Friday, October 31, 2008

A Contribution to the Devil's Dictionary

Democracy does not invest people with wisdom. It merely respects their collective stupidity. Still, democracy is preferable to tyranny which enshrines the stupidity of one man over the rest indefinitely.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Babalú (Temporarily) Reaches 10,000th Post Milestone

Despite the pressure of these anxious days, I feel an obligation to the historical record to note that Babalú has published its 10,000th post. Of these, of course, at least half are derivative, consisting of a few paragraphs from a linked article framed by one or two lines at the top and (rarely) one or two more at the bottom. Still, however they got there, it is a notable achievement, and we may add that they would have reached that milestone even sooner if they had included in the tally all of Babalú's deleted posts. With unexpected candor, Val Prieto appeared to acknowledge as much when he referred to "10,000 actual posts." The use of the qualifier "actual" here has the meaning of "active," implying there are also posts which are inactive, that is, withdrawn from circulation after a brief but (too) eventful run. Indeed, we have rescued several of these disinherited posts and sheltered them here. These rejects are invariably the most interesting because they are the most contentious of Babalú's posts. The outcropping of the unfamiliar, the unexpected challenge, the failure to meet it, the fusillade of obscenity and the closure of discussion are generally what define these posts and the cause of their suppression. When the content of a given thread contradicts or even outruns the post, and the editors feel that they have lost control of it or are shown there at a disadvantage, it is generally consigned to oblivion. Val & Co.'s obsession with having thread mirror post, which it is impossible to do unless you choose and pick your commenters -- which, in fact, they do by means of threats, suspensions and bannings -- makes one wonder why they don't just close the comments period. It would save them a lot of trouble and gain them some respectability; but that would be too transparent and transparency is not their strong point.

In any case I should not be surprised if Babalú's "magnificent cadre" of 16 contributors mustered up 10,000 posts next year as part of the more-or-less loyal opposition, or even surpassed the myriad that it took them 5 years to amass as Bush's unconditional cheerleaders. Val was rewarded for his loyalty to our "great amigo" with conference calls to (staged) Cuban policy meetings and an invitation to this year's May 20th celebration at the White House. There will be no Cuban Independence fete next year if Barack Obama is elected president, though perhaps a July 26th bash. If Val ever entertained hopes of sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom (as Batista did in 1942) or getting the presidential Medal of Freedom for wearing his fingers to "bloody stumps" blogging for a free Cuba, the dream will have to be deferred. On January 20, 2009, Babalú's connection to the White House will be cut, or switched to Lincoln Díaz-Balart's office (if he's still around). Then Val's words against the interests of Cuban people will not be cited mischievously by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, nor echoed by cabinet secretaries in support of the notion that "Cubans don't need money" in the wake of the hurricanes. Other horrors will befall the Cuban people courtesy of President Obama, Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs Greg Craig and future Ambassador to Cuba Wayne Smith. But neither for good (for a change) nor ill will Babalú be able to affect Cuba's destiny.

They have finally realized the real peril after months of bewailing the fact that John McCain is not the man that George Bush is (thank God!). His conservative bona fides fell short of their pristine expectations: McCain was not, to their great horror, a clone of Newt Gingrich or even Fred Thompson. For a while, they even expressed the hope that Obama might defeat McCain, which, supposedly, would guarantee that a "real conservative" would be elected in 2012. Somewhere along the line, however, as they became aware of Obama's Marxist alliances and associations, Val & Co. jumped on McCain's bandwagon and are now riding it to the end. If McCain prevails (as I believe he will), expect several hundred anti-McCain posts to be deleted. Val should perhaps have waited after the election to announce Babalú's 10,000th "actual post."

Monday, October 27, 2008

CANF's Jorge Más Santos Endorses Barack Obama

Jorge Más Santos is our Fidelito. Or, at least, that's how he perceives himself. Which means, of course, that he is nothing without his father, in whose posthumous shadow he suns himself as if he were something more than a rich man's son with twice the presumption of his father and none of his personal achievements. Jorge Más Canosa, founder of the Cuban-American National Foundation, also had his entente cordiale with Bill Clinton, which gave us the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy and the Elián abduction. So I am not going to lament here how far the acorn fell from the tree. The only difference between Más Canosa and Más Santos is that the father was bigger than his creation (CANF, that is), which derived its relevance and authority from him. In the case of the son, it is the Foundation, or what remains of it after the purge of 2001, which is his political lodestar. Without CANF, Más Santos' opinions would matter as much to the Washington Post as any other Cuban exile's, and it is doubtful whether it would even have reported his endorsement of a presidential candidate had he picked McCain instead of Obama. But because he did endorse Obama, the red carpet was laid out for him at The Post and he was invited to expand on his vision of the impact an Obama administration would have on U.S.-Cuba relations.

Más Santos Op-Ed piece is elliptically titled "How to Win the Cuban American Vote." Whether it is his own headline or the copy editor's I don't pretend to know. However, from the content of the article itself, it is obvious that a few words were lost in the printing. Here is how it should read with those missing words restored: "How to Win the Cuban American Vote for Obama." It is understandable why those words would go a-missing. If his article is intended as some kind of primer for Obama on courting the Cuban-American vote, then it's a bigger fraud than is Obama himself. The Cuban-American vote is wedded to McCain and the marriage grows stronger the more that Obama's affinities to Fidel Castro become apparent. If McCain gets less than 85 percent of the Cuban-American vote, Más Santos can press his case for an ambassadorship (supposing Obama wins). Although the migration of Cuban exiles from the Republican to the Democratic party is a fiction, Más Santos wishes to convey the impression that there is a vanguard among them, made up of second and third generation Cuban-Americans, who are not afraid to tread where their fathers never trod; and leading these invisible legions of "forward-looking" and "proactive" younger Cubans in the thrall of Obama is -- whom else? --Más Santos himself.

I do not disagree with him that the Bush administration has followed a policy towards Cuba during the last 8 years that can indeed be described as "static" and even "counterproductive;" and it is also obvious to me that the U.S. has been more interested in maintaining the "sad status quo" than in fomenting freedom in Cuba. Unacceptable as I find this state of affairs, there is a case scenario that I would find even more objectionable: if U.S. policy had not merely stalled but rushed headlong in the wrong direction. In other words, if Bush had done to Cuba what Obama has said that he intends to do and has already substantially done. It has always been the regime's official position that it would not enter into negotiations with the U.S. or any other government, on the basis of prior conditions. If one wants to sit at the table with Castro, it must be on his terms, which are that no concessions should be requested of him that would diminish his control over the Cuban people and increase their freedom of action. This is in fact what Barack Obama has agreed not to ask. Such a dispensation means that nothing is negotiable except the terms of U.S. capitulation.

The resumption of diplomatic relations with Communist Cuba, which Obama's disposition to placate the tyrant will ensure, would be the greatest victory ever obtained by the Revolution at the expense of the United States since the Missile Crisis (1962): the first established the U.S. as guarantor of the Castro regime, but the latter would institutionalize it, also, at the literal expense of the U.S. Communism in Cuba, then, would not survive at the sufferance of the United States but through its patronage. Cubans would lose their freedom forever but gain a new and very active agent in their subordination, which, by making Communism profitable, would make it permanent for them.

Más Santos describes this as a "policy of support and engagement directed toward opening new avenues of freedom for the Cuban people as well as enhancing stability in the United States." Yes, they will be very new indeed because freedom never before was found on tyranny's Appian way. The "stability" that the U.S. would supposedly enjoy by cultivating amicable relations with Communist Cuba presupposes that Castro would cease being an antagonist if the U.S. ceased to oppose him. Such an expectation of reciprocality would only ensnare a fool or a fellow traveller who was only too willing to leave every avenue open, not to freedom, but to the unhampered advance of socialism.

One of the questions that Más Santos says Cuban-American voters will be asking themselves on November 4 is: "[I]f dissidents in Cuba had a vote in our election, for whom would they vote?" Nothing is more ridiculous. It is well to acknowledge that dissidents on the island are better acquainted with Castro's predations, as practiced on them and others, than is anybody else. They are the undoubted experts on Castro's apparatus of repression. However, it is the greatest folly to suggest that we should take our cues on U.S. politics from those who are the least informed on the subject, through no fault of their own, but because they live in a totalitarian state with a monopoly on the dissemination of news and rigid controls on the internet. If the MSM can conceal (as they have) from the American public the truth about Obama, are we to suppose that Cubans will unravel that truth through Castro's praise of him in Granma?

Más Santos also expressed the hope that a democratic Cuba would become "another Israel." An online commenter reacted thusly to this suggestion: "This guy wants Cuba to become 'the Israel of Latin America?' Do you guys at WP understand the motivation any Cuban would have to wish such a fate for his country? Who is this maniac anyway?" Indeed, Israel is not only the poorest Western democracy but the most embattled one (and, if Obama is elected, soon to be ever so more embattled). Is this the fate that Más Canosa imagines for Cuba? Have not the last 50 years of continuous belligerency been enough for our people? After all, Cubans don't have any enemies in the world pledged to our destruction. It is not necessary for us to defend ourselves from foreign threats that would not exist for a democratic Cuba. If Más Santos means that we should at least act independently of the United States even if actually dependent on it like Israel, then I would agree, although I should hope that a future democratic Cuba would not have to be dependent on the U.S. or any other country. We have had enough of that over the last 50 years too.

Also see:

What Was Missing in Obama's Speech to CANF? Fidel

Obama's "Message to Fidel"

Fidel Castro Endorses Barack Obama

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quo Vadis America?

Never did it occur to me, and even now I find it difficult to believe, that I would see the end of American democracy before my own country was restored to the concert of free nations. Never did I think, until it happened, that the Baltic states would regain their freedom before Cuba did, or that the Eastern bloc, and the Soviet Union itself, would disappear in my lifetime or that Communism would be relegated to Oriental mandarinates -- and Cuba! That no one else imagined such a thing did not stop it from happening; nor shall the U.S. remain invulnerable to Marxism because most refuse to believe what is already obvious to some. Once you get over the conviction that it can't happen here because it is in fact happening here before your very eyes, then there is nothing unusual about it. The question then becomes not "How did it happen here?" but "How did it not happen here long ago?"

America's enemies have always known that it is impossible to topple the government of the United States by force. "Carthago delenda est" is simply not an option for them. So instead of war they have resorted to terrorism, which is the tactical equivalent of stabbing your enemy in the back, and have amassed isolated "victories" which are ultimately meaningless because no individual action, nor all actions together, will ever result in America's annihilation, or achieve much of anything except a series of coups de théâtre.

Terrorist acts such as those of 9/11, while gratifying to America's enemies and embarrassing to the U.S., will obtain nothing for their cause but its further marginalization and irrelevancy. To destroy Western civilization, which is their real object, symbolic attacks will not be enough. Terrorist bombs could melt the Statue of Liberty into the world's largest copper nugget; the vellum originals of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, housed at the National Archives, could be turned to crackling; and the White House itself reduced to rubble, and the democratic institutions of this country would still stand with or without these symbols.

If you want to defeat America, or, specifically, the American idea of representative democracy, it is not necessary to blow up the White House but to occupy it.

Lincoln was right, of course. It is not possible to fool all the people all of the time. But, of course, you don't have to. In a democracy, you only have to fool 50 percent plus one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Of Soap & Fishing Rods: RCAB's Last Post About Val?

Apparently it is not only cash remittances and family visits that have hindered Cubans from reaching the brink of the abyss at the bottom of which, supposedly, lies freedom for those willing to take the leap. Starvation, however great its theorized benefits when practiced on Cubans, has not proved enough to push them over that edge despite the good offices of Val Prieto and Commerce Secretary Gutiérrez, who assured us recently that Cubans don't need money to live or to die. Obviously, the Human Pressure Cooker is not working as its proponents hoped; for instead of fomenting a rebellion on the island it has increased the people's dependence on the regime and hence its power over them. In other words, the HPC works to Castro's advantage, as it always has and always will. But do not despair. The Bush administration has discovered that man does not live by bread alone. He also requires other articles to promote his own quality of life as well as that of others. Perhaps if these could be prohibited or restricted, the great unwashed masses would finally rise in search of their next meal or their next bath.

So it was decreed by the policymakers in the White House that Cubans should have no soap or other items of personal hygiene to supplement what they already don't get from Castro. Soap was ordered placed on the list of banned items that cannot be sent to Cuba, and not only soap itself, but any ingredients for making soap (I wonder if that includes candles?). The rationale here -- if we can call it that -- appears to be that since cleanliness is next to godliness, then it must naturally follow that the lack of cleanliness will lead to ungodly behavior (wars and rumors of wars). However, the objection might be raised that since "rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" (hence "godliness"), it would actually make more sense to flood the island with Palmolive soap (a brand that Cubans still remember) in order to promote rebellion there.

Or perhaps I'm looking at this all wrong. Perhaps the U.S. government doesn't want instabilty in Cuba and that's the reason that it does not allow soap to be shipped there. Soap -- and four or five other unobtainable ingredients -- can be used to manufacture dinamite. Of course, if that were really a concern, then Washington would not permit the exportation of portable AM/FM radios. (The last, incidentally, was the biggest "reform" that Bush ever implemented in respect to Cuba).

There are other items which Cuban-Americans are currently prohibited from sending to their relatives in the monthly care package (not to exceed 4 lbs) which they are allowed to mail to the island via USPS. We were surprised to find "fishing implements" among the proscribed items. What would Val say? His solution for uplifting Cubans has always been to teach them how to fish. He must have said it a thousand times if he has said it once. Here is one of his more original variations on the old proverb: "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." Well, not if Uncle Sam can help it. His version of the Human Pressure Cooker makes no exception for fish. Of course, Val's does not really want Cubans to eat fish or anything else. His fishing rod is strictly allegorical. What he actually means is "teach a man capitalism and he will be able to fend for himself." That is, he will never have to beg for nails and plumbers again; nor Wall Street for $700 billion bailouts. However, I hope the next time Val extends his fishing line as the universal panacea that someone will remind him that he is advocating sending illegal contraband to Cuba.

Notable & Sadistic: Val Says, "Let Them Eat Goldfish"
The Meltdown at Babalú
Mr. Prieto Builds His Dream House

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Of Red Flags and Silver Linings: RCAB's Last Post About Henry?

"Memo to Barry... Shut the F*ck up already. I mean you went back on your pledge (LIED) to accept public financing of your campaign and also limits to spending so that you could raise more than half a BILLION bucks and wallpaper every available minute of airspace with your mug, trophy ears and "mesmerizing" oratory. People should vote against you just because they're already tired of you. Obama fatigue. I've had it for a year already. -- Henry Louis Gómez, "Memo to Barry," Babalú, October 21, 2008

With the approaching end of civilization and all, I haven't had much time for the "Val & Henry Show" (which is more like the "George Show" lately), but I must note that the "political animal since the age of 5" (that would be Henry) has really and at long last seen the light about Obama, or rather, he now sees Obama in a different less flattering light. No more does Obama's youth, looks and oratory evoke effusive adjectives from him as in the old days when bashing McCain was more important to him than defeating Obama. In the past when Henry used the word "mesmerizing" to describe Obama he didn't attach qualifiers to it or frame it in quotation marks (see here). Conversely, Henry does not berate McCain anymore for being "U-G-L-Y" (yes, he actually used that word here in exactly that way and without quotation marks). I suppose he must have finally figured out that this is not a beauty contest (if it were the Republican ticket would win hands down).

I remember when Henry was actually rooting for Obama to win so that a "real conservative" could be swept into the White House in 2012. As I observed that the time, though it is certainly true that an Obama presidency would unite his foes and create a lot more of them, it is not as certain, however, that there would be free elections in 2012 or even a 2012. Obama's running mate recently expressed similar concerns about the U.S. surviving an Obama presidency because of his inexpertise in handling crises. Personally, I think we have much more to fear from Obama in the way of his manufacturing crises. But, in any case, I should have thought that Henry would at least have been as prescient as Joe Biden.

Henry was also convinced at one time that it would make no difference to Cuba's future if Obama or McCain were elected president ["In terms of Cuba, Barack Obama's position today is not monumentally different than McCain's or even the President's"]. This was after Obama had already promised unconditional negotiations with the Castro regime but before one of his volunteers displayed a Cuban flag with Che's superimposed image at a campaign office in Texas. The eternal proscription pronounced on Cuba's freedom by Obama didn't convince Henry that Obama was worse for Cuba than McCain; but that piece of Che merchandise sure did the trick. It was literally a red flag waved in front of a bull. Henry may not take Obama at his word (a decidedly risky proposition, admittedly) but he is quite apt at interpreting symbolism.

I suppose that since Henry is finally in McCain's camp -- with Lincoln, Mario and Ileana, who endorsed McCain before the primaries -- I should not bring all this up now. Still, if McCain wins, we shall never hear of Henry's early preference for Obama again; but if he loses, Henry is sure to dust off his "Four-Year Plan" and try to convince everybody that the best thing that could have happened to the conservative movement was for Obama to rout the GOP's leading moderate.

You do have that post written already, don't you, Henry?

Henry is real big on red flags and silver linings.

Notable & Inverted: Now Henry Thinks McCain Can't Win Because He's "U-G-L-Y"
Still Obsessed With Obama's Youth and Repulsed by "U-G-L-Y" McCain
Notable & Disillusioned: Henry Dumps Obama
Yoani Endorses Obama and Val Endorses McCain

Monday, October 20, 2008

Throw Grandmother Under the Train

"I can no more disown [Rev. Jeremiah Wright] than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. " -- Barack Obama, defending his association with the Rev. Wright in his so-called "Speech on Race," March 18, 2008

Barack Obama's mother had very little to do with raising him and his father nothing at all. It was his maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, 85, who was always there for him, supplying (and then some) the great deficiencies of his parents, whom he has idealized at her expense. Obama's father was a drunk and serial bigamist whose only achievement in life was to have acquired a Harvard Ph.D. for which he never found any practical application. He called himself the "smartest man in Kenya" but never advanced beyond a middle-level civil servant. Frustrated with himself and the world's indifference to him, Obama Sr. crashed his car five or six times while under the influence; the penultimate time he lost both legs and the final time his life. His mother was a typical 1960s hippie who never quite "found herself" but never tired of looking at the expense of other responsibilities, especially toward her children. Her son accused her of suffering from "jungle fever" in his autobiography, for which, at least, he should be grateful. Stanley Ann Dunham, who was as good at feeling the world's pain as she was at ignoring that of those closest to her, was a hedonist more than an atheist or Marxist (Obama acknowledges the former more readily than the latter). Her name, politics and irreligion she acquired from her father. Her mother was the steadying influence in the lives of both Stanley and Stanley Ann. From the secretarial pool she worked her way up to bank vice-president, which in Hawaii at that time was a $20,000 job. She and her husband moved into a two-room apartment so that they could afford to pay Barack's tuition at the most expensive prep school in Hawaii, where the scions of the Doles attended school.

Grandma "Toot," as Barack called her, was an extraordinary woman for her time or any time. This is the woman that Barack Obama compared to Rev. Jeremiah Wright in an effort to excuse his racism while condemning hers. The first is public knowledge; the latter, if it can be said to exist at all, was not something that ever touched Barack himself or anybody else in Madelyn Dunham's multiracial family. This woman from Kansas is everything that a racist wouldn't be, couldn't conceivably be. And yet her ungrateful grandson dares to accuse her of harboring racial and ethnic notions that "make him cringe." Barack Obama, I confess, harbors notions that make me cringe. Does that make him a racist? His poor grandmother's great racial sin is to be afraid of blacks who follow her on the street. Guess what? Most old women who are afraid of black men are old black women. Rosa Parks was never assaulted on that bus but she was savaged by a black youth who mugged her in the housing project in Chicago where she lived. Perhaps community organizer Barack should have remonstrated with her about her "irrational fear" of a clear and present danger.

Barack Obama has flown to his sick grandmother's bedside. If I could ever find one reason to hope that Barack Obama would be elected, it would for her sake. Only for her sake. I also hope that this amoral and hypercritical man, who uses one who has loved him so well as a political prop and byword for what is most hateful in society, can get on his knees and find the words to ask her forgiveness. Maybe somebody can write the words on a teleprompter.

From the Honolulu Advertiser: "Obama's Tutu a Female Pioneer in Hawaii Banking" [And No 'Racist,' Her Colleagues Say]

The Mexicans' "No Cuban Foot in Mexico" Policy

The "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy is an open invitation for other countries to treat Cuban exiles as inhumanely as the U.S. does and even to refine upon its abuses. The Mexican government, the world's most venal enterprise, private or public (and that includes Wall Street), has just signed a migratory agreement with the Castro regime that effectively puts an end to all migration between the two countries. Of course, the traffic has been one-way since 1959: even the most wretched Mexican knows more about Communist Cuba than his government pretends to know and would never think of fleeing the misery of home for the uber-misery of Cuba.

It is Cuban refugees, who lately have been using Mexico as a conduit to the U.S. to evade the predations of the Coast Guard in the Florida Straits, that are targeted in the Cuban-Mexican agreement. Although not a signatory the U.S. will also be gratified by its draconian provisions. It is a rare agreement indeed which pleases both the Castro regime and the U.S. government. It's not clear what it does for Mexico's "national integrity" because Cuban migrants have no intention of remaining in that country for more than a few days since to progress from slavery to freedom does not require a long immersion in its tepidarium of a democracy.

The new treaty stipulates that all Cuban refugees who make land in Mexico will be regarded as fugitives and will be returned upon capture to Castro's tender mercies. This would be nothing less than tragic were Mexican authorities not so corrupt or Mexican law less malleable. But since the Castro regime is not paying a bounty for each captured Cuban, it may yet be possible to deprive it of its quarry. As an additional provision for any improvised excursion on the high seas Cuban refugees should now bring with them with at least $100 with which to bribe the federales. I should caution any Cubans, even U.S. citizens or residents, to be very wary of travelling to Mexico without copious amounts of disposable income since I am sure that they won't be too punctilious in verifying the legal status of anyone who looks or sounds Cuban. In other words, unless you want to be repatriated to Cuba in chains, don't even think of vacationing in "México lindo y querido."

The history of Mexican-Cuban relations is as long and complicated as the history of U.S.-Cuban relations. It is characterized, on our part at least, by honorable actions and unconditional friendship, and on the part of the Mexican government by opportunism and betrayal.

Cuba, more than the U.S., always provided a home to Mexican democrats on the run from their less democratic countrymen. Benito Juárez found refuge there and lived to save his country from recolonization by the French. During the Mexican Revolution, the Cuban government, at the instance of its ambassador, Manuel Márquez Sterling, sent a frigate to rescue President Francisco Madero and convey him and his cabinet to safety in Cuba. Madero declined to avail himself of Cuba's good offices and was subsequently executed with his vice-president by counter-revolutionary forces, which then established the world's first one-party state (which lasted longer than the Soviet Union).

Mexico also played a notable role in Cuban history. Porfirio Díaz gave $10,000 to José Martí in 1895 to help underwrite Cuba's War of Independence against Spain, but when the U.S. intervened, ostensibly on the side of Cuba, and what had been a regional conflict turned into the Spanish-American War, Díaz had a change of heart and switch his allegiance to Spain, even offering the Spanish fleet refuge in Mexican ports despite the great danger which this posed to his country's security. The revanchist spirit against the U.S. took precedence, as usual, over Mexico's continental obligations and even its own best interests. This would happen again in the next century in response to Fidel Castro and the threat which he posed to Mexico and the entire hemisphere.

Except for the U.S. no country did more to bring Castro to power and keep him there. It was from Mexico that Fidel Castro re-launched the Cuban Revolution in 1956 with the knowledge and support of the Mexican government. The anti-American character of Castro's revolution guaranteed it Mexico's unconditional support, which, in turn, spared its ruling oligarchs from the threat of a Castro-backed insurgency. For 50 years Mexico has ridden the Castroite tiger and it is still afraid to get off. The latest migratory accord shows that it has no intention of ever getting off. Its reasons now, of course, are not limited merely to the vicarious satisfaction which Mexican nationalists derive from Castro's needling of the United States. It is a matter of economics as much as politics. Before the Revolution, Cuba's GNP was the 3rd largest in the Western Hemisphere. Mexico, despite oil reserves larger than Saudi Arabia's, lagged far behind. A democratic and capitalist Cuba, competing with Mexico in a host of areas, and, primarily in tourism, is not in Mexico's national interest.

Just as the U.S. continues to do everything in its power to guarantee Cuba's "stability" even if this means collaborating with the regime in suppressing the Cuban people's right to freedom, so Mexico, no less mercenary in its intentions towards Cuba, has a vested interest in keeping her hobbled by an economic system that renders Cuba incapable of competing with it.

I have always been a friend and sympathizer of the Mexican people and defended them from the xenophobic attacks of their enemies in this country. I will continue to do so despite this latest infamy because the first victims of the Mexican government are the Mexican people.

The Solution to the "Migrant Problem:" Let Robots Pick the Fruit

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama

"I've said to my beloved friend and colleague John McCain, a friend of 25 years, 'John, I love you, but I'm not just going to vote for you on the basis of our affection or friendship.' And I've said to Barack Obama, 'I admire you. I'll give you all the advice I can. But I'm not going to vote for you just because you're black.' We, we have to move beyond this." -- Colin Powell, September 20, 2008

Calling him a "transformational figure" (as if all transformations were desirable), Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president on today's edition of NBC's Meet the Press. What a shocker! I couldn't be more surprised if that other famous Jamaican-American, Harry Belafonte, had endorsed him. Remember when Republicans were pleading with Colin Powell to run for president after he had opportunistically registered as a Republican after having spent his entire life as an unregistered Democrat? Well, America dodged that arrow and the party of Lincoln lost its own opportunity to inflict its own Obama, fully Englished, on the nation.

I judge politicians by their positions on Castro. This has saved me a great deal of time and proved an infallible weather bane for predicting their political trajectories in all other areas. In 2001 when Colin Powell declared before a House hearing that "Castro has done good things for his people," I knew immediately that he was an enemy of the Cuban people; and when, in 2006, Powell proclaimed on a trip to Brazil that "Cuba is no longer a major threat to Latin America," I knew that all the dominoes would be allowed to fall in the region before the Bush administration noticed that it had two dozen Cubas on its hands.

It's no surprise to me, then, that Colin Powell would endorse Barack Obama, who's just as unconcerned as Powell is about the Castro regime's threat to the region and to its own people; but who, unlike Powell, can carry their shared beliefs to their logical conclusion -- negotiations without prior conditions and complete capitulation to the tyrant.

When asked if there would be "a place for [him] in an Obama administration," Powell replied that though he "was not looking forward to a position or assignment... if a president asks you to do something, you have to consider it." Under the circumstances this is as far as Powell could go without publicly angling for a job or suggesting a quid pro quo.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What Obama Has In Common with Marx Besides Ideology

Marx was the most humorless man who ever lived. His admirers often attribute his dourness to the fact that he had a hundred festering boils on his ass for most of his adult life, which would almost make us feel sorry for him except that his condition was due to or at least aggravated by his lifelong aversion to water (like Mao, he never took a bath in his life) and his refusal to "waste" even scrap paper on sanitary concerns. The only "joke" Marx ever cracked in his life was to refer to his Cuban son-in-law Pablo Lafargue as a "gorilla" in one of his letters because of his supposed mixed ancestry (in photographs Lafargue looks Nordic unlike Marx). For Marx, however, all Cubans were black and hence "gorillas." (Cosas de la vida, Castro was also fond of referring to visiting African heads of state as "gorillas," according to Carlos Franqui).

The men who put Marx's ideas into practice, killing billions in the name of his misanthropy, were also humorless men. Barack Obama, too, is an eminently humorless man, as was on display at the Al Smith Memorial Dinner last night, where he could not even manage to make the not-so-funny jokes written for him by his no-less humorless staff sound at least sound genial. Never was Obama more out of his element even in a sea of fellow Democrats. His deadpan delivery, his "this is not me" attitude and his constant reference to the prepared text (what, no teleprompter?), left the impression of a nervous groom offering his thanks to the wedding party. The insertion of a fragment of his stump speech at the conclusion, the only part that sounded spontaneous because it was so well-rehearsed, was unintentionally funny, at least to me. His high-sounding platitudes and stentorian delivery always crack me up. The Charlie McCarthy get-up which is de rigeur at the dinner not only reinforced the impression of the nervous groom during the "humorous" part of his presentation but also had us looking for the knee on which he was sitting in the second part. That is something he mostly managed to avoid at the debates.

On the other hand, McCain's timing was flawless and his material much better. The truth when made the object of humor is rather reinforced than diminished by it while what is patently false cannot be made credible with ridicule. ACORN's voter fraud, for example, sanctioned and even underwritten by Obama's campaign, combines elements of the Stasi and the Keystone cops. If its object were not so nefarious its means would render it comical. The Obama cult, also, which has taken Barry the Inconsequential and transformed him into Barack the Conqueror, would be risible if it were not real. Even being real and rife with danger for the country and the world, his transformation from ward heeler to national healer could be the premise of a bad Preston Sturges movie. It is unfortunate that McCain's gift for comedy was not discovered sooner, and we can only hope that he will indulge it freely for what remains of the campaign. Approached as an enigma Barack Obama is inscrutable (what, where, when and especially how?); but as a joke -- a joke on all of us -- he is shallow and transparent. Let us hope that we will still be laughing after November 4th.

[Speaking of humor or lack thereof, Henry Louis Gómez is right about David Letterman. He is an "unfunny liberal jackass" (Oct. 17). He errs, however, in calling him "the funniest man in America" during the 1980s. David Letterman was never funny. It's just that being crabby and cynical wears better at 28 than 58. Here, from his supposed heyday, is proof that Letterman hasn't changed just aged into the promise of his youth:]

Thursday, May 3, 2007

From the Tellechea Archives: David Letterman Does Cuba

David Letterman's Feeble-Minded Fixation on Cuba's Dictator
By Manuel A. Tellechea
The New York Tribune
Commentary Section, p. 7
August 18, 1987

The pope and David Letterman are hoping to visit Cuba this summer. The sublime and the ridiculous, it is not often that they coincide, and when they do, it is usually on the plane of the pathetic. I have written about the pope's projected trip to Cuba in this paper and The Wall Street Journal (and I will have more to say in September). But for now, I turn my attention to the ridiculous.

For the benefit of those of you who have experienced no bout of insomnia over the last five years, David Letterman hosts a talk show that airs immediately after Johnny Carson's on NBC. Even more than Carson, Letterman owns his allotted time span (12:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.), perhaps because he is the only living thing on television at that hour who isn't trying to convert us or sell us real estate. The ineffable Letterman — "Dave" to the initiate — has made a career of his bad temper and worse taste. When he does not insult his guests, he offends them. It is difficult to discern how much of this is real and how much studied viciousness. Whichever, it suits him, and, apparently, his audience as well. Anyone who stays up after midnight has either too much life or too little. Letterman supplies the deficiency or caps the excess. In that sense, he's become a substitute for milk of magnesia or the "hair off the dog that bit you."

I stumbled into Letterman by accident one night (a universal excuse, I suppose), while I was waiting for a delayed edition of Nightline. I missed Ted Koppel that night. Letterman hooked me, and with the only bait that could — Cuba.

Would you believe that he was phoning Cuba to "chat" with Castro about baseball and cigars, and to entice the Cuban dictator to appear on Late Night in person or allow Letterman to take the show to him? I kid you not. So far he has succeeded in "chatting" with half the Politburo, but not the elusive and reclusive Fidel, who never sleeps in the same house twice, and, consequently, never has the same phone number.

Calling Cuba is not an easy thing even in the best of circumstances. Castro only allows a fixed number of emergency calls through from the United States each day, and these must be re-routed via Spain, because there are no direct telephone links between our two countries. For Letterman, a call to Cuba may be a harmless prank. But it is no joke to Cuban-Americans who must sometimes wait for days to learn that the mother or father they haven't seen in 30 years has died in Cuba. Each time Letterman dials Cuba, I wonder what additional trauma his whimsical calls will wreak on innocent families separated by the very man with whom he wishes to confabulate. But perhaps I am being unfair. Why should David Letterman burden himself with our troubles? It is not as if he were a compassionate man.

Persons in his position have the objects of their sympathy dictated to them. Presumably, he wouldn't call Pinochet or Botha, even to remonstrate with them. And he would certainly not try to fandangle an invitation to Sun City or the Chilean Alps. If he dared to pull such a stunt, he would be immediately blacklisted by every liberal organization in the world (including the U.N.). Unfortunately, there are no reprimands for those who line their pockets at the expense of the suffering of the Cuban people. In fact, Letterman will probably be hailed as a trailblazer if he succeeds in taking his show to Castro's gulag (or, rather, everywhere but). He is just what the liberal establishment hungers for — a more precious and less precocious Samantha Smith.

I must confess that the prospect of Late Night from Cuba is as intriguing to me as it is repulsive. There is a regular feature on Letterman — "Stupid Human Tricks" — wherein Castro could be shown to (dis)advantage. In Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom, Hugh Thomas writes that the adolescent Fidel would prove his superior manhood to his schoolfellows by driving his bicycle at full speed into a concrete wall. He is said to have performed this feat many times. Now it would have to be modified, since it is no longer in keeping with his "dignity" or girth. He could, perhaps, drive a tank into the Grand Canyon or off Morro Castle in Havana. Only then would I be content to see Castro turned into "a good sport, a regular guy." One "Uncle Joe" Stalin is enough for any century, though the detestation of Fidel, general among most Americans, would make the lionizing of him a dangerous stunt for David Letterman. Perhaps therein lies the allure.

Letterman has been courting Castro for some time, but he is by no means his only American suitor. The mayor of Indianapolis — where the X Pan-American Games are currently being held — wanted to fly to Cuba to bring Castro back as his "honored guest." Secretary "Cap" Weinberger had to threaten to shut down the Games to dissuade the (Republican) mayor. We live in strange times indeed when to guarantee the success of peaceful games a symbolic Nero is desired.

To secure the "ultimate guest" for his show, Letterman has become an unregistered agent of influence for the Castro regime; he can do so because no executive looms over his head with a threat of cancellation. To give but one example of his "lobbying:"

Letterman recently showed a video of a dog swinging in circles over a pond while holding on with its teeth to a rope suspended from a tree limb. From a distance it appears as if the dog is not hanging from a rope, but is being hung by it. David, who was very much amused, commented that "this looked like something one might have seen in Cuba before the Revolution." For the record, the Cuba SPCA was founded not long after its U.S. counterpart. In fact, Cuba was the second country in the world to have an SPCA. It was abolished by Castro in 1961. Of course, it is not animal rights that concern Letterman. The dog in the video is a metaphor lifted from Coppola's Godfather II, where a grotesque act of bestiality takes place in a seedy nightclub in pre-revolutionary Havana, the kind of thing that is still very common in the farmlands of Dave's native Indiana. Letterman is obviously aware of, and given his willingness to publicize it, may also be assumed heartily to concur in, the racist and hypocritical conceit that Cuba was a den of iniquity before the Revolution and incorruptible thereafter.

But who is the "Ugly(ier) American?" The apocryphal tourist who buys sex, or the ideologue who buys into the lie of Castro's Cuba, and goes there today to witness and applaud the violation by Castro of the entire Cuban people?

Not surprisingly, David Letterman's pro-Castro propaganda has found favor with Fidel, who has pronounced Letterman his "favorite American entertainer" and rewards him with periodic consignments of Cuban cigars. How do we know that Letterman is Castro's favorite? We have it on the authority of his henchmen at the Cuban Mission to the U.N. Late Night producer Barry Sands has met with them on several occasions to discuss Letterman's itinerary in Cuba. They have assured Sand that "Castro is crazy about Dave" and never misses a show. Castro could watch Letterman on the satellite dish given him by his other great media pal Ted Turner, but prefers to receive videotapes of Late Night, which Sands is more than happy to provide. It must be the watermelons flung from water towers that appeal to Castro. Castro even might try that trick himself some day. In fact, he probably has already, but not with watermelons.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Next Election May Signal the End of Democracy in America

I look at Fidel Castro with long-petrified disdain. The odium does not boil anymore, or even bubble at the surface. Every last drop of bile has calcified and now it is the solidity of my hate that I feel when I see or hear him. It is otherwise with Barack Obama. My disdain for him is always simmering and sometimes raging. It is not solid but porous and yet hot enough to melt rocks. And, yes, if all these analogies reek of the sulphur of hell, it is no coincidence; for I believe that both Fidel Castro and Barack Obama are agents of dark forces whose mission it is to sow death and desolation upon the earth. Both are princes of lies and possess the ability to benumb the minds of men and make them embrace with open eyes the void.

For once in my life I do not fear for my country only but also for the sometime generous land which welcomed us many years ago and which once seemed invulnerable and now merely lucky to have avoided the fate which may await her. German democracy died through the agency of German democracy, and now it seems that the American Republic, as strong as the Weimar Republic was weak, may also be buried in a ballot box. The implosion of democracy in South America in recent years should have sounded the warning. But Americans regard Hispanics with such condescension that they consider our experiences to hold no lessons for them. The flowering of Latin American democracy was of short growth and indistinct memory. Anti-democratic forces, under the cover of democracy, assumed absolute power and then gutted all constitutional rights and civil institutions while allowing the edifice of democracy, compromised to its very foundations and in ruins, to shelter in its shadow crimes that would have been denounced from the beginning had they not been committed under its auspices.

The installation of a Marxist in the White House is not something that could have been accomplished without a compliant and complicit media paving the way for him by wilfully concealing his past, and acting, in effect, as his publicist. The MSM, which were never co-opted but always cooperative, have already made the transition from an independent to a state media in expectation of Obama's election. The return of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" will silence the few dissenting voices in the media and the impending regulation (actually, regimentation) of the blogosphere will bring all media under government control. In Cuba as in Venezuela, it was necessary for the state to wrest control of the media from its owners. Here it will be a lot easier because no coercion will be necessary: the organs of opinion are already "official" in all but name. This seamless transition from private to official media will go unnoticed by most Americans. The personalities will remain the same; the content will remain the same; the slant will remain the same: nothing will change, but, of course, everything will change, because the media will no longer derive its authority (or the capacity to abuse it) from the Constitution but at the pleasure of the state and subject to its directives.

Those of us who have seen this before will only be surprised that it could happen here. Yet why shouldn't it happen here? The United States has never been immune to political upheavals or economic catastrophes (e.g. the Civil War and the Great Depression). Its capacity to overcome them was never a guarantee against their recurrence much less a guarantee that it would always prevail against them. All democracies in immemorial history have perished by their own excesses.

On November 4th we will see if the United States is really the exception to the rule.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tonight's Presidential Debate

If the political pundits are to be believed everything is riding on tonight's final presidential debate. In fact, nothing is at stake except the prognostications of the prognosticators who will extrapolate from the subjective results of the debate the outcome of the election. Perhaps their predictions should be computed on Election Day and a margin of error established for each political gadfly that might help us gauge his accuracy in a future election (if there are to be future elections). In truth, debates, or the mockery that passes for debates nowadays, are meaningless. Partisans will always think that their candidate won and those in the middle will shift in whatever direction they finally decide their interests lie. No one ever switches sides as a result of a debate unless the differences between the candidates are so insignificant that nothing is to be won or lost by voting for one or the other. The Kennedy-Nixon debate is often cited as having decided the 1960 election. In fact, it was the mayor of Chicago and the undead of its cemeteries who decided that election just as this one might be decided or at least deadlocked (no pun intended) by ACORN's own attempts at reanimation.

Of course, I'll be watching the debate as I don't doubt you will also. It is, after all, high theatre, as carefully rehearsed and orchestrated as any set piece. Spontaneity, originality and even combativeness are all greatly discouraged as too risky. It seems to be the objective of each candidate to come out of the debate no worse than he entered it, that is, to avoid committing a gaffe that would invalidate his candidacy. A debater should always be prepared to take advantage of his opponent's misstatements; in modern debates, however, all that is required to succeed in a debate is to guard against one's own. The best way to do this is to be as imprecise and noncommittal as possible. Inevitably such a course will tend to diminish rather than highlight differences between candidates, which could be calamitous in this election because there are real differences between McCain and Obama, fundamental differences which should not be glossed over, because the future of this Republic depends on understanding the danger which the Democratic candidate and his coterie of unsavory alliances poses to the future of democracy in America.

If John McCain is to be faulted for anything it is for his excessive collegiality which almost makes it seem that he does not fully appreciate the importance to this country of his winning this election. He could have confounded the pundits and defined for all Americans the meaning of maverick if he had opposed and defeated Bush's nationalization of Wall Street and the banking industry. That certainly would have guaranteed his election. Instead he chose to side with Bush and statists like Obama, though his silence at the White House conference on the bail out, also attended by an enthusiastic Obama, gave some indication of his real discontent. He would have won the election for certain if he had voiced it.

I still believe that McCain will prevail in the end because voting for Obama requires a degree of comfort with the unfathomable (or self-induced blindness) which most Americans can't long sustain. Of course, the only reason that mainstream Americans would consider voting for Obama in the first place is that the media have consistently cooperated with him in keeping his well-defined radical positions and solid left record from the American people. In the end, however, questions about him persist which will never be answered because the answers are potentially more dangerous than the lingering questions.

The Rise and Fall of the United States: The Final Chapter?

Enigma: Crip or Blood?

U.S. History 901: America's Black Presidents

The Promise of Barack Obama

Barack Obama: The Future Is the Past

The Truth About Barack Obama Finally Revealed

Advice for McCain As He Embarks on His Crusade to Save America from Its Domestic Enemies

Fidel Castro Endorses Barack Obama

Obama's "Message to Fidel"

What Was Missing in Obama's Speech? Fidel

Monday, October 13, 2008

Columbus Saw a Mosque in Cuba: Now It's the Muslims Who Discovered America

The history of Cuba and the history of the United States are so enmeshed that it is impossible to tell one without also telling the other. This is not the case with every country on earth because the U.S. has not figured as prominently or continuously in the histories of other peoples as it has in ours (for which, if they are not European, they should feel grateful). Still, immigrants to the U.S., as part of the assimilation process, have always endeavored to discover or, if necessary, invent historic links to their adopted homeland. Swedish immigrant in the late 19th century buried and unburied stone plaques that confirmed that their ancestors were the first Europeans to visit America. Norsemen, of course, could appeal to the legend of Leif Erikson, or the Irish to St. Brendan.

And for Italians, of course, there was Christopher Columbus, who by most popular accounts was born in Genoa, which is now part of Italy but which was not part of Italy in 1492, because there was no Italy then nor would there be for another 400 years. This didn't stop Italian immigrants from laying claim to Columbus, nor from taking credit for the discovery of America. Everywhere but in the U.S. such a fantasy is met with riotous laughter, even in Italy itself. But here history is compartmentalized into months and homesteaded on a "first come, first served" basis regardless of actual title. So it is that Spain's discovery and colonization of the New World is celebrated in this country as a kind of "Italian Appreciation Day." Western civilization owes more to the Romans than to any other people, and I have no problem recognizing modern-day Italians as heirs to that legacy. What they didn't do, however, is discover America.

Following the example of Italian-Americans and other immigrant groups, it is not surprising, then, that Muslim newcomers should also lay claim to the discovery of America. It is in fact a hopeful portent that despite the hostility with which they have been met here, and the doubts which have been raised about their allegiance and capacity to adapt to American life, they nevertheless desire nothing more than to belong here.

Muslim-Americans have not laid claim to Columbus, as have both Christians and Jews. If they had, Columbus would have bested Jesus Christ as the world's most disputed historical figure (or religious figure, since the Catholic Church tried for 200 years to canonize him despite his very worldly life). What Muslims contend is that they were in America before Columbus and that Columbus himself, no Muslim, attested as much in his Journal of Discovery. As Muslim historian Amir Muhammad notes, "while [Columbus'] ship was sailing near Gibara on the northeast coast of Cuba, he saw a Mosque on the top of a beautiful mountain." I suppose that should be qualified to read "what he thought was a mosque." Columbus had a great imagination and an even greater capacity for self-delusion. He did, after all, think that he was exploring the kingdom of the Great Mogul. Columbus' supposed sighting of a mosque in Cuba was not an anomaly, however; for, according to Dr. Muhammad, "ruins of Mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qur’anic verses have been discovered in Cuba, Mexico, Texas, and Nevada." He also contends that the Pima Indians, one of the continent's most ancient people, have a vocabulary which is partially of Arabic origin, which presupposes that they are either descendants of Muslims themselves or were in contact with Muslims at some time in pre-Colombian history.

The earliest Muslim to journey to America is identified by Dr. Muhammed as Sultan Abu Bakri II of Mali, who, in 1312, supposedly explored North America with a fleet of 400 ships via the Mississippi River and brought elephants from Africa to Arizona, where ancient pictographs exist of animals resembling them.

If the Abu narrative is not to your liking, there are others to chose from that do not so greatly tax conventional wisdom. The brothers Martín Alonso Pinzón and Vicente Yanex Pinzón, the captains respectively of the Pinta and the Santa María, were allegedly kinsmen of Abuzayan Muhammad III, the Moroccan Sultan of the Marinid Dynasty (1196-1465). It was Martín Pinzón who directed Columbus towards land and is celebrated in his hometown of Palos de la Frontera, in Huelva, as the real discoverer of America.

The Muslim presence in the Americas was not limited to the Caribbean and Southwest, where one might expect to find them among the Spaniards. According to Dr. Muhammed, when the first English settlers arrived in Jamestown in 1609 they were told by the Indians that within a six-days walk were "a people like you," which he describes as a tribe of bearded Moors who wore European clothing, mined for silver and "dropped to their knees to pray many times daily." He identifies these people with the Melungians of southern Appalachia, whose origins are still in dispute. If Amir Muhammad is correct, then the painting in the Capitol building which shows the English settlers being welcomed by the Indians should be modified to include Muslims in the allegorical first reception.

Now that the Arabs have become Castro's sponsors, too, perhaps they should mount an expedition to find the remains of the mosque that Columbus spotted atop a mountain in Gibara.

Muslims in America: Pre-Columbus and Pre-Slavery


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Columbus Day

From last year, we are reproducing our landmark historical study:

Christopher Columbus Was a Cuban

Which should put to end all disputations on the subject.

Later today we may publish an even more startling discovery about the Great Discoverer.

[There is a new post below the Yara post].

Friday, October 10, 2008

On the 140th Anniversary of "El Grito de Yara:" Cuba's First War of Independence (1868-1878)

Today marks the 140th anniversary of the Grito de Yara, the start of Cuba's first War of Independence (1868-1878). This epic struggle claimed more lives than 30 American Revolutions but did not culminate in our independence because, then as now, our countrymen stood alone against the indifference and even hostility of the world. There was no France to provide reinforcements nor His Christian Majesty's Treasury to finance our revolution. Spain, which by then had already been ousted from all its other possessions in the New World except Cuba and Puerto Rico, clung tenaciously to the "Pearl of the Antilles," the revenues from which sustained it more than all its own exertions did. Spain was ready to sink all the gold of the Indies, acquired over 400 years, into the endeavor of retaining the last and most precious remnant of its colonial empire. The European powers, and principally Britain, sided with Spain, though they had condemned for 50 years the slave trade which Spain abetted and which the Cuban rebels ended by abolishing slavery as the first act of their revolution. Pope Pius IX, no doubt influenced by the fact that the Catholic Church was the largest landowner in Cuba, blessed Spanish troops before they sailed to subjugate Cubans and even called the war of genocide against them "a holy crusade."

Then there was the United States. The Cuban Revolution of 1868 was inspired by the ideals of the American Revolution of 1776, although the Cubans did not only proclaim in their Declaration of Independence that all men were created equal before God but before the law. Among the American people, the Cuban cause was wildly popular; for they rightly saw it as a continuation of their grandsires' own struggle. This did not, however, convince their leaders -- who had only 3 years earlier considered acquiring Cuba as a "dumping grounds" (in Lincoln's phrase) for America's recently emancipated slaves -- to extend recognition or belligerancy rights to the Cuban rebels, most of whom were men of color. Instead, the U.S. used its Neutrality Laws to thwart the rebellion while a the same time allowing its arms merchants to sell Spain all the surplus from the Civil War. The U.S. State Department even hatched a scheme that would have compelled Cubans to purchase their independence from Spain with a loan contracted from U.S. banks with the island itself as collateral. "Independence," if you will, on the installment plan.

Despite the fact that 140 years ago Cubans were fighting against not just Spain but the combined malice of all the world, they managed to extend their struggle for 10 glory-filled years, till the island was decimated from one end to the other and the enemy defeated over and over again, only to have Spain buoyed and raised up by its allies on both sides of the Atlantic.

Céspedes and Aguilera did not survive the war to return to their Mount Vernons and Monticellos; they died penniless in the struggle, having financed the revolution with their own patrimony and finally consecrated their lives to it, but our prohombres bequeathed freedom to their slaves and to all of us the example of the purest and most disinterested patriotism.

El Grito de Baire
A Brief History of the Cuban Republic (1902-1958)
The History of The Cuban Republic, Part II (1940-1952)
A "Critique" that Requires Your Attention
Are Cubans "Resentful" & "Unforgiving?" Carlos Alberto Montaner Thinks So
Babalú Praises George Will's Bigotted Attack on Cubans
A Selection of Quotations by José Martí (Translated from the Spanish)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Anatasio Blanco Survives Fatal Comments at Babalú

Every other blog except Babalú is encouraged when a thread suddenly comes alive. A wide berth is usually given to such fecund posts and they are allowed to grow in the sunlight. In Babalú's case, however, having an active post is a standing threat to its fragile comity which must be beaten to death at birth and buried in a mountain of posts improvised for that reason. Such was the case with Anatasio Blanco's post, "The Regime's Priorities Speak Volumes," which was really about his own priorities in the current crisis. In the comments section he confessed that he had sent money to his starving relatives in Cuba "with no qualms or reservations in [his] heart," ignoring Val Prieto's injunction that "Cubans don't need money because there's nothing for them to buy." We had, of course, guessed as much when Anatasio published an edited version of his cousin's letter some three weeks earlier. It seemed inconceivable to us that his cousin would have written him about the situation in Cuba without soliciting his help, which, we were also sure, he would not have denied. Prudence, I suppose, had convinced Anatasio not to reproduce that part of the letter. Babalú's contributing writers, like Granma's, have learned to practice self-censorship in order to avoid being censored, which makes life so much easier for them as well as for the censor. But Marc Másferrer's resistance to Val's homicidal intentions towards the Cuban people must have emboldened Anatasio and convinced him that he, too, should take a stand on their behalf even if it put him at loggerheads with Babalú's "Founder Editor." It is always a risky endeavor at Babalú to side with Cubans who are not in jail or at least on their way there. Everybody else is "suspect."

Val reacted with his standard mock reply to all allusions to remittances: "LET'S SEND MONEY!!!!!!" By which he means, of course, let's not send money. Now, Val is not by any means uncharitable. He has collected monies on his blog for a host of worthy causes and many dubious ones as well (the latter usually having to do with him). But the one thing that he will never allow is for his blog to be used as a vehicle for relieving the suffering of the Cuban people, because their suffering, Val believes, is an instrumentality that can be used to effect their liberation by precipitating a social explosion. Therefore, the Human Pressure Cooker of Val's own devising should never stand idle for even a second. That Castro himself has been operating his own Human Pressure Cooker for 50 years as an instrument of social control and obtained results contrary to Val's expectations has not diminished Val's enthusiasm for it. In fact, he's more obsessed with rendering the Cuban people in his pressure cooker than ever before.

Of course, there are not two pressure cookers but really only one. The suffering which Castro inflicts on the Cuban people is no different from that which Val endorses. The results are also the same. If making Cubans miserable lessened his power over them, Castro would then -- and only then -- concern himself with their welfare in order to restore that power. But, of course, the more miserable they are, the more dependent on him they become; and the more dependent they are, the less likely to challenge him. Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach. He meant that soldiers will not fight well or at all if they are not adequately fed. A people also marches or does not march on their stomachs. If, unlike Napoleon, you want your people not be able to march for fear that they might march against you, if you want literally to take the fight out of them, then starve them. That will insure that they won't be marching anywhere and certainly not marching against you. If Val were a student of history (insert here laugh track), he would know that Napoleon was right and would realize that nothing is to be gained by starving Cubans except to assure the enemy's victory.

We have always suspected, however, that Val's Human Pressure Cooker was conceived as not just a strategic but punitive measure. As a strategy it may be a disaster but as a way to punish the Cuban people for not living up to his expectations, it suits Val just fine. A famine would suit him better, and the prospect of one whetted his fondest hopes and elicited his highest efforts in the wake of the hurricanes. For Val, a famine and his pressure cooker were an unbeatable combination. The fact that Castro was also doing his part by rejecting offers of humanitarian assistance contributed to Val's euphoria. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez's decision to continue restrictions on remittances and family visits, which he based on Val's own rationale that Cubans didn't need money, practically had Val building a yacht in his back yard for his triumphal return to Bayamo after Castro is toppled. Then, I am sure, he will bring a crate of quinina (no, he won't understand the reference).

Well, Val has been left high and dry, so to speak. The misery of the Cuban people has increased exponentially just as he hoped. The regime has even instituted rationing at the farmers' markets, which means that all food distribution is now under its direct control except what is sold on the black market. As Anatasio put it, "The Cuban economy and national morale are in complete shambles." Yet the pressure cooker has not exploded.

By now Val should have realized, unless he's completely detached from reality or blinded by hate, that the pressure cooker will never serve his ends. There is a solution which commenter Conchita volunteered and Val ignored completely: "[L]et's send some TANKS with Cuban freedom fighters in them! The only way things are going to 'change' in Cuba is by blasting through the walls!" Blasting through walls is not something that Val has any intention of doing. He is sure that if he waits long enough there will be no walls. Besides, the responsibility of toppling Castro is not his. His tangential connection to Cuba, though it entitles him to berate Cubans on the island for not accomplishing the impossible sans food, sans arms and sans everything, exempts him from any personal responsibility for Cuba's fate. Though he has lived for all but the first 3 years of his life in freedom, Val feels no commiseration for those who have spent their entire lives in slavery; instead, Val is of the opinion that they owe him something and resents deeply that they have been so remiss in paying that literal blood debt.

Val's exchange with Anatasio over remittances was not as acrimonious as his earlier debate with Marc. I suppose that we can attribute his benignity to the fact that, as Val tells Anatasio in the prelude to his comments, "I love you dud." By which, I again suppose, we are to understand that he is more favorably disposed to Anatasio in other respects than remittances and that his general good-will overwhelms this not so parochial difference. Nevertheless, Val's indulgence does not extend to Anatasio's starving family in Cuba despite his friend's candid admission that he has acted to save their lives. I do not doubt that Val would sit Anatasio's family at his table if they were here. But since they are in Cuba and not in Miami, he resents it mightily that Anatasio would do anything to hinder the progress of his Human Pressure Cooker. I suppose that his own impartiality when it comes to sacrificing Cubans must seem to Val some kind of Spartan virtue. If it were his own parents that he was sacrificing rather than other people's his impartiality would be seen in its true light. But because his victims are strangers (to him , at least) does not make his inhumanity less conspicuous.

It is Val's contention that all assistance sent to Cuba ends up in the coffers of the regime. If that were the whole truth three things would naturally follow: a). Cubans are idiots for requesting remittances that will do them no good; b). exiles are idiots for sending them money that will never reach them; and c). the Castros are idiots for having contrived A and B and therefore assured that no one would request or send remittances in the first place.

The money from remittances circulates widely in Cuba and provides a safety net not only for the recipients but for friends and collateral relations. Without it, everybody would be one day away from starvation. The money that is spent on the black market -- and much of it is because prices there are lower than in Castro's stores -- drives the counter-economy, which exists by plundering the warehouses of Castro Inc. Remittances, of course, profit the regime, but at the same time they are an engine of economic sabotage which bleeds the system while restoring to the Cuban people what is rightly theirs and depriving the henchmen of their spoils. Far from understanding this unauthorized transfer of wealth Val has on more than one occasion condemned those who requisition stolen property from the regime and divert it to the Cuban people. Supposedly, turning the screws on their oppressors breeds "dishonesty" and undermines the Cuban character.

Cubans on the island are in a Catch-22 situation: they are berated by the Babalunians for not doing enough to topple Castro and berated also when they undermine the very foundations of the regime. One wonders what Val considers more superfluous to Cuba's future: the regime or the Cuban people? Probably he cannot decide between them and wishes to take no chances.

[I urge you to read (if you can stand it) Val Prieto's "Parable of the Water Pump," the most ridiculous pap ever written about the fatal effects not of the "want of a nail" but of the possession of one. The moral of Val's story is that a water pump in the hands of a Cuban could lead to the next Flood].

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Barack Obama: The Stranger Among Us

The "Town Hall" format of the second presidential debate had the candidates walking around the stage as the cameras followed them at all angles. This format was said to favor Barack Obama, and it did though not because of the reason that was alleged. The biggest lie of this campaign is that Obama can put two cogent sentences together without the aid of a teleprompter. As an extemporaneous speaker he suffers from the most debilitating case of lockjaw in U.S. political history. Calvin Coolidge may have spoken little but every word did tell. Unrehearsed and left to his own resources Obama literally goes blank and fills the space with the human equivalent of television static. But nothing about last night's presentation was unexpected or unscripted. A question about his acknowledged drug use — so notorious that he had no choice but to disclose it preemptively in his memoirs — or about how he got to be editor of the Harvard Law Review without ever having written a single article for it, would have thrown him for a loop. He was already well-prepared for an Ayers question, but it never came. Fortunately for Obama, Tom Brokaw was there to intercept any real questions while demonstrating that he can be fully as weird as his onetime competitor Dan Rather.

Obama's "victory" was chronological. Yes, McCain is an old man, and the injuries that he sustained as a young man in the service of his country become more evident the older he gets, as is only to be expected. The stiff gait, bowed shoulders and slightly hunched back contrast with Obamas's ramrod bearing and confident stride (not to mention his shameless voguing). Yet we know more about McCain's health than we do Obama's. McCain released 1200 pages of medical records; Obama, a 1-page letter from his doctor. The results of literally hundreds of tests over a protracted period attest to McCain's good health despite his age and physical limitations. In Obama's case, there is that 1-page letter which raises more questions than it answers.

Not since JFK has the American public known so little about the health of a prospective president. We know now that Kennedy was a very sick man though his youthful appearance belied that fact. Without the numerous medications prescribed to him, JFK could not have sustained the illusion of health and vigor which were so central a part of the myth of Camelot. The drugs, however, which made it possible for him to function physically may have impaired his thinking with what could have been disastrous consequences for this country and the world. As things turned out, the consequences were only disastrous for Cuba.

As regards his own past, Obama has left no stone unburied. His refusal to release his health records is not an isolated incident; it is part and parcel of his penchant for concealment. Black Sheep of Exile ("Sorry to Bother you, Mr. Obama") recently inventoried the great lacunae in his vita curriculum:

1. Occidental College records — Not released
2. Columbia College records — Not released
3. Columbia Thesis paper — "Not available"
4. Harvard Law School records — Not released
5. Selective Service Registration — Not released
6. Medical records — Not released
7. Illinois State Senate schedule — "Not available"
8. Law practice client list — Not released
9. Certified Copy of original Birth certificate — Not released
10. Embossed, signed paper Certification of Live Birth — Not released
11. Harvard Law Review articles published — None
12. University of Chicago scholarly articles — None
13. Record of baptism — Not released or "Not available"
14. Illinois State Senate records —"Not available"
15. Records of the Chicago Annenberg Project — Not released

The American public may be about to elect an absolute stranger as president and one who has gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that he remains a stranger at least until Election Day.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What, No Drug Tests?

Barack Obama has just released a one-page letter from his doctor attesting to his "excellent health" and pronouncing him "medically-fit to serve as president." Last week, John McCain granted reporters access to more than 1200 pages of his medical records. Obama's physician for nearly half his life, Dr. David L. Scheiner of Chicago, has not examined his patient since 2006. Yet he has no qualms pronouncing him in "excellent health" today. Obama's campaign claims that the 300-words or so contained in Dr. Scheiner letter constitutes "a complete summary of [Obama's] doctor visits and medical records for the past two decades." William Strunk and E.B. White should have been that good.

I wonder what the media reaction would have been if McCain had released a one-page letter from his doctor as the sum total of his medical history? The general inference would have been that he had something to hide because of his age. Yet the sickest man ever to occupy the White House was also the youngest man ever elected president, John F. Kennedy. Everything about his health except his bad back was concealed from the public. The bad back was a war injury and hence could serve as his "Achilles heel." Unless you count his Nicorette gum, Obama has no "Achilles heel," none, at least, that could be mentioned in 300 words or less.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Who Will Be Responsible If Barack Obama Wins This Election?

The Republicans.

The Republicans.

The Republicans.

The Republicans.

The Republicans.

There was no financial crisis until George Bush declared one in the closing days of the presidential campaign, magically creating a recession where there was none. Does the man have even one working brain cell left? How great must be the power of a president, even a lame duck one, to make not only lemmings but intelligent men leap into the chasm with him!

If McCain had come out against the Wall Street bail out, nothing could have stopped his election as president. But McCain missed the chance of a lifetime to define for all Americans what a maverick is (a man who puts country before party). Now all hinges on whether Americans can figure out for themselves what a "Socialist" is (a man who puts ideology before country).

Monday, October 6, 2008

RCAB: Linked to Rick and Alex

I wish to thank Rick of South Florida Daily Blog for adding RCAB to his Blogroll. I take this as one more harbinger that the end may be in sight. The end, of course, being an Obama presidency, which would make RCAB and all other blogs of a similar tendency obsolete (though they either do not realize it or won't admit it). The end also of a whole lot of other things more important than this blog.

Rick, in his former capacity as co-editor (with Alex) of Stuck on the Palmetto, is not a name unknown to our readers. Rick is the blogosphere's second most relentless critic of Babalú and may actually be the founder of the club. Although sometimes Rick and I have coincided in our criticism of Babalú, and on occasion he has even surprised me by taking an unexpected line of attack, sparing me the trouble of pursuing it myself, we nonetheless tend to approach Babalú from different if not opposite directions. Still, it is remarkable that Babalú managed to irk us both. No, it is not a sign of fairness on its part but of hubris. Its addiction to censorship, autos-da-fé and bannings transcends politics. In fact, it is the negation of politics, which necessarily involves more than one party or official ideology (in Babalú's case, the Human Pressure Cooker). Opposing Castro by aping his methods even without his power is not something that will promote the cause of Cuban freedom. Rick, too, is conscious of Babalú's hypocrisy in this respect but not sufficiently conscious of the hypocrisy of other bloggers who avail themselves of a democracy to defend Castro's dictatorship. Yet I have not given up the hope that some day he may see through their hypocrisy too. The only thing that's probably stopping him is his aversion to Babalú itself.

If this blog should close in January 2009 SFDB will be the place to see Val & Company put through their paces; not the same paces, mostly, that I would put Babalú through, but still a thorough workout for you who appreciate that as a sport (and many do). For those who want a more Tellechean touch, based on our common Cuban identity, there is Alex's Miami & Beyond, which will continue to monitor Val's Human Pressure Cooker, I am sure. I will devote a later post to the blog that most clearly mirrors my own thinking on Cuba and Babalú.

Today I am adding South Florida Daily Blog and Miami & Beyond to RCAB's Blogroll.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Last Days of RCAB and the Cuban-American Blogosphere?

The Babalunians have always been at a great disadvantage in their battles with me (besides the obvious intellectual chasm between us): they are afraid to mention my name. Why? Because to do so is to make a gift to me of Babalú's readers. Their fear is not unfounded since that is exactly what has happened each and every time that one of them has made reference to me at Babalú. I can almost sympathize with their predicament. If they combat the "enemy" not only will they lose the battle but a considerable number of their adherents will defect to the other side. Their only choice, then, is to take volley after volley without offering any resistance. In the past, Fortress Babalú could withstand such an assault. Now, however, there are very considerable chinks in its walls and the whole edifice has been structurally compromised. Their friends (so-called) in the blogosphere have even begun to take notice of its dilapidated state and to allude mischievously to the cause (and even link to it). Then there are my secret admirers in the Babalunian fold itself. They pay me the tribute of their words, that is, they endeavor, with varying degrees of success, to model their writing on mine. I am to them what William Hazlitt and G.K. Chesterton were to me. Which is not good for them. They should go to the well rather than draw water from my pail, as I recently advised one of them. But let them do as they please.

The only response to RCAB that the Babalunians ever ventured safely upon was to attempt to parody it. From the start, I was the biggest fan of those parody blogs, because, of course, the joke was not on me but on them. I even reviewed these "Reviews of the Review" besides always linking to them. I regarded them as homage blogs and looked upon their proliferation with satisfaction even if their overall quality did not always do me honor. The best of these parody blogs was undoubtedly George Moneo's Review of the Review of Cuban-American Blogs , and the worst (for how could he hope to imitate me?) was fantomas' since deleted The Cuban American Misfits Review. Moneo's blog profile of "Manuel A. Chechechea" still makes me laugh and I even copied it in a post at RCAB lest it should ever be lost to history (which is a real possibility since George keeps forgetting the password to his parody blog since he posts there so infrequently. See here).

Of course, RCAB was not conceived as a parody of Babalú. But, imagine, how smart Val Prieto would have been if he had received it as such, publicized it, linked it and offered no opposition to it, taking it all as a big joke and finally reducing it to a big joke. In short, if he had taken a page out of my book. Instead, he has allowed it to cloud his sunny days for going on 2 years and can't even write a sentence now without trying to second guess it.

I have said that if Barack Obama wins this election I will close RCAB on Inauguration Day 2009. There will be no need then to be Babalú's watchdog because the proto-Communists will be in charge of U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba and the opinions of Val & Company will matter as much as a bucket of warm shit and my opinions about their opinions even less. All Cuban-American blogs, in fact, will become irrelevant because it will not be possible anymore to influence U.S. policy towards Cuba. Let the Babalunians rail against the storm all they want and put their Human Pressure Cooker on automatic, it will avail them not. With Obama's unconditional capitulation to Castro, the criminal state created by him in Cuba will be accepted as the legitimate representative of the Cuban people by the very nation that enthroned Castro 50 years ago. The betrayal of Cuba's freedom, independence and sovereignty will come full circle and find the U.S., as in the beginning, on the side of Castro. Well, maybe it was always on the side of Castro and we refused to believe it until it became official policy. With Obama's "Good Neighbor Policy" towards the Castro regime and Ambassador Greg Craig as the new Sumner Welles, it will be impossible to pretend anymore that we shall ever see a free Cuba. Even if we all live 100 years more it will be too little to see the end of Castroism in Cuba though long enough to see the decline and fall of the United States.

The Cuban-American Misfits Review: Of Dead Blogs and Other Irrelevancies

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Notable & Quotable: "Didn't I Eat Lunch There Yesterday?"

"Joe Biden better take another stroll down Union St. in Wilmington, Del. — and fast. At Thursday's debate, Biden said you could get an earful about President Bush's bad policies from customers at Katie's Restaurant on Union. But Katie's closed in the 1980s."New York Daily News, Oct. 4, 2008

By which we can presume that Biden hasn't strolled down Main Street, in his own hometown of Wilmington, in a quarter century. His propensity to project himself into the past or the past into the present is not an unendearing quality and reminds us of Ronald Reagan's own "Twilight Zone" moments. But can you imagine what the reaction would have been if John McCain had said that Lincoln surveyed the Gettysburg battlefield in a helicopter just before delivering his address or if he quoted a jingle that he had "just seen" on a Burma Shave billboard? The MSM's Dementia Squad would have been merciless. Remember the outcry when McCain confessed that he doesn't know how to use a computer? Well, the Queen of England traditionally doesn't carry money on her person, which doesn't mean that she doesn't know what it's for.

Although he does not look the part today, Biden was the Obama of his time. He ran for the Senate at 29 with his only previous political experience being 2 years on the Wilmington city council. After 35 years in the Senate his career was pretty much stalled and his next landmark achievement would have been to break Strom Thurmond's record if Obama had not decided that Biden was just what he needed -- his own old WASP. Although pundits never tire of pointing out that Palin's chief asset to McCain is her youth and gender, they prefer to allude to Biden's "experience" rather than the fact that he has seen the hill and gone over it several times.

Although Biden likes to say that he will be right next to Obama advising him on every decision (if not actually making the decisions for him), I suspect that if the unthinkable happens Joe Biden will be the most isolated vice-president in U.S. history (which is saying a lot). Obama chose his advisors long ago from a select group of left-wing radicals and fellow travellers who regard Biden as only marginally more acceptable than McCain. They have already undercut Biden by denying him the same strong role as Senate president which Cheney enjoyed in Biden's bailiwick and even had Biden characterize that role as "unconstitutional" in the vice-presidential debate though presiding over the Senate is the only specific role assigned to the vice-president in the Constitution. I just hope for his sake that they don't stick Biden in a White House closet and then forget which closet.

One could almost feel sorry for Biden except that he doesn't appear to feel sorry for himself. Hopefully, the voters will save him from the indignity of being Obama's vice-president.