Saturday, July 26, 2008

Here's a Quote

"There are a lot of people on the street who talk about change, but we haven't had even one economic or political reform that counts, nothing we hoped for with Raul," said Oswaldo, a 69-year-old retired construction worker. He declined to give his last name, saying, "Being able to openly criticize things is something else we can only hope for."

Cuban in an AP piece about the 26th in Cuba.

Friday, July 25, 2008


A friend went to Key West and all I got was this bottle!

He Went; They Saw; I Yawned

Granted I'm immune in the main to the Obamaesque rhetorical flourishes, but even so I was rather disappointed in the Speech in Germany, although for a moment I was reaching for Left Behind, which I don't own. Passages like the following sent a frisson up my spine:

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

"Oh-oh," I said to myself, "one world government." My last Anti-Christ theory had Obama pegged as the evil one, but now- just for a moment- the thought rose in brain. This is how it happens, the rise of a single government....then....the mark of the beast. And I'm just a lapsed Catholic. Restored to sanity, I tried to pick out the phrase, the money quote. Alas, the closest I came was the "citizen of the world" bit. Who knew the Obama man was so continental?

In part, it's because here in the States we've heard quite a bit of it before, and in similar constructions. There's the hyperbole about saving the planet, which, if threatened, does not seem to be in imminent danger of implosion. There's the grandiosity: not content to address the Beriliners, or even the Germans, he piggybacks onto the historic calls of West Berlin to "People of the World." Then he goes in for one of his favorite devices: repetition. Varying between "people of the world" and "look at Berlin," he really hits his stride. He finishes off with this insistence on "remaking the world." I guess the United States is not world enough for him.

It's very nice that he drew 200,000 plus Germans. But he's not running in Germany. And that constraint limited his speech. Think back, the other two famous Americans who gave the touchstone speeches were sitting presidents. As Merkel indicated when the campaign wanted to have the event at the Brandenburg gate, it would be like a candidate for German Prime Minister holding a rally at the Statue of Liberty.

Call me, crazy, but it doesn't seem wise to campaign in Europe for the American Presidency. We might like them, but we don't necessarily want to be like them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Half-Helping of Crow

Yesterday, I complained about the coverage of Cuba in the Christian Science Monitor. Today on Babalu, Val apprises us of quite a different article in said paper. In addition, there is a rather moving article on an independent library, a subject near and dear to my heart. So, well done.

Frankly, that is all I ask. While I can spot the fallacies in yesterday's entries, they are at least balanced by the tenor of today's. It would be nice if it were all accurate, but as human beings we are fallible. What would have been even nicer would have been to have both published on the same day, but to get even a smidge of truth in the MSM media is progress.

Of course, some of the quoted individuals are anti-embargo activists, but as they refrained from commenting on same, it was honky dory. Have to wonder if they paper knew their position, though.

Meanderings: Forget Global Warming

The weather today reminds me of The Swamp, a most excellent book about the Everglades in marked contrast to the classic The Everglades: River of Grass, the reading of which I found somewhat sleep-inducing. Hey, I know, it's just my experience, and I'm a tenement child at heart. Anyway, last night's forecast of another 7 days of "scattered thundershowers" reminds me of those poor, unsuspecting folks who bought land in the 'Glades and built farms, only to find themselves underwater a few years later.

See, the thing about Florida weather is that it sometimes tends to be feast or famine, although our more typical pattern would be sunny with a 50 percent chance of rain in the afternoon. But sometimes, like a few years ago, we came off a rather serious drought into literally forty days and nights of rain. It rained nearly our yearly total of rainfall in two months. Needless to say, about day 20, things began getting a bit water-logged, including the ground into which our septic tanks leached.

Hopefully that pattern won't be repeated this year, although we are coming off of a drought, and it has been raining a bit. You see, I forgot to mention the worst of it: Red Tide. If the pattern holds, we may soon feel its approach. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is There An Agenda Here?

The Christian Science Monitor, which has in the past published questionable articles about the Cuban situation, has outdone itself with a series of articles: "Cuba: Winds of Change." First it sees Cuba under Raul, perhaps creeping toward capitalism, at least that's the headline of this entry would seem to promise. Funny thing is that in all of the discussion of the illegal gym in the parking lot at the center of the piece, the author manages to avoid ever mentioning the recent crackdown on the same types of businesses. Remember the subversive barrette factory? To portray this as the wave of the future is disingenuous at best. Cuba may well be on a tortuous path to capitalism, but it will get there in spite of the machinations of the current powers.

Not content with presenting a skewed view of present conditions, the paper now takes on the mythical "generational divide" of Cubans in this one. Maybe, they're hoping it'll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As yet, I have seen no hard evidence that the younger generation is willing to lift the embargo, hold hands, and sing kum-ba-ya with the Cuban Capos. I gotta wonder if all these journalists have a wijja board or something. Maybe Joe Garcia dons a turban and pulls out a crystal ball.

And no presentation of the great and glorious future awaiting Cuba is complete without that ubiquitous Florida rancher and cheerleader John Parke Wright. In a side bar, he tells us how encouraged he is by the new business spirit on the island and how people like him should be allowed to restock the cattle industry. It's all the big, bad embargo, you know. Had Mr. Wright's livestock and land been stolen, you can bet he would be singing a different tune. But since it wasn't, he'd apparently deal with the devil, a devil that doesn't pay its bills by the way.

It is particularly galling that the resourcefulness they all laud as the sign of a changing Cuba is a harsh expedient forced on a captive population- desperate to eke out a living any way they can- by the system under which they live. Why, you might as well praise the healthiness of the diet forced on them by the scarcity of foodstuffs. But, wait, that's been done.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Call It Journalism?

I dog MSNBC quite a bit, so we'll let 'em have a bit of equal time so to speak. Here's Chris Matthews explaining his tingling leg remark. Context does make a difference. Still although I'll grant he's not an umpire, publically favoring one presidential candidate still looks unseemly to me. Note his use of "Barack."

Here's Andrea Mitchell demonstrating at least an iota of rumgumption in reference to the choreography of Obama's trip.

Easy as 123

Here are some figures to contemplate. We've all heard of the "blockade" maintained by the United States against poor, meek, and mild Cuba. Well, that's difficult to maintain in light of these figures. Let's try a few.

In 2007, the US exported 447.1 million dollars worth of foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals to Cuba, making it the island's fifth largest supplier.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's Just a Cinematic Sunday

Shadow of a Doubt. By now we've all seen the fallout from "whinegate," as in Gramm resigning from the McCain campaign. Austin Hill in this article asks the question "Are we a nation of whiners?" Now for the person who has lost his job or business, the question is insulting, but if we move from the economy to the election.... Read it and think.

Torn Curtain. Jose at Cubanology brought this one to my attention. Seems that in Hollywood admitting you are a Republican, or just not a liberal, can be dangerous to your career health, or at the very least your social standing. So tell me something I don't know. Still, it's nice to see it in writing, and a few more closet pubbies were outed. Most interesting is Breitbart's analysis of the effect of this ideological rigidity on the product.

Notorious. In this one, Stuart Levine discovers that strong women in TV are labeled "bitches." Hallelujah! Funny thing is I love many of the characters he cites, particularly the sluttish Grace. You go, girl!

Foreign Correspondent. As Obama makes his previctory progression through Europe, there will be one corner of Prague forever Republican, or so you would infer from this profile of the
Mlynská Kavarná, or Mill Café. Charming.

The Birds. Actually more like the bees. Motorists on the Jersey Turnpike were assailed by bees. Was it a swarm of mad killer bees or the survivors of some radioactive mutation? Naw, somebody's hive broke according to the article. This all leads to the first comment that we should destroy all bees.

Lifeboat. Let's end with another list. An instructive one this time: 10 tips for the unwary about financial promises made on TV commercials. Duh. Actually, it's part of a larger 10 tips section that's pretty interesting.

...and for the bonus question....who were the directors?

I'm Mad as Hell and I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore!

I guess that's how Humberto Fontova was feeling when he wrote this. He reminded me with a longer version as I fumed on Babalublog over a piece. I know, I know, I shouldn't go there. Ah, but you have to keep your enemies closer. Don't think they're enemies of Cuban Americans? Take a gander at an excerpt from Humberto's article:

“Truly disgusting!” was how Bryant Gumbel characterized them a few years back. Last year Georgetown professor Norman Birnbaum, an advisor to three presidential candidates for America's majority political party, called them a “truly repellent” group. This past November, one of America's most influential newspaper (The Washington Post) and one that habitually endorses America's majority political party, ran a cartoon celebrating their expulsion from the country en masse.

In a nation where the mildest, most off-handed-- or even unwitting, see “black hole,” “niggardly”-- mention of ethnic traits commits the professional and social equivalent of a capital crime, the usual sniffers and snouters on ethnic sensitivity issued nary a peep against the blatant bigotry just mentioned, or in defense of the vilified ethnic group.

Pretty personal, I'd say.