Friday, May 30, 2008

Leading Bookstore Indicators?

I admit I've been feeling pretty pessimistic about the fall. First, there were the losses of "safe" Republican seats. Then, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon at the bookstore where I've been working in the AM's and any magazine with Obama's visage seems to fly out the door. The other morning, there was a mad rush to pick up the McClellan book, and Bugliosi has broken my heart by penning a tome proposing that Bush is guilty of war crimes. Can you picture anyone writing such a thing accusing FDR over the bombing of Dresden and other cities full of civilians?

Then today I came across this Patrick Buchanan column. Now I'm not a particular fan of Buchanan, particularly when he gets his panties in a twist over illegal immigration. I realize we have to stem the tide, but there is a racist undertone to his rants. So why was my heart lifted to read a column in which he trashes Bush? Easy. Take a look at the comments.

So in the end, I'm figuring that maybe a bookstore is not the best indicator of the general populace. Neither is Human Events, I suspect. Guess I'll just have to wait until this fall.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More on Oil Prices

• Financial speculation has led to acquisition of oil based on the assumption that scarcity will lead to greater prices.

• Institutional investors, protecting themselves of a weakening dollar, are buying not only oil but also gold, platinum, copper and other raw materials.

Just two of the factors cited by Gustavo Coronel in a column in Human Events in describing the perfect storm that has created ever incresing oil prices. I highlight these because they are my own bete noire. Mr. Coronel is himself doubly interesting. A petroleum geologist who lost his seat in the Venezuelan parliament thanks to Chavez, he would seem to know of what he writes. Particularly depressing is the stark realization that some of the largest producers are inimical to the United States. His prognosis is pretty grim.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm Not the Only One

from Anne Coulter's latest column in which she also seems to have picked up Obama's ability to reframe the discussion. Here she anticipates his version of "detente" with Iran:

Perhaps in the spirit of compromise, Obama could agree to let Iran push only half of Israel into the sea. That would certainly constitute "change"! Obama could give one of those upbeat speeches of his, saying: As a result of my recent talks with President Ahmadinejad, some see the state of Israel as being half empty. I prefer to see it as half full. And then Obama can return and tell Americans he could no more repudiate Ahmadinejad than he could repudiate his own white grandmother. It will make Chris Matthews' leg tingle.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Time for a Change?

Perhaps, but certainly not by lending countenance to a murderous, illegitimate regime, which even now plots against our interests by fanning the flames in the entire Southern half of our hemisphere and which has made a half a century avocation of denouncing the United States.

What all of the wouldbe talkers fail to see is that the regime has not softened one iota in its rhetoric, let alone its repression, and has not expressed a single inclination to talk to us. Listen to their demands. They demand a unilateral lifting of the "blockade." There is no talk of rapprochement, not even the slightest hint of movement on the human rights front, aside from the hoopla over signing the human rights accords, signing only.

Despite media reports, there have been no "olive branches" extended. In fact, every time the United States has attempted to thaw relationships, the Cuban regime has put the kibosh on it. Don't believe me. After preliminary efforts by Nixon, Ford came close to normalizing relations, until Cuba sent troops to Angola, that is. Reagan and Carter, too, attempted to deal with the regime. Each time, Cuba returned the favor with a further provocation. Moreover, it is disingenuous to pretend that there is not communication going on behind the scenes.

Face it, the regime has no incentive to make nice with us. Are they going to negotiate their way out of existence? Based on their performance, how many in the "government" would get elected in a free and fair plebiscite? The military in particular is not going to turn. Few seem to realize the absolutely diabolical genius of how Raul set things up. Since the military runs practically all of the viable business on the island, particularly tourism, the generals have a vested monetary, as well as political, interest in the status quo and the arms and men to maintain it.

It is time for change, sure. As Cuban Americans we have been bested by the regime because we tend to be honest and forthright in our positions, sometimes too blunt, too empassioned. We are like boxers who swing wildly at the opponent. They, on the other hand, are shameless, calculating liars, expert cynics. It seems to me that we need to change not our policy but our rhetoric. The regime is, I believe, in dire straits. We can offer them a way out in which they can save some face, which they cannot accept, as cynically as they would.

For instance, instead of the punitive way in which we address the issue, why on the announcement of the death of the surely putrescent fidel, whether nominally living or dead, should the United States not be the caring, compassionate good neighbor, who would on the basis of our own economic success love to help them "streamline" their economy, once the little difficulty of outstanding liabilities is settled and the "government" has taken steps to enact the provisions of the human rights accords they have signed? Why not congratulate them on joining most of the rest of the world in signing these and anticipate that they will live up to them? Why not with our reasonable rhetoric show them up to the rest of the world? I understand that most them already know, but they will no longer be able to run around admiring the dictatorship's new clothes.

Sure, it's time for a change, a change in which we frame the narrative so that we can no longer be portrayed as the big bully attempting to impose our will on a hapless Cuba. And who knows, miracles do happen all the time, or so I'm told.

Monday, May 26, 2008

What May be Coming

For a while now, disturbing hints have been coming from Cuban bloggers and independent journalists of an incipient crackdown by the regime. One well known opposition member has likened the current atmosphere to that just shortly before the Black Spring arrests. Not lost on Cubans is the castroite penchant for holding back, even inviting criticism, in order to identify their enemies.

That established, yesterday there was a violent raid on the home of well-known dissident Jorge Luis "Antuñez" Garcia Perez so large that it has actually hit the AP. Perhaps not so co-incidentally, Antuñez was one of the opposition members who spoke to President Bush recently.
The full frontal assault was no doubt intended to send a message, as all were eventually released.

There is an interesting subtext here. 30 people were rounded up in that raid, 30 people who knew they were risking their well being by joining together to remember one of the most symbolic figures in the Cuban struggle for freedom: Pedro Luis Boitel. That more than a dozen or so were together is indicative of the gently swelling numbers of people willing to take a stand against oppression. When the Washington Post recently posted a dismissive story about Cuba Solidarity day referring to a "scattering" of events marking the day, they missed the real story. At least twelve of those were in Cuba itself. With the "Agenda for the Transition" and other similar initiatives, the Cuban opposition is starting to take the first steps toward co-ordinated action.

Marc at Uncommon Sense has the details of the raid and a link to the story of Boitel.

On Memorial Day

Standing in a park in Philadelphia underneath a pergola I had sought out for shade, I stumbled upon a sign reading, "the men buried beneath your feet died for your freedom." It was a Revolutionary War burial site. The men buried here are the proud and tragic heirs to that mantle.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

About that Obama

Whatever you do, don't look in his eyes! aaargh! I'm really starting to wonder about this Svengali effect. First it was CANF, now the Damas en Blanco or Ladies in White who have written an open, rather supportive, letter to Mr. Obama. Reading it, it did not seem an open endorsement of his candidacy as one commenter at Babalu deemed it. At the same time that they wrote it at all is a de facto endorsement.

All of which makes my hair stand on end. I'm not particularly concerned with Obama's sudden election year epiphany about the embargo. As long as he keeps to the terms of the deal: "I'll maintain the embargo if you vote for me," there is nothing practically wrong with a politician moving to meet the needs of the electorate, not to mention that he needs congress to lift it.

My fear is that he will continue to practice direct diplomacy with Cuban Americans all the time he sells us down the river. He will continue to talk a good game while he lifts restrictions against family travel. Well, now your average Americans, already feeling left out and smarting from all the tropical fun the Europeans are having, are going to want to jump in the pool, too. Then, it will be business's turn. Before you know it, all sanctions will be lifted, and Cuba will be no more free than it is today. And every step of the way President Obama (God forbid!) will be there to reassure us that he really cares about freedom for Cuba. We need no further proof of this decided possibility than the way in which he has successfully managed to turn a major gaffe in a debate answer into the linchpin of his stated foreign policy.

I never thought I would live to see the day when this country would be enmeshed in the throes of the cult of personality. That Cuban Americans should fall for this snake oil boggles the mind. Have we learned nothing about pretty words and charismatic figures? Take a look at the candidate. He is young, has run nothing in his entire life, his only non political occupation seemingly that of a rather nebulous "organizer." Who are the friends we know about? There is the black power preacher, ranting about the evils of "White America" all the way to the bank and the $3 million dollar home. There is the unrepentant, self-indulgent radical who having failed at blowing up society is slowly poisoning it from within by teaching future generations of educators. There is the somewhat shady businessman through whom Obama obtained his house in deal worthy of some of the more odoriferous Macauliffe/Clinton transactions. And that's just the surface.

I begin to understand how my father must have felt all those years ago when he was one of the few who openly expressed his suspicions of Fidel. Tread warily, my friends, lest Obama make berracos of us all.

Sunday, Sunday

Monday morning gave me no warning.... Just when I'm getting really disaffected by his secure our borders' rants, O'Reilly comes through with this column. He cuts through the nonsense and offers a clear and pretty compelling list of suggestions to deal with the oil situation.

We don't need no education..... In this most excellent column, Suzanne Fields questions whether given the dismal state of education in this country, we are not rocking the ignorance instead of the vote. I always find it interesting that it is considered a good thing to drag young people from their college dorms and keg parties into a voting booth.

Hey! Hey! Get off of my cloud.... This piece asks whether "shunning" smokers helps. The answer, not surprising given that it's in that arbiter of political correctness, Newsweek, is "yes." I don't want to be ungrateful, given that Dr. Steven Schroeder (head of some Smoking Cessation place in CA) says we should hate the smoke, not the smoker. If knowing that I am killing myself, ruining my environment, and footing a monthly tab (combined) the equivalent of a car payment is not enough to make me quit, is not being able to go to Disneyworld going to do it?

Na, na, hey, hey, good bye.... Told you so. With the coming of age, comes wisdom, or so confirms a new book Progress in Brain Research. According to this Newsweek article, if old people are more distracted, it's because they have a lot more to remember.

There must be some way out of here.... Finally in a real life version of Open Water with a much happier ending, two divers, a Brit and an American were rescued after spending a night on the water after they became lost while diving. Read it here.