Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Nearly 50 years of hopes crushed and lives postponed; a generation already buried and another on the way to extinction; our country in ruins and our people still trapped amid those ruins, our only friend is the clock and also our worst enemy, for its marches bring us closer to the day of our country's deliverance but also shorten our own days. Forty-nine years we have stood on the threshold of the New Year and prayed that that the evil that was born with this day might pass with it. Forty-nine years we have been disappointed. There is always a margin for hope and despair will do no more for us than can hope.

So let us raise our glasses again with the same familiar toast, now unspoken but still as deeply felt.

May this year change everything but our abiding love for country and our boundless faith in our countrymen.

Val At His Best

Val: Your story about the plum tree, your tribute to your father's craftmanship and all the other stories of your family's life in Cuba and in exile with which you have regaled us on Babalú over the years are not inferior in art or interest to Eire's or Samartino's. I do not say this to flatter you because I have nothing to gain by doing so. I simply want you to know where your greatest talent lies and have you recognize the concurrent responsibility of giving it the widest possible audience. Gather all these stories, put them in chronological order and you will see immediately what else needs to be included to fill out your book. And then do it. Manuel A. Tellechea, Babalú, March 14, 2007

I wrote that two weeks before Val booted me from Babalú for criticizing the Estefans. The praise was unfeigned, but I also wanted to insinuate something to Val that escaped him then.

I have always been honest with myself as well as with others, and I really don't believe it is possible to be one without being the other. I am never hesistant to praise where I see merit or criticize where I see fault. In fact I believe that doing one gives us more authority to do the other. Quite apart from whatever may be my credentials to judge Val as a writer, if I say that Val is as good a writer as Carlos Eire or any other Cuban memorialist — as I have in fact said before and after I was booted from Babalú — then I think my opinion carries added weight precisely because it is contrary to my estimate of him as a political thinker or polemnist. In praising him for one thing I was also implying that he should abandon the other.

Val will never follow the advice of this "intellectual and moral bastion" (as he sarcastically called me), and that's really unfortunate, because he will not hurt me but himself. So be it.

A reward for enduring his political ramblings on Babalú is the occasional post which Val devotes to those dearest and nearest to him. When he writes about his parents or something else that has touched his life as a Cuban exile, he is natural, sincere and likable. In fact, sometimes he even transcends the vein of the memorialist and reaches the higher artistic ground of the costumbrista (folklorist), as he did this morning in his tribute to his family's old sofa, emblematic of the hardships endured by newcomers to this country.

Too bad that Val does not cultivate this genre as much as he should. Instead he wastes his time aspiring to be a political scientist (whose political calculations always end in a bloodbath for the Cuban people). Many talents have been wasted by their wrong application as by a too high estimation of them.

The genial story of Val's beloved old sofa is spoilt, too, by the last sentence:

"There is nothing more disgustingly depressing than daylight on an old sofa, with or without an Adidas duvee."

We know, of course, what Val means, and it is a clever way to turn the discussion to Castro. But there is one problem. Val has written a tribute to the noble old sofa and ends by comparing the sofa to Fidel. Was anything about Fidel ever lovable, faithful, or missed? Will putting him on the ashcan of history be as traumatic for the Cuban people as taking his old sofa to the curb was for Val? I don't think so.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"To Cling to Power, Or Not to Cling to Power, That Is the Question"

Stream of consciousness is, I suppose, the most polite way to describe Fidel Castro's message to the Cuban National Assembly, read at his request by Ricardo Alarcón yesterday. A less kind evaluation might characterize it as the incoherent ramblings of someone suffering from dementia who thinks that his precious words will resonate with all the world's peoples and be carved in stone someday. No one who reads one sentence of it, however, and is acquainted with Fidel's idiosyncracies will fail to identify it as his own. A list of the persons and subjects mentioned in it will suffice to show his tendency to range far of field, in all directions and with no particular destination,which in a six-hour speech was not too noticeable but which in less than 1000 words hits the listener like so many one-word messages crammed in one bottle, ultimately signifying nothing: Raul Castro; José Martí; Randy Alonso; Joseph Stiglitz; Bill Clinton; Sukarno; Suharto; Lyndon B. Johnson; John F.Kennedy; and the "Five Heroes." For that "kitchen sink effect" he throws in casual mentions of Antarctica and Oceania; the Stone Age; and the "Giant in Seven-League Boots." None of this, of course, is well-digested. I doubt that even the most privileged mind could weave all these diverse topics into one coherent whole; but it is undoubtedly a sign of a failing mind that someone would even try.

At the onset of his message Fidel raised the question of nepotism in regard to his appointment of Raúl to succeed him. Nobody had ever raised it before. One would as lief accuse the Borgias of nepotism as the Castros. When one usurper appoints another usurper to succeed him it little matters if it's his brother or the Great Khan.

Fidel then assumed the mantle of "world statesman." He no doubt thought that his ruminations on Sukarno's overthrow or veiled predictions of a nuclear hecatomb in Pakistan would be front page news in those countries. Perhaps they are. There must be some in those countries who are flattered to be remembered in Castro's senectitude. Greenpeace, too, must be gratified that he mentions the Kyoto Protocal, carbon dioxyde, greenhouse gases and the oxone layer. In fact, Castro proclaims himself the godfather of the movement to save the planet from man: "I predicted, for the first time in Rio de Janeiro, — over 15 years ago, in June 1992 — that our species was threatened with extinction as a result of the destruction of its natural habitat. Today, the number of people who understand the real danger of this grows every day." It seems that Fidel may feel cheated by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore. Surely a joint award would have served both of them right.

Then comes his personal reflections on his life and times, all, as I've already noted, in the span of just 1000 words. He is very gratified that his refusal to "cling to power," which he proclaimed after nearly a half-century of exercising absolute power, was received in all seriousness and even commended by the world press. However, he wishes to make one modification. It seems that he did once desire to cling to power, before he came to power, in his halcyon days, when he was just a mere "utopian socialist." After he was actually in power he was cured of his craving for power. Nearly fifty years later, he no longer feels the inclination to "cling to power." Whether this inclination will ever rise to the level of a determination to surrender power, he leaves unanswered. Maybe in another 50 years if he can renew his Faustian pact.

This clarification of his imperial aspirations was also noted by the international media, but I don't think he will be as pleased with the latest spin on it. Of course, their sympathies are still with him but a fortuitous mistranslation has invested his remarks with a candor which the original did not possess. The MSM has reported that Castro said, apropos of his early (and fully consummated) aspirations to cling to power, that it was a product of his "youth and lack of conscience." Of course, Castro said "conciencia," which in this context means knowledge or awareness. Granma translated the phrase correctly but nobody else followed suit. Everywhere in the world today, on the eve of the 49th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, it is being reported that Fidel's self-admitted "lack of conscience" in his youth caused him to want to cling to power. The truth prevails because of a false friend and a poor translation.

Fidel again credits (=blames) Martí for influencing the course of his wretched life. I hope the Cuban people are sophisticated enough to be able to tell the difference between thesis and antithesis, which is the only relation that Martí bears to Castro. Sadly, 50 years of being acclaimed as the "Intellectual Author of Moncada" has discredited Martí in Cuba, especially among the young. I do not think that the decision to co-opt Martí was inspired by love or reverence on Castro's part. On the contrary, he needed to debase what was purest in our national life in order to stand on equal ground with Martí and even tower over him. Castro knocked down Estrada Palma's statue but he did much worse to Martí — he falsified and prostituted his legacy. His phrase "Martí's ideas and those of the classics of socialism" is equivalent to saying "Jefferson's ideas and those of the classics of fascism." Observe also that Marx is never mentioned by name anymore; he is just a "classic of socialism;" poor Martí, alone, must bear the responsibility for the debacle of the last 50 years. This is the final "tribute" of the "Generation of the Centenary," as Castro's generation calls itself because it came of age in 1953, the 100th anniversary of Martí's birth.

Martí's dream, as expressed in his last letter, was to "cling to the last tree and disappear," not to cling to power forever. If he survived the war Martí desired to become a teacher in a rural school and spend the rest of his absorbing Cuba's natural beauty, from which he was cut off for most of his life. That was the limit of Martí's personal ambition. What a contrast to the megalomaniac who would later claim him as his model!

Castro notes that "Martí taught us that 'all of the world's glory fits in a kernel of corn.' Many times have I said and repeated this phrase, which carries in eleven words a veritable school of ethics." Yes, a "veritable school of ethics," but not Castro's school. Martí was contrasting "la gloria del mundo" (the glory of this world), that is, the pomp of this world, to real glory which transcends the mundane because it is willing to abandon sinecures and benefices and all other earthly rewards. True glory is the renunciation of personal ambition, or, rather, the subsuming of all ambition in the common work of redemption. No man who possessed such glory would ever have to grapple on his deathbed with the idea of not clinging to power after 50 years of unelected rule.

[Photograph: Raúl Castro is shown "reading" the text of his brother's speech with closed eyes].

Wickets and Guayaba

We are pleased to welcome Wickets and Guayaba to our Fraternal Blogroll. Its editor, Daniel de Garanhuns, is well-known in the Cuban blogosphere as an acute commenter with a unique perspective on Cuban affairs from Brazil. We have always said that a good commenter is worth ten bloggers. It would appear, however, that a good many commenters are becoming bloggers themselves. Perhaps that is the reason that the "Comments" sections of most Cuban blogs look like a hurricane passed through and left nothing hitched to the posts. Still, we would not deny Daniel the chance to shine by his own light and we are sure that he will shine brightly.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

How to Stop the Wanton Killing of Cubans on the High Seas

"[I] can't bring myself to condemning the [U.S.] Coast Guard for doing what they are told to do [hunt down, capsize and murder Cuban refugees]. It must be extremely frustrating to have to chase down these boats under dangerous conditions [for the refugees, not the Coast Guard]. The problem is, how do we solve the smuggling problem? — Robert Moneda, "Cuban Exiles Once Again to Blame," Babalú, December 29, 2007

The answer to Robert's query is very simple: Stop throwing Cuban refugees over an aquatic Berlin Wall. Stop vilifying the smugglers (latter-day abolitionists) who bring Cubans to freedom. Stop making excuses for the U.S. Coast Guard whose orders are to use all available means (including lethal force) to stop the refugees from reaching freedom and the rights accorded them by U.S. law under the Cuban Adjustment Act (1966): following orders is no justification for a crime against humanity. Stop lionizing George W. Bush, who has upheld Clinton's "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy longer than Clinton did. And, finally, stop supporting candidates who value Cuban lives as cheaply as Bush does, whether Republicans or Democrats.

Other Posts on This Subject:

Val the Abolitionist vs. Henry the Slaver

One Man's Obsession: The Smugglers Who Risk All to Free Castro's Slaves

Angels Who Smuggle Men to Freedom

Alfonso Chardy is the New Oscar Corral

You Cannot Love Cuba and Hate Cubans

The Truth In Season

RCAB's Funniest Posts for 2007

Here are 10 of the RCAB's funniest posts this year. With nearly 500 to choose from, and almost all of them humorous (or at least imbued with humor), it was not an easy choice. In fact, I have expended more time selecting them than if I had written 2 or 3 new posts. I excluded most of the Babalú critiques because they would have overwhelmed everything else. I also sought to vary the topics, although 10 posts do not afford much opportunity to be expansive. My favorite from this selection? It's a tie between Anita Snow the hunger artist and the 520 lbs. woman who went to Cuba to in search of new knees and a revived sex life. Of course, you could click any month on your right and laugh for hours if you are so disposed. It's suppose to be good for you. It certainly is good for me.

Juventud Rebelde Hails Metrosexuality in Cuba (11/24/07)
One would think that in a country where women use sugar syrup (almíbar) for hair dressing and lightning fluid for deodorant (both excellent for their purposes if these are to catch bees or fire), the likelihood of men co-opting their "beauty products" for their own personal toilet would be slim. But, if Juventud Rebelde is to be believed, metrosexuality has taken Cuba by storm...

Cuban Ambassador Puts On Fashion Show In Jamaica to Mark "Cuba Day" There (Updated) (Oct. 31, 2007)
I didn't know there was a "National Day of Cuban Culture" in Jamaica. The idea itself is not incongruous; the two Caribbean islands share a long and complex history, though their roots and colonial experiences are not identical. The focus of the festivities was a fashion show which featured the latest innovations from Cuba's so-called "fashion industry." Now, the island's chancletera aristocracy has never been obsessed with dressing to the nines. There is nary an Evita Perón among them. On the contrary, though their confiscated pre-Castro mansions have the latest appliances from K-Mart and their larders may be stocked with precious delicacies from a typical American Dollar Store, their wardrobes are not noted for great extravagance...

Another Satisfied (Foreign) Customer of Cuba's Health Care System (Sept. 6, 2007)
Here's a follow-up on Diane Paul, the 520 lb. Canadian who went to Cuba in October for knee replacement surgery... As we noted when Mrs. Paul first announced her quest for new knees in Cuba, she should ask to see them before they were implanted. Improvisation is the great resourse of Cuban medicine. A patient with bone cancer recently had a section of his legbone replaced with a broomstick. The operation was successful. New bone actually grew over the broomstick. No doubt the news of this revolutionary achievement would not have been made public if the operation had failed. Maybe it failed many times before this success. Still, we warned Mrs. Paul to be wary or she could end up with wooden clogs for knees...

Of "Che" Guevara's Hair and Napoleon's Penis (Oct. 26, 2007).
Gustavo Villoldo has had his payday at long last and I couldn't be happier for him. If everything else has been commercialized about "Che" Guevara, why not his goldilocks? The old freedom fighter will receive $100,000 (minus commission) for a tress of "Che" Guevara's hair which Villoldo snipped 40 years ago before burying the serial killer...

Ana Menéndez Psychoanalyzes Cuban Exiles (Sept. 24, 2007)
[Y]ou would do Ana Menéndez a great injustice if you thought she was merely a self-hating Cuban who trades on her ethnicity while remaining aloof from "her people" and even contemptuous of them; who discovered at the age of 35, after denying her roots all her life, that being a Cuban by accident and a liberal by choice had its advantages in the world of journalism, where such rara avis are collected and sheltered and even presented to the world as representative of their species when in fact they are only freaks...

White Dade R.I.P. (Sept. 12, 2007)
As this is a review of Cuban-American blogs, I do not usually concern myself with blogs written by Anglos for the expressed purpose of heaping scorn on Cubans and Hispanics in general. Perhaps I should. The most prominent of these blogs is (or was) White Dade. I only learned of its existence at its funeral. The author was obliged to close his blog when he was "outed" as a racist by his college newspaper. Before the prospect of losing his sinecure as a grad-student-cum-instructor, he put away his bedsheet and closed his blog. Well, almost... One of White Dade's last posts was written as HBC (Hot Blonde Chick). In it he/she complains endlessly about the unwanted attentions of short Hispanic men at local bars, where at 6'2" he/she towers over everybody. White Dade seems particularly fixated with the size of Hispanic men's penises, which he believes to be smaller than the endowments of white men...

Insanity, Homoeroticism and Xenophobia on "The Babalú [Faux] Radio Hour" (Aug. 2, 2007)
Never before had I heard a man having a nervous breakdown on radio, even faux radio; but the dozen or so listeners to yesterday's Babalu Radio Hour witnessed such a spectable. It was frightful, horrible and unexpected...

ஹொசே மார்த்தியின் எளிய கவிதைகள் - முன்னுரை (July 7, 2007)
"The Distilled Wisdom of Manuel A.Tellechea." As published in the Indian press. Yep, it's in Hindi.

Anita Snow the Hunger Artist, or The New York Times' "Snow Job" (June 13, 2007)
Let this be duly noted at the onset: Anita Snow's stint as a hunger artist is nothing but a charade, an imposture and a fraud. To all those attributes let us add too unoriginality and callousness to a degree seldom encountered in that most cynical of all enterprises known as American journalism...

Babysitting the Beacon School Bitongos (April 25, 2007)
[T]hese kids might have profitted from their trip to Cuba if they had been able to enroll in the Literacy Campaign, not as alphabetizers but as the alphabetized. If this is the kind of education my taxdollars underwrite, I am all for cutting off funding for public education. Truly, if I were their teacher, I would probably have ended up a suicide. The funny thing is that they don't seem to have any inkling of just how stupid and illiterate they are. I guess this can be explained by the media's description of their school as "special" (in a good way) and "prestigious." They may be under the misapprehension that these juvenile delinquents are attending Stuyvesant or Bronx Science, but I am not...

Forgot about this one:

Al Gore Wins Nobel Peace Prize; Cuban Dissidents Again Ignored (Oct. 12, 2007)

Albert Arnold Gore has been awarded the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. America's national joke is now the Norwegians' paradigm of modernity and savior of the planet. Jerry Lewis must feel relieved that now somebody else represents the cultural divide between the U.S. and Europe. Of course, Lewis actually claimed to be a comedian...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Herald Watch Is Watching You

We are pleased to note that Herald Watch is again providing a vital community service by identifying the most offensive anti-Cuban comments published in The Miami Herald's online forum. We are not so pleased that it is castigating The Herald's inhouse censor for not deleting those comments as quickly as Herald Watch expects after having led the initial campaign to demand their deletion.

Henry Gómez has proved time and again that he is more competent to censor the The Herald than is The Herald. What's more, The Herald knows it and acts immediately on his recommendations, as if it were watching Herald Watch rather than policing its forums. So, in effect, Henry has become The Herald's "uber-censor" when it comes to determining what constitutes political correctness re Cuban-Americans.

But is it wise — forget about honest — to whitewash all negative comments? Aren't these an accurate reflection of how a very large segment of Miami's Anglo and black population feels about their Cuban neighbors? Every poll ever taken of their attitudes seems to confirm it, so why shouldn't The Herald's forums also reflect it? To ignore these attitudes will not make them disappear, and it is doubtful that one or more bigotted comments will spoil the olla podrida. For my part, nothing pleases me more than to see my enemies being themselves. I should never wish to silence them because who they are explains who I am.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How the Torch Will Be Passed: Or, Cuba and Its "Two Parties"

Raúl Castro has never been a monument to lucidity. The ravages of alcoholism have left too many holes in his brain for him to think logically about anything, let alone express himself cogently. For 49 years he has cultivated the habit of saying little without meaning much, in contrast to his big brother, whose habit it is to say much and mean little. Forced now to be Fidel's eyes and legs, Raúl has been obliged to become somewhat more expansive lately. It is still not something which he relishes, as he is more used to giving orders than explaining them. Yet he recognizes the necessity, for the present, at least, of subsuming his character in Fidel's. It is not an easy fit. This was highlighted recently in his remarks to Fidel's "constituents" in his "electoral district" in Santiago de Cuba, which encompasses El Cobre, José Martí del Norte, Manuel Isla and Boniato.

Fidel sent Raúl as his emissary to bring them the good news that they shall yet again have the "honor" to cast their obligatory votes for Fidel. I suppose that it is a distinction of sorts, though hardly a desirable one, to be compelled to vote for Fidel in these mock elections. Voters in other districts will cast their ballots for the usual slate of nondescript party hacks whose duties are limited to meeting for one day every year to rubber stamp new laws and dispositions (this is the only "legislature" that has never enacted a law) and to select Fidel Castro as "president." It's sort of like a papal conclave except the same pope is elected every time. Having fulfilled their mission with stunning alacrity and as much deliberation as can be crammed in 24 hours, the handpicked delegates of the "People's Power" will return to their normal occupations like so many cashiered cincinatti. And when all is said and done, there will be only one man standing on stage, except that he's not standing very well nowadays, or at all.

In his remarks to the "People's Councils" of said municipalities, Raúl said that Castro was recovering, had recovered substantially already and would recover more in the future. It was not said for the benefit of his listeners because they would vote for a dead man if they were to told, and, of couse, it wouldn't make a whit of difference to them or the country. Having assured them of Fidel's past, present and future revovery, Raúl specifically alluded to Fidel's "mental processes," which is certainly a subject he would have been wise to avoid; and having raised the issue himself, he seemed to realize immediately that even suggesting that these had improved would imply that they needed improvement, and the notion of a wrecked mind in a body in ruins, was hardly the image he wished to convey to them or the world. He then asserted (contradicting himself) that Fidel's mental processes had never been affected at all, listing a litany of things which Fidel can still do (e.g. reading, thinking) which in sentient people requires no special mention.

The challenge that confronts Raúl is how to confirm Fidel in all attributions while making it plain that his role now is largely symbolic. There is no doubt that the Assembly of the People's (Non-Existent) Power will do as it's accustumed reflexively to do. The only question that remains is whether Castro will accept the presidency. That decision has already been made but will unveiled at its plenary session. Fidel has already announced that it is not his intention to cling to power forever. Of course, he's already covered 99 percent of "forever" and could well cede the other 1 percent to his 76-year old brother. If that is the case and Fidel declines another presidential term, then Raúl will become by protocal what he is already in fact. He will likely assume the presidency without much fanfare. The real apotheosis will be reserved for big brother, who is likely to be acclaimed unanimously "Mentor of the New Cuban Nation" (or even "Father of the New Cuban Nation" (though that would be to take a laurel from Trujillo's fetid crown). Raúl, in his acceptance speech, will confirm yet again that no important decision will ever be made (by him) without consulting "The Mentor." Of course, consulting is not the same thing as acquiescing.

In his most candid statement to date on the transition, Raúl compared disagreements between Republicans and Democrats to those between his brother and him. They were, in both cases, insignificant, he said. American democracy, therefore, was not much different from the Cuban version. This statement is remarkable on many levels. "Pluralism" in Cuba is reduced to a sibling rivalry, which is further reduced to insignificance because the brothers don't really disagree on much and whatever differences they may have are in themselves insignificant too. The transition in Cuba, according to Raúl, is no more important than the result of the U.S. presidential elections. Whoever "wins," the system will remain in place and so will the major players. The question that remains is what will happen to Cuban "democracy" when its two "parties" (Fidel and Raúl) have left the stage forever.

Notable & Historic: The Seed of an Obsession

"I swear to God that if these people didn't have hating Castro as a cause in life, they would have no life at all. Relax, compadres. Fidel is going to keel over one day very soon and you can all go back to that island and live the lives you so desperately miss. Do me one favor... take Alex Pinelas with you when you go."Rick (formerly of SotP), So May It Secretly Begin blog, August 29, 2003.

Before launching Stuck on the Palmetto, Rick had another blog called, ironically, So May It Secretly Begin: Random Thoughts and Musings from a Left-Leaning Independent, which lasted 2 1/2 years (longer than SotP) and reached nearly 3000 (longer) posts. He did not disable this blog when he abandoned it as he did SotP. In fact, two years after it closed in 2005, its archives are still available on the internet, though it is surely as self-incriminating as regards dates and times as the late SotP. Perhaps Rick thinks that his old blog is forgotten, which is actually a logical conclusion, since it was pretty worthless: too much Rick, indeed, all-Rick all the time. Besides being an early log of Rick's extracurricular blogging on the department's time, its only value is that it contains the seed of his anti-Cuban obsession, which would later grow to monstrous dimensions at SotP and, like a poisonous weed, choke all other political discussion.

For those who have the stomach to sample the "early" Rick, So May It Secretly Begin can still be accessed at:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Los Tres Reyes Magos (The Three Kings)

Rubén Darío

—Yo soy Gaspar. Aquí traigo el incienso.
Vengo a decir: La vida es pura y bella.
Existe Dios. El amor es inmenso.
¡Todo lo sé por la divina Estrella!

—Yo soy Melchor. Mi mirra aroma todo.
Existe Dios. El es la luz del día.
¡La blanca flor tiene sus pies en lodo
y en el placer hay la melancolía!

—Soy Baltasar. Traigo el oro. Aseguro
que existe Dios. El es el grande y fuerte.
Todo lo sé por el lucero puro
que brilla en la diadema de la Muerte.

—Gaspar, Melchor y Baltasar, callaos.
Triunfa el amor, ya su fiesta os convida.
¡Cristo resurge, hace la luz del caos
y tiene la corona de la Vida!


I am Caspar. I bring with me the myrrh,
And have this to say: Life is pure and beautiful.
There is a God. His love is immense.
I can see all by the divine Star!

I am Melchior. My frankincense perfumes the air.
There is a God. He is the light of day.
The whitest flower has its stem in the mire
And in joy is also found sorrow!

I am Balthasar. I bring the gold. And I
Assure you: There is a God, great and mighty.
And I know this from the pure light
That radiates from the Diadem of Death.

Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar — say no more.
Love is triumphant, and beckons you to His feast:
Christ is born! The Chaos He has turned to light,
And he wears the crown of Life!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cuba Issued the World's First Postage Stamp Depicting Santa Claus in 1954

For Christmas 1954-55, Cuba issued the world's first postage stamp depicting Santa Claus. By then, celebrating Christmas in the American fashion had already become common in Cuba, which also celebrated the traditional Feast of the Three Kings on January 6. Cuban children then received presents on both holidays, the little presents on Christmas and the big ones on the Epiphany (or 12th day of Christmas). After Castro declared Cuba a Marxist state in 1961, the celebration of Christmas was discouraged and in 1969 it was officially abolished. Cuban children were required to ask another bearded man for presents on his "feast day," July 26, who represented not the promise of salvation but of desolation. Finally, in 1997, after the pope's visit to Cuba, this Christian nation was allowed to celebrate again the birth of its Savior.

May the boundless faith of the Cuban people, in the face of what seems complete abandonment, be rewarded in like measure and Christmas again be celebrated by all without fear or want.

God bless the children of Cuba and grant them the greatest gift of all — freedom.


An Ugly American capitalist (named, improbably, "Mr. Burns"), who dreams of exploiting Cuban labor and dumping whatever garbage he sells on our country, lamented in the ExportLaw Blog that Santa Claus might be stopped from visiting Cuba by U.S. missiles because such "commerce" might be a violation of the trade embargo. Several Cubans "colonists" have replied to his offensive insinuations and at least two have had their comments deleted (including me). I have re-submitted my reply, but as I am sure that he will delete it again, I reproduce it here:

Mr. Burns:

Leave "milk and cookies" for Santa Claus when Cuban children have their milk rations cut off by the state at age 7? And how, exactly, is one to bake cookies in Cuba when all the ingredients except sugar are not even on the ration card?

If Santa Claus wanted to show kindness to the children of Cuba, he would collect you and all others who wish to profit from their misery in partnership with their tormentors, and drop you all over the North Pole, where you would be free to exploit the tundra to your heart's content, and would have a greater chance of making it blossom with enterprise than you would Castro's gulag.

Free trade is not a universal panacea nor does it guarantee freedom. Its proponents, like yourself, are never altruists and their motives are always to enrich themselves and never to better the lives of others. If they do so anywhere, it is unintentionally and always involves some miscalculation on their part that "cheated" them of even greater profits. Where such an irregular situation exists, it is quickly "corrected."

What have you personally done for the Cuban people except longed to exploit them under the auspices of a political system which outlawed independent unions 47 years ago and pays its workers in script? Do you salivate at prospect of wringing profits from an enslaved people just 90 miles from your shores? Of course you do. That is your only interest in Cuba or the Cuban people. Hypocrite.


Forgiveness is a present that we give to ourselves. It cleanses our hearts of all the toxidity that others have placed there. It renews the spirit. For many years I looked upon those who had collaborated with the Cuban Revolution before and after 1959, but who had regretted their actions and fled the confragration to which they had contributed, as no less guilty than those who had remained to inflict 50 years of tyranny on the Cuban people, indeed, perhaps more so, since at least those who remained were confronted on a daily basis with what they had wrought, and though I did not think them even capable of remorse, it pleased me to think that they could not escape the demons they had created but were obliged to live with them. Those who escaped, on the other hand, at least had the luxury of putting the past behind them, indeed, of disavowing that past and associating on equal terms with those who had not brought this hecatomb upon our country. We did not ask questions, and, they, of course, had no answers. It was best that way. The time had not come to settle accounts nor was exile the place. The final reckoning would come: they knew it and we knew it. No need to concern ourselves with it till then.

Now nearly half a century has elapsed. Innocent and guilty alike lie in the frozen graves of exile. There are still great malefactors among us as there are in Cuba. I will not sully my pen on this day with their names. Besides, I am not speaking of those guilty of blood crimes; these can never be forgiven by the law of man; let them look elsewhere for forgiveness.

The rest, those who purchased "26th of July Movement" bonds, who hung signs in their homes saying "Fidel, This Is Your House" (little thinking that he would take them up on their offer), who cheered every usurpation, every outrage, every crime committed by the barbudos (really, barbarians), who cried out for the blood of fellow Cubans whose only crime was to have opposed these monsters, who conspired to rob their neighbors and rejoiced to see them brought low even if they did not profit from their misery, those who followed the revolutionary juggernaut as far as it would take them, reaped what they could from the whirlwind, and, finally, fled it, leaving behind a people enslaved and a nation in ruins — these, the detritus of the Revolution, I forgive. They have been punished already. We who shared their punishment without their guilt can commiserate with their suffering. Let them make amends, if they can, for their sins. It will soothe their souls. As for me, the arrepentidos no longer press upon mine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A First for the MSM: A Non-Biased Article About Cuba and Cuban-Americans

The article linked below ["Cuban Exiles' 'New Hope' As Castro Fades"] is the first about Cuba which I have read in the mainstream media to which I could raise no objection. Of course, it is not published in the U.S. mainstream media, but their British counterpart, which themselves have never been purveyers of the truth about Cuba until now. The subject is depressing, but we are conditioned already to expect nothing but what will batter the heart from our suffering country. I confess that as I read it I expected at any moment that the author would lose her way; there were innumerable openings that would have conduced her to the well-travelled roads of journalistic apologetics; but she was not content to follow the path of those who think by rote. Where this article differs from the rest is that it does not try to deny or mitigate the real causes of Cuba's suffering, or justify inhuman conditions with slogans and irrelevant statistics that are intended to conceal or palliate the truth, or at least compensate for it. The truth does not need to be barnished; it is stark enough and glaring enough and admits of only one conclusion -- the last 50 years have set our country back 500, except, of course, that what was pristine then is now debased, what was full of promise is now bereft of hope. This, of course, should not cause us to give up but to redouble our efforts, for where the task is greatest so, too, must be the human resources assembled to accomplish it. Since the redemption of our homeland is the common work of all, it is well that there are those on this side of the Florida Straits who are preparing to vindicate the Rule of Law in our country and restore the fallen and buried landmarks of civilization.

And here is another article ["Cubans Won't Shed a Tear for Fidel Castro"], also from The Telegraph, which does detour from the truth, in places, through partial ignorance but not malice, yet manages still to arrive at the right conclusion: "So what have Castro, Ché Guevara and the Cuban revolution achieved? The ruination of their country...";jsessionid=FOP4YEZVNTFHNQFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/opinion/2007/12/19/do1902.xml

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ron Paul Stirs Mutiny in the Babalunian Galaxy

They are having another debate right now at Babalú over the trade embargo. What distinguishes this debate from all others is that a Babalunian satellite has left its orbit and is headed on a collision course with its sun. We are speaking of Tomás Estrada Palma, fallen under the sway of Ron Paul, who is more loony even than the Babalunians. We are much grieved to hear this because Tomás is a genuinely good and kind man and, what is rarer, a conciliator. At the time of my rupture with Val, he was the only one who thought it possible to effect a reconciliation. He was wrong, of course, but it says much for him that he tried. Unity should always be preserved when possible, but not at the price of sacrificing one's principles. We can only be true to the cause when we are true to ourselves.

Tomás is also Val's cousin. Perhaps this is the reason that he was not insulted, ostrasized or banned when he suggested that Ron Paul is right to favor the lifting of the trade embargo. Frankly, I don't think Ron Raul is right about anything. I take his opposition to the trade embargo as yet more proof that it should remain in place until Castro agrees to democratic reforms (which will be never) or until the restoration of democracy in Cuba by other means makes it unnecessary. Hugo Chávez is the band-aid, as was the Soviet Union before him. But the perpetuation of the Castro regime depends on its ability to be self-sustaining. This it will never be while the embargo is in place. Right now, the regime is one heartbeat away from collapse. That heart is not Castro's but Chávez's, which is why Castro is forever cautioning him to shield himself from the people and to be always on guard against would-be assassins. If, however, the embargo were lifted tomorrow, Communist Cuba would be provided perhaps not with the rope with which to hang the U.S., but certainly with rope enough to keep its people tied-up for several generations more. The Red Chinese have proven that human rights are not an unavoidable consequence of free market reforms; indeed, an economically viable tyranny, which has been integrated into the world market and no longer lives a precarious existence, will use its economic might to perfect and expand its apparatus of repression. Just as a democracy is more viable because it is prosperous, so, too, is a tyranny more sustainable because it can pay its bills (or, in China's case, because the U.S. pays its bills).

While supporting the lifting of the embargo without preconditions, Tomás still favors the ban on travel by Americans to Cuba. I don't know why Tomás feels that he must agree with Ron Paul in respect to the trade embargo but disagree with him on travel restrictions. Ron Paul is more forthright on this subject than on any other. He does not claim that contact with Americans will innoculate Cubans against tyranny. In fact he doesn't care at all whether Cubans are delivered from tyranny or not: it is their problem. All he wants is that his "right to travel" not be impinged. Of course, there is no constitutional "right" to visit foreign countries. But, then again, Libertarians often believe that the Constitution violates rather than guarantees their rights.

I received an e-mail from Tomás this week — which I suppose he also sent to other Cuban bloggers — encouraging me to write about Ron Paul. To his credit he did not suggest that we should write positively or negatively. He was unaware, apparently, that I had already followed his injunction. The article, published almost 2 month ago, was in fact picked up by Ron Paul 24-Hour Blog Radio, which linked it on its site. This astonished me because it was a highly critical review not only of his Cuba policy but of libertarianism itself. And then it dawned on me: they used it to attract pro-Castro liberals. My attack on Ron Paul as a Castro-appeaser was his bona fides. On the positive side, many hundreds of Ron Paul's supporters came to read that post at RCAB who would not otherwise have found their way here, and perhaps I was able to convince some that Ron Paul is a fraud and that to support him is a derogation rather than affirmation of American democracy.


It seems that not even Tomás' relationship to our first president or even to the august Val Prieto can save him from abuse at Babalú for taking a position contrary to its canon. The first to lead the attack, of course, was George Moneo, who accused Tomás of "scrapping the bottom of the barrel" and cautioned him against "bumping into Hillary, Chris [Dodd] and Baraka" there. Guajiro de Broward later admonished the other commenters "Why do you all argue with a closeminded 'Ron Paul Fanatic.'" So far Val has abstained from the discussion. Or is he only waiting for the repudiation to grow to oust his own cousin from Babalú for the crime of lese majestie?

Notable & Reprehensible: Liberty Is Not for All, Says Ron Paul

Notable & Inflated: Henry the "Economist" and Val the "Architect"

"Tomas, we've been off the gold standard for more than 30 years. The value of the dollar is based on the collective health of our economy. Short term fluctuations can be influenced by speculation and by incomplete information but eventually it all comes out in the economic wash called equilibrium. As long as we don't encumber industries with too much arbitrary interference and regulation, the economy and therefore the dollar will do just fine. No apocalypse on the horizon. But hey what do I know, my degree is in Economics."Henry Gómez, "The Conductor's Report Card," Babalú, December 22, 2007

No, Henry. The United States went off the gold standard in 1933.

But if The Wall Street Journal can identify Val as an "architect," then Henry can certainly identify himself as an "economist." Oh, brother.

Notable & Hilarious: Val Accuses Us of "Condescension and Hubris"

"Are you picking up where Rick left off, Carlos [Miller]? Cause we’re kinda busy singlehandedly ending the Cold War and unearthing fidel castro’s remains to deal with yet another little local blog-clique schoolyard shoving match. If you want to discuss serious issues seriously, let us know, we’d be more than happy to abide. But if your preference is to deride in condescension and hubris, stick with Tellechea. It’s his, and by the looks of this post, your specialty."Val Prieto, Photography Is Not a Crime blog, December 21, 2007

Where do I begin? Bad as he is on his own blog, Val really becomes incomprehensible when he takes his show on the road.

Here he accuses Carlos Miller and me of "condescencion and hubris" while at the same time claiming that he and his fellow Babalunians are "busy singlehandedly ending the Cold War." We thought that Ronald Reagan was responsible for that with an assist from Margaret Thatcher. If he means the localized Cold War between the U.S. and Cuba, how does he propose to "end it?" By defeating Castro? He will need an American president who is willing to engage him aggressively, which his idol GW did not. Or does Val mean that he wants to end the tropical Cold War by capitulating to Castro, because that's the other way to end it. As usual, Val is long on braggadocio and short on answers. Val also credits himself (also singlehandedly) with "unearthing fidel castro’s remains." That, at least, is less enigmatic, for Val has buried Castro who knows how many times and been obliged to unbury him just as many. But does he actually take pride in lying and then having to eat his words?

Val writes that my "preference is to deride in condescension." Is there any other way? He says this just after referring to Carlos Miller's blog as "yet another little local blog." As for "hubris," that's a word that he learned recently from me (the word, not the thing). I am glad that I can at least expand Val's vocabulary for I cannot expand his understanding.

Carlos Miller has an excellent reply to Val's invitation to "discuss serious issues seriously." Read it at:

Notable & Ironic: Fidel Is "A Cuban X-Man"

"He's eighty some-odd years old, has had more than a few surgeries, has been out of his beloved limelight for 18 months, has been reportedly pretty ill and bedridden and must be taking a slew of meds and just the other day reported that he was done with the leader of the country thing. And yet, he still has the wherewithal to sit down with his protegé [Hugo Chávez] and discuss such complex issues as the integration of two countries into one! The man is a horse, folks! A Cuban X-man!"Val Prieto, "Must be the Spinach or the Bionic Tracksuit," Babalú, December 21, 2007

How many times has Val Prieto killed and resurrected Fidel Castro this year, let alone in the span of his blog? More than we can remember. At Babalú that's known as building an audience. That this is also playing into Castro's hands, discrediting his enemies and fostering the myth of his indestructibility, is also quite obvious. What we had not suspected is that Val is actually overawed by Castro's seeming invulnerability, really the product of diverting all the king's horses and all the king's men to his preservation. Nothing can be more ironic than to have Val mock Castro as "the horse" — or, in Val's cultural parlance, an "X-man" — when no other exile has contributed as much as Val in recent years to perpetuating the myth of his indestructibility.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Killing Oscar Biscet With Love

I do not know what compelled Henry Gómez first to appoint himself Oscar Biscet's campaign manager and now his speechwriter. I suppose he feels great admiration for Cuba's most-honored prisoner of conscience and wishes to assist him in any way he can. This is entirely laudable and one of the few instances where Henry's enthusiasm has found a worthy subject. Frauds like the rocker Sting and Fred "Cubans are Suitcase Bombers" Thompson, on which Henry has also expended considerable amounts of emotional capital, are not deserving of anybody's public adulation, not even Henry's. The odd thing, however, is that Henry's misplaced admiration has not caused any harm to befall Sting or Thompson; but his desire to be Biscet's volunteer-everything has nearly gotten the poor man killed.

Earlier this year Henry got the idea that Biscet should run for president of Cuba from his prison cell. Yes, Henry wanted Biscet to endorse the existing communist system by agreeing to be a candidate in its sham elections. Biscet's wife, terrified at the prospect of what might happen to her husband if Henry's idea took off, had to beg him to desist before he got her husband killed.

Of course, Henry's vision of Oscar Biscet as president of Cuba never entirely died. For Henry, it was only a dream deferred and not very long. The award of the Medal of Freedom to Biscet provided Henry with the opportunity he was waiting for to revive Biscet's campaign. This time Henry did not appoint himself Biscet's campaign manager but his speechwriter, which he probably thought less presumptious and hence less objectionable. But is it? What could be more presumptuous than to speak for a man without his permission or even his being aware of it? Presumptuousness is the least of it. It is down right insulting, condescending and presumptuous to put words in Oscar Biscet's mouth. If his torturers could not do it, what makes Henry think that he has the right to? It is no exaggeration to say that there is a virtual ocean which separates Henry from the experiences of Oscar Biscet without even factoring character into the equation. One who has never walked in Oscar Biscet's shoes should not presume to tell him where to go. Even if Henry's intentions are the purest, it is still a signal act of disrespect to the man. Matters were not helped, either, by the insertion of a photoshop of Oscar Biscet addressing the United Nations, presumably as Cuba's democratically-elected president. Hasn't Biscet's wife already warned Henry about that? Does Henry believe that in the last 6 months what was unacceptable then is suddenly acceptable now? Or does Henry value the idea of an Oscar Biscet more than he does the man himself? Oscar Biscet is not an expendable man and the one thing that Cuba does not need is another martyr. May God protect Oscar Biscet from Henry and others who think that they know what is best for him.

Tancredo Is Out

Tom Tancredo, the most overt racist to run for president since George Wallace, has quit the race. It will be interesting to see whom Tancredo will endorse; for surely that will be the second most racist candidate in the Republican Party (a hard call after Newt Gingrich quit). Although Tancredo was never anything but a joke (and one in very bad taste at that), we did not ignore him at RCAB, although we covered him tangentially, which is all that he deserved:

I also outed Tancredo as a closet Hispanic (via Sicily, which was ruled 400 years by Spain) when he attacked Miami as a "Third-World" country:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Notable & Quotable: "Blog-Eat-Blog-World"

"[A]nonymity is a shield that can be abused. And one that human curiosity will eventually want to strip away. If a blogger develops a big audience, it’s only natural for the audience to wonder who’s talking to them. Anybody can have an opinion. It takes courage and conviction to put a name to it. Good night and good luck Mr. Rick, whoever you are." Michael Mayo, "Blog-eat-blog-world," Mayo on the Side, Sun-Sentinel Blogs, December 20, 2007

Michael Mayo's opinion is of special interest because he is the "first cause." Mayo was the author of the article on gay prisoners which Rick lampooned on Stuck on the Palmetto evoking the wrath of the Daily Pulp's Bob Norman, who questioned how Rick was able to blog 24/7, which caused Rick to panic at the prospect of being exposed and to act exactly as if he had been (which he never was), shutting down his blog, dumping 6000 posts, 100,000 comments and his sidekick, and leaving one question on everybody's mind — Who is Rick?

Prospects Not Good for the "Happy Blogger"

And what shall happen next to Rick?

Well, nothing good — that much is sure.

The story of SotP is actually bigger now than it was when it first broke. And what is worse, it is still an incomplete story. Only when Rick's identity is revealed can it finally be put to bed. The conclusion which Rick tried so desperately to avoid will come nonetheless and sooner than if he had merely ignored Bob Norman's harmless insinuation. We suppose that Bob and his editors are in conference right now, spurred by The Herald story. Will New Times let the scoop slip between their fingers or name names? Rick has placed the onus on them. So have many others. Since Bob has already been accused and convicted in some venues of outing Rick, he might as well go for the glory if he's going to get the obloquy anyway.

Given the publicity that The Herald story has generated thus far, Rick's boss would have to be the world's dumbest if he hasn't put two and two together yet. The fact that Rick has gotten away with doocing for years, at SotP and on his old blog, which reached 3500 posts before Rick killed it too, would seem to indicate that his boss must himself have been engaged in some extracurricular activity of his own to have missed Rick's protracted dereliction of duty encompassing thousands of individual acts. Unless Rick has no responsibilities at all at his workpace, it is likely that the job which he didn't do during the day he performed after regular hours for overtime pay. What would that make him? A double-doocer? No, it doesn't look good for Rick, and the story that the newspapers may actually report is the news of his firing. If that is all that befalls him, Rick might have cause to be grateful.

But there is, of course, the question of restitution, not to mention fines, which may just be waived, however, because of the magnitude of the restitution.

One would have thought that given his present circumstances Rick would be through with blogging for the forseeable future. But we doubt it. We see him writing desperate replies to his enemies which he will post one day when this is all over. But it's not going to be over for a long time. And the next thing that Rick may have to post is bail.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Miami Herald Gives Rick What He Didn't Want

We said it here several days ago. A major media outlet was working on a story about Rick's travails which would take this affaire a notch up. Thanks to The Miami Herald Rick's identity is now no longer the subject of speculation among a dozen or so bloggers and interested parties, but has become a national story. At this juncture, a national story is the last thing Rick needed. In an e-mail to The Herald, Rick wrote ''The blog is done and I'm moving on.'' Or so he hopes. That hope, however, seems more elusive now and his anonymity more threatened than ever. His fellow bloggers were not kind to him. ''For the record, I HATE anonymous bloggers. They, in my view, are chickensh-- people who don't stand behind their words,'' Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse was quoted as saying. Nevertheless, Stuck on the Palmetto was twice awarded the New Times "Best Local Blog" Award. SotP nemesis Val Prieto was also interviewed for the story and delivered himself of his usual profundities.

The Herald showcased four local blogs in its story:;;; and It snubbed many more, including Alesh Houdek's Critical Miami. I think that was the reason for Alesh's temper tantrum this morning. Or perhaps Alesh really is Rick's heir; he certainly is in the thrall of the green monster anyway. But more about him later.

Alex was not mentioned in the story though SotP was also (supposedly) his blog. I guess that Alex, as jealous of his anonymity as Rick, was probably glad of that.

Poor, Poor Alex (formerly of Stuck On the Palmetto)

I can almost feel sorry for Alex. Almost because he placed himself in this predicament by freely associating with Rick, whose hatred for all things Cuban finally encompassed even him. Alex was the model second banana to Rick, unconditional in his support, or, more accurately, obeissance. We have more than once wondered why someone so infinitely superior to Rick in all matters of the intellect would apprentice himself to him and provide cover for him. Alex is certainly no less perceptive than Val & Henry, and if even they could see through Rick we must wonder what it was that prevented Alex from doing so to the very end. Misplaced loyalty, perhaps. Pride, most likely. What I do know for sure is that Alex's loyalty was not repaid in kind and his pride most seriously wounded in this transaction. The decision to shut down SotP and erase its contents was meanspirited on many counts. It was an affront to its readers and commenters and showed in what contempt Rick always held them. But, more than that, it was a personal betrayal of Alex. Rick could have walked away from SotP and left the blog to Alex. After all, Rick's conflict of interests did not touch Alex. There was no reason why Alex could not have continued the blog sans Rick. It was the most popular local blog in South Florida, which owed its success in part and most of its relevance to Alex. Why was he denied ultimately his part in its success but forced to share with Rick the ignominy of its end? I suppose the simple answer is that it was never Alex's blog. Rick unilaterally made all the decisions, and it was he who decided, without even consulting Alex, to kill the blog. Alex was not even accorded the simple courtesy of saying good-bye to his readers. Rick had the first say and the last.

In recent "Comments" on Critical Miami, Alex managed to contain (barely) his simmering discontent about being cheated of his share in South Florida's most successful local blog. He avers that he has been able to save some of his old posts, which means that Rick obliterated the blog without even giving him the opportunity to download all its contents. Certainly he deserved to retain a copy of SotP if Rick did (and we are sure he did, under some pumpkin patch). Another indication of Alex's resentment of Rick and break with him is the ferocity with which he attacked Alesh and to a lesser extent me on Critical Miami. It's called displacement. His real fury has nothing to do with either Alesh or me. Alex is too proud to acknowledge just what a dupe he was ever to become entangled with Rick, or how much Rick's betrayal has affected him. He would rather continue to be seen as Rick's co-equal (what a joke!) than acknowledge how greatly he was wronged by him. As I said, I can almost feel sorry for Alex.


Alex @ Critical Miami, Wed Dec 19, 06:47 PM:

Thanks Ferfe. Pay no attention to Manuelito’s feverish conjectures and fabrications. He’s just baiting me into comment in one of the zillion posts he has dedicated to SotP in his otherwise unread blog. Getting a bit of my attention has always brightened his day. As to your offer, much honored. I’m out of blogging for the time being (lots of work and then vacation) but come 2008, who knows?

@Alesh: I don’t have any “sides." My opinion of your character changed, that’s all. That was clear on the comment.

Manuel A. Tellechea @ Critical Miami, Wed Dec 19, 08:40 PM:


You are a proud man. Too proud ever to admit how you were conned by Rick. You prefer to continue playing the “yes man” rather than have the world know how badly you were used by one who should have appreciated your loyalty and reciprocated it. But anyone who analyzes your part (or lack thereof) in the dissolution of SotP cannot but conclude that you were evicted from “your” blog, thrown into the pyre along with 6000 posts and 100,000 comments. My humble blog, read by hundreds every day (including you), has somehow managed to survive SotP despite Rick’s recent prediction that it was doomed. I have re-posted his prediction as prove of the prescience that never failed him. Do not be so quick to turn down Ferfe’s offer. You seem to be predisposed to exercise the role of second banana, and you might as well be Ferfe’s Number 2 as Rick’s. There will be many more posts about you at RCAB.. Except one in particular. Because I, at least, can keep a trust. Too bad your friend Rick couldn’t.

If You Never Read Anything Else on Cuba, Read This

[The following comment by Joe Papp, the most concise and brilliant exposition of the Cuban dilemma ever written, was left on the previous post about Stuck on the Palmetto. We do not think that it should be confounded with that topic and so have assigned it its own post as the first (and probably last) of our guest editorials. In our response to Joe's comment, we explained its importance and transcendence. Joe Papp is a Cuban by virtue of the fact that he is married to one (the Constitution of 1940 grants citizenship to the spouses of Cuban nationals); but, above all, he is a Cuban because of his love for our country and her people and perfect understanding of their plight, which Castro's refusal to release his wife and son has made his plight too].

joep said...

MaT, I don't know if this fits your topics of interest with regards Cuba, but I'm still waiting longingly for someone with your talent to write the definitive commentary or analysis on why internal revolt in Cuba is about as unlikely as my being invited back to the Vuelta a Cuba after I pissed on a statue of Fidel on the outskirts of Cienfuegos. I'm hoping for a piece that contrasts Cuba with Eastern Europe with particular attention paid to the relevancy of 1) The Cuban regime's having a monopoly on violence (no private ownership of weapons); 2) How the geographic isolation of Cuba, unlike East/West Berlin, or East/West Europe, makes it much more difficult for external players to meaningfully fund or support materially an internal resistance; 3) Total control of news outlets, an indoctrinating educative system that discourages critical thinking and strives to maintain a population in a total state of ignorance; 4) How material conditions (such as almost-famine) leave the population waging a daily struggle for sufficient calories, as opposed to waging a insurgency against government forces and (to keep this short and not make it a PhD dis.) 5) How policies in other nations, directed towards Cuba, actually enable the Castro regime to stay in power, through whatever mechanism is triggered (an example could be the US's banning family remittances to Cubans who don't fit a particular definition of "immediate" family). Will you do it?
12/18/2007 8:37 AM

Manuel A. Tellechea said...


I'm sure you don't realize it, but you have just written that perfect post: succinct, compelling and original. I can expand but not improve upon it. What you say is exactly what I have always believed; indeed, it is the only conclusion which a reasonable person can make. Certainly it is the one that most inhabitants of the island have already made. Your powers of penetration into the Cuban predicament are unrivalled by any American. All the millions of papers that so-called cubanologists have regurgigated over the last 40 years have not managed to analyze the Cuban reality as you have with such economy and brilliance.
12/18/2007 9:18 AM

For more reactions to Joe's comment from Charlie Bravo, Steve ["As In Blood"] Klotz and Carlos Miller, see:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Who Shall Succeed SotP As South Florida's Most Visible Blog?

Critical Miami and Klotz As In Blood Are the Top Contenders

Many crocodile tears have been shed over the death of Stuck on the Palmetto by South Florida blogs that depended on its blogroll for their survival. I say "crocodile tears" because all these blogs, small and smaller, while benefitting from SotP's seal of approval also despised it cordially as all industry leaders are despised. What was it exactly that SotP was a purveyor of and how could one or more of these vestigial blogs replace it? That is the question which many pretenders to Rick's mantle have been asking themselves. If you ask me, I think there is an heir apparent to SotP already. Which is? Critical Miami, of course. It's a little too highbrow (though not insufferably so) and much too conventional, and Alesh's legendary adversion to a local blogroll is an impediment to Critical Miami's ascendency, since many regard him unfavorably because of it. In fact, chief among Alesh's critics in this respect was Rick, who chided him many times for the blog equivalent of stinginess. It is a poor emperor who has no dependencies and Alesh's reluctance to give his imprimatur to any other blog is the only thing which is holding him back and which may prove an insurmountable obstacle to his aspirations (supposing he has them).

The only other South Florida blog of its stature, which sparkles at times in ways that the genial but rather staid Critical Miami rarely does, is Klotz as In Blood. He is by far the best writer among the South Florida bloggers: wit, irony, sarcasm, those precious condiments of good writing which others avoid or use indiscriminately, Steve knows how to balance to create quite a smorgasbord. But he too has his limitations. He is not prolific and he is too much of a wordsmith to be. His blog is not easily identifiable as a South Florida blog since it has no distinctive Florida marker in its name (e.g. "Palmetto, "Miami"). Although he writes often about South Florida, he would have to write a great deal more about it to don SotP's mantle as leader of the local blog consortium.

For my part, I should be pleased with either Steve or Alesh. Both are decent and honorable human beings with no hate except for purveyors of hate. In this they differ markedly from and are a great improvement over Rick, who hated many and sundry, especially Cuban-Americans, and used that hate to expand his readership. I do not suggest copying his formula of seeding hatred among ethnic groups, either. Racism is a disease of the mind, not an eccentricity; and I believe that Rick succeeded despite and not because of it. But, again, there is no chance that either Steve or Alesh would follow that course. By virtue of that fact, they won't require a second banana from a maligned group as a token. In fairness, Alex was more than just a token; often he pulled Rick from the brink of his own unfanthomable ignorance. Why he would consent to be Rick's waterboy when he is in every way his superior, I will never know. Although neither Rick nor Alesh need a partner, they should nevertheless consider acquiring one. I can think of no better blogging partner for Alesh than Steve and vice versa. They balance each other perfectly. The success that they would achieve together would be far greater than what each could attain individually. Both have at least some respect for my opinion, and if they were content to follow my advice, they could exceed by far SotP's ephemeral success.

But what if neither desires to succeed the late SotP as doyenne of the local South Florida blogs. Well, there is a formula which any local blog can follow to achieve SotP's rapid rise and avoid crashing as it did. Ephemeral success, ultimately, is not success: it is a fluke. My formula also contains the seeds of permanence. I should really sell it to the highest bidder, but to avoid another Rick — that is, to avoid creating a monster — I prefer to pass on the formula to all the local blogs and let them compete on an equal footing. There may be an element or two which I have missed that one of them can supply which might prove the determining factor. I will present this formula in a future post, as I wish to give Alesh or Steve the chance to seize the moment.


Here’s the formula:

Google News is your best friend. Search South Florida and every major city there. Also, Digg’s Offbeat News. Copy and paste liberally. Add a sentence or two of your own. Be sarcastic and offensive if possible. There you have your typical SotP post.

Do an occasional introspective piece about yourself. These can be dashed off quicker than the news posts.

Pick a group — not blacks or gays — and make it the object of your special ire. Attack them often and ignorantly. Hope that they will attack you too.

Be rude and smarmish with your commenters. The post itself is insignificant; it’s the give and take of the thread that will get you the stats.

Hope and pray for someone like me who can carry a thread forever and do other yeoman service for you. And don't forget to ungrateful.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rick's Defenders and Apologists Gather to Mourn Stuck on the Palmetto

Bob Norman's blog The Daily Pulp has thus far maintained a respectful silence concerning Stuck on the Palmetto's demise, which was a suicide although some insist on attributing it to Bob. It has been Alesh Houdek's Critical Miami, accused, ironically, by Rick of "piling on," which has presided over the obsequies for the vanished blog. I have myself laid some hemlock on SotP's grave. Be sure to pay your respects also.

Notable & Quotable: A Proud Enemy of Rick's

"Manuel A.Tellechea, another blogger who declares himself an 'enemy' of Rick (it’s a Cuban thing), is convinced that Rick was an actual cop. But I am not so convinced. Perhaps he was a civilian employee working within a law enforcement agency, his salary still funded by tax payers."Carlos Miller, "Snuck Off the Palmetto," Photography Is Not a Crime blog, December 17, 2007

The word "enemy" does not need to be translated. In "Cuban" or English it means the same thing. Acknowledging that fact is called being honest. I hope that there are also honest Americans.

I should hope that at his age Rick has advanced through the ranks, if not on merit then by the Peter Principle, to a more exalted position in the department than "cop." Regardless, he must be held to the same standard as a street cop. In 2006, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department fired a 23-year veteran for playing the bagpipes when he should have been on patrol. Rick's job, even if it only entailed shuffling papers, did not carry a license to steal from the taxpayer. Rick did not "choose responsibility over ego (i.e. blogging)." He chose to stop stealing. Which I suppose is as commendable in a cop as it is in a crook.

BTW, "Snuck Off the Palmetto" is the best headline so far to describe Rick's abrupt departure. Alesh and I could only come up with "Stuck on the Palmetto Is Dead." I had already exhausted my creative powers on "Stopped On the Palmetto."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

FLASH!!! Stuck on the Palmetto Is Dead

November 19, 2005 — December 16, 2007

In an unsigned final post, Rick has closed Stuck on the Palmetto in order to protect his career and future. Certainly he cannot be faulted for it. As we have pointed out repeatedly, he was in an untenable position. His blog had become a liability to him. He could save it or himself. So he killed the thing he loved. What else could he do? SotP was a log of his work, or, rather, of his dereliction of duty. Carefully noted, on every post, was the day and time it was written. This constituted an irrefutable self-indictment, prima facie evidence of his betrayal of a public trust. He has silenced and erased his blog before his malfeasance became public knowledge and he had to face the consequences. It may be too late already. Contrary to Rick's expectations, however, his drastic action in closing his blog will call further attention to it and to him and may actually hasten his exposure.

We are sorry for the readers of SotP, and, especially, Rick's stoic defenders who now have nothing to defend and nowhere to defend it. Alex is also a casualty of Rick's implosion of his blog. Of course it was always Rick's blog, not Alex's. Perhaps Alex will create his own blog now where he can decide when and under what conditions it will shut down. It appears from his silence that Alex had no real imput in this decision.

Babaloo to Its Readers: Shut Up!

"The most widely read blog I write for, Babalú, moderates comments and our readership has grown dramatically in spite of that (emphasis mine). That's because people come to read what the contributors write not necessarily what the readers write.Henry Gómez, Herald Watch, December 16, 2007

For a blog with 2.3 million visitors (not "readers"), Babalú doesn't elicit many comments. In fact, posts with "0" comments are the norm rather than the exception. Why is that? The reason, of course, is Henry and Val's attitude towards Babalú's readers, which Henry considers unnecessary. Worse than unnecessary: readers are not "people" if they happen to write. If they are so convinced that their readers' imput matters not at all or is incidental to Babalú's success, why not just make it a closed blog (which in effect it is already). Babalú's deletions, anathemas and bannings, its obsessive need to control and tailor the Comments section so that it is no more than an extension, or echo, of its editors' musings, has indeed muted its readership, as Val & Henry intended it should do. Now Henry advises The Miami Herald to do the same by instituting preemptive censorship, otherwise known as moderation. Of course, no one has the right to "moderate" anybody else's opinion. All the great social upheavals in history were caused by people trying to "moderate" other people's opinions, whether about religion, politics or science. Galileo was "moderated" by the Pope. St. Thomas More was "moderated" by Henry VIII. "Moderation" is just a euphemism for silencing one's opponents because one cannot or will not answer their objections. But removing the opinion (or the one who holds it) is not the same thing as removing the objection, but for frightened men who know that they do not have reason on their side it is the only course open to them.


Val Prieto Visits

Vana said:

Another example of Val's personality, he's not backing the Dolphins anymore because in his words they suck, he will now back the Jaguars because they are playing better, what a washy, washy man, all the markings of a turncoat, and a traitor.
12/16/2007 4:56 PM

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


That is a profound observation. A man who abandons his team because it has fallen on hard times and embraces another more successful because he wants to be on the winning side, a man who has no allegiance but to success, is a dangerous man for our country's future.
12/16/2007 7:09 PM

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


The Dolphins won today for the first time since December 10, 2006. All that they needed was for Val to renounce his allegiance to them. Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?
12/16/2007 8:23 PM

Vana said...

Does it make me think? deeply trust me, I cannot stand people, let alone men, who are not true to their word, I don't trust people like that, and I don't respect them.

I'm a San Francisco 49er fan, yes they are sucking, (but not as bad the Dolphins) don't care! I will be their fan come hell or high water, until I die.

Ain't that something Manuel yes the Dolphins won today, good for them, I guess Val is as we say in Cuban parlance, a sack of salt, poor, poor Jaguars.
12/16/2007 11:39 PM

Val Prieto said...

Que clases de comebolas. Vana, you wouldnt know a post published in sarcasm if it was spoon fed to you with alphabet soup.

And Manuel, if anyone knows anything about abandoning teams, its definitely you. ñangara.
12/17/2007 11:34 AM

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Was I ever a part of your "team?" No, I don't think so. I never belonged to the Bitongo League of Latter-Day Annexationists of which you are president and founder.

Glad to hear that you are now sending remittances to Cuban dissidents like the "ñangaras" that you were always accusing of perpetuating Castro in power because they would not let their parents starve.

I don't have more time for you today. But I will return to you. You can be sure of that.
12/17/2007 11:55 AM

Fort Lauderdale Officer Fired for Playing Bagpipes on Taxpayer's Dime

Those who have suggested that Rick overreacted to Bob Norman's insinuations do not understand the seriousness of the predicament in which he finds himself. The fact that this predicament is entirely of his own making, that he could have avoided it by showing more prevision, or even defused it by his silence, does not make his present circumstances more tenable. What he should have done is now a moot question. What matters now is what he should do to survive its inevitable effects. Early retirement, if possible, or resignation, if unavoidable, though it may cost him a few bucks, is his best option. It is certainly preferable to the alternative, which could end up costing him his pension and thousands in restitution: not to mention the public scandal he would be at the center of, which for such a lover of anonymity as Rick might be worse than any other punishment (though there might be others more dire as well).

There is a precedent that should be all the admonishment that Rick needs to transition into an early retirement, where he would be able to blog to his heart's content without endangering his own well-being or the safety of those whom he has sworn to protect. I am sure that Rick considers the diffusion of his eclectic opinions to be a public service, but until blogging becomes a job classification at the department and he is appointed head of its blogging division, it is in Rick's interest to perform his duties in accordance with the rules, regulations (and, yes, laws) which currently govern the department. One thing is certain: Rick must decide between his job and his hobby. There can be no "Rick the Cop" blog. He was right about that from the beginning.

Here is the cautionary tale of what happened to a police officer who tried to combine his job with his "bliss." Hopefully, he still has the bagpipes, but would he want to play them anymore?

Fort Lauderdale officer who practiced bagpipes on duty resigns to avoid firing

By Brittany Wallman
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted June 1 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE · A police officer with a history of disciplinary cases, including for practicing the bagpipes when he should have been on patrol, has resigned rather than be fired.

Officer Keith J. Kowalski quit after 23 years on the force, after Chief Bruce Roberts told him in writing he was suspended without pay and then would be dismissed for not doing his job, according to police investigative records. He was suspended April 27 and his dismissal would have been effective May 25.


Police spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa said Kowalski's May 8 resignation was accepted "in bad standing," and the status was reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in case Kowalski applies for police work elsewhere.

Kowalski, 49, has repeatedly been disciplined for neglecting his duties and was issued a final warning by Roberts five years ago, according to records.

Still, he kept his job despite a scathing disciplinary report in 2005, when he was suspended 16 days for not helping an elderly woman who had been hit by two vehicles and lay dying on the roadway.

"His decision-making is questionable and poses a danger to himself as well as other officers and the public he serves," police Maj. Mary Negrey wrote in a memo at the time.

Kowalski could not be reached for comment. Union officials said they had no comment because Kowalski resigned.

In 2001, Kowalski was suspended three days after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported he repeatedly played the bagpipes at a fire station and lifted weights there when he was supposed to be working.

In another case, in 2002, he was close enough to a double-shooting to hear the gunshots, officials said, but didn't respond to the scene. Instead, he went to talk to a union representative about another discipline case in which he was accused of not responding to a dispatch call. He was suspended 15 days and issued a final warning.

"Your actions displayed a total disregard for the safety of the residents of our community and the members of this department," Roberts wrote in a letter to Kowalski at the time.

In 2003, a TV news cameraman videotaped him kneeing a shackled, handcuffed suspect in the side. Some in the public called for his firing, but he was exonerated after a lengthy investigation.
In the latest incidents that culminated in his recommended dismissal, according to the investigative file, Kowalski didn't respond to two silent distress alarms on different dates in fall 2006, both times while he was on duty and not involved with another call. Kowalski was at home when one of the alarm calls came in, and he then drove past the location without stopping, police officials said.

Kowalski told his superiors he didn't hear either broadcast, an explanation they found unacceptable.

Investigators also found that Kowalski, assigned to patrol the beach area, spent a lot of time at home, according to police records.

Investigators used vehicle locator devices to examine Kowalski's habits on 49 workdays in 2006 and found he went home 54 times in that period for an average of 35 minutes, one time for an hour and a half.

He told investigators he went home to eat, but he also took daily meal breaks at the police station, according to a memo from Internal Affairs Capt. Rick Maglione.

He was also found to have been untruthful in his sworn testimony about his visits home, according to Internal Affairs documents. And in a subsequent investigation in April, Kowalski was found to have neglected his duties when he didn't respond to a pedestrian hit by a vehicle two blocks away from his location. Kowalski said he was using the bathroom.

"Your conduct demonstrated a flagrant disregard for department rules and regulations, showed a pattern of poor judgment and violated the basic trust placed in you as a police officer," Roberts wrote in the termination letter.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Scotland the Brave

Coming on Monday: the story of a 23-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department who was fired in 2006 for playing his bagpipes at work when he should have been on patrol.

Stopped on the Palmetto: Ruminations on Rick

The curious are coming here in the droves from Critical Miami and the Daily Pulp to learn more about Rick's downfall. Their curiosity is understandable. This is an unfinished story and not until the innuendos metamorphose into facts will the curiosity abate and this matter be put to rest. I will not be the grandmaster of Rick's inquisition, although I understand that others are at work on an exposé that will explain Rick's panic at the thought that his cover might be blown. And, truly, he has every reason to panic. Those who believe that this was an overreaction on his part are wrong.

I have taken little notice of Rick in these precincts except as a perpetual irritant. Yet these post are not without interest since they reveal facets of his personality which are now more easily understood in the light of recent revelations about his employment and extra-curricular activities.

I believe that our enemies are as important in defining us as our friends, and I am proud to call Rick an enemy. I sincerely hope that he weathers this storm if only so I may continue to use him as the paradigm of the "Ugly American," a role he was born to play.

Stuck on the Palmetto's Rick is Deleting Posts and Cannibalizing His Readers (11/02/07)

Rick the Prick Visits (09/16/07)

No Cuban Exile Has Ever Burnt an American Flag (07/04/07)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Notable & Unprophetic: One of Us Was Leaving, Anyway

"You're losing steam, Manny. Slowly but surely. And I think you know it... I give you until April of 2008... although, knowing you, you'll probably hang around just to spite me. However, all is not lost. You can always come back to SotP. Not." Rick (formerly of SotP), RCAB comment, October 21, 2007

Far Away and Long Ago at SotP

Roger said...
Rick, you have reached a new low.
I really can't wait until Alex gets his own blog.
1/2/07 10:56 PM

Alex said...
Ha! Espera sentado (wait seated). [Don't hold your breath!].
1/3/07 9:34 AM

With Bagpipes: Ricky, We Hardly Knew Ye (And What We Knew We Didn't Like)

At year's end it is customary to look back one last time at the parade of humanity, both great and small, remembered or nearly forgotten, who died over the course of the year having enjoyed at least 15 minutes of fame over the course of their lives. I prefer to recall, instead, two blogs which were once very important to me (as was I to their success) which imploded this year through the ill-considered actions of their respective blogmasters. I mean, of course, Miami's Cuban Connection and Stuck on the Palmetto. I devoted hundreds of hours to commenting on them and became a fixture on both. The first is now completely dead and the other in extremis.

On Miami's Cuban Connection, I (or anyone else) could take command because Oscar Corral largely ignored his blog, which was thrust on him by The Miami Herald in token of his being a token. It was only at the end, when Corral instituted moderation (or preemptive censorship) in the wake of the public scandals that beset him, professional and personal, that I finally left. So did everybody else.

I next took residence at Stuck on the Palmetto, where other MCC alumni had migrated. In the beginning I was welcomed because my presence attracted a great deal of traffic and resulted in threads that were more interesting than the original posts. I soon became the main attraction on SotP and even had my own Greek chorus which praised every word I wrote. This was the "Golden Age" of SotP, recalled fondly by all. Never did its stats soar before or since to the levels achieved when I was commenting more than Rick and Alex were posting. It was then that Rick called me "SotP's favorite, the beloved Manuel A. Tellechea." But at some point Rick (and Alex, too) began to wonder whose blog it really was, with every commenter wanting to engage me while largely ignoring them. It was then that both Rick and Alex started attacking me and calling me a "squatter" on their blog. Indeed, at one point, they didn't do anything but attack me, and always, of course, got the worse of the argument, which only made them angrier and more insufferably petulant. This, I suspected then, was a gimmick to keep me swinging at their pitches and slamming homerun after homerun in their ballpark. Eventually, I grew tired of this game and left them to their own resources. Even after I was gone, I continued to be the "third wheel" without which their juggernaut became a go-cart. Rick, in particular, couldn't decide whether he should hate me for staying or hate me for leaving, and decided after much deliberation to do both. Even months after I had left SotP, my name continued to be invoked, as in this exchange from May 23, 2007. You don't have to be Freud to detect what lies beneath their scorn:

Anonymous said...
[T]his blog has jumped the shark without Tellechea around.
5/23/07 6:06 PM

Rick said...
Funny A. #1, without Tellechea around, I see it as quality comments rather than quantity. Plus, SotP is no longer a sounding board for his anti-American BS. The stats say the same thing.
5/23/07 6:38 PM

Anonymous said...
Yea, I know, Rick... I was sorta kidding. But I have to admit, I used to check the comments primarily to read what he would write.
5/23/07 6:45 PM

Rick said...
Way too much noise. Not any substance. I'm glad he's effin gone..
5/23/07 6:50 PM

nonee moose said...
Careful, he's like Beetlejuice. Say his name three times and...
5/23/07 7:38 PM

Alex said...
Is it a coincidence that a post about garbage reminded you of him, Anonymous?
5/23/07 11:15 PM

Yes, Rick and Alex are Nature's gentlemen; but no matter their provocations, or the number of times that they invoked my name, I was gone for good and nothing could compel me to return. Rick would ocassionally make cameo appearances at RCAB to vent his old rage, and occasionally I would take note of Rick's chronic Cuban-American bashing. Alex and I also had certain interactions here which were more cordial than my exchanges with Rick, because, after all, Alex and I share at least one thing in common, whereas Rick and I share nothing at all. Rick's attacks on Babalú amused me to no end, though I never regarded him as an ally in this struggle. Rick hated Babalú for the wrong reasons and I for the right ones. Besides, I have never subscribed to the syllogism that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. The enemy of your enemy could very well have killed your mother. It is common beliefs and not common enmities which are the foundation for a successful alliance, and in the flame war between Babalú and SotP, I declared neutrality — a pox on both their houses.

Many who know of my association with SotP in the past have wondered why I haven't commented thus far on the recent unmasking of Rick. It is simply because I could always see through his mask. I once compared Rick to Ignatius Reilly, the inofficious office boy in John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Ignatius had his own agenda at work and didn't care what his boss wanted him to do. He brazenly ignored his orders and conspired to turn the other employees against him. He alienated all the company's clients, sabotaged orders and limited his administrative duties to emptying out file cabinets. His goal, in short, was to eliminate all work. This left him free to engage in other more artistic activities which were more suitable to his valve. Ignatius just missed the computer age, but were he alive today and not in a mental ward (if there are still such things), he would certainly be blogging his worldview. Exactly as Rick does (or did): day in and day out. And, of course, on his boss's dime. That is exactly what I suggested Rick did at work nearly a year ago. Of course, Rick deleted the post (he could do that on his own blog but not on somebody else's). His reaction to my analogy left no doubt in my mind that I had touched the rawest nerve in his body. I did not explore the matter any further. I didn't have to.

Rick never made me the recipient of any confidence; but he apparently did unbosom himself to The Pulp's Bob Norman, who, in essence, suggested to him last week what I had suggested to Rick a year ago. With this important difference: Rick knew that Bob knew. Fearing that Bob would expose him because he had indulged in some vulgar sophomoric humor about prison rape (the kind of humor that appeals to those who use rape as a means to control the prison population), Rick in effect engaged in what amounts to preemptive outing. His decision to quit blogging because of Bob's admonition, which amounted to no more than the proverbial warning that "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," left no doubt that Bob had implied no more than the truth: Rick was a law enforcement officer and hence a public employee, who was not authorized to emit private opinions on official matters much less do so while he should have been engaged in official business. It turns out that the company's dime was really the taxpayer's dime. At best, this is dereliction of duty and at worse official malfeasance. The tragedy for Rick is that there is a public log of his activity (or inactivity) for the entire duration of his blogging career which existed concurrently with his other renumerative employment.

Friends and enemies alike have both been having a holiday excoriating the caustic blogger on The Daily Pulp, Critical Miami and SotP itself for everything from blogging behind a mask (which he always did) to reacting histerically to the least insinuation about his identity. Val, Henry and George have all had their say, and were every bit as petty as one would expect them to be and as surely Rick himself would have been in their place. Still, his so-called "defenders" have done him more harm than even his detractors by pretending to justify what even Rick is too prudent to justify. I exempt his blogging partner Alex, whose gift for human sympathy does not astonish me, since I am acquainted with another case where his intervention practically saved the life of a man known to all of us here. I respect loyalty even when misplaced. Rick always attacked others from behind a curtain and when that curtain was ruffled his feathers were too. I do not see that that makes him a fit object of sympathy, but friendship must answer to other claims.

I suppose that I, too, could derive some vicarious satisfaction from Rick's downfall (or, rather, his self-implosion); but I will not commit Alesh's alleged "sin" of piling on. Although I know Rick's real identity and Alex's too, I will respect their "necessity" for anonymity as I always have. However, I believe that now that Rick has made this a public issue it will be impossible for Rick or Alex to long preserve their anonymity. A secret is a vacuum and Nature abhors a vacuum.