Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Nightly Tally

Total Comments for the Last 10 Posts

RCAB = 634

Babalú = 39

Commenters are the committed readers. Their interest is real and substantial, not casual and transitory. Commenters are the bulwark of every blog, the mainstay, the cornerstone. Without them there would be no feedback , and without feedback the posts would be static. Most visitors to almost all blogs stumble there by accident, or are dropped there by Google. They stay only long enough to ascertain whether the information contained there might be useful in writing a school paper or settling a question. Chances are that whether they found the blog useful or no they will never return there, because the motivation that brought them there in the first place has lapsed and it is of no interest to them in any other context. Perhaps 95% of googlers fall into this opportunistic category. Those readers, incidentally, constitute most of Babalú's readers. This is easily discernable by the paucity of comments left there: passersby usually have very little to say. Babalú is a dying blog petrified in its morbidity while RCAB is instinct with life and activity, a living and vibrant organism.

What distinguishes one blog from the other?

First and foremost, freedom.

Those with a genuine interest in Cuba, who visit Cuba-themed blogs to nurture that interest and share their own views, can have their say here but not at Babalú.

So long as Babalú continues to censor and blackball these readers, our target audience, they will continue to boycott it.

Barack Obama Refuses to Denounce Rev. Wright

In his "Speech on Race" (which he now always calls his "Philadelphia Speech"), Barack Obama said that he would no more disown Rev. Jeremiah Wright than he would disown his 85-year-old white grandmother, and then proceeded to denounce his grandmother as a bigot comparable to Wright, which both diminishes Wright's bigotry by a mile and elevates his grandmother's exponentially. After all, his poor grandmother's only "sin" is that she is afraid of black youths who follow her from the supermarket. I think if white youths were following her home she would probably be afraid too. But no matter, grandma can sleep save tonight. The grandson that she raised when his parents abandoned him did not disown her yesterday. Nor did Obama disown Reverend Wright.

Once again, Barack Obama has denounced Wright's comments, but not the man. In fact, he makes this distinction clear himself: "I've already denounced [Wright's] comments that had appeared in previous sermons." Denounced the comments, that is, not the sermons, much less the reverend. In fact, when Obama delivered his Speech on Race, in Philadelphia, he admits that he "gave [Wright] the benefit of the doubt." So, as late as a month ago, Obama admits that he still "had doubts" that Wright's comments were "divisive and destructive." It is only now that Wright has challenged his own honesty and suggested that any criticisms which Obama has made of him were motivated solely by political expediency does Obama feel compelled to label Wrights comments as "destructive." "Destructive" to whom? Well, to Obama.

Even now, after Wright's most recent remarks, Obama feels the compulsion to praise him: "He's done enormous good in the church, he's built a wonderful congregation." That was at the start of his "denunciation." At the end he had this to say: "I continue to believe that Rev. Wright has been a leader of the South Side [of Chicago]. I think that the church he built is outstanding. I think he has preached in the past some wonderful sermons. He provided, you know, valuable contributions to my family."

Denunciation should be made of firmer stuff.

Obama is even willing to admit the possibility that Wright may have acted without malice in his "performance." Although he acknowledges that "there has been great damage," Obama stills believes that "it may have been unintentional on his part."

In other words, the man may be personally blameless. Still.

Then who's to blame?

The media (well, that's refreshing, at least).


Because they aired (or "triggered," as he puts it) "the initial round of sound bites" which were "a simplification of who [Wright] was, a caricature of who he was..." Well, it is true that a mere sound bite cannot convey the whole of Wright's perverse world view. But is that the same as "caricaturing" him. With his own words? Obviously, in Obama's opinion, Wright was a man done wrong by the media until the day when he actually questioned Obama's veracity. On that day, Obama says, Wright "caricatured himself." Still, though, Obama says that "made [him] angry, but also made [him] sad." Like a disappointed but still dutiful son, Obama blames Wright "for not showing enough concern for [him]." It is that anguish, more than anything else, that was on display in Obama's speech yesterday. How could Wright have done such a thing to him?

Obama claims not to have known about Wright's allegation that the U.S. government created AIDS to destroy the black community (gay men, too perhaps?) and other "divisive and destructive comments" which the reverend has made over the years. Obama has known Wright personally for 20 years and sat in the pew of his church for 15. He even used the title of one of Wright's sermons as the title for his own autobiography. Hard to think of a greater homage to one's mentor, pastor and surrogate father than to use the title of one of his sermons to define his own life and mission, though, now, Obama claims that Wright "does not speak for him." He obviously spoke to him and for him in the past when no one was challenging Wright's remarks or using them against him (Obama).

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Promise of Barack Obama

Nothing about Barack Obama is unmoderated. It is not surprising, therefore, that he has declined Hillary Clinton's challenge to debate in an unmoderated (and unscripted) format. Obama fears less to be perceived as a coward than to be exposed as a sham. There is no difference between Al Sharpton and Barack Obama except that Sharpton has been knocked-about and nearly killed for his opportunism whereas Obama has reaped prize after unearned prize.

Obama is an armchair revolutionary who harbors all the hates and resentments of those on the front lines of the racial divide but has been immured all his life from the effects of racism. His entire career thus far (such as it is) has been built on exploiting the exploited, siphoning their suffering to run his political juggernaut. One might say that in this he is no different from any other liberal of our times. No different, let us say, from Hillary Clinton.

But there is a difference: the next phase of his career will be spent exploiting the "exploiters," that is, those who favor his mother's side of the family. It is thus that he affirms his own "victimhood" and validates his own identity. It worked, on a smaller canvas, for his mentor and surrogate father figure, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who, incidentally, despite the mock African garb, is practically white, or, more precisely, black by choice.

Not even Obama's 85-year old white grandmother, who raised him after both his father and mother abandoned him, is exempt from his anger at whites, which is no different from Wright's except that Obama conceals it in meaningless rhetoric while Wright uses all his rhetorical tropes to highlight it. Still, in his speech on race, Obama publicly chastised his own grandmother as a bigot while asserting that he can still love his grandmother even if she is one; the implication being, of course, that he can love and forgive all whites for being bigots and terribly wronging him and his people. Yet, if Obama can regard his own white grandmother as a racist and publicly chastise her as such before the world — a woman who has given the most absolute proof that she is in fact not one — how must he feel about other whites who did not raise him?

For Obama as for Wright racism is the "original sin" of white Americans. Nothing can wash that "sin" out except, perhaps, an infusion of black blood. It appears to have done the trick for Obama himself, who on his mother's side is related to Jefferson Davis.

Quite apart from Obama's socialism, which Hillary shares to a lesser extent, and his inexperience, which Hillary also shares but which, in her case, is supplemented by her husband's (ominous) experience, the biggest difference between Obama and Clinton is that as president Hillary would not pick at the scars of racism until they become new festering wounds.

It is ironic that many Americans both black and white mistakingly believe that the election of Obama will signify the final reckoning with their history and the purification of the American ideal. In fact, the long settled questions of the American Civil War will be revisited and unsettled, and the real progress that has been made since will be threatened if not undone, if Barack Obama is elected president. Obama is the black George Wallace, only smarter and a better actor and hence even more dangerous.

Barack Obama: The Future Is the Past

The Truth About Barack Obama Finally Revealed

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Joe Papp's Cuban Odyssey

The temptation was really great to title this post "Romeo and Yuliet," but I disdain the facile (cursi in Spanish), even if, as in this case, it's a pretty good snapshot of reality. Like the characters in Shakepeare's play, Joe Papp and Yuliet Rodríguez's story is simple though not on that account less poignant: an American young man falls in love with a Cuban girl; but their love is thwarted not by their parents but by the "Father of All Cubans," who is not in the least adverse to allowing the sale of "his" children to old depraved men like himself in order to promote tourism to his floating plantation, but not in the least open to allowing love to run its normal course when it involves one of his slaves and an "abolitionist devil" from up North. Yes, Fidel Castro can be quite possessive about certain slaves, especially his most prized ones, the athletes who compete for his greater glory and represent in themselves his most successful experiment in social engineering.

Cuban athletes are champions. Fidel's cows never were. Cows were always his passion, not people. He would have preferred to create a "New Cow" than a "New Man." But the only "new cow" that he ever managed to bioengineer, the immortal Ubre Blanca, was barren. The "New Man" was the consolation prize. The exemplars of these "New Men" and "New Women" are his stable of athletes. Yuliet Rodríguez was one, Cuba's 12-time cycling champion. She was not expected to fall in love with a young American cyclist and want to leave Castro's "Socialist Paradise," but she did.

Joe and Yuliet met at a cycling event in Havana in 2001. They pursued their courtship in a dozen countries, wherever Yuliet travelled abroad to represent Cuba at cycling meets. Everywhere that she went she tried to defect without much success, or, rather, with tragic results. From Russia, she tried unsuccessfully to reach Italy, where Joe lay injured in hospital after a bicycle crash. On a return flight home from Spain, after another competition, she tried to defect during a pitstop in Mexico and was offered the option of returning to Cuba or being sent to Venezuela. In Venezuela, she went into hiding. Joe and Yuliet had already married in 2004 but it did not avail Yuliet much with U.S. authorities, who did nothing to expedite the visa of an American citizen's wife. Fearing that Yuliet would soon be captured and deported to Cuba, Joe spent his last dime trying to get her smuggled to the U.S. from Venezuela. He went to Kennedy Airport to wait for her but she never appeared. Only later did he learn that she had been apprehended by Venezuelan authorities and summarily deported to Cuba, where, of course, she immediately became persona non grata, without even the miserable stipend that she had received as an athlete from the regime.

Yuliet was pregnant and close to giving birth. Joe sent several thousand dollars to Cuba so that she would have money to subsist and be able to pay for the delivery, or, to be more precise, so that she could bribe the doctors so that her baby wouldn't be aborted without her knowledge, as is routinely the case in Cuba with difficult deliveries, as hers promised to be. The money was stolen by the person who was entrusted to take it to Cuba. Yuliet literally spent her final trimester in a state of near starvation. The baby -- this little American citizen, Joe Papp Jr. -- was born prematurely by Caesarian section in Havana. Miraculously (because there is a God who does not always turn his back on the innocent), the baby survived. Yuliet is still waiting to be reunited with her husband and Joe Sr. to meet his son.

Needless to say, Joe's experiences with the Castro regime have given him a perspective on it that no other American enjoys and few Cuban exiles. And he has not remained quiet. Perhaps because he's an American and can't easily be silenced. He has done everything in his power to publicize his Yuliet's plight. Others may perhaps have advised caution, as this case might have been easier to "solve" without publicity. But I think Joe was right. The only protection that Yuliet enjoys is that she is the wife of a U.S. citizen and his son that he is an American citizen. To make that fact known as widely as possible is Joe's only defense against the kidnappers of his wife and son. In this he has been greatly assisted by the fact that he is a gifted writer and his own best advocate. He has chosen, however, to be something more: an advocate for the freedom of the entire Cuban people. His identification with our cause and passion for Cuba is such that he reminds me of Henry Reeve. Those acquainted with Reeve's history know that it is impossible to praise Papp more.

His blog I also recommend in the highest terms. It is there where you can discover for yourself his love for Cuba and the Cuban people and the vast resources of his intellect and his heart. Some day, perhaps, he will hang up his bicycle and give a workout to his hands on the keyboard as strenuous as he is wont to give his legs on the peddles.

I know that there are some who think I don't like Americans, but really it is the "Ugly American" that I dislike. The "Ugly American" is not the prototypical American by any means. Sadly, Cuba has suffered greatly and suffers still by the actions of a few "Ugly Americans." Joe and other Americans like him compensate for their crimes and represent a more hopeful epoch in Cuban-American relations which will dawn once Cuba is free.

Read more about Yuliet in Joe's blog, Pappillon:

Notable & Naive: No, Monica, We Are All "Cuban Nationals"

"Some of the artists [at the exhibit] are exiles, others are nationals." -- Monica, "Unbroken Ties: Dialogues in Cuban Art," Babalú, April 25, 2008

Babalú's youngest contributing writer, Monica, is always a source of amusement. Young people never draw my anger. I am glad that they have any interest in Cuba, let alone devote any part of their lives to her behalf. What if they do use the spurious names that Castro has given to Cuba's provinces? The fact that Cuba is a tabula rasa to them, at best known second-hand, covers a lot of territory, or, rather, excuses any number of errors that they might commit in an honest effort to understand our country. Cuba is, of course, their country, too.

The Constitution of 1940, still Cuba's only de jure fundamental law, grants the children of Cuban parents citizenship, and those children, having claimed Cuban citizenship, can pass it on to their foreign-born children, and so, unto all future generations born in exile. Which is to say, that not only the children of Cubans are Cubans, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the last generation are Cubans too. This should be a comfort to all of us: Fidel Castro has not been able to rob us of our nationality nor our descendents of their patrimony (or matrimony, since under the 1940 Constitution the children of Cuban mothers born outside the national territory enjoy the same citizenship rights as the children of Cuban fathers, which was a rare concession for those patriarchal times).

That much said, and in the spirit of instruction rather than chastisement, let me say that Monica has made the biggest "boo boo" in Babalú's history (as Henry once dubbed his own monumental gaffes). There is no distinction between Cuban exiles and Cuban nationals. Cuban exiles are Cuban nationals no less than Cubans who reside on the island. If the art exhibit which Monica reviews has as its object to highlight the "unbroken ties" that bind us, then that is the firmest tie of all: our shared nationality.

I oppose alike Cubans in exile that do not regard Cubans on the island as "real Cubans" and Cubans on the island that refuse to see exiled Cubans as "real Cubans."

We are one people. Any deviation from that concept is treason.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jaime Cardinal Ortega: The "Dorian Gray" of Cuba

From the Catholic News Agency:

Church in Cuba Hopes for Greater Government Cooperation, says Cardinal Ortega

Havana, Apr 23, 2008 / 03:18 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, said relations between the Church and the Communist government have improved in recent times, but the hope is that there will be more openness with regards to access to the media and education.

In an interview with the magazine
Temas, Cardinal Rivera [sic] said the country is living “a very special” moment, as “a period of much reflection and debate (about life in Cuba) has begun and is very noticeable in the people, and sometimes in the electronic media, although not always.” “This is an interesting moment and we are looking on with hope,” he said.

Cardinal Ortega said the good relations with the government “could improve with greater openness for the Church.” He specifically referred to the media and noted that while the bishops do have access to local radio stations, in the future they hope to have a program that is broadcast on a more regular basis, whether weekly or monthly.

He also expressed hope that the Church’s publications could be circulated throughout the country in accord with established law.

Regarding education, Cardinal Ortega admitted that there is less of a chance of the Church gaining greater control over the administration of Catholic schools than for the Church to have greater access to the media.

The cardinal said that requests by the bishops today are given greater consideration than before, such as “requests for missionaries or religious to come to Cuba for pastoral work, which are obtained today with relative ease.”

Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of Havana, is rarely mentioned in the Catholic press in the U.S. Of course, there is very little reason to mention him and many reasons to ignore him. We were surprised, then, when the Catholic News Agency devoted a few brief paragraphs to the indescript prelate.

The title really says it all: the Cardinal expects greater "government" cooperation. That makes him the active agent when he has never been the active agent. It is not the Castro regime which will offer greater cooperation to the Cardinal, but the Cuban Church which will become even more cooperative with the regime. Perpetual capitulation is its normal mode. The concept of a church militant is completely alien to it. The Cuban Church is, rather, a church complicitous. As such it fears the future more than it fears the present. It is completely accommodated to the present. The future, when it will called to account for its betrayal of the Cuban people, and when the magnitude of that betrayal becomes known in all its horrific dimensions, is something that hierarchs like Cardinal Ortega should like to postpone as long as they can, indefinitely if possible. That is, atheistic communism is preferable to them than democracy and freedom of religion. In the shadow of tyranny, the Cardinal can continue to live his hedonistic lifestyle. Exposed to the light of a free press and not protected by the mechanism of tyranny, he would wither like the portrait of Dorian Grey.

The first thing to notice in the article is that the reporter immediately forgets the Cuban Cardinal's name. He refers to him as "Rivera." This, as we have already explained, is entirely understandable. I wish it were as easy for me to forget his name. The official history of the Universal Church will certainly have no place in it for him and even the annals of the Cuban Church will try to ignore him. But, of course, such attempts to erase history will be in vain while there are still millions of witnesses to it.

So this is an "interesting moment" and the Cardinal is looking forward "with hope (read horror)" to future developments. As regards the Church, it is "better relations with the government [sic]" which holds the key to "greater openness for the Church." Not freedom for the Cuban people, God forbid, but more space for the Church to preach resignation to tyranny to the Cuban people.

Specifically, the Cardinal wants greater access to the media. Not to seem ungrateful, he points out that "the bishops do have access to local radio stations" (that is, they can be invited to appear on the propaganda shows); but this is not enough for Ortega, "in the future [he] hopes to have a program that is broadcast on a more regular basis, whether weekly or monthly." Isn't that just precious! On a "more or less regular basis" and "whether weekly or monthly." 12 days out of the 365 would satisfy this very-easy-to-please cardinal. Before the Revolution, the Catholic Church owned its own radio station in Cuba, one of the island's most powerful (closed and confiscated by Castro). Now, it would be content with 30 (censored) minutes every month.

And forget about the return of Catholic education to Cuba. Such an idea is thoroughly alien to the Cardinal, as alien, indeed, as it it to the regime. Incidentally, the Catholic News Agency does not know, and certainly got no inkling from the Cardinal's interview, that there are presently no Catholic schools in Cuba. In fact, can Cardinal Ortega actually be obscuring that fact himself when he is quoted as "admitt[ing] that there is less of a chance of the Church gaining greater control over the administration of Catholic schools than for the Church to have greater access to the media." What "Catholic schools?" Empirically, the Cardinal's statement is true, however. The Cuban Church does indeed have a lesser possibility of regaining "administration" over its confiscated schools than it does of getting a monthly 30-minutes on state-controlled radio.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Notable & Hypocritical: Two Birds of a Feather that Don't Fly Together

"Here's Charles Rangel saying it's unconstitutional for the President and the State Department to list[en] to Cuban-Americans. This is what pisses me off about these disingenuous jerks. They are pissed simply because we use the institutions of democracy, namely the vote, to influence policy. If that's crime, then we are guilty. -- Henry "Economist" Gómez, "Joe García's Fundraising Buddy," Babalu, April 23, 2008

The "institutions of democracy?"

How about the forms of democracy?

When are those going to be honored at Babalú?

I can think of no better illustration of the hypocrisy, unctuousness, bullying, absolutism and visceral disdain for not only the practice of democracy but for the lives and future of those who are not free than Congressman Charlie Rangel. His desire that Cubans should always starve under Communism and Babalú's desire that Cubans should be starved out of Communism exhibit the same contempt for the Cuban people.

Rangel sees Cubans as the guinea pigs in his Marxist utopia; and the Babalunians as rats in a Pavlovian maze that can be trained by holding out and withholding grains of food. Both presuppose that Cubans exist solely for the purpose of being agents for their worst intentions.

In fact, in the moral universe, there is no difference between Rangelians and Babalunians.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What Now, Babalú?

I once thought the death of Babalú, though an inevitable consequence of its own self-destructive policies and the unrestrained egotism of its principals, was nonetheless to be regretted. I would have preferred its reformation to its decimation; but though I have worked mightily to expose its structural defects in order that the building might be repaired and saved, the Babalunians have responded only by gutting it till nothing remains but the fascade.

In the beginning, when Val did not have George and Henry to feed his megalomania, Babalú was not the blog that it is today. That is, it was not the fascist counterpart of its reputed nemesis. Its fascism is not ideological, of course, but consists of adapting the methods of totalitarianism for its own uses and purposes. As such it is on a continuum with Communism, Naziiism and all other coersive systems of control over the minds and actions of man. To this has been added, as Babalú's own peculiar contribution, the same kind of vulgarity that one finds in Communist Cuba's chancletera aristocracy.

Given the fact that it refuses to change but every day becomes more anti-democratic, given also the great discredit that it has brought on all Cuban exiles, and the greater harm that it has done to our cause, I believe the time has passed to talk of reforming it. The only solution is for Babalú to fall by its own weight. It appears that it is already close to collapse. It cannot come soon enough to suit us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Notable & Sadistic: Val Says, "Let Them Eat Goldfish"

"Give a man a fish, and you will quench his hunger. Teach a man — or in this case — allow a man to fish and he will never go hungry again."Val Prieto, "Guarantees" (comment), Babalú, April 22, 2008

Give a man a rope and he may hang himself; teach him how to make rope and he will surely hang himself.

This particular chesnut is the darling of Val's eye. He has used this trite expression dozens of times when he wants to suggest that charity precludes self-reliance. Of course, to be self-reliant you must first be free. A regime that circumcribes your field of action and condemns and punishes individualism is not the ideal climate in which to "learn to fish." In Cuba, it is illegal for Cubans to fish in boats. They can hang a line from the Malecón and catch fish not much bigger than goldfish, which, incidentally, many do. I hardly think that teaching a man to subsist on goldfish is doing him any favor. Yet that is precisely what Val wants the already starving Cuban people to learn.

In the same thread, Henry "Economist" Gómez is convinced that if remittances are cut off abruptly Cubans will develop a distaste for goldfish and will overthrow the regime in 6 months. So that's the answer! After nearly 50 years of tyranny, the answer are goldfish! Why, of course! Only an economist like Henry could have figure that one out. Force feed the Cuban people goldfish for 6 months and they will break their shackles without the need of saws or other implements. Well, not quite break; perhaps slide out of them. After that they need only find guns, tanks and bombs and their deliverance will be complete. Or failing that, Cubans will be so wafer-thin that they will be impervious to Castro's guns, tanks, and bombs.

And what about the children?

Will they be double-starved for six months too?

Val's valuable lesson and Henry's "Six-Month Plan" could hardly work if an exception were made for them. Supposedly parents will become more desperate and liable to act if their children are starving too.

The Rarest Thing Happened Today: A Debate Broke Out at Babalú

A debate has broken out at Babalú. Those acquainted with that echo chamber will be surprised if not floored. It may explain things if we point out that the debate is between Val and Marc Másferrer. If it were someone other than Marc who raised an objection to Val's condemnation of remittances, his comment would have been deleted pro forma and the dissenter summarily banned. But because it is Marc, who by rights should enjoy Val's respect and gratitude, Babalú's editor-in-chief has consented to reply to him in a civil fashion.

Val is upset because he think that Castro's goons in Cuba are receiving remittances from their Miami relatives who may or not know about their activities. It is entirely possible that such amoral men would represent themselves as enemies of the regime in order to obtain the largesse of their families in Miami. It is entirely possible also that many Miami families may send money to their relatives in Cuba even if they know or suspect that they are complicit with the Castro regime in the subjugation of the Cuban people. What is not true, however, or even remotely possible, is that a majority of those receiving remittances in Cuba are Castro's goons, which is what Val is implying.

Of course, in Val's way of thinking, any Cuban who is not being beaten up in the streets like the "Ladies in White" must be a Castro goon or a coward. The obstinate refusal of Cubans on the island to shed their blood in rivers so that they can provide Val with a red carpet for his return to Cuba once that blood is congealed causes poor Val to be greatly disillusioned with his countrymen for failing to live up to his own heroic example. Has he not had to contend with coconuts and dead chickens on his lawn? Has he not received mysterious anonymous phone calls and supposed death threats from other bloggers? Have not Gloria and Emilio snubbed him despite his relentless ass-kissing? Truly Val knows the meaning of suffering. Too bad that the Cuban people don't, because if they did, according to Val Prieto, they would have already risen against the tyrant.

Val does not mention his famous pressure cooker. I have berated him about it so many times that he has obviously rethought the metaphors that he employs to condemn the Cuban people. Val and Henry's "Pressure Cooker" Theory holds that if you double-starve the Cuban people and make life even more miserable for them, they will have no choice but to rise up against Castro, that is, self-implode. An island bereft of Castro and the Cuban people is their fondest hope, or, as I once put it, the cherry on their brazo gitano.

Then there is this:

"If some creep grabbed your wife and a gun point told you "give me money or Ill shoot her." and you gave him money and he told you "give me more money or Ill shoot her." and you gave him more money and he once again tells you "give me money or ill shoot her." Where does it end? What impetus does that creep have to free your wife, given that each and every time he asks you for money you give it to him?"

I pity Val's poor wife who in this example stands for the long-suffering Cuban people. Can you imagine! Val would refuse to give the "creep" holding his wife at gunpoint more money because he (the "creep") is too greedy. Better a dead spouse than to be "fleeced" by such a lowlife. It's a matter of principle. His wife's brains splattered on the street are preferable to succumbing to blackmail or emptying out his bank account.

I pity his wife. I pity the Cuban people if their fate were ever in Val's hands. Thank God it never will be.


In an unusual but welcome display of autonomy, Fantomas has also challenged Val on his assertion that Cuban exiles support Castro's henchmen with their remittances. Since Fantomas once said that he could not "afford" to be booted from Babalú, this was a risky move on his part. We are glad that Fantomas finally took a stand at Babalú, and hope, for his sake, that it not be his last stand.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Is Babulú Dead Again?

Is Babalú dead?

I have asked that question before regarding its lack of comments. But now the matter is much more grave. It appears that no one is writing posts at Babalú anymore.

We are used to posts there that have no comments hitched to them. Babalú, after all, is the blog with more contributing editors than commenters.

But have its editors now also quit Babalú in disgust over its increasing irrelevance and unorthodoxy?

Has Babalú's "magnificent cadre of writers," as George Moneo alluded to his fellow contributors on the day he was ousted from their ranks, now refusing to march in lockstep with their generalissimos?

There are 16 of them altogether. Most editorial boards at major newspapers don't have 16 members. There are almost no blogs that do.

Yet between them they managed to put up just 7 post this weekend (2 posts consisting only of pictures without words and the other 5 each under 50 words).

Granted, week-ends are slow at most blogs but few blogs completely shut shop over week-ends.
The writing is on the wall. Or, rather, it is not.


Business as usual at Babalú today (that is, practically none), but that didn't stop the dyspeptic Val from booting miramiradePalmira and erasing the comment which got her booted. Longtime commenter JackW presumed that it was he who was booted because Val's eloquent edict of eviction ("Comment deleted and asshole banned by el que más mea) followed JackW's comment. Yes, there appears to be a general panic among Babalú's commenters resembling "The Reign of Terror." And so Val, long-discredited as a censor and now a snitch, continues to preside at Babalú with the same arbitrariness in its decline as in its heyday. The fishbowl may be less populated but the shark's teeth are just as sharp.

Round 8 With Henry (He Says "¡No más!")


That is a good obervation and worth pondering: "One thing is being anti-castro and another anti-communist."

Manuel A. Tellechea's last comment at Babalu blog, implying that while the Estefans are anti-castro, they are not anti-communist on March 29, 2007.

I'll state for the record, once and for all, that I was opposed to Elian being returned to Cuba. And the person who can verify that fact is Alex, formerly of SotP and currently of Miami and Beyond. We worked together for several years including the period of time in which Elian was in the United States.

If your readers want to continue believing the opposite, then that's their problem. Nobody is going to know better than me how I felt. You chose to mischaracterize statements I made about it, I suppose because it helped you in your little crusade against Babalu. But if this really were a fight, your tactics would be considered an illegal low blow and you'd be disqualified. You are not honorable, you're making stuff up as you go along. For over a year I rarely stopped by here. And almost every time I did I came away laughing because of the story lines you invented about me. The only one that didn't make me laugh was that one about Elian.

Anyway, Manuel I've had fun sparring with you but now am bored with it, so it's time to bid you adieu.

4/21/2008 12:18 AM


OK. Let's see. I was complimenting Vic, one of your long-gone commenters whom you and Val regularly beat up before he disappeared, for making an astute observation and one which many people are unaware of, namely, that it is possible to be anti-Castro but not anti-Communist. I do not say whether Gloria or Emilio Estefan are one or the other; it is Val (and you now) who assume that they are not "anti-Communists." Of course, not being an "anti-Communist" does not imply being a Communist, either. The whole of liberaldom from the 1950s to the 1990s were stridently "anti anti-Communist" but not themselves in favor of making the U.S. a Communist state. All this, of course, flies over your heads and it is no use explaining it to you.

Val did not boot me from Babalú for calling Gloria a "Communist," which I never did; but for complimenting Vic for an astute observation. Nobody, of course, is allowed to compliment on Babalú anyone whom you abuse, isolate and eventually discard after playing your "cat and mouse game" with them. The poor guy even came to RCAB to apologize for saying something that got me kicked off Babalú! As I explained to Vic, he had done nothing wrong in expressing his opinion; nor I in praising him for the acuteness of his observation.

What you don't say, however, is that Val laid down a "fatwa" at Babalú threatening to boot the next person who said anything critical about the Estefans. Apparently, I was that person. Except, of course, that I had made my comment praising Vic's observation minutes before he laid down his "fatwa." When this was pointed out to him, Val immediately "unbooted me" (can't have the appearance of looking unfair though being unfair is actually acceptable to him). Of course, it was already too late. No one with any sense of honor could have continued to comment at Babalú. Honor entailed on one the duty of fighting such practices and the dictatorial mindset which is behind them. And there you have your example: it is possible to be anti-Castro while at the same time embracing Communist practices such censorship, purges and proscriptions. Val and you prove that every day.

I have heard enormities in my day, but your assertion that you rarely read this blog must be the biggest of them all. Is anyone here so gullible as to believe you? Every time I write even one word about you (and I have written many) the phone starts ringing for you and it would take a bigger man than you to resist the temptation of seeing what I wrote about you. Of course, you don't need to be tempted. Even if you had made a resolution not to read RCAB, that resolution, as so many others, wouldn't make it past New Year's Day.

As for Elián, it has been shown to my satisfaction (and your eternal shame) that you were in favor of his return to Cuba. When Alex stated in a comment (long after I had made my initial assertion last year) that in your conversations with him you held the opposite opinion, I did not call him a liar but accepted what he said as his personal experience with you. There is someone else, however, who heard you loudly take the father's (i.e. Fidel's) side. Your disdain for Elenita (amply chroniched here) and your adamant refusal to say even one word on her behalf confirms me in my belief you want every body to remain and be rendered in your precious "pressure-cooker" even the babies. Needless to say, this causes me to regard you as nothing less than a monster, worse even than Val, who actually expressed 10 words of support for her.

The fact that you do not consider me "honorable" is a compliment. I desire nothing more than to be disdained by men such as you.

Of course, I am laughing at your assertion that you are tired of sparring with me and are bidding me "adieu." I bet everybody else is laughing, too. Frankly, you should ignore me as these excursions into "enemy territory" are sapping you of all your energy and you have all but given up posting at Babalú. Remember that there is still much knowledge that remains to be extracted from the chronicles of "Nostradamus" Dorshner in Tropic Magazine 20 years ago.

We'll see if you've said your last "¡No más!"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Raúl Is Taking the Rice Out of the Mouths of Cubans

Raúl Castro has just made the first fundamental change since he officially assumed his new investiture as Communist Cuba's fourth unelected "president." He has slashed, indeed, almost eliminated, Cuba's imports of grice (gravel with rice) from North Vietnam. Has he decided that Cubans are more deserving of a higher grade of rice than that which the North Vietnamese feed to their pigs? No, there is nothing that Raúl won't feed to the Cuban people from maggots to offal to carrion. The reason for halting Cuba's rice purchases is that the price of rice has risen on the international market from $223 in 2002 to $855 per ton today, which means that it is time to tighten the belts of all expendable Cubans, that is, the 95% of the population who do not belong to the military, state security or the military-industrial complex (their rice is imported from the Carolinas by special license from the U.S. government).

Rice, for those who know nothing about Cuba, is the mainstay of the Cuban diet, the foundation of every meal however elaborate or simple. Before the Revolution, Cuban consumption of rice rivalled that of any Oriental country and a significant amount was locally produced. The rest was imported from China. Cuba was once its best customer in the Americas and its biggest importer of the highest quality Chinese rice in the world.

That all changed with the advent of Castro. He picked the wrong side in the Sino-Russo rivalry of the 1960s and rice soon banished from the Cuban table and was replaced by a a mix of crushed spaghetti and rice.

Eventually, rice was reintroduced to Cuba, but it was like no rice that Cubans had ever seen before much less eaten. Bits or remnants of rice, mixed liberally with dirt, gravel, maggots and other insects, as well as various growing fungii. The rice literally had to be picked grain by fractured grain from the detritus. Grandmothers were often assigned the task and would spend hours at it before the week's ration of one pound of grice yielded half that much in rice, an abused and barely palatable rice.

Even this has now been deemed too great a luxury for the Cuban people since a ton of rice costs the same now as an ounce of gold. Even the low-quality rice that Cuba buys from North Korea is prohibitively priced. It is a lot more profitable for the Castro brothers to stash those ounces of bullion in Switzerland while the Cuban people make do with promises of cellphones, computers, airplanes and other pipe dreams.

The fabled Chinese rice cookers, the first kitchen appliance made available to Cubans in more than 45 years, which Fidel personally hawked with much fanfare on Cuban television as the "world of tomorrow," have been decommissioned and retired like their erstwhile spokesman (if the propaganda is to be believed).

In what is surely no relief to the Cuban people, the regime has announced that it will produce its own "consumable rice." That pretty much answers the question of what it is that's being produced in Cuba now. Of course, the prospects are not good because of "decapitalization, plague and drought," as has already been announced. Still, the experiment will be made. The greatest irony, however, is that if the experiment actually succeeds in producing "consumable" rice, the Cuban people will see none of it.

Round 7 With Henry

"There he goes again." — Ronald Reagan


My position on comments is that the communists and other jerks have plenty of forums where their words are accepted as facts. I do not need to provide them with another. I am the type of person that likes to get the last word in on his own blog. Since I do have a life outside of blogging, I do not wish to engage in ongoing debates with braindead retards like Rick, Paul Benavides, Matt Glesne or John Longfellow. It's my prerogative as the blogger.

No shirt
No shoes
No service

How many times have you seen those words at public accommodations like restaurants? Even though they are public, the owner has a right to enforce a code of conduct among his GUESTS.

You do not have "right" to comment on anyone's blog nor do you have a "right" to have your comments preserved in perpetuity. Perhaps a class in constitutional law is what the doctor ordered for you. Or maybe some anti-psychotic medications.

I never denied that you praised me. All it shows is that when you were denied your "right" to call Gloria Estefan a communist at Babalu, because she made a boneheaded decision, that you snapped.

As for your super secret source on my feelings about Elian at the time of the tragedy, either he/she is lying or you are. But the odds are about 99-1 that you are the one that's lying and that your source if you have one is one of your imaginary friends like Vana.

I am glad that my presence on your blog has helped make you the king of the most commented Cuban-American blogs. Anything to help out an old friend, even if he continues to spread hurtful lies about me. Yes hurtful, because my feelings about Elian were the exact opposite of what you have portrayed. At first I was outraged that you posted those lies. But now I am thankful because it confirmed for me, and revealed to others, that you are not just a great writer, but also a petty little man who lashes out when he is not allowed to control every situation to his satisfaction.

Very well,

carry on.

4/19/2008 9:35 PM


If it were just Rick, Paul Benavides, Matt Glesne or John Longfellow, it would be bad enough. What does the deletion of their comments suggest about you? That you are unable to refute their arguments. If a man slaps you the answer is not to turn your back on him. You may believe yourself to be his superior and maybe you are. But you don't prove that by refusing to engage him, much less censoring him and handing a victory to him by default.

But, of course, it's not just Rick, Paul Benavides, Matt Glesne or John Longfellow. You know it and everybody knows. It's also fellow Cuban exiles who have the temerity to disagree with you. Not the Ana Menéndez's, Lesniks or Arucas, because they ignore you as beneath them just as you ignore the Ricks, Glesnes, Benavides' or Longfellows. No, you delete the "little guys" who respectfully differ from you or say anything that you find politically incorrect. Moreover, you threaten, insult and ridicule them before deleting or banning them. It is the "Babalú Way" as everybody knows. You know, of course, that I try to save all your deletions, or, as I call them, your orphaned comments. If you wish I can reproduce a slew of them to demontrate that it is not just notorious Stalinists who end up in your trash bin but Cubans neither better nor worse than you and deserving all of being heard.

As for myself, I never called Gloria Estefan "a Communist" on Babalú or anywhere else. I challenge you to find such a comment. What she and her husband Emilio are is not "Communists" but the equivalent of war profiteers who traffic in the suffering of the Cuban people. That is putting it politely. Others on Babalú have referred to her as a "traitor" subsequent to Emilio's snub of Val. As always, whether you or Val regard people as "good" or "bad" largely depends on their reaction to you. I am sure that if Emilio were to make good his lunch invitation to Val or even phone him again that his opinion of Gloria and him would be quickly revised for the better.

My "super secret" source is free to make himself/herself known to you. I am not. I am, of course, too honorable to betray my source so you can dash off another of your insult-laced anathemas. But, of course, you remember perfectly well what you said about Elián then and were adamant enough in your opinion that he should be returned to Cuba as to leave a permanent impression on somebody else's mind. Next time don't be so loud.

As for the rest of your remarks, your capacity for demeaning yourself is limitless. The odd thing is that you consider me an "old friend," that is, an ex-friend, when I have always been a friend to you. But, apparently, a year's worth of thoughtful lessons in democracy and fair play have come to naught. Others would be discouraged and give up on you; certainly everybody else has. But I shall persist nevertheless. Perhaps some day you will again find yourself on the side of the angels and I can again praise you as I once did. Such, at least, is my sincere hope. Your now constant presence on RCAB shows me that you still want my approval (for whatever reason). I would be pleased to bestow it for any reason that might merit it.

Thank-you for the "great writer" compliment. At least it's not the green monster that motivates you as it does so many others.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Vatican's Unholy Alliance With the Castro Regime Has Its Roots In Pederasty

In his autobiography Before Night Falls, Reinaldo Arenas recounts that then-Monsignor Jaime Ortega was "always surrounded by the prettiest altar boys," which, of course, is code for, well, an idiot would know what it's code for. Arenas, who had known Ortega since the days when both were inmates of the UMAP concentration camps, where homosexuals were sent for "orientational reprogramming" by Castro, was certainly in a position to opine about Ortega's "peccadillos." Apparently, the "reprogramming" didn't work for either Arenas or Ortega.

Prelates like Ortega, now cardinal-archbishop of Havana and primate of Cuba, are a hellsent bonanza for Communist regimes. Blackmailing them is, literally, child's play. The regime secretly videotapes their predations, sometimes clandestinely furnishing the victims. Then the predators are confronted with a choice: exposure or compliance. Needless to say what is the universal preference. It little matters to them whether they are soldiers of Christ or soldiers of the regime. In fact they can be both with no real or perceived conflicts of interest, such is the malleability of evil.

The personal debt which these wayward clerics owe to the regime is also an obligation upon the Vatican and the basis for its secret concordat with Communist Cuba. The pope and his surrogates praise the Castro regime and conjoin the faithful to remain its faithful slaves (this has been the historic mission of the Catholic Church anyway). Castro, in exchange for the Church's support, silences any and all sexual abuse complaints against the local clergy. The Church's coffers will never be depleted by billion dollar settlements to its victims in Cuba and its "prestige" will remain intact because Communist Cuba's official media will never air (and have never aired) its scandals, that is, so long as Ortega and his accomplices do not violate that concordat by challenging the Communist regime in any way.

But these cretins go the distance in their own protection. Not only don't they challenge the regime, but they exculpate, defend and even bless its leaders.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Nightly Tally

Total Comments for the Last 10 Posts

RCAB = 582

Babalú = 35

Round 6 With Henry

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Yes, I understood your position even if I don't share it. Perhaps because I am by nature a polemicist, I actually enjoy battling Castro spies, agents provocateur and all-around jerks. It's fun. As far as I know, there are only two of these creeps on the web: John Longfellow (who has dozens of aliases) and leftside. John is a standing joke and knows it (indeed cultivates that persona). Leftside is a committed Stalinist. It's our fault, however, if we let them drive us crazy.

Manuel A. Tellechea in email to me (September 14, 2006). The email was response to a message I sent him explaining why I moderate comments. My email was specifically about Herald Watch but described my thoughts about comment moderation in general.


I wrote a long post in reaction to your thread announcing Diaz's resignation. I note that you have published the short post about Omar Claro, but not the longer post about Diaz's resignation. Actually, that post was also about you, since I made a long comparison between you and Diaz (i.e. as representing the two sides of the Cuban character: those who love and build (you) and those who hate and destroy (Diaz). It would be a sensible loss if that post disappeared.



Manuel Tellechea suggesting that I remove one of his comments from Herald Watch on October 3, 2006.

In the end this all about whether or not I have the freedom to govern the blogs I participate in or not. Manuel seems to think that someone elected him the pope of the bloggers and thus everyone must operate their blogs the way he would like them to.

And when you don't...

Well that's when he starts telling lies about you.

Manuel Tellechea continues to say on this blog that I desired the return of Elian. He bases this on a post a made in which I reflected on whether or not there was a deeper purpose for what happened to Elian. Such a reflection is one of a person looking for the silver lining in a cloud. An honest reading by a reasonable person would indicate that my feelings about Elian being returned home were those of someone who was deeply saddened.

But Manuel, the self appointed king of all bloggers, in his demented thinking saw it as an opportunity to attack me. He knows the truth. But he ignores it because it gives him greater pleasure to attack me than to tell the truth. That's how he runs a "democratic" version of a blog.

Very well.

Carry on.

4/18/2008 7:42 PM


I guess that quoting private e-mails from me is something that I should expect from you. They do nothing but confirm what I have already said: that I once held you in high esteem for your role in unmasking the great wrong done to the Martí Moonlighters and even collaborated directly with you in that endeavor, which is a fact that I have not disclosed before not wishing to take any glory from you. You could have quoted also at length the praise that I lavished on you at that time. It would have done much to illustrate the fact that I have never had any personal animus towards you but encouraged you in every way possible when I believed you to be acting on behalf of our countrymen in this or any other matter.

Are you suggesting that I was only right when I praised you and always wrong when I criticized you? I should think that my past praise only lends credence my present criticism.

In the first e-mail that you quote I had protested the deletion of John Longfellow's and Leftside's comments from Herald Watch. Although I thought John to be a creep then (which he was then) and Leftside to be a Stalinist (which he was then and still is) I nevertheless stood up for their right not to have their comments deleted, confident that I could always refute their arguments; you were not so sure, apparently, that you could.

In the other e-mail I did not ask you to remove a comment of mine from Herald Watch but to publish it. But even if I had requested you to remove it that is not quite the same thing as, say, removing a comment of yours from this blog without your knowledge and against your wishes (which is your own wonted conduct on all your blogs). My words are mine as yours are yours. While I may dispose of my own words as I wish, I am not free -- and neither are you -- to dispose of somebody else's. In a broader context, you can't steal from yourself; you can only steal from others.

I suppose that I could follow your example and publish your private e-mails to me, which, of course, I have also preserved. But that would be to do as scoundrels do and I live at a higher altitude.

I will tell you, however, that my knowledge of your support for Elián's return to Cuba was not based on any hypothetical of yours. It was communicated to me in an e-mail by someone who knew you at the time. I cannot give you any further details since I promised confidentiality to that individual, but there is no doubt that what that person says with a wealth of details cannot be anything but the truth. Moreover, I know for a fact that you maintained then and maintain now personal relations with that person.

I have also been forwarded private e-mails from Val to a third party where he says things about Cubans on the island that were I to reveal them here would discredit Val and Babalú forever (more even than they are already discredited). But, of course, I will not publish them either because I honor confidences and trust enough in my abilities not to have to resort to underhanded means to prove my contentions.

Shielding Pedophiles and Defending Communists, the Pope's Mission in America

Pope Benedict XVI is busy lamenting the predations of his priests on innocent children after allowing as John Paul's doctrinal enforcer their crimes to be concealed and unpunished for 20 years. Even today the most notorious of the episcopal enablers, Bernard Cardinal Law, former Archbishop of Boston, is in residence at the Vatican, protected from the legal consequences of his actions. Rafzinger's successor as papal lacquey, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, has been entrusted by the now pope with a mission as sordid and anti-Christian, namely, the "pacification" of the Cuban people, whose cries for freedom, democracy and justice he transmutes as calls for the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo and elimination of human rights sanctions on the regime.

I do not know what the reaction of the Cuban people will be to Castro's accomplices in the Vatican and the Cuban hierarchy once freedom is restored to the island. I hope, at least, that they will remember them as enemies of (their) freedom and human rights. They could do no less.

I do know what Cuban exiles should do. What we should have done years ago when John Paul II visited Miami and went out of his way to show his contempt for Cuban exiles, who stood, in respect to Communism, no differently from him and should have been embraced by him as natural allies. Instead, he visited the Vizcaya Palace but refused to set foot in the shrine to Our Lady of Charity, Patroness of Cuba, which Cuban exiles had erected in its vicinity. As fate would have it, John Paul passed within 10 ft. of the shrine but did not even cross himself (he had other things to do with his hands, such as grasp Castro's). This is the pope who publicly expressed his admiration for "Che" Guevara in Cuba; praised Castro's "social achievements" at the public reception for Communist Cuba's new ambassador to the Holy See; and had a hand in liberating all the Western countries from Communism (Catholic and non-Catholic) except Cuba.

Only recently Cardinal Bertone confirmed that the slight had been intentional on John Paul's part since ignoring Cuban exiles (Castro's victims, too) is the official Vatican policy.

Our answer to that policy should be: to ignore them too. This is what Cuban Catholics should have done then and should still do. NOT A CENT. Not one cent more to the enablers and apologists of Fidel Castro's regime. That's what will hurt these putrid men because that is all they care about.

Martí said that "Christianity died at the hands of Catholicism." Fortunately, not all of Christianity. But every last trace of it has been extinguished at the Vatican.

New Kultur Commissar Joins CAP

That great exponent of Cuban culture, Val Prieto, has joined Cuban-American Pundits, the internet's new review of Cuban culture. This is interesting on many counts, not least of which because George Moneo, whom Val unceremoniously ousted from Babalú for diversionism, recently took residence at CAP as well.

This keeps getting better.

Round 5 With Henry

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Wow, I'm really flattered to see that I'm so important so that a mere mention of my name generates so many comments. And I'm happy that I could help Manuel in that regard since he measures his blog by the number of comments rather than the number of readers. I have to hand it to him, it takes a lot of time to post all those comments.

But I came to correct another lie, or rather another misperception by Manuel.

The photo that I use on my blogger profile is not my high school photograph. The photo in question was a "head shot" taken by my employer in about 1998. Since I worked at an ad agency that was also a PR firm, I was required to have such a photo taken. I graduated high school in 1987.

I have used that photo simply because I like it. I was thinner then. And younger too.

But for Manuel I will update it. I'm sure he'd like to have a better idea of what I look like now in case we were ever to run into each other. Too bad he won't return the favor.
4/18/2008 1:01 AM

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Here you go. I figure that if one Gomez generates 160 comments then four should generate well over 600.
4/18/2008 1:12 AM


Glad to have been able to help you grow up, as has always been my goal. After a decade (or more than a quarter of your life), it was time to change the photo. With it, I hope, will come a new (if older) Henry whose family obligations make him more conscious of the suffering children of our country [I mean Cuba], which trumps all else and should be the principal concern of us all.

Our mutual friend and scourge fantomas is right: If I had not replaced this thread ["Round Four"] with the one honoring the Bay of Pigs veterans, it would surely have surpassed 400 comments.

Because, of course, you are a vastly interesting person, Henry. Wasn't I the first to realize that and haven't I made you an internet icon because of it? Gratitude would require some acknowledgment on your part. Your fame, certainly, was not derived from your appearance on Jamaican radio.

An upholder of truth as yourself should have the basic honesty to admit it: everybody mentions RCAB to you these days, it is the purest wellspring of your celebrity. I am reliably informed that it sends you into a rage every time that it happens, and I am sorry that you are now in a constant state of vexation because of it.

But fame is not an easy thing to bear. You may want to ask for pointers from your classmate and Belén's second-most famous graduate, Perez Hilton.

I am touched by your request for a photograph. E-mail me your address (you still have my e-mail, don't you?) and I shall be pleased to send you an autographed one with generous sentiments that you will always treasure. All that I ask is that you not lend it to Val because I wouldn't want it to end up on some altar with a thousand pins stuck in it.


Henry's new and old Blogger photos may be seen at:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Bay of Pigs: The "Fiasco" that Wasn't a Fiasco

No man can do more than his duty and no man should ever be content to do less."José Martí

Today marks the 47th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion, that proverbial "fiasco" that has co-opted that word, since "fiasco" is never used anymore except in referring to the Bay of Pigs or to any other venture that is compared to it. But what exactly is a "fiasco?" The word which dates from the 1850s is used to refer to a complete failure. It is derived from the Italian fare fiasco, which literally means to "make a bottle," that is, to execute a maneuver that completely cuts off the enemy and prevents his retreat. Something similar to a "bottleneck," which is now used in another context. Of course, Castro did not win at the Bay of Pigs because of his enlightened strategy, transmitted from the safety of his bunker. He won by default because the U.S. did not live up to its commitments to the freedom fighters. If anything, it was Kennedy himself who masterfully executed the fiasco by instructing American ships not to re-supply the freedom fighters (who literally ran out of ammunition) and Americans fighter planes not to facilitate their landing or engage the Castroite planes that reigned terror on them unchallenged. There is, of course, a better word to describe Cuba's greatest national tragedy (greater in its impact even than Marti's death). That word is not "fiasco" but betrayal. The difference between a "fiasco" and a "betrayal" is that betrayal implies a betrayer and fiasco no agent at all. John F. Kennedy said that "victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan." In fact, Kennedy was the father of this particular "orphan." How odd seems his amazement that no else else would claim its parentage! Or perhaps not so odd: the biggest lesson that his Nazi-sympathizer of a father taught all his boys was how to evade personal responsibility for their actions. It was in Cuba that the Kennedys made their fortune running rum during Prohibition and it was in Cuba that Joe's son proved that if daddy's business had passed into his hands he would have run it into the ground literally, for JFK had absolutely no idea of what it would take to make a successful landing in Cuba.

The Bay of Pigs was certainly the most ill-calculated amphibious invasion in history, the more so because it was executed by a country that had supposedly mastered this kind of warfare 15 years earlier in the Pacific theatre during World War II. In that conflict, it had taken 100,000 American troops and billions of tons of materiel to capture the miscroscopic Japanese-occupied island of Tarawa. Just 15 years later, President Kennedy proposed to capture Cuba, an island 6000 times the size of Tarawa, with just 1453 men and a few tons of equipment! That, of course, would have been possible only as a prelude to a fullscale U.S. invasion.

When recruits were first sought among the Cuban exile community, the U.S. government received enough applications to field ten battalions. Instead, it arbitrarily limited the invasion force to just 1400 men when 14,000 would still have been only one-tenth of Castro's army. Cuba's would-be liberators were chosen by a strict criteria. Adherents of General Batista were excluded. The Administration made sure that the Brigade represented a broad slice of Cuban society -- i.e. so many laborers to so many professionals, so many blacks to so many whites, so many from the east of the island and so many from the west, etc. If one-tenth of the attention paid to the demographics of the invasion force had been paid to the logistics of the invasion, Cubans might be celebrating today the 47th anniversary of their deliverance from Communism. But appearances were always more important to Kennedy than results, as his civil rights record, for example, also bears out.

The rebel army was trained by the CIA in Nicaragua under the auspices of Anastasio Somoza fils, the other president involved in this invasion, the one who didn't betray us (and who 20 years later would be borne to his grave on the shoulders of veterans of the Brigade 2506, a victim of Castro's vengeance and of another gutless American president). Somoza had much in common with Kennedy: both owed their presidencies to their respective fathers and both assumed office through electoral fraud. The difference was that the Latin American dictator was a man of his word and his U.S. counterpart was not.

The Brigade 2506 were conveyed to Cuba on U.S. ships and abandoned to their fate there. The spontaneous uprising that was supposed to be sparked by the invasion never materialized. It was not that the Cuban people did not support their would-be liberators but that Castro was better informed about the invasion plans than the resistance in Cuba, which was repeatedly misled and lied to by the Americans. Reports in The New York Times and other American newspapers gave Castro all the warning he needed to round up every man who might have lent his support to the invasion. Because the prisons were already full Castro confined them in sports stadiums which were wired with dinamite and would have been blown-up if the freedom fighters had gained the advantage.

For three glory filled days — the first time that Cubans had engaged in actual combat since 1898 — the courageous men of the Brigade 2506 struggled against impossible odds to achieve a goal that was clearly beyond even the super-human tenacity they displayed in the pursuit of it. The freedom fighters managed to inflict 30 times the casualties they sustained, but tenacity will only carry you so far: tenacity cannot take the place of guns — of which they had far too few; tenacity cannot compensate for the element of surprise, which was lost when plans for the invasion were leaked to The New York Times; and, finally, tenacity cannot rise from the ground to the skies.

Kennedy had promised the exiles that "the skies would be yours." It turns out that what Kennedy actually meant was that their path to heaven would be unobstructed by American fighter planes. The vital aircover that the freedom fighters had been promised was withdrawn at the last moment to avoid the appearance of American participation in this American enterprise. The freedom fighters were left to the mercy of air strikes flown by Russian and Czech pilots. American ships, which were so close to the action that they could actually witness the massacre, begged their superiors to be allowed to re-supply the Cubans or evacuate the survivors. But Kennedy would not allow it. Unable to hold back his tears, the American fleet commander could do no more than wire his apologies to the freedom fighters.

Kennedy had a clear choice. He could go ahead with the invasion and do everything in his power to assure its success. Or he could scrap all plans for an invasion of Cuba. He chose, instead, to launch the invasion while denying it every opportunity for success. What he hoped to gain thereby is anybody's guess. What he in fact achieved was a victory for Castro.

But victory cannot vindicate the tyrant nor defeat vilify the freedom fighters. The victors shall celebrate this day, for so it is in human affairs: in victory, even cowards boast. Those who survived this defeat shall also commemorate this day, for to forget is to disavow the past and there is nothing in the past of which they should be ashamed, unlike both their enemies and their allies.

Glory to the heroes and martyrs of the Bay of Pigs and peace to their manly and generous souls!
April 17, 2007

Also of interest:

Arthur M. Schlesinger: The Devil in Mr. Kennedy

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Round 4 With Henry

Henry Louis Gomez said...

I ban who I want to ban, write what I want to write, don't write what I don't want to write and don't accept comments that I don't want to accept. If that's running the blog, then I suppose I run the blog to the same extent all the others run the blog.

But you are the one that made the offer (which sounds a lot like blackmail or "blogmail") to me. Even if I had 100% decision making power over the policies at Babalu I would not accept your offer in a million years.

So have fun with your little fabrications and your petty games. I don't find them interesting in the slightest.

I have a client in Wayne. Next time I fly into Newark maybe I'll drop by and we can discuss this face to face.
4/16/2008 1:05 AM


Wow, talk about giving yourself away. Yet another admission that you are an anti-democratic power-crazed blog-bully. Feel free to continue to confirm here those "lies" and "distortions" of mine.

I reject your assertion that all of Babalú's editors do as you do. Some no doubt do, but they are in the minority. For the most part, your "magnificent cadre of writers" are either content or resigned to letting you do it for them.

I suppose that anyone who suggests to you that you should democratize Babalú, that is, return it to days when Val did not have your nefarious influence or "special assistance," is a "blogmailer" just as someone else who counsels you to remain the petty tyrant that you are and to continue to infest everything that you touch, is your benefactor.

The biggest lie that you have told in this exchange is: "So have fun with your little fabrications and your petty games. I don't find them interesting in the slightest." Whom do you think you are fooling, Henry? Not anybody here. Not even yourself.

What possible business could take you to Newark? I haven't set foot there since before the riots of 1968. Well, I won't speculate as to your private meanderings as they do not interest me. It is only your public statements that concern me. As for any threat, real or implied in your statement, it is too risible to even consider.

You are always welcome to visit me, Henry. I'll try my best to recognize you from your high school picture with that rather distinctive bluish-green background. I don't believe that anyone except you posts his picture (high school or later) with his comments.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Round 3 With Henry

Henry Louis Gomez said...


Taking one sentence out of the context of the hundreds of sentences I've written about raul and his so-called reforms is dishonest and that's why even your greek chorus is taking you task.

I never implied that raul has no responsibility in Cuban tragedy, but rather I was highlighting the fact that even among murderous communists with faulty ideas that fidel was in a class of his own when it came to making capricious and arbitrary rules.

That's not an endorsement, except in the mind of a man who has lost touch with reality, if he ever was in touch with it to begin with.

In judging whether my statement was an endorsement of raul's "reforms" or a simple statement of truth the reader should ask himself this question:

If he were alive and conscious, would fidel have ever allowed even these cosmetic changes that are being passed off as reform?

I believe the answer is no.
4/15/2008 9:44 PM


Forgive me if I cannot attend to each and every sentence that you write at Babalú. I think, however, that I have dissected quite a few, certainly a representative sample and then some. It appears that you are not happy with the particular sentence that I chose this time. I would remind you, however, that I did not write it. You wrote it and should stand by it, not try to hide behind "the hundreds of other sentences that [you] have written about Raúl." If you believe, as I now suspect, that this particular sentence does you no credit, then delete it. God knows you have no difficulty deleting hundreds of sentences from others.

I have no Greek chorus, Henry; nor do I want one. If I did, I could follow your prescription for obtaining one, which consists of deleting all comments (and even entire threads) which differ from Babalú's official position or banning any commenter whose opinions consistently depart from your party line. Such artificial consensus, achieved with long knives and at the price of decency and honor, is of no interest to me. I think it would only interest someone as yourself who likes to reshape reality to conform to his interests.

You ask:

"If he were alive and conscious, would fidel have ever allowed even these cosmetic changes that are being passed off as reform?"

My answer: Yes.

Fidel Castro would do anything to insure the permanence of power in the Castro family and his own warped legacy. Certainly anything that is merely cosmetic.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

The idea that you don't read every word I write is laughable. You've dedicated what, half a dozen posts to me in the last week alone (before the last three)? No, you know exactly how I feel about raul castro but chose to distort what I wrote because your personal obsession has pushed you to the point where you can't even levy and honest criticism anymore.

The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. -Mark Twain
4/16/2008 12:58 AM


I didn't say that I don't read every word you write (except for the Dorshner delusion). I do read your every word just as you read every word I write about you here and even keep count of how many posts I write about you every week as some kind of running tally of your importance (yet another confirmation of my "lies" and "distortions"). However, as I have already stated, I cannot annotate every sentence you write. I am not a rabbi and you are not the Talmud. Yes, naturally, I must be selective, and, naturally, I select your most outrageous comments to highlight. I have never claimed otherwise. On the rare occasions when you have said something out of character that I consider noteworthy or even praiseworthy, I will mark it, too.

There is no glory, Henry, in critiquing your writings. It really is a case of "He Stoops to Conquer." I can't even have the satisfaction that you will benefit by my exertions. Even if I were Mark Twain, this would be an unpleasant but necessary task.

Round 2 With Henry

Henry Louis Gomez said...

So if I submit to you and run the blog the way you want it to be run you will stop distorting what I write and making up lies about me out of whole cloth?

Yes, that's very democratic.

No, thank you.
4/15/2008 9:47 PM


So, Henry, you are the one running the blog now (or should I say running down the blog?). Thank-you for confirming another of my "lies" and "distortions." I'm sure that if you keep coming here you will eventually confirm every word I ever said about you.

Your rejection of democracy does not surprise me either. You have rejected it already so many times before. Continue, then, to run Babalú as bully and autocrat. I doubt that you could run it any other way.

As for "submit[ing]" to me, what chance is there of that when you won't even submit to your own best interests or Babalú's?

A Visit From Henry to RCAB (Round 1)

[The following comment was left by Henry Gómez in the previous thread. It is his first at RCAB (at least the first published under his own name). My answer will follow in short order. I wonder what would happen if I tried to publish my answer as a comment at Bababú? What a silly question. — MAT]

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Hey Manuel,

Let me ask you a serious question. What did I ever do to you to deserve for you to tell the most vile lies about me?

Is it because I didn't defend you when Val banned you from commenting at Babalu?

Or is it that I didn't care when you told me you were starting this blog?

Or perhaps it's the fact that I have completely ignored you except for the one time I called you a liar for, well, for lying?

I really want to know.

Are you really that insecure that the only way you feel good is by tearing someone else down?

Just curious.
4/15/2008 1:05 AM

Hello, Henry:

How can I be guilty of telling "the most vile lies" about you when all I do is simply quote your words, as I did in this [the previous] post. Let me suggest that it is you who write in haste and do not fully consider what it is that you are saying. In many cases I suspect (or hope) that it is the opposite of what you really mean. Of course, I can only deconstruct your words, not your intentions.

I have no personal animus towards you. I do not consider you an enemy. None of the reasons that you cite have influenced me against you in the least. I will confess that your refusal to say even one word on behalf of Elenita after I practically begged you did color my thinking about you and changed for the worse the good opinion that I had formed of you during the Martí Moonlighter Affaire, when my praise embarrassed you as my censure now seems to hurt you.

I never thought for one moment that anything I wrote about you re Babalú caused you hurt. Why would I? Your placid silence confirmed me in the opposite belief. I thought that it all just rolled off you and I admired you for that. At least you did not make a fool of yourself by trying to engage me, as did Val Prieto. In fact, you have on more than one occasion written about how personally flattering it is to you to have a blog (or several blogs, as you put it) dedicated to your writings (this is an exaggeration) and how it proves that you must have something important to say. So, excuse me, Henry, if I did not see your hurt feelings behind the smokescreen that you set up to conceal them.

On the one ocassion that you did address me directly on Cuban-American Pundits (never Babalú) you referred to me as "Jerkey" or "Jerkey boy," or some such infantile title, which, rather than annoy me, verified to me that you took my criticism in the right spirit (the spirit in which it was intended) and understood my humor even if you could not match it. Then, also, there were the blogs parodying RCAB which you and other Babalunians started to convey the impression that you took my blog as a "big joke." Well, apparently it was never a "joke" to you. Painful truths are rarely funny.

It is not you but your views that I often find objectionable and it is your views that I attack. Not on Babalú, of course, because no voices of dissent are allowed there as you have made quite clear on numerous occasions with less humility than you have shown in your comment.

Let me tell you a little secret: If Babalú stopped doing to others what it did to me — if it actually adopted for itself the democracy that it claims to want for Cuba — I would devote this blog to my thinking on Cuba exclusively and not to refuting yours. But so long as you continue to delete comments and whole threads because you want to limit or stifle debate, so long as you hold yourself and your other editors as above criticism, and so long as you continue to ban commenters because their political opinions don't jive with yours, there will be a need for a blog like mine to call you to account each and every time.

So here's my offer to you: Stop and I will stop.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Breaking News!!! Henry Louis Gómez Endorses Raúl Castro's "Reforms"

"I betcha [Fidel] didn't predict that he'd be shitting out of his side into a plastic bag. Or that his ever faithful little brother wouldn't even wait for him to achieve room temperature to start undoing some of the mess he created with capricious and arbitrary policies.Henry "Economist" Gómez, "Castro Was Nostradamus," Babalú, April 14, 2008

In "Castro Was Nostradamus" Henry ridicules Hugo Chávez and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni for hailing Fidel Castro as a soothsayer for supposedly predicting the fall of the dollar and the rise in the price of oil. Of course, it doubtful that either Chávez or Museveni traded their dollars for euros or increased the production of oil in their respective countries on the strength of Castro's recommendation. In fact, it is doubtful that Castro himself followed or profitted from his own hunches even if he remembered them from one day to the next. Most likely, he never made those predictions or they were pulled from a tangle of meaningless verbiage that could have pointed in any direction. Chávez and Museveni are obviously trying to flatter the sapient vegetable. Henry, of course, will have none of it. He knows that John Dorshner, not Fidel Castro, is the reincarnated Nostradamus and has devoted a 9-part series to analyzing his predictions in Tropic magazine 20 years ago. The fact that Dorshner's predictions were completely overlooked until Henry discovered and publicized them on Babalú and continue yet to be ignored by everybody despite Henry's best efforts only confirms in his mind the Biblical injunction that no prophet is honored in his own land (nor a prophet's voluntary publicist).

Surely that holds true for Castro also whose hopeful forecasts about Cuba's future have proved astoundingly wrong while his warnings of forthcoming locusts have all invariably come to past. Henry is more optimistic about Raúl's powers of divination. If you believe Henry, Raúl was the suppressed voice of reason who cried out in the desert for 49 years "Toasters, Toasters" while Big Brother countered in louder tones "Not One Amp More!" According to Henry, now that Fidel's own voice is feeble, Raúl is finally free to bestow "consumer freedoms" on the Cuban people. Forget about political liberties and all that bourgeois stuff. It is electrical appliances that Cubans want and Raúl will provide (well, not exactly provide but allow them to gawk at and perhaps even heft).

I don't see how this entails "undoing some of the mess that Fidel [and Raúl, Henry, don't forget Raúl] created." The mess remains untouched and pretty much untouchable since any substantial change might cause it to shift and bury those who created it. The "changes" Raúl has introduced are literally window dressing. The drab revolutionary showcase now has a few novelties which it did not before. The people will stand and stare and then move on, as when the first Christmas tree in 37 years was displayed on the eve of Pope John Paul II's visit. Nothing will change for the better in their bleak lives. If anything they will merely confirm just how bleak their lives are. This is no exception to the regime's "capricious and arbitrary policies" and will change nothing except what it was intended to change in the first place — Raúl's image. Not in Cuba where he is too well-known a quantity for a crash makeover; but abroad, where Little Brother has only begun to come from behind Big Brother's shadow. It will be a while yet before foreigners (and Henry) discover what Cubans have long known — that Fidel and Raúl are a distinction without a difference.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Notable & Almost Quotable: Helping Henry Make Sense

"They are all people [Ana Menéndez, Aruca, Lesnick, Aruca and Rangel] that hate the exile community and are openly embracing [Joe] Garcia, not because he's a fidelista (he's not) but because the change these people seek is not in Cuban policies that make Cuba a failed police state but instead a change to American policy that doesn't recognize the legitimacy of a government that killed scores of our countrymen and imprisoned scores more." -- Henry "Economist" Gómez, "Barnyard Wisdom," Babalú, April 13, 2008

What's wrong with this statement?

Doctrinally, nothing; we all know what Henry means to say even if he does not quite say it, or says it badly.

First of all, no Cuban patriot should ever refer disparagingly to Cuba when it is Castro that he means. The two are not interchangeable. On the contrary, they are antithetical. If he is going to attack "Cuba" it must be qualified as "Communist Cuba" which is the antithesis of the real Cuba, or, to make it simpler for Henry, the "unCuba."

Moreover, Communist Cuba is not a "failed police state." It is an eminently successful police state. In fact, it is successful at being a police state and nothing else.

It is at the end that Henry's sentence collapses completely, as so many of his sentences do. It is his attempt at an antithesis that dooms it because Castro's repressive policies and U.S. foreign policy are not in any sense equals, much less the same thing. You can compare and contrast U.S. foreign policy and Castroite foreign policy. You can compare and contrast Castro's repression of the Cuban people to American complicity in their repression. But you can't compare the policies of a police state to policies (or even politics) of a democratic state. To obscure, or, perhaps, in a failed attempt to clarify matters the "Conductor" loads the antithesis with too much rhetorical baggage (the "scores" of dead) and derails it at the end.

We are still puzzled by his statement that "the [Cuban] government [sic] killed scores of our countrymen and imprisoned scores more." Does Henry know what a "score" is? It's just 20 people. Of course, one could say that Castro has killed "5,000 score" of our countrymen, but isn't that a bit contrived and self-defeating when the "100,000" he uses elsewhere is far more direct and powerful?

It is possible, of course, that when Henry wrote "our countrymen" he did not mean Cubans but Americans, who are, after all, his countrymen because he was born in this country. In that case he would be correct. Castro has indeed killed scores and imprisoned scores more of his American countrymen. Here, again, we hope that he is not implying that these incarcerations and deaths are more to be lamented than the myriads of Cuban dead. Of course, this is exactly what U.S. courts ruled when they handed the relatives of the handful of U.S. citizens killed by Castro $200 million per head from the frozen assets of the Cuban Republic in U.S. banks while refusing to compensate with even one cent Castro's Cuban victims.

Finally, Henry refers to the Castro regime as a "government" which bestows a legitimacy on it that it does not deserve. Let others who accept it as legitimate call it a "government." Free Cubans never should without calling attention to that absurdity (with "so-called government" or "government [sic]" as above). Otherwise it should always be "the regime," "the dictatorship," "the tyranny," or any other appellation that attests to its illegitimacy. That Henry should use "government" to describe the Cuban dictatorship is particularly ironic because he is condemning those who bestow legitimacy on it (like Charlie Rangel or Ana Menéndez).


We've just noticed something about this post that we had overlooked before. The "Conductor" is no more. Henry Gómez has discarded the moniker that he used since he began blogging and now signs his posts at Babalú by his baptisimal name: "Henry Louis Gómez." (Sounds so very Bourbon). It seems "Conductor" had acquired a rather bitter taste in Val's mouth after Henry tried to wrest control of Babalú from its august editor-in-chief. So the "Conductor" has made his last run on Babalú. Henry could, of course, have adopted a less dictatorial title. "Maestro," perhaps? A "maestro" is also a conductor, of a different kind. Henry, however, is content to be his unpretentious self for now.

Henry can call himself whatever he wants; but we shall continue to refer to him as "Henry 'Economist' Gómez," a name which was bestowed on him when he revealed, to the astonishment of all and sundry, that he majored in economics at college. We shall keep "Economist" because it is a token of the respect we have always accorded him.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Of Toasters and Cubans

What is rarer and more precious than a toaster in Cuba?

An iron.

Toasters are the hope of futurity. By 2010, it is said that Cubans will be allowed to purchase toasters for the first time in 50 years.

No one has even speculated when the prohibition against irons will be lifted.

It is likely that most Cubans will have lived and died without ever being afforded the right to buy an iron.

Why is this?

Does Raúl fear that Cubans will use them to bash the heads of those who have prevented them from owning toasters and irons for 50 years (a very practical use for them given the scarcity of bread and clothing apparel on the island).

No, not quite.

Raúl's "Consumer Freedoms" encompass everything that Cubans could not possibly afford to buy without the dollars sent to them by their relatives in Miami. Since milking them is the regime's principal source of revenue, the prices carry mark-ups that would make the robber barons blush.

The idea, of course, is to put higher-end consumer items (such as computers) outside the reach of the great majority of Cubans while maximizing the profits on those actually sold. Hence the number of these items purchased by Cubans will remain low while the profits made on their sale by Castro & Co. remain high.

These consumer items are being made available in a reverse scale of affordability. Few seem to recall that the first "consumer freedom" granted to Cubans by Raúl was the right to own airplanes.

Why would anyone take a raft to sea when he has the right to buy an airplane? Mind you, buy an airplane, not fly it out of the country.

Cuba is a country where people with an average income of $15.00 per month can buy airplanes (if they save for 10 trillion years) but cannot buy an airplane ticket unless authorized by the government [sic].

Oh land of wonders!

But let us return again to the Almighty Toaster. In any other country, it would be the "humble toaster" but Cuba is not like any other country.

Why is the toaster a dream deferred for Cubans? Or the iron an impossible dream?

Why are toaster and iron more subversive than computer or cellphone?

Because computers and cellphones are a pipe dream for 90 percent of Cubans.

Toasters and irons, while not affordable (nothing is "affordable" in Communist Cuba where usury is a state monopoly) are still infinitely more affordable — or will be, presumably, if they are ever sold in Cuba — than airplanes or even DVD players.

More Cubans would be able to buy them hypothetically. They might even manage to do so without assistance from their Miami relatives if they save and do without for 2 or 3 years. Perhaps 5.

But wouldn't that be a good thing for the government [sic]?

If the people can be pacified with toasters and irons (which is all that 95% could even remotely afford), why dangle computers and cellphones before their eyes?

First, because it's not done for their benefit.

It's strictly for exterior consumption, so to speak.

Domestic consumption is another matter.

The reason that the regime doesn't want Cubans to own toasters or irons is its fear that they might be able to manage those purchases even on their miserable salaries.

And why are toasters and irons so "subversive?"

Very simple.

If every Cuban family owned a toaster or an iron, the regime would face the greatest crisis in its history and might even be toppled overnight.


The electrical grid can't handle it.

It's that simple.

All those millions of toasters and irons would plunge the country into darkness.

If they could get electricity restored, it would happen again immediately.

And then again.

It would be better than a general strike. All government [sic] offices, all state industries, all arms of the regime would be paralyzed and the regime itself would be at the mercy of the people.

For 50 years it's been the the regime that regularly shuts off the lights at certain unannounced times to conserve electricity (that is, so the antediluvian electrical grid won't suddenly collapse).

Imagine if that power were in the hands of the people!

If they could immovilize the regime with their toasters and irons!

The Revolution of the Toaster.

The Iron Revolution that would end Cuba's revival of the "unenlightened" 18th century.

That is why the Castro regime will never legalize toasters or irons.

It is quite content to open "museums of technology" all over the island where the Cuban people can gawk at consumers items which they could theoretically buy but won't be able to afford so long as the Castro brothers are in power.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Death and Rebirth of "Cuban-American Pundits"

Imagine occupying somebody else's house as a tenant and deciding one day, out of the blue, that you didn't like the house or that it didn't suit your needs, and that, consequently, you were going to seal all the windows and doors with concrete blocks and put up a sign on the lawn that reads: "Condemned." This is exactly what Henry Gómez did to Cuban American Pundits. He shut down the blog without consulting its owner and founder, John Roche.

Imagine now Roche's surprise, and Henry's, too, when John unshuttered his house, removed the "Condemned" sign and changed the locks, effectively reclaiming what was his and shutting out the presumptuous former tenant. This is in fact what John did by changing the blog's password.

John's reclaiming of his property sent Henry into a panic. I cannot improve on his own description of his distress:

"[O]ne day I received an email notification that a comment was awaiting moderation [at CAP]. I clicked on the link to approve it but something was wrong, I couldn’t sign in. When I looked into the problem I noticed that I was no longer an administrator. Someone had changed my privileges. It was late at night and I was worried. Had my account been hacked? I sent an email to John Roche, the original Cuban-American Pundit, asking him if he altered the settings. I hardly slept that night. The next morning I was relieved to find an email from John, with whom I had not communicated with in months, telling me that, in fact, he had made the change. I was surprised to learn that despite the fact that he hadn’t posted anything for a long time that he had been lurking and knew about my decision to close Cuban-American Pundits."

Wow. This guy is beyond shameless. Henry actually portrays John as a thief-in-the-night who was "lurking" around his own property and had the effrontery to reclaim something which had always belonged to him as "the original Cuban-American Pundit," and which Henry, not John, had shut down of his initiative without even bothering to consult the blog's owner.

It seems that the good fathers at Belen2 were a little remiss in teaching Henry about the "private" in private property. They made that same little mistake some 50 years earlier with Fidel.

John Roche and Henry have come to an understanding. Cuban-American Pundits will not be shut down, after all. John, Henry and Sr. Cohiba will continue as editors of the resurrected blog, and they will be joined by -- George Moneo! Yes, George, too, is being resurrected, or, rather, rehabilitated a la Communist fashion. CAP is his Elba, or Siberia. He is going to have to work his way back to Babalú's "magnificent cadre of writers," that is, if he can purge those diversionist tendencies which got him kicked off in the first place. Of course, he cannot be trusted to write about politics anymore. So CAP has been turned into a culture blog expressly for him. We would attend to his first contribution in that line but, as I am sure nobody read it but myself and I know already what's wrong with it, what would be the use of preparing an antidote when the poison has not been tasted?

Last year, I reviewed Cuban-American Pundits, whose history is one of the most complicated and controversial in Cuban-American blog history. Even I couldn't sort it out to my entire satisfaction. I considered trying again last week when Henry closed the blog after its last active contributor, Sr Cohiba, moved on to Babalú with the expressed mission of saving it from all the ill-will Henry had fostered for this Republican blog in Republican circles with his visceral hate for John McCain and infatuation with Barack Obama's relative youth, looks, oratory and personality. In his valedictory post at CAP, which was perfect agitprop, Henry even failed to mention that Killcastro and Charlie Bravo were also original CAP members. (Don't look for their posts; they were long ago expunged). One can delete or alter documents and photographs. One cannot, however, airbrush history. Although the picture was altered when it was used on the reverse of the Cuban $1.00 note, Huber Matos is still on that tank with Fidel. There are still people alive who saw him on it and the original photograph still survives.

The most remarkable feature of CAP's "third incarnation" is also highly Stalinist in conception. It is CAP's new "Comments Policy." It is remarkable, first, because CAP has no comments to speak of. In fact, this prolix policy contains more words than were posted over the last year at Cuban-American Pundits. It would be more correct to describe it as an apologia for Babalú's unwritten comments policy. It states that no criticism of the editors or their friends will be published there and that the editors will always have the last word in every argument, as if comment "moderation" did not already stack the odds in favor of the house. [We are proud to have been the first to define so-called "moderation" as preemptive censorship long ago].

We will devote its own post to CAP's Stalinist "Comments Policy," where Henry openly acknowledges and defends every abuse practiced by Babalú on its commenters.


Three proud Babalunian caciques (Henry, Ziva & Sr Cohiba) have congratulated George Leonidas Moneo on his debut at Cuban-American Pundits. Not so the Grand Semí Val Prieto. Not just because he is an enemy to "culture." But because he's an enemy to George Moneo.