Cuba and the lessons of socialism

(My new American Thinker post)

Over time, I have learned two lessons about socialism: first, it does not work, and second, some people just don’t want to believe that it does not work.

The story of Cuban communism, or socialism, is a good case in point.

I’ve run into people over the years who praise the Cuban health care system or the so-called improvements in education.

Every time I challenge them, they refer to some report from the Cuban government or something a college professor told them.

It is refreshing to see someone again tackle the myths of Cuba, the self-proclaimed island paradise that is more like an island prison with a couple of bearded brothers sitting on top.

So thumbs up to Vanesa Vallejo, a Colombian economist and columnist:

Almost 60 years later, the results of the Castro dictatorship are appalling. Millions of Cubans have been forced to flee the island. Thousands have died defending their political ideas, while many others have spent decades in prison, or have been persecuted and harassed by Castro’s security services.

In the economics, the picture is no less devastating. The destruction of private property and free trade have had no other effect than to tear down the country’s productivity. And the few areas that look prosperous, such as tourism, only serve to ensure, using foreign currencies, the continuity of the regime’s coercive apparatus.

Castro’s followers insist that the terrible results Cubans face are compensated by an alleged welfare state that guarantees all kinds of social benefits to its citizens. In addition, they say Cuba is a true socialist utopia that, despite the opposition of the “empire,” serves as an example for the rest of Latin America.

To support their opinion, they mention its health and education systems, and even the achievements of its athletes. The blame also falls on the “embargo,” with accusations that the United States prevented the paradise island from being even more idyllic.

One of the challenges of dismantling the myths of “Fidel’s paradise” is the absence of reliable statistics. There is no independent validation for the extraordinary coverage and quality indicators of health on the island, which progressives often use for propaganda.

It would be very naive to believe that in a country where there is no free press, and where people cannot express themselves against the government without going to jail, a serious audit of the figures of the health system are allowed.

The last point is critical.  There is no objective report of any of Cuba’s health care or anything else.  What you get is a summary written by the people who don’t allow you to challenge anything.  There is no free press demanding government documents.  There are no investigative reporters or any other reporters since every one works for the state media.

Change will eventually come to Cuba.  We are off to a rough start because the Obama approach has done nothing but to consolidate the people running everything.  Nevertheless, change will come someday, and the truth of the Castro regime will be revealed.  It will be an embarrassing moment for the many carrying Castro water all of these years.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

What a shock: Jose Fernandez dead at 24!

Apr 13, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez (16) throws in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We just learned that Jose Fernandez, the very talented young righthander with the Marlins is dead.   He was apparently killed in a boating accident but details are still emerging.

He was an awesome young talent and quite an inspiration:

Fernandez was winding down his best big league season, posting a 16-8 record with a 2.86 ERA.  The hard-throwing right-hander set a franchise record with 253 strikeouts this season, and his 12.49 strikeouts per nine innings rank tops in the Majors.  Fernandez’s path to the big leagues is inspirational.  Three times he tried unsuccessfully to defect from his native Cuba before arriving in the United States at age 15.   He settled in Tampa, Fla., and became a sensation.  Fernandez was Miami’s first-round pick in 2011, and at age 20 he broke into the big leagues, becoming an All-Star and the National League Rookie of the Year in 2013.

RIP Jose.   Quite a shock!

So Raul Castro is now dictating our aviation rules?

(My new American Thinker post)

Let’s add another chapter to the one-sided U.S.-Cuba deal.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has just sent a letter to President Obama demanding a few answers to some rather troubling questions:

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Deputy Administrator, Dr. Huban Gowadia, confirmed that there are currently no federal air marshals on commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba.

This admission contradicts earlier claims by your administration that the federal air marshal agreement was finalized and they would be on commercial flights.

Simply put, your administration has been caught in a bold-faced lie that has put American lives at risk.

Who decided that U.S. flights to Cuba would not have carry air marshals?

So why are there any flights? Shouldn’t we tell passengers to Cuba that these flights do not carry an air marshal? Why was this hidden from U.S. citizens flying to the island on the assumption that the aircraft is operating under normal aviation rules? All of this comes after we heard that the U.S. has not vetted Cuban airport workers and security procedures.

Frankly, the whole thing is embarrassing and further evidence that the Obama administration is either totally incompetent or determined to do a deal with Cuba at any cost.

Let’s hope that this topic comes up in the first Clinton-Trump debate.

Mr. Trump is signalling a shift by saying this:

We are also going to stand with the Cuban people in their fight against communist oppression.

The President’s one-sided deal for Cuba benefits only the Castro regime. But all of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro regime were done through executive order, which means the next President can reverse them — and that is what I will do, unless the Castro regime meets our demands. Those demands will include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people.

Let Mrs. Clinton defend the Cuba deal, or at least explain to U.S. voters what she thinks of flights without air marshals or not U.S. vetting of safety procedures at Cuba’s airports. She should also comment on the embargo.

In 2012, Governor Romney lost Florida by 30,000 votes out of 8 million. President Obama never said to Cuban-Americans that he was negotiating to restore relations with the Castro regime. Instead, he took a hard line.

Let’s hear from Mrs. Clinton today now that we know a few things about this U.S.-Cuba deal that were never disclosed in the rush to put an embassy in Havana.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Rouhani meets Fidel & Raul

 

(My new American Thinker post)

We just learned that Iranian President Hassan Rouhan visited Cuba. My guess is that he is not scouting any Cuban pitchers for an upcoming Iranian baseball league.

This is from the Global Times:

Cuban leader Fidel Castro and visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani talked about bilateral cooperation and challenges on Monday, according to a government statement.

“In a fraternal exchange, the distinguished visitor expressed satisfaction with his visit to Cuba and made clear his admiration for the struggle, achievements and assistance of the island to other nations,” said the statement.

The two leaders also discussed the “complexity” of the international situation.

“Fidel and Rouhani agreed on the analysis of food production in a world threatened by climate change, the relentless growth of the world population and dangers that threaten the preservation of peace,” it said.

The pair concluded the friendly meeting with a sincere wish for collaboration between Iranian and Cuban people, it added.

Rouhani met with Castro at the latter’s residence in western Havana prior to a meeting with his brother and President, Raul Castro.

Rouhani arrived in the Cuban capital earlier in the day for a short visit to boost economic cooperation between Tehran and Havana.

He kicked off the visit after participating over the weekend in the 17th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Venezuela.

Admiration  for the struggle, achievements, and assistance of the island to other nations? Wonder if he called for the U.S. to return Gitmo and pay reparations for its isolation of Cuba?

The Rouhani trip comes at an interesting time in U.S.-Iran and U.S.-Cuba relations.

The Iran nuclear deal has emboldened Tehran. Just check out what Iranian boats are doing in the open seas. It looks like the lesson of the Iran nuclear deal is that the U.S. is a paper tiger that will actually pay for the return of hostages. And, will not retaliate when its Navy ships are confronted in international waters.

The U.S.-Cuba relationship is looking more and more like a one way street benefiting the communist regime, even from the Washington Post:

If you think the president’s policy will “empower” the fledgling Cuban private sector, as opposed to the overbearing state, think again. Easy money from expensive visas is a relatively minor example of the regime’s so-far successful efforts to reap direct benefit from the new relationship with the United States.

Even more important is the fact that the Cuban armed forces own the country’s dominant tourism companies, and those firms are expanding their role in anticipation of an American influx.

So Fidel, Raul, and Rouhani are celebrating U.S. weakness. The word is out that President Obama is down to 120 days and it’s time to get whatever you can.

So far, Iran and Cuba are doing just that! Iran gets closer to a nuclear bomb and the Castro regime gets an infusion of U.S. cash that no one was willing to lend to them.

Remember the one about people following the strong horse? A strong horse we are not at this point in the presidency of “hope and change”!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Fidel Castro arrived in New York in the middle of the 1960 presidential election

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Fidel Castro arrived in New York on this day in 1960:

“In September 1960, Castro led a delegation to New York City to address the United Nations General Assembly. He and his entourage caused an immediate sensation by deciding to stay at the Theresa Hotel in Harlem. While there, Castro met with a number of African-American leaders, including Malcolm X from the Nation of Islam and the poet Langston Hughes.

On September 26, Castro delivered a blistering attack on what he termed American “aggression” and “imperialism.”

For over four hours, Castro lambasted U.S. policy toward Cuba and other nations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The United States, he declared, had “decreed the destruction” of his revolutionary government.

Castro’s visit and lengthy public denunciation marked the final breaking point in relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

In January 1961, the Eisenhower administration severed all diplomatic relations with Cuba.”

Cuba also became a hot topic in the Kennedy-Nixon debates.   Kennedy took a very tough posture toward Castro.

Unfortunately, President Kennedy did not support the men of Brigade 2506 at The Bay of Pigs.   It turned into a huge victory for the Castro regime and the invasion was followed by severe repression against anti-Castro Cubans in the island.

The Missile Crisis followed 18 months later!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

The Cuba deal was about Obama, not to benefit the US or the Cuban people

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It was about 22 months ago that President Obama announced a change in US policy toward Cuba.    What do we have for reversing the policy of every president, from John Kennedy to George W Bush?

What did US citizens get out of this?

Will they be compensated for the millions of dollars that the regime stole?    It is estimated at $ 7 billion!   So far the answer is no!

Or will Castro be forced to return the killer of a New Jersey state trooper enjoying life in the island for almost 2 decades?   So far the answer is that they are talking about it!

What did the Cuban people get?  So far nothing!   It’s the same old repression and torture that they’ve had since this corrupt regime took over and destroyed the island.

Indeed, some Americans will get to travel to Cuba and enrich the Castro family.       Overall, this does not look like a good deal for anyone who loves freedom.

The best explanation is at the editorial page of The Washington Post:

If you think the president’s policy will “empower” the fledgling Cuban private sector, as opposed to the overbearing state, think again. Easy money from expensive visas is a relatively minor example of the regime’s so-far successful efforts to reap direct benefit from the new relationship with the United States. Even more important is the fact that the Cuban armed forces own the country’s dominant tourism companies, and those firms are expanding their role in anticipation of an American influx.

Who has benefited?

First, President Obama now has a post presidency story that he can tell anti-US audiences around the world.     He can say that he ended wars, signed a nuclear deal with Iran, closed GITMO and opened relations with Cuba.  It will bring anti-US audiences to their feet but won’t do much to help the US.

Second, the Castro brothers can now remind the world that President Obama is as weak as they come.   In other words, they got everything they wanted without having to make concessions.

What about the Cuban people?   They are now ruled by a dictator who just got a cash infusion from the Obama policy.

What a disgrace like so much of the Obama foreign policy.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

9-11-2001: Thank God for President Bush and VP Cheney

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Most of us remember 9-11 down to the last minute.  It was one of those life experiences that will stay with us as long as we live.

Back then, I remember how fortunate we were that we had men like Bush and Cheney in positions of responsibility.

Things got political as they always do.  However, President Bush and his team deserve a lot of credit for defending and protecting the country.

Raul’s amigo in North Korea said ‘si se puede’

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(My new American Thinker post)

During the Bush-Cheney years, we were constantly reminded that the bad guys were on a mission to destroy us.  President Bush would often speak of the threat and remind us that it was long-term and very dangerous.

President Obama changed the tone.  He lowered the volume and did not constantly speak of the threats.  I’m not saying he does not care, but the intensity is missing.

It’s 9-11 plus 15, and I feel very unsafe.  Put a map of the world on the wall, and there are red lights everywhere.

The latest is North Korea.  It’s nice for President Obama to call the test dangerous, but that’s not going to do much to stop the next test.

The Washington Post has a good message for President Obama:

Western analysts used to dismiss North Korea’s tests as political stunts, meant to impress the domestic audience, capture international attention and leverage aid. Though the latest detonation came on a national holiday, that explanation is looking implausible. As it has frequently said publicly, the regime now aims to be recognized as a nuclear power and to acquire the ability to deter not just South Korea and Japan, but also the United States.

President Obama reiterated Friday that “the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state.”

But Mr. Obama has failed to take the North Korean buildup seriously enough. For years, his administration pursued a policy of “strategic patience,” which mostly consisted of ignoring North Korea while mildly cajoling China to put more pressure on the regime.

In February, Mr. Obama signed into law a bill pushed by congressional Republicans that gave him broad new powers to sanction North Korea and cut off its economic lifelines. The next month, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution imposing new sanctions on the regime, including limits on its trade.

However, China has not aggressively implemented the U.N. sanctions — and Mr. Obama has not used the powers Congress gave him. As The Post’s Anna Fifield recently reported, customs data shows that China’s trade with North Korea in June was almost 10 percent higher than the previous year, in spite of the sanctions. Though the White House has issued executive orders sanctioning Mr. Kim and other senior leaders, congressional leaders point out that it has yet to penalize any Chinese companies or banks for continuing to do business with the regime.

Quick translation: Get serious, Mr. President.  It may be that young Kim is crazy, but a head case with nuclear weapons is beyond dangerous.

My guess is that President Obama will punt on this one and leave another problem for his successor.

On this one, Mr. Trump has a point about bringing China into the mix.  The Chinese can stop Kim in a heartbeat.  They could take him out or just squeeze him to death.  We need more from China than a statement like this:

China, Pyongyang’s only major ally, has said it will lodge a diplomatic protest with North Korea’s embassy over the nuclear test.

State news agency Xinhua released a commentary on the explosion on Friday, saying North Korea had “dealt yet another heavy blow to the foundation of regional security, its own security included”.

China had earlier said it was “strongly opposed” to the test.

Am I the only one who finds the Chinese statement silly?

Imagine that your neighbor’s dog comes over and bites your kid.  Your neighbor calls you on the phone and says he is very disappointed and will take it up at the next neighborhood association meeting.

China can do better than that, and I hope a President Trump makes that very clear!

It is hard to believe that a small nation in the Korean peninsula can be this dangerous or take up so much of our time.

There are two lessons here for future presidents:

1) Take them out when you can, as we had the opportunity in 1994 when the country was desperately looking for food.  In other words, don’t throw a lifesaver to anti-American thugs.  They will only use it to regain strength and make your life more miserable later.

2) Attach North Korea to our China relationship.  Make it clear to China that an attack by North Korea on any of our allies – Japan or South Korea, for example – would be an attack on the U.S., requiring a full military retaliation against China.

Again, it is incredible to me that a country with starving people could pose such a threat to world peace.  Let’s learn our lesson and not allow the next Kim to get his hands on a weapon.

Thank you, President Bush, for understanding that much about Saddam Hussein.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Who respects President Obama? Raul Castro and the Chinese don’t

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(My new American Thinker post)

President Obama’s trip to China and the “stairs” incident put the bow on two terms of trying to popular rather than respected. I just hope that #45 understands what he or she is walking into.

This is what happened in China, as explained by Dr. Krauthammer:

The president of the United States lands with all the majesty of Air Force One, waiting to exit the front door and stride down the rolling staircase to the red-carpeted tarmac.

Except that there is no rolling staircase.

He is forced to exit — as one China expert put it rather undiplomatically — through “the ass” of the plane.

We don’t know if the incident was planned or accidental. However, all of the leaders got the usual treatment and “hope and change” didn’t. And no one apologized for doing this to the president of the U.S. As they say, actions speak louder than words.

It started in Egypt in 2009 with a speech that blamed the U.S., followed by a revolution in Iran that he didn’t pay attention to, a withdrawal from Iraq that left a vacuum for ISIS to grow and expand in, to drawing a red line that he didn’t enforce, to making a deal with Cuba that benefited the Castros not the U.S., to an Iran nuclear deal that he was desperate to make no matter how much cash the other side demanded, to allowing Iran boats to bully the U.S. Navy to Russian MiGs flying feet over our ships.

Wonder what’s next on the long line of cheap shots at the U.S.?

We are living in extremely dangerous times and President Obama does not have a clue. Worse than that, no one in the U.S. media is bothering to ask him about it or hold him accountable for the disarray. The media is obsessed with Trump, Mrs. Clinton is promising not to send ground troops and our enemies are enjoying it a great deal.

The Chinese forgot the donkey to remind our president that he is a Democrat and something else that I’ll leave to your imagination.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Tres Patines on Hillary: “A la reja”

 

How can anyone still think Mrs. Clinton has judgment or any character after the latest “dump,” as discussed by Bre Payton:

Clinton told the FBI that she didn’t pay attention to the different levels of classification, and that she didn’t understand that an email containing a “(C)” meant “classified,” but that she thought they were marked “alphabetical order.”

Her claims of ignorance – whether they’re true or not – violate an agreement she signed during her first day on the job in the State Department.

From the very beginning of her tenure as secretary of State, Clinton signed a non-disclosure agreement acknowledging that it was her responsibility to ascertain whether documents contained classified information. She also acknowledged the criminal penalties she would face if she disclosed government secrets.

She didn’t know that “C” meant classified?  Are you kidding me?  What else could it mean? Careful?  Candy?  Chicago Cubs?  And these are the same people who got all over Trump because he didn’t know about the nuclear triad?

At some point, you have to say Mrs. Clinton is either unfit for a responsible position or too much of a liar.

In my book, those are not good attributes for the person who will have to put the Middle East back together, tackle the collapse of Obamacare, and probably go on TV to announce that your son is headed to war again.

If she were an employee, she’d be fired.  If she stood before a jury, no one would buy her story that she did not know that “C” meant classified.

No serious person can believe this candidacy anymore.

Mrs. Clinton is unfit to lead, and I have a funny feeling that many Democrats are coming to the same conclusion.

Tres Patines got it right:   “A la reja”

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

New president but same economy in Brazil

 

 

(My new American Thinker post)

Adios Dilma, Hello Economy!

Brazil has a new president and the economy is now what everybody is talking about, as Simon Romero reports:

The biggest challenge facing Mr. Temer, who largely operated in the shadows as Ms. Rousseff’s vice president before breaking with her earlier this year, is evident: the economy.

Brazil’s gross domestic product has plunged 9.7 percent on a per-capita basis in the last nine quarters. The downturn, which Goldman Sachs likens to a depression, has even exceeded the 7.6 percent decline during the so-called lost decade of the 1980s, when Brazil fought hyperinflation.

Broad swaths of the population are angry with the entire political establishment, especially now that unemployment has surged to 11.6 percent, from 6.5 percent at the end of 2014. More than 1.7 million Brazilians have lost their jobs in the last year while politicians like Mr. Temer have been battling for power.

New president Michel Temer has his own ethical challenges, too. He does have a window of opportunity to win some goodwill from a nation tired of scandals. At the same time, the challenges facing Brazil are more than just economic cycles or a drop in prices for Brazilian commodities such as oil, iron ore and soya.

There is a lot more that Mr. Temer will have to tackle than a very bad case of crony capitalism, as Lauren Weiner wrote:

The country’s economic difficulties and its racial and social stratification rest upon a flawed foundation that can be summed up in a phrase he uses: “state capitalism.” The entwining of political power with economic power is an ill against which every modern democracy fights. Brazilians, though, have not waged the fight effectively.

So time will tell whether Mr. Temer is Pinochet, the man who saved Chile, or Gorbachev, the man who tried to reform communism. Brazil could really use a version of Pinochet and those Chicago boys. Otherwise, Mr. Temer’s presidency will be short and very difficult.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

We remember Sandy Consuegra (1920-2005)

Sandalio Simeon (Castellon) Consuegra was born in Potrerillos, Cuba in 1920.   He was drafted by the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) after pitching for Havana in the Florida International League in 1949-50.

Sandy broke in the majors in 1950 and started 18 games.   He played for Washington and Chicago White Sox for a few more years.

His best season was 1954 with Chicago:  16-3 an an excellent 2.69 ERA.    He won 51 games in his career.

Rory Costello of The Society of American Baseball Research wrote this excellent summary of Consuegra’s career:

“Consuegra was a swingman, a role that has vanished with five-man rotations and specialized bullpens. He started 71 times in 248 appearances in the majors. He had only 26 saves, since that was not the focus for relievers in his time. He got batters to put the ball in play.

In 809 1/3 innings pitched, he struck out just 2.1 men per nine innings – but his walk ratio was 2.7, he allowed almost exactly one hit per inning, and he kept the ball in the park, giving up just 43 homers.

Les Moss, who caught the Cuban with the White Sox in 1955-56, offered further insight. “Little Sandy Consuegra [he was 5’11” and 165 pounds] was a pretty good pitcher who fooled batters with an array of pitches, including an effective slider, and motions.”

Consuegra also won 52 games with Cienfuegos of the Cuban Winter League in the late 1950’s.

He married Blanca Ramos on July 28, 1943.  They had three children: Rogelio, Silvia, and Norma.

Consuegra and wife left Cuba and was active in youth baseball in Miami.   He died in 2005.

P.S.  I hope that someone tells his grandchildren that he ranks # 15 among the great Chicago White Sox pitchers!