Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not So Comic Relief

First off the bat, CANF is complaining that the US Government is curbing Cuba aid, at least according to this article. Actually, the government is not curbing the aid as much as to whom it can go. Their point: if the aid is targeted at a family member, it is a "remittance." If it is "humanitarian," it cannot be sent to a specific individual. Petty as it seems, it does address the problem of the hurricane victims who have no one in the US.

Then despite the disastrous effects of the recent hurricanes, the Cuban Capos expect tourism to rise 13% next year. Sure, if you count the relief workers, or maybe they intend to run Pompeii type tours. Article in Spanish at the Miami Herald here.

My favorite, though, is the announcement that North Korea and Cuba have signed protocols to "exchange goods." Since the "People's Republic" has an even worse (if possible) economy than Cuba, it would be laughable to contemplate what "goods" they intend to exchange, except the North Koreans do have one technology that once interested the Commission in Havana?

Finally, if you're in the Palm Springs area, you might want to go see Peter Moruzzi who signing his book about, you guessed it, precastro Cuba. I haven't seen it yet, but either way, it should be interesting. The title is Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground, or as my dad would say, "cuando Cuba reía." A few details here and a bit about the book here, including the comment from "Three guys from Miami." Note the difference between the Library Journal review, which makes it seem a companion book to Havana Nocturne (sign of the cross), as does the website here. The comment, however, is more in keeping with what I've been reading. Anybody out there read it? I'm still in the middle of the Bacardi opus.

Tap Dancing on the Edge of Financial Oblivion

I haven't been posting as of late, because the economic and political tension is so enervating. But what I'm hearing about the negotiations in Congress is the last straw. Despite my aversion to the intrusion of the government into business, I support the bailout, although I would dearly like that Wall St bigwigs not only get no parachutes but have to return bonuses earned while they were leading their enterprises into perdition. Don't look like that's going to happen.

What I do know is that time is of the essence. If they dally too long, whatever they ultimately pass will be too little, too late and we will head for the next great depression. That is what I fear. And need I remind you those Americans were tough. One can only imagine the present generation. So what are our elected representatives doing? Well, yesterday I was angry at the conservative Republicans who were balking and making noises about the government insuring, making it easier for private equity, etc, palliatives that not only will not work but will allow the snowball to keep rolling.

Then I read politicians are actually putting pork on this bill. Rumor had it that Biden put money in for Dover Air Force Base. And now I hear that the Democrats are using this emergency bill as the occasion for demanding that union reps sit on the boards which decide executive compensation. And the one that really got my goat- that a portion-the figure mentioned was 20%- of taxpayer monies recovered go to ACORN. You know that Democrat leaning, voter registration, maybe irregularities, Obama associations ACORN. Not a penny. Start a whole new flippin' government bureaucracy but don't give any more taxpayer money to a partisan player. That is taxation without representation, perhaps because there are 9 Democrats closeted with 2 Republicans.

It is disgusting. It is beyond disgusting. It is vile to use an emergency to advance your agenda, to endanger further the economic well-being of this country in order to push your partisan views. If ever a situation demanded only the minimum necessary to staunch the bleeding, it is this one. But they just can't help themselves. Perhaps it is time that we help them out the door.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mom's Cuban Proverbs and More


Mom's Proverbs:


Eramos pocos y pario la mula.
(There weren't enough of us already, and the mule gave birth.)

Casamiento y mortaja del cielo baja.
(Marriage and mortality fall from heaven.)

Comen harina y erutan pollo.
(They eat grits and burp chicken.)

Sarna con gana no pica y si pica no mortifica.
(A rash when desired doesn't itch: and if itches doesn't mortify.)

Hasta la ciruela pasa.
(Even the prune passes. Works on a double pun, because pasa also means dried fruit.)

Si la cosa no tiene remedio porque te preocupas, y si tiene remedio porque te preocupas?
(If the situation cannot be remedied why do you worry; and if it can, why do you worry?)

No llores como mujer lo que no supiste defender como hombre.
(Don't cry like a woman what you didn't know how to defend like a man.)

En el reino de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey.
(In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.)

Mono vestido de seda, mono sigue.
(A monkey dressed in silk is still a monkey.)

Ningun mono se ve su rabo.
(No monkey sees his own tail.)

No hay mal que dure cien años, ni cuerpo que lo resista.
(There is no ill that lasts a hundred years, nor body that will survive.)

No hay mal que por bien no viene.
(There is no ill that doesn't result in good.)

Un (deleted) hala mas que una yunta de buey.
(A part of the female anatomy has more pull than a team of oxen.)


Dios le da barba al que no tiene quijada.
(God gives beards to the chinless.)

Algunos nacen bajo una estrella; otrs estrellado
(Some are born under a star; others smacked by the stars.)

Dad's Proverbs:

Mejor cabeza de raton que culo de leon.
(It's better to be the mouse's head than the lion's ass.)

Cuando estas montado en el burro tiene que seguir para alante.
(When you're on the donkey, you have to ride it.)

Perro que ladra no muerde.
(A barking dog doesn't bite.)

Jose Reyes has a bunch of Cubanisms at Cubanology here. If you have more out there, leave them in the comments. They don't have to be Cuban. My next proverb post will be a tad more catholic.

Meanderings: Can't Get Enough

The sounds of the Love Unlimited Orchestra issuing from the multiple speakers in the midlife crisis sports car bring me back to a nineteen seventy something Chevy Monte Carlo with my pal, Rosemarie P, whose dancing as we sing along results in a pattern of rhythmic and sudden braking, a frenzied automotive palsy. God knows what the pedestrians think. The bunny pink lip gloss stands out against Roe's tanned skin, and her skinny tube top threatens to expose the only part of her that's not underdeveloped.

It brings me back, as I wait for the husky tones of Barry White. But, no, this is an instrumental. Sounds like Muzak. No matter. Sarasota's Lite FM... I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I've gotten in the habit of listening to the station. See, it's like this. The country station gets all staticky if I put the rear defrost on, and given the conditions in the environs of my house in the AM-malarial swamp- well, I've had to move on. No matter about Barry, though. They play him every morning, not just any song but "Can't Get Enough of Your Lovin'." The words have all come back. There was a time... there was a time I knew the words to most of his songs and not because I bought his albums.

It was nineteen seventy something, and I was in St. Maarten with my best bud and her family. It was a sleepy little place in those days, at least on the Dutch side. Young and adventurous, we sought other young people in vain. The one disco on the island at the time had three locals in it, all of whom worked there. So we had to resign ourselves to vacationing in a honeymooners' paradise. Actually, though, it did turn out to be a lot of fun, except when I almost drowned in six feet of water while scuba diving. Doubtless because of all of the cigarette smoke I had been exposed to I ran out of air. I gestured to Elton, our dive guide, and he lent me his spare regulator so I could buddy breathe. I purged the thing and took a big gulp of...water! Directly above me, so close, was the sky, full of wonderful life giving air, and I was going to die, drown right here. How embarrassing. I obviously survived via the expedient of holding my breath, but that was the beginning and end of my diving career. After all, that was after I had trouble getting down to the bottom. My whole body strained downward, except for my ample orange and white striped Cuban posterior, which I have on good authority bobbed up and down in the waves. I won't even go into putting fire coral down the side of my bikini.

Anyway, I promised Barry White, and Barry White we shall have. The island was really trying. It had a radio station which was housed in a little shack on a hilltop over the shore. We could see it from our hotel. The single radio station had one single eight track. Yup, Barry White. We listened to Barry White incessantly for eight days and seven nights. Maybe, it sounds like torture, and it kinda felt like it at the time, but, heck, now it sounds pretty damn good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Senator's Story and a Father's Dream

As I finish Senator Mel Martinez's biography, A Sense of Belonging, tears cloud my eyes. It is the epilogue that has done it. Having grown up feeling like a second class citizen, I know all about "a sense of belonging." For much of the book, I have envied his magical childhood in Cuba, a place where he belonged. Then I have thanked my lucky stars that I grew up in the US, as I read the very lonely and scary predicament he found himself in as a Pedro Pan. But all along, I have known that at least for Martinez, the story has a happy ending. It is when I get to the epilogue that it hits me full in the face. No matter how well we assimilate, how successful, or "American," we never forget. And as those first generations disappear, his words are my words are the words of countless others:

Though he is gone, I have continued to dream my father's dream as well. It's a dream shared by millions of Cubans. I dream that someday I will walk with my family beside me, and with my dad's spirit to guide me, in a free Cuba where the people live under a just government and are free to worship as they choose and to live as they desire. America made a great dream come true for me and for my family, and I trust God will make the enduring dream of a free Cuba, which I still share with my father, come true as well.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A USAID Press Release: Without Comment

From USAID Administrator, Henrietta H. Fore: Humanitarian Assistance to CubaSaturday September 20, 11:03 pm ET

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Cuba has suffered great damage from multiple hurricanes since the end of August. In response, the U.S. government has offered -- on four separate occasions -- to provide the Cuban people with up to $5 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to those in dire need. Some of this assistance will soon arrive through relief and humanitarian organizations on the ground. More is needed to help the Cuban people in the aftermath of these disasters.

Yesterday, the U.S. government made a fourth unconditional offer of aid: to provide relief supplies composed of family emergency shelters and household kits directly to Cuban relief services. Some of these kits include roofing materials and lumber for residential repair which will assist up to 48,000 Cuban people affected by the hurricanes.

Our offers of direct assistance are unprecedented. The American people want to help the people of Cuba. We want them to have critical assistance now. Moving humanitarian assistance to those who desperately need it should be everyone's top priority. The American people stand ready to help.

Note: This hurricane season has also devastated the neighboring island of
Haiti. The U.S. government has mobilized nearly $30 million for
food, shelter, water, and relief commodities (hygiene kits, water
jugs, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, and cooking materials) for
the people of Haiti. Just last week, to facilitate the movement
and distribution of emergency relief supplies, the U.S. government
pledged $2 million for emergency repair to key bridges and roads.

FACT SHEET

U.S. Offers New Direct Humanitarian Aid to Cuban Government; Humanitarian
Organizations Set to Move U.S. Aid to Cuba

The U.S. Government has made a fourth offer of critical humanitarian assistance to the people of Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. In response to Cuba's humanitarian needs USAID is moving forward to provide up to $5 million in emergency relief to Cuban hurricane victims through international relief agencies and non-governmental organizations.
In summary, the U.S. government has officially offered assistance to Cuba on four separate occasions:

September 3, 2008: The U.S. government issued a disaster declaration (on
Hurricane Gustav) and provided $100,000 in cash
relief assistance to humanitarian organizations on
the ground.

The U.S. government also offered to provide a
humanitarian assessment team to assist in producing
rapid emergency assessments of health, sanitation,
water, shelter and food.

September 12, 2008: The U.S. government provided an additional $100,000
(on Hurricane Ike) in cash assistance to relief
organizations on the ground, and affirmed our
intention to channel assistance through international
organizations. The U.S. government reiterated its
offer to provide a humanitarian assessment team.

September 13, 2008: The U.S. government announced up to $5 million in a
relief package that included an unconditional offer
of humanitarian assistance to benefit 135,000 Cuban
hurricane victims. Despite the Cuban Government's
rejection of this offer, international relief
agencies and non-governmental organizations will
receive U.S. government funding for emergency relief
assistance.

September 19, 2008: The U.S. government offered to unconditionally
provide additional relief supplies directly to Cuba
relief services at a value of approximately $6.3
million. These supplies are composed of family
emergency shelters and household kits which will
assist up to 48,000 Cubans affected by the
hurricanes.

The U.S. government will continue to monitor the situation in Cuba. For more information about USAID and its programs go to www.usaid.gov .

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years.

Public Information: 202-712-4810

www.usaid.gov
(Boldface mine)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obligatory Boomer Bashing Quote

What the Greatest Generation handed down to us -- the richest, most powerful, most self-sufficient republic in history, with the highest standard of living any nation had ever achieved -- the baby boomers, oblivious and self-indulgent to the end, have frittered away.

-from the Buchanan piece cited below. Got to love the "frittered."

Sunday Tenets

The Third Law of Motion. Patrick Buchanan weighs in on the whole financial mess with an obituary of sorts over at HumanEvents. Lest you get too down, over at TownHall, Larry Kudlow has a piece reminding us of the resilience of this country. Neither one of these commentators is one I tend to subscribe to, since I consider Buchanan something of a racist and Kudlow too much of a Pollyanna. Still, both are true. And as a final public service, read how the New York Times advises safeguarding your money.

The Law of Opposites. Since politics is never too far away these days... I have been pleasantly surprised to find among the pages of Newsweek, the work of a reporter by the name of Andrew Romano. Read his column about the low blows being landed in which he avoids glib answers and actually tries to get at fact. Amazing. Watch this young man.

Murphy's Law. And in other news, the destruction of the world is going to have to wait a while longer. The infamous collider in Geneva has been damaged and will be out for at least two months. Mechanical failure.

Law of Averages. Because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there. Residents of Blackstone, VA are having a hard time convincing wild life experts that there are cougars roaming in their midst. Biggest problem, nary a one has been caught on the motion-sensitive cameras that "dot" forests in the East. Article here.

Religious Law. And in the ongoing jihad against tobacco.... Here's an interesting examination of smoking in Muslim cultures under the guise of the difficulties faced by tokers during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Enlightening