1 April 2022: Dangerous bastards; Spanish abuse x 2; Brief laughter; & Other stuff

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza

Yesterday’s count of e-scooterists and cyclists speeding through pedestrian areas sans helmets was 7. 5 on scooters and 2 on bikes. They seem not to care about hitting pedestrians, breaking their heads or – least of all – being fined under the new law. Probably realistically as regards the last mentioned.

A Spanish chap in his 80s has been prosecuted for maltreating his wife for 56 years. Possibly a word record.

And a chap in Pontevedra has been fined for disrespecting the police by leaving his 2 young kids playing in the entrance to the police station when his wife was inside and he was outside looking after a baby. Under the infamous ‘Gagging law’, of course. I suspect he was a gypsy who got on the wrong side of the officious cop in the reception.

The UK


The German economic miracle no longer exists. The nightmare scenario for German conservatives is unfolding before their eyes, says AEP – in detail – below.


More from the columnist I quoted from yesterday: America is in desperate need of a determined and visionary leader, but has found itself stuck with an ineffective, erratic and gaffe-addled figurehead. Joe Biden is US President in name only, the weakest, least powerful holder of that office for over a century. See the full article below.

The Way of the Modern World 

Astroturfing: The deceptive practice of presenting an orchestrated marketing or public relations campaign in the guise of unsolicited comments from members of the public. For example on FB by oppressive regimes in Azerbaijan and Honduras.

Doomscrolling or doomsurfing: The act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news, which can result in harmful psychophysiological responses in some.

(A)GW: Energy provision.

Politicians are rapidly coming to learn the facts of life about energy supply, if they hadn’t realised before. Too many western politicians have believed naive but comforting assertions that we can easily dispense with hydrocarbons altogether, and assumed that meant ‘tomorrow, if needs be’. Er, no we can’t. How much the doctrinaire objections to fracking in the UK will hold up in the face of household gas bills several times higher than at present – which is what we face shortly – remains to be seen.


Where the English write Ha Ha Ha/He He He, the Spanish write Ja Ja Ja/Je Je Je. And yesterday a Moroccan friend wrote Ke Kej. Possibly meant to be Kej Kej


A confession: As a boy, I used to think there were 2 words which meant the same thing, one of them being a useful corruption of the other. As with ‘lighted’ and ‘lit’:- Miss-led, and Misled. But, after reading out loud from a play at school, I (embarrassingly) learnt that ‘miss-led’ didn’t exist. And neither did my word ‘misled’ pronounced ‘myzled’ . . .

In case you’re not a native English speaker, you might need to know the ‘misled’ is pronounced ‘miss-led’. Bloody stupid language. But useful

Finally . . .

Private Eye’s medical correspondent on Putin:-

Is Russian president Vladimir Putin mad, bad, or terminally ill and wanting to go out with a bang?

Armchair clinicians have lined up to make distant diagnoses suggesting that Putin has been using these very long tables because his immune system might be suppressed. Others have called out Putin’s “moon face” and “uncharacteristic behaviour”, variously attributed to Cushing’s disease, an under-active thyroid (unlikely) or medicinal steroid ingestion as a consequence of another auto-immune or inflammatory disease, secondary cancer or a frontal lobe tumour. The anabolic steroids he apparently takes to beef himself up may also have fattened his face and his aggression. Alternatively, tertiary syphilis has been postulated as a cause for his “Hitler fixation” and “delusions of grandeur”, and his “mask face” has been  attributed to Parkinson’s disease, dementia and Botox with fillers.

Putin apologists have claimed a sudden psychiatric disorder – perhaps triggered by lockdown isolation – to explain his descent into a vengeful and reckless territorial murderer, and not “the Vladimir I once knew” who helped deliver Brexit, whose oligarchs bankrolled the Conservatives and whose hit men delivered both nuclear (via radioactive polonium-210) and chemical murders on British soil. There was enough Novichok in the Salisbury perfume bottle to kill hundreds, prevented only by urgent local public health action. Putin is – or at least was – one of the richest dictators in the world with access to the best western medical care. He is unlikely to die from natural causes anytime soon, although we can but hope.

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.


1. The German economic miracle no longer exists. The nightmare scenario for German conservatives is unfolding before their eyes: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph 

Germany is facing a poisonous combination of rising recession risk and the highest inflation for half a century, even if it can avoid the full macroeconomic shock of a Russian energy blockade.

The headline HICP inflation rate spiked to 7.6% in March, well above expectations and a figure unseen since the “stagflation” crisis of the early 1970s. 

It follows the steepest one-month fall recorded in the expectations component of the Ifo confidence index. 

The manufacturing and broader sentiment indicators are now weaker than they were during the eurozone debt crisis, and not far short of the extreme capitulation levels of the global financial crisis in 2008. 

The mood is likely to deteriorate further as the coalition government prepares contingency plans for energy rationing across swathes of industry.  Those plans will be activated if Russia persists with its demand for payment in roubles for fossil fuels – a ruse to force foreign banks to interact with the Russian central bank and therefore erode the sanctions regime.

The German Council of Economic Experts has already cut its growth forecast for this year from 4.6% to 1.8%. It has since started to flag the dangers of a deep and lasting recession. “It could get a lot worse,” said Professor Volker Weiland, one of the five “wise men”. Prof Wieland said inflation could spiral into double digits and warned that the latest shock will be harder to handle than the pandemic, when the authorities could at least unleash unlimited monetary and fiscal firepower to stabilise the economy. This time stimulus risks entrenching the inflationary dynamic and proving counter-productive. “The European Central Bank will have to raise interest rates. It has no choice: we’re seeing a surge in inflationary expectations,” he told Handelsblatt. 

It is a surreal situation. The ECB is still conducting quantitative easing and holding rates at an historic low of minus 0.5%, severely damaging the business model of the German savings and cooperative banks. These provide 90% of total credit to the Mittelstand family firms, once the bedrock of the German Wirtschaftwunder, but are now under mounting stress.

The nightmare scenario for German conservatives is unfolding before their eyes. “The euro has become the successor of the Italian lira, not the successor to the Deutschmark, just as we feared,” said Professor Thomas Mayer, Deutsche Bank’s former chief economist and author of Inflationsgespenst (The Ghost of Inflation). “We were seeing echoes of the 1970s even before the war in Ukraine started. The ECB has been using models that do not work and has forgotten about the money supply: the Keynesian paradigm rules supreme,” he added. “It has succumbed to pure fiscal dominance just like the Banca d’Italia in the 1970s when it was obliged to buy Italian government bonds. 

Southern Europe is now so deeply indebted – including France – that the ECB cannot raise rates. It is completely boxed in. Of course, everybody will blame Putin and claim that none of this could have been foreseen,” Professor Mayer said. 

Otmar Issing, the ECB’s founding chief economist and a towering figure in German economic circles, said the central bank had betrayed its stability mandate and must now bite the bullet before it is too late. “The war is no excuse to delay the exit from massive bond purchases. The ECB is going to pay the price for not heeding countless warnings and halting its ultra-expansive monetary policy long ago,” he said.

Evercore ISI said the ECB may have to navigate the reefs by tightening into an economic slowdown while at the same time creating a “spread protection instrument” to protect Club Med, which some might call a euphemism for an illegal monetary bailout of insolvent states.

The German Macroeconomic Policy Institute warned this week that the war in Ukraine has caused the recovery to stall, with risk of an unpredictable “cascade effect” through supply chains and financial channels. 

A full cut-off of Russian coal, gas, and oil could slash growth by 6% of GDP, leading to a deep recession. Germany has yet to recover from post-Covid supply disruptions, especially the shortage of semiconductor chips used in the car industry. It is now suffering a second hit from Ukraine, a manufacturing source of car components and as well as neon gas needed for chip production. Unlike France and the UK, Germany has not yet recovered its pre-pandemic levels of GDP. 

The longer this protracted crisis continues, the more it starts to look like a depression, with lasting structural and hysteresis. The last window is slowly closing before the country’s demographic decline starts in earnest. 

The huge differential in gas and energy prices between the US and Germany is hollowing out German industrial plants. Chemical, fertiliser, steel, and metallurgy companies are either shifting output to US-based plants or losing global market share altogether. 

The strains are getting worse at a time when the German car industry itself is grappling with the existential threat of electric vehicles, which it neglected for too long.

Prof Wieland said the debate in Berlin over whether a Russian energy embargo would be costly misses the greater point. Germany has no choice: it is already in conflict with Russia. “You have to assume that Vladimir Putin will precipitate a supply freeze when it inflicts the most harm and is most advantageous for him. Ergo, we must put all levers in motion now to prepare for it,” he said.

2. Joe Biden is president in name only but the US establishment refuses to admit it. For how much longer will we have to put up with the catastrophe of this gaffe-prone administration?: Allister Heath. The Telegraph

America is in desperate need of a determined and visionary leader, but has found itself stuck with an ineffective, erratic and gaffe-addled figurehead. Joe Biden is US President in name only, the weakest, least powerful holder of that office for over a century. He isn’t America’s de facto chief executive, let alone its commander-in-chief. He is, at best, non-executive chairman, even if polite opinion in Washington is desperate to keep up the charade that the buck stops with him.

His embarrassingly downgraded role became obvious last week when he suddenly veered off-script during his keynote address in Poland, ad-libbing of Vladimir Putin that “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”. It was a dramatic escalation, a clear and simple message that no reasonable person could possibly misinterpret, and yet the White House appeared not even to ask him for permission before “clarifying” his statement. Biden’s people – who are supposed to work for him, rather than the other way around – immediately denied that he was calling for regime change. They claimed, within seconds of his speech, that the words he uttered didn’t actually mean what he obviously intended them to signify.

They were undoubtedly seeking to protect Biden from himself, and to look after US interests, by cancelling an intervention that could have provoked a furious Russian reaction. But it was an astonishing moment none the less, demonstrating that Biden’s role is now largely ceremonial: this is a collegiate administration, with an all-powerful Democratic Cabinet and federal bureaucracy. What Biden says should not be taken too seriously. He is not the fount of power, and has a habit of blurting out what colleagues might have been discussing in private.

Time and again in recent days, the President’s pronouncements have been “walked back” by those really in charge. Most notably, he wrongly told members of the 82nd Airborne Division that they would be “going to” Ukraine soon; he said America would respond “in kind” were the Russians to use chemical weapons.

His worst blunder came when he claimed prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that “it’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do”. He was then asked whether he was “effectively giving Putin permission to make a small incursion into the country”. Biden’s answer sent an even more catastrophic message to the Russians: “Good question. That’s how it did sound like, didn’t it?”

You might have expected the intervention by his officials over regime change in particular to have triggered a massive row in Washington – where in the US constitution does it say that officials dictate policy? – but it was not to be. The double standards among America’s Left-leaning elite, who are pretending not to notice what is happening, are staggering.

After four years of a bitter war with Donald Trump, much of the US media establishment has returned to its old deferential approach now that one of their own is back in the White House. To them, the appearance of normality, the fake return to mainstream codes of behaviour, the fact that Ivy Leaguers are back in charge at Treasury and State, matters far more than the reality, which is that the president isn’t really presiding and that America’s constitution is once again in deep crisis. It is a scandal.

Mainstream commentators were grumpy at the White House denials, but refused to ask the obvious questions about the president’s series of gaffes or to demand an investigation into why this may be happening. Had this been Trump, there would have been calls for the Cabinet to at least consider invoking the 25th amendment to the US constitution relating to whether a president could be considered unfit to remain in office.

Why such leniency towards Biden? Is it because the Democrats believe that Kamala Harris, the vice president, is simply not good enough to become president, were this to prove necessary? Is it because they believe in the idea of a Platonic lie, that it is in America’s interest to pretend that Biden is still fully in charge, to stop Trump from making a comeback? Or is it because they are terrified at opinion polls showing that the Republicans are set to sweep the mid-term elections? There is no excuse for failing to scrutinise and hold to account any president, regardless of party.

Biden’s shocking weakness also helps to explain the disastrous drift of US policy in all other respects. He was supposedly elected as a reasonable centrist, a liberal rather than a woke activist, a traditional Democrat rather than a neo-socialist.

Yet on economics, his latest tax proposal is far worse than anything Jeremy Corbyn dreamt up. Biden wants to tax unrealised capital gains, something that has never been attempted before in this way. He wants to tax wealthy Americans – in reality, not just billionaires but many other entrepreneurs and investors without whose contributions the US economy would collapse – on the basis of the paper increase in their fortunes. This would be a recipe for economic meltdown, a brain drain, capital flight and a massive recession.

Ordinary Americans as well as businesses are already fleeing Democratic-run cities, now plagued by out of control crime, dementedly woke school boards, surging taxes and, for long, overly strict Covid lockdowns. In the year to July 2021, the Left-wing-run New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles lost over 700,000 residents; meanwhile, conservative-run suburbs are booming. As Douglas Carswell has pointed out, some 80 per cent of the population growth took place in just 10 counties. Five of the fastest growing were in Republican Texas and two in Republican Florida.

On foreign policy, he is seeking to turn the clock back to the time when he was vice president. Biden is proposing a disastrous surrender to Iran on the nuclear issue, and even to remove the Revolutionary Guards’ terrorist designation. His withdrawal from Afghanistan was right in theory but catastrophically executed, and helped signal to rogue regimes that the US had gone soft.

The fact that Biden is in office, but not in power, has given his party’s hardliners free rein to wreak havoc. His presidency is turning out to be a catastrophe for America, and a calamity for the rest of the world. For how much longer will we have to put up with this travesty?


  1. Doomscrolling: I also recently came across this. It seems to be turning in to a big problem regarding mental health. It is easily done without realising it. I have done it myself, in the early covid days. These days I restrict my doomscrollling to match updates on Newcastle United.

    Putin: Likely all 3, but most definitely mad. Hopefully he wil die or even better, get sent to a Siberian gulag for the remainder of his life as a war criminal to share a cell with several of the people he put in there.

    ha ha ha je je je n’ all that – It’s interesting. In Brazil they use kkkkkk … I have also seen rs rs rs. And my Thai step-siblings use 555. I discovered this is because 5 in Thai is spelt haa, hence the 5 being used to mean ha.

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