February 29, 2008
All the coverage of recent events in Cuba has not only been political. Money magazine focuses on how to profit from the embargo lifting they see as more likely now, remarking on the recent rise of stocks which may profit from the political nonchange. They discuss the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund (CUBA) which is set to benefit from ancillary businesses if trade commences. Some of the purported beneficiaries of the speculation: possibly Starwood Hotels which is owed about $50.7 million by the Cuban government, the reprehensible Office Max which as Boise Cascade owned the electric company, and Imperial Tobacco which through Altadis controls many of the Cuban cigar brands. Read it here.
Cuba Held Hostage – Day 17,955
The Cuban regime continues its propaganda offensive.
Felipe Perez Roque just signed two Human Rights Covenants that Cuba had refused to sign.
But in typical Castrist fashion, he quickly announced that:
United States' economic embargo and hostility to Cuba's government "constitutes the most serious obstacle to the enjoyment by the Cuban people of the rights protected by the covenants".
So basically, Perez Roque is saying that unless the United States agrees to their conditions, the regime will have no choice but to continue to oppress, starve and enslave the Cuban people.
This is a hostage situation. It always has been.
Since its inception, Fidel’s 26 of July movement, has employed terrorist methods to achieve its goals. Hell, they even “invented” air hi-jackings, so it’s no surprise.
After taking the island over, they held the whole population with a gun to their heads-once even a nuclear gun.
Every so often they release a few hostages, some escape. The former hostages feel pity on the ones with a gun still to their heads and send help which helps the criminals because that’s one less hostage to feed. Some develop the “Stockholm Syndrome” and begin to identify with the hostage taker. (there’s a lot of that going around in Miami lately)
This hostage drama has gone on for so long now, that the ringleader is dying-of old age. It seems the rest of the gang is starting to panic. The hostages are starting to revolt. The pizzas and cigarettes that the cops were sending in isn’t enough anymore. They want more.
Pretty soon, they might ask for a plane to fly out of the country-perhaps to “Wyoming”
"We are convinced that the lifting of the embargo will come in the future" said Perez Roque who added that it must be lifted "without any conditions whatsoever".
Thinking of Voting Donkey?
The House passed the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 on a vote of 236 to 182. Senate Democratic leaders have indicated they would fast-track the bill to try to avoid a Republican filibuster…”It actually carves out tax breaks for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez - courtesy of American taxpayers,” said Boehner. “This is unacceptable, and the Democratic leadership is irresponsible for bringing the bill to the House floor.”
All of this, of course, while raising taxes on the domestic oil industry. Those brilliant Democrats in congress, as some kind of moronic punishment, are taxing US Oil Companies because of our recent high gas prices. I suppose it would make sense if youre an idiot, but we all know that the oil companies will just pass along those tax costs to the consumer.
Round-up of must reads
Alfredo takes on Cardinal Soprano Bertone at El Cafe Cubano.
Seton Motley tells us about Mad Magazine's latest cover at News Busters.
Gusano weighs in on Bertone who came from "the land of Machiavelli" at La Contra Revolución.
Luis M. Garcia, the Aussie Cubiche gives us his take on Cuba's signing of human rights accords at Child of the Revolution
A look at the media's coverage of Cuba by Tomas Estrada Palma at Cubanology's Cuba Report.
The Twelfth Man on the Field
You hear that term every Sunday during football season: "the twelfth man in the field." Despite that the game is played with only elleven men, sometimes it's that twelfth man that's given the kudos for a team's victory. That twelfth man is, of course, the crowd. The fans that are there not just to take in a game, but to support their team. To that team on the field, fighting and scratching for every inch, the twelfth man is inspiring. Whether it's a first and ten or a third and twenty, when that team hears the roar of the crowd, that twelfth man, they get fired up. That team gets just that much more courageous, just that much more hopeful, just that much more inspired, just that much closer to victory. It is amazing what encouragement and support mean to the human spirit.
Not too long ago, Blackfive readers, joined by thousands of readers from other blogs, sent over 30,000 emails of support to Marines in Iraq. The Marines had to shut down the email address because you all were causing bandwidth issues with the support we were sending.
Now, as if the Taliban and Al Qaeda, bad weather, and lack of support here at home weren't bad enough, the New York Times has published a one-sided view of the paratroopers tour in Afghanistan.
And so now we have cause to band together again and send massive support down range.
Those are our men and women over there, giving their all and making incredible sacrifices. They arent over there to garner bragging rights or win us a trophy. They are over their in service to their country, you and me, putting it all on the line and under the most deplorable of conditions, to protect our way of life:
This winter has been particularly harsh. Many of the Soldiers are living in mud huts and tents with little or no heat, no running water, intermittent use of generators, supply drops via air to drop zones that require a hike of up to 40 minutes each way in order to retrieve the supplies, 30+ days out on missions at the firebases without showers or daily hot meals before rotating back to the KOP or Camp Blessing for hot showers, hot meals and the ability to communicate with their families and friends.
The Sky Soldiers have trudged through up to seven feet of snow on patrols day in and day out often at altitudes of 7,000 feet and higher. Each Soldier carries between 60 and 100 pounds of gear on these patrols. They Soldier-On each day despite the loss of many friends and comrades and substantially high numbers of wounded.
It's time to do the wave for our guys out on the field. It's time to let them know we're behind them 100%. It's time to thank them for those sacrifices and let them know we got their backs:
Let's show these Soldiers how much support they have from home to help them through the spring and the remainder of this long and dangerous deployment.
Americaatroopers are in the fight of their lives and they need to hear that America loves them.
Please send an email of support to email@example.com
Or you can mail cards to:
P O Box 100
Cordova, TN 38088
Due to security reasons in Afghanistan please do not put addresses or phone numbers on any correspondence. All emails will be printed out here in the US and mailed to Afghanistan as they do not have the resources to receive a large number of emails. All letters and emails will be vetted to make sure there are no negative comments. These are letters of support, so please keep them positive and uplifting.
Folks, please take a few minutes of your day to send our men and women in Afghanistan a few words of support and solidarity. Be that twelfth man that gives them the hope and encouragement to keep going. Let them know their sacrifices are appreciated.
Letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic:
Cuba still deserves tough sanctions
Feb. 29, 2008 12:00 AM
Regarding Mary Sanchez's column on Monday, "With Castro out of way, time is ripe to end sanctions":
Apparently Sanchez and many of the current presidential candidates do not understand that the genesis for the sanctions was that Fidel Castro nationalized more than $2 billion in American assets in 1960 with no compensation.
Once Cuba pays that money back, with interest, and then shows meaningful democratic change, it will be time to talk about the easing of sanctions. - Norm Healy,Prescott
There's still some people out there with their heads screwed on straight. For the record I don't think Cuba will ever pay for the expropriations much less interest, but the Cuban government should acknowledge the debt and attempt to settle it like any debtor would. That's what China and Vietnam did under similar circumstances BEFORE the U.S. began wide-open trade with those countries.
El Estatus Quo
I was interviewed last week for local publication City Link Magazine on raul castro's "ascension" to power:
But here in South Florida, the mood was more pessimistic. There were no sudden street celebrations and Castro death-watch parties like those that had greeted the news of Raul's then-temporary takeover in 2006. Val Prieto, founder and editor of popular anti-Castro blog Babalú (Babalublog.com), voiced a typical reaction to the news. "Those that say Raul is a reformer don't know the man. He was trained by the KGB and the Stasi. He's even more brutal than his brother," Prieto says, sounding far calmer over the phone than in the brash, bravado-laden language of his blog. "Perhaps he realizes he doesn't have the charisma that his brother does, and so he may have to institute changes. … But I don't think the guy is going to do anything. As long as there is a Castro in power in Cuba, there is no freedom."
Read the whole thing right here. I like the last line of the article best.
Friday Open Thread
OK let's hear it. Best stuff gets promoted.
This Radio Netherlands article states that Cuba "has signed up to two United Nations human rights treaties."
This leads me to wonder just what does "up to" mean? Did they indeed sign two treaties? Did they sign one and are thinking about signing the second treaty? Have they not yet signed any of the two treaties but are thinking of signing both? Are they going to sign both treaties, but erase the signature on one of them, and then later sign it again?
Regardless of what they meant by that ambiguous declaration, the Cuban people should not break out their demonstration banners and walking shoes yet. According to Felipe "Cara de Mono" Perez Roque, the signing of these two treaties, or maybe one, or maybe none, or maybe both now and then only one later, or maybe both tomorrow, or only one the day after, or maybe both the day after tomorrow and none the week after, will mean little to the Cuban people. You see, according to Perez Roque, these treaties are just a formality.
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque describes the move as a formality, saying the rights enshrined in the documents have been respected in Cuba since the 1959 revolution. At the signing ceremony, he took the opportunity to repeat calls for the United States to lift its trade embargo of Cuba in force since 1962.
Now we have a little more context.
I think that what he means to say is that once the dictatorship signs one, or both, or one but not the other, or the other but not this one, or both today but only one tomorrow, or none today but both a week from last Monday, or one on the third Wednesday of March (only if it isn't a leap year--in the case that it is, then it would be the first Friday of April), or both on the anniversary of the great Giant Strawberry harvest, unless, of course, that anniversary happens to be an even year, which in that case the signing of none, one, or both treaties would be scheduled on the eve of the druid equinox with real, imitation midget druids dancing around a miniature model of Stone Henge, the regime would show the world how it is complying with the UN's request that it respect the Cuban people's basic human rights.
Of course, by El Monito's own admission, the regime has no intention on changing any of its repressive ways, nevertheless, they expect to be rewarded for this act that agrees to provide rights that will not really be provided, but the language says it will, although everyone knows they don't really have to, but for the sake of expediency everyone will smile and act like it means something, even though everyone knows it won't change anything, but it will, however, make great headlines across the world of how "Cuba" has agreed to treat their citizens like humans, which Cuba will reply that "hey, we've always treated our slaves well--we've taught them how to read and write communist propaganda and have given them free health care." With such a convincing argument, how can the UN do anything else than exert its colossal political pressure on the US to lift the embargo? Maybe this gesture will finally convince the Bush administration to change its policy towards the newly christened king of Cuba; raulito, the earl of Pato (can I get a quack-quack?).
The answer from the Bush administration, I have heard, will be coming tomorrow, or maybe a week from the second Friday in June, unless it is raining that day in which case the date will be moved to the first night with a full moon in July, providing, of course, that the real, imitation midget druid dancers are available.
Suck it, McCain
George Will on McCain's campaign finance conundrum:
There are two ways for a candidate to get on Ohio's primary ballot -- comply with complex, expensive rules for gathering signatures, or simply be certified to receive taxpayer funding. McCain's major Republican rivals did the former. He did the latter.
Democrats, whose attachment to campaign reforms is as episodic as McCain's, argue that having made such uses of promised matching funds, McCain is committed to taking them and abiding by spending limits -- which would virtually silence his campaign until the September convention. This would be condign punishment for his argument that restricting spending does not restrict speech.
February 28, 2008
Hollywood Needs a New Hero
After Michael Moore made his stupid comment about having castro give his acceptance speech, I got even angrier about Hollywood's (and public figures, etc.) worship of the bearded thug. So, I put together this little movie to make me feel better. Some images are graphic.
Many photos from the RealCuba.com
Raul Martinez: a real statesman
Please observe how the Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional district, Raul Martinez, solves a crisis: by attacking a man half his size who isn't even looking. Watch the video (especially the first few seconds) several times. Martinez claims he was hit first. But observe how he appears from off-camera to assault this guy. Martinez is clearly a liar.
Better yet, here's the sequence in still pictures:
Stay classy Raul.
Revenge of the Cubanologists
No offense to Jose Reyes whose web site is called Cubanology. The Cubanologists I'm talking about are the retard academics who think they know so much but don't know jack.
The latest stupid statement comes from Paolo Spadoni an "assistant professor of political science at Rollins College."
"Instead of things getting out of control, what we saw was Fidel Castro supervising his succession..."
Really? fidel supervised his succession. How does a professor in the suburbs of Orlando Florida know whether fidel is coherent or even conscious? How does he know that fidel isn't drooling out of his Parkinson's mask all over his pillow while a nurse pumps baby food into his stomach through a tube and another changes the shit bag attached to his side?
Of course the succession was uneventful. Who was going to stop it? The international community, those hypocritical douchebags? Pulease? The Cuban people? Double puhlease. They don't call it a totalitarian regime for nothing. This is the caliber of person teaching in our colleges.
The rest of the piece is just as idiotic. A mindless congratulatory fellatio of castro for having the foresight to realize that he was in fact human and would eventually die.
Got two more cartoon via email. Thanks M.P. (Orgullosa de ser Cubana)
Telling it like it is: The Same Old Cuba
By Alvaro Vargas Llosa, excerpted from The Independent Institute:
WASHINGTON—Raul Castro has killed all hope that a transition to the rule of law and a market economy will start anytime soon in Cuba. The appointments he has made as well as his first speech as president and his televised conversation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez indicate that self-preservation is Castro’s paramount objective even if he understands the need to shake up the moribund communist state.
Raul Castro has managed the armed forces with a greater efficiency than Fidel has managed the rest of the nation. Not surprisingly, Raul wants to bring the national economy to be run like his army. But I fail to understand how he can go from there to Chinese-style conversion to capitalism—much less to democracy—as so many observers are anticipating. If Cuba were to open its economy to an extent comparable to China’s, the Cuban government would risk losing control of the process very quickly. Raul Castro wants to guarantee the continuity of the revolution by making it more efficient, not to change its nature by turning capitalist.
That is why, even though Raul is believed to be resentful of the Venezuelan president’s interference in Cuban affairs and jealous of Chavez’s role as Fidel’s Latin American heir, the two talked on the day of Castro’s “inauguration.” The message was clear: the alliance will continue.
Could it be that the new president simply has no choice but to move very slowly while his brother is alive? It’s possible, but where is the evidence that 76-year-old Raul Castro, who has been a member of the Communist Party since 1953 and continues to live under the shadow of his brother, is the Cuban Gorbachev? So far, such talk can only be attributed to wishful thinking.
Read the rest of The Same Old Cuba here.
The Children of Marti
I was in the middle of reading a piece in Newsweek entitled “(f)idel’s Children” when I refreshed the Babalu page to see if any new posts had gone up. And I read Ruth’s post “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”-And I know that somewhere there’s a Cabezon with a proud smile on his face.
With the Ruth’s words still bouncing in my mostly empty head, I continued to read…"(f)idel's children" pfft.. I guess the author was trying to say “Children of the Revolution” since the article is about the Cubans who were born after (f)idel took over and their angst, anger and frustration about the lack of material comforts, not lack of freedom:
Young Cubans are starting to publicly demand that the regime make tangible improvements in their lives. Their wish lists are decidedly apolitical. Instead of pining for democracy, most are focused on things foreign peers take for granted: the freedom to travel abroad, unrestricted Internet access, enough disposable income to buy a cell phone or an iPod.
You hear that “apolitical” thing a lot when talking to newly exiled Cubans. Of course! Politics for them is the communist party, the totalitarian control of every aspect of their lives, slogans, indoctrination, intimidation and repression. They instinctively want to get as far away from this as possible. To be left alone to make their own decisions and choose their destiny. To be Free! How yearning to be free is not political is something that maybe only nuanced, highly evolved Newsweek reporters can discern, I certainly can’t .
And this where Ruth’s words of wisdom connected with the story: Try as they might to build che’s new man, to mass produce a bunch of “fidel’s children”-obedient, mind numb automotons, all they accomplish is to continue to produce Cubans. The Children of Marti.
Cuba was a paradise...
Baseball players rarely involve themselves in politics (Curt Schilling being an exception), but when Fidel stepped down from his rule last week, Cuban baseball players and coaches found themselves involved in politics. Virtually every Cuban-born baseball player in MLB was asked to give their thoughts on the news. Most were fairly apathetic.
Juan Cardenal, of the Washington Nationals, says he doesn't get involved in politics, was indifferent to the news and even said that "Castro doesn't really bother" him... I guess he hasn't been keeping up with Cuban affairs since he left in 1961.
Regardless, he does say this, which goes hand in hand with the photos Claudia posted a few days ago:
"I remember how Cuba used to be," he said. "We used to have everything we wanted to in our country and then we were free and the whole thing. It was paradise in Cuba. ... That's what I remember the most about Cuba."
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
The bond Cubans share on and off the island through the generations has been in the fore the past few days. The entrepreneurial bent evident in those who fled to the United States is so characteristic of the Cuban spirit that the assumption Raul is going to convert to one currency has led to an outbreak of money exchanges on the island. People are changing money on the speculation that the peso will rise. En el medio de la inopia, they think like Soros. Have to love my people. Unleash them, and we'll see about third world country.
Then there have been the remembrances for the Brothers to the Rescue pilots. This one I find particularly touching. In Cienfuegos, in Santa Clara, in Havana and other places, ceremonies were held to mark the day that the four were murdered in cold blood. Flowers were set adrift in the sea; a condolence book was started; a commemorative banner was displayed; and speeches were made. Each link represents a different report on Misceláneas de Cuba. Of all of the tributes on February 24th, I suspect these would have been the most precious to those who lost their lives.
I think those left behind know that whatever our differences in approach, in the face of their abandonment by the world, we have remained faithful. We, very nearly alone, have stood up for their dignity and their rights as human beings these long years. Would the aging prelate would have done the same. But then, he’s not Cuban.
Reuters Ridiculousness is Encouraging
From Reuters, the news agency whose Cuba beat reporter used to work for the official newspaper of Communist Party USA has this item (emphasis mine):
Bush rejects idea of negotiating with Castro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Thursday rejected the idea of encouraging Cuba to open up democratically by sitting down for talks with new Cuban leader Raul Castro.
Asked at a White House news conference what would be lost by a meeting, Bush said: "What's lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What's lost is it will send the wrong message."
"It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity. I'm not suggesting there is never a time to talk," he said, but he added now was not the time to beginning discussions with Raul Castro.
"He's nothing more than an extension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island and to imprison people because of their beliefs," Bush said.
(Reporting by David Alexander, editing by Lori Santos)
As if raul castro could be convinced through "encouragement" to abandon 49 years of Marxist economic and political policies. We're going to "encourage" raul to release the political prisoners and allow people to organize political opposition. He'll be so "encouraged" by our presentation about the benefits of representative multi-party democracy that he'll dismantle the repressive machinery that he helped assemble over half a century. For a president that is much maligned by the media, they sure have a lot faith in his power to encourage murderers to reform, crooks to straighten out and abusers to end their abuses.
Let's all "encourage" raul castro to do the right thing. You know, like the Vatican "encourages". Like Spain "encourages", like the UK and Canada "encourage". Yes that's what we need is one more encouraging voice in the chorus of encouragers.
I encourage Reuters to piss up a rope.
He came, he saw... (Part 2)
The problem is he was not talking about the dictatorial regime that has for the past half-century beaten, jailed, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Cubans. The good Cardinal instead was referring to the US and its embargo against Cuba's oligarchical dictatorship. As a matter of fact, I have not heard Cardinal Bertone say much, if anything, about the lack of freedom in Cuba.
Thank you so much for your concern for the Cuban people, Cardinal Bertone, but really, you shouldn't have.
God knows you shouldn't have.
Cuba's chief executioner
Heralding raul castro as a reformer is not just dishonest, it is an obscenity. raul castro is an assassin, a cold-blooded killer who has shown no remorse for the five decades spent as fidel castro's executioner.
Our friend Humberto Fontova instructs, from Newsmax:
Stalinism Alive and Well in Cuba
By: Humberto Fontova
In 1956 when Fidel Castro's motley band of 82 guerrillas were training in Mexico for their "invasion" and "liberation" of Cuba from Batista, a trainee named Calixto Morales, suffering from a recent injury, was forced to briefly hobble away from one particularly strenuous training session.
He was trussed up, dragged in front of what a guerrilla leader called a "court martial," and quickly sentenced to death by firing squad.
Fortunately the "maximum" guerrilla commander showed up in time and ordered his brother to rescind his hasty death sentence. Morales, after all, had the proper "revolutionary" attitude and had merely suffered an unfortunate accident.
Raul Castro had done the hasty sentencing. His big brother Fidel ordered the pardon.
Two years later the anti-Batista "guerrilla war" (occasional shootouts and skirmishes that the Cripps and Bloods would shrug off as a slow week) was chiefly centered in Cuba's eastern province of Oriente and consisted of two "fronts." One was commanded by Fidel in the Sierra Maestra mountains, the other was commanded by Raul in the Sierra Cristal mountains slightly north of Fidel's group.
One day a teen-aged rebel soldier named Dariel Alarcon overheard Fidel sputtering complaints to his assistant Celia Sanchez about the northern front. Raul's zeal for firing squad executions of "informers," "spies," counter-
revolutionaries" etc., where he often applied the coup 'd grace himself, was hampering progress on what Fidel had always treated as the "war's" primary front.
This primary front, of course, was the media front: the almost effortless bamboozling of the swarms of gaping reporters who queued up to interview him. Thanks to these "gallant crusaders for the truth" (as Columbia school of journalism hails its students) the stirring tale of Cuba's Thomas Jefferson/Robin Hood/Richard the Lion Hearted/Saint Thomas Aquinas — all in one heroic package, sporting a beard and combat fatigues — was thrilling audiences from New York to Paris.
The New York Times ignited the process in February of 1957 with Fidel Castro on it's front page. Soon a conflagration raged, in both print and video. CBS soon ran "The Story of Cuba's Jungle Fighters," a breathtaking news-drama that ran on prime time. Look Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Boys Life (honest, even they braved the horrendous battlefield perils for a Castro interview) all added to the blizzard of BS.
The stories leaking out regarding the "Revolutionary justice" practiced in Raul's front, though completely ignored by the foreign media throng, were causing a bit of grumbling in the Cuban press. So would Raul please cut down on the firing squad bloodbath, requested Fidel. It could hurt the image Fidel was so expertly crafting, with the eager help of media dupes and acolytes, of their "humanistic rebellion."
Raul's response is what caused Fidel's sputtering to his assistant. "Got your message and will take immediate corrective measures," Raul responded to his brother. "No more bloodbath. From now on we'll start hanging the counter- revolutionaries."
Cuban-American scholar Dr. Armando Lago who, with Maria Werlau, runs the Cuba Archive Project that meticulously attempts to document the tally of Castro regime murders have documented 278 executions in Oriente province on Raul's orders within the very first week of the Revolutionary triumph on Jan. 1, 1959. Potential contras lurked from one end of Cuba to the other.
So Raul rolled up his sleeves, spit on his hands and got to work as eastern Cuba's version of Cheka chief Feliks Dzerzhinski, while his bosom friend Che Guevara handled the matter in western Cuba by converting Havana's La Cabana fortress into a tropical Lubyanka.
Dr Lago has documented 550 executions on Raul's direct order by mid 1959. Eyewitness defectors report that Raul gleefully administered the coup'grace to at least 78 of these.
Raul's chum Che Guevara was breathing down his neck in the competition, however. Dr Lago documents 1,168 executions islandwide by that time. The best man at Che's first wedding in 1955 in Mexico City was Raul Castro. So maybe there was some friendly competition involved.
Stalinist type purges of Cuba's military have continued sporadically for decades. "In one week during 1963 we counted 400 firing squad blasts from our cells," recalls former political prisoner and freedom-fighter Roberto Martin Perez. Most of these were junior officers accused of being disloyal to the regime.
Much more highly publicized was the Stalinist show trial, confession and execution in 1989 of Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa and the attendant purge of any military man even rumored as his friend or supporter.
Arnaldo Ochoa was the Cuban general widely credited with Cuba's victories in both the Angolan Civil War and in Ethiopia's early crushing of the Eritrean rebellion. "Every officer in the Cuban armed forces admired Ochoa, " according to Cuban defector Gen. Rafael Del Pino, who was close to Ochoa both personally and professionally.
Ochoa was on especially close and friendly terms with Raul Castro, whom the general always affectionately called "jefe."
In the dawn hours of July 13, 1989 Gen. Arnaldo T. Ochoa was executed by a firing squad on Raul's orders. A sickening "trial" and "confession" had preceded his execution, all of it on camera. Cuban defector Rafael Del Pino who once headed Cuba's air force explains that "Ochoa was a pragmatic man who was flexible enough to recognize the sense behind Gorbachev's reforms of the time. Even worse, Ochoa, like many other Cuban military officers, was trained in the Soviet Union and had close ties to the Soviet leaders then involved in the reforms with whom they had served in Africa."
That Glasnost and Perestroika stuff could be contagious, in other words. Yet media and scholarly wizards keep telling us it's Raul himself who will inspire "an opening" in Cuba.
Hearts and minds
Next time Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton try to outdo each other on how fast they are willing to cut and run out of Iraq I'd like you remember this video and consider that we'll be abandoning these people to the wolves.
February 27, 2008
The problem with Obama
Well, one of the problems with Obama is how he's demonstrated an inability to reject support from unwanted quarters. The Farrakhan endorsement is just the latest incident. We know how weakly and how late Obama was to distance himself from Maria Isabel the Che Guevara worshiper. I understand that when you are running for president you want every single vote you can muster. But at some point you have to be accountable and run the risk of losing more votes than you gain when you have screwy Louie supporting your candidacy and an army of Che lovers posting stuff on your web site.
Countdown to missile detonation: 3 - 2 -1...
The rumors of my demise...
...have been greatly exaggerated.
A Little Word Play
The Sun-Sentinel prides itself on having a Havana Bureau, although they relied on AP for this one. The headline blares "US Mocks Cuban Political Transition." And my intransigent friends, guess what State Department Spokesperson Tom Casey had the audacity to quote? The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." Perhaps if the transition/succession/acension/election/ratification were not such a mockery, the Staties might have been suitably grave. Guess our media friends didn't see the humor.
Last night I received an email from Julio P. containing these photos and a link to over 200 more. Julio was born during the revolution in Cuba and wanted to share these photos because of what he was not taught in school. No one ever talked about all the progress that was made in the country during the time of Batista. He never knew that hotels, buildings, streets, highways, sidewalks and parks were built during that time. He didn't know that blacks and whites worked side by side, gainfully employed in the development of his country. It simply was not a part of the new, re-written history taught in school. These pictures prove otherwise. When you view the slide show, notice the way people are dressed, the integration of races, the abundance of stores and the shoppers and of course, the cars and busses.
That is not to say that Batista did not committ terrible crimes and that the government was not rife with corruption. It is merely a comparison. From the development of the country- the immaculate streets and buildings, the way everything was cared for, to what you see today- dilapidated buidlings, crumbling facades, chipped sidewalks, lack of stores (and private enterprise, of course) and hungry people.... well, the cars are the same, at least. So, what went wrong?
Enjoy this beautiful trip down memory lane. It is rather sad, though, to see Cuba how it used to be. If you can identify anyone in the pictures, let me know and I'll pass it on to be included in the captions.
Click here: Cuba 1954
Reactions to monarchical succession in Cuba
The BBC's Spanish web site asks if Cuba will change, and what the succession in Cuba means. Some of the best responses (Translations are mine):
The Cuban people are demoralized, tired, apathetic, indifferent, disillusioned, tired of this dictatorship. Nobody wants to work, everyone steals, traffics, sells on the black market, drinks, prostitutes. These are the heroic people of the propaganda. But the truth is there, on the streets, in the decadence. 70% of houses are being supported artificially or otherwise collapsing. What change can be made with this 77 year old man after 50 years in power? Nobody knows since time and stopped on this forgotten island
There is no solution for the Cuban economy if they remain in power as they have done for 50 years. From time to time there are promises, but it is purely an attempt to soothe. It's proven that the only function of of this tyrannical system is for them to stay in power living well while the citizenry disintegrates day after day in the most brutal misery. The only thing Raul Castro might do with his 77 years is obtain a migratory agreement with the USA to escape from here. There is no other solution for a communist
I would like for the newspaper Granma produce a report about the economic achievements of the tyrant Castro. To recount the failures of the harvest of 10 million tons, the cordon of Havana, the micro-jet bananas, the new varieties of livestock, the production of coffee, the development of housing, transport, apartheid at the beaches and hotels, of prostitution, of the 2 million exiles. So then we could imagine the changes that Raul will make at age 77.
Curiously, the most anti-Americans countries in Latin America are those who never had a intervention by the USA. However the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua and Cuba that did, are traditionally less anti-American that Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay. The Cuban people (contrary to what many believe in this forum) are not and have never been anti-American. Quite the contrary. Despite 50 years of Castro today they are less anti-Yankee than ever. The rest is a fabrication.
It's a shame that because of the the anti-Americanism in the world, the Castros still have sympathizers and are not seen for what they really are: murderers, tyrants, dinosaurs that have destroyed the economy and the hope of a country that emigrates in droves. This "new" nomenclature (all military) over 77 years of age, will make the changes so that everything remains the same. Why not condemn dictatorships when they are from left? Why, please! Somebody explain that!
All of these comments allegedly came from Cuba. I wish it were so. But there is no way to really know. But they are almost exact echoes of what we say here on a daily basis. At least we know where to recruit new contributors.
Food for thought...
Just got this in my email box:
FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 102
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 27, 2008
Contact: Manny Cid
Phone: (305) 364-3066
REPRESENTATIVE GONZALEZ FILES LEGISLATION TO PROHIBIT U.S. CITIZENS TRAINED BY THE CASTRO REGIME FROM PRACTICING IN FLORIDA
TALLAHASSEE - State Representative Eddy Gonzalez (R – Hialeah) filed legislation today to prohibit U.S. citizens or residents who travel to Cuba for medical training or a medical degree from undertaking medical residency, being licensed, or practicing in Florida.
“The idea that American students are receiving an education in Cuba at absolutely no cost is absurd,” said Representative Gonzalez. “No amount of so-called ‘free’ education is worth the cost of having America’s students exposed to Castro’s indoctrination machine.”
The legislation was filed partly in response to the Cuban regime’s latest attempts at currying favor with the international community and disengaged Americans through shallow publicity stunts. Theirs is a scheme to further manipulate public opinion in Castro’s favor and to export his failed ideology to the United States.
In May 2000, while addressing a group of visiting U.S. lawmakers, Castro offered to provide “free medical training” to 500 Americans. In August 2005, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez addressed the first graduating class of doctors from Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine.
“Despite the often repeated myth about Cuba’s ‘grand healthcare system,’ the truth is that Cuba is an utter failure, unless of course you are a foreigner paying for services in hard currency,” added Rep. Gonzalez. “Our students should not be contributing to Castro’s apartheid healthcare system, and those who turn a blind eye to such a basic human and civil rights abuses do not possess the basic judgment and character required for the ethical practice of medicine in Florida.”
This legislation would exempt Cuban natives or citizens if they received their medical training or medical degree prior to exile. Representative Gonzalez has made the passage of the Cuba Practice of Medicine Bill a priority issue for the 2008 Legislative Session.
I really didnt know what to say about this, but when I read the highlighted portion above, I have to say, it's certainly something to think about.
First, do no harm.
Dr. Oriol is a free man!
I have a huge smile on my face because I just heard from Dr. Oriol that he has arrived in Miami from East Timor!!! He and his four friends are finally free! Read all about it at his blog.
All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously.
Get your mittens out folks, this warming thing might be cool after all.
William F. Buckley Dead at 82
More about Buckley and what he meant to conservatism and America at National Review Online.
H/T: Jose Reyes
Am I wrong?
Predictably the "change" that occurred in Cuba over the weekend (which is no change at all because raul has been said to be governing for over a year and a half) has brought the fidelista apologists and anti-embargo blame the U.S. first crowd out of the woodwork.
But something else happened. A bunch of people also spoke out against the regime that don't normally talk about Cuba. The cartoons I posted below are a testament to the latent sentiments about castro that are out there among everyday Americans.
We are often discouraged because it seems that every American who hasn't been immersed in the issue of Cuba automatically believes in some of the propaganda put out there by the regime and amplified by the media in the last 50 years. But these last few days have shown me that there's far more people out there that "get it" than I previously thought. It's just that these people don't have a vested interest in Cuba and Cuba isn't on the top of their agenda.
Here's just one example: a Portuguese blogger living in Belgium reminding his readers that despite the "change" Cuba still has political prisoners.
Another: Reason Magazine's editor takes on the castro myth and how the media handles it.
Am I being overly optimistic? Am I wrong.
Best of the political cartoons...
Regarding the monarchical succession in Cuba.:
UPDATE: More cartoons at Cubanology.
Vatican Complicit in Tyranny
I'll be frank - a great many folks will inevitably take umbrage at what I've got to say regarding Cardinal Bertone's recently wrapped-up "vacation" in Havana. I'm prepared for the bullets that may be fired across my bow and stand by today's posting 100 percent.
Vatican Complicit in Tyranny
As posted in CubaWatch
As the Catholic church’s official interpreter of the word of God, the Vatican is charged with – among other things – fostering the development of respect, brotherhood and love of humanity. The philosophy of Jesus Christ was one of love and compassion – not one of hate and political oppression.
Of course, there have been periods in the history of the church when the Vatican strayed from Christian ideals. Pope John XII was killed by the husband of his lover in 964. Pope Alexander VI was said to have enjoyed an illicit relationship with his own daughter, Lucrezia. In more recent years, the Vatican elected Eugenio Pacelli as pontiff. As Pope Pius XII, Pacelli would remain mum during Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, even refusing calls for help from the Jewish people. Stand-up guy, Pius XII.
In recent years however, the Vatican, especially under the leadership of the late Pope John Paul II, had made great strides in coming to terms with its checkered past. Over the course of the past two decades, we saw the Catholic church’s highest emissary deliver apologies for its less-than-stellar treatment of Jews, the torture and burning of those deemed to be “heretics” and acts of genocide committed against entire religious groups. Past examples of penitence by the Vatican however, seem to have been nothing more than hollow gestures however.
Upon his recent arrival in Havana, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone was quick to condemn the United States’ trade embargo against Cuba, suggesting that the embargo, and not the Cuban government, was the source of the nation’s ills. Bertone did raise the issue of the church’s concern regarding prisoners during his meeting with Raul Castro, but failed to confront the dictatorship head-on. In short, Bertone chose to ignore the Cuban people in hopes of not raising the hackles of government officials. This, my friends, is a very weak man.
Cardinal Bertone and the Vatican hierarchy have betrayed the teachings of Christ by choosing politeness over the livelihood of over 11-million lost souls on the imprisoned island of Cuba. During his visit to the Pearl of the Antilles, our brothers and sisters saw no condemnation of the Stalinist regime that has brutally murdered thousands. They heard no calls for an end to the dictatorship in hopes of a democratic transition. Our families saw only polite handshakes and a condemnation of the U.S. trade embargo meant to – yet again – present the dictatorship as a tiny David pitted against its gigantic Goliath to the north, La Yuma. Where is the compassion for the long-suffering Cuban people? How is it possible that the Cuban Bishops Conference could perpetrate a betrayal as complete as offering a “vote of confidence” ‘to newly installed “President” Raul Castro, a man who oversaw the purges that wiped out thousands of innocent men, women and children during the revolution and the opening years of its newly formed government? How could that body express support for a pre-planned transition meant to preserve a half-century-old dictatorial dynasty? The Vatican itself exercises its own form of democracy under the Papal Conclave system. Why should we, the Cuban people, be denied that same right?
For those reasons and many more, it is time to condemn the Vatican in the strongest of terms. In tacitly supporting a regime with so much blood on its hands, the Vatican is no longer ethically or morally capable of carrying on in its self-perceived role as God’s messenger on Earth to hundreds-of-millions of Catholics. The administration of Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to ally itself with the armies of evil, turning its back on the teachings of Christ the philosopher and in effect, on its own followers.
This pontificate has shattered its sacred covenant with God and must answer for its sins. As such, do Catholics owe any allegiance to the Vatican aristocracy? I think not. Catholic church-goers worship God the Father and Christ, his son, not a human being and administration that sees fit to condemn my beloved family members to lives of misery under one of the most oppressive dictatorships ever to have been spawned in this hemisphere.
For the time being, the Vatican no longer represents the teachings of Christ. Until such time comes when the Catholic Church’s highest office is able to stand up unequivocally to tyranny across the globe, this status will remain and those of us calling ourselves Catholics will be shepherdless.
UPDATE: In the interest of fairness to the controversey surrounding Pius XII's behavior during the Second World War, readers should refer to my posting of last week regarding Bertone's then-impending visit. There are two sides to the Pius coin and readers should take this into account.
Those crackpot "Intransigentes!"--vindicated yet again.
Friends, Frontpage Magazine, besides being a superb publication, is a steadfast and trustworthy friend of our cause, and one of the precious few outlets for our side of the story. The intro to this article strikes me as overblown, but these editors are dear friends of mine and I forgive them.
The Real Ernesto
On top of everything else about it, the Cuban dictatorship is homophobic, too.
Julián Armando Soto, a gay rights activist in Havana, reports that Cuban police Saturday rounded up 34 homosexuals for "putting in danger" security for a Mass being said by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. At the time of the arrests, the detainees were either gathered in a park or in front of a movie theater.
"We were on Prado street, and the Mass was at Cathedral Plaza, which is about 1,800 meters away," said Ángela Gorrero, 37, who identified herself as a lesbian, as she was held at a local police station. "Also, look at the ticket, I was about to enter the theater when I was detained."
Also, there is a separate report that police swept in on homosexuals enjoying a beach north of Havana.
"There is no name for the police abuse. Look at my legs. I fell while running on the reefs on the coast so that I would not be imprisoned. They grabbed me, and it didn't matter to them that I was bleeding," said Rigoberto Soto Espinosa, 23, a university economics student.
The report notes that police left fishermen and straight bathers alone.
It is tempting to dismiss these reports as nothing special. This is how the dictatorship treats all Cubans who dare deviate from the official party line.
But the recent gay bashing — which was not out of the unusual, considering that more than 4,000 homosexuals were fined or jailed last year in Havana alone — also illustrates the hypocrisy that lies in the rot of a so-called revolution.
The castros have cast themselves as champions for the little guy, and in a macho culture like Cuba's, perhaps no one is smaller than the homosexual. Well, in Cuba — even with the new dictator's daughter talking a good game — the homosexual is not immune from the worst the revolution has to offer.
You don't have to be gay or even accepting of the gay lifestyle to see that as long as gays are oppressed as described in recent report, Cuban society is that much less free. Their challenge is no greater nor no less than that before all Cubans struggling to be free.
(Cross-posted at Uncommon Sense.)
Obama's speeches are not empty
Actually, they are chock full of inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and some pretty horrendous lies.
Say What, Barrack? by Paul R. Hollrah, March 12, 2007
Tuning in to C-Span recently, I found myself listening to a speech by Senator Barrack Hussein Obama, Jr. He was standing in the pulpit of a black church in Selma, Alabama, and as I studied the body language of the dozen or so black ministers standing behind the senator, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the little head-bobbing dolls that people used to place in the rear windows of their 1957 Chevrolets. If their reactions are any indication, the new Schlickmeister of the Democrat Party is actually a pretty accomplished public speaker. However, as he spoke, I found my bull_ _ _ _ alarm going off, repeatedly. But I couldn’t quite figure out why until I actually read excerpts of his speech several days later. Here’s part of what he said: "...something happened back here in Selma, Alabama. Something happened in Birmingham that sent out what Bobby Kennedy called, “ripples of hope all around the world.” Something happened when a bunch of women decided they were going to walk instead of ride the bus after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry, looking after somebody else's children.
“When (black) men who had PhD’s decided ‘that's enough’ and ‘we’re going to stand up for our dignity,’ that sent a shout across oceans so that my grandfather began to imagine something different for his son. His son, who grew up herding goats in a small village in Africa could suddenly set his sights a little higher and believe that maybe a black man in this world had a chance.
“… So the Kennedy’s decided we're going to do an air lift. We're going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is.
“This young man named Barack Obama got one of those tickets and came over to this country. He met this woman whose great great-great-great-grandfather had owned slaves; but she had a good idea there was some craziness going on because they looked at each other and they decided that we know that, (in) the world as it has been, it might not be possible for us to get together and have a child. There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don't tell me I’m not coming home to Selma, Alabama."
Okay, so what’s wrong with that? It all sounds good… but is it?
Obama told his audience that, because some folks had the courage to “march across a bridge” in Selma, Alabama, his mother, a white woman from Kansas, and his father, a black Muslim from Africa, took heart. It gave them the courage to get married and have a child. The problem with that characterization is that Barrack Obama, Jr. was born on August 4, 1961, while the first of three marches across that bridge in Selma didn’t occur until March 7, 1965, at least five years after Obama’s parents met.
Obama went on to tell his audience that the Kennedys, Jack and Bobby, decided to do an airlift. They would bring some young Africans over so that they could be educated and learn all about America. His grandfather heard that call and sent his son, Barrack Obama, Sr., to America.
The problem with that scenario is that, having been born in August 1961, the future senator was not conceived until sometime in November 1960. So, if his African grandfather heard words that “sent a shout across oceans,” inspiring him to send his goat-herder son to America, it was not Democrat Jack Kennedy he heard, or his brother Bobby, it was Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Obama’s speech is reminiscent of Al Gore's claim of having invented the Internet, Hillary Clinton’s claim of having been named after the first man to climb Mt. Everest… even though she was born five years and seven months before Sir Edmund climbed the mountain, and John Kerry's imaginary trip to Cambodia.
As one of my black friends, Eddie Huff, has said, “We need to ask some very serious questions of the senator from Illinois. It’s not enough to be black, it’s not enough to be articulate, and it’s not enough to be eloquent and a media darling… The only question will be how deaf an ear, or how blind an eye, will people turn in order to turn a frog into a prince.”
It appears that Senator Barrack Hussein Obama, Jr. is not a “fresh face,” as media sycophants like to describe him, he’s just another in a long line of Democrat snake oil salesmen.
This observation by Paul Hollrah was made almost a year ago. Isn't it scary how no one in the mainstream press has picked up on it? Isn't it scarier still that perhaps they just chose to ignore these lies? Wasn't it about 50 years ago that the world saw another young and charismatic orator that played fast and loose with the facts take a Caribbean island by storm, and then by the throat?
It's not about fidel
After the orchestrated monarchical succession that took place in Cuba over the weekend editorial boards, columnists and others have joined together in a crescendo of anti-embargo rhetoric. Now that fidel castro is no longer in power they insist that the time is right to remove sanctions against Cuba. Now is the time, they insist, though they have been insisting that now is the time for years.
The fundamental thing that these European idiots and plain old American idiots can't seem to get through their thick heads is that while fidel is evil, this isn't about fidel. It's not about raul.
Simply put, it's about Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. It's about Antunez. It's about Armando Valladares. It's about my grandparents. It's about 11 million Cuban living in serfdom.
When the governing regime in Cuba begins to respect those people and their inalienable rights then we can talk about removing sanctions. Until then the regime and its apologists can piss up a rope.
February 26, 2008
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez Gives CAMBIO bracelet to Czech Republic P.M.
Jorge Ponce, Director of Policy & Evaluation at the Department of Commerce, sent me this press release info today about US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez's meeting with Czech Republic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek in Washington to discuss bilateral trade. Secretary Gutierrez (who was born in Cuba) today also addressed the plight of the political prisoners in Cuba. The Czech Republic stands in solidarity with them, having been under an oppressive communist regime of their own. He gave a CAMBIO bracelet to Topolanek, which I am proud to say came from me!
Secretary Gutierrez's remarks:
."...I especially want to thank the Prime Minister, and really the Czech Republic and the president for their leadership in their stance for human rights and for freedom, and very importantly what they have done to shine a spotlight on the plight of the Cuban people. And we believe that this is very much a time to shine a spotlight on the plight of political prisoners in Cuba. The fact that there are political prisoners right now who are starving to death in jail under very difficult conditions who don’t have medical attention simply for having spoken their mind and for having had a different view than the regime. We also know that the plight of Cuban people is very difficult they live under oppression; they live in constant fear, something that our friends in the Czech Republic know well because they too lived through the tyranny of communism. So, I want to thank the Prime Minister again and his country for their leadership, they have provided. I think they have provided great courage and they are a great role model for the rest of the world, and we stand with them in our support of the Cuban people in their quest to gain freedom and to gain human rights that some many people around the world deserve and enjoy.
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you and I would like to give the Prime Minister something that I wear, which is a “cambio” bracelet, which also Cuban dissidents on the island wear and I should say that there have been students who have been arrested for wearing this bracelet which simply says “change”. Quite incredibly that someone can be arrested for believing in the word change but Prime Minister I hope you wear this and thank you very much.
Prime Minister Topolanek's response:
"...And just to follow up on what has already been mentioned by the Secretary, we were discussing the situation in Cuba, also we were discussing the Czech Republic’s involvement in promoting the values of human rights in Cuba and also the Czech Republic’s participation in the strife or fight against Castro’s regime, be it Fidel’s or Raul’s, which I have clearly explained for me it is all the same. We believe that we should clearly distinguish between trading of commercial or corporation and issues of such high importance as the protection of human values, human lives and human rights."
How (f)idel Ruined Cuba's Economy
One of the reasons that the World excuses castro’s atrocities in Cuba is that they assume that when he took control of the island back in 1959, Cuba was a backwater, underdeveloped banana republic with one school house, one hospital, 10,000 casinos and a Million prostitutes all run by Meyer Lansky and Batista.
But, that is not the case. And Cuban exiles aren’t victims of selective memory brought on by nostalgia.
In fact , castro took Cuba from its Renaissance back to the Dark Ages where it still is today.
I know you’re tired of reading about it and we’re tired of writing it, but I’m providing a link to a great –fact based- article in the Latin Business Chronicle to keep setting the record straight, How (f)idel Ruined Cuba's Economy :
Even worse: Cuba today is far worse than it was before the 1959 revolution that swept Castro to power. Adjusted for inflation, the GDP per capita of Cuba is now only five percent of the one enjoyed in 1958, according to calculations by Salazar-Carrillo.
In 1957, Cuba’s real income per capita (national income divided by population) was $378, or fourth, in Latin America, according to Eric Baklanoff, a research professor emeritus of economics, finance and legal studies at The University of Alabama. (See Cuba Before Fidel). Even Spain ($324) and Portugal ($212), failed to reach Cuba’s level, he points out. Meanwhile, real wages in Cuba were higher than any country in the Western Hemisphere, excepting the United States and Canada, Baklanoff points out
On the castro-Care Myth:
And contrary to the widespread assumptions today, Cuba also fared well in education and health before the revolution, according to a groundbreaking overview by Norman Luxenburg, a professors emeriti at the University of Iowa. "Pre-Castro Cuba was defintely not a Third World nation in the commonly accepted sense," he wrote in an article in Encounter magazine 24 years ago. "By whatevermeasure used, whether it is the number of students in higher and secondary education, the number of physicians per capita, the infant-mortality rate, the gross national product in relation to population, or number of telephones, television sets, or cars, the Cuba of the late 1950's was far ahead of any other nation in the Caribbean and the Third World."
According to Luxenburg's investigation:
• In 1958, Cuba's 6.6 million inhabitants had more than twice as many physicians as the 19 million residents of teh other Caribbean nations combined.
• The number of medical doctors in Cuba had grown from 3,100 in 1948 to 6,400 in 1958. The ratio in the ten-year period had gone from one doctor for evry 1,650 persons to one per 1,021. But between 1960 and 1976, the number of doctors relative to population declined slightly, while increasing very greatly in the other Caribbean nations.
• The pre-Castro rate of 32 infant deaths per 1,000 births was far not only better than any other Latin American nation, but also better than that of Germany, Italy, Spain and a host od developed countries. The rate worsened during the first decade of Castro, before improving. Yet, countries like Spain, germany and Italy now have lower rates.
• Cuba had a life expectancy of 61.8 years before the revolution. That compares with 43 and less for some Latin American nations and in the 30s for several African nations in teh period 1955-60.
Luxenburg disputes the conception that Cuba's health care improved significantly under Fidel Castro as opposed to before he took power or if someone else had ruled Cuba. "To use the term "underdeveloped" to apply in terms of health both to Cuba and to these other [African] nations is stretching it somewhat," Luxenburg commented on the pre-revolution state of Cuba's health system. "With a steady increase in the ratio of physicians to population, with new treatments, improved medicines, greater hygienic awareness, increased medical knowledge, and such factors as refrigeration and education, it is only natural to suppose that there would have continued to be significant improvements in Cuban public health, and that this would be the case of who controlled the government.”
Read the Article here. It gets better.
Massive Power Outage Hits South Florida
In an erie reminder of the massive blackout that hit the North-East back in 2003, South Florida residents were hit with a large-scale power outage this afternoon. Early reports from an official with the Metro-Dade Police Dept. I spoke with indicate that the grid from Miami all the way up to Ft. Lauderdale has been knocked out.
Rest assured, I'm on the case and will update this posting with any information I can get my hands on.
UPDATE - 1:43 p.m. EST
Apparently, the outage is sporadic throughout the region, and not a solid loss of service all the way up the coastline.
UPDATE - 3:21 p.m. EST
Sigh . . . I hesitate to post a link to a CastroNewsNetwork story but, well, here's some further information on this developing story.
Quote of the day
"How can the state sell most its products and goods in a currency that it doesn't use to pay people? Rolando Bellman, Cuban security guard.
From a Reuters article, here.
fidel castro, the mindless pawn?
As you might have guessed we are flooded with information about Cuba every day. We get stuff from readers, from organizations and we get news alerts from places like Google and Yahoo. I used to depend on those Google news alerts a lot. And I still glance at them, but usually for every good story there are 8 or 9 Granma or Prensa Latina stories coming out of the propaganda factory in Havana so it's rare that anything catches my eye. But I came across this intriguing headline:
Castro’s Cuba: made in America
I didn't know what to expect but then I clicked the link and was instantly offended when I saw the sub-headline:
Fidel Castro was a by-product of the Cold War, his regime more the creation of external pressures than of any internal ideology.
Knowing what I was getting myself into, I read on:
To anybody unfamiliar with the political history of the past half-century, it might have seemed bizarre that an internal handover of power - from the president to his brother - on a tiny Caribbean island should have caused such a global storm of comment. It clearly can have nothing to do with the real importance of Cuba in the world. Rather, it confirms that Castro’s elevated status has always been symbolic - as a symbol of communist evil for his enemies, especially within the USA, and as a symbol of liberationist hope for his admirers in the West and the developing world.
First of all I have a big problem with the characterization of Cuba as tiny. The author tries to minimize Cuba's importance based on size, but where does he get his definition of tiny? Has he looked at a map? For the record, Cuba is a larger country than South Korea, Portugal, Austria, The Czech Republic, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and Belgium to name a few. None of these countries are known for their "tinyness".
Perhaps the author was referring to the fact that Cuba has a small population? But that can't be it. I mean Cuba has a greater population than: Greece, Sweden, Norway and the aforementioned Portugal, Austria, The Czech Republic, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Belgium. Cuba ranks 73 out of 224 in population.
So Cuba is not a tiny country, either in landmass or population. So what gives? Why is the author trying to minimize the importance of Cuba?
Even as a symbol, however, Castro had long since ceased to stand for anything much. He may only just have resigned, yet as a creature of the Cold War he effectively left the world stage in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union on which he depended. That his resignation could still cause such a global media furore revealed the depth of some lasting misconceptions.
Try telling those 11 million Cubans that live under fidel and his infernal policies that he's a figment of their imagination.
Much of the recent discussion of Castro among both his Euro-groupies and his conservative critics has taken his claims to have led a 50-year socialist revolution at face value. Yet in reality he never set out to do any such thing, and he did not end up where many have assumed. Castro’s regime and reputation has been far more a product of the peculiar political pressures of the times than of any personal drive or ideology.
In particular, Castro was a by-product of US foreign policy. It has become fashionable these days for idiot anti-Americans to blame Washington for anything that they see going wrong in the world, from the Middle East to global warming. But one thing for which the USA was definitely responsible was the creation and perpetuation of Castro’s Cuba.
Idiot anti-Americans, so far this guy is describing himself to a tee. It sounds like this guy is going to completely ignore history and replace it with his own convenient version. Not only that where this guy is heading is a complete absolution of fidel and his policies and his murderous ways because after all it was the United States' fault.
From 1899, when the US invasion of the island and expulsion of the Spanish colonialists marked the birth of American imperialism, Cuba was considered part of Uncle Sam’s backyard. By the 1950s, Cuba under the corrupt regime of General Batista was like a cross between a metal mine, sugar plantation, casino and whorehouse for American capitalism.
Ugh. Repeating the worst of the calumnies that those idiot anti-Americans learn in college.
Fidel Castro’s 26th July Movement of young Cubans was a nationalist revolt against a foreign-backed dictatorship, of a sort seen in many other parts of the Third World. It was avowedly non-communist. Castro succeeded, not by mobilising the mass of Cubans, but because the conscript army of the decrepit dictatorship crumbled before his small guerrilla army. Batista fled Havana on 1 January 1959, the rebel forces rolled in, and Castro was soon installed in power.
What was it that this guy said about taking castro's claims about the revolution at face value? Looks like he bought the whole darned fairy tale hook, line and sinker.
If America’s propping up of Batista had helped to create the circumstances for the Cuban revolution, US opposition to Castro drove the new regime into the Soviet camp. Rebuffing Castro’s early charm offensive, US presidents Dwight D Eisenhower (until January 1961) and John F Kennedy set out to put the Cuban upstart in his place and show that Washington was not to be defied on its doorstep. As a result Castro built closer links with the Soviet Union. It was only after the Eisenhower administration took increasingly aggressive economic and diplomatic steps to punish Cuba that Castro moved to expropriate some $850million of US assets in the summer of 1960.
I am never going to defend Batista, but it's a gross oversimplification to say that Batista was "propped up" by the U.S. government. Batista was a Cuban creation. Did the U.S. support/recognize Batista? Yes. Batista was generally friendly to the U.S. and despite his previous links to the Cuban Communist Party (when he had been previously Cuba's constitutional president) was decidedly anti-communist in how he governed in the 1950s.
But this joker completely glosses over the fact that U.S. withdrawal of support (though it was unofficial) by stopping the sale of arms to Batista was probably the decisive factor in ending Batista's rule and allowing castro to fill the vacuum. This was a miscalculation on the part of the U.S. state department that had become enamored of castro and exactly those promises that he was a young a democrat.
To somehow claim that fidel was "pushed" into the Soviet orbit and into Marxist ideology is not only obviously false but ridiculously so. Any in depth study of castro's history shows a very determined young man who was obsessed with power. He was a manipulator and a deceiver. It's hard to believe that a democrat could become the antithesis of a democrat, a Stalinist, simply because of a perceived slight. Our author might not recognize a pretext when he sees one, but I trust that you my enlightened readers do. And for the record, castro wanted U.S. refineries to process Soviet oil. The refineries refused and that is what led to the expropriations.
Just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, Castro’s communist statelet of Cuba assumed a symbolic importance for both sides in the Cold War, becoming a football between the two superpowers. This came to a head during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the dramatic armed stand-off between Wasington [sic] and Moscow over the latter’s plan to install nuclear weapons on the island. (That loud diplomatic crisis was also more symbolic than is often assumed, quietly resolved through a behind-the-scenes deal whereby the Soviets ditched their Cuban missile plan and the Americans withdrew theirs from Turkey. Castro had little say either way.)
Nuclear armed castro? Nothing to worry about according to this so-called student of history. Never mind that we now know that Khrushchev was relieved to pull the missiles out of Cuba because he was afraid castro would start World War III. You see, according this author, everything you know about the world is wrong. And I suppose those wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Angola and other places where Cuba sent troops and weapons were symbolic too. Those bodies that piled up in those wars, nothing but a metaphor.
Then he goes to talk about the post-soviet era:
Isolated, impoverished and under pressure from the US embargo, there would have been inevitable limits on what Castro could achieve in terms of economic and social development. But in the event he achieved considerably less than that. His nationalistion of foreign-owned industries was the sort of defensive economic measure common in the developing world in the post-colonial era. The imposition of state monopolies did not signify the transfer of control to the Cuban people. His refusal to share real political power outside of his clique - a measure he justified, along with the repression of opponents, as a necessary response to America’s undeclared war on Cuba - ensured that the Cuban masses were denied anything approaching ‘people power’.
Yet most Cubans who recalled the grim pre-revolutionary era of US influence on the island stood by Castro against the Yanqui Imperialists. Their resilience in the face of such adversity has long deserved our solidarity and respect. For some of us that solidarity with ordinary Cubans did not ever mean supporting Castro or his politics. But others on the Western left never seemed quite able to make that distinction.
Ah yes, the Cuban people stood by castro as they took the front doors of their houses along with anything else that could float and decided to take their chances with the Florida Straits and the sharks rather than remain in Cuba. If Cuba's people stand by fidel and his system against the Yanqui Imperialists then why is that Cuba makes it illegal for its citizens to leave the country without permission?
If there's one redeeming thing in the whole piece, it's how the guy concludes it.
Since the end of the Cold War and his slide into impotence, it has become safe for celebrity lefties to lionise Castro once again, since he is no longer a threat to anybody. He has become a sort of Celebrity Communist himself, mixing with Hollywood directors and other high-profile figures. In the past few years, as Cuba has begun to open up and change has become inevitable, it has even become fashionable in some Western circles to suggest that ‘one must visit Cuba before Fidel goes’ - as if the passing of such an isolated and distorted society, trapped in time with its 1950s American cars, will be something to mourn.
It is a sign of the degraded state of the Western left that what they once hailed as a socialist paradise has now been recast as a sort of nostalgic ‘paradise lost’ theme park in the Carribean [sic]. The Cuban people might be justfied [sic] in thinking they can do without such solidarity in the future.
The only problem is that he needs to look in the mirror and see that by repeating easily proven falsehoods and underestimating castro's capacity to manipulate people inside and outside of Cuba that he's doing Cubans just as much of a disservice. Not only that, it smacks of the bigoted paternalism that many of these lefties suffer from. Usually it's "well they don't have liberty but they have health care" as if Cubans aren't entitled to same kinds of things that "civilized" people are. In this case, it's minimizing castro into some sort of pawn who was moved by forces outside of himself. Thus the Cuban people have been victimized not by castro but by the United States and to a lesser extent the Soviet Union.
Sorry, no cigar.
Tuesday, Open Thread
Post whatever you like in the comments. The best stuff gets bumped up to a post of its own.
He came, he saw...
Thank you so much, Cardinal Bertone, but you really didn't need to fly all the way to Cuba to do that.
Fontova on Prager's Show
If you missed Humberto Fontova on Dennis Prager's radio show yesterday morning you can listen at this site.
February 25, 2008
Raul is a "Warm and Jocular" Man
From the DAME UN "FRENO" files...
Yes, you read right. Anita Snow actually called raúl castro a "warm and jocular man" in an AP article about his "Raulistas." Now, I wonder, is he warm and jocular when he orders the CDR to beat up a dissident's family? How about when he was overseeing the executions with che guevara? Wait, I know, when he sends the police to arrest the independent librarians. Oh that raúl! She also describes him as a
"highly organized manager with a pragmatic business sense that could lead him to allow openings in Cuba's economy,"and he
"dotes almost as much on his troops as he does on his family."To be fair, though, she did say he was "extremely tough." Tough? Like murdering tough? Like stripping of human rights tough?
Read the rest about this warm and jocular little guy here.
Cross-posted on Claudia4Libertad.com
That Darned Country Again
Some light reading for a Monday evening. Time remarks on the new/old hierarchy under the rather arch headline of "Still a Country for Old Men." Of course the author, Tim Padgett, who is fond of playing "guess what machinations are going on behind the scenes" suspects it might be Raul playing for time (pardon the pun) to defang the fidelistas. Read it here. Reminds me of a few lines from the poem that fuels all these alllusions:
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
from Sailing to Byzantium- William Butler Yeats
Castro’s Cuba Was No Place For A Socialist Like Me
From the UK's Spectator (H/T WD and Davidb1):
Neil Clark says that he went to Havana in search of a left-wing Utopia and discovered instead an island fortress of poverty, corruption and currency apartheid
It’s a country where the vast majority live in poverty, while a tiny, corrupt elite live in luxury. It’s a place where, 14 years after South Africa abolished apartheid, a form of it still operates. And it’s a country where you can be threatened with prison not just for criticising the country’s leadership, but also for querying a medical bill.
Welcome to Cuba, the ‘socialist’ paradise built by that great egalitarian Fidel Castro, who after 49 years at the helm has finally decided to hand over power — in the manner of a true democrat — to his brother Raúl.
My wife and I, as unreconstructed paleo-lefties who support Clause Four, free school meals and NHS dental provision, had long wanted to visit Castro’s Cuba. All the people whose views we respect had said that the Caribbean island was a progressive model whose policies on education and healthcare ought to be copied throughout the world. We went there last April desperately wanting to like the place — after all, if George W. Bush and other right-wing nasties hated Cuba so much, then the country must be on the right tracks.
But we returned home terribly disillusioned. Neither of us had been to a country which was so utterly decrepit.
Stay on the officially approved tourist trail round the newly renovated streets of ‘Old Havana’ and you’d get the impression that Cuba was a tropical version of Switzerland. There are smart restaurants, designer shops and modern hotels. Wander a few streets away, however, and you’ll witness scenes of incredible dereliction. Dilapidated buildings with wires hanging out, streets that haven’t been resurfaced for more than 50 years, balconies that look like they’re going to fall down at any minute. In my travels in the Middle East and Asia, I’ve certainly witnessed squalor, but nothing prepared me for the back streets of Havana.
The average wage in Cuba is a pitiful $17 a month. The monthly ration which includes 283g of fish, 226g of chicken, ten eggs and 1.8kg of potatoes is barely enough for a fortnight, meaning most Cubans need to work the black market to stay alive. Things that we in Britain take totally for granted — such as toilet paper, toothpaste and pens — are luxury goods in Cuba. I’ll never forget the look of joy from an old lady when I handed her a couple of old marker pens and a coloured pencil.
For Fidel’s chums, life is somewhat easier. Despite its calls for further belt-tightening, the Cuban government last year ordered Series 1, 3 and 5 BMWs for all its ambassadors and a Series 5 model for Raúl Castro, who had taken charge of the country after his brother’s hospitalisation.
The heartbreaking consequences of Cuba’s currency apartheid were bought home to my wife and I on a Saturday afternoon visit to Havana’s Coppelia ‘Ice Cream’ park. To the right of the park gates was a long queue of Cubans who had only Cuban pesos. They have to wait on average two hours every weekend to get their weekly scoop of ice cream. On the left, there was walk-in access to tourists and the lucky locals who had convertible pesos. Fifty years on, the Cuban revolution has turned full circle in a truly Orwellian fashion. Once again the locals find themselves excluded from the best beaches in their country, as they were under Batista. And prostitution, so rife in pre-revolutionary days, is back — the jineteras being the only group of Cubans allowed to enter the new purpose-built resorts.
US sanctions are routinely blamed by Cuba’s defenders for the country’s plight. But while sanctions are harsh and morally indefensible, there’s little doubt that they have been used by the regime as a smokescreen to cover up inefficiencies and corruption. Four years ago the head of the country’s largest tourism company, Cubanacan, was fired after millions of dollars went missing — the loss only coming to light after all state enterprises were ordered to transfer their US dollars into convertible pesos.
The totalitarian nature of Castro’s Cuba is no right-wing myth, but a reality. And you don’t have to be a political agitator to fall foul of the authorities, as my wife and I discovered. We had been told by our holiday rep that the hotel’s resident nurse would administer free basic medical care, but if we required the call-out services of a local doctor, we’d have to pay. After a day’s snorkelling I had a touch of ear-ache, so I popped along to the nurse’s office to ask if she had any medication. The nurse was a man, who after the most cursory examination of my ear pronounced that I had an infection which required antibiotics. How much would the antibiotics cost, I asked. About £60, he replied. As we were returning home later that day, I told him that I’d leave it till I got back. ‘Yes, but you still have to pay me £30 for this consultation,’ he replied. ‘But the services of the nurse are free,’ I said. ‘I’m a doctor,’ he replied.
Furious at being taken for a ride, my wife and I refused to pay and headed back to our room. But on trying to check out of the hotel later that morning, we were astonished to be told by the receptionist that if we did not settle the medical bill, she would ‘call state security’ and we would be arrested. We would not be allowed out of the country — ‘state security’ would apprehend us at the airport. The ‘doctor’ then reappeared to say that the rate — which had been set in stone — was after all negotiable, and that he’d accept £25. Forced into the corner and threatened with a night (at least) in a Cuban jail, we reluctantly paid up. ‘It’s nothing more than theft,’ I said to the ‘doctor’ as I handed over the money. ‘It doesn’t go to me,’ was his response. ‘It goes to the state.’
If the money from such scams really did go to the state — and towards improving the lot of the Cuban people — I wouldn’t have been so upset. But I strongly suspect that a share of my £25 will go towards the next fleet of BMWs for Castro’s cronies.
After the stress of our final day in Cuba, my wife and I were hugely relieved to leave the country. And when we were safely airborne, we both reflected that if any country was in need of a revolution, it was Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
We've all heard this story before...
On the day Fidel Castro announced he was stepping down, Kathleen Turner was in a church on the Danforth talking about the power of politics over God. "One day at school, my teacher told me to close my eyes and pray to God for candy," said Turner, who attended school in Cuba in 1959. "I opened my eyes and there was no candy." Turner's teacher then asked her to close her eyes and ask Fidel Castro for candy -- lo and behold, the candy appeared. The teacher then asked the class, "Who loves you more, Fidel Castro or God?"
"I went home and I told my mom that story," said Turner, "and that was the last time I ever went to a Cuban school."
A Bleak Forecast
Today's Miami Herald Tribune offers a small report on the response of some UM professors to yesterday's events in Cuba. The consensus? Dismal. Best quote:
''There is no reform. We are not looking at a Chinese model. We are not even looking at a Vietnamese model. This presents a very bleak outlook for Cuba,'' said Jaime Suchlicki, director of the university's Institute for Cuban & Cuban-American Studies, during a panel discussion at the school.
Now let's see if their learned views have any effect on the Pollyannas running around rejoicing in the "transition" to a "pragmatic" Raul.
Addressing the peanut gallery.
A commenter left the following comment on Monica's post earlier about whether the U.S. is to blame for Cuba's crummy economy and now Venezuela's.
Lets see, according to you
1. Either do nothing which is a position you have championed for 50 years. 2. Or resolve bitter differences and move Cuba at least towards an economic model similar to what China has embraced and yes I know the human rights abuse but the people are prospering with a growing middle class which means food on the plate.
Let me address this point of view. The United States doesn't have to do anything. The United States needs nothing from Cuba. It's Cuba that wants U.S. trade, investment and tourism. To get it, Cuba is going to have to do something. Namely, release the political prisoners and allow space for the political opposition to organize without fear of reprisal. Until those conditions are met, the U.S. doesn't have to be in a hurry to do anything for the regime.
Secondly, the bitterness is not between the government or people of the U.S. and the people of Cuba. The bitterness is between the people of Cuba (on the island and in exile) and the illegal, corrupt and murderous government of Cuba.
Lastly with regards to Cuba's economy, the United States can't move Cuba to do anything. If Cuba hasn't embraced a Chinese model of free market capitalism it's because Cuba's leaders haven't wanted to move it there despite the speculation among some in the U.S. that they will.
In fact, I could argue that most of the reasons to keep the embargo would be gone if Cuba would move toward the Chinese model. Then trade with Cuba would actually help the people not the generals that run the state-owned corporations. There's been a lot of talk about the Chinese model but it's been only talk. The Chinese model means private property rights. It means private entrepreneurship. It means employees work directly for employers not the state. None of these reforms have yet been adopted by Cuba. Without them there is no Chinese model.
Simply put, it's not out turn to move a chess piece. It's been Cuba's turn for 48+ years. When Cuba gets its act in order then the US can make a move. Not before.
Special interests and evil lobbyists
Sometimes I'm surprised, though I shouldn't be, at how easily American voters are swayed into believing things that either aren't true or are grossly distorted. If you listen to candidates for political office talk for long enough you'll often hear them refer to lobbyists and/or special interests. Usually, the reference is a negative one like "my opponent is beholden to special interests." As a result special interests and those who advocate for them have become some sort of mythical bogeyman. Special interests=bad, lobbyists=bad. Of course I don't believe this is the case, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this at this moment. So let's take a look at so-called special interests and lobbyists and judge for ourselves whether they are generally good or bad or neither.
Let's start with special interests. What is a special interest? What makes them special? Simply put, a special interest is a group that would like to influence policy in a way that benefits the group. Nothing more. It's really important to understand that every law, every policy promulgated by government affects someone. So if a law is going to be passed that affects you, you sure as hell would like to be heard in the process.
As a result, special interests can run the gamut from citizen member organizations like AARP and the NRA to industry trade associations and labor unions. In essence, special interests are made up of PEOPLE. People like you and I. If you own stock in a corporation and that corporation is in a trade association, that association is more than likely trying to influence policy on behalf of its member corporations and thus their shareholders, meaning you.
What's really important to remember about special interests is that there is usually more than one special interest group involved in an issue. For example the oil companies might want to drill for oil in a part of the country that's currently off limits. They have a special interest in the issue. But so does the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. And this is where lobbyists come in.
A lobbyist is someone whose job it is to advocate on behalf of other people. They use relationships they have with policy makers to try to influence policies that affect their clients. There is nothing dishonorable about being a lobbyist. Well respected groups like AARP and CANF employ lobbyists all the time. Why? Well because a lobbyist is knowledgeable about the legislative process and already has relationships with the right people. It's like an actor hiring an agent. You need someone with connections to get the outcome that you desire.
So how do lobbyists get their connections and their influence? Obviously the media tends to focus on campaign contributions made by special interests and lobbyists and immediately see a quid pro quo there as if the special interest group had bought the legislator's vote. I suppose this does happen, but as I stated, often there are other special interests on the other side of the issue that are trying to get a legislator's vote. Sometimes you'll see that candidates take money from groups on both sides of an issue. For example a legislator may take money from trial lawyers but also from a medical association. On certain issues like malpractice lawsuit reform, these two sides are enemies.
But there are other ways lobbyists gain influence. One of the most important ways is by furnishing information. For example if you are a lobbyist for AARP you might submit a report to a legislator's staff about how Social Security benefits are not keeping up with the cost of inflation. This is information that the legislator or his staffers could not possibly get on their own and if they could it might take years to master the subject matter enough to figure it out. Special interests, because they are looking out for the interests of their membership, have this type of data at the tip of their fingers. And just because a lobbyist provides data doesn't mean that another representing the opposing side isn't presenting contradictory data. In a way the legislator then has to evaluate both sides, consider the opinions of his constituents and also the general ideology of his party and render a decision on how he will vote on a particular matter.
Lobbying firms usually represent a portfolio of clients and like any service based professionals live by their reputations. If a lobbyist gives a legislator bad information that lobbyist is going to lose credibility.
In short lobbyists are like attorneys. They advocate on behalf of their clients using any means at their disposal, conscious of the fact that their tactics will be scrutinized. Like attorneys their role is part of an adversarial process. They are going up against other lobbyists that represent the flip side of an issue. Ultimately, each vote winds up with a winning side and a losing side. The losing side will always have the argument that the winning side got their win in an underhanded manner and state that "lobbyists wrote that bill!" What they won't say is that if they had won, then lobbyists would have also written that bill.
Bottom line is that neither you nor I have the luxury of going to Washington to try to influence the legislative process on our behalf. That's why special interest groups and lobbyists are indispensable part of our representative democracy. Next time someone throws the words "special interests" and lobbyists around in a pejorative way, ask them if they own mutual funds. Those corporations whose shares they own are looking out for their interests as shareholders. Ask them if they belong to a labor union. Ask them if their employer is part of industry trade association. Chances are these people are part of special interests groups that have lobbyists working on their behalf without even knowing it. Even if they aren't connected in any way with a special interest, there are probably special interest groups out there working on issues they agree with. For example an animal lover may not be part of any group but there are groups out there working on behalf of animals.
It's time to learn about issues and do our due diligence as voters and stop blaming others for our ignorance. You can only hold your legislator accountable if you know both sides of the issue, how your legislator voted, and why? You may disagree with the legislator's position, but that doesn't mean he arrived at it because of underhanded lobbyists.
It's always the USA's fault, right?
Translated from El Nuevo Herald:
''I can't find rice, beans, coffee or milk'', said Mirna de Campos, 56 years old, a nurse's assistant who lives in the extremely poor district of Los Teques, surrounding Caracas. ``What you can find is whiskey, and lots of it."
The contrast between revolutionary rhetoric and the consumption of imported luxury items by part of a new elite aligned with Chavez's government, known as the "burguesía bolivariana," has prompted many major questions about the priorities of his political movement.
Oh, look, Venezuela is adopting a food ration system too (http://www.therealcuba.com)
What a coincidence that Cuba has the same problems... but the embargo is to blame, right? Lifting the embargo will not help the Cuban people, just the corrupt, inefficient and greedy Communist government.
The Revolution Takes a Mulligan
There were three world class golf courses in Cuba prior to the revolution. They were usurped by the castro regime and turned into "worker's resorts" and "schools." The revolution, with its perfection, surely didnt need bourgeoise sports venues for the rich, capitalist imperialists.
But that was then, and this is now. That was before the world and the castro regime had the empirical proof of the revolution's absolute and abject failure.
Today, the castro regime and the revolution take a Mulligan, and seek those same foreign, capitalist, imperialist investors to come on over and build some golf resorts.
Quack — Quack
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you can safely assume it is a duck. Unless, of course, you are a member of the mainstream media and that pato happens to be a Cuban dictator.
Perusing the headlines and news articles this morning regarding Cuba’s so-called historic change yesterday, you can see that no matter how much raulito waddles and quacks, he is described as anything other than what he is. To the media, the quacking coming out of Havana yesterday was a symphony of orchestral brass ushering in a new era of socialist magnificence.
raul said quack: the media heard trumpets blare REFORM!
raul said quack: the media heard trumpets blare PRAGMATISM!
raul said quack: the media heard trumpets blare NEW ERA!
Meanwhile, all that the Cuban people heard was quack, quack, quack, quack.
February 24, 2008
The Duke Cuba Conference
April 10 - 13 / Duke University / Durham, NC
Are you a driven college student, recent graduate, or high-school student with a passion and desire to explore more about Cuba and its realities?
The Duke Cuba Conference - inter(CAMBIO): Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - is Raices de Esperanza's fifth anniversary youth conference and will be hosted by Duke University's Cuban American Student Association (CASA). This three-day event will unite prominent figures that are active in the study of Cuban-American affairs, young professionals, and students from universities and high schools across the nation. By fusing the academic with the cultural the Conference will be a unique and transformative experience that fosters interaction and exchange between special guests and participants, challenging and engaging those that seek to immerse themselves in an atmosphere of learning and excitement.
inter(CAMBIO): Yesterday , Today, and Tomorrow will offer all who attend the opportunity to network with those that are on the forefront of initiatives supporting positive change in Cuba. Participants will also partake in Raices de Esperanza's latest developmental program dedicated to strengthening the bridge between youth inside and outside of Cuba. All are invited to apply.
Travel, Food, & Lodging Accomodations: Please do not let any expenses deter you from applying. Travel costs will be shared between Raices and Conference applicants, the amount of which will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Please specify your lodging needs in the relevant section of the Conference application. On-campus dormitory housing will be provided by Duke student sponsors for the duration of the Conference weekend at no expense. Participants requiring hotel accomodations may do so at their own expense. Meals will be provided at the majority of events - please refer to the Conference agenda for more details. Transportation between Duke's campus and the Raleigh-Durham International Airport will be provided to participants.
The deadline to apply will be Monday, March 3rd. Contact: for more information or additional inquiries, please write to DukeCubaConference@gmail.com.
Raices de Esperanza (Roots of Hope) is a dynamic and evolving service organization inspired by captivating young leaders who want to convert talk to action, write a new history, and let the world hear their calls for change. We are young leaders growing together, sharing resources, and creating an empowering network that services those in need. Our actions and initiatives invite the courageous, creative, and committed to challenge themselves and raise up high the banner of hope, love, and friendship so the world can see. We aim to define the role of youth in promoting a free Cuba by educating ourselves, embracing debate, and reaching out to our counterparts on the island.
Since its founding in 2003, Raices has sponsored academic forums at Harvard, Georgetown, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania. Drawing on a network of more than 44 university groups and over 1,000 alumni, Raices' conferences encourage students and young professionals to explore Cuba's complex past, present, and future by interacting with distinguished academics, scholars, activists, and world leaders.
Raices de Esperanza is a 100% volunteer, non-profit, non-partisan organization that does not receive any federal funding.
Look What's Fit to Print
In a sense, who holds the office of president hardly matters, experts on Cuban politics say. Fidel and Raúl Castro remain firmly in control of the Communist party, the ultimate authority on the island. They could rule from behind the scenes without even occupying the presidency.
For a minute there, I though I had the wrong paper. From a New York Times article on the- I'm not quite sure what to call it- today. Where are the usual suspects? The article here.
Old Dictators Never Die...
They just go to work at WalMart.
photo by FreakingNews
Look! Number TWO!
Yes, Raúl, you're still number TWO.
The same as it ever was
Newly appointed dictatator raul castro as appointed as his No. 2, a old guard communist hardliner named Jose Ramon Machado Ventura. Read about him here.
Further calling into question the notion that raul is some sort of reformer was his proposal to keep big brother in the game as a sort of supreme leader. The Miami Herald described it like this:
(r)aúl (c)astro's first move as president was to introduce a measure allowing his brother to rule on all major decisions in the future. The National Assembly unanimously agreed.
In his inaugural speech, (r)aúl (c)astro paid homage to his brother's rule, saying he could never be replaced -- ''fidel is fidel,'' he said -- and repeated his previous argument that the Communist Party remains Cuba's leading force.
"He can never be replaced.''
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
"Results" announced at 2:30 p.m. EST
It will be the mother of all anti-climaxes, but reports are Cuba's rubber-stamp parliament will announce at 2:30 p.m. EST today the results of voting in the race to be the country's new dictator.
Ooh! That Kiss!
Silvio Rodríguez, "arguably one of the greatest musicians of recent times in the Spanish-speaking world," according to the Guardian, gave an interview in which he reminsces about the kiss he gave Fidel and states that fidel "makes the world tremble." (No explanation offered about whether kissing fidel made Silvio tremble.) The musical propagandist for castro, Inc. speculated that castro's health has been a secret because it would prompt the enermies of Cuba to plot against him.
The Nueva Trova founder of course also offered his two cents on the United States:
'I wish the White House would stop being hostile towards our country. I feel fully identified with the circumstances of the embargo and the aggressions the Cuban people suffer. And as for the universal quality of the culture of the US that is because of all the different people from various countries that live there.'
You can read the rest of Silvio's butt-kissing here.
CNN's "Castro Guidance" under scrutiny
Johhny Dollar has posted a segment from Fox News Watch, a show that analyzes media coverage of news and events (journalists talking about journalism). In any case, the segment is about that CNN memo that went out advising its correspondents to be "balanced" in their reporting that is to make sure they say good things about him too. Here's the clip:
February 24, 1996
Claudia Fanelli's blog, Claudia4Libertad, is celebrating a milestone today; its 1-year anniversary!
Claudia has done an incredible job in helping spread the word about the reality of Cuba and educating those who simply did not know or care. Thank you for tireless advocacy, Claudia; I am proud to call you friend.
Today the 31-member council of ministers of Cuba’s dictatorial oligarchy will vote on who will be the island’s new president. The method of selection and the presidential title bestowed on the winner is a euphemism at best. Nevertheless, the mainstream media is more interested in the anticipated political changes this highly touted process will bring to the island nation than they are in questioning the perverse and grotesque misrepresentations coming out of Havana. Will the new president loosen the state’s grip on the economy? Will the new president allow the people to speak openly and without fear of retaliation for the first time since the regime took power? Will the new president free the thousands of political prisoners that are languishing in horrid jail cells?
While a huge segment of the world population waits with bated breath to learn what changes will come from this historic vote in Havana, I can offer them the answer as early as right now and save them a few days, weeks, or months of anxious anticipation.
Today is the 17,952nd day of the dictatorial oligarchy’s rule in Cuba.
Tomorrow, the day after the vote, will be the 17,953rd day of the dictatorial oligarchy’s rule in Cuba.
There you have it, my inquisitive and concerned friends; the BIG change you are all anticipating. I know it may seem anticlimactic, but this is about a big of a change as you are going to get.
While the regime remains in place, bequeathing power amongst its own, there will be no other radical change in Cuba. There will still be no freedom to speak, no freedom to write, no freedom to sing, no freedom to read, no freedom to associate, no freedom to travel, no freedom to work, no freedom to assemble, no freedom to do anything you and I take for granted. The only rights imparted on the Cuban people by the regime are the right to be oppressed.
I apologize if this was a spoiler to some of you, but I did not want you to stay waiting so long for something that was never going to happen. As long as Cuba’s ruling elite stays in control and keeps the island in chains the only thing that will change will be the date on the calendar.
The Miami Herald has a feature article today which takes a closer look at the emotional state of Cuban exiles. There are no surprising or shocking revelations offered, it's pretty much a detailed account of something Cuban exiles and second generation Cuban exiles have been dealing with our entire lives. The main point in the article is the "unresolved mourning" that many Cuban exiles still suffer through due to the constant reminders of what they left behind in Cuba. This condition is most acute in Miami, of course, due to geographical and cultural proximity to Cuba.
That's all fine and dandy, and makes for pretty good psychological fodder, I presume.
The article's intention wasn't to offer a completely balanced look at Cuban exiles' emotional state. Still, it seems kind of silly to think that Cuban exiles walk around in a zombie-like state all the time. Otherwise, how could we have accomplished even half of what we've able to do in this country and elsewhere.
Full article below the fold.
Cuban exiles trapped in emotional limbo
Is Castro dead or alive? Will there be change in Cuba? Now, an FIU professor has given a name to the emotional seesaw that plagues many Miami exiles -- unresolved mourning.
Posted on Sun, Feb. 24, 2008
BY LUISA YANEZ
At the Ferdinand Funeral Home and Crematory in Little Havana, family after family gathers at the exile community's oldest parlor to pay their respects to abuelo or abuela. The refrain is often one of regret: Fidel Castro outlived their loved one.
For those Cubans left behind facing their own mortality, the yearning for change on the island continues, and so does the toll of 49 years of waiting for closure.
Now, Florida International University professor Eugenio Rothe has identified a name for the unique psychological condition of so many South Florida exiles: ``unresolved mourning.''
It's a term first coined by psychologist Sigmund Freud who used it to describe someone who cannot come to grips with the death of a loved one.
Rothe, who has spent years studying the exile psyche, makes the case that unresolved mourning is precisely the malaise faced by exiles who live in a city where any news about Castro brings a flurry of hope that he will die -- and they will regain a lost life.
Last week's bombshell about Castro's retirement was just the kind of news Rothe suggests reopens wounds so many Cubans fight to bury.
Many members of what is now called ''the historic exile'' -- those forced to leave in the 1960s as adults -- felt a wave of melancholy, as they were reminded all over again of their loss and heartaches. It's all part of the emotional bungee cord that snaps exiles throughout South Florida at the hint of news about Castro and Cuba.
''For those older exiles, Cuba is like a dead person who somehow remains half alive, like a zombie, because they have never completed their mourning process of disconnecting and forming new bonds,'' said Rothe, who will teach at FIU's new College of Medicine and has published several articles and studies on the mental health of Cuban refugees.
Many exiles -- ''emotionally injured'' when their lives were derailed by Castro's rise to power -- reside within this emotional limbo, said Rothe, co-author of a paper on exile nostalgia which will soon be published in the Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies. ''In Miami, there is a constant reactivation of old wounds as exiles are bombarded with major news events related to the island or Castro so they can never completely let go,'' said Rothe, the son of Cuban exiles.
It was 12 years ago Sunday, for example, that the Cuban government shot down two Brothers to the Rescue planes, killing four local fliers. No one has been brought to justice, though U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart have called for a federal government indictment of Raúl Castro, who as defense minister authorized the shooting.
In 2000, there was the bitter and drawn out battle between exiles and Castro to keep Elián González with his Miami relatives. The boy, whose mother drowned at sea attempting to escape Cuba, eventually was returned to his father in Cuba.
And most recently, in June 2006, the announcement that an ailing Castro was temporarily handing power to his brother Raúl, who Sunday is expected to be named Cuba's next leader by the National Assembly.
All these events, Rothe said, have impacted the historic exiles' recovery from the loss they experienced decades ago.
Rothe said that even the typical mourning process -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance -- is different for Cubans in South Florida than it is for other Cubans because they are so geographically close to their homeland.
''They have a relationship with Cuba that is never allowed to die,'' said Rothe, who added that exiles with feelings of unresolved mourning are destined for disappointment.
''At first they enjoy the bittersweet feel of the nostalgia, but then they are reminded that the past will never be again. Depression sets in when they realize what they yearned for can never be again,'' Rothe said. ``The old Cuba they knew is gone.''
The angst of unresolved mourning over Cuba, Rothe said, can be passed on from generation to generation.
Beba Sosa, daughter of beloved Cuban senator Emilio Ochoa -- until last year the last remaining signer of Cuba's historic 1940 constitution -- says during days like these, her father, who lived to be 99, is often on her mind. ''He wanted to go back until the last minute of his life,'' she said.
``He would tell me that he knew he was too old to hold a political post, but that he would like to offer advice to others.''
Near the end of his life, Sosa said: ``He hated that he would not live to see the changes.''
For Raúl Martinez, the former mayor of Hialeah who is running for the congressional seat now held by Lincoln Diaz-Balart, news of Castro's resignation was bittersweet.
He immediately thought of his father, Chin, a staunch anti-Castro fighter who died a year ago last week at 82.
Martinez watched his father readjust his life.
''My father came to Miami in April of 1960 thinking by that December he'd be back home to roast his Nochebuena pork,'' Martinez said. ``He like many older exiles didn't get to go back and see the old country again.''
For some Cubans, even death provides no escape from the circle of unresolved mourning.
Fernando Caballero, owner of Ferdinand Funeral Home on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, says he hears the same request from Cubans preparing a loved one's burial.
''A family member will usually ask at some point if the body can be taken back to Cuba -- once Fidel falls,'' Caballero said. ``With the proper paperwork, the answer from us has always been yes. We'll help take them back.''
Miami Herald staffer David Quinones contributed to this report.
Even the loony left is having doubts
My lovely wife, conservative to the bone, read this last night, printed it, and placed it on my nightstand to read. When I read it a few minutes ago I almost dropped my coffee from the glee I felt. Here's a sample:
The other thing that’s bothering me is this Barry Hussein Jr., guy. How long is the Punahou Kid going to be able to skate on The Audacity of Hope and The Hope of Audacity? When you actually look at his voting record -- and we sure hope you never do -- you notice that basically he’s more or less of a commie, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends are commies, er, “progressives.”
But the whole cool thing about being a far-Left liberal is that we’re like undercover secret agents, who have to shield our real goals and motives from you, the suckers. How far would we get if we actually came out and said that we want to nationalize health care, raise taxes to confiscatory levels on the filthy rich who make more than $75,000 a year, preemptively surrender in Iraq, and flood the country with illegal aliens and then turn them into citizens in a transparent attempt to get votes and keep the Ponzi Scheme solvent?
He he he. If some libs are feeling this way (and the writer of the piece claims to be a leftist) then there may indeed be a small hope to be had for November -- despite the less than palatable (R) candidate. Read the whole thing.
Coverage of Cuba changing?
Don't hold your breath but Anthony Boadle writing for Reuters says the following (emphasis mine):
Cuba to name new leader to succeed Fidel Castro By Anthony Boadle
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's rubber-stamp National Assembly will name Fidel Castro's successor on Sunday, ending the 49-year rule of the bearded revolutionary who turned Cuba into a communist state on America's doorstep.
Rubber stamp? Are these media outlets starting to pivot on Cuba and the castro regime? We'll see.
Alberto Quiroga Remembers...
Armando Alejandre Jr. at his Havana 1950-1960 Blog.
February 23, 2008
I was reading an interesting piece at FoxBusiness.com:
Cuba: An Island of Stifled Potential
I haven’t been to Cuba in over ten years. But I fell in love with the place … or more to the point, I fell in love with the people. I’m sure the tourist beaches are nice, but I didn’t go there. I wanted to see how Cubans lived, so I stayed in the cities.
Wandering around Cuba, you’re aware of two conflicting dynamics: the fear and suspicion of living in a Communist dictatorship and the incredible warmth and intelligence of the Cuban people. That’s what makes the country’s crippling poverty all the more pathetic. There’s no reason for it.
When I was in Cuba, I met dozens of people who were dying to try out an idea or an enterprise, and they had the spirit and intelligence to carry it out. In almost any other country, these people would be successful. But in Cuba, the moment you succeed at a small enterprise, the government moves in to shut you down.
Fidel Castro always blames the U.S. embargo for Cuba’s poverty. But Fidel Castro's entrepreneurial blockade is a far greater blockade to growth and modernization.
One of the folks I met in Cuba was a terrific young guy who brought me to his tiny apartment to meet his wife and daughter. They insisted on sharing a portion of their tiny supper rations, which included a little cheese and some beans. Here’s what he told me when I asked how he could live in such an environment:
"As bad as the deprivations are for my family and me, the worst thing is to know that my potential is not being used. That's what's killing all of us."
For all the crimes committed against Cubans by the Castro regime, this may be the worst. It’s certainly not as horrific as the summary executions or tortures by the regime. But to kill the potential of an entire nation for 50 years is a heinous crime for which Cuba’s leadership should forever be condemned.
The irony is that in a separate item the same author laments Jeff Flakes failure to get on the House Appropriations Committee. Flake is one of the few Republican enablers of fidel castro in Congress.
Visit Cuba today...
Alan Colmes' Ignorance on Cuba
Many thanks for the support, amigas and amigos.
I'm very grateful. Allow me to explain what happened on Hannity & Colmes. Originally, I was to be an in-studio guest of the show --as I was a few months ago. The horrendous weather made my impromptu trip to New York impossible. So I had to resort to a satellite broadcast from a ramshackle studio in New Orleans. I could not see either Col. North or Colmes during the "interview", even on a studio monitor, as is normally the case during satellite interviews. I could not see their facial expressions for cues as to when and HOW to respond. In fact, at times it was hard even hearing them.
When Colmes finds me sitting two feet away from him, he's not quite as snide and frisky, believe me. Here's the evidence from my last H&C "interview."
Cuban matters will be discussed much more intelligently and at length this Monday on the nationally syndicated Dennis Prager Radio show. The show has granted me an hour to tell our side of the story this Monday starting at 10 AM Pacific.
More on MSM's love affair with Fidel. Barbara Walters doesn't even bother with the healthcare and education excuse. For her it's his grilled cheese sandwiches that make up for otherwise being a monster.
Who is Blas Reyes?
Independent librarian Blas Reyes is one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of Cuban political prisoners whose name you are likely not to hear or read during coverage of the "election" Sunday of the nation's new dictator. But as long as the castro gulag holds him, and others like him — imprisoned because of their belief in freedom and opposition to tyranny — nothing has changed.
Read more about Reyes here.
A little MSM experiment
Speaking of media bias, it's not always what's said that's biased but there's also bias by omission.
For the hell of it I did an archive search at the New York Times for Nelson Mandela between January of 1981 and January of 1989 (Mandela was in prison during those years) and came away with 619 results.
I did a similar search for Oscar Biscet from January of 1999 (the year he was first arrested by the castro regime) to date and found 8 results.
Out of sight, out of mind. No wonder the political prisoners in Cuba are invisible to the American people and the world.
NOTE: Mandela was in prison longer than the period I searched. I wanted to keep the number of years constant in both examples however and NYT's electronic archives only go back to 1981.
Why journalists get the story wrong on Cuba.
There's a lot of conservative blogs out there that knock the mainstream media. And with good reason, surveys conducted on the matter show that most working journalists in America today are Democrats and identify themselves as liberal. Yet they continue to insist that they are unbiased and fair. Several authors have blown holes in the idea of media balance like Bernard Goldberg who once worked at CBS. While he doesn't consider himself a conservative, Goldberg found the bias he encountered in the mainstream media so blatant that he wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal about it and ultimately lost his job over it. So one of the big issues conservatives lament is the fact that their ideas don't get a fair shake in the media. And that's where conservatives and most Cuban-Americans intersect. Babalu is that intersection.
We often talk about how the MSM is either lazy, stupid or complicit with the castro regime when it comes to its coverage of Cuba. And this week we obtained another piece of evidence that shows that it's no accident that we get a kind of dumbed-down homogeneous coverage about Cuba here in The States.
Parallels have been drawn to how CNN soft peddled Saddam's Iraq prior to the war in an effort to keep its Baghdad bureau from being shut down by the Hussein regime. A CNN executive made a refreshingly candid mea culpa on the matter.
So let's take a look at the issue of covering dictatorships and see what we can learn. Let's start with the premise that most Americans would probably say that dictatorships are bad. I mean the ideal of democracy is that every citizen has a voice in how the country is governed because how the country is governed affects them. But all dictatorships are not alike. Over the course of history, we've observed many types of dictatorships. Right wing, left wing, fascist, communist, religious, secular, etc. etc.
So if dictatorships are bad because they don't reflect the will of the people governed by them then by extension the dictatorships that seek to control the people the most should be the worst kind. Follow me folks. It's important to understand what I'm trying to say. If dictatorships are bad because they limit freedom (freedom being good) then those dictatorships which limit freedom the most must be the worst kind of dictatorships.
Can we agree that a totalitarian dictatorship that intrudes on one's political, economic, social and religious freedoms is worse than a traditional military dictatorship that only intrudes on political freedoms? We should. I mean let's be clear here, neither is as good as democracy but clearly one limits all types of freedoms much more than the other which is concerned with limiting one type of freedom.
Given the fact that many many countries are ruled by some form a dictatorship, the media SHOULD be in the business of accurately describing what distinguishes them from each other. And the descriptions should be based on how many and what types of freedoms are affected by the dictator and to what degree. But the journalist's mantra today is balance. That means that everything has a fan and a detractor and that neither is more correct than the other. It's an abdication of judgment on the journalist's part that leaves the impression that there are no degrees of dictatorship or oppression. That they are essentially all alike.
Here's an example provided by commenter about how the Miami Herald characterized the Pinochet dictatorship of Chile in 1998.
SANTIAGO, Chile -- Like a modern Mussolini, Chile's former military ruler Gen. Augusto Pinochet has defenders, here and abroad, who excuse his brutal governing style since it brought increased efficiency to a bloated and underproductive economy.
The above passage is very telling. It starts by informing the reader that Chile's former dictator had defenders who "excused his brutal governing style". Excusing something bad is not generally seen as a good thing, so those people who do the excusing must be wrong. Also notice how the parallel is drawn to an infamous dictator that most readers not acquainted with Latin America and Pinochet would instantly recognize: Mussolini. Mussolini was a dictator so bad that America had to fight against him in world war.
Now let's look at a passage about fidel castro from the CNN memo.
Please note Fidel did bring social reforms to Cuba – namely free education and universal health care, and racial integration. in addition to being criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.
This quote looks very similar to the previous one from the Herald article about Pinochet but is really almost the exact inverse. It begins with the premise of the "good" that castro has done and seems to only begrudgingly acknowledge that "some people" criticize the regime for oppression.
Why can't a journalist look at these two dictatorships and come to an objective conclusion that they were very different and that one was certainly worse than the other?
Let's take a look. Pinochet came to power in 1974 and left power in 1990. fidel took power in 1959 and is "stepping down" in 2008. If dictators are bad, then isn't one who rules for three times as long worse?
Also Pinochet acquiesced to the will of the Chilean people when he stepped down after a plebiscite. fidel has never held a plebiscite.
There is no doubt that Pinochet arrested members of his political opposition, torturing and killing many of them. But there is equally no doubt that castro has done exactly the same things. Pinochet's regime produced a number of exiles estimated in the thousands. Chileans could leave their country at any time. The castro regime has produced more than 1.5 million exiles and Cubans don't even have the right to leave their country when they please so it's unknown how many more would leave if they could.
Nobody will ever be able to successfully argue that greater economic freedoms exist under castro than existed under Pinochet. Looking at the two countries today, the difference is stark. Chile has the 2nd highest per capita GDP in all of Latin America. Cuba, on the other hand, isn't even listed on many of the rankings. It's been well reported that only Haiti is poorer than Cuba in the western hemisphere.
I know I'm going to be criticized for this statement BUT while both dictatorships were bad by almost all objective measures castro's dictatorship has been worse. It's lasted longer, restricted more freedoms, created more exiles and has refused to end itself voluntarily.
Even though I only gave one example of coverage each dictatorship I believe they are fairly representative of the coverage both regimes have historically gotten. So the question is if the castro regime is worse why does the media often do what it condemns with regards to Pinochet and excuse castro for his abuses?
I don't think is has to do as much with the way the the dictators treated their people as it does with the relationship the dictators had with the United States. That's where the bias lies. When the U.S. has close ties to a dictator then that dictator is the worst kind of dictator. But when a dictator like Saddam or castro is an enemy of the United States then it's probably for good reason.
This also explains why Cuban-Americans are treated so poorly by the media. It's because most of us are patriotic Americans who are very thankful for the opportunities this country has provided us and reject the idea that we have to live under a communist anti-American to have good healthcare and education.
The castro propaganda machine feeds into these natural biases of the media with expert precision. And the journalists are either too dumb, lazy or complicit to notice or care. That's why it's so upsetting to see things like the CNN memo. We read the headlines in Granma or Prensa Latina and within hours the same stories are regurgitated by CNN, Reuters or the ASSociated Press.
fifo's press pals
As outlined by the New York Post
Top Ten Reasons fidel castro Retired
David Letterman’s Top Ten Reasons Fidel Castro Is Retiring
10. He has accepted the role of Dr. Ramon Vazquez on "General Hospital.”
9. Achieved his goal of getting Cuba’s unemployment rate under 83%.
8. Wants to spend more time interrogating his family.
7. Just got Season One of “Gilmore Girls.”
6. Caught injecting human growth hormone into his wife, Debbie Castro.
5. Too many tacos.
4. He was adopted by Angelina Jolie — honestly, how crazy would that be?
3. Always promised himself he’d quit torturing when it stopped being fun.
2. Jane Fonda called him a "________."
1. 49 years at the same job? Who am I, Letterman?
Just keeping it light this weekend, folks. I have lots more late night fidel jokes from this week on my site, click here.
P.S. I really hope that Dave isn't stupid enough to equate Cubans with tacos but it wouldn't surprise me.
McCain, the media and Cuba
As many of you know, I have been very critical of John McCain. He does not represent my idea of what a Republican presidential candidate should be based on many positions he's taken during the last 10 years. Often it seems like he's more concerned with making friends with the media and the Democrats than with his fellow Republicans.
I have lamented the fact that the McCain electability myth is based on adoration he receives from the media for bucking his own party and predicted that once McCain were to have to nomination sewn up that his friends in the media would be become former friends in a jiffy.
With 30 years in Washington D.C., McCain is sure to have more skeletons in his closet than Jeffrey Dahlmer. Of course, people who follow politics closely know about McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal back in the 1980s. But soon most Americans will be bombarded details of it. The assault on McCain has already begun with a New York Times article about a relationship that McCain had with a lobbyist that may have been "inappropriate".
Now, I'm not saying that the media would treat any other Republican candidate differently. In fact, I'm saying the exact opposite. Republicans are the enemy of the media and thus the media will attack Republicans relentlessly. Hell, it took Bob Geldof to point out that George W. Bush has done more for Africa than any other U.S. President EVER and that the media has given him ZERO credit for it.
My point was and is that McCain can't count on the media's cheerleading that got him this far, that is to say to national prominence and the GOP nomination, to continue into the general election where he will be a facing a Democrat opponent. You see between a liberal Republican and a conservative Republican the media will back a liberal Republican every time. But between a liberal Republican and a liberal Democrat, the media will back the liberal Democrat every time.
In attacking Barack Obama on his stance with regards to Cuba, McCain is certainly going to raise the hackles of the news media. You see Cuba is a sacred cow for the them. There are probably few issues that the mainstream media are as unanimous about as the embargo and U.S./Cuba relations. McCain should batten down the hatches now that he's taken a position contrary to his erstwhile buddies in the media.
Here's what McCain's campaign had to say about Obama's positions on Cuba:
Not so along go Senator Obama favored complete normalization of relations with Fidel Castro's Cuba. Last night, he said that as president he'd meet with the imprisoned island's new leader 'without preconditions.' So Raul Castro gets an audience with an American president, and all the prestige such a meeting confers, without having to release political prisoners, allow free media, political parties, and labor unions, or schedule internationally monitored free elections.
"Instead, Senator Obama says he would meet Cuba's dictator without any such steps in the hope that talk will make things better for Cuba's oppressed people. Meet, talk, and hope may be a sound approach in a state legislature, but it is dangerously naive in international diplomacy where the oppressed look to America for hope and adversaries wish us ill.
Of course I agree with McCain and applaud this statement because it's the truth but he shouldn't expect to get any sympathy from the castro-lovers in the media, that's for sure
Que Los Cojan Confesados
Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State for the Vatican, is in Cuba on an official visit.
Yesterday, he celebrated mass, The Holy Sacrifice, at Havana’s Cathedral, offering the sacrament of Communion, or was it last rites?, to the atheist Cuban Nomenklatura.
According to Leonard Doyle, writing for the UK’s “The Independent” , the elite of Cuba’s decadent ruling class:
“Dressed in expensive Italian suits, a few with glamorous young partners on their arms, (they) took their places ahead of rows of nuns, priests and diplomats who sat in plastic chairs in a cordoned-off section of the square.”
The problem was, that the party, I mean Mass, like fidel’s rallies, was by invitation only. And, there were some party crashers, the “Ladies in White”. Here are Doyle’s words. Needless to say, he didn’t get the memo:
The procession moved through the congregation touching off ripples of applause from the faithful. But it veered away at one point, turning back to the altar, rather than encounter a group known as the Damas de Blanco ("Ladies in White"), who are the only public face of resistance left in Cuba.
They were not meant to be at this Mass, although they are devout Catholics for the most part, who walk to church every Sunday, dressed all in white, to bring attention to the terrible fate of husbands, sons and brothers languishing in Castro's jails for up to 20 years for voicing "anti-revolutionary" opinions.
The Ladies in White, a number of whom are in their eighties, were told initially that without invitations they could not attend. Then they were allowed in under protest, but had to stand at the back throughout the two-hour service, although there were empty seats near the altar.
TheVatican has never shied away from courting power, but the church's naked embrace of the anti-clerical power elite had an Animal Farm-like quality to it that left some in the congregation slack jawed. Some of Fidel Castro's oldest cronies made it to Mass. They included the president of the National Assembly Ricardo Alarcon, Cuba's hard-line foreign minister, Felipe Pérez Roque, and Juan Contino Aslan, the mayor of Havana.
All might have passed peacefully if the Ladies in White had been treated with some dignity and seated among the congregation as they had been promised. Instead, mid-way through the service, while Cardinal Bertone made a vacuous plea for reconciliation among all Cubans he was rudely interrupted, as the Ladies in White burst spontaneously into a religious song, crying out "Viva el Christo! Viva el Christo! Viva el Christo!"
Burly, plainclothed security men rushed in their direction and the cameras of the media wheeled around to film the moment of protest. Even the cardinal was thrown off track and had to pause. However, so tin-eared is the Vatican's top diplomat that he gave not a flicker of recognition to the long-suffering women and the hundreds of political prisoners they represent in Castro's gulag.
As soon as Mass ended, Cardinal Bertone descended from the altar to offer the Catholic "sign of peace" and a warm embrace for each member of the Cuban high command. Then it was all over, the cardinal had given his blessing to the Communists while keeping the faithful at bay.
The sight of these Cuban Communist henchmen participating in a Mass is revolting. But, I have to confess that I get a little perverse pleasure out of the irony of hearing about this bunch of murdering thugs having to bow to the Almighty in a sobering preview of the judgment that’s ultimately coming their way, in a ceremony that could very well represent the last rites for the regime. At least raul had enough sense not to attend.
Read the article here it also has an interview with dissident Cuban economist, Oscar Espinoa Chepe and his Ladies in White wife, Miriam Leiva.
This is not an "objective" piece in the way that the AP and Reuters, et al define objectivity. It tells it like it is which requires the use on some cognitive process to discern what he truth is and describe it in living color and deadly accuracy.
Quote of the day
"Fidel Castro announced that he would not remain as president -- whatever that means, and I hope that he has the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon."
Wake, wake up, Dr. Biscet
One day freedom will sing across Cuba, and Dr. Biscet and others like him, formerly locked away in fidel castro's gulag, will lead the chorus.
Raul's mockery of the Catholic Church
Remember these old videos from about a year or so ago? I don't understand how the Catholic Church can be so complacent with a leader who makes such a blatant mockery of one of their sacraments. If this were a video of any US leader, there would be a worldwide outrage.
February 22, 2008
So I'm reading along, and I find a "perspective" piece at the St. Petersburg Times by Cuban American Marilyn Garateix. Finally, a Cuban/Cuban American view, I think. I'm reading, and the author says the sky was bluer, check; the grass was greener, check; the flowers were prettier, check. As I read the litany of all of the things that were better in Cuba according to her family, I know the syndrome. I'm excited to read about some of the same experiences I had.
Ah, but then I come to-
Moments like that - and my father's stories - helped me understand that their obsession with Fidel stems from an emotional and personal place. My parents would like us to despise Fidel with the same passion. Perhaps some in my generation do.
Of course, she doesn't feel it quite as strongly...? And the next generation, her niece and nephew....
My niece and nephew, however, don't know who Fidel is. My father rarely talks about him in their presence. As with us, he is reluctant to share the painful memories. My generation is Cuban-American, but niece and nephew are perhaps more American-Cuban.
If that is the general case, then we are well and truly lost. Of all of the things we have had taken from us in the collective, the one thing we had left was memory, memory passed down by our parents. Without memory, without succeeding generations preserving what was and what happened, there will be no witness, and without witness their triumph will be complete.
Read it and see how the whole piece strikes you. I picked up a subtext, but I'm not sure if I'm just being hypersensitive. I'd be interested if others sensed it, too.
The Real Reason castro Retired
I was looking for something else on YouTube but I found this. Remember the famous Frankenstein shuffle video? It all makes sense now. The real reason for stepping down? He just needed more time to devote to his budding rap career. Turns out castro wasn't shuffling, he was preparing for his new career as Grand Master Fifo. Enjoy this Friday funny.
Half a century of blockade seemed little enough to the favorites. "Change, change, change!" they cried in unison.
I am in agreement, change! but in the United States. Cuba changed a long while ago and will follow its dialectical route. "No return to the past ever!" exclaim our people.
Change We Can Believe In:
… That is our calling in this campaign. To reaffirm that fundamental belief – I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper – that makes us one people, and one nation. It's time to stand up and reach for what's possible, because together, people who love their country can change it…
You don’t think…Obama is talking about the CDR?
I mean…that whole brother’s keeper thing…it sounds a eerily familiar…
Nah, it couldn’t be…
Castro Stuff on Hannity & Colmes tonight.
The good folks at Hannity & Colmes invited me on their show for tonight. As luck would have it, Ollie North--one of my heroes--is subbing for Sean. Should be fun.
AP Editor Admits the Whole Nasty Truth
Val Prieto’s recent “revelation” (in reality this was no surprise) of the CNN Cuba coverage memo got me thinking. Perhaps this is the right time to pull the rug out from under the Associated Press as well. What I have to say comes straight from the horse’s mouth; a fellow journalist and old friend at the AP. In order to maintain this individual’s anonymity – in a bid to protect his/her job – I am unable to publish his/her name. This will of course mean that the AP will simply deny the allegation and ignore it. No matter, this is a blog and not a weekly news magazine. That said, I can get away with printing information from an unattributable source. With regards to the information I am about to impart – do with it what you will. We shall refer to my mystery source as “Mr. X.”
Journalists the world-over generally share rather similar characteristics. We enjoy exchanging war stories, similar experiences and stories of romantic intrigue over endless pints of beer, snifters of Sambucca or glasses of whiskey. I remember fondly, some years back, going scotch-for-scotch with CBS’ Morley Safer. This, my friends, is a very bad idea. Being at least half his age, I figured – wrongly – that I could keep up with the old man while sharing stories regarding his coverage of Vietnam and my work during the September 11th terrorist attacks. Needless to say, Mr. Safer whipped the pants off me. Hats off to you, old boy.
A few months back I found myself seated at an outdoor café with another journo buddy of mine. Over the course of an hour, two Bass ales and a few cigarettes, the topic turned to Cuba and I leveled a pointed finger at Mr. X and simply laid out the obvious.
“You’ve got to admit that the AP’s coverage of Cuba lacks a good amount of integrity. You guys are sitting on a pile of stories if for no other reason, than the fact that you need to protect Anita’s [Snow] Havana bureau for the big story [Fidel’s death].”
I went on a bit further, employing Henry Gomez’s categorization of the AP/Havana Bureau deal as nothing less than a Faustian bargain with the devil. God forbid the AP should run with stories that paint the Castro regime in an overtly negative light. This isn’t to say that I want the AP, or any other news organization for that matter, to transform itself into an anti-Fidel propaganda agency. Just report the truth . . . the whole truth. Where are the expose’s on the island’s shattered healthcare system? Why, during the hub-bub back in August 2007 when the world was sure Fidel was in fact dead, did the AP choose to print fluff stories regarding the “average joe’s” feelings on the street. During my time on the island recently, the high-fives in anticipation of the dictator’s demise were everywhere. The hopeful rumors of the end of the regime were palpable and Cuba’s streets were electric with anticipation. One certainly didn’t get that feeling from the AP’s coverage.
Mr. X nearly blew beer out from his nose, let out a laugh and lit another cigarette.
“Come on man, everyone knows that. Hell, every foreign news outlet on the island is playing the same game.”
In short, he admitted the whole nasty truth of the matter. Mr. X came clean and attributed the AP’s dirty deal to business, pure-and-simple. The world’s largest news gathering agency needs to be on that island for the big coffin show and nothing – not journalistic integrity, not truth, not the lives of 12-million lost souls – is going to get in its way.
I only wish I could print Mr. X’s name, position and which bureau he works out of, but that would put an end to his/her position and completely alienate a good friend. This posting won’t affect AP operations in Havana one bit. Since I cannot reveal the source of the accusation, they will enjoy complete deniability. I know what I know however, and now, those of you reading this blog do as well. Again, do with it what you will.
Run that by me again
From the LA Times' travel blog comes this insightful and informative post about traveling to Cuba as a tourist. You know, the "silver bullet" that will end all of Cuba's human rights woes and usher in democracy once the archaic and ineffective US embargo is lifted and American tourists flood the island with their magic dollars and their subversive talk of freedom and democracy.
The post quotes Christopher P. Baker, author of several tourist guidebooks to Cuba. Mr. Baker shows us how much improvement over the past few years has been seen on the island after the arrival of millions of tourists from other free and democratic countries and their subsequent spending of billions of Euros, Pound Notes, and--one would assume if you believe everything you hear--their spreading of subversive democratic ideals among the oppressed Cuban population through interaction if not sheer osmosis.
And though the many locals may still be cruising in 50-year-old vehicles, rental cars (from Hyundais and Toyotas to VWs, BMWs and Audis) are available nationwide, Baker said. (But he warned that maintenance is “a problem, and contracts that include rip-off clauses are an irritant.”)
Baker also noted that Cuba has “an efficient, high-quality tourist bus service called Viazul and has just signed a deal to overhaul its rail networks with 100 locomotives from China and rolling stock from Iran. But when it comes to domestic air travel, Baker cautions, planes are “unreliable and uncomfortable.”
The food? “A few excellent restaurants with consistently good meals are to be found in Havana, and a fistful of other top-quality hotels are sprinkled around the isle,” said Baker. “But for the most part, food remains one of the serious weak links, as are pilfering of guests’ belongings by hotel staff, lousy Cuban management of hotels and tourist entities, and low-quality service at every level.”[emphasis mine]
Wait a second, rewind the tape please. Do you mean to say, Mr. Baker, that after millions of tourists from all over the free world have visited Cuba the only things that have improved are the tourists' choices of rental cars, the exclusive tourist bus service, and the tourists' choices of top-quality hotels with good restaurants? After all the billions of dollars that have entered Cuba's economy and the millions of tourists that have brought their ideas of democracy and freedom to Cuba, shouldn't there be at least a minuscule improvement in the quality of life for the common Cuban slave laborer?
I keep hearing how lifting the embargo and flooding Cuba with American tourists will be the panacea to all of Cuba's ills. It will be good for the Cuban people, they say. History and facts, however, is telling me that it will be good for the tourists, and the regime's thugs that run this criminal tourist/slave enterprise.
So explain to me again how the ending of the US embargo is going to help the Cuban people.
February 21, 2008
CNN, not looking any better today
The folks at mediabistro.com have confirmed from CNN that they did in fact put out the memo I posted a couple of days ago which was intended to give that network's reporters and anchors "guidance on Fidel". This is no surprise to me because I wouldn't have posted it if it wasn't legit, but some folks did question its legitimacy.
But what's astounding is how CNN continues to stand by that memo.
CNN spokesperson Christa Robinson confirms the email is from Flexner, telling TVNewser, "The exchange of ideas, thoughts and background between colleagues is all part of the journalistic process. We stand by our on-air and on-line coverage of this story."
This is some of that coverage:
Christiane Amanpour says that the terrible economic and political conditions in Cuba "offsets some of the genuine progress that [castro's] made in terms of education and healthcare."
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln how did you enjoy the play?
Even at the bitter end these people are going to insist that at least Mussolini made the trains run on time. Jebus.
Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.
-John Derbyshire of National Review
International Campaign: Free Dr. Biscet and all the Cuban political prisoners
We demand the immediate release of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez and all the Cuban political prisoners, so that this peaceful human rights activist may continue his struggle for justice in Cuba. We urgently ask all men and women of good will, the international press, human rights organizations, world health organizations and dignitaries of democratic nations to denounce before the Cuban government the unjust incarceration, criminal accusations, and imminent trial of this Cuban physician whose only crime is to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in his own country.
"To defend the inalienable rights of the human race, we understand the need to put limits on government to prevent the undermining of those rights. It is because of this that we have become activists in this organization – to establish in our country the rule of law, so that each man and woman may be fulfilled as complete human beings."
Dr Oscar Elias Biscet
Prisoner of Conscience
For further information:
Lawton Foundation for Human Rights
P.O. Box 43-0905 Miami, Florida 33243-0905, USA.
Given to NetforCuba for international distribution by Lawton Foundation with the collaboration of Luis Guardia, Executive Director of Caiman Productions.
En español abajo.
Libertad para el Dr. Biscet y todos los prisioneros politicos cubanos.
Demandamos la libertad inmediata del Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet y todos los prisioneros políticos cubanos, para que sus actividades pacificas a favor de los derechos humanos puedan continuar junto con su batalla por la justicia en Cuba. Urgentemente le pedimos a todos los hombres y mujeres de buena voluntad, la prensa internacional, organizaciones de derechos humanos, organizaciones por la salud y dignatarios de naciones democráticas que denuncien su injusta encarcelación y las acusaciones criminales en su contra, ante el gobierno cubano, ya que su único crimen ha sido honrar la Declaración Universal por los derechos Humanos en su propio país.
"Para defender los derechos inalienables de la raza humana, entendemos la necesidad de poner limites al gobierno, previniendo el decaer de estos derechos. Es por esta razón que somos activistas dentro de la organización para establecer en nuestro país un estado de derecho donde cada hombre y mujer puedan vivir como seres humanos".
Dr Oscar Elias Biscet
Prisionero de Conciencia.
Para información adicional: Fundación Lawton de Derechos Humanos
P.O. Box 43-0905
Miami, Florida 33243-0905, USA
Dado a NetforCuba para distribución internacional por la Fundación Lawton, con la colaboración de Luis Guardia, Director Ejecutivo de Caiman Productions.
Cuban American Depicts Pain of Separation in Art
"When I was a young girl I hated him, because I felt as if he was responsible for all of this," said Elena Garcia Wagner of fidel castro. Elena is a Cuban American artist whose work is now on display in Norfolk, VA. Her artwork depicts families embracing and weeping because of the separation and pain caused by the castro regime. Garcia Wagner, a Peter Pan, lived in a foster home for four years after her parents sent her to the United States at age seven, telling her she was going on vacation. Her work is inspirational and she is remarkable. If you live in the Norfolk, VA area, you can see her exhibit through next month at ArtGallery on 21st Street. If you don't, you can see the pictures and the video here.
Thank you to her sister, Ana Elena, for sharing the story.
Since fidel made his LBJ-like announcement that he would not seek or accept Cuba’s presidency, perhaps hoping for a negative public outcry that never materialized, Cuba has been a hot news item.
Because of this, the Washington Post, who has since embarked on an anti embargo jihad, hosted an online question and answer session with Julia E. Sweig, Director for Latin America Studies, Council on Foreign Relations. She’s one of castro’s apologists and a Babalu “favorite.”
Here’s the link to the discussion. It’s a painful read.
One of the “questions”, more like a statement, really, is from a “white American male married into a large Cuban ex-patriate family for the past eight years”. Expatriate. Interesting choice of words. You know, I’m ust saying…
I would say my family is equally hurt by the hardcore Bush policies toward Cuba in the past seven years as by the Castro dictatorship. What little their Cuban relatives enjoyed was because of what their families were allowed to bring in from the U.S., and Bush stopped that. It seems to have created a vacuum that Chavez has exploited. It seems the prudent thing to do would be to relieve the restrictions on our end and hope the Cuban government responds in kind. What do you think, based on your travels to Cuba?
Julia E. Sweig: I fully agree with you. But don't mistake Chavez' economic assistance for political weight within Cuba. You know that Cubans are deeply nationalistic and do not like the idea-- though they tolerate it-- of anyone, whether the Spanish, the America, the Soviets, or now the Venezuelans, having any special role calling the shots domestically. Where Chavez has definitely filled the vacuum is on the economic front: we cut off remittances, he primes the pump. We could undo the former in a stroke of a pen, and hopefully will very soon. But not just to balance Chavez: we should do it because its the right thing to do. This is an unnatural arrangement for Cuban and their families abroad and unnatural for our two countries.
So there you have it. Chavez wants to annex Cuba because Bush won’t let you visit tia Cuca in Guanabacoa with a wallet full of Yankee dollars every six months, not because he’s a Marxist who is as infatuated with fidel as George Clooney is with Obama and dreams of making Caracas the new Moscow.
The remittance and travel restrictions to Cuba issue hits a nerve with the regime and its defenders on the left. Sweig admits that the restrictions HAVE had an economic impact on the regime. Usually the left claims that the restrictions only hurt Cuban families. If these restrictions were not cutting into the castro nostra’s profits, they wouldn’t care as they have never cared about how much the Cuban people suffer. On the contrary, the more suffering they inflict, the better.
Rescinding the Bush restrictions has a few advantages to the regime. One, of course, is hard currency. They get 20% off the top-the vig. They also make a profit from whatever is bought with the dollars since they are the only suppliers and sellers, excluding the black market. If the restrictions are dropped, it is an incremental step in dropping the rest of the embargo. It’s difficult for our allies in congress to ask Americans not to travel to and spend money in Cuba when Cuban Americans are doing it-some a few times a year.
The regime also gets the added bonus of using the issue to divide the Cuban-American community in South Florida. That’s why the likes of Aruca are supporting the candidacy of Joe Garcia. Garcia has figured out that the Bush restrictions can be used to divide the Cuban American vote. He’s using a Clintonian triangulation technique that Dick Morris came up with to try to get himself and a handful of Democrats elected to congress.
Garcia’s strategy is to have the Democratic opposition be more pro Cuban than the incumbent Republicans. He can do this by claiming that the travel and remittance restrictions only hurt the Cuban families and that by being for the embargo but against the Bush restrictions, the Democrats really care more about Cubans than the Republicans thus taking the Cuba issue away from the Republican imcumbents. Slick, but that’s his job. He’s a Democrat. It’s all about getting more seats in Congress. If it helps the castro regime, that’s collateral damage.
It’s ugly and it’s dirty. It’s politics. It’s Democracy. And in the end, nobody gets beaten up or thrown in jail because we’re free.
Too bad Cubans can’t practice triangulation or vote on wedge issues or rag on an opportunistic, slick candidate they don’t like. Maybe soon, God willing.
Bias, we don't need no stinking bias
Liz Donovan, the Infomaniac, formerly of the Miami Herald takes issue with my report about CNN's guidelines to reporters and anchors about how to treat the subject of fidel and his stepping down from his official posts in Cuba. She alleges that what I want is not objectivity but bias in the other direction. I find her stance frankly absurd. In what other instance would a news organization try to find redeeming qualities in a homicidal maniac? The memo that CNN WOULD HAVE SENT out if they had any integrity or interest in reporting unbiased facts reads like this:
Subject: Castro guidance
Some points on Castro – for adding to our anchor reads/reporting:
* Please say in our reporting that Castro stepped down in a letter he wrote to Granma (the communist party daily), though numerous articles published in that paper have been attributed to him over the past year and a half, we have no independent confirmation that he is actually writing or dictating them, in fact despite having bureau in Cuba we have no first-hand knowledge of Castro's actual health.
* Please note that although Fidel is said to have brought social reforms to Cuba – namely free education, universal health care and racial integration – Castro has also violated human rights, freedom of speech and other civil liberties. More than 2 million Cubans have found this trade-off unbearable and have fled the country since he took over in 1959. It is unclear how many more Cubans would leave the island if permitted. Cuba is one of the few countries in the world where citizens are not permitted to leave and return as they please. Please make sure to stress this in the reporting since we have unfortunately earned a reputation for overlooking such abuses committed by other anti-American dictators.
* Although the Castro regime blames a lot of Cuba’s economic problems on the US embargo, that argument is countered by the argument that Cuba trades openly with almost every other country in the world including western industrialized democracies like Canada, the UK, France, and Spain and that the bulk of Cuba’s economic problems are due to CASTRO's failed MARXIST economic polices. While some analysts say the US embargo was a benefit to Castro politically, something to blame problems on, most serious observers recognize that it is a weak excuse for Castro's own failures. Note that despite the embargo, the United States is currently Cuba's largest food supplier.
* While he is seen as a revolutionary hero, especially by leftists in Latin America for standing up to the United States, Castro has been one of the deadliest dictators on a per capita basis in modern history. In addition to abuses at home, the regime has also backed, with arms and troops, various revolutionary movements conducting civil wars in Latin America and Africa that have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths; has been linked to drug trafficking; and has harbored international fugitives including terrorists and cop killers. It should be noted that Castro has not seemed to "mellow with age" for example during the 1990s the regime was responsible for the shoot down of two unarmed civilian aircraft in international airspace resulting in the death of three American citizens and one resident alien as well as the sinking of a tugboat full of Cubans trying to flee the island (see point 2 above) resulting in the death of at least 30 persons including women and children and infants. In September of 2001 the United States arrested a Cuban spy that was working as top Latin American analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) where she formulate many of the country's intelligence assessments about Cuba.
*It should be noted that unlike some despots such as Hitler and his Nazi party, Fidel Castro never won an elected office in a legitimate democratic multiparty election. Castro took power after an armed insurgency during which he promised a return to democracy and free elections within one year, instead, it should be noted that, he was responsible for an immediate reign of terror in which hundreds of Cubans were summarily tried and executed despite the fact that Cuba's 1940 constitution outlawed capital punishment. He transformed Cuba into a one-party state and jailed many of his one-time allies when his Marxist intentions began to be known.
*Lastly please note that although Fidel "temporarily" passed authority to his brother Raul in July of 2006, and that very few meaningful differences have been observed in Cuba since that time. International Human Rights organizations and NGOs continue to denounce the regime for jailing members of the political opposition and generally abusing human rights. Many observers will no doubt see today's hand-over of power as largely ceremonial. It is unknown to what extent fidel has been or will continue to pull the strings of power in Cuba.
Any questions, please call the international desk.
Liz, the above memo is 100% accurate and if CNN had reported the story that way, Americans would have known more about what has really happened in Cuba than the usual talking points. You know, like the TRUTH. Cubans have been dealing with the media's soft peddling of Castro under the guise of "balance" for more than 50 years. Enough is enough.
We interrupt our pontificating...
...to let you all know that our friends at Generation ñ have posted two more episodes of Que Pasa, Usa? this week.
Episode 14: Joe and carmen take up Yoga.
Also, the third episode of Generation ñ's home grown novela is up as well, right here.
Plus, this week they have the first installment of Planet Rosemary - where Cuban-American Princess Rosemary tells us the the Moon is in Leo, but only until Wednesday, when the moon heads over to Virgo, right before the lunar eclipse and...well... Ill let Rosemary finish reading the planets for you.
For Cuba: "Same As it Ever Was"
Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking intelligence official ever to have defected from the former Eastern Bloc, regards Castro's political police as "one of Communism’s most criminal institutions." Coming from a man who learned the ropes of his profession from Stalin's henchmen and who served as Nikolai Ceaucescu's chief spy, this is saying something. "I saw nothing in him (Raul) suggesting he might ever want to democratize Cuba, "continues Pacepa.
Nowadays Raul and his crony generals are all in their mid-seventies and beyond. These men lived into their young adulthood under a robustly capitalist Cuba, where Cuban laborers earned the 8th highest wages on earth, where Cuba had a higher per-captia income than Austria and Japan, a larger middle class then Switzerland, and where Cuba was swamped with European immigrants.
Under these circumstances, Cuba's current robber barons (and their families, in general) had achieved nothing. Honesty, hard work, property rights and the rule of law repel them. To think they'd voluntarily revert to a system that rewards such traits and institutions is ludicrous. I repeat: under it they failed miserably.
Read it whole thing right here.
This should make Michelle proud...
It pays to be a great oratator:
[W]hen it comes to Obama, hyperbole seems to be the rule, not the exception.
His charms seem tough to resist, even for some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
"He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere," George Clooney told talk show host Charlie Rose.
"I'll do whatever he says to do," actress Halle Berry said to the Philadelphia Daily News. "I'll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear."
Welcome to the cult of Barack Obama.
From The Mouths Of Cubans
The typical reasoning that anti-embargo people employ is that the U.S. sanctions against Cuba have prevented Cubans from knowing what goes on in their country, as well as abroad. That argument would make sense, but only if Cubans had an IQ of, say, 10. No place is a vacuum, not even Cuba, as much as the regime may try to restrict the people's access to information. Thank goodness for common sense that enables most human beings to put two and two together.
Not convinced? Then check out these quotes from average Cubans in a Miami Herald article published today and authored by the ubiquitous Miami Herald Staff.
''The Cuban has been like a dolphin -- he's been in water up to his neck and he still applauds,'' said Julio, 35, a pedicab driver. ``That's changing now. What they give us is not enough.''
''People are realizing that you don't have to be communist to be a revolutionary,'' Julio added, using the word in a way that seemed to imply criticism of the Cuban revolution's lack of change in decades.
``A revolutionary is just someone who wants change. Things here have to change. Now that Fidel Castro has left power, we don't know if it will be three days or three months, but in the next year or two. Things need to happen.''
Ariel, 28, a cabdriver, echoed Julio's take.
''We see the tourists coming in, we talk to them, but it's a life we can't touch,'' Ariel said as he looked around nervously. ``Everything here is so controlled that people are starting to question everything.''
''Before, we were happy as socialists, because that's what we thought we wanted,'' Julio said, going on to quote from a song making the rounds in Cuba that he identified as Quien Manda, or ``Who's in Charge.''
Hay que sacarlo de donde esta porque el daño no se va -- He must be removed from his place, because the damage is not going away.
''I listen to that, and I watch Univisión, but for that they'd arrest me if they caught me,'' Julio added. ``That can't be.''
Armando, 56, a biologist, argued that the lack of hubbub in Cuba over Castro's decision to step down underlined the calm that has prevailed on this island nation since the Cuban leader underwent emergency surgery in June 2006 and handed over power to his brother ``temporarily.''
''There has been such tranquility in Cuba these past two years that he has been sick, because I believe what people have felt is relief,'' he said. ``Now that he's officially stepped down, the people can really breathe.''
Read the entire article here.
Well well, you dont say?
It seems that not only was our now famous fidel loving CNN memo writer Allison Flexner a CNN Havana Bureau Producer , but she worked side by side with that bastion of journalistic integrity and former CNN Havana Bureau Chief Lucia Newman. You need to scroll down a bit in the transcript.
Via Patterico, who states:
The e-mail concedes that “the bulk of Cuba’s economic problems are due to Cuba’s failed economic polices” and not America’s embargo. Still, as a smoking-gun style piece of evidence of leftist media bias, it’s pretty good. He brought social reforms — but was only “criticized” for oppression and stifling free speech?
Now that’s calling a spade a digging tool!
The e-mail was written by Allison Flexner, who was a producer in CNN’s Havana Bureau in 2000, and whose current position appears to be unknown. Head Defender of Dictators, I think. Something like that.
Just in case...
anyone was still not convinced what a horse's ass Michael "Let them eat cake" Moore is, here is yet another example of how much disdain and hatred he harbors toward Cubans.
Over a hundred thousand dead, but to him it is no big deal; they were only Cubans. So in his debased, Sicko mind, there is no reason he cannot crack jokes.
A great reason to vote for Lincoln, Mario or Ileana...
is because this man doesn't want you to:
Francisco Aruca whose ugly mug you see in that video is a castrista living in our midst. He was denounced as being controlled by the Cuban DGI (Cuban intelligence) by Jesus Perez Mendez a former DGI captain who defected in 1982, when the FBI debriefed him. Aruca has made a fortune selling travel to Cuba. This is one endorsement that Joe Garcia and Raul Martinez certainly don't want. But they got it.
This doesn't mean that Joe or Raul are fidelistas but the fidelistas know that it's much easier to catch a Democrat Comiendo mierda when it comes to Cuba (can you say Jimmy Carter?). There's a reason that Aruca doesn't want our three congresspersons to be reelected and that's because they have been VERY effective in preventing the regime from getting what it wants, full trade and diplomatic relations without conceding a thing. Aruca thinks the dynamic can change by changing the faces in congress. And it doesn't help when Joe Garcia equivocates like he did on the Babalu Radio Hour a few months ago when he criticized President Bush for allowing cash sales of food to Cuba to continue but when I asked if he was for repealing the food sales loophole, he said no.
Govern yourselves accordingly.
February 20, 2008
Spielberg and China
The Chinese are outraged! At least according to the Chinese press, which is about a reliable barometer of truth as is Cuba's state controlled media. In fact, these days castro inc. is probably taking lessons from China.
Meanwhile the famous director must wonder what happened. After all, didn't he earn his communist badge by paying homage to el comandante?
Talk about being between a rock and a hard place, how to choose? Genocide or Communism, how is a good ole boy from Hollywood suppossed to decide?
Hollywood director Steven Spielberg's decision to quit the Beijing Olympics over the Darfur crisis is drawing condemnation by China's state-controlled media and a groundswell of criticism from the Chinese public.
Last week, the American director withdrew from his role as an artistic adviser to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Games, accusing China of not doing enough to press for peace in the troubled Sudanese region.
Officially, the Chinese government has not directly criticized Spielberg by name, expressing only "regret" over his decision. But the state-run media and the public have been far less restrained.
In newspaper commentaries and lively Internet forums, they have expressed outrage, scorn and bewilderment that China's Olympics have come under international criticism from Spielberg and others.
A biting front-page editorial Wednesday in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper, blasted Spielberg for his decision.
"A certain Western director was very naive and made an unreasonable move toward the issue of the Beijing Olympics. This is perhaps because of his unique Hollywood characteristics," it said.
5 more political prisoners you should know
Here are 10 heroes of Cuban freedom you must know, and never forget, especially as the dictatorship prepares to complete its "transition," and the talk heats up about need for change in U.S. policy towards the island:
Molinet, a dissident labor leader, was arrested during the "black spring" of March-April 2003, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. His wife this week warned that her husband is suffering from a variety of ailments, including hepatitis, circulation problems and loss of vision.
Ruiz's wife warned that her husband is suffering from ill health. Ruiz, an independent journalist, also was arrested during the "black spring" and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Look into his eyes, as depicted in a photo posted here, and it worsens the pain of knowing that his poor health while in prison is robbing him of his eyesight.
To fortify his many hunger strikes, Herrera, an independent journalist jailed during the "black spring," has resorted to sewing his mouth shut. That is speaking truth to a corrupt power.
The castro dictatorship can be brutally efficient regime. For example, a week after Perdigón and his sister founded a new press agency, he was arrested, convicted of being a "pre-criminal social danger," and sentenced to 4 years prison.
For 10 more you should know, go here.
The BabaluBlog Radio Hour - tonight at 8:00 PM!
Tonight at 8 we'll be webcasting our regular edition of our radio show, featured on BlogTalk Radio. Mark it on your calendars so you can listen in and participate. We'll be having a special guest during the first half-hour and new contributing writer, Claudia, will be joining me in the second half-hour with (hopefully) Professor Tony de la Cova.
You also LISTEN TO THE PODCAST by clicking that button after the show ends.
Cuban Response: Nothing New Under the Stun
Word of Cuban response to the announcement of castro's resignation is starting to filter in from the island via independent journalists and communiqués from various organizations posted on Misceláneas de Cuba.
In his free flowing dispatch, allusively titled "Nothing New Under the Sun," independent journalist, Oswaldo Yáñez who lately prefaces his reports by dating them "in the year of the imminent freedom of all Cubans" remarks that the hullabaloo surrounding the announcement in the world media was in marked contrast to the silence of Cubans themselves. He points out that the evictions in Holguin did not cease, the preparations for the kangaroo court to try a dissident continued, the CDR's maintained their close vigilance, and the prisoners continued languishing in castroite jails. In essence nothing changed.
The same lack of reaction is highlighted by Kallan Poe from La Agencia de Prensa Avileña in a report about response in Morón. Despite mixed reactions to the news, other than a noon time dash to the radio to hear once again the news, the only other response was in the bars at night, where the consensus was "Esto tiene que cambiar" or "This has to change."
The desire for change is a common thread running through the communications. In an editorial, La Agencia de Prensa Avileña sees it as a moment for pondering, although it calls for a true republic like that envisioned by Marti. Dr. Darsi Ferrer condemns the succession and once more eloquently describes the conditions of ordinary Cubans. Again he calls for anti-regime elements to speak with one voice. He reiterates the need for a united opposition here. Hector Palacios' rhetoric is a bit more conciliatory, but he demands that those in power should work immediately to reform the law to include free speech, free association, and free elections, as well as liberate political prisoners
In sum, most viewed the abdication as a species of farce. Its lack of significance was a common thread running through the communications, as was a cacophony of cries for freedom and surprisingly the open call for democracy.
Note: All linked entries other than Palacios' are in Spanish. No, that's not a mistake. I meant stun.
I'm young. I haven't had the same exposure to liberal journalists as many of you have. I very rarely get angry when I speak about Cuba with liberals or when I read inaccurate statements online. I'm skeptical enough to find most of these statements laughable.
But now, I'm thoroughly pissed off.
The Washington Post / Newsweek (surprise, surprise) has an online op-ed by Anwer Sher about how the US should not seek to make Cuba its 51st state. Not only is this suggestion ridiculous, but Mr. Sher goes further (emphasis mine):
"Irrespective of the history, it’s wishful thinking that a post-Fidel Cuba could be swallowed up formally by the U.S. While many Cuban-Americans may hope for that, and hope the two countries will normalize relations, we must admit that Cubans are a proud and independent people."
I'm practically speechless. Actually, I take that back. I have plenty of words that sound like comemierda, hijo de puta... but my family reads this so I'll stop. I just don't understand the audacity of some people who don't think about the repercussions their statements have.
One commenter already bought in to Mr. Sher's talk. I did my best to unclog my words and enlighten with a follow-up comment. Feel free to chime in.
The Teflon Tyrant Retires, From Frontpage Magazine
the Babalu Family is well aware of much of the following, most of the world is not.:
"Upon entering Havana on January 7, 1959, Cuba's new leader Fidel Castro broadcast that promise into a phalanx of microphones. "Cuban mothers let me assure you that I will solve all Cuba's problems without spilling a drop of blood." As the jubilant crowd erupted with joy, Castro continued. "Cuban mothers let me assure you that because of me you will never have to cry."
The following day, just below San Juan Hill in eastern Cuba, a bulldozer rumbled to a start, clanked into position, and started pushing dirt into a huge pit with blood pooling at the bottom from the still -twitching bodies of more than a hundred men and boys who'd been machine-gunned without trial on the Castro brothers' orders. Their wives and mothers wept hysterically from a nearby road.
On that very day, the U.K. Observer ran the following headline: "Mr Castro's bearded, youthful figure has become a symbol of Latin America's rejection of brutality and lying. Every sign is that he will reject personal rule and violence."
Just thought I'd offer up a quick vocabulary lesson for all those reporters, journalists, pundits and self-proclaimed Cuba experts out there that keep stating the transition" in Cuba has occurred:
1. movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change:
1. the coming of one person or thing after another in order, sequence, or in the course of events:
2. a number of persons or things following one another in order or sequence.
3. the right, act, or process, by which one person succeeds to the office, rank, estate, or the like, of another.
I hope this clears it up for all those out there that see fidel's "retirement" as the dawn of a new day in Cuba. Hopefully they may now be able to go ahead and pull their heads out from their asses.
La Loba Feroz
That is the description the Cuban regime has for their nemesis Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. They simply fear her. If I were a card-carrying member of this gang of thugs I would fear her too. You would be hard pressed to find a more vocal opponent of the Cuban dictatorship or a more tenacious warrior for freedom and justice in Cuba in the congressional halls of this country. The oligarchic tyranny's fears are well founded as we see that Ileana has wasted no time in doing what we have been waiting 49 years to be done.
Charges sought against Castro for deaths of four rescue workers
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON— A Florida congresswoman asked the Justice Department yesterday to bring charges against resigning Cuban leader Fidel Castro for the deaths of four U.S. rescue workers who were killed while looking for Cuban migrants stranded at sea.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said earlier attempts to prosecute Castro in the 1996 downing of a humanitarian flight off the Cuban coast might not have been successful because of his role as head of state.
With Castro’s announced plan to resign, Ros-Lehtinen said, “There should no longer be any diplomatic impediments to bringing Fidel Castro to justice” for a Cuban fighter jet attack on the private aircraft on a mission for Brothers to the Rescue.
The congresswoman’s suggestions were outlined in a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the letter was being reviewed and declined to comment further.
Justice may be slow, but it will get here.
Lori sent me this link to editorial cartoons inspired by yesterday's retirement of the cadaver in chief. Here's one of my favoriteS:
Just imagine what would happen to a Cuban editorial artist that draws up a similar cartoon in castro's Cuba.
On the heels of Michelle Obama's statement that for "the first time in [her] adult lifetime, [she was] really proud of [her] country," I thought I'd share some things that have made me proud to be an American in my adult life. I'm a little older than she is so maybe I have a bit more experience. They're not in any order, they're just random thoughts, some important, some not. Feel free to add your own.
First men on moon.
The rule of law.
Our Armed Forces.
The American flag.
Postcards From Left Field
I really don’t understand the American Left and frankly, I’m not so sure I want to. I don’t like headaches.
I get E-Mails:
My very Liberal friends who consider me a non progressive, un-evolved troglodyte are sending me all sorts of e-mails and links to a myriad of articles calling for a change in US policy towards Cuba. I don’t know if they do this to annoy me or to try to enlighten me.
The recurring themes in the articles seem to be that Castro has survived something like 10 US Presidents and been a thorn in the side of the US. They like this-even if it was accomplished at the expense of the long suffering Cuban people. No price is too high to pay to rub America’s nose in its own poop. Got to give the Devil his due. Then, there’s the mandatory “free” education and healthcare mantra. Finally, there’s the “we should change US policy and bring down the embargo which has caused so much suffering to the Cuban people.” And, the recently added obligatory “other countries are gaining an business advantage.”
This is where I start to get confused.
You see, my friends are all about social justice, the children and health care for all. They despise Wal-Mart, McDonalds and Globalization. They’re all about a living wage and against the exploitation of the world’s workers by America’s unchallenged corporate hegeonomy, or so they tell me. That’s why they admire fidel, because he has successfully opposed these forces and kept Cubans in an egalitarian destitute bliss for fifty years. And yet, they want to facilitate the invasion of all those evils into Cuban society by bringing down the embargo.
They argue that American companies should be able to go down to Cuba and compete with Chinese, European and Venezuelan companies so that, in partnership with the new pragmatic and collegial dictatorship, they too can exploit the Cuban worker. Picking on the weak and defenseless. How Liberal is that?!?
I tell them that it’s better to leave the embargo on and put pressure on the regime to change-real change. Democracy. Let the Cubans sort it out and then, we can talk investments-like opening a Cuco-Mart on Times Square or a McPerez on Sunset Strip-paying fair wages and providing benefits, of course. That’s when they start calling me names.
The U.S. is not responsible for Cuba
Yesterdays usual slanted press coverage of the announcement from Cuba did have a positive aspect; the statements by government officials expressing solidarity with the Cuban people in their desire for democratic change.
I know, talk is cheap, especially in Washington, but I believe there is value in people knowing that it is not just exile hardliners and their right wing allies that desire freedom for the Cuban people. American officials of all stripes, chimed in on the side of the freedom for Cuba, including Nancy Pelosi: “The resignation of Fidel Castro is a reason to hope that freedom is closer than it was when he was the public face of an oppressive regime, but is not a guarantee of a democratic future for the people of Cuba.
“As Cubans at home and those living abroad continue their efforts to create a true democracy in their nation, all of us in the international community should continue to encourage the aspiration of the Cuban people for liberty – the fulfillment of which is long overdue.”
However, not everyone rose to the occasion, and Babalu readers will not be surprised to read that two frequent flyers to Havana have kept their bargain with the
"The United States' embargo on Cuba is one of the most backward and ineffective foreign policies in history. Today, America has an opportunity to finally turn a new page." — Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.
"Let's hope that his resignation opens a new chapter. Whether that new chapter will be open, however, largely depends on a new approach to Cuba by the U.S. government." — Rep. Jeff Flake., R-Ariz.
Chris Dodd and Jeff Flake are implying that somehow U.S. policy is punitive and irrational, and that the U.S. is responsible for Cuba's problems. They ignore the reason for the embargo, which is in response to the billions of dollars Cuba owes for expropriated American property. Cuba has never offered to provide compensation for that property. They ignore the fact that the U.S. is already the largest supplier of food to Cuba, and they ignore the fact that Cuba is free to trade with any other nation it chooses. Most importantly, they ignore the fact that it is Cuba's failed socialist system of government that is responsible for Cuba's failed economy, not the United States.
Why should the U.S. fund fidel castro's failed dictatorship?
BBC Radio 5 Interview
Val was interviewed by BBC Radio 5 last night, which you can listen to right here:
From Val: "Keep in mind folks that Im not a radio or TV commentator - Im just a guy that butchers the English language for a cause - but despite the "you knows" I think I did get a few important points across."
Spot on mate
The Australian presents this great editorial about Cuba:
Time for Cuba to come in from cold
People have voted with their feet on Castro's paradise
IN the early days of his five-decade social experiment, Fidel Castro set himself a novel key performance indicator. He told CBS anchorman and liberal icon Edward Murrow: "When we have fulfilled our promise of good government, I will cut my beard."
To that extent at least, he has been a man of his word. Yesterday, Dr Castro shuffled off into belated retirement sporting a track suit modelled on the Cuban flag with his straggly, white beard intact. His singular failure to deliver good government should come as no surprise to anyone. Communism has been an abject failure wherever it has been tried, and Cuba is no exception.
Yet that Cuba is an exception is precisely what its Western apologists claim, even though none of them has ever been so enamoured of the Cuban miracle that they have chosen to live there. A queue of leftist intellectuals starting with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir was happy to have photos taken with revolutionary pin-up boy Che Guevara and help out with literacy campaigns. But the same people were rather more close-lipped as newspapers and printing presses were shut down. Half a century on, Ignacio Ramonet, editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, is still eulogising the Cuban revolution but he is not enthusiastic enough to actually take a job and live in the workers' paradise.
More on MSM soft soap
Late yesterday I posted an item about how CNN instructed its anchors/reporters to talk about fidel. Click here for those missed it.
In short, an email went out from CNN to many of the employees giving "castro guidance". This is probably SOP for any big story where the people talking about the story generally don't know jack about it. So they send out a Cliffs Notes version of what to say. In this case the Cliffs Notes made sure to instruct those who might be talking about fidel to not simply portray him as the murderous totalitarian dictator that he's been for FIVE DECADES but to add "balance" to the story by making sure to mention the "accomplishments" of castro's Revolution. Also notable is the mention that "some people" blame the U.S. for Cuba's failure. Of course we all know that the most of the traditional media is part of the blame America first crowd. Such talking points in the hands of an already predisposed journalist quickly take the story from the objective to the subjective.
Now, here's some other developments that have come to my attention. The Astute Bloggers astutely point out that the CNN talking points are in some places eerily similar to an item that appeared in the New York Times yesterday morning.
Here's a bullet point from the CNN email:
* Please note Fidel did bring social reforms to Cuba – namely free education and universal health care, and racial integration. in addition to being criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.
And here's a paragraph from the NYT piece that was first posted in the early A.M. hours of the 19th:
His record has been a mix of great social achievements, but a dismal economic performance that has mired most Cubans in poverty.
He succeeded in establishing universal health care, providing free education through college and largely rooting out racism.
Former CBS journalist, Bernard Goldberg, explains in his book Bias that the T.V. News generally takes most of its cues from the New York Times and The Washington Post. This would seem to be a possible example of that. I suspect that Ms. Flexner, the CNN employee who sent out the castro guidance email, did a quick read of the material she could find on castro's "resignation" and turned into an actionable memo.
Another curious thing is how the castro regime's talking points always come through loud and clear in the media, as if someone were at the reporter's side telling him/her what to write or say. Well Babalu commenter Ray left this note that might shed a little light on it:
Several years ago, I had a short article in my hands that was either from the New York Times or the Washington Post--I've since lost it and can't find it-- that would probably explain why CNN and other news agencies would send out a memo like that.
The article examined a day in the life of the Cuban mission to the UN in New York City. For those that don't know, the Cuban Mission to the UN is on 38th Street and Lexington Avenue in NY and its a large building inhabited by 300 Cuban families. The article explained that the Cubans inside have very busy days. They routinely meet with the editorial staff of local newspapers and instruct them on how they want to be reported on, this is especially the case whenever any paper reports negatively about Cuba [READ THIS AS WHEN ANY PAPER REPORTS THE TRUTH ABOUT CUBA]. Not only that, but they, also, routinely meet with university presidents, heads of cultural institutions, heads of television stations, etc.. Of course, as cultural attaches and diplomats, they have the access that you and I don't have. If we were to ask to meet with the editiorial staff at CNN because we don't like how they report on Cuba, their initial reaction would be laughter, and then they would quickly turn around and continue whatever they were doing without giving it another nano-minute's thought.
So, basically, the Cuban diplomats in the USA spend day after day spindoctoring what the American public hears about Cuba. It's an enormous propaganda machinery right here under our noses. I'm sure that this is one of the reasons--aside from the threat that their agency in Cuba will be expelled--that they always shill for Castro.
By the way, all the news agencies are repeating:
and I paraphrase: AND HE LEFT ON HIS OWN TERMS.
This seems to be a very important soundbyte--force fed no doubt by the Cuban regime-- that they keep on repeating over and over again.
God Forbid that the public think that Castro was defeated by anything at all EVEN SICKNESS, EVEN DEATH! No, he is fully cognizant, alive and well and resigned on his own terms. Yea right!!
Yes, folks watch for the "he left on his own terms" line. Of course biology had something to do with it too.
UPDATE: Forgot to add this link to a great resource brought to us by the Media Research Center. It's a recap of all of the favorable coverage the castro regime has gotten in recent years from the mainstream media.
Is it me or did the official news from Havana yesterday seem to darken the mood of all the lefties in this world--the US in particular? You would think they just found out their father abandoned them to fend for themselves. Without someone to look up to (in this case it would be more appropriate to say look down to) they appear lost and disoriented, lashing out with vitriol and disdain at anyone who interprets the news of fifo's "retirement" as anything but devastating.
They thought he would last forever, but alas, even the devil incarnate must succumb to the temporal aspect of the flesh. Cheer up you sycophantic drones, you still have the great ape of Venezuela to lead you into oblivion. Do not waste time though; he will not be around much longer neither.
Here's a list - in no particular order - of blogs linking to Babalu with regards to yesterday's "announcement" from the now ex-cadaver in chief:
Jammie Wearing Fool
The Belmont Club
Resurrection Song /
Ace of Spades
Fausta - who has an excellent collection of blog reaction.
There's quite a bit of top notch reading there and Im sure Ive missed more than a few others. You should also check out those who linked and trackbacked to the posts listed above.
Please add any blogs and posts that I may have missed in the comments section.
In Cuba, locked away in a gulag of fidel castro's creation, are hundreds, if not thousands of political prisoners, jailed because of their passion for human rights and freedom, and their unwillingness to surrender to tyranny.
Here are 10 of them whose names you must know:
1. Antonio Díaz Sánchez
A leader of the Varela Project, an unsuccessful petition campaign for change in Cuba, Díaz has remained steadfast in his opposition to the dictatorship while in prison. Like other prisoners of conscience, he has gone on hunger strikes to demand respect and better treatment by his jailers.
Perhaps the best known of Cuba's political prisoners, Biscet has dedicated his life to peaceful resistance to the dictatorship. Last year, President Bush awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award.
An organizer for the Varela Project, Ferrer was arrested during the "black spring" of March-April 2003, and sentenced to 28 years in prison — the longest prison sentence handed down during the crackdown.
Passion for freedom must run in the Ferrer García family. Or maybe just José, an independent journalist, set a good example for his baby brother, Luis.
Labrada last year had a chance to be released on parole, but the price set by his captors — a renunciation of his opposition to fidel castro — was too high. He is still in jail.
Sometimes it is difficult to track exactly how much time a Cuban political prisoner has on his sentence, but if my research is correct, Zapata, who was arrested in 2003, is currently serving sentences totaling more than 40 years.
Not all Cuban political prisoners are men. And not all Cuban political prisoners are convicted of actual crimes, just of being a "pre-criminal social dangers." The dictatorship has slapped the charge, which carries a punishment of up to 4 years in prison, against Borrego and other dissidents in attempt to silence them.
The dictatorship claims Hernández, like other imprisoned journalists, is nothing more than mercenary for the United States. An international writers group last year found otherwise, awarding Hernández with its top prize.
If the length of his prison sentence — 27 years — Rodriguez is the most dangerous journalist in a Cuban jail. Of the more than two dozen journalists arrested during the "black spring," none received a harsher punishment.
Not all of fidel castro's agents are stone-hearted bastards. Borges, a former intelligence agent-turned-political prisoner, is proof that sometimes, there is hope.
To learn more about these, and other Cuban political prisoners, read the profiles posted at Uncommon Sense.
Val's NPR Interview
You can hear it here. Once there click on the story that says "Cuban-Americans in Miami..."
February 19, 2008
Cambio: the one word of Spanish you need to know
In the wake of today's news there's been a lot of speculation about "succession" and "transition" but the one word that Cubans dream of is "Cambio" which means change. Unlike the U.S., where "change" is a trite slogan used by a politician's wife who isn't proud of our country, in Cuba change is a rallying cry. Dissidents and students want change and they are becoming less afraid to demand it. Right now while the international spotlight is on Cuba we need to support these people in their quest for meaningful and positive change.
CNN: Be kind to castro
Michael Graham, blogging at The Natural Truth, brings us this disgusting but not surprising story about how CNN coached its anchors to treat the subject of fidel castro in an early morning email today.
I can now confirm independently that not only did such an email go out, here it is in its entirety:
From: Flexner, AllisonThe sender of this email is Allison Flexner whose current position at CNN is unknown. She was a producer and has been in Cuba according to this transcript from 2000.
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2008 7:46 AM
To: *CNN Superdesk (TBS)
Cc: Neill, Morgan; Darlington, Shasta
Subject: Castro guidance
Some points on Castro – for adding to our anchor reads/reporting:
* Please say in our reporting that Castro stepped down in a letter he wrote to Granma (the communist party daily), as opposed to in a letter attributed to Fidel Castro. We have no reason to doubt he wrote his resignation letter, he has penned numerous articles over the past year and a half.
* Please note Fidel did bring social reforms to Cuba – namely free education and universal health care, and racial integration. in addition to being criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.
* Also the Cuban government blames a lot of Cuba’s economic problems on the US embargo, and while that has caused some difficulties, (far less so than the collapse of the Soviet Union) the bulk of Cuba’s economic problems are due to Cuba’s failed economic polices. Some analysts would say the US embargo was a benefit to Castro politically – something to blame problems on, by what the Cubans call “the imperialist,” meddling in their affairs.
* While despised by some, he is seen as a revolutionary hero, especially with leftist in Latin America, for standing up to the United States.
Any questions, please call the international desk.
Smoking gun evidence about how the mainstream media and particularly CNN, which we have always referred to as the castro news network, is trying to sanitize castro's legacy, EVEN NOW!
As if health care and education were a good enough excuse to violate human rights. We have to be fair now don't we?
As if the regime needed any more help in getting its talking points into the MSM, they now come through official emails to journalists and anchors. We've often lamented the Faustian bargain that foreign news agencies have made with the castro regime in order to maintain access. When Reuters has a reporter in it's Cuba bureau that penned 1,000 articles for the official newspaper of Communist Party U.S.A. nothing should surprise us. But it does.
It never fails
Throw a party and you run the chances that some jerk is going to show up uninvited. Siempre se tiene que aparecer un comemier...
Today’s news that Fidel Castro has retired from leading his nation proves yet again that this important figure defies the attempts of his critics to paint him simply as a power-hungry authoritarian. Instead, it proves that Castro sees clearly the long-term interests of the Cuban people and recognizes that they are best served by a carefully planned transition. Few leaders, having been on the front lines of history so long, would be able to voluntarily step aside in favor of a new, younger generation. In taking this action, Castro is ensuring that the changes he brought about will live on and grow.
If you have the stomach you can read the rest of what the distinguished gentleman from the Bronx has to say about a murderous and vile dictator, courtesy of the New York Times, HERE.
Or, you can just tell this representative of the United States just how you feel about his comments HERE.
Is representative democracy great or what?
DUmmie FUnnies does fidel
Our buddy P.J. always has the lowdown on what's going on in the leftard message boards like Democratic Underground (DU). He copies and pastes the best stuff and then adds his own running commentary in brackets. Well here's some of what the DUmmies had to say:
I hope this doesn't cause to much trouble. Bushie will try to claim credit.
[If Bushie and Fidel were both on the same ballot, we know who would receive the majority of the DUmmie votes.]
Already, in some dank little basement office at the Heritage Foundation, some little unsung author of the conservative ascendancy is squinting at his monitor as he types, "George W. Bush's greatest achievement came in his final year in office, when he singlehandedly forced Castro from power, much as his predecessor Reagan had torn down the Berlin Wall with his teeth."
[Typed the DUmmie squingting at his monitor between the empty pizza cartons in his dank little basement.]
Given that the right has rewritten history to credit Reagan with the collapse of the USSR (something he was only nominally involved in), expect this to be rewritten as a great triumph for Chimpy.
[Wasn't it Jimmy Carter who brought about the collapse of the USSR?]
The real danger is that once the death notice is posted, some hot heads in little Havana might try a Bay of Pigs - rematch.
[Danger for a DUmmie means opportunity for others. Hee! Hee!]
Our friends at Investors Business Daily always have spot-on commentary about Cuba and Latin America. Today is no exception. In addition to the fact they have published a very insightful column today, the quoted my piece in Pajamas Media. Did I mention how much I love IBD?
Raul may permit some economic freedom, but he remains a doctrinaire Marxist and will do so only if it serves the state. Real reform, however, is not about tactics. It's about giving rights to people. Castro's exit and Cuba's transition to a family dynasty with a large fortune should not be mistaken for real democracy.
Also, IBD has this great cartoon by the best political cartoonist I have seen, Michael Ramirez.
Another Must Read
From good friend and Babalu contributor Marc Masferrer, at Uncommon Sense:
Fidel Castro "retires"
Fidel Castro has retired after more than 49 years as one of history's most brutal dictators.
He leaves a legacy that once he and his co-conspirators and successors are retired biologically, hopefully will not take as long to erase.
Exercise of absolute power, for the benefit of a few, and the detriment of a nation.
The official announcement culminates a process that began almost 18 months ago, when Fidel fell ill and "temporarily" handed over power to little brother Raúl.
From that moment, the dictatorship has followed a detailed script designed to keep it in power.
Raúl goes through the motions of talking about reform; he even releases a few political prisoners. Younger leaders take more prominent roles; some develop reputations as "moderates." Fidel, his health apparently stabilized, takes on a the role as a senior statesman; maybe he, too, will now start a blog to remain part of the discussion of Cuba's future.
An unfortunate consequence of that hand-over, reinforced by Fidel's "retirement," is that the dictatorship survives.
A face, presumably Raúl's — I haven't seen the script — will be placed at the top of the flow chart, come Sunday.
But the dictatorship survives.
The secret police. The Committees in Defense of the Revolution. The gulag.
The dictatorship survives.
The poor health care. The poor housing. The poor.
The dictatorship survives.
No free speech. No free press. No free elections.
The dictatorship survives.
Fidel's "retirement" is not a moment to celebrate. Unfortuntely, his legacy will survive his life's work, and his life. It is a historical moment to note but nothing more.
And it means little to this son of former Cuban refugees. Maybe it would be different if this morning we were reading his obituary, but consider me underwhelmed. I won't be breaking out the champagne, and I won't be driving to Miami for the party.
Part of Fidel's legacy is that millions of Cubans have come to America, to save and improve their lives, and to better a nation. That is something to celebrate, and we do each day.
The transfer of power from one dictator to another, won't change that.
And neither will it better the the existence of Cubans struggling to survive with their own lives, and their own dignities. Nothing has changed during the "transition" of the past 18 months.
Most Cubans remain hungry.
Most Cubans remain poor.
And Cubans who dare to speak out against tyranny, are harrassed, threatened and jailed.
Unless Raúl is determined to reverse all of Fidel's legacy — and his own, considering he was the No. 2 for all of those 49-plus years — he is not a reformer. But that is not his role in the tragedy that is Cuba.
His role, which he has filled perfectly during his tryout period, is to ensure that the dictatorship survives, whatever it takes.
Repressing free speech and assemply.
Holding sham elections.
Maintaining absolute power, absolutely.
Talking a good game about the need for "change."
Raul's done all of that, and 18 months after Fidel, and biology, put the wheels in motion, the dictatorship survives.
That is the only thing to remember today when considering the importance of Fidel's "retirement."
The dictatorship — his dictatorship — survives.
More MSM tripe on fidel
On the Radio
I was interviewed for NPR News today on Cuban-American reaction to the "big news" from the island prison. I believe the segment will run during today's "All Things Considered" show, which runs locally between 4 and 6 PM here in Miami.
If you dont get NPR locally, you can pick up the audio for today's show right here, at 7 PM.
Sic semper tyrannis
Henry has written a devastatingly accurate and thought provoking editorial for Pajamas Media on today's tempest in a teacup:
Self-proclaimed “Cubanologists” in the United States have made it fashionable to refer to Raul as “the pragmatic one” and “the reformer.” Of course, in contrast to Fidel who was notoriously capricious, arbitrary, egomaniacal, and stubborn, anyone short of Stalin could be legitimately labeled as pragmatic. Even Raul, who as Fidel’s right-hand man since the days of the rebel insurgency and head of Cuba’s armed forces, has just as much blood on his hands — if not more.
What Raul wants is for the world to see his succession to the throne of the house of Castro as legitimate. That’s why the regime went to such great lengths to stage its kabuki production of parliamentary “elections.” If the world accepts the succession without objection, then Raul would have accomplished the primary goal of keeping international pressure off, at least temporarily. And that’s what this has always been about: buying time.
Read the whole excellent thing, right here.
Change in Cuba
If there is, as the international media conglomerate seems to think, real change coming to Cuba now that fidel has stepped aside, does that mean:
Cuban high school students are free to wear white plastic bracelets embossed with the word CAMBIO without fear of arrest?
Does it mean that state security thugs will no longer assault dissidents because they ask for human rights?
Does it mean that the Cuban military will never again attack and sink a boat carrying children?
Does it mean that Cubans will be allowed to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
I didn't think so.
Not even one full day on the job...
and Parade magazine already has raul listed as one of the worst dictators in the world.
No respect, I tell you.
"One Castro Down, One To Go" Mel Martinez talks about castro #2
Senator Mel Martinez discusses the future of Raul's Cuba on CNN.
Democrat Candidate for the Lalaland District
Our resident political fence jumper Joe Garcia must be smoking the chronic:
"Today Castro announces the end of the revolution. That doesn't mean it's all over, but that means it allows people to finally begin to move beyond," he said.
Aldous Huxley could not be reached for comment.
We trade with other communist countries, why not Cuba?
With the "raul is a reformer" crowd frothing at the mouth, we will hear a renewed call to end the embargo against the monarchical dictatorship in Cuba that continues to sell its people as slave laborers.
If the immorality of it all is not enough to sway you fans of raul, perhaps the economical aspect will:
Mexico to Refinance $400 Million Owed by Cuba, Bancomext Says
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal - Bloomberg Latin-America
Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico agreed to refinance $400 million in defaulted Cuban debt as the countries take steps to increase trade.
The accord, reached yesterday in Havana by diplomats, comes after six years of decreasing financial ties between the countries, the Mexican Trade and Export Bank said yesterday in a release. State-owned Banco Nacional de Cuba and the island nation's central bank will be responsible for the debt, according to the statement. Terms weren't disclosed.
The money being refinanced will be used to fund Mexican exports to the Communist-ruled island. According to data from the Mexican bank, known as Bancomext, trade between the nations fell to about $200 million last year from an average $435 million a year during the 1990s.
Under acting President Raul Castro, Cuba's government has been renegotiating terms of its defaulted debt to attract new investment and blunt the effect of a 46-year U.S.-led economic embargo. Since Raul Castro replaced his ailing brother Fidel in July 2006, Cuba has restructured $166 million in defaulted loans with Russia and stretched out payments with Venezuela for billions of dollars in annual oil purchases.
Fidel Castro, who had ruled Cuba since ousting U.S.-backed President Fulgencio Batista in 1959, suspended payments on about $11 billion of debt during the late 1980s as financial aid from the Soviet Union began to phase out.
In May 2006, Bancomext recovered $35 million of defaulted Cuban debt after an Italian court ordered payments should be made to Mexico from a Cuban escrow account in Italy. Banco Nacional de Cuba had stopped debt payments to Mexico on behalf of Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba in 2002. [emphasis mine]
As the fans of dealing with a despotic regime keep saying: "business is business." If that be the case, what is the purpose of doing business with a client that has no intention of paying you if you give them credit? Doesn't sound like a good business decision, does it? Unless, of course, you are expecting the US government to foot the bill when the regime refuses to pay its bills.
¡Ese muerto no lo cargo yo, que lo cargue el que lo mato!
And the Oscar goes to...
fidel castro: the world's emcee.
WASHIGNTON [sic] (AP) - Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain called for the release of political prisoners in Cuba following Fidel Castro's resignation Tuesday. Castro's resignation "should mark the end of a dark era in Cuba's history. ... Fidel Castro's stepping down is an essential first step, but it is sadly insufficient in bringing freedom to Cuba," Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said in a statement.
"Cuba's future should be determined by the Cuban people and not by an anti-democratic successor regime," Obama said. "The prompt release of all prisoners of conscience wrongly jailed for standing up for the basic freedoms too long denied to the Cuban people would mark an important break with the past. It's time for these heroes to be released."
Obama also urged that the United State be prepared to take steps to normalize relations with Cuba and to ease the trade embargo of the last five decades if the Cuban leadership "begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change."
Republican Sen. John McCain also underscored that "freedom for the Cuban people is not yet at hand" despite Castro's resignation.
"We must press the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor unions and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections," McCain said in a statement.
"Cuba's transition to democracy is inevitable; it is a matter of when not if. With the resignation of Fidel Castro, the Cuban people have an opportunity to move forward and continue pushing for the moment that they will truly be free. America can and should help hasten the sparking of freedom in Cuba. The Cuban people have waited long enough."
The ailing, 81-year-old Castro resigned as Cuba's president after nearly a half-century in power. His 76-year-old brother Raul, who has hinted at political reforms, has been ruling in his place since June 2006.
Is this an election year or something?
At least the Danes get it!
BREAKING NEWS! My God, somebody actually GETS IT. Stop the presses!
"Tell him what he's won, Johnny!"
The Broken Record
This morning as I sat down to drink my coffee, I flipped on the radio to the BBC World Service to see just what type of coverage the European new outlets were providing with regards to fifo’s “official retirement” announcement. I was not at all surprised at what I heard.
The story focused on the origins of the revolution and a vivid – if fictional – portrayal of what pre-Castro Cuba was really like. Allow me to break down the story in the standard bullet points:
• The island of Cuba was run by the American mafia.
• Cuba was an impoverished third-world country with a tiny minority of wealthy landowners pitted against the lowly working class.
• Healthcare was abysmal.
• Cuba was nothing more than a playground for American tourists.
• Enter Fidel Castro – the benevolent Christ-like leader who strode down from the jungles of the Sierra Maestra to rescue his people from the clutches of hedonism and imperialism. Feel free to toss in a few more “isms” should you feel the need.
In a nutshell, what I heard was yet another example of the blatant prejudice and racism that has so mired the Cuban people – both on and off the island – for decades. “Golly gee, those Cubans were nothing more than a dumb sack o’ potatoes being used by Batista until good ol’ Fidel came down and straightened things out. Them boys need a strong arm dictator to keep them in line.”
The denial of reality is simply incredible. “Cuba was run by the American mafia?” Now, sure, the mob was down in Havana, in much the same way it sprouts its ugly head in any big city. By this logic however, we should be condemning New York City and London as being run by the Cosa-Nostra. Give me a break. Note to BBC correspondents: please turn off the Godfather series on your DVD players. Coppola movies do not pass as research material. Got that?
“Cuba was an impoverished third world country?” For crying out loud, even UN statistics will negate this idea. Where is the logic in categorizing one of the strongest economies in Latin America, a nation whose peso was valued above the U.S. dollar, an island with a myriad of its own industries – from shipbuilding to nickel mining – run by CUBAN business owners, as an “impoverished third world country?” What?
“Healthcare was abysmal?” For a nominal monthly fee (and I emphasize the phrase “nominal”), Cubans were enrolled in a system of polyclinics that provided technologically advanced, first-rate care. Oh, by the way, education was free as well – that was certainly not the result of any Castro-spearheaded effort.
“Enter the benevolent Christ-like leader?” Right, I’m sure Christ really enjoyed ordering people up in front of cave walls in Palestine to take an arrow to the head. This reminds of something my mother once said about January 8, 1959 (the date Fidel and Co. rode into Havana): “They would walk into Catholic churches with rosary beads around their heads and end up genuflecting on the wrong knee. It was all a big charade.”
Well folks, the “big charade” never really ended. BBC, just like dozens of other news outlets, continue to work with the dictatorship to perpetuate the misery that has surrounded the Pearl of the Antilles for 50 long years. They are guilty – every single one of them – for taking Herbert Matthews’ lead and ensuring the perpetual enslavement of some 12-million people.
It sickens the stomach.
Wasn’t even able to finish my coffee, damnit!
The silver lining
We all know that the news of castro’s “retirement” is not really news and in the end will do little to affect the lives of the Cubans on the island; the repressive machinery is still firmly in control and has shown no intention of loosening its grip. But there is some good news associated with this announcement that some of us may have overlooked. Now that fifo is no longer an “official head of state,” he is now free to stand trial in an international tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Washington D.C. lawyer and Cuban-American, Jason Poblete, has an excellent post on this wonderful news:
Fidel Castro’s stepping down, however, does present a unique opportunity for the U.S. or for the scores of victims of Cuban Communism residing outside of Cuba who await justice for crimes committed against them through political incarceration or other means. Since Fidel Castro is no longer a head of state, some argue, the time has come for him to face his accusers for decades of injustice. Probably so, if he can survive until such a thing were to happen.
You can read more about it HERE.
Meet the new boss...
Same as the old boss
The only ones who will be "fooled again" will be the mainstream media.
Below you can see raul the reformer blindfolding someone who is about to endure "revolutionary justice" on the wrong end of a firing squad.
Image from LatinAmericanStudies.org
I wanted to take this opportunity during which I know we have man new and first-time readers to talk about someone who is certain to be forgotten by the mainstream media, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.
Dr. Biscet is an Afro-Cuban physician and a political prisoner who has opposed the regime for its violations of Human rights. Dr. Biscet is currently rotting away in a prison because he had the audacity to speak out against the Cuban government both personally and through his Lawton Foundation for Human Rights. Recently, Cuba made news because they agreed to free a handful of political prisoners into exile. But Dr. Biscet does not want to be an exile. He wants to be a Cuban and enjoy the freedoms that Cubans, like all people, deserve. You know, inalienable rights.
This was the WSJ's Mary Anastasia O'Grady on Biscet back in November.
A Cuban Hero
Cuban physician Oscar Elías Biscet and seven others will be awarded the presidential medal of freedom by George W. Bush in a White House ceremony today. But Dr. Biscet will not be there to accept his honor in person. Today, like most days for the better part of the past eight years, he is locked away in a dungeon on Fidel Castro's island paradise.
Tales of totalitarian gulags may strike some readers as ancient history, something that happened during Europe's 20th-century experiments in fascism, communism and Nazism. Yet in Cuba, the gulag and its suffering have not ended. Dr. Biscet's medal serves to remind us of this fact. By raising the profile of his struggle for a free Cuba, the award also highlights what Castro's regime fears most. It is not the guns and tanks of some imperial invader, but rather the faith, courage and nonconformity of the country's own people.
Dr. Biscet says that the regime has offered to let him go if he agrees to leave Cuba. He will not. In an April letter to his wife Elsa, he explained why: "My suffering is much, much less since I began to seek after my dream of being free, but not only for me personally. If I thought only of myself, you know that I would have been free a long time ago, and I would have been rid of these unsettling anxieties. But I want to see my friend's son, my adversary's son, or any citizen laughing happily from the satisfaction in their lives and enjoying a wealth of freedom because it is the only way human talent reaches its maximum splendor."
When the newspaper columns begin to appear suggesting that the U.S. MUST change it's policy toward Cuba, remember to ask the authors: What about Biscet?
Below is a video of Biscet's wife, Elsa Morejon, demonstrating what her husband's cell looks like. This replica was assembled on the grounds of the U.S. Interest Section (our de facto embassy) in Cuba. The video was also shot there.
Just Another Snip
The news trucks have already lined up and raised their satellite thingies in front of Versailles. Local reporters are already shoving their microphones in front of mouths in search of opinions. The experts have been called and their take has been taken. The news is spreading like wildfire - all over the radio airwaves, on every TV station, scattered about the internet like spam.
fidel castro has "officially" stepped down.
I certainly dont want to rain on anyone's parade, there is, after all, a little bit of happiness buried deep down inside because of the news, but, at the risk of sounding cliche, this is a tempest in a teacup.
We're going to hear hopes that this is the beginning of change in Cuba. We're going to hear arguments for the lifting of the embargo. We're going to hear wishy washy eulogies and praise for the bearded bastard. We're gonna hear a lot of crap today and in the next few days. Cuba experts will be coming out of the woodwork with their own particular theories and there will most certainly be editorials galore.
A commenter said it best in this post:
Much ado about nothing. What does this change? Nothing. Cubans are still oppressed, the island is still a hell hole and the man in command still bears the last name (c)astro. All this means nothing.
I wholeheartedly agree. This changes absolutely nada. For all intents and purposes, for the past year or two, fidel castro has been but a blurb in the book of Cuba's political leadership. The man who held the world in terror in the sixties reduced to writing editorials for a mouthpiece "newspaper."
Cuba's prisons are still rife with prisoners of conscience. Ordinary Cuban's are still subjected to Cuba's system of apartheid. Dissidents are still being round up and harrassed. The UN Declaration on Human Rights remains taboo on the island.
There is going to be much ado about new "freedoms" in Cuba and "changes" in policy and what not. Some are going to point to these as proof of raul's willingness for change. But, you know what? True freedom can't come piecemeal. The few crumbs this "new and improved" castro regime will toss down to the Cuban people will do little to stay any true hunger for liberty.
The day there is real change in Cuba - and not a carefully choreographed one - will be the day when every single Cuban on the island is allowed to know who Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet is. When every Cuban is allowed to know exactly and truthfully why he, and so many like him, have been rotting away in putrid jail cells for years.
For fifty years, the Cuban people have been physically, mentally, spiritually, ideologically, culturally and emotionally emasculated. Today's news is just another snip in a surreptitiously planned and meticulously orchestrated surgery.
One would imagine that news of the official retirement of the beast who ruled an island nation ruthlessly for almost half a century would be announced with a little more ceremony. Instead, Granma slipped the announcement into their online edition in the wee hours of this morning as if it were filler. Ziva, who has the advantage of being on Pacific Time, caught it immediately, however.
Now will begin the new barrage of castro puff pieces—the wonderful, benevolent, tenacious freedom fighting bearded devil.
Prepare yourselves, my friends; it is going to be a love fest of epic proportions, which will be topped only by the orgy that will take place when the dictator finally kicks the bucket.
**BREAKING NEWS** fidel castro "retires"
To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honored me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.
Read it in Granma, and below the fold, in Spanish, followed by the English version.
Right now, at this late hour, my emotions are in turmoil.
Les prometí el pasado viernes 15 de febrero que en la próxima reflexión abordaría un tema de interés para muchos compatriotas. La misma adquiere esta vez forma de mensaje.
Ha llegado el momento de postular y elegir al Consejo de Estado, su Presidente, Vicepresidentes y Secretario.
Desempeñé el honroso cargo de Presidente a lo largo de muchos años. El 15 de febrero de 1976 se aprobó la Constitución Socialista por voto libre, directo y secreto de más del 95% de los ciudadanos con derecho a votar. La primera Asamblea Nacional se constituyó el 2 de diciembre de ese año y eligió el Consejo de Estado y su Presidencia. Antes había ejercido el cargo de Primer Ministro durante casi 18 años. Siempre dispuse de las prerrogativas necesarias para llevar adelante la obra revolucionaria con el apoyo de la inmensa mayoría del pueblo.
Conociendo mi estado crítico de salud, muchos en el exterior pensaban que la renuncia provisional al cargo de Presidente del Consejo de Estado el 31 de julio de 2006, que dejé en manos del Primer Vicepresidente, Raúl Castro Ruz, era definitiva. El propio Raúl, quien adicionalmente ocupa el cargo de Ministro de las F.A.R. por méritos personales, y los demás compañeros de la dirección del Partido y el Estado, fueron renuentes a considerarme apartado de mis cargos a pesar de mi estado precario de salud.
Era incómoda mi posición frente a un adversario que hizo todo lo imaginable por deshacerse de mí y en nada me agradaba complacerlo.
Más adelante pude alcanzar de nuevo el dominio total de mi mente, la posibilidad de leer y meditar mucho, obligado por el reposo. Me acompañaban las fuerzas físicas suficientes para escribir largas horas, las que compartía con la rehabilitación y los programas pertinentes de recuperación. Un elemental sentido común me indicaba que esa actividad estaba a mi alcance. Por otro lado me preocupó siempre, al hablar de mi salud, evitar ilusiones que en el caso de un desenlace adverso, traerían noticias traumáticas a nuestro pueblo en medio de la batalla. Prepararlo para mi ausencia, sicológica y políticamente, era mi primera obligación después de tantos años de lucha. Nunca dejé de señalar que se trataba de una recuperación "no exenta de riesgos".
Mi deseo fue siempre cumplir el deber hasta el último aliento. Es lo que puedo ofrecer.
A mis entrañables compatriotas, que me hicieron el inmenso honor de elegirme en días recientes como miembro del Parlamento, en cuyo seno se deben adoptar acuerdos importantes para el destino de nuestra Revolución, les comunico que no aspiraré ni aceptaré- repito- no aspiraré ni aceptaré, el cargo de Presidente del Consejo de Estado y Comandante en Jefe.
En breves cartas dirigidas a Randy Alonso, Director del programa Mesa Redonda de la Televisión Nacional, que a solicitud mía fueron divulgadas, se incluían discretamente elementos de este mensaje que hoy escribo, y ni siquiera el destinatario de las misivas conocía mi propósito. Tenía confianza en Randy porque lo conocí bien cuando era estudiante universitario de Periodismo, y me reunía casi todas las semanas con los representantes principales de los estudiantes universitarios, de lo que ya era conocido como el interior del país, en la biblioteca de la amplia casa de Kohly, donde se albergaban. Hoy todo el país es una inmensa Universidad.
Párrafos seleccionados de la carta enviada a Randy el 17 de diciembre de 2007:
"Mi más profunda convicción es que las respuestas a los problemas actuales de la sociedad cubana, que posee un promedio educacional cercano a 12 grados, casi un millón de graduados universitarios y la posibilidad real de estudio para sus ciudadanos sin discriminación alguna, requieren más variantes de respuesta para cada problema concreto que las contenidas en un tablero de ajedrez. Ni un solo detalle se puede ignorar, y no se trata de un camino fácil, si es que la inteligencia del ser humano en una sociedad revolucionaria ha de prevalecer sobre sus instintos.
"Mi deber elemental no es aferrarme a cargos, ni mucho menos obstruir el paso a personas más jóvenes, sino aportar experiencias e ideas cuyo modesto valor proviene de la época excepcional que me tocó vivir.
"Pienso como Niemeyer que hay que ser consecuente hasta el final."
Carta del 8 de enero de 2008:
"...Soy decidido partidario del voto unido (un principio que preserva el mérito ignorado). Fue lo que nos permitió evitar las tendencias a copiar lo que venía de los países del antiguo campo socialista, entre ellas el retrato de un candidato único, tan solitario como a la vez tan solidario con Cuba. Respeto mucho aquel primer intento de construir el socialismo, gracias al cual pudimos continuar el camino escogido."
"Tenía muy presente que toda la gloria del mundo cabe en un grano de maíz", reiteraba en aquella carta.
Traicionaría por tanto mi conciencia ocupar una responsabilidad que requiere movilidad y entrega total que no estoy en condiciones físicas de ofrecer. Lo explico sin dramatismo.
Afortunadamente nuestro proceso cuenta todavía con cuadros de la vieja guardia, junto a otros que eran muy jóvenes cuando se inició la primera etapa de la Revolución. Algunos casi niños se incorporaron a los combatientes de las montañas y después, con su heroísmo y sus misiones internacionalistas, llenaron de gloria al país. Cuentan con la autoridad y la experiencia para garantizar el reemplazo. Dispone igualmente nuestro proceso de la generación intermedia que aprendió junto a nosotros los elementos del complejo y casi inaccesible arte de organizar y dirigir una revolución.
El camino siempre será difícil y requerirá el esfuerzo inteligente de todos. Desconfío de las sendas aparentemente fáciles de la apologética, o la autoflagelación como antítesis. Prepararse siempre para la peor de las variantes. Ser tan prudentes en el éxito como firmes en la adversidad es un principio que no puede olvidarse. El adversario a derrotar es sumamente fuerte, pero lo hemos mantenido a raya durante medio siglo.
No me despido de ustedes. Deseo solo combatir como un soldado de las ideas. Seguiré escribiendo bajo el título "Reflexiones del compañero Fidel" . Será un arma más del arsenal con la cual se podrá contar. Tal vez mi voz se escuche. Seré cuidadoso.
Fidel Castro Ruz
18 de febrero de 2008
5 y 30 p.m.
Message from the Commander in Chief
Last Friday, February 15, I promised you that in my next reflection I would deal with an issue of interest to many compatriots. Thus, this now is rather a message.
The moment has come to nominate and elect the State Council, its President, its Vice-Presidents and Secretary.
For many years I have occupied the honorable position of President. On February 15, 1976 the Socialist Constitution was approved with the free, direct and secret vote of over 95% of the people with the right to cast a vote. The first National Assembly was established on December 2nd that same year; this elected the State Council and its presidency. Before that, I had been a Prime Minister for almost 18 years. I always had the necessary prerogatives to carry forward the revolutionary work with the support of the overwhelming majority of the people.
There were those overseas who, aware of my critical health condition, thought that my provisional resignation, on July 31, 2006, to the position of President of the State Council, which I left to First Vice-President Raul Castro Ruz, was final. But Raul, who is also minister of the Armed Forces on account of his own personal merits, and the other comrades of the Party and State leadership were unwilling to consider me out of public life despite my unstable health condition.
It was an uncomfortable situation for me vis-à-vis an adversary which had done everything possible to get rid of me, and I felt reluctant to comply.
Later, in my necessary retreat, I was able to recover the full command of my mind as well as the possibility for much reading and meditation. I had enough physical strength to write for many hours, which I shared with the corresponding rehabilitation and recovery programs. Basic common sense indicated that such activity was within my reach. On the other hand, when referring to my health I was extremely careful to avoid raising expectations since I felt that an adverse ending would bring traumatic news to our people in the midst of the battle. Thus, my first duty was to prepare our people both politically and psychologically for my absence after so many years of struggle. I kept saying that my recovery "was not without risks."
My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath. That’s all I can offer.
To my dearest compatriots, who have recently honored me so much by electing me a member of the Parliament where so many agreements should be adopted of utmost importance to the destiny of our Revolution, I am saying that I will neither aspire to nor accept, I repeat, I will neither aspire to nor accept the positions of President of the State Council and Commander in Chief.
In short letters addressed to Randy Alonso, Director of the Round Table National TV Program, --letters which at my request were made public-- I discreetly introduced elements of this message I am writing today, when not even the addressee of such letters was aware of my intention. I trusted Randy, whom I knew very well from his days as a student of Journalism. In those days I met almost on a weekly basis with the main representatives of the University students from the provinces at the library of the large house in Kohly where they lived. Today, the entire country is an immense University.
Following are some paragraphs chosen from the letter addressed to Randy on December 17, 2007:
"I strongly believe that the answers to the current problems facing Cuban society, which has, as an average, a twelfth grade of education, almost a million university graduates, and a real possibility for all its citizens to become educated without their being in any way discriminated against, require more variables for each concrete problem than those contained in a chess game. We cannot ignore one single detail; this is not an easy path to take, if the intelligence of a human being in a revolutionary society is to prevail over instinct.
"My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, much less to stand in the way of younger persons, but rather to contribute my own experience and ideas whose modest value comes from the exceptional era that I had the privilege of living in.
"Like Niemeyer, I believe that one has to be consistent right up to the end."
Letter from January 8, 2008:
"…I am a firm supporter of the united vote (a principle that preserves the unknown merits), which allowed us to avoid the tendency to copy what came to us from countries of the former socialist bloc, including the portrait of the one candidate, as singular as his solidarity towards Cuba. I deeply respect that first attempt at building socialism, thanks to which we were able to continue along the path we had chosen."
And I reiterated in that letter that "…I never forget that ‘all of the world’s glory fits in a kernel of corn."
Therefore, it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer. This I say devoid of all drama.
Fortunately, our Revolution can still count on cadres from the old guard and others who were very young in the early stages of the process. Some were very young, almost children, when they joined the fight on the mountains and later they have given glory to the country with their heroic performance and their internationalist missions. They have the authority and the experience to guarantee the replacement. There is also the intermediate generation which learned together with us the basics of the complex and almost unattainable art of organizing and leading a revolution.
The path will always be difficult and require from everyone’s intelligent effort. I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics or its antithesis the self-flagellation. We should always be prepared for the worst variable. The principle of being as prudent in success as steady in adversity cannot be forgotten. The adversary to be defeated is extremely strong; however, we have been able to keep it at bay for half a century.
This is not my farewell to you. My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the heading of ‘Reflections by comrade Fidel.’ It will be just another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard. I shall be careful.
Fidel Castro Ruz
February 18, 2008
Everything's Coming Up Roses
It really is a shame that Cubans aren't allowed access to any news sources off the island. They would surely be heartened some of the latest media entries.
Reading this report from Vacaville, CA they would rejoice at the news that they can now "snack" on Northern California treats. Of course, since they don't have enough food for meals, soon we'll have recipes for fufu de walnut to complement chicken fried grapefruit rind steaks. They might also learn that they make 600 bucks a month, something hitherto unknown to them.
They would cheer if they knew, as this report in Just-Drinks informs us, that the Havana Club brand of rum, a joint venture between the government and their Pernod Ricard collaborators, has just passed the 3 million mark, that is... they would cheer if they had ever profited from those sales.
Finally, they would doubtless eagerly anticipate the upcoming entertainment heralded in an article in the People's Daily Online. Their viewing pleasure is sure to be enhanced by the addition of no less than three channels from China Central Television (with dubbing or subtitles one would hope). There's the additional benefit that coming from another totalitarian state, there is little danger of their being infected by any unorthodox ideas like freedom.
With all of this good press, one has to wonder why the Cuban government bothers restricting access. Oh, that's right. It's the commercials, stupid.
February 18, 2008
I was listening to an interview that Joe Garcia did on Puerto Rican radio over the weekend and I am truly disgusted by his rhetoric. During the interview Joe repeatedly accused the Diaz-Balarts of resembling fidel because they put "ideology over family". He insinuated that the Diaz-Balarts treat their seats in the House of Representatives as a feudal lordship and again intimated a parallel to the castro brothers. He also mentioned a "nexus" that the Diaz-Balarts have with the previous dictatorship in Cuba. In short, it was the most vile and disgusting of insults.
Well Mr. Garcia, I don't know what you are doing campaigning in Puerto Rico because there isn't a single vote down there that will do you any good. You are basing your entire campaign on the family travel restrictions that George W. Bush tightened. You are basing your argument on the absolute right to family travel, but I don't remember you criticizing Clinton so vociferously when the restrictions (which were admittedly weaker, but still there nonetheless) were in force. Hypocrite.
The best part is that he admits that he was for travel restrictions at one point but has now changed his mind. And because Joe Freaking Garcia has changed his mind, then everyone else is wrong. What a deluded jerk. Let me explain to everyone clearly what is up with Joe Garcia. He can't come out against the overall embargo because he wouldn't be elected dog catcher. So to differentiate himself from his opposition he's parsed one little part of the current restrictions on Cuba: family travel. He's hoping that he can make hay out his difference in this one area. I think his change of heart is rather convenient at this point.
As usual he doesn't let the host get a word in. He also says the Bush administration has signed the waiver of enforcement of title 3 of the Helms Burton Act more than any other president. Well, that's certainly true but only because that law was passed in 1996 halfway during President Clinton's 8 years in office. It was Clinton that began by waiving title 3 every six months until he left office. Can we blame George Bush for continuing a Clinton policy, certainly we can, but again Joe doesn't want to paint Clinton with the same brush.
Likewise Joe says that Bush has repatriated more Cubans than any other president. Of course, this is also true since wet foot/dry foot policy that AGAIN was the fruit of Bill Clinton requires the repatriation of Cubans interdicted at sea. Once again, Bush could get rid of this policy and many of us lament it for its inhumanity, but that policy was created by Clinton to stop the humanitarian crisis that was occurring in the straights of Florida. The flip side of that coin is the visa lottery in which 20,000 visas are issued to Cuban annually. In the last 10 years more than 200,000 Cubans have come to the U.S. mainly settling in South Florida.
Also Joe mentions the hundreds of millions of dollars of food sales to Cuba that have taken place under Bush. What he neglects to mention is that provision for those food sales were part of a greater bill and that our congresspersons were against it. Joe claims that he was against it too but when I cornered him during the Babalu Radio Hour on which he appeared about whether he was for or against continuing the sale of food to Cuba (I'm against it) he said that "Now that it's done it's pointless to oppose it." So Joe is essentially criticizing the President's administration for going along with a policy that Congress passed that he himself is currently in favor of. Huh?
Joe, if anyone is using castroite tactics it's you. SCUMBAG.
What's the first thing you think of looking at this photo?
This recent picture released by Swiss car maker Rinspeed shows people aboard Rinspeed's new model, the sQuba, the world's first real submersible car that will be presented at the 2008 Geneva car show in March. The zero-emission electric sports car, with power supplied by rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, can perform a submerged stabile flight at a depth of 10 meters.
President's Day Quiz
I came up with some questions about United States Presidents and presidential candidates as they relate to Cuba. See what you know (or don't).
The Mariel Boat lift took place during this President's administration.
This U.S. President requested authorization from the U.S. Congress to intervene in Cuba during the Spanish-American war.
The first president who tried to normalize relations with castro's Cuba but stopped when castro sent troops to Angola.
This administration banned travel by Cuban officials to United States.
United States began broadcasting to Cuba over Radio Marti under this president.
This president lifted the ban on travel to Cuba.
When castro came to Washington in 1959, this then vice president had to meet with him when the president refused to.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was PLANNED under this president's administration but carried out by the next administration.
When this president was in office, Congress tightened sanctions and prohibited foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba, travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens and family remittances to Cuba.
This former 2008 Presidential candidate barred castro from attending the 50th anniversary of the United Nations and special events related to it.
Under this president, 6 year old refugee Elian Gonzalez was forcibly removed from his relatives' home in Miami on Easter Sunday to be returned to his father in Cuba.
The Helms-Burton act was passed during this president's administration.
Addressing members of the Cuban Invasion Brigade from the Bay of Pigs invasion and thousands of Cuban exiles at the Orange Bowl, this president, upon receiving the brigade's flag, told the exiles: "I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana."
Cuban political prisoner, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by this president. The award was accepted by his family since Dr. Biscet is still in jail.
This 2008 presidential candidate was called a liar by castro for stating that POWs in Hanoi were tortured by Cubans in Vietnam.
One of the volunteers in this 2008 presidential candidate's campaign displayed a giant Cuban flag with che guevara's face on it at a local campaign headquarters in Texas.
The Cuban Adjustment Act was passed under this president.
Click here for answers.
Cross posted at Claudia4Libertad
Obama's so original
Obama sure could have given the country some words about Che last week... instead he was busy stealing words from Deval Patrick.
Batteries Colostomy bag not included.
In all seriousness, the above truly is the perfect symbol of The Revolution.
Attention Babalu Readers:
I am looking for a lady with a good singing voice and a decent knowledge of computers to help me and a couple of blog buddies to produce a top notch version of our parody: HOW DO YOU FREE OBAMA FROM MARIA?
The original music comes from the show "The Sound of Music" and its song "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?"
We need someone to lay down the vocal track with the lyrics below over the music bed which is linked here.
She's on TV and there we see "Obama in '08"; So far, so good, but then we see How else she decorates: Guevara's mug, that brutal thug, And a Cuban flag--oh, great! And all of this is sticking to Obama!
She's always seen campaigning,
But her presence is a pain;
She's always doing one more thing
We have to then explain.
I hate to have to say it,
But I think it's very plain:
Maria's not an asset to Obama!
Each time she's seen as being with our staff,
Maria makes a gaffe!
How do you free Obama from Maria?
How do you stop the news from being spread?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A Commie campaigner! A Bolshevik babe! A Red!
Many a Marxist goal you'd like to further,
Many a thing to tax across the land;
But how do you take away
The picture of her and Che?
How can you let her ruin what you planned?
Oh, how do you free Obama from Maria?
How do you make a moonbat understand?
When she's answering the phone,
This is maybe not the image that we need.
I'm afraid our "Si, se puede!"
Could be changed and even made a
Slogan saying, "Yes, the struggle will succeed!"
She is campaign suicide,
Driving voters from our side;
She could throw our poor Barack beneath the bus.
She's an early spring surprise
From the Workers' Paradise.
She's rebelling! She's revolting! She's with us!
How do you free Obama from Maria?
How do you stop the news from being spread?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A Commie campaigner! A Bolshevik babe! A Red!
Many a Marxist goal you'd like to further,
Many a thing to tax across the land;
But how do you take away
The picture of her and Che?
How can you let her ruin what you planned?
Oh, how do you free Obama from Maria?
How do you make a moonbat understand?
I'm told that that when you click on the tune link, the first two seconds of music are introductory, and then at about the third second, the music and the lyrics will match up.
Please email me if you can help. Once the song is recorded I'll do the video part.
Only in Cuba
News agencies around the world are reporting the release of four (4) Cuban political prisoners and their arrival in Spain. These four dissidents, reporters Jose Ramon and Alejandro Gonzalez, dissident Omar Pernet, and trade unionist Pedro Alvarez, were among the 75 Cubans arrested five years ago in what has been called La Primavera Negra, the Black Spring.
The release of these four men, and supposedly another three still to come, brings the total of dissidents released by the repressive regime from the Primavera Negra crackdown to 23. It should be noted, however, that the release of these prisoners of conscience from their lengthy jail terms was for reasons of health, not because the regime realized it had erred. Nevertheless, this recent release of innocent dissidents was boisterously announced by Spain’s foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos as proof that dialogue and conciliation with a murderous, repressive regime is the most effective way to achieve better conditions for Cubans.
Now I, for one, am very happy to hear that more prisoners have been released. But I think it would be safe to say that everyone (except castro, Inc.), including thousands of other prisoners of conscience that are languishing in Cuban gulags, would be much happier if all prisoners of conscience were set free. Of course, that is not going to happen while castro, Inc. runs the show in Cuba. But that does not stop people like Moratinos and the mainstream media from falling all over themselves to congratulate the dictatorship for releasing only seven out of the thousands of innocent Cubans who are unjustly being held.
Only in Cuba can a despotic regime do an infinitesimal gesture and receive glorious accolades for it. It is definitely great news that these brave Cuban dissidents have been released, but the truth is they should have never been arrested in the first place.
Moratinos and his cadre of castro, Inc. supporters want to give the dictatorship a slap on the back for releasing only a few of its political prisoners, but as comedian Chris Rock says, “they’re supposed to, you dumb mother-f…”
President's Day Open Thread
People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity.
President's Day, 2008
Happy President's Day!
BTW I cant wait for this to air.
February 17, 2008
The cult of Obama
There's no better path to success than getting people to buy a free commodity. Like the genius who figured out how to get people to pay for water: bottle it (Aquafina was revealed to be nothing more than reprocessed tap water) and charge more than they pay for gasoline...
And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope...
Interestingly, Obama has been able to win these electoral victories and dazzle crowds in one new jurisdiction after another, even as his mesmeric power has begun to arouse skepticism and misgivings among the mainstream media.
ABC's Jake Tapper notes the "Helter-Skelter cult-ish qualities" of "Obama worshipers," what Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times calls "the Cult of Obama." Obama's Super Tuesday victory speech was a classic of the genre. Its effect was electric, eliciting a rhythmic fervor in the audience -- to such rhetorical nonsense as "We are the ones we've been waiting for. (Cheers, applause.) We are the change that we seek."
That was too much for Time's Joe Klein. "There was something just a wee bit creepy about the mass messianism," he wrote. "The message is becoming dangerously self-referential. The Obama campaign all too often is about how wonderful the Obama campaign is."
Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He's going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can't possibly redeem. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Promises to transcend the conundrums of entitlement reform that require real and painful trade-offs and that have eluded solution for a generation. Promises to fund his other promises by a rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war -- with the hope, I suppose, that the (presumed) resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow.
Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude.
Apparently Krauthammer isn't the only one noticing the messianic overtones coming from the Obama campaign.
H/T: on the Obama Messiah site to Nelson Guirado.
Obama racking up endorsements
President Daniel Ortega, who once was swept into power by a Soviet-backed Marxist movement in Nicaragua and later came back through popular election, said that US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is a "revolutionary phenomenon" in US politics.
Let's see, fidel gave his nod to a Clinton/Obama ticket and now ortega says Obama is a "revolutionary phenomenon". I think and Obama nation would be an abomination.
Old dirt that’s new news to me: Castro, Clinton, Cabrera, Mannerud
About two weeks ago, I stumbled upon this article from The New York Times. Though the article is dated April 4, 1997, its content is fairly relevant given our upcoming elections in November. I was 10 years when all of this happened, so this is my first and only knowledge of the situation.
Apparently, back in 1995 a Cuban-American Democratic fund-raiser named Vivian Mannerud solicited a campaign donation from Jorge Cabrera, a convicted felon. This solicitation reportedly took place at the Copacabana Hotel in Havana. Cabrera wrote a check for $20,000 several days after that meeting. Within two weeks of the contribution, Cabrera met Gore at a fund-raising dinner in Miami. Ten days later, he attended a Christmas reception at the White House hosted by none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. At the events, Gore and Mrs. Clinton posed for photographs with Cabrera. In January, Cabrera received an invitation to Clinton’s inauguration.
The first question that may come to mind is, what were these two doing in Cuba?
Cabrera never said what he was doing there, but common sense tells you that he was most likely negotiating his latest drug smuggling operation with the regime. When he was arrested in January 1996 on drug smuggling charges, agents found a picture of Cabrera with Castro. Cabrera and several accomplices were charged with having smuggled 3,000 pounds of cocaine into the US. He tried to obtain a lighter sentence by contending that the Cuban Government was involved in his drug trafficking. Attorney General Janet Reno denied the case a special prosecutor to investigate Cabrera’s accusation. For more info on Cuba and drug trafficking, visit Prof. De La Cova’s site: http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/drug-trafficking.htm
Mannerud was likely also negotiating with the regime. The Times article states that she owns Airline Brokers Co., an airline charter service that operates among Havana, the Bahamas and Mexico. The article fails to provide some pertinent information and this is where Prof. De La Cova provided me with some great insight.
According to Prof. De La Cova, ABC Charters was formerly American Airways Charters, founded by Fernando Fuentes Cobas, the father of Vivian Mannerud. Fuentes Cobas was denounced by Rev. Manuel Espinosa as the double agent who betrayed Rafael del Pino in July 1959. Del Pino died in castro’s prisons. Fuentes Coba was convicted in the US of flying illegal cargo to Cuba on ABC Charters’ planes. He fled to Havana where he died and now lies in the pantheon of revolutionary heroes in Colon Cemetery.
Sketchy, huh? The next question is even sketchier: Why the hell would the DNC accept a $20,000 donation from a convicted felon? Don’t they do background checks?
The Times article states that Cabrera was arrested twice on serious drug chargers in the 1980s. Both times he pleaded guilty to nondrug felony charges. In 1983, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for conspiring to bribe a grand jury witness and served 42 months in prison. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to filing a false income-tax return and served one year in prison. The DNC didn’t deem this an improper donation until October 1996, nearly a year after the donation was made and 9 months after Cabrera was arrested.
But to me, the most troubling question is, how can left-leaners be so hypocritical when they accuse Cuban-Americans of acting like a Mafia? I’ve constantly heard such accusations and criticisms thrown our way -- for funding and being the primary influencers of US policy toward Cuba.
Ms. Mannerud told Cabrera that she needed to raise a certain amount of money to “elevate her level of influence in the Democratic party,” because she was hoping the United States would normalize relations with Cuba, Bronis [Cabera’s lawyer] said.
What happened during this specific Clinton administration? Brothers to the Rescue. Elian Gonzalez.
Speaking of Elian: “Air travel expenses froM Cuba for Juan Miguel and Elian’s grandmothers as well as the boy’s return trip Wednesday aboard a chartered executive jet were covered by the Cuban government and Vivian Mannerud, owner of ABC Charters in Miami.” - Miami Herald, June 30, 2000
My head is practically spinning right now. What else do you all know about this situation?
Cuban "leader" FIdel Castro, Cuban "Dicator" Batista.
The Miami Herald keeps lobing it over home plate for anything with a fully-functional brain. Today they refer to (and in the same article, lest we overlook their disingeniousnes or stupidity) to Cuban "leader" Fidel Castro (Jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin, Stalinist regime control over travel, education, press, employement, etc. etc. etc.) to Cuban "dictator" Batists (Cubans perfectly free to flee Cuba with all property etc, and Cuba boasting net immigration)
The Cuban regime remains in power due to a sophisticated propaganda machine still tolerated by many of its people. For those who have lived under a totalitarian regime or can imagine its method of functioning, this situation is unacceptable. Czechs remember too well the reality of life under Communism, and also the value of support from abroad. PIN began working with the democratic movement in Cuba in 1997 by supporting those peacefully fighting the regime. PIN is dedicated to assisting the internal opposition, whilst pushing the outside world to stand united against Castro’s regime.
From a website for People in Need, a Czech organization which is orchestrating "Hotel Cuba," a campaign asking Czech visitors to the island to bring along Spanish language newspapers, magazines, audios and the like and help combat the information blockade. The campaign will end in March with "Cell," a symbolic jailing in Prague.
Of all of the countries of the world, it is the former Eastern bloc countries who seem to "get it" about Cuba. The Czechs and the Poles in particular have proven themselves friends, perhaps because they know what it is to live under the jackboot. Here's are links to the article and to the Cuba portion of the website. Don't miss the SOS Cuba shirts while you're there.
Obama says he wants U.S. corporations to stop “shipping jobs overseas” and bring their cash back home. But if he really wanted U.S. companies to keep more of their profits in the states he’d be calling for a reduction in the corporate tax rate. Why isn’t he demanding an end to the double-taxation of corporate earnings? It’s simple: He wants higher taxes, too.
The Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore has done the math on Obama’s tax plan. He says it will add up to a 39.6 percent personal income tax, a 52.2 percent combined income and payroll tax, a 28 percent capital-gains tax, a 39.6 percent dividends tax, and a 55 percent estate tax.
Not only is Obama the big-spending candidate, he’s also the very-high-tax candidate. And what he wants to tax is capital.
Doesn’t Obama understand the vital role of capital formation in creating businesses and jobs? Doesn’t he understand that without capital, businesses can’t expand their operations and hire more workers?
Dan Henninger, writing in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, notes that Obama’s is a profoundly pessimistic message. “Strip away the new coat of paint from the Obama message and what you find is not only familiar,” writes Henninger. “It’s a downer.”
Obama wants you to believe that America is in trouble, and that it can only be cured with a big lurch to the left. Take from the rich and give to the non-rich. Redistribute income and wealth. It’s an age-old recipe for economic disaster. It completely ignores incentives for entrepreneurs, small family-owned businesses, and investors. You can’t have capitalism without capital. But Obama would penalize capital, be it capital from corporations or investors. This will only harm, and not advance, opportunities for middle-class workers.
Yes Larry, you can't have capitalism without capital. That's exactly the point of Obamanomics.
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
A parody starring Maria Isabel as Maria von Trapp:
Barack Guevara episode makes it into the MSM
Jeff Jacoby in today's Boston Globe:
IN 1963, John F. Kennedy was murdered in Texas by a fervent admirer of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. In 2008, a large Cuban flag emblazoned with the image of Che Guevara, Castro's brutal henchman, is prominently displayed in a Barack Obama campaign volunteer office in Houston...
President Kennedy, a stalwart anticommunist, despised Castro and his gang of totalitarian thugs. But when word broke last week that Obama's supporters in Houston work under a banner glorifying Che, the campaign's reaction was to brush it off as an issue involving volunteers, not the official campaign. After two days of controversy, the campaign issued a statement calling the flag "inappropriate" and saying its display "does not reflect Senator Obama's views." Would JFK have reacted so mildly?
In December 1962, Kennedy offered a blunt summary of the Castro/Che record. "The Cuban people were promised by the revolution political liberty, social justice, intellectual freedom, land for the campesinos, and an end to economic exploitation," he said. "They have received a police state, the elimination of the dignity of land ownership, the destruction of free speech and a free press, and the complete subjugation of individual human welfare." Eleven months later, in a speech intended for delivery on the day he was assassinated, Kennedy regretted that Castro's "Communist foothold" in Latin America had "not yet been eliminated."
The lionizing of Che, a sociopath who relished killing and acclaimed "the pedagogy of the firing squad," is not just "inappropriate." It is vile. No American in his right mind would be caught dead wearing a David Duke T-shirt or displaying a poster of Pol Pot. A celebrity who was spotted with a swastika-festooned cap or an actress who revealed that she had gotten a tattoo depicting Timothy McVeigh would inspire only repugnance. No presidential campaign would need more than 30 seconds to sever its ties to anyone, paid staffer or volunteer, whose office was adorned with a Ku Klux Klan banner. Yet Che's likeness, which ought to be as loathed as any of those, is instead a trendy bestseller and a cult favorite.
Like totalitarians of every stripe, Che didn't scruple at the death of innocents. "Quit the dallying!" he ordered Jose Vilasuso, a conscientious government lawyer who was seeking evidence against several prisoners. "Your job is a very simple one. Judicial evidence is an archaic and secondary bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! We execute from revolutionary conviction."
Time magazine once called Che the "Brains of the Cuban Revolution," and saluted his "icy calculation, vast competence, high intelligence, and . . .perceptive sense of humor." A better description comes from journalist Humberto Fontova, who observes in "Exposing The Real Che Guevara" that Che was for Castro what Heinrich Himmer was for Hitler and Lavrenty Beria for Stalin - "the snarling enforcer." Fittingly, a massive drawing of Che adorns the headquarters of Cuba's secret police in Havana.
That this sadistic thug's face also adorns the office of a US presidential candidate's supporters is appalling and disgraceful. That the candidate couldn't bring himself to say so is even worse.
What would JFK do?
The Boston Globe published a surprising editorial today written by Jeff Jacoby that actually—if you can believe this—calls out the appalling and disgraceful choice of office decor by the volunteer at Barrack Obama’s Houston campaign office. Although I have a hard time agreeing with his premise that JFK would have had a much stronger reaction than the less than enthusiastic condemnation offered by Obama, Mr. Jacoby does an admirable, if not excellent job of exposing the myths and duplicitous way in which the murderous thug is portrayed and revered. He also takes the extra step to enlighten those who brandish on their walls and themselves the image of ché, who the homicidal psychopath really was.
The lionizing of [c]he, a sociopath who relished killing and acclaimed "the pedagogy of the firing squad," is not just "inappropriate." It is vile. No American in his right mind would be caught dead wearing a David Duke T-shirt or displaying a poster of Pol Pot. A celebrity who was spotted with a swastika-festooned cap or an actress who revealed that she had gotten a tattoo depicting Timothy McVeigh would inspire only repugnance. No presidential campaign would need more than 30 seconds to sever its ties to anyone, paid staffer or volunteer, whose office was adorned with a Ku Klux Klan banner. Yet [c]he's likeness, which ought to be as loathed as any of those, is instead a trendy bestseller and a cult favorite.
You can read the whole editorial HERE.
Meet Charlie Tamayo
The (Grand Junction, Colo.) Daily Sentinel this morning has the story of world-class gymnast Charlie Tamayo, who defected from Cuba to the United States in 2003.
He's another Cuban who has done good in America, and would love to represent his new country at the Olympics, if given the chance. His case has gotten jammed somewhere in the immigration court system, and unless Congress intervenes, he probably will not be able to attend the Summer Games this year in Beijing.
Still, he is grateful to be here.
Enjoying his new freedom, Tamayo said he’s still dogged by worries about the family he left behind, his mother and two brothers.
He had hoped to win his mother a house with his World Cup gold medal, but he was punished instead for his political views, he said.
“I started to see how hard my mother had to work to try and provide a decent life for my brothers and me,” he wrote. “It seemed as though no matter how hard I worked, there was nothing I could do to help her.”
He speaks occasionally with his family by telephone, but their conversations are limited because they fear that state officials are listening in, he said.
“I want a house for my mother,” he said. “That’s all.”
It wasn’t until he was in the United States that he fully understood how it was that Fidel Castro ran his native country, he said.
“It was shocking when I finally realized the truth about the history of my country,” he said.
Read the whole story, written by a former colleague of mine, Gary Harmon, here.
The incredibly flexible global warming theory
So flexible in fact that contradictory evidence merely bounces off.
...the ice between Canada and southwest Greenland right now has reached its greatest extent in 15 years.
More ice? How can that be, if earth temperatures are rising?
'Weather is a phenomenon which changes from year to year and right now the atmosphere has changed so we have cold weather. That will certainly mean that melting ice in the North Pole will be less this year, but next year the situation can look completely different,' according to Henriksen.
But I thought...
What a bunch of bunk.
February 16, 2008
Cuban Memorial broadcasted live over the Internet
Press release from NetforCuba:
The Organizing Committee of the Cuban Memorial is pleased to announce
to the public in general and all media that the events of the Cuban
Memorial is now being broadcasted through a link on our website
www.memorialcubano.org courtesy of www.radiografiamundial.com
The link is here.
It's Been 49 Years- Get Over It!
Last night I was reading Marta's blog about February 13th being her dad's birthday and the day her family entered exile, 47 years ago. She said they have not gotten over it and I commented that they shouldn't be expected to.
Coincidentally, I happened to be watching a rerun of the George López show at the same time. (There was nothing else on.) It was the episode where George, his Cuban father-in-law Vic (real Cuban Emiliano Díez), and his friend Ernie are in a bar drinking and Vic, tipsy, gets the idea to overthrow castro. George tells him to "get over it."
Luckily the episode redeemed itself with a more positive message of a rescue mission (see end of the post). But this "get over it" expression as it relates to the Cuban-American community is not new. I asked myself, "How is it acceptable for people to tell Cubans to "get over" what they have been through? Can you imagine going up to an eighty-year old German Jew and telling him to "get over" the Holocaust? Just as the Holocaust defines a European Jew who had to flee the nazis, so does living in exile define the Cuban-American community.
To assume that Cubans will "get over" having to leave their possessions, their businesses, their homes, their family, their way of life, their language, their culture, their friends, is absurd, no matter how many years later it is. To think that just because it is almost 5 decades since castro is in power that those who fled with the shirts on their backs and a few bucks in their pockets, only to have to start over in a country where they spoke no English and had to start life here dependent on the kindness of others will "get over it" is asinine. Asking someone who was put on a freedom flight as a frightened little child without his parents so he could avoid indoctrination, only to not see his parents until years later: "When do you think you'll get over it?" is cruel.
What, exactly, is the time frame to "get over it" for someone whose father was put to death by castro's regime, whose blood was first drained from his body, and then later whose remains were dug up and thrown away in retaliation for an anti-castro article? I wonder if journalist Bonnie Anderson, whose father I just described, has "gotten over it." I wonder if the men who were in La Cabaña prison who heard their friends scream and pray to Christ and then heard the gunshots of che guevara snuffing out a life will ever forget those sounds and "get over it."
Does anyone tell John McCain to "get over it?" Do the veterans from Vietnam who have flashbacks and nightmares "get over it," ever? Do we expect them to? Then why should people who have suffered the loss of everything they ever knew, plus their hopes and dreams, be expected to wrap the experiences up in a box and stuff it in the closet with the intention of "getting over it?"
Should the family Ramón Acosta put his death past them? How about the family of Rubén Enciso? Francisco Espinoza's family? Luis Justo's family? Maria Caridad Rodriguez's family? The families of René Sánchez-Pérez? Victor Torres? Orestes Toresillas? Julián Travieso? Leandro Rubio? Rafael Váldez? All of these people are part of the 10,000 men and women whose lives were taken away by the Castro regime and whose memories are given tribute in the Cuban Memorial in Miami with a cross for each name. Ten thousand people's families should just "get over it," and some those of some 90,000 more people who died at the hands of the regime. And a million more who escaped the regime should, too, is that it?
Once I started writing this I recalled some of the sites I have been to where I got angry reading about people stating that Cubans have had years and years to "get over it." Here's a sampling in case you think this attitude does not exist among Americans and others.
To end on an more upbeat note, at the end of the George López Show episode, George, Ernie and Vic ended up setting sail from Miami in Vic's boat (The Cuba Libre) and rescued Vic's brother in the water. The last scene shows Vic and his brother saying what they would do to Castro if they ever saw him again. López shows up in a Castro costume and scares the hell out of them and then gets chased down. Watch the rest.
P.S. On an unrelated note- Henry gave me the nickname of "águila" because I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. It didn't occur to me to explain it earlier- sorry.
Ron Paul has centered much of his campaign around economic issues. He talks about "printing money" and inflationary taxation etc. A lot of what he says has an kernel of truth to it but Ron Paul is a physician not an economist. His rhetoric sounds intriguing, like those guys that say that there's no actual law that says you have to pay income taxes, that it's a voluntary system. In the end they just don't know what they are talking about.
If you've ever wanted to know more about the economy, but didn't know where to learn about it then I suggest the following 5 part (about 25 minutes total) "Uncommon Knowledge" video series from National Review. It's a good primer about some of the economic issues in this presidential election. Topics covered include, what is a recession, monetary policy, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, inflation, trade deficits, national debt, taxes and government spending. The host is Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution and his guests are Ken Judd a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution John Taylor a professor of economics at Stanford University also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
It's well worth your time.
On this date in history
Forty-nine years ago today, the bearded killer proclaimed himself the Premier of Cuba. He was not elected by the people but by the guns and tanks he controlled.
An abominable darkness began to shroud the once brilliant island of Cuba on January 1st, 1959, and by this day forty-nine years ago, that darkness smothered almost every remaining light of hope that flickered in the land of Marti. It has never been able to extinguish, however, the light that still shines bright within the heart and soul of so many Cubans.
That light, which has endured half a century of executions, beatings, imprisonment, starvation, enslavement, and many other tribulations, will be that light that one day will lead the nation of Cuba out of darkness.
For those of in the Northeast, there’s an exhibition of “contemporary Cuban art” at the Hunterdon Museum in Clinton, NJ until the end of March. According to State of the Arts, “Cuba! Artists Experience Their Country”…
celebrates the moral bravery and creative strength of Cuban artists who continue to find ways to express their deepest concerns under difficult circumstances. Work by more than two dozen artists working under the Castro regime is on display. With a focus on the past 30 years, Cuban and Cuban-expatriate artists confront the social, cultural and political forces which reflect their experiences of their homeland.
The show was inspired by the curator Kristen Accola’s trip to Cuba in 2006. So who knows. It’s my experience that the art speaks for itself. Details here.
Also heard about a book by Denver Deputy Mayor Bill Vidal, titled Boxing for Cuba. You can read about him here. Vidal was one of the Pedro Pan children, and the book seems to continue where most of our memoirs end- the arrival in the United States. I’d love to read our experience growing up in the country made real. I am a bit hesitant, because one review mentioned the word “forgiveness,” and I’m wondering if that’s code for something else. If anyone’s read it, I’d love info.
Picture of the Day: Updated
Spotted on a Los Angeles street corner. Look closely at Ms Clinton's attire.
Update: Thanks to the kind offices of Alberto, here's a link to a blog that has other and clearer examples of the poster in question.
February 15, 2008
We're not in a recession
Go get the MSM a Kleenex. We hear all about the economy from the media that's been trying to talk it down for several months. What do I mean by "talk it down"? Well it's simple. We all play a small part in the economy. Together we are the economy. Our economic activity helps the economy grow. If you have a good job with good income, you buy things. Even if those things are imported you are providing jobs for the people that import the goods, the people that offload the goods at the dock, the truckers that bring the goods to the stores and the clerks that sell you the goods. If the mainstream media convinces you and a few million of your best friends that the forecast is bad then you stop buying stuff. If enough people stop buying stuff the clerk loses his job or perhaps the trucker and then he can't buy stuff and then it's a self fulfilling prophecy. Soon you have a recession.
For those who may not be familiar with what a recession really is, it's when the overall economy (as measured in gross domestic product or GDP) declines for 2 straight quarters. What that means is that you don't know whether you are in a recession until you've been in it for 6 months. And by that time you might actually be out of it. You'd only know after an additional 3 months. So there has been a lot of speculation about whether we are in a recession or headed for one mostly fueled by the sub-prime mortgage mess and the general chaos in credit markets. It certainly has had a dampening effect on Wall Street but the stock market is not the economy. The question was how to what degree the crisis in the lending markets would be contained or spread to other sectors of the economy.
Well there's good news as reported by Larry Kudlow at NRO's Corner. He's the Economics Editor at National Review. Here's what he says:
While modest gains in retail sales and industrial production suggest temporarily slower growth for the U.S. economy, these indicators are not signaling recession. In particular, Friday’s 0.1 percent production increase — which comes to 2.4 percent at an annual rate over the past 3 months and 2.3 percent over the past 12 months — removes the recession scenario. It’s slow growth, but it’s growth nonetheless.
To get a true recession reading, the production index would have to fall for 4 to 6 months in a row. That’s not happening. Despite some monthly declines over the past half year, the production reading for January was 114.2 — exactly where it was in July and September of last year. Looking inside the January index, there was a 0.3 percent increase for consumer-goods production and a 0.4 percent rise for business equipment. Both are solid numbers.
Meanwhile, the just-released January retail sales report defied the recessionistas with a better-than-expected 0.3 percent gain. Retail sales are climbing at a 2.7 percent annual rate over the past 3 months and a 3.9 percent rate over the past year.
Trade exports also continue strong, with the new December number showing a huge $144 billion gain. Out on the campaign trail, Hill-Bama mutters protectionism at every stop. But export trade has grown by nearly 50 percent — or 9 percent yearly after inflation — for the past four years. The real export sector now accounts for nearly one-third of U.S. gross domestic product, yet more proof that the global economic boom is alive and well.
On the political front, Kudlow offers some advice that John McCain would be wise to take:
Hill-Bama is campaigning on a populist platform of taxing businesses and rich people. This fiscal nymphomania will create new government bureaucracies on infrastructure and energy totaling a couple hundred billion dollars. It’s beyond the pale.
For the fiscally tightfisted Sen. John McCain, and his crusade against unnecessary spending and earmarks, there is a great opportunity here. McCain can build on his pro-growth corporate-tax-cut proposal with a broad-based tax-reform plan. This approach would lower tax rates across-the-board and broaden the base by removing unnecessary exceptions and loopholes. In effect, while Hill-Bama copies Western Europe’s failed economic playbook, McCain can replicate the tax-reform success over in Eastern Europe.
Whether it’s national defense, homeland security, or economic growth, the key to a McCain victory over Hill-Bama in November is to compare and contrast two visions of America’s future. The contrast couldn’t be greater. Hill-Bama trashes corporations. But Sen. McCain understands that by lowering tax rates on corporations, vital capital will be unlocked, leading to business expansion and job creation.
Speaking in Warren, Ohio, this week, Sen. Clinton singled out oil, credit-card, insurance, pharmaceutical, investment, and student-loan firms in a massive attack on business. She’s attacking corporations that employ 23 million people and, by the way, pay higher than average wages. In other words, Clinton is attacking 23 million jobs. This is the forgotten middle-class. And they know that if politicians curb or confiscate the profits of their companies, it is they, the workers, who will be harmed.
This is what Hill-Bama fails to understand. This is why Hill-Bama policy would be so damaging to the economy. Corporations are profitable, sure. But wage earners get 70 percent of the profits; investors share the remaining 30 percent.
And these companies pay a colossal fortune in taxes. Exxon Mobil is a perfect example. Over the last three years, Exxon Mobil has paid an average of $27 billion annually in taxes. $27 billion! As my friend, economist Mark Perry, points out, while corporate profits receive a lot of media attention, the corporate taxes paid on these corporate profits are largely overlooked. Dr. Perry also points out that Exxon Mobil pays as much in taxes annually as the entire bottom 50 percent of individual taxpayers — a full 65,000,000 people.
The choice is clear: Jimmy Carter-style big-government spending, taxing, and regulating all over again. Or supply-side free-market capitalism that can endure the inevitable negative shocks, shorten the cyclical downturns, and fuel the engines of economic growth.
It's unbelievable to me that anyone would fall for that liberal mumbo jumbo about corporations being bad. But there's a lot of dumb people out there thanks to our government public education monopoly (and they want to turn healthcare over to the same types of bureaucrats that run our schools). I just hope John McCain can put away his "soak the rich, profit is evil" rhetoric and realize that he is a Republican for at least the time being.
My advice to you fine folks. Continue to live your economic lives in a sound manner and when your tax rebate check comes as part of the stimulus plan in May or June, spend it on something nice.
Speaking of Che
Hey folks, tonight I'll be appearing on a Blog Talk Radio broadcast/podcast called "A field guide to American Politics". The show is a production of All American Blogger. I'll be discussing Che Guevara. You'll remember that I got into blogging through my web site trenblindado.com which is dedicated to exposing the real Che. Also scheduled to join me is Humberto Fontova, author of Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him.
The show starts at 10:00 PM EST. Click here to listen live or listen to the podcast once the the show is done.
Cuba to release 7 political prisoners
AFP, Reuters and Encuentro En la Red are reporting that four members of the the Group of 75 are set to be released and allowed to travel, with their families, to Spain to receive medical treatment — and asylum.
The four prisoners are:
Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos, 60, an independent librarian and union activist, serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Alejandro González Raga, an independent journalist serving a 14-year prison sentence. He is about 50 years old.
Omar Pernet Hernández, 62, a human rights activist and independent librarian, serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Jose Gabriel Ramon Castillo, 50, an independent journalist, serving a 20-year sentence.
AFP reports on how the deal was struck:
The four members of the group of 75 will be granted asylum in Spain along with their family members, said Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.
"It is a unilateral decision by the Cuban authorities that we appreciate," he told a news conference in the southern city of Cordoba.
"We will continue to encourage the Cuban authorities to make progress in this area which is very close to us, and I think to the Cubans," he said.
The announcement comes after Spain and Cuba held talks on human rights in Madrid this week.
In all, reports are that seven political prisoners will be released. However, the names of the three other prisoners were not disclosed.
Moratinos and the Spanish government, must be watched closely, but this is welcome news, especially for the affected prisoners and their families.
But more than meriting Cuba any acclaim, it should remind the world of the hundreds of journalists, human rights activists, librarians and other opponents of the regime, who remain locked in the gulag. The pressure, whether from Spain — which until now had shown an unwillingness to squeeze Havana on the question of political prisoners — and elsewhere in the world, must continue.
(Cross-posted at Uncommon Sense.)
Claudia4Libertad Now Available at Babalu
I am flattered to have been asked to join the ranks of Babalú. It is especially flattering to me when you consider that I contain no Cuban blood and all the Italian/Sicilian blood I do have is frozen up here in Pennsylvania and not simmering in Miami! Some of you may know me from my blog, Claudia4Libertad, which I started almost a year ago. For those of you who don't, I hope to enlighten and entertain you once in a while here at Babalú.
It was four years ago when I googled Desi Arnaz's cd, "Babalú Music," and came upon this blog, at about the same time I had begun to really become interested in Cuba. I have been turning to Babalú ever since as my main source of Cuba-related news, chuckles and anecdotes about being Cuban.
It may be that being raised in a home with a Sicilian mother was similiar to the upbringing of kids of Cuban mothers, or the fact that I talk with my hands at the speed of light, or that my Dad is the son of immigrants that helps me to understand and appreciate the Cuban culture- I don't know. But I do. Even though I speak Spanish (and teach it), I don't speak cubano, so I am always happy to learn a new cubanismo or expression from people here. I'm proud to say I can now distinguish a socotroco from a socio, I know that I don't want to be a ñangara and I know it's good cuando me la comí and bad to be a comemierda. All thanks to everyone at Babalú.
Thank you, Val, for the opportunity and thank you to all the writers who have been keeping me informed and entertained these past four years. I hope to live up to the examples you all have set.
CUBAN MEMORIAL SCHEDULED ACTIVITIES
The sixth Cuban Memorial will be held February 15-17 at Tamiami Park, Miami. During three days, this symbolic cemetery will give testament to the world of the thousands of victims of the Castro dictatorship. Each documented victim will have a cross with his/her name together with date and location of death. Over 10,000 crosses will be planted together with a larger cross symbolizing the many more victims who remain unaccounted for.
Friday, February 15, 2008, 12:00 PM (noon): Press Conference and Inauguration
Relatives of victims will share brief personal stories at the press conference. Translation to English will be available as needed. A brief inaugural ceremony will follow.
Saturday, February 16, 2008, 7.00 PM: Ecumenical Service
This is the most significant community event of the Memorial. An ecumenical service will precede the blessing of the field of crosses and the area where a permanent monument is to be built. Participants will light candles in memory of the victims.
Sunday, February 17, 2008 5.00PM: Closing Ceremony
Contact: Memorial Cubano: Tel. 786. 621.7505 or Emilio Solernou, Tel. 786.346.5141,
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.CubanMemorial.org
Reuters: News Busted
Back in November Reuters posted a news story with the following headline:
U.S. food exports to Cuba dwindle under Bush
At the time, I was left scratching my head since such exports has actually boomed under Bush as the Cubans have tried to buy influence to drop the embargo in exchange for the contracts.
Well, here we are 3 months later and I'm confronted with this Reuters headline today:
US food sales to Cuba hit new peak in 2007
Back in November Reuters said:
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba will close deals for Canadian wheat and Vietnamese rice at the annual trade fair in Havana that opened on Monday, while U.S. food sales dwindle.
American vendors and Cuban officials blamed the tightening of U.S. financial sanctions against Communist Cuba, a policy U.S. President George W. Bush reaffirmed two weeks ago.
Today Reuters says:
HAVANA (Reuters) - American producers sold $437.5 million in food to Cuba in 2007, a new peak in value despite Cuban complaints that the Bush administration is hindering trade.
How can anyone take any news report from Reuters seriously anymore. After all their beat writer on Cuba, Marc Frank, penned more than 1,000 articles for the official newspaper of Communist Party USA.
Maybe it was the brown nose?
Here's a bit of good news for your Friday:
Conservative bloggers are upset, blaming the defeat on Republican leaders and stating that "House Republicans Aren't Serious About Earmark Reform."
Now, there may be some truth to the above, but perhaps, just maybe, the Republican leadership just doesnt want someone with a such a close, personal knowledge of fidel castro's rectum on such an important committee?
Maria Isabel, Che, Obama -- The recap
The spinners in the Obama campaign had to work overtime to keep the story of Maria Isabel, the Obama supporter with a love of Che Guevara, on the internet and out of the greater MSM. Some of the spin of course is trying to distance the campaign from Ms. Isabel who is, after all, "only a volunteer." You see volunteers are good members of a campaign when they do good things. But when they do embarrassing things they are disposable. The other big spin is that this was somehow concocted. Of course, because Fox News Channel was behind it. Here's a recap to set the record straight on how this story developed and what the truth is.
1. The TV station that ran the original stories about Maria Isabel and the Obama volunteer campaign office she was opening was NOT Fox News Channel. It was a Fox affiliate like our Channel 7, here in Miami. In other words it's a local TV station reporting on local stories. This is not a Fox News Channel conspiracy. In fact, I don't think Fox News Channel has even touched this story.
2. That TV station did two stories about Maria Isabel and another local TV station did one also. The stories were not about Che Guevara or even Obama. They were about the excitement in the Houston area and how volunteers were mobilizing as the TWO campaigns were coming to town. Maria Isabel appeared in all of these segments. In two of these, she is seen in a "new" volunteer office and on the wall next to a tiny Obama poster she has this HUGE cuban flag with Che's face superimposed on it. The news reports made no mention of the flag. The merely showed the office as it was when they filmed the pieces. It was not until conservative bloggers began making hay about it that the TV station went back to ask her about the flag.
3. Maria Isabel is a precinct captain for Obama. She is also co-chair of a volunteer group called Houston Obama Leadership Team (HOLT). She has pictures of herself with both Obama and his wife on her Flickr page. She is obviously very active in both the campaign and the Democratic party. Just because she's not a paid employ does not exonerate her or the campaign. Almost everyone except the very top people on a campaign are volunteers.
4. Maria Isabel is Cuban. She says so in the follow-up piece the TV news did on her after the controversy sprung up. She does not have the excuse of not knowing who the real Che was. Additionally, bloggers from Houston who know of her say she flies the Guevara/Cuban flag from the balcony of her apartment.
5. Maria Isabel is no stranger to the TV News in Houston. A couple of years ago she bought a house in a historic district and wanted to tear it down. The neighbors fought her on it and ironically she used property rights as her defense for being able to do what she wants on it. I'm sure her idol Che would disagree with her on that.
6. The Obama web site allows supporters to create pages similar to myspace. A google search of his site turned up at least 14 supporter pages containing quotes from Guevara and pictures of Che.
7. The Obama campaign is rightly trying to distance itself from this woman. But Obama has not offered a repudiation of Che, who he was and what he stood for. The reason is clear. While Obama may not be an admirer of Che (who would know that?) there are a significant number of Che admirers supporting him whose sensibilities he does not want to offend.
Obama surrogates may want to spin this story and make it go away but now you have the facts.
The Barack Phenomenon
As it becomes clear that the Democratic nomination is now Obama's to lose (or have stolen from him by the Clinton machine), it's important that we all get to know Barack Obama a little better. A few suggestions:
James Pethokoukis who blogs for U.S. News and World Report has 3 interesting posts on Obama. I suggest you read them all.
Nelson Guirado explains exactly who Barack Obama reminds him of. I agree whole heartedly. You'll be entertained. I guarantee it.
The latest DUmmie FUnnies...
Ode to Obama
I felt the literary need to post the following poem sent to me by reader Liborio Pataplancha:
Oh what a drama
In Houston, not in Alabama,
Some Commie mama
Set up some panorama --
Oh God Damma --
Pimpin' Che like the Dalai Lama
Or some skank from Delta-Gamma
And now, oh 'Bama,
Yo' hidden red pajama,
Got filmed in Cinerama --
Oh God Damma -
And neither Oprah nor Osama
Nor any spittin' llama
Can save yo' ass, oh 'Bama
Oh Bam! Oh Bam-Che-Bama,
by Liborio Pataplancha
I've written a lot about my father here on this blog over the years. Stories and anecdotes about his life, his work, his sacrifices and the little things that make him unique. Ive written about how he brought the family over from Cuba in the prime of his life with nothing but the clothes on his back and sheer determination to keep us safe, to keep us free and to provide us with a fruitful future. Ive written also on how hard he has had to work his entire life, sometimes two or three jobs at a time and how I never really got to play catch with the old man. Or how we rarely went fishing or camping or to baseball games like most kids do with their fathers.
But regardless of the fact that as a kid I didnt get to spend all that much quality time with the old man, I always knew that he loved me. I always knew that he was proud of me and wanted me to succeed. I always knew that all that hard work that he put in 12 hours a day, every day, was for me. So I would always have food on my plate. So I always had new clothes. So I wouldnt need to go barefoot. So I could have that Huffy bike for Christmas. One way or another the old man was always there for me.
When the older kids in the neighborhood picked on me an beat me up once and Id gone home crying, my old man didnt storm over to their houses and demand an apology from the kids and their parents. No. My old man took me aside, told me to stop crying and explained to me that in life, you just cant let people push you around. And when I told him almost through tears that they were older and bigger, he didnt urge me to back away and run home. No.
"If they're older and bigger than you," he said. "Find yourself a big stick and whack the shit outta them."
And when I got in trouble with mom that one time because I had done exactly that - except that the stick had been a two-by-four with nails sticking out the end and I had basiclly stabbed the crap out of Frank the neighborhood bully - the old man didnt spank me, he didnt punish me. He supported me. He didnt condone the use of that nail ridden two-by, but hey, the kid was bigger and nastier and sometimes people get whats coming to them. Frank the neighborhood bully never pushed me around again. Come to think of it, no one ever pushed me around again. I think the old man was a bit proud of teh fact that Id listened to his advice and stood up for myself.
At the tail end of ninth grade, we were all herded into the auditorium at Citrus Grove Junior High for the annual awards ceremony. That's when they gave out those awards for attendance and scholastic achievement and such. I remember being incredibly bored, messing around with my pals as they called different students up for their drama awards, or their math awards and such. As I sat there with my buddy Gerry, joking around, making fun of this or that, I heard my name called. It was a bit of a shock, actually. I wasnt the best student nor did I have perfect attendance nor was I particularly good at math or sports or science or anything. I was just your average,everyday, run of the mill student.
But my name was called and my teacher urged me to get up and go up to the stage so I did. As I made my way to the front of the auditorium, there on stage were two older gentlemen in uniform waiting for me. They held a placque in their hands. I had been awarded the American Legion Award. And as I accepted the award from the two veterans, right there, in the audience, front row center, dressed in a suit and tie, was my old man giving me a standing ovation.
Today is the old man's 77th birthday. And after work we'll head over to their home and have dinner and cut him a cake and sing him Happy Birthday and give him a birthday gift or two. And he'll smilingly tear open the gift wrap, open the fancy boxes and pull out the shirts or belts or colognes he's received and then thank us with a hug or a kiss. Yet, the best gift he receives today will be all around him. Having his wife and children and grandchildren and great grandchildren there with him and knowing that that decision he made back oh so many years ago and the sacrifices and sweat and worry and hard work have truly paid off. Every single one of us there today with him are the product of his life.
It is he, my old man, who truly deserves the standing ovation.
Happy Birthday, Dad! And thank you.
You can get to know him a little better by reading the following:
I do not know if this was intentional, or perhaps the writer of this AFP article was thinking about something else his subject has been rumored to love when he chose this phrase to describe raul’s fondness of books.
I can hear Miquel Brown singing her 80’s dance hit right now: “So many MEN, so little time… how can I choose?”
Report: Prisoner release may be imminent
Three Cuban political prisoners arrested during the "black spring" of 2003, may soon be released, according to a Spanish Web site.">according to a Spanish Web site.
Encuentro En la Red speculated that the release — if it happens — might be the result of human rights talks earlier this week between Cuban and Spanish officials.
Members of the Damas De Blanco and other Cuban dissidents told EER that the prisoners who may soon have their freedom are:
Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos, 60, an independent librarian and union activist, serving a 25-year prison sentence.
Alejandro González Raga, an independent journalist serving a 14-year prison sentence. He is about 50 years old.
Omar Pernet Hernández, 62, a human rights activist and independent librarian, serving a 25-year prison sentence.
The sources did not rule out the possibility of more prisoners being released, according to EER.
It is right to worry about what the Socialist government in Madrid might have promised Havana. But if the release comes off, there would be no denying that the Spanish policy of engaging the Cuban dictatorship would have paid off in a concrete, and welcome fashion.
If the report is true, hopefully Spain, and the rest of the world would keep the pressure to empty all of Cuba's jails of of its prisoners of conscience.
(H/T to Penultimos Dias.)
(Cross-posted at Uncommon Sense.)
Thank you, Zach. For your sacrfices and your dedication to the game, your dedication to the Dolphins, your team mates, your fans and our community. You will always be one of the greatest Miami Dolphins.
Obama's International Socialist Connections
That desecrated Cuban flag hanging in Houston belongs to a volunteer, and disingenuous though it may be, Obama can argue that he is not responsible for the behavior of thousands of volunteers.
However, his own record is a different story. From Accuracy in Media:
The socialist connections of Obama and the Democratic Party have certainly not been featured in the Washington Post columns of Harold Meyerson, who happens not only to be a member but a vice-chair of the DSA.
Campaign workers for Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama are under fire for displaying a flag featuring communist hero Che Guevara. But Obama has his own controversial socialist connections. He is, in fact, an associate of a Chicago-based Marxist group with access to millions of labor union dollars and connections to expert political consultants, including a convicted swindler.
Obama's socialist backing goes back at least to 1996, when he received the endorsement of the Chicago branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) for an Illinois state senate seat. Later, the Chicago DSA newsletter reported that Obama, as a state senator, showed up to eulogize Saul Mendelson, one of the "champions" of "Chicago's democratic left" and a long-time socialist activist. Obama's stint as a "community organizer" in Chicago has gotten some attention, but his relationship with the DSA socialists, who groomed and backed him, has been generally ignored.
Blogger Steve Bartin, who has been following Obama's career and involvement with the Chicago socialists, has uncovered a fascinating video showing Obama campaigning for openly socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Interestingly, Sanders, who won his seat in 2006, called Obama "one of the great leaders of the United States Senate," even though Obama had only been in the body for about two years. In 2007, the National Journal said that Obama had established himself as "the most liberal Senator." More liberal than Sanders? That is quite a feat. Does this make Obama a socialist, too?
DSA describes itself as the largest socialist organization in the United States and the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International. The Socialist International (SI) has what is called "consultative status" with the United Nations. In other words, it works hand-in-glove with the world body.
The international connection is important and significant because an Obama bill, "The Global Poverty Act," has just been rushed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with the assistance of Democratic Senator Joe Biden, the chairman, and Republican Senator Richard Lugar. The legislation (S.2433) commits the U.S. to spending hundreds of billions of dollars more in foreign aid on the rest of the world, in order to comply with the "Millennium Goals" established by the United Nations. Conservative members of the committee were largely caught off-guard by the move to pass the Obama bill but are putting a "hold" on it, in order to try to prevent the legislation, which also quickly passed the House, from being quickly brought up for a full Senate vote. But observers think that Senate Democrats may try to pass it quickly anyway, in order to give Obama a precious legislative "victory" that he could run on.
Another group associated with the SI is the Party of European Socialists (PES), which heard from Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, back in 2006. Dean's speech is posted on the official Democratic Party website, although the European socialist parties are referred to as "progressive." Democrats, Dean said, want to be "good citizens of the world community." He spoke at a session on "Global Challenges for Progressive Politics."
Following up, in April 2007, PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen reported that European socialists held a meeting "in the Democrats HQ in Washington," met with officials of the party and Democratic members of Congress, and agreed that "PES activist groups" in various U.S. cities would start working together. The photos of the trip show Rasmussen meeting with such figures as Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Bernie Sanders, officials of the Brookings Institution, Howard Dean, and AFL-CIO President John W. Sweeney, a member of the DSA. The Brookings Institution is headed by former Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbott, a proponent of world government who was recently identified in the book Comrade J as having been a pawn of the Russian intelligence service.
The socialist connections of Obama and the Democratic Party have certainly not been featured in the Washington Post columns of Harold Meyerson, who happens not only to be a member but a vice-chair of the DSA. Meyerson, the subject of our 2005 column, "A Socialist at the Washington Post," has praised convicted inside-trader George Soros for manipulating campaign finance laws to benefit the far-left elements of the Democratic Party. Obama's success in the Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses is further evidence of Soros's success. Indeed, Soros has financially contributed to the Obama campaign.
It is not surprising that the Chicago Democrat, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, has endorsed Obama. Schakowsky, who endorsed Howard Dean for president in 2004, was honored in 2000 at a dinner sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the DSA. Her husband, Robert Creamer, emerged from federal prison in November 2006 after serving five months for financial crimes. He pleaded guilty to ripping off financial institutions while running a non-profit group. Before he was convicted but under indictment, Creamer was hired by the Soros-funded Open Society Policy Center to sabotage John Bolton's nomination as Ambassador to the U.N.
After his release from prison, Creamer released a book, Listen to Your Mother: Stand up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, described by one blogger as the book that was "penned in the pen." A blurb for the book declares, "Some people think that in order to win, Democrats need to move to the political center by adopting conservative values and splitting the difference between progressive and conservative positions. History shows they are wrong. To win the next election and to win in the long term, we need to redefine the political center."
In addition to writing the book, Creamer is back in business, running his firm, Strategic Consulting Group, and advertising himself as "a consultant to the campaigns to end the war in Iraq, pass universal health care, change America's budget priorities and enact comprehensive immigration reform." His clients have included the AFL-CIO and MoveOn.org. In fact, his client list is a virtual who's who of the Democratic Party, organized labor, and Democratic Party constituency groups.
Creamer's list of testimonials comes from such figures as Democratic Senators Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Harold Meyerson, MoveOn.org founder Wes Boyd, and David Axelrod, a "Democratic political consultant."
Axelrod, of course, is much more than just a "Democratic political consultant." He helped State Senator Barack Obama win his U.S. Senate seat in 2004 and currently serves as strategist and media advisor to Obama's presidential campaign.
So tell us chebama, in light of the controversy over that Cuban flag defaced with an image of che guevara, how would you characterize your own socialist affiliations? When you speak of change for America, exactly what do you envision, a Marxist state?
February 14, 2008
Venezuelan blogger threatened
Through a comment posted on Martha Colmenares' blog, we learn that Alexis Marrero's Blog has been hijacked. He is unable to access it, and many of his posts have been deleted. It looks like they have taken over his blog, and he has received death threats. He is hoping his Host Service will be able to help him.
I think it's safe to assume that chavista thugs are responsible for this.
Martha's post with Alexis' comments is here. For those understand Spanish, please go and show your support.
Terrible, horrible news
Cane has been cancelled. Claudia has the straight poop on this poop.
Updated Obama Statement on Guevaragate
The Obama campaign has posted this updated, slightly more wordy statement on the Guevaragate incident involving Maria Isabel.
"This is a volunteer office that is not in any way controlled by the Obama campaign. We were disappointed to see this picture because it is both offensive to many Cuban-Americans -- and Americans of all backgrounds -- and because it does not reflect Senator Obama’s views. Barack Obama has been very clear in putting forward a Cuba policy that is based on one principle: freedom for the Cuban people." -- Obama Campaign
I'm sure you all have opinions on this. Fire away, in the comments.
UPDATE: Commenter Melek rightly points out that in this THIRD statement released by the campaign there is still no mention of Guevara. Just the "inappropriate flag".
Obama Supporters for Che
14 user generated web pages at BarackObama.com featuring quotes or pictures from Che Guevara.
2. "...We must then begin to erase our old concepts and begin to draw closer and closer to the people and be increasingly aware. We must approach them not as before. We should not go to the people and say, 'Here we are. We come to give you the charity of our presence, to teach you our science, to show you your errors, your lack of culture, your ignorance of elementary things.' We should go instead with an inquiring mind and humble spirit to learn at the great source of wisdom that is the people." ---Che Guevara, On Revolutionary Medicine
4. At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. - Che Guevara
8. I will cry because right now I fully believe in the human spirit and when I think of people such as MLK, and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, my faith is uplifted and enriched, and it is people like this who allow me to keep faith in the human race, it is people like Barack Obama.
10. "...the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love." -Che Guevara "Break thru the bars of propaganda. Inhale truth and exhale political unrest until justice arrives at your foot steps!!!" me
12. JFK and Bobby Kennedy weren't dull despite the colour of their skin. Gandhi, MLK, Mandela and Che Guevara are all from different parts of the world, nonetheless they all share one common factor, and it sure as h*ell is not "dull".
Of course they don't mention how Guevara used to sign his name "Stalin II" to his personal correspondence at one time. Or they don't include some other inspirational Guevara quotes like these:
"The Negro is indolent and spends his money on frivolity and drink, whereas the european is intelligent and forward looking."
"Mexicans are a rabble of illiterate indians. South American peasants are nothing but animalitos (little animals)"
UN Watch criticizes UN's praise of Cuba
UN Watch is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter. The UN's human rights chief should reconsider her praise of Cuba's record and of the recent mission there by a UN official compromised by ties to the Castro regime, said UN Watch today.
What better gift on Valentine's Day than to have an outside organization recognize the UN's hypocritical stance on Cuba? Excellent, almost as good as Marta's chocolate.
Here are the first few paragraphs of the excellent letter written by Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch:
The Honourable Louise Arbour
High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Office Geneva
1211 Geneva 10
14 February 2008
Dear Madame High Commissioner,
UN Watch is deeply concerned by news reports quoting you on Friday as having praised Cuba for showing “unprecedented positive engagement with the UN human rights system,” and as praising Cuba’s hosting of UN official Jean Ziegler as an example of such engagement. With respect, we believe the facts show the very opposite.
1. Cuba should be criticized for its human rights record, not praised
We are concerned that your unqualified praise of Cuba regarding human rights may be misinterpreted and misused. Whatever international commitments it may sign on to on paper, Cuba remains a police state that has been widely criticized as a serial human rights violator. The government represses all forms of dissent through a state apparatus of prosecutions, surveillance, arrests and restrictions on movement. Cubans are systematically denied basic rights to free expression, association, assembly, privacy, and due process of law. Cuba’s prisons currently hold 234 prisoners of conscience, including many journalists who have languished behind bars since their arrest during the “Black Spring” crackdown of March 2003. We urge you to make clear your position on Cuba’s human rights record.
2. Cuba leads efforts to subvert UN human right mechanisms
Second, regarding Cuba’s actions within the UN human rights system, we urge you to recognize that among all the repressive regimes on the Human Rights Council, none has been more vociferous than Cuba in leading efforts to eliminate or subvert the few remaining mechanisms of human rights scrutiny and protection. Most notoriously, in June 2007, Cuba successfully put an end to the mandate investigating that country’s abuses. Prior to doing so, it had regularly insulted the Special Rapporteur, Ms. Christine Chanet.1 Indeed, Cuba routinely shows contempt for any UN human rights expert or non-governmental organization that dares to speak out for Cuba’s victims of violations.
Read the whole thing here.
Imagine a Republican campaign volunteer with a David Duke poster!! AHHHH!!!!
Imagine, say, Huckabee campaign volunteers in, say, Possum Gulch Ark., discovered with their offices displaying David Duke (who despite his looney ravings has killed no one, and who, as far as I know, has never advocated the nuclear extermination of the U.S. population) posters.
Do you think there might be a media hullabaloo, with the attendant extortion rackets by "civil rights leaders"?
Do you think that a campaign spokersperson's lame exculpation of these Duke posters as "inappropriate" would suffice-- would call of the dogs?
We all know better. The orgy of self-flagellation, groveling, hoop-jumping, and whimpering (not that they would have gotten it) demanded from any Republican candidate would have made Dom Imus' recent antics look like Ollie North in front of the Iran-Contra hearings.
Read the whole thing, right here.
Freedom and Chocolate from Marta's Cuban American Kitchen
I’m celebrating a notable anniversary today.
February 14th was my family’s very first full day in the United States so many years ago. We had arrived the day before, on my dad's 50th birthday and it seemed to take forever to get through customs and get acclimated and move into our new (very cramped) apartment in South West Miami. That was okay, though. It was only supposed to be temporary. ;-)
That first day of freedom, my sisters and I were given heart shaped boxes full of chocolate and so a tradition was born. Every year on Valentine’s Day we would receive some kind of chocolate and every year we would remember that it was the anniversary of our first real day on U.S. soil.
Welcome to America! Happy Valentine’s Day!
We counted each year of exile as we celebrated the holiday of the heart – always with chocolate:
February 14, 1962 – One whole year. I miss my home in Havana, I miss my cousins, my abuelita, my school. My dad brings home a one pound box of American chocolates called See’s.
February 14, 1966 – It has been five years already. That pesky revolution thing is NOT blowing over. My dad gets us all little Whitman Samplers (which was awesome because the lid had a guide to the kind of chocolate contained in the box, but that's not important right now). =D
February 14,1971 – Ten years have gone by. I’m a teenager. We receive news from Cuba that my grandmother has died. “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle’s makes the very best. Cho – co – late.”
February 14,1976 – The U.S. Bicentennial. Is it possible that we’ve been here for fifteen years? I’m a brand new and very proud American citizen. I love America. I love American history. I love my bag of Hershey’s Kisses wrapped with a red, white and blue ribbon.
February 14, 1986 - It has been twenty-five years since we left Cuba. I have children of my own. Little Cuban-Americans who love M & M's (plain and peanut). ;-)
February 14,1991 – Thirty years is a lifetime. We learned a new and hopeful word – “perestroika.” The chocolates come in beautiful golden boxes from Godiva.
February 14, 2001 – My mom calls me to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day and to remind me that it has been forty years. The tradition, like the chocolate, is bittersweet. My father has passed away. I hope to keep my promise to him to scatter his ashes one day in a free Cuba. I continue the chocolate tradition with my own children. I bake and decorate a beautiful chocolate layer cake.
February 14, 2008 – Today. My mom calls me to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day and to remind me that it has been forty-seven years since we left our homeland. I’m wearing my CAMBIO bracelet as I’m making an impossibly rich chocolate mousse for my family. Not just for my big, fat, Cuban family, but for my big, fat, Cuban cyberspace family here at Babalú.
Call me crazy, but I will forever equate the taste of chocolate with the taste of freedom.
I am unapologetically a lover of both. ;-)
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Chocolatón (Chocolate Mousse)
6 eggs (separate whites and yolks)
1 12 oz. Pkg. Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate chips (reserve a few for topping)
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1) Melt the butter and chocolate chips together. This can be done on top of the stove in a double boiler, or in a microwave oven for about 1 1/2 minutes.
2) Stir the melted chocolate and melted butter together until smooth.
3) Whip the egg whites into a fluffy meringue.
4) When the meringue starts to peak, add the sugar, bit by bit.
5) Fold in the egg yolks.
6) Add the (warm) chocolate mixture and the vanilla to the meringue.
7) Gently blend together until it is completely mixed.
8) Pour into a serving bowl or individual cups.
9) Chill for at least an hour before serving.
10) Decorate with chocolate chips.
Y Feliz "Santo" to our Editor! =)
Epiphanies and Flip-Flops
So reads the headline from that bastion of ethical journalism, Reuters. This epiphanic proclamation and its accompanying article is sure to catch the world by surprise. Reuters, however, still wonders if the Cubans on the island, as this article seems to imply, are forgetting just how good they have it:
Apathy and resignation reign in the communist island nation where waiting for slow public transport or finding deals on the black market to supplement low wages or pay for costly and scarce consumer goods are major pastimes.
''This system has good things and bad things, but I don't see a future for myself in Cuba, and I'm not speaking badly about the government. It's a reality,'' he said.
Jose Carlos will not have to pay a cent to study to be an engineer at university, or for universal free health care, but he complains his father had to pay 15 dollars, equivalent to the average monthly salary, for the flip-flops he is wearing.
Yes, it is true; Jose Carlos will have a university education and the Cuban regime’s version of Universal Health Care (which is universally inadequate) without having to pay one red cent. But not because it is free, but because the regime does not exact payment from its subjects for these benefits in the form of money; instead, Cubans pay with their blood, their sweat, their integrity, and their souls. The oligarchic dictatorship is not preparing them to earn a livelihood—they are preparing them to be the most productive slaves they can make of them.
In spite of this, the apathetic mood in Cuba is still puzzling to Reuters, and its journalists (and I use that term loosely) are still scratching their heads in bewilderment. But the article makes sure to remind us that there is still hope; raul, who is next in line to the throne, is encouraging open debate among his slaves. Maybe, they hope, he will make a deal with the Chinese to import some reasonably priced flip-flops. Then perhaps the slaves will feel a little better and a little more enthusiastic about their masters.
February 13, 2008
When that Houston Fox affiliate's news team followed Maria Isabel into the Obama volunteer office, they apparently failed to take notice of the Cuban flag desecrated with a superimposed image of the mass murderer che guevara.
I couldn't help but wonder how a trained news team could overlook such a thing. There is a lot of just plain ignorance when it come to el che, but there is also something much more sinister—a misinformed public, misinformed not by accident, but by design.
As Val’s recent post, here, pointed out, “that che image Cuban flag wasn’t there as decoration. It wasn’t there out of naivetee. It wasnt there as an expression of cool chic, it was an ideological and political message.”
Item # 17 from The Goals of Communism:
Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
Meet Peter McLaren, Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education. Ph. D., Curriculum & Educational Theory.
Cuba Socialista describes him thus:
He is considered one of the key worldwide architects of critical pedagogy. An advocate for social justice, particularly those in the 'Exploited World' (misnamed 'Third World') Prof. McLaren is influenced by a Marxist humanist philosophy. Among his many writings, 'Capitalists and Conquerors: A Critical Pedagogy against Empire' (2005) is probably best known in non-academic circles. Venezuela’s Ministry of Higher Education recently inaugurated the Peter McLaren Chair for the Study of Critical Pedagogy at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela. Another recent honor bestowed on Prof. McLaren is Toronto-based Chopbox Magazine creation of the Peter L. McLaren Foundation for Social Change.
Statement of purpose from his vile faculty web page, titled Revolutionary Critical Pedagogy:
This website is developed as a resource for students of critical pedagogy. The critical pedagogy which I support and practice advocates non-violent dissent, the development of a philosophy of praxis guided by a Marxist humanism, the study of revolutionary social movements and thought, and the struggle for socialist democracy. It is opposed to liberal democracy, which only serves to facilitate the reproduction of capital. It advocates a multiracial and anti-imperialist social movement dedicated to opposing racism, capitalism (both in private property and state property forms), sexism, heterosexism, hierarchies based on social class, as well as other forms of oppression. It draws its inspiration from philosophers of revolutionary praxis such as Paulo Freire, Raya Dunayevskaya, and other philosophers, social theorists and political activists and supports all those who yearn and struggle for freedom. Critical pedagogy is opposed to both state terrorism and individual acts of terrorism. As Freire writes in The Pedagogy of Freedom, "Terrorism is the negation of what I call a universal human ethic." Critical pedagogy is driven by the engine of class struggle in both national and international arenas.
Please follow the above links and learn more about this Canadian born professor of Marxist indoctrination. See for yourself the brain washing that's taking place in our universities. McLaren is not some marginalized campus flake, but a copiously published respected scholar. It is frightening, and he is not alone.
"She can't catch us."
God help us and God help the United States if this guy is elected...
Obama Statement on Guevara Flag
Less than inspiring...
"Senator Obama has made it clear that we will maintain the embargo as a way to leverage meaningful democratic change in Cuba. The office featured in this video is funded by volunteers of the Barack Obama Campaign and is not an official headquarters for his campaign."
Interesting that the statement does not even mention Guevara by name. You know, we freedom loving Cuban-Americans lament the fact that "Unfortunately, there is much disinformation out there about Che Guevara and more has to be done to combat the Che myths." In fact that's exactly what one Obama supporter told me in an email. Well his candidate had an opportunity to make a definitive statement to his followers and everyone else about exactly who and what Che Guevara was.
I can only speculate that the reason Obama won't make such a statement is that the percentage of people who support him who have subscribed to those Che myths is substantial and that he doesn't want to offend their sensibilities. Better to sweep this whole thing under the rug than make a principled stand.
As for Obama's newfound support of the embargo which is highlighted in the statement, he had very different opinions about it in 2004.
You be the judge of whether you want to believe Senate Candidate Obama from 2004 or Presidential Candidate Obama from 2008.
Will Bertone Choose the Path of Freedom?
A Reuters report released this afternoon quotes Cuban de-facto government officials as calling ties with the Vatican “excellent” some ten years after a visit by the late Pope John Paul II. The statement comes less than two weeks ahead of a scheduled visit to the island by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and should function as a reminder of the fact that the Catholic Church has not always veered towards the path of justice and freedom when it comes to sticky politics. Cuba being an overwhelmingly Catholic nation, I feel it important to come to terms with the shortcomings of the church regarding political morality. Many of you may not agree with my criticisms, and for that reason, I welcome your opinions and responses. That said, those of us who categorize ourselves as Catholics must face the historical facts regarding complicity by the Vatican hierarchy with tyrannical regimes over the past several decades.
In this post I find it inappropriate to focus on the shortcomings of Pope Pius XII when faced with the virulent anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime during the Second World War. Most anyone with any knowledge of the conflict is at least somewhat familiar with Pius’ tacit acceptance of the Nazi regime and his refusal to overtly denounce its atrocities against Europe’s Jews. Before moving on however, I feel it necessary to point out that it was Pius who hid groups of Jews in the Vatican itself during the war. Jewish theologian Pinchas Lapide has even attributed the late Pontiff with saving the lives of more than half-a-million Jews. There are two sides to every coin.
Fast forward to 2007. Former Argentine Chaplin Christian von Wernich received a life sentence for crimes against humanity committed during the nation’s bloody military junta (1976-1983). The first Catholic priest to be charged in relation to the junta, Wernich had collaborated with government agents to cover up the murder, torture and illegal imprisonment of political opposition members. As shocking as this revelation may have been to some, it comes as no surprise. Again, this certainly wasn’t the first time Catholic clergy members cozied up to a dictatorial regime the likes of Fidel Castro's.
Shortly after the “comandante” fell ill in August 2006, word came that the Catholic Church in Cuba had asked congregants to pray for the ailing dictator’s health. I certainly don’t expect priests to pray for the death of Fidel. In fact, I myself refuse to pray for anyone – including Fidel’s – death however, from a moral standpoint, the church should have stayed mum on the subject. Wishes of good health for Fidel, himself an excommunicated Catholic, were tantamount to a treason against morality. If God’s choice was to end Fidel’s life, so-be-it. The sooner the better. The suffering of nearly 12-million people needs to end. What better way to do it than at the hands of God.
But alas, the Catholic church is waffling, and this waffling (with regards to Cuba) began during John Paul’s 1998 trip to the island, when Karol Wojtyla, himself an ardent crusader against the evils of communism, declared that he was sure Ernesto “Che” Guevara “wanted to serve the poor.”
My friends, the only thing Che Guevara wanted to serve was his own ego (and wallet for that matter). Punto.
Even souls as seemingly noble as Mother Theresa are not guiltless with regards to the support of brutal dictators. During a visit to Haiti during the ruthless Duvalier regime, Mother Theresa praised Madame Duvalier, remarking “Madame President, the country vibrates with your life work.” Was the acclaimed champion of the poor and downtrodden referring to the Duvalier family’s overt theft from state coffers or the vibrating bodies of thousands of innocent Haitians ruthlessly murdered by Duvalier death squads.
Why am I so outraged? Because for a few decades now, I have called the Catholic Church my church. Because as a Cuban, most, though not all, of my fellow countrymen associate themselves with this church. The Vatican owes us all some answers and I expect Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone to issue a strong condemnation of the continuing human rights abuses being perpetrated against our brothers and sisters on the Pearl of the Antilles. Anything less is nothing less than complicity.
In case there was any doubt....
Who is Maria Isabel?
Besides being an ardent supporter of Barack Obama, she's a "precinct captain" and the co-chair of something called Houston Obama Leadership Team. We know she's Cuban by birth. And we know she idolizes Che Guevara. But now we know a few more things about her. She's apparently quite the local character in Houston:
The Che Guevara flag that is flying in the Barak [sic] Obama Houston Headquarters is no doubt the work of Maria Isabel, who I have talked alot about in this blog. She and her husband Barry Norman fought the historic preservation regulations that Old Sixth Ward residents were pushing hard for. They demolished the historic 1890 Valentine house...
I have seen the flag flying over their apartment on Washington Avenue. You can see it from Center street.
Apparently Maria Isabel made a few enemies of her neighbors who did not want to see the historic home torn down and replaced with a new house featuring a 50-foot "meditation tower" looming over them. Here's a blog post with excerpts from a Houston Chronicle story at the time.
Yes, the house's new owner, Barry Norman, told the city commission, he knew he was buying property in a historic neighborhood, the Old Sixth Ward. But he had no intention of keeping the little Queen Anne cottage that stood at 1814 Lubbock since 1885. In fact, he was applying for permission to tear it down.
On the lot, Norman and his wife, Maria Isabel, proposed to build an aggressively modern house out of concrete block, metal and Hardiplank siding. Isabel, an architectural designer, had drawn up the plans herself.
With its tallest point (a meditation tower) at 49 feet 9 inches, the new house would loom over its one-story neighbors, blocking their views of nearby downtown. Though the neighbors' porches hug the sidewalk -- the old-fashioned setback is only 10 feet -- the new house would hang back 17 feet and more, creating an unsettling gap. And to the pretty street, the house would present a blank face: a wooden fence and the door to a garage big enough to accommodate five cars and the couple's RV....
On Sept. 2, Norman and Isabel will be free to raze the house. "I want to get the neighborhood cleaned up," says Isabel, who likes the Old Sixth Ward for its proximity to downtown, Memorial Park and Buffalo Bayou. "Right now that lot is full of bums. People come and put trash there. Cleaning it up -- that's my thing. The historical movement, it's not my bag."
Now come on Ms. Isabel, that's no way to talk about the homeless. What kind of a Democrat are you?
You can watch her talking about her property rights, the ones that commies like her idol Che Guevara would take away in heartbeat by clicking here.
Here's the house she built on the lot where she tore the historic home down: an old winnebago.
Ms. Isabel apparently runs something called Isabel Design.
IBD weighs in on the Obamunista flag
Investors Business Daily, which can always be counted on to provide clear incisive opinion features a great column today about the Che Guevara image in an Obama volunteer office in Houston that has been all the talk of the blogosphere. Just an excerpt:
But rather than repudiate the image, Obama would only call it "inappropriate," apparently without insisting it be taken down. That contrasts with his dismissal of his Senate colleagues who wear lapel flags as "hypocrites." Some hypocrites.
The display of the Castroite flag with Che's picture on it sends a particularly disturbing message about his campaign. Apparently, Obama tends to attract the kind of people who think of mass murderers like Che and Fidel as romantic revolutionaries. Those same people see Obama as a man with a messianic message. These are the voters he'll be indebted to should he win higher office.
Bonus picture of the Obamunista Che admirer with her candidate:
castro's campaign promises and their importance in this election year
fidel castro wasn't elected anything in Cuba but he did campaign there. During several years of his guerrilla insurgency he used propaganda and the media to put out his campaign messages. No, he didn't run for elected office but on January 1, 1959 fidel castro would have won an election in Cuba against any candidate. I believe its important for us to analyze the themes of castro's "campaign" because we tend to find them present in today's political landscape here in America. This is not new, of course, it's just that we the conservatives have allowed our eyes to be taken off the ball. It's precisely now that we are in the most danger of falling for the false promises of socialism and communism.
So what was fidel's "platform" what were the main elements of his campaign? He certainly didn't talk about taking away people's property or their businesses or their civil liberty. He didn't talk about one-party rule and closing down the critical media. So what was it that drove everyday Cubans to support fidel castro in Cuba? The answer of course is that he tried to portray himself as a reasonable man forced to take drastic measures by the the corrupt and inequitable situation in Cuba at the time.
He promised change, but not to a draconian Soviet-styled totalitarianism, no. He promised "agrarian reform" so the less fortunate could have a better life. With that goal is mind Cubans allowed castro and his henchmen to deprive their fellow countrymen of their property.
He promised healthcare for everyone. And with that goal in mind Cubans allowed castro to take away their right to choose how their health would be taken care of and who would take care of it.
He promised education and literacy for all. And under this pretext Cubans allowed their sons and daughters to be indoctrinated and molded in the "new man" who strive to "be like Che".
If those themes look familiar, they should. Here in America it's not wealthy landowners that "abuse" the citizenry it's corporations. So we hear the clamoring, from candidates of both parties, for more regulation and we allow the ends of a more "equitable" distribution of wealth to justify the means of confiscating money and property from those "evil doers".
One of Cuba's "triumphs" is of course healthcare. Everyone knows this, even Michael Moore says so. So it's no wonder that people on the American left would like for us to emulate Cuba in this arena. Again the villains are the for-profit corporations, that far from saving lives, are responsible for the "deplorable" state of medicine in this country.
And lastly education. Of course education is required to live in a country with "social justice". But it can only be a certain kind of education. Because public education has been such a striking success in this country we need to throw even more of our hard-earned dollars at it and certainly we can't allow for anything like vouchers to private schools that would add an element of competition. Who needs competition when you have the right stuff and the right ideas?
All of this can be yours and it will all be free. Of course to fund it the government will take more and more out of your paycheck, but hell free is free. Everything will be free, except you, of course.
It's too bad that there won't be anyone around this summer and fall to take the leftists to task for their false promises. Someone who understands that the socialist threat is probably greater today because it's not believed to exist than during the cold war. Beware of charismatic leaders with promises of a Utopian society anchored in government intervention.
This ideological struggle between individual liberties and state supremacy is not one confined to the past nor is it about one presidential election. This will be an eternal struggle between those who believe man is free to do what is best for himself and those who think that man can not govern himself.
I leave you again with this video I did about Ronald Reagan. It's been shortened and improved. I have posted it at a site called eyeblast which is a sort of conservative youtube. Enjoy it.
From Michelle Malkin:
Two years ago, the Mohammed cartoon conflagration consumed the world and the blogosphere helped lead the way in fighting back. Longtime readers will remember that this site hammered the issue in support of Denmark. Sammenhold, you may recall, is the Danish word for solidarity. With the arrests this week of five jihadists accused of plotting to murder one of the Danish cartoonists, it’s time to demonstrate sammenhold again.
Get your bookie on the phone!
I wonder what the Vegas odds are on which Presidential candidate these Bacalao Brigadeers will be voting for:
Photo from yesterday's Berkely protests, by Zombie.
Read more about the protest and counter protest at Michelle Malkin's.
Contemplative in Cuba
An interesting article about the sisters at the convent of St. Catherine of Siena in Nuevo Vedado, in what is now part of Havana, For the past 320 years, the Dominican sisters have been living a life of prayer and contemplation, far removed from the world of ordinary cares. The article is really fascinating in so far as the sisters explain their lives of union with God, something they're not given to doing.
At the moment, only two of the seven sisters at the convent are Cuban. In an interesting side note that may amplify why, not two days ago, a family member was telling me that when the cloistered Carmelite community in her town was intervenido, the nuns were summarily packed up and shipped off to Canada. Not content with looting the convent and booting the nuns, the good revolutionaries then set about trashing the reputation of the same, putting it our that they found scads of condoms inside.
There really are no coincidences
All the more reason...
I spent a good part of my day yesterday on various blogs and websites, commenting and discussing the importance of the Cuban flag/che guevara image displayed at a US Presidential Campaign office. Many folks claimed it a minor offense, brought about by the unlearned or the naive. "Juvenilia" some folks referred to it.
But, as much as it pained me and much to our chagrin, we have now learned that the campaign office captain responsible for the prominet display of che guevara is of Cuban descent. In all honesty, the unbridled hypocrisy of this woman angers me to no end. How someone from that island that che guevara was instrumental in completely destroying could actually live in this country while adulating that man is beyond the pale.
But, this woman being Cuban just proves what a commenter stated here and what I spent the day arguing about yesterday: That che image Cuban flag wasnt there as decoration. It wasnt there out of naivetee. It wasnt there as an expression of cool chic.
There can be no bones about it: that was an ideological and political message. And a pretty clear one at that, for those who know the true nature of che guevara and his philosophy.
February 12, 2008
Guevaragate, the plot thickens.
It turns out that the woman featured in a TV news segment about a new volunteer campaign office for Barack Obama in Houston that sports a nifty Cuban flag with the image Che Guevara on it is an Obama precinct captain.
Not only that, SHE'S CUBAN!
Here's an interview with this commie dingbat.
Guevara, of course, was the Argentine murderer that helped establish the Castro dictatorship in Cuba before he was killed by Bolivian Rangers after trying to launch a similar guerrilla war in that country. Guevara was Castro's chief executioner at the Military Fortress called La Cabaña.
Most Cuban-Americans despise Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and the communist regime. Then again most Cuban-Americans are Republican. Obama's supporters and Democrats in general deny their socialist tendencies. Ms. Isabel apparently didn't get the memo. She's gotten it now.
In researching this post I found that pages on Obama's web site, generated by supporters, that praise the butcher of La Cabaña have been deleted. Of course there's always google cache to preserve the evidence.
Here's a nice one.
Another guy who signs off with an inspirational quote from Che.
I tallied up at least 15 web pages on Obama's site that previously contained favorable messages and quotes about Guevara. That is before they were erased.
If they were honest, this is the flag they'd hang in the campaign offices.
I wonder who Obama's healthcare Commisar is going to be? And people wonder why I'm pissed about the ideological pantywaist we are nominating in the GOP.
DUmmie FUnnies takes on Guevaragate
If you've never read the DUmmie FUnnies then you need to treat yourself and read this post about the Chebama scandal.
Essentially the DUmmie FUnnies are quotes from a message board called Democratic Underground (DU). PJ-Comix, who runs the blog, posts a running commentary about the stupid and sometimes hilarious things these DUmmies say. Here's their take on the Chebama scandal with PJ-Comix take [in brackets].
Yes, it seems that they have a Cuban flag - with a superimposed portrait of Che Guevara - on the wall. Now, I appreciate that some progressives admire Che. But when you've got TV cameras rolling, is it really the best idea to be identifying yourself with a man who most of the country (including a lot of Dems) consider to have been a bloody murderer?
[Psst! We really love Che Guevara but we must keep it a secret from outsiders. It is the love that dare not speak its name.]
I noticed DU has a Che avatar too. Big deal
[Correct. Che Guevara avatars abound in DUmmieland.]
So does almost every college dorm in America...and who is volunteering there. Still probably not a brilliant idea to have that right there for the cameras when trying to win in Texas.
[Psst! Don't let outsiders know how much we love that commie thug!]
I noticed that there are no Obama signs there or any other indications either.
[Better make an appointment with your optomotrist. There is an Obama poster clearly visible in the video next to the Che Guevara flag.]
Apparently, you didn't watch the video. There's a close-up of the Obama poster in it.
[Thank you for pointing out the obvious.]
Is Che Guevara the boogie man? Please let me know. My understanding is that he is a great Latin American Hero, and yes, he was a revolutionary. Sounds like that's what George Washington was as well. I have seen many here at DU with that avatar. Are we really that concerned about the f*cked up GOP assholes to this extent?
[In DUmmieland that commie is a great hero.]
Actually, SMART people watched the video link and saw THESE ARE HIS PEOPLE, with HIS POSTER on the wall, it is HIS BUTTON on HER COAT, and they are IN HIS/THEIR CAMPAIGN OFFICE. Maybe my remarks were stupid. MAYBE, just maybe, it is really NOT their flag - but good luck with that since it IS next to OBAMA'S poster, it IS behind OBAMA's supporters, and it IS in OBAMA's campaign office.
[Not much room for deniability there. Hee! Hee!]
go che. Power to the People.
[Which Obama office do you work at?]
Surely you realize that this can be used against him?
[And you DUmmies will call it "swiftboating."]
The Republicans are going to tell everyone who Che Guevara is!!!
[Damn them for that history lesson!]
These people need to think and be more careful. I guarantee you that there are Repubs collecting any kind of material like this to use against him if he is the nominee.
[Li'l Beaver is also collecting this material. Hee! Hee!]
I'll be going down there for the volunteer meeting at seven Tuesday. I'll letcha know if it's still up. I expect that it won't be.
[Yes. Let us know if that Obama office has been sanitized.]
I find it very difficult to believe anyone interested enough in politics to join a campaign would be naive enough to not understand what effect that flag would have. I just don't believe someone in that position could be that ignorant.
[I don't have any trouble believing this. With the plethora of Che Guevara T-shirts and posters out there, leftists would think that a Che flag on a campaign office wall is quite normal. It happened not just once but TWICE in the Houston area.
The art of Swiftboating consists in smearing the opponent, repeating a lie a million times, until it's too late for all the damage to be undone.
[So what part of the Che Guevara flag on the Obama campaign office wall is a smear?]
Ride a painted pony...
For some reason, I ve been hearing Blood, Sweat and Tears doing "Spinning wheel" all day. It was an omen, as the Che-Bama spin has already begun.
Still though, it doesnt explain this.
Update: From reader Mandingo in the comments:
Actually the picture is a hoax, it was taken to discredit Obama by Miami Cuban exile Batistanos who where trained by the CIA and who twice helped Bush steal an election in Florida. The picture was taken in a garage that belongs to a Cuban American John Birch party operative in Hialeah made to look like Obama Texas headquarters. Cuban Americans do things like that for fun.
I hear these particular Cubans may, infact, be direct descendents of the Watergate Cubans.
Che to Obama and his Texas and California Campaign Volunteers
"The Negro is indolent and spends his money on frivolity and drink, whereas the european is intelligent and forward looking."
"Mexicans are a rabble of illiterate indians. South American peasants are nothing but animalitos (little animals)"
Quotes are fully documented in Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Uuseful Idiots Who Idolize Him.
Update by Pitbull: I added the link to Humberto's superb book. Buy a couple of copies and give one to your favorite deluded che-worshipping liberal. Who knows, there may be a brain there, tiny as it may be, that the book will wake up...
Is this what you mean by change, Big O?
Quick, get the printing presses a-ready!
Photoshop courtesy of PTG.
February 12, 1809
"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."
Next up: fidel/Obama bumper stickers!
Here's another screen cap of that Obama volunteer office in Texas, via SondraK:
Amazing. Simply amazing. The Butcher of La Cabaña, a well deserved and earned nickname for the murdering Argentine, on a Cuban flag in a U.S. Presidential campaign office, draped next to an American Flag. That's not just a dichotomy or something akin to an irony, it is downright disgusting.
The spin has already begun, folks. Via Captian Ed we learn that one John Cole finds this action "a courageus statement that our Cuba policy needs to be rethought." Man, the world truly is full of fucking idiots.
Curt at Flopping Aces offers a stark reminder of the real Che, in the Butcher's own words:
“To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary…These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We must create the pedagogy of the The Wall! (El Paredón)” — Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
Quite a few more Che quotes can be found at Moonbattery.
Welcome Malkin Readers. I (Henry) thought you might like this video of Ronald Reagan, who told us "yes we can" way before Barack Obama did and who meant us as in us, not us as in the federal government.
The hoodlum from Managua chimes in
As reported by EFE in this article from El Universal:
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega slashed out at US oil firm Exxon Mobil for launching "a clear offensive of the empire in order to push (Venezuelan state-run oil firm) Pdvsa into bankruptcy," Efe reported.
The Sandinist leader claimed it was not by chance that the US National Security Director Michael McConnell told the US Congress that "the things that are happening in Latin America involve a threat."
According to Ortega, the US intelligence community in a report McConnell presented last February 5 was referring to Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and their Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
He added that such remarks come as part of a plan against Venezuela. He added that at the same time Exxon Mobil is winning court orders freezing Pdvsa's assets.
In his view, if Pdvsa goes bankrupt, all of the projects Venezuela is funding to help Nicaragua and other countries in the areas of energy, education, health, and agricultural would die. (emphasis mine)
Don't worry Danny boy, chavez doesn't have the guts to follow through on his threats. Your sacred cash cow, PDVSA, is safe. Safer than your stepdaughter Zoilamérica ever was in your care.
Student: "I was never arrested"
The Cuban propaganda machine can be an impressive beast, with the ability to be called into action at a moment's notice to spread the daily version of the big lie.
University student Eliécer Ávila Cicilia showed up on Cuban television Monday night, to dispute earlier reports that he was under arrest after he gave the third degree to communist party hack Ricardo "Little Ricky" Alarcon.
According to Ávila, police and other officials showed up at his house not to arrest him, but to help him get treatment for a health problem and to give him a ride back to college.
H/T to Penúltimos Dias, which also has the second part of the interview with Ávila and other
(Cross-posted at Uncommon Sense.)
Yes we can!
We really can. Enjoy this video I put together last night.
February 11, 2008
Yes we can...
Insult your intelligence and offend your sensibilities.
Check out the beautiful Cuban flag that hangs in Barack Obama's brand new volunteer campaign office in Houston.
Obama, woo hoo!
Let's see. Castro endorses a Clinton/Obama ticket. Obama has Greg Craig, castro's attorney during the Elian episode, as a senior policy adviser. He was for lifting the embargo before he was against it. And now his campaign workers put up a picture of Che Guevara that's 3 times as big as Obama's own poster in his campaign office. And a self-respecting Cuban would vote for this guy, why?
P.S. Hillary's supporters won't be outdone.
P.P.S. Little Green Footballs reminds us that Obama doesn't like wearing an American Flag pin.
Disappearing articles at Herald.com
Read about it at Herald Watch. The story was about the arrest of Eliécer Ávila. the Cuban student that grilled tricky ricky alarcon in a video that has been widely circulated in the international media.
Follow up to Eliécer Ávila Cicilia
I just heard a report from a family friend with relatives in Camaguey. University students have been and continue to be detained at an increased level of frequency over the past week.
One specific member of that family is a university student with long hair. He was warned to stay home from school today because they would probably arrest him if he was seen on the street with his long hair. Just like things were in the 60's.
The government is obviously scared to death about student movements given what they were able to accomplish in Venezuela and the recent global press coverage of Eliecer.
Message to Cuba's junta
Your collaboration with the castro regime's crimes against the Cuban people will not be forgotten.
Excerps from Reuters:
Pinochet officers to be tried in absentia
PARIS - France is to try 17 Chileans in absentia over the disappearance of four French or French-Chilean nationals in Chile during the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet, the French state prosecutor's office said on Monday.
The 17, most of whom were military officers, will go on trial on charges of "arbitrary detention accompanied, or followed, by torture and barbarous acts" in a period between 1973 and 1975, it said.
Pinochet, who held power in Chile from 1973 to 1990, was implicated in the disappearance of the same four French nationals but died in December 2006 without ever facing trial.
Despite the death of Augusto Pinochet, this trial will nonetheless be a posthumous judgment on not only the dictator but also the whole of his system of repression," a statement on behalf of the families of the four victims said.
There's a living dictator whose crimes against humantiy far exceed those of Pinochet, where is the justice for his victims?
Alarcon defended the lack of travel and free internet to Eliécer Ávila Cicilia (see Marc's unfortunate post below) by lauding Cuba's health care and education. When I've criticized the castro regime to a supporter, the response I've heard most often is along the same lines. We've already seen the truth of the Cuban health care system thanks to The Real Cuba and clandestine videos taken by Dr. Darsi Ferrer. But what about education? Isn't Cuba the great country that offers free medical school to anyone that will shut up about their political beliefs for a few years? Isn't nearly every last person literate?
I ask now, at what price? They have already give up their political liberties for this system, but they must also deal with teachers who are as corrupt and psychologically defunct as the castro brothers themselves.
On Friday I read this article in El Nuevo Herald about a teacher in Cuba who accidentally killed one of his students by method of "silletazo." That's right, he hit him with a chair. Are they training the teachers and prison guards at the same place these days? I guess they'll do anything to cut costs...
The article goes on to bring forth other disturbing incidents in Cuba's education system. Incidents that seem to avoid making global headline news, while teachers who give Middle Eastern names to stuffed animals consume the airwaves.
La violencia en las escuelas se ha incrementado en la actualidad como resultado de la grave crisis del sistema educacional, la situación social y la incapacidad de profesores improvisados, quienes no son evaluados psicológicamente antes de que se les confíen los educandos.
Violence in schools has increased as a result of the grave crisis in the education system, the current social situation and the inability of improvised teachers, who aren't given psychological evaluations before they are entrusted with educating.
Improvised teachers... sounds similar to the stories I've read from Dr. Oriol about medical students fresh out of school being labeled "specialists" by the castro government when they are shipped to foreign countries. Teachers (a.k.a children) are taken from their families in their early teens and shipped off to different provinces who are in need of their services. The "teachers" aren't much older than the students themselves, which gives rise to an elevated number of sexual relationships between "teachers" and students.
- In a third grade classroom, a young male teacher made students perform sexual acts in order to prove that they weren't homosexuals.
- In another primary school, two young female teachers, the gardner and a cleaning lady would make students take off their bottoms and then proceed to touch the students in inappropriate places. In their defense, they said it was only a game.
Again, I ask, what price are you willing to pay for free cuban-government-sponsored education? It's bad enough that these students learn more about Che Guevara than Isaac Newton, but now they're being molested too?
No Cubans torturing in Hanoi
I'm no McCain fan, and I will not vote him. Even if that means allowing a Democrat to be elected. I'm tired of voting for the lesser of two evils and I cannot and will not compromise my principles and vote for someone who in my opinion is a hypocrite.
That said, you gotta love the tit for tat fifo is having with McCain over his January remarks that Cubans tortured him in Hanoi.
"For me to respond to Fidel Castro, who has oppressed and repressed his people and who is one of the most brutal dictators on Earth, for me to dignify any comments he might make is certainly beneath me.Of course, fifo is calling him a liar and bringing out the religion card in todays editorial on that pulitzer winning piece of journalism called Granma.
As always this is not news to us; fifo's goonies commit torture? Or even fifo himself? You don't say.....
Is fifo even alive at this point? Can anyone outthere photoshop the Where's Waldo poster into a Where's fifo? Seriously, I believe they are keeping him alive through ghost writing of his editorials.
One really has to wonder about a woman who would change her name to "Medea" - a woman where In Euripedes' tragedy takes the sword to her two sons to spite her husband.
Image via Nuevo Accion.
This time he means it!
It did not take chavez—the would-be monkey king of Venezuela—long to blame the US for his devastating loss against Exxon-Mobil in European courts, which resulted in $12 billion in Venezuelan assets being frozen. He is just borrowing another page from the castro, Inc. play book: Blame all your failures and missteps on the US. In his usual, and by now worn out routine on his weekly radio and TV show, “Hello,
President Monkey Boy,” chavez once again does his best King Kong imitation and pounds his fists on his chest.
"If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we're going to harm you," Chavez said during his weekly radio and television program, "Hello,
PresidentMonkey Boy." "Do you know how? We aren't going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger."
Chavez has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil shipments to the United States, which is Venezuela's No. 1 client, if Washington tries to oust him. Chavez's warnings on Sunday appeared to extend that threat to attempts by oil companies to challenge his government's nationalization drive through lawsuits.
"I speak to the U.S. empire, because that's the master: continue and you will see that we won't send one drop of oil to the empire of the United States," Chavez said Sunday.
Reading about threats—again—without any action to back it up begs the question: Is chavez just aping (pun intended) what he hears the human world leaders say on that magical box in his office that has all the moving pictures inside? Considering his past record of much talk and no action on this issue, one of his trainers should inform him that he is only making himself look dumber, if that were at all possible.
Then again, this could be the time that chavez is really going to get back at the American imperialistas. And if that be the case, I guess the US will just have to find a replacement for the 4th biggest importer of crude oil. I wonder how difficult that is going to be.
I am sure it will be much harder on the US losing it's 4th oil importer than it will be on Venezuela losing its #1 customer. At least by chimp logic it is.
Student inquisitor is arrested (Updated)
Eliécer Ávila Cicilia, 21, was picked up Saturday morning at his home in Puerto Padre, in Las Tunas province, by police and other officials — one of whom she identified as the son of Cuban vice president Carlos Lage. A day earlier, officials had warned Ávila to stay at home and to prepare for a trip to Havana, according to the report, written by human rights activist Juan Carlos González Leiva.
Elsa Cicilia said she worried that her son would be forced to retract questions and comments he made during the videotaped session with Alarcon, which became public last week. Cicilia said Lage's son mentioned that she should watch the "Mesa Redondo" program on Cuban television for more information, according to González's report.
Ávila, whom AFP identified as a "self-avowed government supporter," questioned Alarcon about restrictions on travel, Internet usage and other parts of Cuban life, during a session held during the nation's recent "election campaign."
AFP described the exchange between Ávila and Alarcon:
"Why don't the Cuban people have the real possibility to stay at hotels or travel to different places around the world?" Eliecer Avila, a self-avowed government supporter at the University of Computer Science, demanded of Cuba's top lawmaker.
Alarcon tried to justify Cuba's policies controlling its nationals' travel, saying: "if everybody in the world, all six billion inhabitants, were able to travel wherever they pleased, there would be a tremendous traffic jam in our planet's airspace.
"People who travel are really a minority," he said.
And in implied criticism of Cuba's economic policy, Avila asked why staples such as food, cleaning products and clothing must be purchased with convertible pesos, when workers everywhere are paid in normal currency, which is worth 1/25th.
Alarcon, who reminded his audience of what the government maintains are the gains made in 50 years of Cuban Revolution, did not address the earning power/currency question, and sidestepped another question about the limits the government has on Internet access.
Ávila apparently got his answers, with a knock on his door.
Watch BBC's report on the video, which includes Ávila asking his questions, here.
(Cross-posted at Babalú.)
Update: Add your signature to a blog set up specifically for Eliecer by Penultimos Dias and spread the word.
February 10, 2008
From the San Jose Mercury News, January 24, 2008:
California's Solar Shade Control Act protects solar panels from obstructions from sunlight, and in January, Santa Clara County officials sought to enforce the law against homeowners who themselves are staunch environmentalists. Since the back yard of Prius-owners Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett contains lush redwood trees that block their neighbor's panels, the county ordered that the trees be cut down.
(H/T Jeff Baker who adds that "only in California would there be something this ludicrous.")
Well, one of the big arguments that we've heard about supporting John McCain has to do with the idea of electability. This is based on the premise that a so-called moderate Republican will have more appeal to independents and Democrats. I think the premise is flawed. The last Republican nominee to run as a "moderate" was George H.W. Bush. We all know what happened to him when he did the moderate thing and raised taxes "because it was necessary".
One of the pieces of evidence that is put forward in favor of the electabiliy argument is head-to-head polls that have been conducted that show McCain wins against Obama and/or Clinton. I'm dubious but not because of an inherent distrust in polls. It's just that polls are a snapshot in time. It's difficult to know how people are going to be thinking in November. Especially since most voters simply aren't engaged at this point. Remember when Rudy Giuliani was the prohibitive favorite to win the GOP nomination?
But it's out there so I thought I'd keep track of such polls as we move closer to the general election. I have charted McCain's poll numbers vs. Clinton and Obama. The polls are from Rasmussen as published at Real Clear Politics. Why Rasmussen? Because they have been consistently polling the match-up for more than a year and also Rasmussen has proven to be more accurate than some other pollsters.
So here we go. McCain vs. Clinton:
And McCain vs. Obama:
The first thing you'll notice of course is that McCain is currently polling ahead of both potential opponents. That's good news for him I suppose. But you can see that he's trailed both Democrats for substantial periods during 2007.
The other thing that we see is that the numbers don't even come close to adding up to 100 due to the dreaded undecideds. We see 12% undecided in the both of the latest head-to head polls. That 12% is twice the difference between Obama and McCain. Which means we really don't know who would win an election between these two if it were held today.
I'll be tracking these polls moving forward and will post updates here. We'll see just how electable McCain is as the Democrats begin attacking him with the aid of the MSM that has long been his ally.
It's not enough for the so-called moderates in the Republican party that they got their way and nominated a non-Conservative for the presidency. It seems that they must now trash the conservative movement and with it the icon of conservatism that is Ronald Reagan. I understand why they do this, their candidate is so uninspiring that they can't defend his record or point to any specific accomplishments of his despite three decades in congress. In fact McCain's most important pieces of legislation are uniformly despised by conservatives. So they must camouflage McCain's record by tearing down the record of the most popular Republican president ever. It's a bait and switch debate tactic that we who follow Cuba have to recognize instantly (can you say Ricardo Alarcon?).
The latest to pile on is our friend Nelson Guirado whose fetish with McCain has made him lose all sense of perspective.
Reagan gave an out an out amnesty to illegal immigrants. He lowered taxes before raising them. He increased government less than a Democrat, for sure; he deregulated some industries, but he didn't get rid of money pits like the department of education.
Reagan's effect, like FDR, was greatly psychological. FDR's policies probably made the depression worse, but people had "hope" and were excited by "change." Reagan came in after the period of malaise and inspired people to be patriotic again.
Now I know that Nelson knows there's a difference between being for tax increases and signing tax increases that you may not be for into law as part of a compromise with the other party the controls the legislature.
There's a difference of course between compromising with the opposition and holding the same view as the opposition.
The fact remains that the Reagan tax cuts and tax reform created a prosperous economy that we enjoyed all the way through the 90s and right up until 9/11/2001. That's not psychological, that's a fact.
As Mark Levin so eloquently pointed out Reagan like McCain was a "maverick" with the difference being that Reagan challenged his party from the right and succeeded in pulling it in that direction. McCain has been challenging the party from the left and is attempting to pull it in that direction. Unfortunately for Nelson, McCain and the rest of the so-called moderates, this is still a free country. I do not have to accept McCain or his policies. I don't have to shut up. I don't have to hold my nose and vote for him.
Everyone says the alternative is worse. And certainly it is, in the short run. But this isn't about 2008. This isn't about one election. This is about the long-term interests of this country. The ideological war against the forces of socialism aren't going to end in November of 2008 no matter who wins. But perhaps a retreat is necessary to marshal the forces that we need to strike a more decisive blow to the leftists. I certainly don't think that we can win the war against the liberals by aping them on the most important issues of the day like the man-made global warming theory which has more holes in it than a wheel of swiss cheese.
Nelson talks about Clinton's election in 1992 and how it didn't result in a Republican win in 1996. And he's certainly right about that. Who did we run in 1996? A old so-called moderate Senator that was younger then than McCain is now. Sound familiar. At least Dole loves the Republican party. McCain tried to leave it in 2001 and wanted to join John Kerry's ticket in 2004. Nelson also conveniently neglects to mention the Republican revolution of 1994 which was led by Newt Gingrich who is a true conservative. Clinton was forced to sign several of the items in the Contract with America.
It does matter who we nominate. It does matter who we vote for. It does matter that our candidates be inspiring. It does matter that we differentiate ourselves from our political opponents.
There's a reason why George W. Bush's approval ratings are so low. It's not because he's been too conservative. Conservatives feel betrayed by Bush. The Democrats and the MSM were going to hate Bush no matter what he did. So who is left to support the president? The so-called moderates. And most of them are ashamed of it because they care so much about what the MSM thinks.
Neslon can say whatever he wants about me and people that think as I do that McCain is almost the worst choice for nominee that we could have had, but I'm going to call him on his revisionist history every time.
A Sunday chuckle
This phone call took place quite a while back, but it is as funny today as it was back then. Who better to illustrate the articulateness and class of the "New Man" than the creator himself?
February 09, 2008
Obama will win the Democrat nomination
What I thought was inevitable, the nomination of Hillary Clinton by Democrats, now seems unlikely. Obama wins several contests tonight and will probably sweep Tuesday's "Potomac Primaries". Clinton's campaign is in financial trouble and those high-value politicians that endorsed her haven't delivered the number of states and delegates necessary to win.
There is still the matter of the Super Delegates, elected politicians and party leaders who gain automatic entrance to the Democratic convention Denver, they aren't committed to any candidate though it was widely believed that Clinton had the support of the majority. But if Obama goes into the convention with more regular delegates it will be hard for these Super Delegates to go against them, especially to spoil the nomination of the first serious black candidate for president. Ding, dong the witch is dead.
Not that that helps Republicans at all because Obama has higher favorables and lower negatives than Clinton.
Real Clear Politics is putting the odds of an Obama nomination at better than 60%.
So we have a 71 year old white man that has been in congress for close to three decades vs. a 46 year old black man who's been in the Senate for 3 years. Whatever you want to say about McCain, he's not an inspiring speaker. Obama on the other hand is quite the orator. This is going to be a campaign of contrasts in styles, if not in policies.
Iraq Vets for Congress
Given the fact that regardless of who wins the Presidential election in November it will be a Democrat, the upcoming congressional elections are going to be VERY important. Today I was listening to POTUS 08 on XM satellite radio and heard about this web site called Iraq Veterans for Congress. There currently 12 Iraq veterans that are running for congress who describe themselves as pro-victory Republicans. Please stop by their site, and if you can afford it please donate to their campaigns.
Only world can save Antúnez
Former political prisoner Miguel Sigler Amaya today pleaded with the international community to demand that the Cuban dictatorship allow Jorge Luís García Pérez (Antúnez) to leave the island to receive medical treatment. Antúnez, who was released after more than 17 years in prison, was admitted to a Havana hospital Friday after suffering a heart attack.
Writing from Miami, Sigler laid the blame for Antúnez's poor health, squarely on the shoulders of fidel and raul castro.
To my brothers who read this, do not be misled or confused, Antúnez's disease is not accidental or natural. It was induced by the Castro brothers' communist mafia. We cannot accept under any circumstances accept that our valiant brother-in-struggle dies in the hands of those who made him sick. We must ask the international community that Antúnez urgently br brought to another hospital in any country in the world that does not have relations with the Cuban government, in order to save the life of Jorge Luis Garcia Perez (Antúnez).
We pray to God for the speedy recovery of our brother.
Antúnez was released from prison after completing a sentence handed down by a Cuban court, but he is still not a free man. He has resumed his opposition activities, for which the government has arrested him at least eight times since last April.
As long as Antúnez is denied a chance to go overseas for care, he is, in fact, waiting for a death sentence to be executed.
Which is exactly how the castros planned it.
(Cross posted at Uncommon Sense.)
Los Angeles, Land of the Bacon Police
Whenever I whine about the smoking Nazis I always tell folks that food is next; I get roundly raspberried for saying such a ridiculous thing. After all, this is America, right?
I'm so glad they care so much. I may just make some of those tomorrow. I'd like to see them come here and arrest us for using bacon...
Economic powerhouse China is flexing its muscle by lobbying internationally for more state control of the internet. Currently the web is managed by US based ICANN, or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce. According to Vincent Brossel of Reporters Without Borders, “If this happens, it will be the end of freedom of expression on the web.”
Are you ready for China as the world’s cyber-super power?
Excerpt from The Guardian:
That landmark could come today, next week, or next month. According to the China Internet Network Information Centre, there were 210 million internet users at the end of last year, just 5 million behind the US. But China is adding 6 million new users a month - more than 10 times the pace of US growth.
In an Olympic year, and at a time of surging economic growth, the new figures are taken by some as proof of Beijing's irresistible rise. Not everyone likes it. Free speech activists fear it will increase the influence of China's censors in the virtual world. Foreign governments have raised concerns that the country has become a breeding ground for pirates, hackers and cyber spies.
It was not supposed to be like this. After the internet was connected to China in 1987, civil rights campaigners hoped it would be a catalyst for political reform. But 21 years on, the Communist party is still in power and its model of a tightly controlled internet is gaining ground, if only by force of numbers.
The world's most popular blog? Lao Xu, written by the actor and director Xu Jinglei, which boasts 137 million visitors. The biggest distributor of online video? Tudou, which claims to have overtaken YouTube with over 1bn megabytes of data transfers every day. Then there is Baidu, which has trounced Google in the Mandarin search engine market, and Alibaba, whose boss Jack Ma is a national hero for humbling eBay and taking over Yahoo's operations in China.
Language, culture and the Great Firewall of China - the state's information shield - protect the government and big business players from competition. Instant messaging and social networking are dominated here by Tuscent's QQ service. The game world is ruled by Shanda Entertainment and Giant Interactive rather than Nintendo and Sony. Sina and Sohu have a lockhold on the news. In every sector in China, domestic players are on top. Some are now starting to look overseas. Baidu recently launched a Japanese service.
Experts say that by overtaking the US as the world's biggest user base, China will attract investment, commercial traffic and technology. With this will come influence.
"This is a big landmark. The US has almost reached the point where it has not much room to grow. China is the opposite. In terms of new connectivity and economic growth, China is definitely the place," says Xiao Qiang, the founder of the California-based China Digital Times.
Beijing is thought to have the planet's most sophisticated blocking equipment, which is used to guard virtual walls against external threats. Internally, it relies on a system of official monitoring and corporate self-censorship. Most of the routers and other parts come from US companies, such as Cisco. Campaigners suspect China is passing its censorship know-how to Cuba, Vietnam and several African countries.
"China is exporting a model where the internet is a tool for economical development, social networking, marketing business and propaganda, but not for free expression. China is very proud of this. They spent dozens of millions of euros to build firewalls, cyber-police and cyber-censors," says Vincent Brossel of Reporters Without Borders.
Read more at Reporters Without Borders.
Anyone seen Liberación?
Just read this Reuters piece about a DVD entitled Liberación: The Songs of the New Cuban Underground. Apparently it's been nominated for a Grammy and everything. Chris Murphy, an Australian music entrepreneur, made the film. I wonder if Luis from Child of the Revolution knows anything about him.
Has anyone seen or heard anything about this movie? Sounds pretty cool and the article helps expose the greed of the Cuban government:
"There are very few places on the planet where there are all these (musical) gems left, because they've all been mined," says Murphy, who had previously licensed traditional son and bolero from Cuban government libraries. When recording began, word spread quickly among the city's aspiring artists -- and the Cuban government, which, Murphy says, began trailing his crew.
"We started getting word ... that 'you shouldn't be working with artists directly, that you should be working with us,"' Murphy recalls. "I was recording mechanics, doctors, kids who were waiting to go into the army. So I was upsetting the apple cart."
Much has been said and discussed regarding the video of the Cuban students who in a meeting with Ricardo Alarcón appeared to stand up to the repressive machinery of the Cuban dictatorship. Were these students acting out of their own volition, or was this just another orchestrated event prepared by the regime for foreign consumption? Regardless of their motivations, it is important to remember that the regime rarely, if ever, allows anything to happen by chance. Their stranglehold on power, which has lasted nearly half a century has not come from allowing free thought and its expression. They have maintained the island under their domination by controlling each and every thought expressed by its victims. Although we cannot help but to hope this outburst of what most certainly would be deemed “anti-revolutionary” behavior is real, we must temper our hopes with what is the reality and the history of the regime.
Camilo López Darias, a Cuban blogger, wrote a very interesting and eye-opening piece on this video outburst on his blog, Estancia Cubana. He titled it, Inocencia extrema; Extreme innocence. Having participated in similar orchestrated events in Cuban universities himself, he recalls how he too initially felt hope that democratic changes and freedom for Cuba were finally on the horizon. He also recalls how disillusioned he felt when soon after he came to the realization that all those meetings and all those expressions of discontent were just a ruse played upon the youth of Cuba by the castro regime.
A los ilusos se los digo, el gobierno de La Habana no quiere cambios verdaderos, porque esa propia mutación podría generar el fin de su existencia, y es cosa sabida que este tipo de regímenes se alimenta de la ostentación y del control absoluto del poder. ¡No hay otra forma! Yo también creí alguna vez en esa transición interna, reposada y hasta justa hacia un sistema libre y democrático, pero me equivoqué como quienes se equivocan ahora esperando de la hebefrénica monstruosidad un signo de cordura. ¡No pierdan su tiempo, caballeros! Posiblemente habrá violencia y hasta miedo. No somos la URSS y la caída del muro de Berlín quedó hace mucho tiempo atrás. Para que las revoluciones dejen de ser tales han de ser barridas de la historia, de los libros y sobre todo del espíritu de la gente. Y eso no se consigue sembrando flores y discurseando poemas en los campus.
As you can see, Camilo’s posts are in Spanish. But I recommend to all of you that can read Spanish to read his entire post HERE.
February 08, 2008
Every time I hear of a “Cuban art exhibit” somewhere, I cringe because almost invariably it brings out the misguided, the impervious, and the apologists. Jim Lowe of the Barre Montpelier Argus Times probably falls in one of these categories. In this article about “¡Cuba!: Art and History from 1868 to Today” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, it’s apparent that he may or may not know his art, but he certainly doesn’t know his history.
For a writer, he certainly plays fast and loose with his words. Did you know that Cuba is “anathema” to the United States? As far as I know the Cuban government is a sworn enemy of the United States but has never risen to the level of anathema. However, its obliteration of individual freedoms and the oppression of its people might be anathema to all that Americans hold dear. And then there’s the question of subjugation. According to Lowe, Cuba went from fighting for its independence from Spain to “subjugation” by the US. Again the wording is questionable. You might maintain that the United States interfered in Cuban affairs and wielded undue influence, and was a tad colonialist. But as far as I know the United States never enslaved Cuba. Subjugation is what the people have been living under for the past half century.
But why quibble? The exhibit is divided into five time periods. He discusses all five. Do read it and see what he has to say about the “violence” and “squalor.” More importantly try this:
“Cubanness: Affirming a Cuban Style 1938-1959” is the most artistically exciting period represented in the exhibit. Here are myriad styles, expertly executed – all with unique Cuban flavor.
Contrast that with
The title “Within the Revolution Everything; Against the Revolution, Nothing 1959-1979” is taken from the words of President Fidel Castro, describing his feelings on the legal limitations of art. This segment of the exhibit is more interesting historically than artistically. Excellent photojournalism illustrates the beginning of the Castro years.
The Revolution is represented by a large poster collection, with many of them familiar to Americans. Again, they seem more of historic than artistic interest.
Need I say more?
Same Ol' Song and Dance
So, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour arrives in Mexico for a 4-day visit and triumphantly announces that Cuba is showing “unprecedented positive engagement” with the international body in the human rights arena.
Arbour goes on to clarify his statement, pointing to the fact that the de-facto Cuban government announced in December, its intention to sign international agreements on civil and political rights.
Am I missing something here? Wasn’t that announcement made by Foreign Minister Felipe Perez-Roque on the VERY SAME day that his storm-troopers were out in force, beating, harassing and arresting peaceful dissidents demonstrating on International Human Rights Day?
Perhaps Louise should sit down for a chat with Dr. Darsi Ferrer.
As John Lennon once said: “I’m just sittin’ here watchin’ the wheels go round-and-round.”
TV Alert: HRF on Fox tonight
NEW YORK (February 8, 2008) -- HRF president Thor Halvorssen will be a guest on David Asman’s show to discuss the human rights crisis in Venezuela, the FARC alliance with the government of President Hugo Chávez, and the recent asset freeze imposed on the Venezuelan government in three countries.
Mr. Halvaorssen's father, a diplomat with the rank of ambassador, was falsely imprisoned, tortured, and savagely beaten in a Venezuelan jail in 1993. A freshman at the University of Pennsylvania at the time, Mr. Halvorssen led a campaign for his father’s safety and release, enlisting the support of Amnesty International, the International Society for Human Rights, and numerous human rights advocates and public figures. Mr. Halvorssen’s father was freed on Christmas Eve of 1993 and all charges against him were dropped. In August of 2004, Mr. Halvorssen’s mother, a child psychologist, was brutally gunned down and wounded by members of the Venezuelan government security apparatus while attending a peaceful public gathering
Tune in at 7:15 pm on Fox Business News tonight.
BREAKING: Antúnez in Hospital
Breaking news on dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez:
FROM CUBA Former Cuban prisoner of conscience Antunez gravely ill in a hospital in Havana.
HAVANA, CUBA - February 8th ( Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello/www.plantados.org)- Former Cuban prisoner of conscience Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez suffered a heart attack early this morning and was taken urgently to the National Hospital in Alta Habana, in the Havana municipality where he was admitted in the intensive care unit.
We send this alert to the entire world because we fear for Antunez' life.
The island's communist regime denies Antunez his right to travel to another country where he can be properly treated without any political pressures, so that afterwards he can return to Cuba.
Reported over the telephone from Havana to "Plantados" until Liberty and Democracy in Cuba by Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello and sent to the Information Bridge Cuba Miami (www.puenteinfocubamiami.org) for distribution. Translation: Puente Informativo Cuba Miami.
monkey picks fight with lion - lion beats up monkey
Back in June of last year chavez the monkey king, taking a page straight out of the castro, Inc. play book, decided to nationalize the oil operations in Venezuela of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Conoco-Phillips. He fell in love with the notion that as king, he could take whatever he wanted from whomever without paying for it, like his mentor fidel does. But it should not come as a surprise to anyone that monkey boy did not read the fine print in the castro play book which said: "Caution: Stealing private property could be hazardous to your country's economic health."
Exxon Mobil Corp. decided to go after the sticky fingered simian dictator in court and just won a court order to freeze $12 billion dollars of Venezuela’s assets throughout the world. We’re talking billions here, as in $12,000,000,000! And to add insult to injury, Conoco-Phillips is going after him in court as well.
It’s going to be hoot watching monkey boy squirm his way out of this one!
You can read all about it HERE.
H/T George from therealcuba.com
Here’s one for the ludicrous department. From BUA news (African), boasting that a group of Cuban “construction experts” have arrived in South Africa to help that country fast-track their construction projects in the Northwest of the country. Given Cuba’s own problems in that arena, as in parts of the Cuba are starting to resemble picturesque Romantic ruins while there is a severe housing shortage, it would be laughable. But then again, maybe not…. At least in South Africa, there are building materials, which is more than can be said for Cuba.
Long overdue link
One of things about blogging is that you get bombarded with stuff all the time. Many times you see something good and make a mental note to come back to it and blog about it and sure enough it slips away into the dark recesses of your brain where memories fade. Such is the case with Jose Reyes' Bi-weekly Cuba Report.
You may be familiar with Jose's web site Cubanology which of course is listed in the sidebar under Cubiches (although we are currently having problems with the blogroll) but you may not know about his bi-weekly report. In this edition has a column by Frank Caner called “La Patria llora….”. Make sure to check it our and bookmark Cubanology Bi-weekly.
February 07, 2008
And as if I wasn't pissed off enough...
...comes this from the Archbishop of Canterbury:
There is a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law as we already do with aspects of other kinds of religious law.
It would be quite wrong to say that we could ever license a system of law for some community which gave people no right of appeal, no way of exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them as citizens in general.
But there are ways of looking at marital disputes, for example, which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them.
In some cultural and religious settings, they would seem more appropriate.
(H/T Scott - thanks for reminding me...)
CNN report on discontent in Cuba
Commenter BarrioChino alerts us to this report from CNN's Havana Bureau about how Cubans are more publicly expressing their discontent about the situation on the island.
Beyond the obvious takeaway that one gets from the video I'm pissed at this report. First of all Morgan Neil the correspondent says that Cubans are now saying publicly what they have been saying privately. Well buddy the world doesn't know what Cubans say privately because so-called journalists like you have become way too comfortable in using the same "man on the street" approach to journalism that is used in the United States. It doesn't take a freaking genius to figure out that you can't just get people to say what's on their mind in a totalitarian dictatorship. Our media often obscures the identity of unsavory and criminal elements in our country to get their particular take on an investigation. How many times do we see former mafia hit men in silhouette with their voices changed. Yet you rarely ever see those types of reports coming out of Cuba.
The next thing I'm struck by is the way Tricky Ricky Alarcon dodges the question about travel outside of Cuba. He says he "wishes" that Cubans could see how the rest of the world lives in order to end the ideological battle in Cuba. Well, why don't they just make it so? If Cuba's system is so great and so obviously superior then why can't Cubans go and judge for themselves? Of course the answer is that almost everyone would leave and very few would come back. You need slaves to have slave labor.
Also notice how he dodges the question about why Cubans are restricted from accommodations that are reserved for Cubans. The typical Alarcon answer on any hard question about Cuba is "The U.S. does it too and they are far worse." The problem of course is that in this case the lie is so outrageous that the people in that hall that have been isolated their whole lives could not possibly believe it. Since the time of the Cuban patriot Jose Marti (who spent more time in the U.S. in exile than he did in Cuba) Cubans have been welcomed in the U.S. and particularly in New York. Professor de la Cova even wrote a book about a Cuban Confederate officer in the civil war and is currently researching the Cuban population in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century. Besides all of that Alarcon, with his diplomatic credentials, gets to do things in New York that even New Yorkers can't like double park his car, etc.
Still I guess we should be thankful for small miracles. We'll see how long CNN and Morgan Neil are welcome in Cuba if they keep up this kind of "inconvenient" reporting. Inconvenient is the word the regime used when it expelled Chicago tribune reporter Gary Marx and BBC reporter Stephen Gibbs.
Take a last look
White House news
Proclamation 6867, 7757 regarding Cuba, continued, from the White House:
On March 1, 1996, by Proclamation 6867, a national emergency was declared to address the disturbance or threatened disturbance of international relations caused by the February 24, 1996, destruction by the Cuban government of two unarmed U.S.-registered civilian aircraft in international airspace north of Cuba. In July 1996 and on subsequent occasions, the Cuban government stated its intent to forcefully defend its sovereignty against any U.S.-registered vessels or aircraft that might enter Cuban territorial waters or airspace while involved in a flotilla or peaceful protest. Since these events, the Cuban government has not demonstrated that it will refrain from the future use of reckless and excessive force against U.S. vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba. On February 26, 2004, by Proclamation 7757, the scope of the national emergency was expanded in order to deny monetary and material support to the repressive Cuban government, which had taken a series of steps to destabilize relations with the United States, including threatening to abrogate the Migration Accords with the United States and to close the United States Interests Section. Further, Cuba's most senior officials repeatedly asserted that the United States intended to invade Cuba, despite explicit denials from the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense that such action is planned. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing the national emergency with respect to Cuba and the emergency authority relating to the regulation of the anchorage and movement of vessels set out in Proclamation 6867 as amended and expanded by Proclamation 7757.
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
February 6, 2008.
So, um, did you all have lunch already? If you havent, then dont worry, as after you check out the following link you wont have much, if any, of an appetite. If you have had lunch, then my apologies. Make sure you have a bucket next to you or a clear path to the barfroom.
Im not kidding. I am about to show you the apex of amorality. The pinnacle of perversity. The vertex of viciousness. The summit of stupidity.
Behold, friends, SACET - The Florida based organization "Socialists Against Cuban Exiled Terrorists."
H/T Felix R.
My final McCain post until the convention
OK, so let's recap. My "Dear John" letter on Wednesday has generated a great response. To all of you who commented, a thank you.
From the comments it's pretty clear to me that the overriding reason most of you are content with McCain is fear. Fear of Hillary winning. And I haven't heard a lot about Obama on that thread; Obama would be a formidable opponent, if nominated, for any Republican candidate.
So what we have is an acute, recurring phobia brought about, in my opinion, by eight years of BDS and the constant, sickening, vile, disturbing, slanderous, and mendacious crap read in the MSM. Well, I am not afraid. I will not compromise my principles for an expedient and ultimately dangerous bet. If your husband or wife (or boyfriend or girlfriend) played the field the way McCain has done in the Senate, I don't think any of you would be as understanding. And you sure as hell wouldn't fear the consequences. Chances are you'd kick your partner in the ass, bags in hand, tell him or her to get the hell out of the house you (whore or bastard, take your pick), and then either cry your eyes out (the ladies) or get plastered with a bottle of bourbon and recite Rick's lines from Casablanca (the gentlemen).
So that's precisely how I feel. McCain cheated on us. He brazenly cheated on us. And he did it with the likes of Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and sundry other liberals in the Senate. And as the cherry on the cake of our day, he threw it in our face and flaunted it.
If any of you guys are OK with that, I'd like to know.
Raúl’s “Debating” Society
In the latest propaganda offensive, Havana’s regime is preaching the gospel of debate.
In its previous incarnation, the complicit free press told the world that, in Cuba, people spoke their minds, complained even. Yes, people in Cuba were free to be unhappy and express it, as long as they were discussing baseball or they weren’t within earshot of a government snitch. One story went as far as to describe the daily “debating” going on at “the hot corner” where people spoke their minds daily-in a hushed, paranoid whisper.
That preposterous propaganda has been abandoned because of its absurdity, perhaps lending some credence to Raúl Castro’s alleged pragmatism.
Now, we have the latest pretend freedom of speech propaganda blitz being spread all over the internet. This new attempt at revolutionary illusion comes complete with a video, slipped “anonymously” to the BBC, as an audio visual aid to make the propaganda presentation seem genuinely subversive. I know Raúl admitted they’re not magicians, but do they have to turn to comedy? Please! These folks idea of debate is to tell their toadies to speak and their toadies asking how loud.
These are the same people who beat young people up and detain them for wearing an innocuous white wristband with the word “cambio” on it.
If these same regime critics with the “cambio” bracelets were to hit the streets of Havana tomorrow with shirts with the word “debate” embosomed on them, they would wind up debating the business end of a police baton and the bars in a jail cell. Guaranteed.
It is an insult to the Cuban people to print stories on how they have now been granted “permission” to debate by the very regime that is holding a gun to their head and hail it as some kind of magnanimous progressive act.
The more likely scenario is that the regime, for whatever rea$on$, has already settled on making some changes, among them, easing up on travel restrictions, allowing Cubans to stay in the regime’s hotels, standardizing the currency into one and allowing gay marriages. By orchestrating this “debating society” video where people are debating exactly what the regime wants them to debate, they can later pretend that the changes came directly from the people.
Dis, dat, and de odder ting
A huge cyber hug and thanks to those that helped via donations to help those perfect strangers get to China to adopt Mei. They just arrived in the States and you can see the airport arrival right here. Have Kleenex handy.
If you havent been to The Real Cuba this week, youre missing a whole heckovalot of excellent stuff.
Our very own Marta - after a bit of a scare that I wish she'd told me about sooner (ahem...) - is in Hawaii. I think she may teaching the locals how to make lechon. Drop on by and say "Aloha!"
Interesting points on the wet foot/dry foot policy at Ninety Miles, right here.
My lunch date with Kay Abella and her husband Lou yesterday was something else. They are truly great people. Kay handed me a copy of Fighting Castro with the following handwritten message that brought tears to my eyes:
Your indignation is my inspiration.
Kay, I love ya. Mil gracias and I look forward to having you with us at Cuba Nostalgia.
Square pegs and round holes
Reality, for all its genuineness, can still be twisted and reshaped by minds that are not willing to accept its actuality. The human mind, faced with conflicting information will many times find a way to force that square peg of reality into the round hole of its perception. And while many of us try to expose the reality of Cuba, there are still those that have a different perception based on the propaganda and lies disseminated by the regime and its willful accomplices.
A few months ago a group of students from Harvard went to Cuba. The purpose of their trip was to “experience the challenges and rewards of Cuban reality first-hand.”
For Wilson and Radford, who are both African American, the chance to experience a country that was a “racial paradise” was a main reason to visit Cuba. “Cuba has been my dream,” said Radford, “because I saw it as a racial melting pot and I wanted to experience what is was like to live in a non-racial state.”
Most of you reading this already know that they did not experience the “racial paradise” they were expecting to find. As a matter of fact, the article goes on to describe that these students experienced everything but a “non-racial” society in Cuba. The dream that these students had turned out to be nothing more than a dream; one of the many propaganda lies about the Cuban dictatorship that have been perpetuated throughout academia.
But in the end, the square peg of reality could not fit into the round hole of their perceptions. According to these students, Cuba’s societal problems are not because the regime is a murderous and oppressive machine; Cuba’s societal problems are because the regime is not implementing socialist principles correctly.
We have a long road ahead of us.
Shall we pile on some more?
Sure! From my favorite Conservative gunslinger, Ann Coulter:
On the litmus test issues of our time, only partially excluding Iraq, McCain is a liberal.
-- He excoriated Samuel Alito as too "conservative."
-- He promoted amnesty for 20 million illegal immigrants.
-- He abridged citizens' free speech (in favor of the media) with McCain-Feingold.
-- He hysterically opposes waterboarding terrorists and wants to shut down Guantanamo.
Can I take a breath now?
-- He denounced the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
-- He opposes ANWR and supports the global warming cult, even posturing with fellow mountebank Arnold Schwarzenegger in front of solar panels.
If Hillary is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with Republicans ferociously opposing her, followed by Republicans zooming back into power, as we did in 1980 and 1994, and 2000. (I also predict more Oval Office incidents with female interns.)
If McCain is elected president, we'll have a four-year disaster, with the Republicans in Congress co-opted by "our" president, followed by 30 years of Democratic rule.
There's your choice, America.
And what a choice. I tried to explain my opposition to McCain to a colleague yesterday and I used a dog analogy that will be understood by any dog owner out there. You have two dogs. To one you feed high-end dry dog food, to the other you feed whatever you cook in the house. What comes out of one is easy to clean and very different from the other in consistency, but it's still shit. Clearer than that, I cannot be.
Thursday Open Thread
What's on your mind today?
February 06, 2008
We're nominating the wrong Senator from Arizona
John McCain's American Conservative Union Ratings (out of 100%)
1999 - 77
2000 - 81 (Running for President)
2001 - 68
2002 - 78
2003 - 80
2004 - 72
2005 - 80
2006 - 65
Senator Jon Kyl American Conservative Union Ratings (out of 100%)
1999 - 100
2000 - 100
2001 - 100
2002 - 100
2003 - 85
2004 - 100
2005 - 100
2006 - 92
So how does McCain reach out to conservatives? By telling us we need to "calm down" while flanked by Joe Lieberman, lifetime ACU rating of 16.8.
Just for fun here's McCain's ratings from his first few years in the Senate:
1987 - 91
1988 - 80
1989 - 93
1990 - 87
1991 - 86
1992 - 85
1993 - 83
1994 - 96
As you can see, from a conservative standpoint McCain's worst year at the beginning of his career was as good as his best year from recent memory.
Also you have to keep in mind that this is an unweighted measure. In other words voting the liberal side of a condom distribution bill counts the same as voting the liberal side of the campaign finance reform bill that McCain sponsored that limits free speech. I think we can agree that those two are not of equal importance.
This message brought to you by the Gipper
He was an idealist and an ideologue.
Another Diaz-Balart Challenged
First, Hialeah deity Raul Martinez decides to run against Lincoln Diaz-Balart for a U.S. congressional seat. Now, news is out that Lincoln's younger brother Mario is facing a similar challenge from none other than occasional Babalu Blog topic of conversation Joe Garcia.
Joe Garcia, the Democratic strategist and former Cuban American National Foundation director, will challenge incumbent Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart.
Garcia's expected announcement Thursday comes on the heels of former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez's decision to take on Díaz-Balart's older brother, Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart.
''This is a unique time in American history and just sitting on the sidelines and cheering isn't enough,'' said Garcia, who plans to relinquish his post as chair of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party to run for the seat. ``People of good conscience have to provide leadership and that's something we're sorely lacking in South Florida and have been for a long time.''
Mario Díaz-Balart, a Republican, was elected to Congress in 2002 from the West Miami-Dade congressional district he helped create as chairman of the state House's congressional redistricting committee.
He said in an e-mailed statement that he welcomed the challenge.
''Elections are a wonderful part of the democratic process,'' the statement said. ``As I have always done, I will base my campaign on my extensive record of cutting taxes on our families and small businesses while delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding for our community's needs, including transportation, healthcare and education.''
Diaz-Balart, who has more than $465,000 in his reelection account, is a member of the House Budget Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Science and Technology Committee.
The sprawling district includes West Miami-Dade, a sliver of Monroe County and extends to Naples in Collier County.
I kind of feel left out in the Lincoln/Martinez duel because I don't live in Lincoln's district. However, I do have a say in the Mario/Garcia race since I live in Mario's district, so I very much looking forward to what will undoubtedly be a very interesting campaign.
The South Florida Cuban-American Democrat delegation is putting a ton of its chips on the table in 2008. Gotta love it. Both races are going to answer a lot of questions and end any doubts regarding the state of Cuban-American politics in South Florida, circa 2008. It's time to put up or shut up.
For pundits like us, it's almost like heaven. Can't wait to hear what Henry has to say about this one.
The media omits Cuba's role
There are truths, and half-truths, and sometimes what is left out becomes a lie by omission.
During the past few of days, I’ve read numerous articles (here, here, here) about Mondays protest against FARC. The articles correctly point out the organization's terrorist activities, and the terrible loss of life Columbians have suffered at the hands of FARC.
Also mentioned in the articles is the validation felt from the international display of solidarity, and the potential negative fallout to FARC supporter hugo chavez.
The following from an Diario Las Americas editorial sums it up well:
In Miami, as well as in Orlando, to mention only two cities in Florida, there were impressive demonstrations that bear witness to the solidarity that exists between Colombians and individuals from other countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela who joined this worldwide protest which, actually, is unprecedented. Obviously, in other cities of the United States where great numbers of Colombians live, the demonstrations were equally significant.
In some way or another this worldwide movement that goes from Caracas to Toronto, from Paris to México, as well as many other cities in the five continents, will gravitate on the minds of those who for any reason whatsoever have influence with the FARC, especially the government of Venezuela, whose President, Lt. Col. Hugo Chávez expresses its solidarity with FARC. Even though this ruler does not respond normally to international reactions, it is necessary to observe the effect that this significant and unique world reaction will have on his opinions.
In the midst of so much sorrow that the noble people of Colombia have been feeling for so many years, what happened on Monday is a satisfactory proof of national solidarity with international support.
The articles point out the potential fallout for supporters of FARC, and correctly name Venezuela’s chavez, but missing in every single article I could find is any mention of the castro regimes decades long involvement with FARC.
The castro's regimes close relationship with the Colombian terrorists has been extensively documented, and it is highly improbable than a guerrilla terrorist organization engaged in a fierce conflict with the Colombian government could have the type of international contacts it now has without the aid of a friendly state. castro's long-term relationships with the Colombians and Middle Eastern terrorist groups of diverse ideological tendencies as well as his unremitting hostility toward the United States and its allies would serve as a natural catalyst for these links.
Why isn’t Cuba’s support for FARC included in the reporting? Isn’t that akin to a report on organized crime that omits mention of the Mafia?
For the conservative voter who has everything
At the Miami Herald that's an oxymoron. See the latest at Herald Watch.
Get on With It Already
There's a new round of stories indicating that the great mystery of whether fifo will remain the nominal head of the Cuban misgovernment may be solved soon. This passes for news? I am reminded of a Who song. Although not quite a parallel, the last two lines seemed apropos. Care to guess which one? Find out below the fold.
Won't Get Fooled Again
We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight
I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
Death of an "Adventurer"
picture from Latinamericanstudies.org (Dr. De La Cova's website)
In today's Miami Herald, the news that Gerald Patrick Hemming has died. Who was Gerald Patrick Hemming? Good question, and one that is difficult to answer. He claimed to have fought alongside the castro rebels; made all sorts of accusations against the CIA; hinted dark conspiracies in the death of JFK. MLK; instructed a group of Cuban exile paratroopers, the International Penetration Force; and was himself at least once accused of being a Castro spy. The reality is hard to discern, although he was in Cuba and apparently did train exiles.
Perhaps that's why the Herald chose the angle of "Adventurer's life offers look at a bygone Miami" for its report. Read it here.
Lunch with Kay Abella
In about an hour Ill be sitting down to lunch with Kay Abella, author of Fighting Castro: A Love Story.
I'm sure we'll probably be chatting about a bunch of things - including the book, the Fernandez Family and the writing process, among other things - as we chow down on our Cuban cuisine, but if you have any comments or questions you'd like to ask Kay, now's the time. Either drop a comment below or email me your thoughts and queries.
And adding insult to injury...
Today is Ronald Reagan's birthday. Texas Rainmaker has a tribute:
Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan
History has recorded a legacy for which we still fight. On Ronald Reagan’s birthdate, let us remind ourselves, through his own words, just what this fight is all about.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.”
“Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.”
“One legislator accused me of having a nineteenth-century attitude on law and order. That is a totally false charge. I have an eighteenth-century attitude. That is when the Founding Fathers made it clear that the safety of law-abiding citizens should be one of the government’s primary concerns.”
“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.”
Moving the chess pieces around
John McCain is the senior senator from Arizona. He holds the seat previously held by Barry Goldwater. If elected president, John McCain will leave a Senate vacancy in that great state. He may even resign his senate seat before the general election.
Well there's this "up and coming" congressman in Arizona who is earning quite a reputation as a "pork buster" and is currently trying to get a seat on the House appropriations committee. His name: Jeff Flake. Maybe you've heard of him. Maybe you've seen these ads on every conservative web site.
Maybe you've heard him talk about how the embargo on Cuba is bad. Senator Jeff Flake. Ugh.
And if McCain resigns before the general in November and then loses, who do you think the rising young star of the party will be?
We can't win for losing.
What's good for the goose...
In an irate letter titled "Why are we affected?"to the Canadian newspaper Leader-Post, a Canadian reader expresses his frustration over the fact that due to the US government's economic embargo against the dictatorship in Cuba, he cannot use his MasterCard credit card in Cuba. Repeating the same faulty arguments, which have been the favorites among castro apologists, this reader cannot understand the US's "bizarre" laws that put so much economic pressure on countries like Cuba and N. Korea, yet allow trade with countries like China.
This argument has been debunked here, and in countless other forums time and time again. But like any propaganda put out by the Cuban regime, they will continue to repeat it in the hopes that people will believe it and subscribe to this twisted logic, as this letter writer has so unwittingly done.
The interesting thing about this letter, however, is at the very end:
I hadn't planned to visit Cuba any time soon and, thanks to this discovery, I don't intend to use my Mastercard any time soon either.(emphasis mine)
Turns out that this person, although appalled by the US's embargo against Cuba, finds nothing wrong with taking a punitive approach against MasterCard and in essence, instigating an economic embargo against MasterCard for adopting policies he disagrees with.
I want to congratulate you on what can only be described as a stunning victory on Super Tuesday. You won nine out of thirteen states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma) and have, according to my figures, almost certainly clinched the nomination of the Republican Party for the office of President. You have 598 delegates, and your closest opponent has 259. I think we can all say with some assurance that the campaign's over. I also want to thank you for the service and sacrifice you made for your country. Few of us can claim that honor, and it is to your eternal credit that, as a young man, you felt so strongly about defending your country.
That said, however, I cannot support your nomination and I cannot vote for you in November. Allow me to explain why.
Since I was a young man I have loved politics. Growing up in a Cuban-American family propelled that avocation, staunchly anti-communist and pro-America. I was proud of who I was and where I was. My first political act, at the tender age of sixteen (in 1972), was to support Richard Nixon. He was a candidate, I thought, who could turn the country around and maybe achieve a real victory over the Communists in Vietnam. I was wrong. Richard Nixon turned out to be a polarizing figure, a flawed man who basically spoke like a conservative, but governed with all the doubt, angst and paranoia of a liberal. He was a walking inferiority complex running the country, and all we got for it was Watergate and a “just peace.” Instead of ending the Vietnam War with the unquestioned victory I had hoped for, he gave us the Paris Peace Talks. He gave us helicopters scrambling off the roof of our embassy in Saigon. He gave us wage and price controls. He took us off the gold standard. He gave us the Environmental Protection Agency.
In 1976, thoroughly disappointed by Nixon and Watergate, and already jaded with politics, I heard a man speak at the Republican Convention that changed my mind about whether politicians could really mean what they said. That man was Ronald Reagan. When he spoke, I saw a man of conviction and I saw a man of loyalty. Loyalty to the values of the Republican Party that, as Frederick Douglass once wrote, made it the “party of freedom and progress.” I became a US citizen in large part because I wanted to vote for this man. Seven years later, when I swore my oath of allegiance to this country, I registered as a Republican. And the next year I cast my ballot for Ronald Wilson Reagan. Reagan was not a perfect candidate and he disappointed me on some issues. But I trusted him. I knew that he was a man that, even when I disagreed with him, held lofty goals and high principles.
You sir, are no Ronald Reagan.
For many years now I have seen you take sides against core conservative principles. You voted against tax cuts; you favored (another) immigration amnesty program; you favored increasing taxes on gasoline consumption; you limited the right of Americans to freely exercise their political speech. Your opposition became a disease. At every turn you went against the best interest of the country to oppose the core values that I deeply believe in and that Ronald Reagan espoused. You voted out of political expediency and opportunism. You became buddies with Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman.
You, sir, are not a conservative. You, sir, do not know the meaning of the word.
I’ve been criticized by some for “not seeing the big picture,” for ignoring the real threat of Hillary and/or Obama, real threats indeed for our nation. But I am unwilling to give in and compromise any further. I am unwilling to overlook behavior and words that smack of hypocrisy and opportunism. I am unwilling to hear any more talk about how big government can help us. I am unwilling to see the United States Government, thanks to you and your liberal allies, turn into a mommy, readily giving a teat to a country that is always hungrier for entitlements.
In truth, we have no one to blame for this predicament other than ourselves. We, the conservative core that made up Ronald Reagan’s constituency, dropped the ball and allowed the successes of 1994, 2000, and 2004 to spoil us and weaken us. We did not act when the word "compassionate” was added to “conservatism,” implying as it did that we were some kind of robber barons that wanted to plunder the people. We did not act when President Bush asked Ted Kennedy -- Ted Kennedy! -- to co-author an education bill. We did not act when you and your colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives spent money like a sailor on leave. We did not act when the Senate refused to convict a perjurer. We did not act when we saw limp policies in the Middle East and Latin America that endanger us. We did not act when you and thirteen Senators conspired to block the Republican leadership from ending the arcane Senate filibuster, allowing Bush’s nominees to the Federal bench to get a fair hearing. We did not act when you co-authored and helped pass an evil bill with Russ Feingold, a bill that was the first successful assault on freedom of speech since the country’s founding. When we did act, when we had had just about as much as we could stomach, we killed an ill-conceived, wholesale immigration amnesty plan that you co-authored with Ted Kennedy that would have legalized millions of illegal aliens, and slapped in the face those immigrants who had followed our laws to their pathway to citizenship. (Thank God for a small victory.)
With as liberal a voting record as that over the last few years, how can any conservative with principles even consider voting for you? Let’s face it, the alternative is... well, the alternative is only a different shade of pink.
I cannot vote for you, sir, and I cannot support you. I am saddened that, for the second (and last) time in my life, I am seriously considering resigning from my party, the Republican Party I supported because of Ronald Reagan and its bedrock conservative principles. I'm leaving for good this time, John. I mean it. There's no coming back, John. There will be no reconciliations, no explanations, no justifications.
Scratch that. My party left me a long time ago.
Well, you got your wish my friends
It's now a forgone conclusion that John McCain, the anti-Republican will win the nomination of the Republican party. Congratulations. We're going to see in about 9 months whether or not he truly is Captain "Electability". I have grave doubts about it. His friends in the liberal media are going to become his kryptonite.
In an election cycle that has already shown that Republicans are much less energized than the Dems, McCain will inspire voters with...
His record of cleaning up elections with campaign finance reform?
His proposal to tax American industry to stop a global warming crisis that may or may not exist and may or may not be man made?
His refusal to vote for tax cuts that put money back in the pockets of every taxpayer?
In three decades in Washington what legislation can he point to and say I fathered that?
They say we have the leaders we deserve. And tonight the GOP deserves John McCain. In November I'm afraid we'll be deserving a Clinton/Obama ticket. Enjoy that. I'm checking out of presidential politics until 2012.
February 05, 2008
Wreaking havoc at school
For those of you that don't know, I'm in my last semester at MIT. Just went to my first class of Contemporary Hispanic Literature. Guess what we're watching this semester....
The Motorcycle Diaries!!! OH BOY!
I've decided that since it's my last semester I will make that specific class quite interesting for the professor :)
I've been told stories by several Cuban-Americans of their tumultuous experiences with liberal professors. This is my first such experience, so I'd love to hear about any experiences you've had in the comments.
Smelling the Cafecito
The Miami Herald reports on the annual intelligence assessment which actually perceives the threat of Chavez. Surprisingly they are on target on a number of fronts:
In his written statement, McConnell, speaking on behalf of 16 U.S. government intelligence agencies, painted a picture of Chávez stung by a domestic electoral defeat and a worsening economy at home but determined to ``unite Latin America, under his leadership, behind an anti-U.S., radical leftist agenda and to look to Cuba as a key ideological ally.''
The report also notes Iran's growing ties with some nations, especially Venezuela. The two countries have signed agreements on everything from agriculture to automobiles manufacturing and have ''discussed cooperation on nuclear energy,'' but the U.S. intelligence community was ''not aware of any significant developments as a result'' of the talks.
The report also addresses the widely reported -- but not publicly acknowledged -- differences between Raúl Castro and Chávez. The ''sidelining of Fidel Castro in favor of his brother Raúl may lead to a period of adjustment in Venezuela's relations with Cuba,'' McConnell states.
Guess we can all sleep at night now. Bye the bye, they don’t expect any political reforms in Cuba. Read it for yourself here. There’s actually some more good stuff.
Two against one
Mike Huckster has been complaining about those observers who say a vote for him is a vote John McCain. He even said it was "voter suppression". Well at West Virginia's Republican convention today Mitt Romney won the first ballot with 41% to Huckabee's 33% and McCain's 16%. In the second ballot McCain asked his backers to support Huckabee and so Huckabee won with 52% vs. Romney with 47% and McCain with 1%.
So you tell me why Mr. Electable is so afraid of taking on Romney head to head without his wingman there to watch his six.
Triangulation, perfectly executed. Huckabee knows he is not going to win the nomination. He's just there to run interference for McCain and unfortunately a goo number of Republican voters are falling for it. Today the McCain/Huckabee team proved that they are just that and validated Romney's claims that a vote for Huckabee is the same as a vote for McCain.
Well here's the thing. Mike Huckabee won't be around after today. And McCain won't clinch the nomination tonight. So we're going to see that one-on-one match up because I don't think Romney is going to get this close to give up now.
That Ever Elusive Transition
From Jaime Suchlicki at the Cuban Transition Project:
Cuba Transition Project
Rapid Succession, Slow Transition in Cuba
Recent discussion about Cuba 's immediate future centers primarily on two possible variables: the first one explains that Raul Castro is more pragmatic than his older, ailing brother and that once Fidel is gone he will engage in major economic reforms. The second one suggests profound differences between zealots and reformers. Again with Fidel out of the picture, the reformers will prevail and Cuba will begin to change rapidly.
Most analysts agree that a succession has taken place and that Fidel is too ill to resume power. Raul and the military are firmly in control. New leadership is likely to take over the presidency of the Council of State, the Secretariat of Cuba's Communist Party, and the National Assembly. Yet, as long as Raul is in control, these leaders are likely to take their cues from the younger brother and refrain from taking individual initiatives.
The key question, then, about post-Castro Cuba is not who its new rulers will be or what they would like to accomplish. The key question is whether the institutionalization of the revolution under the control of the military, the party and the security apparatus will survive the transition from the totalitarian, paternalistic rule of Fidel Castro. And equally important, what can any emerging leadership hope to accomplish within the existing socio-political and economic context.
There are also other key and more troubling questions: Will the new rulers be able to exercise any major options at all? Will they fear upsetting the multilevel balance of interests upon which a new government will certainly depend?
The impediments to major change are significant:
The months, if not years, following Fidel Castro's death, will be filled by a "cult of personality" emphasizing his main teachings: economic openings will lead to political openings; imperialism is the enemy; and internationalism protects the Cuban revolution.
The military, the most important institution in contemporary Cuba , has significant legitimacy and respect and is a disciplined and loyal force. It controls more than 50% of the economy. Will they be willing to relinquish this economic control and their prominent role? One of Cuba 's major challenges will be how to extricate the military from the economy and put them back in the barracks.
A terrorized, disorganized and fearful population hoping for change from above, with many hoping to migrate. There is a strong belief among the Cuban people about the efficacy of the security services and an overwhelming fear of their repressive capabilities. The political elite sees the development of a civil society as a major challenge to its absolute authority and a threat to its long term control. The limited gains made by a civil society independent of the Castro brothers in the past few years are the result of a deteriorating economy; disillusionment with the revolution and growing unhappiness with the Castro regime; influence of outside forces; and a limited relaxation of the system's control. Yet civil society remains weak, not very effective and watched carefully and constantly by the security forces.
The possibility of regime continuity, therefore, seems stronger for Cuba than it was for other communist states. Although their end came suddenly, it took decades of decay to weaken critically the Eastern European regimes and successive leadership changes, as well as Soviet disengagement and acceptance before their collapse.
In Poland where the trade union Solidarity was born in 1980, as the first non-government trade union in communist history, a military-led government remained in power for a decade. In China , the communist regime obtained a new lease on life following Mao's death, initially through Deng's reforms and then ultimately through increased repression. In Syria , North Korea , and Jordan , children of former leaders took and retained power. Even in Haiti , the young Duvalier was able to cling to power for almost a decade.
It is likely that Raul Castro will draw some lessons from these events and attempt to satisfy the needs of the Cuban people. He will initially purchase massive amounts of food to satisfy one of Cubans' major complaints. After a while he may initiate limited economic reforms, allowing private ownership of land in an attempt to increase food productivity; encourage foreign investments in key sectors where Cuba lacks technology or capital, i. e., off-shore oil exploration, ethanol based agriculture; and increase consumer goods imports from China .
Given Raul's dislike for the niceties of the diplomatic world and his dislike for speech making, he may remain in the background. He will continue to control the military and security apparatus allowing civilians to occupy key positions in the Party and the government.
These changes, however, may not usher in a period of rapid political or economic change or in a collapse of the regime. The stability of the Cuban system is based primarily on the strength of the Armed Forces, the security apparatus, and the Party structure. The organization and strength of the bureaucracy that has grown around these institutions seem to assure continuity. Barring the imponderable or unpredictable, rapid change is not likely.
Perhaps the critical challenge for a Raul regime will be to improve the economy and satisfy the needs and expectations of the population, while maintaining continuous political control. Too rapid economic reforms may lead to a loosening of political control, a fact feared by Raul, the military, and other allies bent on remaining in power. Unfortunately for the Cubans, transition may be slow and painful.
Those computer savvy Viejitos in Miami
According to this news story, it turns out that the city of Miami ranks second only to Havana in the number of times the word “Cuba” is typed into a Google search box. What about the undead dictator himself? Well, Miami ranks fourth in the world for Google searches for the name “fidel castro,” and first in the US.
Those are interesting statistics considering that younger Cuban-Americans in Miami just aren’t that interested in Cuba politics (a so-called fact that has been repeated over and over and over and over and over again by pollsters). According to these pollsters they care more about the economy, the Iraq war, immigration reform, medical insurance, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Brittany Spears’ latest psychotic episode, Heath Ledger’s death, global warming, global cooling, and a host of other issues more than they care about their parents’ political convictions about Cuba.
One has to wonder then just who is going into Google in such large numbers and searching for this information so far down the list of importance to the younger generation of Cuban-Americans?
There can only be one answer: It has to be the Cuban viejitos in Miami!
I for one am amazed there are so many older generation Cubans who are computer savvy enough to rank Miami so high on this list. Especially when, according to news reports, they do nothing but hangout at Versailles restaurant, drink Cuban coffee, torment the Pinko ladies, and argue all day and night.
It’s either that or all those "polls" are full of…
La Novela, Part Deux
The gang at Generation ñ has posted the second installment of their homegrown novela.
You can catch it right here. Dont forget to watch it a lo cubano, with the volume at full blast and the phone off the hook.
You can watch the first episode right here.
February 04, 2008
The time capsule
Back in April of 2007, I wrote about John McCain. I honestly thought the GOP would nominate someone other than him. I could have never predicted what appears to be the inevitable outcome unless Romney can pull a rabbit out of his hat. Anyway, here's what I wrote at Cuban-American Pundits way back when...
McCain, a Democrat in Republican clothes?
I used to like John McCain. Before I got to know John McCain, that is. When you dig deeper into his rhetoric and his votes in the senate, you find a pattern that is, well, liberal. I discovered this during the campaign for the presidency in 2000.
Well, the Club for Growth published a summary of their most recent white paper on 2008 presidential hopefuls in yesterday's WSJ. And it's not good news for McCain, who is a darling of the MSM. Here's some of the most relevant excerpts:
Sen. McCain was one of only two Republican senators to oppose the 2001 tax cuts and one of only three GOP senators to oppose the 2003 reductions. Furthermore, his reason for opposing the cuts was taken straight from the playbook of the most radical left-wing Democrats. In 2001, Sen. McCain argued, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief."No wonder the media loves this guy so much. The full report is available by clicking here.
That statement is virtually indistinguishable from the class-warfare demagoguery used by Democrats like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. More importantly, it was grossly inaccurate. The Bush tax cuts lowered income taxes, and other taxes, for every American who paid them. In percentage terms, lower-income workers enjoyed the greatest savings, and today, upper-income workers pay a larger share of total income taxes than they did before the Bush tax cuts.
Sen. McCain did much more than just criticize the Bush tax cuts--he also joined leading liberal senators in offering and voting for amendments designed to undermine them. All in all, he voted on the pro-tax side of 14 such amendments in 2001 and 2003. These included an amendment he co-sponsored with Sen. Tom Daschle to limit the rate reduction in the top tax bracket to one percentage point and an amendment sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold against full repeal of the estate tax, aka the death tax. This latter vote is in keeping with Senator McCain's 2002 vote against repealing the death tax.
Over the years, Sen. McCain has supported a number of other big-government bills, including an amendment that would authorize the government to set prices on prescription drugs under Medicare and an amendment to prohibit oil drilling in part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
But of all his infringements on personal freedom, Sen. McCain's persistent attacks on political speech are the most worrisome. The First Amendment is an important safeguard of pro-growth policies. When government strays from sound economic policies, citizens must be free to exercise their constitutional rights to petition and criticize those policies and the politicians responsible for them. The 2002 McCain-Feingold bill (or the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act), named in part for the Arizona senator who gave it life, seeks to squash political dissent by imposing grossly unconstitutional restrictions on citizen participation in political debate.
In defense of the bill's provision severely limiting the freedom of private groups to run political TV ads, Sen. McCain argued in a Supreme Court brief, "These ads are direct, blatant attacks on the candidates. We don't think that's right." He thus anointed himself the arbiter of appropriate political speech, worthy of deciphering which speech is "right" and which should be permitted in American political debate. His law constitutes the greatest modern infringement of the First Amendment right to political free speech. While bestowing significant advantages upon incumbent office holders, it has created neither a less corrupt political domain nor a more democratic one.
While Sen. McCain's economic record is clearly mixed, a careful study demonstrates that even his pro-growth positions tend to be tainted by a heavy anti-growth undercurrent. This evidence, and the virulence of his rhetoric, suggest that American taxpayers cannot expect consistently pro-growth economic policies from a McCain administration.
Here's how the Club for Growth summarizes McCain:
Senator McCain's outspoken pursuit of anti-growth and anti-free-market policies in the realms of taxes, regulation, and campaign finance reveals a philosophical ambivalence, if not hostility, about limited government and personal freedom. This ambivalence, combined with a rebellious nature, often leaves taxpayers the victims of his latest cause célèbre. Despite his positive votes-and there are several-his negative positions have tainted, perhaps beyond repair, the positive ones over his twenty-four years in Congress. The evidence of his record and the virulence of his rhetoric suggest that American taxpayers cannot expect consistently strong economic policies from a McCain administration.
Now Romney's Club for Growth report isn't all peachy either but I think it's substantially better than McCain's.
If we put up McCain, who is currently 71 years old and who has spent the better part of 3 decades in Washington, against Barack Obama, who is 46 years old, should he win the Democrat nomination you can bet your sweet bippy that it's going to be U-G-L-Y in November. And it's not just McCain's age. You can call him a maverick if you like but McCain is not a good public speaker and an even worse debater.
I've always liked Drew Carey. Something about him always struck a chord with me. A few weeks ago I found out that he's collaborating with the folks at the libertarian Reason Magazine on something called the Drew Carey Project. This is the latest episode. Enjoy.
Romney's must win states
If Romney is to "live to fight another day" as described in the National Review article I quoted below, he's going to need to win most of the following states tomorrow:
Alaska (Romney actually campaigned there)
California (Polls have Romney surging, especially in the conservative Orange County and San Diego)
Colorado Caucus (Romney leading in the polls by a substantial margin)
Georgia (Romney is neck and neck with McCain in the latest polls, Huckabee trailing both by about 5%)
Massachusetts (Romney's home turf is lock)
Missouri (This one is close with all 3 candidates within 5 points of each other, a Romney win in Missouri would be huge as this an important swing state)
Montana (Closed caucus. McCain had a campaign chair that ran for Lt. Governor on the ticket with a Democrat, sound familiar? Romney should win here).
North Dakota Caucus (no clue, but it seems Romney is doing well out in the plains)
Tennessee (Rasmussen has this one as a 3-way toss up, other polls have McCain ahead)
Utah (Lots of Mormons to vote for Romney)
West Virginia (Not known, Romney will be there tomorrow for their convention)
Jim Geraghty of National Review is predicting that coming out of tomorrow the delegate count will be as follows:
McCain at 600+ total delegates (needing 1,191)
Romney a bit under 400 total delegates
Huckabee at 150 delegates or so
Geraghty says, "Under this scenario, the race won't be over, but McCain will have a clear lead, and time will be running low for Romney to close the gap."
I disagree. If Romney finishes tomorrow night at about 400 delegates with McCain at about 600 and Huckabee at 150 then Huckabee will be out. He has no cash and no real chance, his role as spoiler will be done and the line will be drawn in the sand between the McCain and anti-McCain factions of the party. Romney can roll on to compete head to head in the remaining primaries.
California can be Romney's stop-gap
Phoenix, Ariz. — Since John McCain’s win in Florida, the conventional wisdom has been that he has nearly locked up the Republican presidential nomination. But now, just hours before Super Tuesday voting begins, a new factor has entered the equation: California. Polls, both public and those taken privately by the Romney campaign, show Mitt Romney with unexpected strength in the nation’s biggest state, sending both Romney and McCain rushing to make unscheduled stops there on Monday night and Tuesday. If Romney could win California, people in both campaigns say, the race could go on for several more weeks. And if that happens, conservatives who are trying to organize to stop McCain would have more time to work. At this late moment, California means everything.
A Reuters/C-Span/Zogby poll, finished Sunday, shows Romney leading McCain in California, 40 percent to 32 percent. A Rasmussen poll, finished Saturday, shows the two candidates tied at 38 percent. Other polls, taken before February first, showed McCain in the lead, sometimes by a substantial margin...
“What’s happening is like what happened in Maine. When it’s down to two men, and Republican voters look at the two men and see where they stand on the issues, with the economy becoming the most important thing, the decision gets easier and easier.”
But what, exactly, is the message? “The question in my mind is whether this is the beginning of the coalescing of the conservative movement against McCain, or whether it is something less than that,” the first Romney aide tells me. “Is he going forward on the basis of a conservative wave, although at the 11th hour and 59th minute?” If Romney believes there is such a conservative wave, he will certainly keep on.
And if Romney does keep on — yet another aide tells me “We’re already looking at February 9, February 12, and February 15” — that will give McCain’s opponents in the conservative world more time to press their case. “There is an increasing sense of urgency among conservatives that has led them to rally toward Romney, in that he would be a better standard bearer for the party on issues that are important to conservatives,” the aide says.
We interrupt this program...
The world according to McCain
Audio John Kerry describing how McCain's "people" approached him about a Kerry/McCain ticket.
McCain tells Peter Jennings how his friend John Kerry would be a good president.
John McCain says Senator Clinton would make a good president.
Well I think John McCain would make a lousy president.
Raquel Regalado E.P.D.
Raquel Regalado, a celebrated Cuban-American radio host and wife of Miami City Commissioner Tomás Regalado, died early Sunday. She was 60.
Regalado died of heart failure at Mercy Hospital in Miami, her family said.
''She was the best advisor, the best friend I've ever had in my life,'' said Tomás Regalado, who was married to Raquel for 35 years. He added: ``A loving wife, a marvelous mother.''
Raquel Regalado co-anchored a daily morning show on WWFE-La Poderosa (670-AM) called Lo Que Otros No Dicen (What Others Won't Say) and hosted another program on La Poderosa called Panorama.
Her work complemented that of husband Tomás, who besides being a city commissioner is also a radio and television personality in his own right.
''At the end of the day this community has lost a voice, a voice that spoke for them,'' said her son, Tomás N. Regalado. ``A microphone has been silenced this morning.''
He added that her radio program aimed ``to say the truth and to give the community a voice . . . In this city that we live in sometimes a lot of people don't say the truth, and my mom did.''
He also recalled that despite her heavy workload, his mother was devoted to her family. ''She was the cornerstone in our family,'' he said.
''When I was a little kid she would take us to school, she would pick us up,'' he said. ``She made sure the radio show didn't interfere with family life.''
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, paid tribute to Raquel Regalado in a telephone interview. She had known Raquel for more than 25 years and appeared on her show about a month ago to discuss the presidential campaign.
''She will be greatly missed,'' Ros-Lehtinen said. ``She was a warm-hearted individual who had a lot of compassion for all the community members. Her voice will be sorely missed not just on the radio waves but throughout so many activities in our community.''
Regalado was born May 22, 1947, in Havana.
In 1960, she came to Miami with her father and two brothers -- part of the initial waves of Cuban refugees fleeing the takeover of the island by Fidel Castro in 1959.
Twelve years later, in 1972, she married Tomás Regalado and had three children: Tomás Jr., José Francisco and Raquel.
''My mother was a person that spent a lifetime serving others and never asking anything for herself,'' said her daughter Raquel. ``She had a life of sacrifice and love.
''We are thankful for the gift of having had her in our lives,'' she added.
Raquel Regalado's radio career also began in 1972.
''Raquel got her start in radio with me, on the old Cadena Azul, during the '70s,'' said Tomás Regalado. ``She pursued a career in radio during her entire life, being heard over Radio Mambí, on WQBA and on La Poderosa.''
''She was a woman who always had a clear course once she set sails,'' said her friend Jorge A. Rodríguez, owner of La Poderosa and Cadena Azul. ``She was a woman with a strong character, passionate about her beliefs and struggles.''
Tomás Regalado asked that his wife be remembered for her struggle for human rights.
''During the '80s and early '90s, every year she would attend the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, which was a vital cause for her,'' he recalled.
Regalado also traveled internationally for three decades to cover stories, he said.
Regalado is survived by her husband, three children, two grandchildren -- Isabella and Sebastián -- and a brother, José Ferreiro.
Services will be at noon Tuesday at St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 900 SW 26th Rd., Miami. Burial will follow at Flagler Memorial Park, at West Flagler and 53rd Avenue.
What's next? Protestants for the Pope?
Jews for Hitler? Britney for Motherhood? A sign of the insane times we live in:
Stupidity seems to have become a contagious disease. I'm ashamed they even use our symbol on this site. What a bunch of fucking morons.
Does this mean he won’t be able to psychoanalyze himself?
The Mexicans are no good at it, but there is at least one piece of the American frontier where the United States can count on a foreign neighbor to do all it can to keep its citizens from crossing over to the American side:
The fenceline between the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo, "free" Cuba, if you will, and the rest of the island.
The Cuban dictatorship is vigilant, not so much as a security measure for the base, but as a means to enforce the law barring Cubans from leaving the island without its permission. Violators are dealt with, harshly.
So it doesn't look good for three young Cubans recently caught, apparently trying enter the naval base on Jan. 20.
Independent journalist Luis Esteban Espinosa reports that the three escapees — Rubén Gutiérrez Villasana, 20, Julián Rafael Ruano Basulto, 24, and Jesús Manuel Peña Ramírez, 23 — were scheduled to soon appear before a military tribunal, which could sentence each of them to up to 7 years in prison for illegal exit.
The irony, of course, is that the three never had a chance. Even if they had been able to evade Cuban security forces, chances are the Americans — representatives of "the land of the free" — would have tossed them back, for only having "muddy feet."
Steyn on McCain
At National Review (emphasis mine):
The Clintons are nothing if not lucky, and Hillary must occasionally be enjoying a luxury-length cackle at the thought of being pitted against a 71-year old “maverick” whose record seems designed to antagonize just enough of the base into staying home on election day. In the 2000 campaign season, running in a desultory fashion for the New York Senate seat, Rudy Giuliani waged a brief half-hearted campaign just long enough to leave the Republican Party with no one to run against Hillary except a candidate who wasn’t up to the job. Has he managed to do the same this time round?
Hey, I'm officially a writer
Recently I posted a Q&A with Cristina Khuly who made the film "Shoot Down" here at Babalu. I was contacted by Orlando Weekly and asked if I'd sell them the piece. 25 bucks baby. But now I guess I can say I sold something I wrote.
You can read the piece at Orlando Weekly.
Jose Basulto's response to Shootdown
Ziva just sent us this and I think it is important that the response of one of the participants on that tragic day be heard. Here is Jose Basulto's response, verbatim, from the file I received:
JOSE BASULTO’S RESPONSE TO THE DOCUMENTARY SHOOT DOWN
We must credit Christina Khuly Eger for the notable improvements in her film, Shoot Down, which opened last week in select theaters in South Florida and nationwide. Although the documentary rings truer than the original version, it continues to omit relevant information pertaining to Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR). More importantly, it leaves the viewer with an erroneous impression of some of the facts surrounding February 24, 1996.
The spokesperson for Shoot Down is Maggie Khuly, mother of director Christina Khuly Eger and sister of Armando Alejandre, Jr., one of the victims. Another figure prominently featured in the film is Richard Nuccio, the former head of Cuban Affairs at the U.S. State Department. Several of their statements demand rectification.
One of the most erroneous parts of the movie is Maggie Khuly’s affirmation that several of the exile organizations had asked BTTR not to fly on February 24. This is completely false.
Mrs. Khuly had never participated in BTTR’s activities or as a member of the organizations that supported Concilio Cubano, a coalition of dissident groups planning an unprecedented meeting on this historic day in Havana. Armando Alejandre, Jr., her brother, was one of seven individuals chosen by our exile organizations to coordinate efforts in support for Concilio Cubano. He wanted BTTR to fly on February 24 and he wanted to be part of that flight. Sadly, although he had flown with us weeks before as a volunteer on a humanitarian mission to help provide basic needs for fellow refugees at Nassau’s detention center, the day of the shoot down was his first – and only – search and rescue mission in the Straits of Florida.
Alejandre was dedicated to the non-violent struggle we adhered to at BTTR against the Castro dictatorship. He was a man of action, not words; he was a true hero, committed to help bring about freedom and democracy to the oppressed Cuban people. If BTTR was asked not to fly that day why would Alejandre have flown with BTTR against the wishes of Concilio Cubano which he represented in exile?
The evening of Friday, February 23, 1996, various exile groups met at the Hyatt Hotel in Coral Gables where a support and information center for Concilio Cubano was operating. At the Hyatt meeting, Alejandre passed on to Sylvia Iriondo (the head of Mothers Against Repression, MAR por Cuba, and one of the survivors on my plane) who was sitting next to me, a note asking her to tell me on his behalf that BTTR should fly a humanitarian search and rescue mission to the Straits of Florida the following morning and that he wanted to be a part of it. Mrs. Iriondo showed Armando’s note to me.
If Cuban exile organizations had warned, asked, pleaded or even suggested that BTTR not fly the next morning, would it have made sense that both Mr. Alejandre, as a leading member of Concilio Cubano’s coordinating group in exile, and Mrs. Iriondo, as head of one of the organizations actively supporting Concilio Cubano, place thenselves against their wishes and fly with us that day? NO such wishes were ever expressed. Shortly after the meeting, it was agreed that BTTR would fly a routine search and rescue mission in the Straits of Florida on February 24, 1996. The exile groups never asked us to cancel our mission for that day.
After the shoot down and upon our return to the hangar at Opa Locka, Mrs. Iriondo gave that note to Armando Alejandre, Sr., as a testimonial to his son’s desire to fly with us that day. The Alejandre family has never mentioned this note and the film makes no mention of it.
The second most egregious part of the movie is that BTTR was warned that the Cubans intended to shoot us down. No one in the U.S. government warned us about the impending shoot down, neither that day nor any other day. We reaffirm: at no time was any official warning given to us in the form of a letter, fax, telegram, telephone call, radio transmission, email, personal communication or any other form of communication that there was any real threat or additional peril for flying on February 24, 1996. If there was such a warning why is that person not interviewed or the letter, e-mail, etc. shown in the film?
Another addition to the first version of the documentary includes the recorded voice of Raul Castro issuing orders for a shoot down whenever and wherever possible, preferring that it not take place over land. We understand that the families of Armando Alejandre, Jr., Carlos Costa, and Mario de la Peña had been given a copy of this recording by a Spanish activist before the original documentary was released. When asked why Brothers to the Rescue and Eva Barbas (mother of murdered pilot Pablo Morales) were never given a copy of this tape, the families’ attorney responded that the tape had been turned over to the FBI. The FBI denies ever receiving it and the attorney never followed up with the FBI. We feel this tape should have been made public years ago.
The film does, however briefly, touch on what we have been stating from the beginning: the events of February 24, 1996 were allowed to happen as a result of the lack of response (and/or complicity) of the Clinton administration. Major Jeffrey Houlihan saw the MiGs on his radar screen and made the equivalent of a 911 call to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. They stoically replied, “We’re handling it. Don’t worry”. Fighter jets on the runway in Homestead were told to “stand down”; that is: do not take off while the air force bases watched the persecution and shoot down of our planes for 53 minutes. Yet when the BTTR planes were not in the air that very morning and MiGs had been deployed, the Homestead fighter pilots were scrambled.
There was a protocol in place that had been used numerous times whenever MiGs were spotted. BTTR pilots were radioed; the BTTR base was informed; and interceptors were scrambled. No one – not one of the many agencies that were monitoring our flights that day – called to inform us we were being hunted down. Radar control stations were making screen prints and print-outs; an Orion intelligence aircraft was monitoring; and the U.S. government was watching. No one called Brothers to the Rescue. Even after the first two planes were downed, no one informed us, the lone survivors, that we were being chased by a second group of MiGs.
Nuccio’s statements also require rectification. I was a licensed pilot the day of the shoot down. It wasn’t until later, to appease the Cuban government, that my license was revoked.
It is inconceivable that Nuccio lays the blame on me for the horrendous crime that was committed that day. The Miami Herald reviewer Marta Barber in her movie review of January 25th, 2008 repeats the uncontested false statements Nuccio makes at the end of the film as fact. It is ironic that Nuccio asks me to apologize to the Cuban government for the murder of three American citizens and one legal resident over international waters, as determined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations, while flying civilian aircraft on a humanitarian mission. We invite Nuccio to apologize to the four families for remaining silent when he could have prevented the shoot down.
Shoot Down is a documentary worth seeing only to reaffirm that truth and justice are yet to be attained.
José J. Basulto
President, Brothers to the Rescue
N2506 Pilot (Survivor)
February 03, 2008
John McCain Hates Me
Until last night, when I watched the Republican debate, I had no idea how much John McCain dislikes me and just about everybody else but Rudy Giuliani, who if you believe The New York Times is a pretty good hater himself.
As I watched McCain and Governor Romney go at it during the debate at the Reagan Library I was struck by the huge gap that separates McCain -- whose contempt for his fellow humans is patently obvious -- and my dad, Ronald Reagan, who had nothing but the deepest affection and respect for the American people.
The feeling is mutual between McCain and me. I don’t like the way he treats people. You get the impression that he thinks everybody is beneath him. He seems to be saying, “I was a war hero, and you had damn well better treat me as your superior.”
He has contempt for conservatives who he thinks can be duped into thinking he’s one of them, despite such blatantly anti-conservative actions as his support for amnesty for illegal immigrants, his opposition to the Bush tax cuts which got the economy rolling again, and his campaign finance bill which skewed the political process and attacked free speech.
I am appalled by his contempt for the intelligence of his listeners when he flat-out lies and expects them to believe what he says even when the truth is staring them in the face.
A prime example cited by columnist Robert Novak was McCain’s denial that he had privately suggested that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was too conservative, insisting that he recalled saying no such thing, adding that Alito was a "magnificent" choice.
“In fact,” wrote Novak, “multiple sources confirm that the senator made negative comments about Alito nine months ago.”
In last night’s debate, McCain stubbornly defended his charge, false on the face of it, that Romney wanted a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.
"I have never, ever supported a specific timetable" for withdrawing troops, Romney said, adding that McCain's accusation on the eve of Tuesday's primary "sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible.
What Romney said last April, was merely that U.S. and Iraqi leaders "have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about" in private, which in no way suggests he was in any sense talking about troop withdrawals.
Despite the evidence, McCain charged that "of course he said he wanted a timetable" for a withdrawal, even though he had never said any such thing. It was McCain daring to ask us if we wanted to believe our lying eyes or his demonstrably false allegation.
McCain must think conservatives are dumb enough to allow him to get away with claiming he’s one of them. This is from a man who opposed drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and who twice voted against President Bush’s tax cuts and sponsored the campaign-finance reform legislation that Romney claimed "took a whack at the First Amendment."
In John McCain’s eyes, conservatives are the Viet Cong of this generation and he treats us as such. It’s either his way or no way.
I despise his habit of talking down to us, like a wise father to an idiot son. He’s just at a loss to understand why everybody doesn’t grovel at his feet and accept his every word as wisdom handed down from his lofty perch atop Mt. Olympus.
I can’t help it. I know in my heart he hates me, and every conservative. If he gets the nomination the only way he could win against Hillary or Barack Obama would be to be part of a McCain-Limbaugh ticket.
The record of the Miami Dolphins as the only undefeated team in NFL history is intact. Goodbye Patriots. Maybe next year you can buy better video cameras!
La dictadura Hillary
Hillary just doesn't want all Americans to "have" healthcare coverage, she believes that all Americans must pay for her proposed healthcare coverage whether they want it or not.
"Saying she might allow workers' wages to be garnisheed if they refuse to buy health insurance. She has criticized Obama for pushing a health plan that she says would not require universal coverage.
Pressed on how she would enforce her mandate, Clinton said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."
She said such measures would apply only to workers who can afford health coverage but refuse to buy it, which puts undue pressure on hospitals and emergency rooms. Under her plan, she said, health care "will be affordable for everyone" because she would limit premium payments "to a low percent of your income."
Obama also believes in mandatory healthcare enrollment, but only for children. Read the article here.
Firsthand update on Cuban doctors in East Timor
About three weeks ago, I posted about the plight of several Cuban doctors who have been trying to flee East Timor. In response to the article, I received a comment from one of the Cuban doctors over there, Dr. Alexis Oriol Rodriguez Caceres. He has his own blog, entitled El Diario de la Resistencia II.
A little over a week ago, Alexis e-mailed me an article about the doctors published in a Portuguese newspaper in which he was interviewed. He very nicely translated it for me. You can find his translation linked below.
If you don’t remember, the situation is basically in a stalemate as the US is pushing East Timor to let the doctors seek asylum in the US and East Timor is trying to maintain its relationship with Cuba; the typical slave trade, er, sorry, "relationship," under which the doctors are sent from Cuba in exchange for goods.
Well, apparently the Timorese president classified the case as one of mere “economic opportunity.” Gee, I wonder who fed him those words.
Alexis bravely stated that Timor’s health care system is under Cuba’s current control. He said: “This is political blackmail and should not be permitted by a government or country that proclaims itself free, independent or democratic.”
Several other doctors were interviewed by the Portuguese Agency, and have rightfully accused Havana of “exporting the tyranny through the rigorous control of the Cuban Communist Party of each one of the Cuban personnel in East Timor.”
And the grand finale:
“The Government of Cuba, through its ambassador in Timor-East and, what is worse, now through Ramos Horta, is trying not to show the world the disagreement and disapproval that many Cubans feel for living in a country where liberty, democracy and human rights do not exist by labeling the motives of the four doctors as ‘economic reasons,’” affirmed Alexis.
I have the utmost respect for Alexis and his courage to speak up against the Cuban regime. If you speak Spanish, do yourself a favor and check out his blog. It is an amazing account of what it’s really like to be one of Cuba’s slave doctors. The regime makes them lie and claim to be specialists when they have just graduated from medical school and have barely practiced before. The government also makes them meet a quota of patients “seen.” Often, Alexis and others create patients on their list (e.g. Alicia Alonso, Juan Luis Guerra). It’s a horrible life that is naively and continuously lauded by castro sympathizers.
Cuban doctors upset by the statements of East Timor president Ramos Horta.
Díli, 23 Jan - The four Cuban doctors trying to flee of Timor-East for
the United States reacted today with indignation to the statements of
the timorese president, that Tuesday classified the case of mere
"José Ramos Horta should concern itself by a foreign party in control,
function and driving inside his own country the health system, as is
happening now", affirmed doctor Alexis Oriol Rodriguez to the Portuguese
Agency in Díli.
"This is a political blackmail and should not be permitted by a
government or country that proclaims itself free, independent or
democratic", said the doctor.
Four of the 227 cooperative of the Cuban sanitary brigade in Timor-East
are asiking not to come back the Cuba.
The doctors, interviewed by the Portuguese Agency, accuse Havana of
"export the tyranny" through the rigorous control of the Cuban Communist
Party (PC) to each one of the Cuban personnel in East Timor
The four doctors, without passport, live hidden in Díli there for about
three months, awaiting that the East Timor Government allow them to
leave the country.
"There is a law, passed by the Congress (North American) that guarantees
any Cuban doctor, that be in Cuba or in another country if itself will
want to go for the U.S.A. , without any special handling is
automatically accepted", declared José Ramos Horta to LUSA commenting
For the leader of Timorese State, is "natural" that in a country, as
Cuba, where the doctors "earn little", if the United States arise to
them and "offer privileges of doctor", that "encourages and encourages
them to go".
"If things are like this, then someone explain us why we are still
here?", declared today Cuban doctor Irina Valdés Pérez.
"We already fulfill the contract of two years working in East Timor. We
have no deb neither to Timor neither to Cuba. All we ask is to show
respect for the liberty of movements of each one of ourselves",
increased the doctor.
Irina Valdés Pérez, and his husband Raidén López Carrillo and Miriela
Llanes Martínez already got the visa of entrance and documents for
traveling up to the America, "even without passport" from the embassy of
the United States in Díli.
As regards Alexis Oriol Rodriguez, still not has the North American visa.
About the statements of José Ramos Horta, Raidén López Carrillo
interrogates-itself "about the notion of human rights of the President
of the Republic, that is also a Nobel Peace Awarded".
"In Cuba everything is a politics", underlined Irina Valdés Pérez about
the "economics" motives of his escape for the United States, country
where the four doctors have family.
"That it is the kind of repeated argument by the Embassy of Cuba",
increased to medical.
"The Government of Cuba, in the figure of his ambassador in Timor-East,
and what is worse, now in the figure of Ramos Horta, is trying not to
show the world the disagreement and the disapproval that many Cubans
feel for living in a country where does not exist liberty, democracy or
human rights, by calling of `economics reasons`" the motives of the four
doctors, affirmed Alexis Oriol Rodriguez.
The statements of the leader of timorese State, concluded the doctor in
a written statement to the Portuguese press, left him nothing but
"repugnance and shame".
LUSA tried, unsuccessfully, in the last two days, to have statements by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Business in East Timor about the
situation of the Cuban doctors and the reason why they can not leave of
The chief of the embassy of the United States in Díli, contacted
concerning the same case, remitted for Thursday as a day for "an
official answer" from the Department of State.
To same explained, however, that the three Cuban doctors authorized to
enter United States "are not a political case" and their documentation
of journey was granted to the shelter of a special program.
As regards the ambassador of Cuba in Díli, Ramón Hernández Vásquez,
member of the Central Comité of the Cuban Communist Party , affirmed
Tuesday that "everything was said" about the case.
For the Cuban diplomat, the situation of the doctors that are going to
flee for the United States is "barely a case of “economic” emigration.
Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!
They're not asking for much
Yesterday I received an e-mail from NetforCuba.org, which contained a copy of a letter written by Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez,” and Martha Beatriz Roque. It was addressed to the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos I, and in this letter these two Cuban dissidents ask for the monarch's assistance in their struggle to end the tyranny imposed on the nation of Cuba by castro, Inc. that has caused so much death and destruction for the past half-century.
It will be interesting to see the King's answer since the letter does not ask for anything that would be considered by any reasonable person to be outrageous. They did not ask the King to stop Spanish companies from employing slave labor on the island; they did not ask the King to go before the EU, or the UN, to demand that human rights be respected on the island; they did not ask the King to circumvent the diplomatic protocol of his government and publicly denounce the despotic regime in Cuba.
Instead, Martha and Antúnez have made a very simple and reasonable request: Since the King has always been such an ardent supporter of democracy and human rights, they simply, and respectfully request that he provide them with copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that they can distribute them on the island.
Below is a quick translation I did of the letter by Martha and Antúnez. The original version in Spanish can be read HERE.
Havana – January 31, 2008
His Majesty Juan Carlos I
King of Spain
First, we offer you our respect. We have decided to contact you since we are aware of your commitment to democracy, and by virtue of the Spanish Constitution, which you yourself sanctioned before the courts on December 27, 1978, in article 10.2, reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be found.
We are a group of Cuban dissidents who advocate the liberty of political prisoners and among other actions to which we are summoned is: “to distribute copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the Cuban people who are not aware of these rights.”
Since we lack the means to acquire a considerable number of copies of this document, which we would like to distribute on the streets of our country, we ask you, if it is at all possible, to supply us through your embassy in Havana, copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We leave in your hands the methods which will be most convenient for you to help and we hope you understand why we have made this request public.
Your Excellency Don Juan Carlos, with the assurance that you would have our utmost consideration and affection, we would like to thank you in advance for doing anything you can to help us in this noble cause, which this year celebrates, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez”
Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello
It will be interesting to see how the good King responds (if he responds at all) to this request. Perhaps he may surprise all of us. Or, perhaps he may feel as the regime does that distribution of a document which lists the rights all humans should have is a subversive document.
The Great One, being great
Mark Levin has written what I think is the authoritative post on John McCain (Emphasis is mine):
Reagan Challenged His Party from the Right. McCain Challenges His Party from the Left. [Mark R. Levin]
...I appreciate all the references to Reagan's efforts to advance his agenda, which did involve making compromises with a Democrat House and, throughout most of his presidency, a Democrat Congress. And if John McCain showed this kind of temperament and vision in his political career, I don't think most who object to his candidacy during the primaries would be objecting to it today. I think we would be enthusiastically supporting him.
Painting Reagan as a tax-and-spend Republican, who basically went along with Washington and appointed a bunch of moderates to the Supreme Court, in an apparent attempt to build up McCain's conservative and leadership credentials and mollify his critics, has the opposite effect mostly because it is inaccurate. It reminds me of Bill Clinton's supporters using Thomas Jefferson's alleged adultery to explain the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Reagan challenged his party from the Right. He sought the Republican nomination in 1968 against Richard Nixon and lost. He sought the nomination against Gerald Ford in 1976 and lost. He fought the Republican establishment in 1980 as well, including Bob Dole, Howard Baker, and George H. W. Bush, and won. McCain has challenged his party from the Left. I don't know how many more times I and others have to lay out his record to prove the point. To put a fine point on it, when he had to, Reagan sought compromise from a different set of beliefs and principles than McCain. It does a great disservice to historical accuracy and the current debate to continue to urge otherwise.
Let me be more specific, rather than spar in generalities. Reagan would never have used the phrase "manage for profit" as a zinger to put down a Republican opponent. Reagan believed in managing for profit because he believed in free enterprise. That doesn't mean he didn't agree to certain tax increases (after fighting for and winning the most massive tax cuts in modern American history), which were incidentally to be accompanied by even greater spending cuts. McCain believes the oil companies are evil, and said it during one of the debates. Among his first acts as president, Reagan decontrolled the prices of natural gas and crude oil with the stroke of his pen because, as he understood, profit funds research and exploration. Reagan had a respect for and comprehension of private property rights and markets that McCain does not. There never would have been a Reagan-Lieberman bill, in which the federal government's power over the private sector would have trumped the New Deal.
Reagan opposed limits on political speech. The Reagan administration ended the Fairness Doctrine and the media ownership rules, which helped create the alternative media that McCain despises. Reagan's reverence for the Constitution would never have allowed him to support, let alone add his name to, something like McCain-Feingold...
Reagan sought to abolish all kinds of federal programs and agencies — from the Department of Education to the Action Agency/VISTA — and the list goes on and on. I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult for someone with the time and inclination, such as a think-tank scholar, to go back and examine the early budgets that Reagan sent to Congress. Am I the only one who remembers all the horror stories in the media portraying Reagan's budgets as setting back the New Deal and Great Society, creating armies of homeless, cutting ketchup from the Food Stamp program, and so forth? But Reagan couldn't get a lot of the cuts he wanted past congressional Democrats. However, he did shutdown the government several times to try to limit spending. Does anyone remember the media stories about Social Security recipients going without checks?
The one area Reagan drastically increased spending was defense. And while McCain is said to be among the most capable of hawks, he used little of his political capital and media savvy to oppose the Clinton cuts — or to warn the nation about the rising threat from al-Qaeda, for that matter. He did not call for the resignation of his good friend Bill Cohen, who was a terrible defense secretary. McCain was not alone, of course. But a more fulsome examination of McCain's senatorial record relating to defense, intelligence, and law enforcement is met mostly with silence or admonitions to avert our eyes.
Reagan would not have led efforts to grant the enemy constitutional and international rights, as McCain has. I believe he would have sided with President Bush. After all, as president, Reagan rejected efforts to expand the Geneva Conventions to cover terrorists. This is a key area of departure for McCain not only from Bush but most national security advocates. But, alas, we must avert our eyes, again...
But we must rewrite history if we are to make the case that McCain is no different from Reagan, Reagan is no different from his predecessors, and Reagan's speeches weren't all that revolutionary. And if we object to such characterizations, then the argument shifts to — well, stop making comparisons to Reagan, Reagan wasn't perfect, the Reagan era is dead, these are different times, etc. Then, if we criticize McCain's record we are told the tone is troubling, we're going to help elect Hillary Clinton if we don't unite behind McCain now (at the beginning of the primaries, no less!), the surge is the only issue that matters, etc.
Look, I do not believe that McCain is a principled conservative. I believe he is a populist hawk in the tradition of a Scoop Jackson. This isn't a perfect comparison, of course, but nothing is ever perfect, is it? In my view, this is why the hawks will support McCain regardless of his record in virtually every other respect. Moreover, they see McCain as the only Republican who has the will or ability or whatever to fight terrorism. I don't. But please, can we at least agree, on National Review's website of all places, to stop dumbing down or dismissing the Reagan record. If you are going to use it, at least be accurate about it. It isn't perfect, but it is far superior to the backhand it received earlier.
February 02, 2008
Call for Unity from Darsi Ferrer
In a letter dated February 1, Dr Darsi Ferrer calls for Cuban unity, describing the island as a time bomb. Some excerpts:
The government clings to power irrationally and creates false expectations as a means to stall for time. These include promises of changes and structural reforms, but their deeds demonstrate their complete incapacity and the scarcity of real solutions which would permit the enjoyment of a dignified life.
The International Community adopts an optimism in respect to the supposed democratic transition in Cuba which does not correspond with concrete mechanisms to make these materialize. There is not the slightest guarantee that the starting point to spontaneously resolving the problems of Cubans will be the death of one sick old man...
...I invite all Cubans to sit down, not to attempt unity, because that is utopian, but to start to learn to listen to each other. If we can listen to each other, then we will be in a condition to look for a way to be heard by those in power as well as the considerable skeptical and indifferent sector of the population. If we decide to sit down, why not aim to conduct negotiations. Our isolated voices and actions have little chance of effectively influencing our reality. We have the duty to sit, converse, reflect, reach agreements and co-ordinate actions....
...Cubans, every minute we fail to reach agreement hunger tortures our children, the Gulf collects the lives of our compatriots, those whose intent is to feed their families end up in prison, and violence gains new practitioners.
Read it in Spanish at Misceláneas here.
How'd I miss this one? Could be I'm not expecting to see a positive, if patronizing, article about Miami Cubans in the New York Times. Gotta be. My Miami brethren would know better than I if they got the shifting demographics right.
Roughly half the Cubans and Cuban-Americans in the United States live in the Miami-Dade County area, making up at least half of its 2.4 million residents, according to the estimate of Damian Fernandez, vice provost of Florida International University, based in Miami, and director of its Cuban Research Institute. And while the face of Latin Miami has certainly shifted as waves of new immigrants have arrived from Central and South America, the predominant flavor has remained. “In a way, the infrastructure of Latin Miami is a Cuban infrastructure,” said Dr. Fernandez, 50, a Cuban native. That traces back to the Havana-meets-Miami heyday of the pre-revolution ’50s and continues as more Cuban exiles arrive.
There are times when the frustration seems overwhelming. When we see the world turn away and ignore the cries for help from a nation that has been turned into a prison by a despotic regime, we wonder if anyone will ever listen. But there are men who have experienced the pure evil that is the castro regime. And through the beatings, the tortures, the hunger, and the humiliation, they held on to their hope for a free Cuba.
The regime took away their weapons, they took away their clothes, and they stripped them of every basic human right. They could not, however, take from them their reason, and they could not take away the most important thing the regime wanted, and so sorely lacks: Integrity.
That is something you always have on your mind—you remember that your cause is good and they are the ones who are wrong. That’s what makes men stand firm. Seeing impotence, but being better than that and saying, “No: I stay planted here because this is my position. I don’t have a gun to fight, but I’m fighting you with all my courage.” That’s a Plantado.
The video below is a documentary of these inspiring Cuban men known as the Plantados. They fought against tyranny with the only thing they had left—and won. It is a must-see for all of us. It is a reminder of who we are up against, but more importantly, it is a reminder that a few have stared down the devil himself.
(Note: Video embed was making some folks' pages load a little funky so I posted it below the fold. - Val)
If you cannot see the video above, you may need the Divx plug-in, which you can download HERE.
H/T Lori G.
February 01, 2008
Martin Sheen is an asshole
There's some stupid committee to free the "Cuban 5". They are 5 Cuban spies that were convicted in Federal Court and are serving their sentences in Federal Prisons. Anyway this dumbass committee has bought a billboard in la la land and they are putting together a P.R. campaign around it. Anyway they put out a letter calling for freedom for these 5 jerkoffs and Martin Sheen is one of the signers.
Martin Sheen deserves a swift kick to the nads. Why doesn't he put up a billboard asking for freedom for the 300+ political prisoners, or better yet the 11 million Cuban citizens?
Martin Sheen, you just made the "Fuck You" list. I lost my draft of the list so I need help putting another together. The "Fuck You" list is a list of people that you'd like to rub Cuba's freedom in their face when the day comes. Leave candidates in the comments.
On a recent trip to Miami, I looked around the Versailles where, surprisingly, I was eating for the first time (Just never got around to it). The best places are always in one of those little stores with a lunch counter where you have to make your way through the jungle of cellophane packages of galletas. Anyway as I took in the bustling restaurant, I was struck by just how much Cuba had lost in the exodus of its citizens. I returned to the thought this week when reading about not one, but two different dance performances.
From an article about the Sarasota Ballet’s Production of “Las Hermanas”:
Havana-born [Octavio] Martin, a one-time member of the legendary Alicia Alonso's celebrated Ballet Nacional de Cuba, brings lusty smolder to his role as the suitor, a preening macho man who turns as defenseless as a teenager against Strongin's flirtatious wiles.
From an article about the Luna Negra Dance Theater in New York:
Eduardo Vilaro was born in Cuba and grew up in the Bronx before he landed on his feet as a principal dancer with Ballet Hispanico in Manhattan. Now he’s conquered another city, but this time it’s not as a dancer. After receiving his master’s degree from Columbia College Chicago, Mr. Vilaro stayed put and formed a company, Luna Negra Dance Theater, which is dedicated to fostering the work of Latino choreographers.
Tyranny in a can? - UPDATED
It is one of those things that make you scratch your head and wonder.
Instead of the usual gift bags filled with presents and souvenirs given to performers, presenters, and other participants of the 50th Grammy Awards presentation, this year they will be receiving a specially designed package instead. This package, which according to the press release “is artistic and unique, something that will last as a memory for the event,” was designed by an energy drink company based out of San Diego, CA.
Here is where it gets bizarre: The name of this energy drink is Cuba Herbal Energy Juice, manufactured by the Cuba Beverage Company. And as you can see from their packaging below, they are definitely referring to the island of Cuba.
Curious as to what led the founder and CEO of this company, CJ Johnson, to name his company and drink after an island in the Caribbean, I went on their website, which welcomes you to "Cuba," to see if I could find out. I found no reference to Cuba whatsoever. There is plenty of information about the company, its founder, its drink, but no explanation is offered for the choice of the name.
If any of you out there—perhaps those who live on the west coast—know anything about this company, fill us in with your comments.
The Company’s founders have spent many years doing business with Cuba under licenses from the United States Department of Treasury and Department of Commerce. They were inspired by Cubans’ healthy lifestyles and the refreshing all-natural drinks available in the country.
I wonder how many cans of this stuff Cuba Beverage Company is expecting to sell in Cuba? Oh, never mind, how silly of me; Cuba already has a "healthy lifestyle." Why in the world would they need an expensive energy drink?
John McCain IS a RINO, no kidding.
It's time for some straight talk my friends. When the conservative thought leaders of the Republican describe John McCain as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) they aren't just using hyperbole. It's the God's honest truth.
I already showed you how how McCain doesn't even disguise his big government solutions and his contempt for free enterprise and penchant for class warfare as evidenced in his debate performance at the REAGAN LIBRARY where he was supposed to be REACHING OUT to the conservative base. I've shown you how his "electability" myth falls apart. I've also shown you how McCain's conservative scores have decreased over recent years. There's also this piece from The Hill which asserts that in 2001 McCain was seriously considering jumping parties.
Then there's McCain's own admission that if John Kerry had asked him to be his running mate that he'd seriously consider it. Audio here (A McKerry flashback). Kerry says it was actually McCain's people that were active in approaching campaign about McCain being on Kerry's ticket.
Please tell me again why we would nominate this guy as the Republican candidate for president. Please tell me how he's really conservative. Please tell me how he provides an alternative to Hillary Clinton when he was trying to be Kerry's V.P.
That was then...
8. Do you support maintaining current restrictions on trade with Cuba until there is a transition to democracy? ¿Apoya usted mantener las presentes restricciones comerciales hasta que tome lugar una transición a la democracia en Cuba? Yes__X__ No______
Exhibit A is Barack Obama calling for an end to the embargo in 2004. Exhibit B is Barack Obama's answer about the embargo published at CANF's Cuba Libre Blog, which is very similar to our own Candidates on Cuba forum.
Friends of mine who support Obama insist that he is for keeping the embargo but simply wants to ease the travel restrictions for families on humanitarian grounds. That may be his position today, but it clearly wasn't his position 4 years ago. Of course four years ago he didn't need to look like he was anti-Castro because he wasn't looking for votes in Florida.
I posted on this very blog how I could never trust Mike Huckabee because he had a similar conversion when it became politically expedient for him to do so.
I think we can agree that we know where both men really stand on the issue when Florida is not in the picture.
H/T: The Washington Times and XM satellite Radio's POTUS 08 Channel
John McCain's brand of conservatism
Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters and friend of the blog brings John McCain's Nation Journal conservative ratings to our attention:
John McCain did not make enough votes to get a rating in 2007, spending a great deal of time campaigning for the presidency. His lifetime NJ composite rating is a 71.8 conservative score, not bad but not exactly leading-edge. Chuck Hagel got a 71.5 and Sam Brownback an 81, for comparison. However, the last several years shows a much lower rating than the lifetime score:
2006 - 56.7
2005 - 59.2
2004 - 51.7
John McCain has been in the senate so long that his earlier conservative votes disguise his most recent years where he's barely batted .500 on being a conservative. Again, this is during a period of time where he's supposed to be running for president and thereby trying to capture the base of his party. What's he going to do when he doesn't have to appeal to conservatives anymore?
There was never a show like before and there's never been a show like it since.
Our good friends at Generation ñ are hosting their first episode of that great show starting today.
For those of you that grew up here duirng those days, it will bring very fond memories. For those who arrived after its run, it will give you an idea of what the typical exile home was like back then. For our non-Cuban friends, it will give you a glimpse into our souls.
And certainly, good laughs for all.
Open Thread Contribution from daniel_in_garanhuns
Charles Krauthammer has a nice piece on the Clinton "Legacy"
Here are some nicer points:
Clinton is a narcissist but also smart and analytic enough to distinguish adulation from achievement. Among Democrats, he is popular for twice giving them the White House, something no Democrat had done since FDR. And the bouquets he receives abroad are simply signs of the respect routinely given ex-presidents, though Clinton earns an extra dollop of fawning, with the accompanying fringe benefits, because he is (a) charming and (b) not George W. Bush.
But Clinton knows this is all written on sand. It is the stuff of celebrity. What gnaws at him is the verdict of history. What clearly enraged him more than anything this primary season was Barack Obama's statement that "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that . . . Bill Clinton did not."
Reagan changed history. At home, he radically altered both the shape and perception of government. Abroad, he changed the entire structure of the international system by bringing down the Soviet empire, giving birth to a unipolar world of unprecedented American dominance.
By comparison, Clinton was a historical parenthesis. He can console himself -- with considerable justification -- that he simply drew the short straw in the chronological lottery: His time just happened to be the 1990s, which, through no fault of his own, was the most inconsequential decade of the 20th century. His was the interval between the collapse of the Soviet Union on Dec. 26, 1991, and the return of history with a vengeance on Sept. 11, 2001.
Una Cuba Libre, Por Favor
For those of you up in New York, you have a chance to catch Rum & Coke, the one woman play by Carmen Peláez tomorrow night. I had the pleasure of seeing this fantastic show back in 2004 and you can read my review right here.
Carmen Peláez's "Rum and Coke"
An Abingdon Theatre Company Production
A ferociously and hilariously poignant journey seen through a Cuban lens.
Written and performed by Carmen Peláez
Directed by Carl Andress
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2008
at 7:30 pm
(As a special treat for CCC members, and for this performance only,
there will be a special conversation with Carmen after the show!)
June Havoc Theatre
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex
312 W. 36th St., 1st Floor (bet. 8th & 9th Aves.)
Special Price for CCC
members and friends: $20*
*For this performance only!
Use code CCC202
Call SmartTix, 212.868.4444 or visit www.smarttix.com
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
OR SPECIAL RESERVATIONS,
Damas De Blanco on cover of Miami Herald
I was shocked as I walked through the Ft. Lauderdale Airport this morning and saw a huge Cuban flag on the cover of the Herald, given their tumultuous history with the Cuban-American community. But, sure enough, there it was. So I paid my 25 cents and read a great article on Las Damas De Blanco.
The Herald interviewed Yolanda Huerga about how and why Las Damas De Blanco formed and the response on the island. The headline reads: "As long as there are political prisoners in Cuba, Las Damas De Blanco human rights group will continue on a march."
The article can be found here.
My favorite quote:
"Many Cubans support Las Damas' mission, though they're careful about showing it in a country with a government that does not tolerate much dissent.
'We'll be walking down the street and someone will pat us on the back,' Huerga said. 'Of course, as they do, they look side to side to make sure no one else sees them.'"
It's more like "does not tolerate ANY dissent" but, hey, it's the Herald.
Kay Abella In Town
I received this a few days ago and almost forgot to post it. Kay Abella, author of "Fighting Castro: A Love Story" will be in South Florida next week for a talk on the book at Barry University. The Fernandez Family, whose story Kay recounts in her book, will be joining her:
Featuring Kay Abella
Fighting Castro: A Love Story
Based on the true story of Dr. Lino Fernandez,his wife Emy, and their family. The Fernandez will be joining us.
February 4th 2008
7:00 to 9 pm in Andreas 112
11300 N.E. 2nd Ave
(Andreas is located directly on N. Miami Avenue, between 111th St and 115th St. North East)
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to be part of a conversation with the author and protagonists of this remarkable story of Resiliency, Hope and Love.
Sponsored by the Department of Theology and Philosophy’s
Hispanic Latino Institute
To RSVP call Dr. Elsie Miranda at 305 899-3984
Global Cuba Fest
Buy Raíces tickets now for the last night of
Spiegelworld's Global Cuba Fest on Feb. 10!
Miami Light Project, FUNDarte & Roots of Hope
present the FINAL NIGHT of
Sunday, February 10, 2008 @ 5:00pm
Spiegelworld Miami Beach
22 Street & Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, Fl 33139
Once you have purchased your tickets, you simply need to bring an I.D. to the Will Call window at the park
Pre-sold tickets bought from Raices de Esperanza include a special invite to the After Party at The Catalina Hotel (1732 Collins Ave Miami Beach, FL) including complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvres from 7 - 9 p.m.! These tickets also include a donation to Raices.
Support Raices - See an Amazing Concert - Have a Blast at the After Party!!!
Get your pre-sale tickets now through Feb 4th
For more information, please contact email@example.com
Check out Myspace Latino for more info on all the Global Cuba Fest artists!
Miami Light Project
3000 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, Florida 33137
From Human Rights Watch, an accusation that Western Democracies are accepting sham elections, enabling dictatorships around the world. The money quote:
By failing to demand that offenders honor their citizens' civil and political rights and other requirements of true democracy, Western democracies risk undermining human rights everywhere, the international rights watchdog said.
Remind you of any country you know? Do watch for the obligatory swipe at US 'human rights abuses." Article here.
Friday Open Thread
So what's up?
You're chance to be a Babalu contributor. The best stuff posted in the comments will be moved up here.
Is it me...
...or does it seem like January went by quicker than a sincere moment from Hillary Clinton?
By popular demand
More on Codepink stupidity
This is why Cuban-Americans were applauded for not putting up with their bullshit stunt here in Miami:
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was heckled by protestors during a speech in San Francisco Thursday. Members of the anti-war group Code Pink shouted down the former Arkansas governor during an address before the Commonwealth Club. They were eventually hustled out of the Fairmont Hotel ballroom, but the affable, engaging Huckabee took note of the disruption.
"The beauty of America is that a person can come and even make a disruption, and you know what, that person is not going to be taken out and shot."
Nobody takes those dumb broads seriously.