Stir things up on a cold day -- and provide a sad reminder that if election directions persist, we will soon be calling the Obama years "the good old days."
But seriously, I call on ThreeSourcers to reevaluate the President's Cuba Speech. Not from some Facebook post but either watching it in its entirety or reading Ron Radosh's honest review. It seems our President deviated from the prepared text in several places.
These are, of course, things that all people share, and say little about the real differences between the U.S. and the Castro regime. But Castro must have been shocked when Obama praised those Cubans who had fled to America on planes and makeshift rafts "in pursuit of freedom and opportunity, sometimes leaving behind everything they owned and every person that they loved." (Castro's term for such people are "gusanos" or worms.)
Later in the speech he delivered another surprise, praising the initiative and work ethic of the Cuban people. He was not referring to the Communist regime. Instead, Obama said, there is a "clear monument to what the Cuban people can build ... [and it] is called Miami." Eluding to Cuba's dismal economy, Obama said: "American democracy has given our people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and enjoy a high standard of living."
Obama said that real differences between the two countries could not be ignored...
I'll talk Socialism all day and all night, you bet. Between Pope Francis and Sen. Sanders (90% tax - VT), it seems to have caché cachet.
Here's my rebuttal. You don't have to read Mises (although you should). Michael Smith does not seem to be a great friend of capitalism, nor is the editor who selects his pull quotes at Bloomberg Business, He describes the cronyism whereby all foreign investment goes through Raul Castro's son-in-law as -- brace yourselves -- " It’s a decidedly capitalist element deeply embedded within socialist Cuba."
I'd suggest the exact opposite, but we have bigger mojitos to encounter.
The article (and this is a most definite read-the-whole-thinger) describes the extreme privation on the island. If your name is not Castro or you're not married to one, you get $24 a month in ration books. Four pounds of chicken and a bag of rice. Little capitalist running dogs try to supplement this by roasting peanuts, stealing cigars, and mending clothes.
With the additional Foreign Direct Investment, even though more than half goes though son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodriguez, there is activity and jobs. I remain hopeful that, pacé China, we will see some prosperity to the people in spite of their oppressive government.
As for the fast-arriving future, there are Afro-Cuban jazz clubs, swank private restaurants, and boutique hotels. More tellingly, on street corners within the few, closely controlled, government-sponsored Wi-Fi zones, Cubans by the hundreds sit and stand all day in the tropical sun, clutching phones, tablets, and laptops, eager to take advantage of the first chance many have ever been given to connect.
A small paragraph near the end caught my attention. If I might paraphrase Bill & Ted & PM Thatcher: It sucks to keep running out of other people's money. Soviet Sugar Daddy falls and . . .
By the late 1990s, the Castros had found their savior in Hugo Chávez, the charismatic ex-paratrooper who was elected president of Venezuela on promises to emulate Cuban-style socialism. He quickly flooded Cuba with free oil--up to 115,000 barrels a day. Cuba also cut creative and lucrative deals with other leftist leaders, including Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to send tens of thousands of medical doctors to work abroad. Under the terms of those deals, many of which are still in place, the Cuban government kept up to 90 percent of the doctors' wages.
That "free" oil is stolen, and if the renowned Cuban Physician surplus is anything more than absolute slavery, I'd like to hear it. We send you abroad and keep 90% of your wages. That didn't make into Michael Moore's film, did it?
Anyway, a great article. Hat-tip to blog friend tgreer on Facebook. I commented:
"Adam Smith said were perfect liberty required for a country to be prosperous, no country would ever prosper. I think it's amazing and hopeful to see that a bit of freedom and trade will lift people up, even though they suffer under the yoke of brutal oppression.
Plus you get a rare "way to go, President Obama" out of your wingnut friend."
This one hasn't filtered through to the #3src widget yet, despite preceding the one that did (with the misspelled "Deuche" critique.) But I was very impressed by the insights of the KISS bassist on FNC's 'Outnumbered' show today. The tweet was about his views on normalizing relations with Cuba but he was great on everything.
If this is true. maybe I am a Senator Marco Rubio guy after all.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid a series of new confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American Alan Gross and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.
Talk about a failed policy: the Cuban embargo is anti-trade, anti-human-rights, and a multi-decadal failure. I am highly supportive of the ex-pat community in S. Florida and know they have supported it, but you gotta know when to fold 'em, amigos.
Miami, Fla. -- Felix Rodriguez seems fated to be linked to Che Guevara. This is not entirely just. Rodriguez loves freedom, and has worked tirelessly for it; Guevara loved tyranny, and worked tirelessly for it. "Two sides of the same coin," some people say. Maybe -- but only in the way that light and dark are two sides of the same coin.
Juan Williams pens a perfect and beautiful piece on the WSJ Ed Page today. I hesitate to excerpt, but the ThreeSources Style Guide is pretty explicit on this point.
Williams supports the US decision to refuse Castro an invitation to the Summit of the Americas, by tying freedom to prosperity and tyranny to privation, with the latter underscored by a visit to his hometown of Colon, Panama.
Secure markets are necessary for successful trade policy, and investment cannot take root when dictators can usurp property rights. Real, vigorous trade also leads to global investors and an educated workforce--all of which threaten dictators' power. That is why the U.S. stance on Cuba is so important for the region.
This spring brought a personal reminder of how important it is. I was born in Panama, in a poor city, Colon. For my birthday this year, I walked around there for the first time since my mother brought three children, including me (as a 4-year-old), to Brooklyn, N.Y. No joke, we came to this country as added freight on a banana boat.
I was never quite sure why I waited so long to go back to Colon. My wife and sons also accompanied me and, ever wiser than his old man, my youngest son, Raffi, said my reluctance to visit might have had something to do with the fear of the intense, ugly poverty that eats up people
Juan? The token prog on FOX? It is beautiful. This link should be free for seven days for non-subscribers.
I do have a Johnny Mercer tune queued up for the virtual coffeehouse on Thursday, but it is not "Fools Rush In."
I am going to foolishly rush in, however, on the TEA Party contretemps of the day. It is alleged that an African American Congressman was spat on and called a name last Sunday as he walked through a crowd of protesters who opposed the health care reform bill.
Curiously, this happened in the midst of hundreds of video cameras and none captured anything untoward. Dana Loesch offers video that she claims debunks the accusation. Not that there is really an accusation. A reporter claims to have heard the N-word.
I am glad for a certain sensitivity, but Merciful Zeus, when did we become so fragile?
I offer a racial slur I do believe happened. In the land of free health care, the peaceful march of a group of "Thirty women walking with gladiolas" was broken up by the Castro Government.
Wednesday's procession—one of seven days of protest to mark the anniversary of the mass arrests—included the mother of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the 42-year-old human rights activist who died in a Cuban prison last month. Reina Tamayo is becoming something of a national icon, and she described her Wednesday experience this way to the Cuban Democratic Directorate in Miami:
"They dragged me, I am all bruised. They beat me. They called me a [racial slur; she is black]. They will know this mother's pain. When I get to my home town of Banes in my home province of Holguin they will have to bury me with my son. But my people will remember me. They will remember me. . . . The Castro brothers cannot be forgiven. They cannot be forgiven."
I’m truly sorry if a US Congressman was called a racial slur. But the key words are “U.S. Congressman.” I cannot compare it Reina Tamayo. Nobody can.
"During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."-- Natan Sharansky, "The Case for Democracy"
Cuban punk rocker Gorki Aguila credits the third source for his freedom after his arrest for "pre-criminal behavior" and "social dangerousness." What a great and sad story:
Hat-tip: Instapundit. Professor Reynolds nails it with "Compare to the “rebel” posers here in the States . . . ."
When WaPo columnist Eugene Robinson and The Refugee agree down the line, can hand-holding, misty eyes and singin' 'round the campfire be far behind? Under the heading "say it ain't so," this column from Robinson brings the two of them together.
Robinson makes two assertions: 1) the Congressional Black Caucus was duped during its recent visit to Fidel's Island Paradise and made fools of themselves, and 2) lifting the embargo is the fastest way to bring down the current regime. As Robinson points out, Cuba is still a racist nation and Fidel harbors no good will toward America. He is also correct that the embargo has outlived its usefulness. The embargo made sense when trying to prevent Fidel from acquiring military means and forcing the Soviets to expend valuable resources propping up a parasitic client state. Those conditions no longer exist, and The Refugee believes that Fidel/Raul would never be able to maintain Chinese-like control in the face of a capitalist onslaught 90 miles away.
What we should do is lift the embargo, which Obama hasn't disturbed, and end the travel ban for everyone. That would put the onus on the Cubans to somehow keep hordes of American capitalists and tourists from infecting the island with dangerous, counterrevolutionary ideas. But we should take these steps with our eyes open, seeing Cuba as it is, not as we might want it to be.
It is in Castro's interest to sabotage any genuine movement in Washington toward normalized relations, because any lessening of tension would destroy the government's stated rationale for denying Cubans basic political freedoms: that any opening would be exploited by the imperialist enemy to the north.
It's enough to make The Refugee break out into song.
Things have really loosened up since Raul Castro came into power. He famously made cell phones legal -- imagine that! Of course, they're not really affordable:
Tatiana González stood transfixed before the glass display case watching a single cellphone spin around and around on a carousel at the government-run store. It was a Nokia 1112, a simple, boxy gray workhorse of mobile telecommunications technology--and González was in love.
She coveted that phone. She confessed she had dreamed of that phone. But she would have to wait just a little longer before she could cradle it to her ear. How much longer? "I hope a year, no more," said González, who toils as a manager of medical records in a hospital, earning $21.44 a month.
Tatiana (is that not the prettiest name?) has the satisfaction of providing that great health care that Michael Moore raves about -- I'm sure that's consoling. And the famed Cuban literacy rates come in to play too as lucky cell phone owners text to avoid 65 cents a minute charges on voice. Tatiana will be able to buy 33 minutes of local service with her month's salary or three-and-a-half minutes to Europe!
Yet the incoming administration still claims that free-market capitalism has been discredited.
Rules & citations & recursive hat-tips: the excerpt is from the Washington Post, it is included in a Reason Hit&Run post (linked) and was linked by Instapundit. Got it? Good.
Yesterday was 50 years. The NYTimes commemorates with a sobering account. It begins with a woman who fled 14 years ago awaiting DNA testing to see if a decomposed, shark-eaten body pulled out of the ocean near the Keys is the son she left behind.
Fifty years ago today, many Cubans cheered when Fidel Castro seized power in Havana, and even now, the revolution attracts many fans — as evidenced by the Canadian tour agencies advertising trips “to celebrate five decades of resilience.”
But the bodies speak to a different legacy.
The son who stayed behind spoke multiple languages and tried to influence Cuba from within as a journalist -- until he was fired and targeted.
Mr. Garcia’s relatives said that on the night of Aug. 15, he climbed aboard a boat with no motor and seven or eight other people, pushing off from an area near Havana with hopes of reaching Florida within a few days.
The pace mattered; the sea was churning. By early Monday morning, Tropical Storm Fay had moved through Cuba into the Florida Straits, bringing nearly a foot of rain, swells of several feet and winds that would strengthen to 60 miles per hour.
Ms. Garcia, 64, a home health aide, said she was not sure if her son had known the storm was coming. Even if he had, she said, “he was desperate and needed to go.”
She said her son had done all he could to change Cuba from the inside. “How can Cubans confront the government, with rocks and sticks?” Ms. Garcia said. “Everyone has nothing, and the people are afraid.”
As my interest in weather has piqued of late, I have spent too much time (any non-zero amount) looking at local TV news. You can put me down as extremely tired of the defeatism and hopelessness surrounding "this economy" and "these tough times." I'm sorry your 401K has lost value and feel for those who have lost work. But if you woke up this New Year's Day as a free citizen in America, I really don't want to hear a lot of bellyaching.
Hollywood hotshot Benicio Del Toro is not a stand-up comic, but he seemed to be playing one earlier this month when he said he found the role of Cuban Revolution hero Ernesto Guevara, in the new film "Che," like Jesus Christ.
"Only Jesus would turn the other cheek. Che wouldn't," Mr. Del Toro explained. Right. And Bernie Madoff is Mother Teresa, only she wasn't into fraud. -- Mary Anastasia O'Grady
The entire editorial is a good refutation of the new wave of crap we will have to hear from Hollywood as they "celebrate" the 50th Anniversary of the Castro Revolution.
The miserable Argentine was killed in 1967 in the Bolivian Andes while trying to spread revolution in South America. But his vision of how to govern lives on in the Cuba of today. It is a slave plantation, where a handful of wealthy white men impose their "morality" on the masses, most of whom are black and who suffer unspeakable privation with zero civil liberties.
There is something rich about the supposedly hip, countercultural Hollywood elite making common cause with Cuba's privileged establishment in 2008. Its victims -- artists, musicians, human-rights activists, journalists, bloggers, writers, poets and others deprived of freedom of conscience -- would seem to deserve solidarity from their brethren living in freedom. Instead, the ever-so avant-garde Soderberghs side with the politburo.
“Che was an inspiration for me,” D’Rivera tells reason.tv. “I thought I have to get out of this island as soon as I can, because I am in the wrong place at the wrong time!” D’Rivera did escape Cuba, and so far he’s won nine Grammy awards playing the kind of music Che tried to silence.
Paquito D'Rivera's 100 Years of Latin Love Songs is an album for the desert island, though some might prefer some of his more energetic stuff. What a treat to find a great artist who appreciates freedom.
HAVANA - First microwaves, now cell phones. Is this the new Cuba? Raul Castro is revolutionizing his brother's island in small but significant ways — the latest in a decree Friday allowing ordinary Cubans to have cell phone service, a luxury previously reserved for the select few. The new president could be betting greater access to such modern gadgets will quell demand for deeper change.
I will call it a free country when they are allowed to have boats.
CNN is reporting the Fidel Castro has resigned as president. While I am a bit surprised that this announcement precedes that of the announcement of his death, I sincerely hope that this will result in a free Cuba in the near term.
The Senate on Wednesday rejected legislation that would have allowed terrorism suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to petition federal courts claiming that they're being held in error.
The 56-43 vote in favor of the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to cut off Senate debate, blocking the legislation. Both Washington state senators voted for the measure.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would have given military detainees the right of habeas corpus — the right to challenge one's detention in court, rooted in English common law dating from before the Magna Carta of 1215 — which serves as a check on arbitrary government power.
Filmmaker Michael Moore's production company took ailing Ground Zero responders to Cuba in a stunt aimed at showing that the U.S. health-care system is inferior to Fidel Castro's socialized medicine, according to several sources with knowledge of the trip.
The trip was to be filmed as part of the controversial director's latest documentary, "Sicko," an attack on American drug companies and HMOs that Moore hopes to debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month.
I'm interested in finding out how many were "cured."
The Cuban leader said he had suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba, according to a letter read live on television by his secretary, Carlos Valenciaga.
"The operation obligates me to undertake several weeks of rest," said the letter. Extreme stress "had provoked in me a sharp intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding that obligated me to undergo a complicated surgical procedure."
Castro said he was temporarily relinquishing the presidency to his younger brother and successor Raul, the defense minister, but said the move was of "a provisional character." There was no immediate appearance or statement by Raul Castro.
With that world quality socialized health-care we've been hearing about, he's bound to live another decade or two.
However, should he meet his maker in the coming days or weeks, a big question remains unanswered. How will Cuba look without him?
The conventional wisdom is that Cuba will go democratic in someway. Perhaps dissident Floridians providing the seed money, if not human capital.
But what if Venezuela's Hugo Chavez decides to get involved? He's pretty interested in sticking to the United States in anyway possible. Being right off shore with his own puppet, would be an excellent way. He's been influencing or attempting to influence Latin American politics lately. Why would Cuba be any different?
Let's not forget China either. China is interested in Cuban oil reserves in the Gulf... and already has some leases purchased. Wouldn't a Democratic Cuba perhaps want to entertain other offers for their oil?