pop!" The herd surged around our merry-go-round, cops in pursuit, and then all vanished. We remained astride our bobbing ponies; the only sound being the jaunty music coming from that merry-go-round. I thought that this could prove a ridiculous way to die. We jumped off the moving carousel, its operator had disappeared, and made our way in the gloom back to the cars. We sat in those tiny SEATs until daybreak, and then slowly drove them past the Guardias who finally had decided to allow people out.

I let Hemingway down. I never saw a single bull, but if I had, I would have run from it. Promise.