Catalonia Has Declared Its Independence

The Catalan regional parliament has voted to declare independence from Spain, while the Spanish parliament has approved direct rule over the region.

Catalan MPs easily approved the move amid an opposition boycott.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had told senators direct rule was needed to return “law, democracy and stability” to Catalonia.

The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part, 90% were in favour of independence. But Spain’s Constitutional Court had ruled the vote illegal.

A motion declaring independence was approved on Friday with 70 in favour, 10 against, and two abstentions in the 135-seat chamber.

The measure calls for the transfer of legal powers from Spain to an independent Catalonia.

But the Spanish Constitutional Court is likely to declare it illegal, while the US, UK, Germany and France all expressed support for Spanish unity.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU “doesn’t need any more cracks, more splits”.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has called for supporters to “maintain the momentum” in a peaceful manner.

Crowds have been celebrating the declaration of independence and Spanish flags have been removed from some regional government buildings in Catalonia.

It does appear that everyone’s favorite promoter and funder of neo-nationalist independence movements, Russia, meddled in the election. Russia’s interests in an independent Catalonia isn’t just limited to whatever Snowden and Assange are up to.

Putin sees in the Catalonian referendum an opportunity to convince the European Union, NATO, and the UN that it is time to recognize that Crimea belongs to Russia and to let bygones be bygones. After all, business and political interests in Europe are getting restive. They contend that, after almost four years, it is time to return to “business as usual” with Russia.

The Russian narrative characterizes Catalonia as yet another unintended consequence of NATO’s 2008 recognition of Kosovo’s independence from Russian ally, Serbia. (No mention of Serbia’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovars preceding independence). Per Russia, Kosovo opened the Pandora’s Box of independence movements, of which Catalonia is but the latest example. In the growing list of self-determination movements – Kosovo, Kurdish Iraq, Scotland, Crimea, Quebec, and now Catalonia — why should Crimea and its new homeland, Russia, be the only ones singled out for sanctions? Says one insulted Russian commentator: The West “has no right to lecture Russia.” The West cannot punish those referendums whose outcome it dislikes and praise those it welcomes.

 Russia claims that the March 2014 Crimean referendum was no different from the other self-determination movements, including Catalonia. According to the Russian narrative, the Crimean vote was spontaneously initiated by patriotic Crimean legislators, alarmed by the takeover of Kiev by nationalist extremists and neo-Nazis. The Crimean referendum took place without incident and without the overt influence of Russian special forces. The “official” Crimean election results, as quoted widely in the Western press, showed a 97% vote in favor of annexation with a remarkable turnout of 83%. The Russian message: The balloting procedure may not have been perfect, but the election results are overwhelming; so why all the fuss?

The Russian narrative has been drummed for almost four years into audiences in Russia and abroad. Attention spans are limited, and few bother to drill into the true story of the Crimean annexation, which has been documented as follows:

Part of Russia’s meddling appears to have been through everyone’s favorite promoters of transparency in government.

Sentiment on the issue of secession has run fierce here for the past five years, but lately, suspected Russian mouthpieces Assange and Edward Snowden — as well as Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik — have been throwing fuel on the fire, tweeting out provocative messages by the hundreds over the past week; every time the government shuts down a voting app, Assange tweets a link to a new one.

But the Catalan situation is unprecedented, in part because of its support from outside the country. Assange and Snowden are widely suspected of fronting for Russia, which as part of its campaign to destabilize Western democracies has supported secessionist movements from Scotland to Texas. Barcelona and the surrounding resort towns along the Costa Brava are favorite vacation and second-home spots for wealthy Russians, including alleged Mafia heads reportedly linked to the Kremlin. Some of them are facing criminal charges by the national government — charges that might not survive a transition to a new, Russia-friendly Catalan national government. “The situation is confusing and highly combustible,” says one longtime resident who declined to be quoted by name, given the intensity of feeling on the issue.

Now we wait to see how this gets resolved, if it can be resolved. And if so, whether the resolution is peaceful.

Stay frosty!

81 replies
  1. 1
    West of the Cascades says:

    I think the headline should say “Catalonia” or “Catalunya” (in Catalan) to name the region rather than the language.

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    You might mean “Catalonia has declared…” Or “The Catalans have declared…”

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @West of the Cascades: You are correct, I have fixed it. Thank you for catching that.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    West of the Cascades says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Mercy! (on the Catalans, too).

  6. 6
    ruemara says:

    I’m really wondering why this has been picked up by Putin’s destabilization campaign. What is the glorious point?

  7. 7
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @West of the Cascades: I do not think there will be much. I’ve been in touch with a former student of mine who is a senior officer (colonel) in the Spanish military about what was going on. The impression I got from the response was that if heads needed to be cracked to get the Catalonian’s back in line, as has happened every time they’ve tried this in the past, that heads will be cracked.

  8. 8
    gvg says:

    I don’t even understand why they want independence. there are a lot of negatives to being a very small country. are they prepared to create an army? Because it doesn’t look like they are going to be let go. Then there is currency. All the reason’s American state indepenence movements are stupid.
    What is independence supposed to solve?

  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ruemara: Weakens Spain, which is an active participant in the US led coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as it weakening the EU. Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions, if I’m recalling correctly, in Spain. And it provides an example for other neo-nationalist and neo-nationalist independence movements in Europe, and elsewhere, that Russia has been overtly and covertly supporting and promoting to follow.

  10. 10
    PhoenixRising says:

    Lots about this I can’t type with my thumbs comes to mind and I have a busy day at work but in sum:

    Spain is a social construct. Spain’s 4th constitution (current iteration) was crafted less than 40 years ago, with this exact circumstance in mind. Catalans are the richest and most European Spaniards. They pay the most and arguably also benefit the most from Spain’s EU membership–however, that argument has not been made.

    Metro Barcelona is a global capital that resents paying for its cousin’s 4 kids in Sevilla and the south. Instead of explaining to Barcelona that Madrid is the mechanism by which the French and Germans help pay your cousin’s dole, Rajoy came at this waving a big stick. It’s all down side, was entirely avoidable and one hopes mature thinkers who recall the last time Madrid fell to nationalist Fascists who then allied with their ideological mates from the East to bomb Las Ramblas will prevail.

    Ojala

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    Ridiculous. I blame Carles Puigdemont and the Catalan politicians for stirring up this mess. Sounds like Catalan kids are taught alternative history in their schools, which teach in the Catalan language.

    Catalunya had a lot of independence from Madrid; their culture is respected, and they’re likely to lose the gains they’d made. Over fake history. Mostly over resentment that their taxes are supporting less prosperous areas. Boo the fuck hoo. They do have some legitimate gripes about corruption in Madrid.

    The referendum last month(?) was pretty much a sham. No benchmarks for ensuring a certain % of the Catalan voters had to approve the independence measure.

    Spain is a young democracy. Franco’s only been gone since the mid 1970s. This one seems to me like some hotheaded politicians who got caught up in their own rhetoric. Tearing a region apart for their own careers.

    (FWIW, the mayor of Barcelona said she did not support independence, but thought Catalans should be allowed to vote last month.)

    NY Times reader commenters are castigating the Catalan breakaways.

  12. 12
    ruemara says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you. I figured the destabilization part out, but I didn’t know they were the wealthiest part. Putin is just ginning up potential civil wars all over, isn’t he?

  13. 13

    Just remember, Brave Sir Edward is just a whistle-blower.

  14. 14
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Adam L Silverman: RUs agenda as you outlined in the post…can’t argue because I don’t know much. But this is clearly part of the ongoing attack on the EU as a ln entity allowing Moscow’s neighbors (between St Pete & the Atlantic, all of it was once or shall be etc) to resist Russia power in an efficient way.

    That seems like enough cheese to make it worth throwing some blasting caps down this old, old hole.

  15. 15

    @gvg:

    I don’t even understand why they want independence. there are a lot of negatives to being a very small country.

    The idea is that they’d remain in all the super-national groups Spain is currently a member, like the EU, Eurozone, NATO, etc. That would solve most of the problems smaller, newly independent countries would normally have with setting up a currency, international trade agreements, and the like. It obviously ignores all the problems with the rest of Spain not agreeing to let them go with their share of the Spanish military, government buildings, pension funds, etc.

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    @PhoenixRising: Yeah.

    Someone needed to sit the Catalans down and explain how they benefit from being part of Spain; what’s in it for them that they take for granted. I never heard of anyone doing that; it was pretty much horse race coverage but I didn’t follow it carefully and read neither Spanish nor Catalan well enough to follow locally.

    This secession of the wealthy people/regions needs to be stopped.

  17. 17
    Chris says:

    @ruemara:

    Putin’s main objective at this point seems to be creating chaos and mayhem in the West. Supporting fascist movements that want to remake their countries does this. Supporting anti-EU movements that want to leave or break up one of the major Western alliance systems does this. And supporting separatist movements that want to leave or break up Western nations does this. He’ll work with whoever he looks most likely to achieve the objective.

  18. 18
    The Moar You Know says:

    This was dumber than Brexit, and Brexit was the stupidest move I’ve witnessed a nation do in my lifetime.

    ETA: good friend of mine who lives in Barcelona is sure that Russian-fueled social media interference is not helping the situation. I would not be shocked. At all.

  19. 19
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @ruemara: Pretty much. Chaos suits his purposes. Enflaming existing societal and political and religious divisions suits his purposes.

  20. 20
    Emma says:

    @gvg: Also, borders. Taxation. Being treated as foreigners both in business and personally. I talked to an all-in supporter of Scottish independence once and asked him what would happen when tariffs and such changed to treat Scotland as separate and he was supremely convinced that either it would never happen or they would be rescued by the European Union.

    Good luck to them, though, if that’s really what they want.

  21. 21
    catclub says:

    @PhoenixRising: I have read that the Italians have worked out a similar deal with the South Tyrol region that is much more favorable to South Tyrol than the deal Catalonia has in terms of ‘our tax dollars only bleeding out to poorer regions’, also agreement on what Departments (Health Education, etc) that South Tyrol takes over from the federal government. Too bad they could not work with that as a basis for adjustments.

  22. 22
    Chris says:

    @Elizabelle:

    My father was in Spain in the late seventies, when the post-Franco order was still settling down. He said he could never understand why the Catalans hadn’t negotiated the same sort of autonomy that the Basques did when they had the chance. Doesn’t seem to have a very high opinion of their political class, either.

  23. 23
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @PhoenixRising: Yep. In 2014 I argued that risking a war with a nuclear weapon state over Crimea wasn’t worth the risk. I was wrong. President Obama needed to bloody Putin’s nose. I don’t know if it would have changed anything, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt.

  24. 24
    James E. Powell says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    What is it that puts the neo in neo-nationalist? I thought this Catalonia thing was fairly ancient, but admit to knowing nothing that wasn’t included in Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.

    Why do the people living there believe it’s so important to have an independent country? I mean, I live in Los Angeles County and there are times I’d like to be disassociated from the rest of the US of A, but independence? Nah.

    And will it really harm Spain to let them go? In the long run, does it matter enough to justify killing people?

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Roger Moore: And it ignores that the EU and NATO aren’t going to just let them join.

  26. 26
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    How do they figure on remaining in these big groups if Spain, which will remain part of the EU, doesn’t agree to let them in? (Before you even get into the fact that all the major European powers are also saying they wouldn’t want an independent Catalonia).

    Mostly rhetorical, but I wonder if they’ve even bothered to offer a lame excuse/rationalization.

  27. 27
    Doug! says:

    What’s the back story on this? I feel like we just suddenly started hearing about the referendum a few weeks ago. Would an independent Catalonia be viable?

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    and Brexit was the stupidest move I’ve witnessed a nation do in my lifetime

    How about allowing the current President to become president?

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I think in 2014 most of us still thought that Russia was just trying to secure its borders but that it would go no further. That was, in retrospect, a major miscalculation. The three years since then have pretty well made clear that he’s out to break up the West altogether.

  30. 30
    The Moar You Know says:

    And will it really harm Spain to let them go?

    @James E. Powell: Immensely. Like how here in CA, we pay almost half the nation’s bills, same situation in Catalonia. Spain literally cannot afford to let this happen.

  31. 31
    PhoenixRising says:

    One more comment to add to the jackals’ fact stockpile for your commenting–someone mentioned NYT commenters, which who’s got time for that?:

    Catalunya, Andalucia, Galicia and the Basque region raised this prospect during the debate about joining Europe.

    The consensus was that Europe is all upside for independent regions, because it allows for more power to devolve down to the regional level over regional issues (what languages are used in public space and public schools has had a lot of blood spilled over it since Franco came to power in 1938), while allowing Spain to handle international relations for its regions.

    This isn’t just a thing we stumbled into this decade. In 1991-92, the daily papers were awash in the debate about how EU entry would affect the constitutionally required and permitted forms of regional autonomy. This wasn’t just foreseeable, it was foreseen, and a solution was agreed on: Spain’s charter document does not permit regions to leave.

    Unlike some other European ethnic nationalist movements referred to above, this is not an old grudge that was solved with violence by ancestors and therefore requires that an evaluation of their treaty be taken up in light of changed norms about the rights of people to self-govern.

    This exact circumstance was evaluated and the people’s democratically elected representatives chose a solution agreeable to all. While I was on my junior year abroad. Not your grandpa’s grandpa heard of the Easter Rising, here.

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @PhoenixRising: @Elizabelle: Probably because I am an economist, my professional hammer is always looking for a nail. But I have to wonder how much economic dislocation and regional imbalances from the 2007-9 global recession and real estate bust contributed to renewed independence movement.

    Spain is one of the PIIGS, but has followed a more neo-liberal approach to recovery than Portugal or Iceland. In terms of employment, I think the country followed a policy that lead to a more ‘flexible’ labor market that paid much less attention to welfare and power of workers than Scandinavia (it was not the ‘flexisecurity’ of Denmark for example). This policy has recently led to labor market recovery, but only after almost five years of pain for workers. I think Catalonia feels it has suffered a net outflow of industrial base to other regions. It has higher than average per capita debt than other regions, and higher real estate and housing costs. I don’t know the history of regional per capita income differentials in Spain. If Catalonia was the richest region in terms of per capita income, I don’t think it is anymore.

    Edit: I have a vague recollection that Catalonia followed a different kind of investment boom than rest of Spain during housing boom. More investment in public infrastructure and less in private housing. I’ll have to find some resources to check that. Anyway, there were some significant differences, and I wonder how that played into what I think is relative decline in Catalonian wealth and prosperity compared to other of the more prosperous regions of Spain.

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @James E. Powell: The independence part has been around a long time. I’m using the neo in front of nationalist because there has been a concerted push for the past decade or so to either encourage the emergence of nationalist parties that would weaken regional and international alliances and partnerships (Front National or UKIP for instance) or to encourage specific ethno-national groups within existing states and societies to break away.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl:

    Probably because I am an economist

    Well this explains why you’re comments are always dismal and depressing.//

  35. 35
    hellslittlestangel says:

    @ruemara: It fits Putin’s foreign policy agenda: fuck shit up.

  36. 36
    The Moar You Know says:

    How about allowing the current President to become president?

    @Adam L Silverman: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “not even in the same league”. Brexit is shaping up to be the cause of decades of abject misery for Brits. I do not think that will be the case with Trump. Unless he rage-nukes NK, that would be a planetary civilization-altering event, not in a good way of course.

  37. 37
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Chris:

    I think in 2014 most of us still thought

    I can guarantee you nobody in Ukraine thought that.

  38. 38
    jl says:

    @Adam L Silverman: No, that is my Scots and Irish heritage, and the cuisine. I thought you understood that, Mr. Joe Haggis Silverman.

    Edit: one limb on the ancestral tree comes from Northern Ireland, and their idea of cooking is to put the food into a pots of water and cook it until it is a nice wholesome uniform gray. The psychic scars of my time growing up with them remain.

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Yes, and I doubt if most of us are Ukrainian.

    No, I doubt if people in Ukraine thought that, and they were right. “Most of us still thought” is in no way meant to imply that we were right.

  40. 40
    Schlemazel says:

    @ruemara:
    Have you not seen MIB? Roaches thrive on chaos and death.

    It weakens the US and NATO which works in favor of him and the criminals associated with the Russian mob

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Doug!: Here’s the short version:
    The Catalonians are a distinct ethno-national group that has sought an independent state many times over the past several hundred years. Usually this ends very badly for the leadership, if not the majority, of Catalonians. When Spain did its most recent constitution the issues that are being cited as supposed problems by the current Catalonian leadership were addressed. Moreover, that constitution does not allow Catalonia to secede. Especially by a unilateral declaration. Russia, in its interest to disrupt the EU and NATO, has been providing covert and overt support in pushing those in Catalonia who are seeking independence as whatever mess emerges from this suits Putin’s overall purposes of leveling the post WW II and post Cold War international order and regional orders, especially the regional order in Europe.

  42. 42
    catclub says:

    @Emma:

    either it would never happen or they would be rescued by the European Union.

    but isn’t being rescued by the EU exactly what Scottish Independence in the face of Brexit means? I thought also in that case that the EU would be in favor of Scottish independence to remain in the EU.

  43. 43
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Moar You Know: I was mostly teasing.

  44. 44
    Elizabelle says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The Guardian:

    Michael Bloomberg: Brexit is stupidest thing any country has done besides Trump
    Exclusive: Billionaire media mogul says it is ‘hard to understand why a country doing so well wanted to ruin it’

    … At that event, Bloomberg, 75, also warned that some workers at the financial media company that bears his name were asking to leave the UK and US because they think the two countries no longer like immigrants and are no longer welcoming.

    The CEO was in London on Tuesday to open a new European headquarters for Bloomberg in the City, covering 1.3 hectares (3.2 acres). But his earlier remarks, unearthed the same day, suggested he had regrets about making the investment decision because of the Brexit vote.

    “We are opening a brand new European headquarters in London – two big, expensive buildings. Would I have done it if I knew they were going to drop out? I’ve had some thoughts that maybe I wouldn’t have, but we are there, we are going to be very happy.

    “My former wife was a Brit, my daughters have British passports, so we love England – it’s the father of our country, I suppose. But what they are doing is not good and there is no easy way to get out of it because if they don’t pay a penalty, everyone else would drop out. So they can’t get as good of a deal as they had before.”

    He added: “I did say that I thought it was the single stupidest thing any country has ever done but then we Trumped it.”

  45. 45
    PhoenixRising says:

    @jl: nope. Catalunya is Spain’s New York, economically. Yes, debt and housing are higher than in Madrid…because Barcelona is a nicer place to live and where the countryside kids with a dream go to make it big. A view of Central Park in a doorman co-op in the West 70s costs more than a house in Allentown, but that doesn’t mean Catalans are hurting financially.

    Economic resentment–my money is going to support 3 families in Extremadura–is driving this, yes. But not because Barcelona can’t afford to owe more or spend more on housing, because they resent having to send “their money to Madrid”.

    This isn’t a good analogue but imagine if LA were the center of the movement for a California Republic…close but still wrong

  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: No knock on @Chris:, but I didn’t think that either. I can’t go into details (take that however you want), but I was looking at it in terms of how much risk did we want to assume/how much more risk could we assume and handle at that point in 2014 with the Levant getting ugly because of ISIS and the Syrian Civil War.

  47. 47
    p.a. says:

    Not the 1st time I’ve commented this: thank FSM we have such stable, competent leadership of the executive branch at this time.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Chris:

    I think in 2014 most of us still thought that Russia was just trying to secure its borders but that it would go no further.

    I am sorry. What? Who is this “most of us” that thought something so foolish?

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: That’s Dr. Angus Hamish Silverman. Thank you very much.

  50. 50
    The Moar You Know says:

    I was mostly teasing.

    @Adam L Silverman: I know. But a lot of folks don’t have the perspective to understand the relative seriousness of things. Britain literally signed onto what amounts to a national suicide pact.

  51. 51
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elizabelle: I saw that yesterday.

  52. 52
    Elizabelle says:

    @The Moar You Know: The morning after the Brexit vote, my two flatmates, young Brits studying in Spain, were in tears. They did not support the coming disaster.

    I think a lot of the youngs who were spread around Europe did not see the danger in time and did not vote.

    I keep hoping Britain won’t go through with/accomplish its Brexit. And I agree with Bloomberg (above) that if they do, they need to get slapped hard, as warning to others who might try that path.

  53. 53
    Emma says:

    @catclub: The problem is that the EU isn’t in any shape to rescue anyone at the present or the foreseeable future. The Brexit disentanglement negotiations are going to be messy enough that they would likely not make it a high priority to assist Scotland in its own bilateral talks. It also has a lot of internal political/economic issues to deal with.Politicians are really good at verbal support but not so hot about the actual cash-on-the-barrelhead thing.

  54. 54
    jl says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    You will have to explain your ‘nope’ and ‘close but still wrong’ in more detail for me to understand exactly what you are saying.

    ” Economic resentment–my money is going to support 3 families in Extremadura–is driving this, yes. ”
    I guess I was close there. I didn’t mean that debt in and of itself was a problem for Catalonia, but regional imbalances in what the debt burden was financing and who was benefiting.

    “New York (City?)” and ” center of the movement for a California Republic ”
    If Catalonia is comparable to them, that is an ambiguous distinction. Northern California, specifically belt from Silicon Valley and SF Bay through Sacramento has been leading CA economic growth rates, dragging the rest of the state along.

    So, do you mean to say that Catalonia really is a driver of economic growth, and is being milked by the rest of Spain, or just fancies that it is?
    Anyway, more explanation and/or links would be appreciated.

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    @Corner Stone:

    Clarification: “securing borders” in a “near abroad” kind of way as they’re constantly talking about. Making sure your borders are lined with obedient puppet buffers, and creating those buffers by force (either by coup in the countries near you, or by carving out new countries or new territories for your own as the Russians seem to like doing) is one thing. Going all-out on breaking up another power bloc is another.

  56. 56
    PhoenixRising says:

    @p.a.: yup. Glad we have adults at the helm!

    This week feels like the inverse of John Rogers’ humor from 2005(?) on the assertion of a Caliphate by al-Q: I call shenanigans.

    From Barcelona, we travel along a line of chaos across Turkey, south to Bangladesh where Myanmar’s genicude contiues unchecked, then to Cambodia where the Kingdom of Wonder has outlawed the opposition party, jailed its leaders who haven’t fled and legalized it all by reseating the legislature to reflect! Looking toward Seoul, oh never mind let’s not even talk about Korea—

    Boy, looking around the world, it’s sure a relief to know that though US power can’t solve everything, at least we’re not making these crises worse!(lolsob)

  57. 57
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Interestingly, even though Ukrainians knew clearly what was happening, many are also realists, and (I think I’ve mentioned this to you) there are good, patriotic, westward-looking Ukrainians who believe Crimea isn’t worth a war. It’s not economically viable no matter who controls it, and to some, not worth trying to keep. But you won’t hear that publicly.

  58. 58
  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Yep. It is always a question of how much risk does one want to assume with one’s strategy. At the time I thought physically bloodying Putin’s nose was assuming too much risk in light of the potential reward. Today, and many days since last Spring, in hindsight, I’m no longer so sure the risk was too much.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @DougJ: De nada!

  61. 61
    James E. Powell says:

    @jl:

    that is my Scots and Irish heritage

    I feel you. Mine is Welsh-Scot & Czech. Moreover, I’m from Cleveland.

  62. 62
    Elizabelle says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I bet Obama — and Hillary Clinton — would give anything to have disclosed way sooner about the Russian interference in the election.

    Journalists who had seen the dossier had a responsibility to disclose its allegations. No matter how unlikely it might have seemed that Trump might win. They did not know how badly our election systems might be, and proved to be.

  63. 63
    Sloane Ranger says:

    The EU won’t give Scotland any special treatment if the vote for independence in a post Brexit world. Spain will not want to give aid and comfort to secessionist tendencies as their response to the Catalonian referendum shows. And there are other EU nations with similar independence movements.

    Brexit as well as Scottish and Catalonia independence all share something in common, however and that is that our money is being misused and our culture and national qualities are being strangled by an external bureaucracy.

    That’s why I think we miss something, when we only look at these things in financial terms. Here in Britain many ordinary people who voted Brexit aren’t interested in the financial arguments. They talk about EU corruption and loss of control over our own laws and destiny.

  64. 64
    Mike J says:

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Nf3 Be7

  65. 65
    PhoenixRising says:

    our money is being misused and our culture and national qualities are being strangled by an external bureaucracy.

    @Sloane Ranger:

    This is a great example of how nationalism looks in a new suit.

    What Edinborough and Barcelona certainly have in common is those feelings. In reality, the second half of the sentence is fabricated. It’s a sentiment that dresses up the feeling that it’s unfair for all the revenue from North Sea oil to be filtered through London to Brussels, before coming back to this village in the form of NHS which feels gritty and underfunded and is staffed by Indians. The financial argument has a grain of truth to it–what large organization like the EU, or our federal level, doesn’t have some bad apples/lazy workers/graft?–but ignores all the benefits of federalization.

    The sentiment about ‘our culture’ is cleverly braided to that felt reality about the money, in order to gain power, keep more regionally generated revenue closer to home where the politicians pushing this line can control more of it.

    @jl hope that’s closer. I’m 3 hours from being done at work.

  66. 66
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Mike J:

    Oh, very well played!

  67. 67
    jl says:

    @PhoenixRising: ” all the benefits of federalization. ”
    My only quibble there is that the US, and for example Canada, have many more benefits of federalization for each region than the UK or EU, or particularly EU plus Eurozone.

  68. 68
    Emma says:

    @Sloane Ranger:

    Here in Britain many ordinary people who voted Brexit aren’t interested in the financial arguments. They talk about EU corruption and loss of control over our own laws and destiny.

    Which is very uplifting until it’s time to pay for services and the North Sea Oil revenue is crashing.

  69. 69
    Miss Bianca says:

    Oh, man. Somehow, I don’t see this ending well. Except for Russia. No matter what happens, maximum chaos appears to be their goal. Now we know what it looks like when Loki comes down to Earth.

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    Brachiator says:

    Just coming to this story now. Wow. This may be as big a misjudgment as the Kurds attempt to go for autonomy. I don’t think that any of the Euro institutions support this.

    Interesting times we live in. The Kenya elections are a mess. The opposition, having declared the first elections to be illegitimate, are encouraging their supporters to stay away from the polls, with hints that they may instigate a more active, and violent rebellion. Imagine if that had happened here after the November presidential election. Talk about your resistance. And the Kurds are still in a daze that the Iraqi army rolled up their rebellion so quickly.

    Meanwhile, in Israel and the Palestinian territories, there is some attempt at a unified Palestinian government. This would really shake things up if they do not fall into factional squabbling again.

    But coming round again to Spain, do the people of Catalonia really expect to be able to unilaterally declare independence with no pushback? Hell, the UK can’t even get its BREXIT act together.

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    @Adam L Silverman: I think we have a winner! That was an epic own goal.

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    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @satby:

    Chess notation of the first few moves in the “Catalan Opening.”

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elizabelle: There’s a post I’ve been mulling over all month. On the day that the US government disclosed the interference, FRI OCT 7, the Access Hollywood tape was sent over to David Farenthold at WaPo. Farenthold did what he should have done: scrambled to verify it, verify NBC had it, but wasn’t going to run it, and then broke the story. This sucked every bit of oxygen out of the Russian interference story by 4 PM. Everyone the Clinton campaign had lined up for the shows on FRI afternoon, evening, and all weekend were dropped to cover the Access Hollywood tape. And then Wikileaks dumped Podesta’s emails around 8 PM or so. So the weekend’s coverage was on the Access Hollywood tape and the Wikileaks Podesta email dump. And the Russian interference story disappeared.

    So who sent Farenthold the tape? Why that day? I don’t believe in coincidence. I think the Trump campaign sent the tape, most likely through a cut out or dupe to cover themselves. They knew what was coming as the President, as one of the two nominees and his senior folks, had gotten a daily briefing on what was going on. So they subverted the news cycle to change the narrative knowing that the tape wouldn’t cost the candidate any actual support. I think all the GOP handwringing, from Pence to Ryan to Chaffetz, was coordinated and orchestrated. A perfectly executed maskirovka provocation operation.

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    Miss Bianca says:

    @Adam L Silverman: you really think they have their shit that together? Well, why not…sucking all the oxygen out of the room with outrageous but ultimately meangingless BS to cover actual news, actual scandal, and to make up for actual governing does seem to be all they know how to do. And they do it well, for what it’s worth.

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    Mike J says:

    @satby: The Catalan opening. There are a limited number of opening sequences in chess, and they get studied to some depth by serious players. Often named after the first tournament they were played in (see also the Sicilian defense and its Scheveningen variation) .

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    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Miss Bianca: Yes I do. The President may not seem to be able to complete a sentence, and the kids all appear to be a trust fund away from being considered unemployable morons, but Paul Manafort and Roger Stone and Bannon and Conway and Flynn and Woolsey and Chris Christie and Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell all do.

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    Sloane Ranger says:

    @Emma: As one person I yelled at the day after the Referendum told me

    “My Dad didn’t risk his life fighting against the Germans in WWII to let them boss us around now. So what if things get tough for a while? We’ve been through bad times before. My Granny brought up 6 kids during the Depression and the War wasn’t a walk in the park for my Mum either!”

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    TenguPhule says:

    @Sloane Ranger:

    So what if things get tough for a while? We’ve been through bad times before.

    The whole lie that Brexit was sold on was that it was going to make things better, not worse.

    Ritual suicide would have been quicker and less painful then what’s going to happen now.

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    J R in WV says:

    I don’t know much t contribute to this discussion. But we did fly through Madrid’s airport to Bilbao, in the NW of Spain, because of a failed Air France flight we were rescheduled to a Delta flight to Madrid connecting to Bilbao. The point of the trip was to visit many of the ancient cave paintings on a guided tour with a Cambridge don who lives and breathes ancient art. It was a wonderful tour and the whole trip was great in both Spain and France.

    After we unloaded from our Delta flight, at what appeared to be a huge, vast airport, we went through entry to the EU, and then began to realize that the airport was empty. There were more Security Police than passengers. All the high end duty-free shops were empty and closed.

    We got help from the police, and took a bus, alone, to another terminal, just as closed and empty as the first, main entry terminal. This was in fall of 2013. We searched through the second terminal until we found our departure gate to Bilbao, where there was a slowly gathering crowd of folks, the only active gate we saw in that whole terminal.

    The small regional airport in Bilbao was also pretty empty when we arrived from Madrid. We were earlier than most of our group, to spend some time together in Bilbao and rest up from the trans-Atlantic flight.

    When it came time to meet our tour, the airport was a little busier than when we arrived. There was an open snack bar where we could get drinks and meet our guides and the rest of the tour group. But while Bilbao seemed busy enough, we were in the high-end part of town, near the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Geary, with new hotels all around.

    Interestingly, as we came and went from the hotel in downtown Bilbao, there was a shop across the street offering Beretta weapons for sale, just like anywhere in the US. HIgh end stuff, I imagine, though we didn’t ever have time to go in while they were open.

    But for a town founded on the steel industry, shipyards, foundries and mills, all gone today, Bilbao seemed to be prosperous, clean, busy and doing well, compared to Youngstown and Cleveland. Maybe not as prosperous as Pittsburgh, but doing well enough. I guess investing a billion Euros into an art community was maybe a good idea.

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    Joy in FL says:

    not important, but I have to say that when I first read the title of this post, my eyes saw “Californians declare independence.” … can’t blame them, but it would be rough for the rest of us.

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