Cuba’s escaped baseball slaves return to plantation

The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald are all over a trip, made by Major League Baseball players, to Cuba. I personally always thought Yasiel Puig was a Castro sympathizing opportunist scumbag and his smile while greeting his old baseball master, Tony Castro (Fidel’s son) is the last nail on that proverbial coffin.

Photo credit: Getty Images via El Nuevo Herald.
Photo credit: Getty Images via El Nuevo Herald.

For decades Cuba’s baseball defectors were considered persona non grata by the Castro regime. In fact, the defecting players’ families often paid the price on behalf of their freedom-seeking relatives. Now, as Castro, Inc. tries to remake its image, with the help of Obama and the news media, it’s all smiles.

As for El Nuevo Herald, their choice of headline for the dead tree edition is telling:

Alfombra roja para los desertores
Red carpet for the deserters

Notice they didn’t say exiles or escapees.

Le rrrrrrrrronca.

Checkmate? Marco Rubio and the Obamacare Chess Match


Piece published today in PJ Media.

The day after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I remember thinking to myself that I had seen this all before. I was reminded of the 1992 election when Bill Clinton was elected. To me the blueprint for what Republicans should do was clear. The first step was to take back the House of Representatives to block Obama’s legislative agenda. A strong repudiation in the midterm elections would cause Obama to pivot to the political center just as it had caused Clinton to after the wave election of 1994. There was one problem with that theory: Barack Obama is much more of an ideologue than Bill Clinton ever was. Which is why his administration went to great lengths to pass the laughably named “Affordable Care Act” in 2010. The fact the law was greatly unpopular among voters didn’t dissuade Obama and his handlers from their opening gambit one bit.

Republicans and conservatives predictably predicted that the law would be a fiasco. It had all kinds of nasty provisions in it such as caps on flexible spending account contributions (which people with chronic illnesses use to make their healthcare more affordable), a tax on life-saving and life-prolonging medical devices, and a mandate to buy insurance whether you wanted to or not. Rational observers understood immediately that the law basically shifted the burden from older and therefore sicker Americans to the younger and healthier ones that helped put Obama into office in the first place. Needless to say, when those young people saw their options, they said “no thanks.” You didn’t have to be prescient; you just had to be paying attention.

Continue reading full article at PJ Media.

Wisdom from the peanut gallery

It’s been a while since I did one of these. I sense there will be a lot of material coming up during the primaries and then the presidential election. Enjoy.

Both Colbert and Trump play caricatures of conservatives. Trump’s a bit less believable.

joana on September 23, 2015 at 12:47 PM

Good thing all those voters in the Republican primaries watch MSNBC…

Oh… wait…

Nethicus on September 23, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Anyone whose first name is “THE” obviously has issues.

Sven on September 23, 2015 at 1:11 PM

Comments at Hot Air in reaction to Donald Trump’s announcement that he will be boycotting Fox News.

“Only oppression should fear the full exercise of freedom.”

It’s been about a month now since we did some major housekeeping around here and changed the look and feel of the blog. While there were some complaints about fonts while we tried different things out (everyone’s an art director), we’re very happy with the end result. One of the real benefits of this new layout is how mobile friendly it is. Our old look simply didn’t work well on smartphones. We hope this will lead to more readership as mobile is taking over the majority of web traffic.

One of the elements we lost when we switched layouts was a watermark with a quote from José Martí that had been part of the blog since the beginning in 2003. Alberto and I decided to go with an illustration of Martí in the sidebar. We thought about who might be willing to help us out with our budget of zero dollars.

The name that came to my head was Gyula Nemeth. Gyula is a graphic designer who reached out to us a few years back to offer an illustration of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.

Im a graphic designer residing in Budapest, Hungary.
Ive been following the Cuban situation for years by
now (i have a thread about the subject on a Hungarian
I would really like to help the Babalu Blog -and the
cause- with a graphic design about Biscet if you are
willing to receive it.
Of course if you need an icon or a logo of any kind,
im gladly helping you out.
Im looking forward to your answer,
Gyula Nemeth

It turned out that we needed an illustration for a standup display for Cuba Nostalgia so we were quick to jump on his offer. This is what Gyula created for us. This illustration adorned the sidebar for years, until Biscet was released the Castro regime.


After that generous contribution I dubbed Gyula the Hungarian Honorary Cubiche.  Later he did illustrations of Celia Cruz and then The Ladies in White.

celia winwhr-305x400And here’s another Cuban-themed illustration he did on his own.


So I asked him to do one for us of José Martí. We wanted something simple and clean. Modern yet evocative of Martí, who was such a man of his time.  And this is what he came up with.


I really couldn’t be more thrilled with it. If you’re a fan of great illustration then you should like his Facebook page and check out his website. He’s done a ton of interesting work, including illustrations for the Panini collectibles company.

If somebody is the embodiment of a mensch, it’s Gyula Nemeth. Thank you so much!

New look coming


As you’re probably noticing, we’re developing a new look here at Babalu Blog. You can look forward to:

  • A cleaner layout that makes for easier reading
  • A pleasant mobile experience
  • Easier sharing on social media
  • More commie busting commentary and the latest news from Cuba
  • Intransigence as usual
  • New font entitled “homenaje”

Your patience is greatly appreciated.

Don’t waste your time on “Cuban Chrome”

Discovery Channel recently premiered a new series “Cuban Chrome”, a reality show about Cuba’s vintage automobiles and the people who dedicate their lives to preserving them. The show’s claim to fame is that it’s the first American show filmed entirely in Cuba.


After screening half of an episode there are really no surprises. It’s the typical “now you can see the forbidden land of Cuba” narrative that everyone from Conan to CNN have exploited in the past. How forbidden can it really be if all these people have been going down there and filming for more than two decades? What is really forbidden is showing real Cuban people being repressed by their government.

In any case, the show is the typical weak sauce recipe for reality TV. Actually it’s even weaker as the lack of any real storylines results in such thin drama so as to be laughable. The episode I watched is the story of a guy who wants to restore his Detroit dinosaur so that he can drive tourists around and make more money. The problem is he currently uses the car to drive Cubans around (a less profitable venture) and in order to get it up to snuff for the tourists he has to replace the diesel boat engine that’s been in the car for “decades”. Any downtime will cost him money. In capitalism we call this an “opportunity cost.” He gets a probationary membership in what we’re told is Cuba’s premiere auto club, “A lo Cubano” and hopes to use their resources to restore his car in six months.

The B story is about the president of the auto club who wants his son to succeed him but doesn’t have confidence that his prodigy has enough knowledge about cars yet. I wonder if this is some sort of metaphor for the monarchical succession that the Castro regime is no doubt planning. I mean why wouldn’t an auto club just elect its own damned president?

Along with the pretty pictures of quaint Cuba, we see plenty of the old cars which are really the star of the show. You know, those rolling exhibits demonstrating the superiority of capitalism. The irony is probably lost on most viewers.

The plight of the Cuban auto enthusiasts is heightened by the repeated narrative that parts in Cuba are hard to come by because of the US trade embargo on the island (hey, at least they didn’t call it the regime’s preferred term: blockade). This is, of course, a canard. There are vintage American cars in nearly every country in the world, including countries that Cuba is very close to economically like Brazil and Canada. The real problem is the lack of money to get parts. The narrator helpfully explains that “despite socialism” economic disparity does exist because some Cubans have “rich” relatives abroad that send them money.

And what would a show about Cuba be without regurgitating some of the dictator’s propaganda? Did you know Cuba spends 10% of its budget on education while in the US it’s something like 2%? I wonder who at Discovery verified these regime-supplied numbers. I’m sure they have a staff of economists and social scientists verifying things like this, right?

Even if the proportions are true (which I’m sure they are not) a quick google search turns up this:

The most recent OECD study — from 2014 using 2011 data — shows that the United States spends $12,731 per student on secondary education. Four countries — Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland — spend more. Those same countries are also the only ones that spend more than the United States per student on primary schools.

Interesting, I don’t see Cuba up there. I guess the regime’s 10% doesn’t add up to a lot in the real world. But the ironic part of quoting the 10% statistic is that a reasonable person would ask, “If Cuba’s population is so educated why don’t they have good paying jobs that can afford them newer and more reliable cars?”

If you like to look at vintage cars and some beautiful landscapes and aren’t offended by communist propaganda or terrible acting then maybe you’ll find “Cuban Chrome” passable, otherwise don’t waste your time.

Hillary Clinton thinks idea of arresting Castro is a joke

Newly released emails to and from Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state reveal that Democrat candidate for president thinks the idea of arresting Fidel Castro is funny.

As a reminder, in 1996 (while Clinton’s husband was President) the Cuban Air Force, under the authority of Fidel and Raul Castro shot down two American civilian aircraft over international waters, killing 4 people (3 of them American citizens).This in addition to known narcotrafficking that the regime has engaged in.

Now on to the emails.

On December 16, 2009 Undersecretary of State Richard Verma sends an email to Secretary Clinton advising her that the hold on a nominee had been removed by George Lemieux, the (then) Republican Senator from Florida. Clinton responds jokingly by saying:

What took them so long? Did you promise your first born?

Verma responds by saying:

Yes, I sold my soul to George Lemieux today. I am not proud of it.

Clinton then answers with doozie:

Does this mean you have to go to Cuba and arrest Castro or just shovel more $ into Little Havana?

So arresting Castro is something to make light of, not something that a serious person would ever consider. Just like “shoveling more $ into Little Havana.

They have ice cream in Cuba!

Michael Totten, blogging at Instapundit, brings us the amazing tale.

WORKER’S PARADISE. Cuba has ice cream. They have a chronic shortage of ice cream, but they do have some ice cream.

A couple of non-gullible journalists went down there with a video camera and recorded the state-run ice cream parlor. The line on a Sunday was two hours long. Only one flavor—strawberry—was available. It costs a little more than two dollars for a scoop. That’s more than ten percent of Cuba’s state-imposed Maximum wage of twenty dollars a month. Such is life when the dictator insists on “socialism or death.”

Note the tourist/journalist didn’t have to wait in the 2-hour line and had a choice of flavors. But hey, why should a Cuban have access to Baskin Robbins and its 31 flavors anyway? Get to Cuba quick before capitalism destroys the quaintness.

All in for Marco Rubio


It’s a great day in South Florida. This evening, Marco Rubio will announce officially that he is running for president. Here at Babalu Blog we have never been shy about supporting Rubio in his elections and this one will be no different. As former editor I can’t speak officially for Babalu but I know that Alberto and Val are just as fond of Marco as I am. Yes, Marco is Cuban-American but that’s not why we like him. Identity politics is for fools.

Marco is articulate, charismatic, substantive, and conservative. Yes, the fact that he’s one of us makes us warm and fuzzy inside but Marco has proven that he can draw from a pool of voters far deeper than “intransigent right-wing Cuban exiles and their descendants” (of which I’m proud to be).

It’s worth taking a trip back in time to some major milestones of Marco’s as covered here at Babalu Blog.

Orgullo” as Marco was set to become Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2005.

All politics are local… Marco held a town hall meeting in Coconut Grove back in 2007 in which he proposed doing away with Florida’s property tax on primary residences. This was the first time I saw him speak in person. The proposal passed the House but not the Senate. But in the process Marco demonstrated instincts for detecting what the real problems facing voters are and proposing innovative solutions.

Must See video In May of 2008 Marco Rubio was the warm-up speaker at Cuban American National Foundation luncheon where Democratic candidate for President, Senator Barack Obama, was the headliner. Watch Marco completely upstage Obama in the best 4 minutes and 45 seconds of video you will watch today. This speech galvanized our support Rubio when it comes to the issue of Cuba.

Why the editors of Babalu Blog endorse Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate In May of 2009 we formally endorsed Marco in his Senate run against Charlie Crist. This was at a time when Rubio was nowhere in the polls. We knew Marco had the goods.

A prediction Val calls it early. In January of 2010 to be exact. Marco eventually ran Crist out of the party.

Senator Elect Marco Rubio Val can’t contain himself and tells us the story of Edward Carrington and his famous words “LET ME BE BURIED ON THIS SPOT!”

Rubio for President in 2012 This was March of 2011. Of course I was delusional. But my frustration with the GOP field in 2012 and their inability to properly characterize the destructive nature of the Obama administration had me reaching for straws.

Well, here we are three years later. Stay tuned to Babalu. Much more to come!

Calling BS on Netflix and their fake Cuba announcement

I’ve written a piece for PJ Media about Monday’s announcement by Netflix that they will be offering streaming TV service to Cubans. Here’s a taste:

The Netflix/Cuba Announcement: Pure Propaganda
The good PR for Netflix feeds the false narrative of progress that ends up harming Cubans.

On Monday morning, Netflix put out a press release announcing Cubans would now have access to their streaming TV service. The press release was heavy on puffery and promises, but light on details. Yet most of the press dutifully repeated the headline.

Some accounts did at least acknowledge that the actual audience for Netflix in Cuba is, well … limited.

You see, in order to watch Netflix you need a device and a broadband Internet connection capable of handling streaming video. In the U.S. one can walk into a McDonald’s restaurant with a basic smartphone and have access to such a connection. Many of the media stories about the Netflix announcement state that in Cuba it is estimated that only 5% of the citizens have access to the internet that you and I can view, a number that is almost certainly a gross overestimate when it comes to a potential audience for Netflix.

The 5% number stems from a Freedom House report that includes any kind of Internet access, including expensive, black market, and slow access.

Yet the International Telecommunications Union estimates that in 2014 there were about .04 fixed broadband subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants of Cuba. That’s not 5%, that’s less than half of 1%.

Cuba’s population is 11 million — that translates into a total universe of potential Netflix subscribers that is perhaps 44,000.

On the infrastructure end, Netflix notably has had its issues about bandwidth with U.S.-based Internet service providers, complaining that its users are often getting a “poor customer experience.” I wonder which of the Castro brothers Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will complain to when the handful of Cuban subscribers complain of slow speeds. Or will it be their henchman Comandante Ramiro Valdes who, as minister of communications and informatics, once said that the Internet “is a wild colt that needs to be tamed”?

Continue reading at PJ Media.