Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thought for the Day: A Query

How many of those voting for Obama realize that they are voting to "fundamentally transform" America?

I'll let Hugh Hewitt comment:

When Obama declared last night that it was five days until he "fundamentally transformed" America, he let slip just as candid a moment as when he told Joe about his plans to "spread the wealth," and as when Joe Biden told us to "Mark my words."

Meanderings: Spare My Feelings, Please

I'm standing on line for coffee at me local bookstore, when I hear the velvet tones of the "One" issuing from a cell phone behind me. It wasn't difficult to figure out the story, as OB had been in town the previous day. Apparently, Mom and/or Deb had been at the rally with the trusty cell phone and were now in the midst of reviewing their cinematography. They were so thrilled that it did not occur to them that someone, me, standing within earshot might not feel the same way. I turned and took in the duo, both tall, blond and somewhat horsey. From Mom's striped tailored shirt to her pressed khakis to her modish loafers, her appearance spoke money. A**, I thought to my self, you're the one that's gonna pay not me. Enjoy it. I couldn't decide if it was real money, in which case she could afford to donate to her favorite politician in the form of increased taxes. I suspected it was wannabe. Wonder how she's gonna feel in a few years.

Henry over at Babalu has been quoted as saying that he has been interested in politics since he was five. Some have mocked him. I understand. In Cuban American households, politics is the mother's milk of discussion. One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my father's lap with the Daily News in front of us. I just focused on the pictures, as I did the evening my uncle was forcefully kidnapped from Anguilla Cay, causing an international incident.

The point is that as a voracious reader and watcher of news, I find myself at loose ends. To describe the loathsome transformation that has overtaken the media as bias is the mother of all understatements. There is no limit to the scurrilous, the mean, the petty when it comes to this election. I've been giving Newsweek and Time a wide berth for some time now. Just reading the table of contents is repulsive. I don't read the tabloids. And I made the mistake of picking up Harper's the other day, figuring I would read the nonpolitical stories. I never made it past the editor's letter in which the most civil description of John McCain was that he was "senile."

I have been reduced to watching Fox and only Fox News these days. Their evening line up has been incredible recently. On the web, I float between Babalu and Drudge with the occasional visit to Townhall or NRO. Although reassured that there are still those who have not become pod people, I am saddened. This is not what I want.

I don't read or watch to have my opinions reinforced; I read and watch to learn about people, events, places to which I have no access. I learn to form my own judgements. And I am old enough to remember a time when I was a loyal subscriber of Newsweek, when I could even read the New York Times, the paper with a record at this point. Although to be perfectly frank, I only read the Sunday edition. The layout has always sucked. They no longer write for me. By becoming shills for the Obama campaign, they have lost a reader. Maybe, they don't care. Maybe they only want Democrat readers. Have the business brains given a thought to the effect on diminishing circulation? As it is, some of them already look like circulars.

I have been so turned off by the flouting of journalistic ethics, the patronizing ethos that I am so stupid that I must be instructed by those who never broke a sweat in their lives on whom to vote for president. It is beyond repulsive. I don't know who will win this election. However, it is the press that has lost; and in losing the press, the country has lost. How the mass of citizenry is to make educated decisions is beyond me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Today's Quote

Goes to the Governator:

"John McCain served longer in a POW camp than his opponent has in the United States Senate"

In the Cuba News: All Embargo All the Time

As we all know the yearly ritual of the UN vote against the embargo ended in the same result. This year, though, Perez Roque was particularly impassioned as he waxed eloquent, pointing out that the embargo is older than Obama. Also older than Obama is the oppression of the Cuban people by the Cuban Capos not mentioned by the same Perez Roque nor condemned by the UN. But that's nothing new.

Today's headlines, however, present an interesting proposition. Not content with the UN results, the "Latin American Leaders" at the IberoAmerican Summit in San Salvador on Friday also urged the repeal of the embargo because it hurts the Cuban people. Frankly, their concern for the wellbeing of the Cuban people has been less inspiring than conspiring.

On the very same page is a story about the Cuban regime owing Sherritt $393 million. Prospect of repayment looks shaky, although the debt will be "restructured." Sure is a lot of that restructuring going around. Sherritt is a familiar name here. As the story indicates in something of an understatement, Sherritt International is one of the "pioneers of foreign investment" in the country. Recently, they were in the headlines when they pulled out of a deal to develop Cuba's purportedly boundless offshore oil deposits.

Connect the dots. As at least one presidential candidate knows, it sure is easy to give away other people's money.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thought for the Day: A Query

LAPD Commissioner Bratton has endorsed Obama. When I worked for the government, we were not allowed to publicly support any candidate, even to the extent of bumper stickers, although the liberals invariably flouted that one. I used to joke about our lack of rights. So how come he gets to endorse Obama? I am presuming that the people who pay his salary include Republicans among their number.

The Barackomercial

I confess I watched the beginning. The hubster- with the fascination of the train wreck- insisted. I on the other hand make it a policy not to place myself in the sway of the Chicago Svengali, preferring to read his pronouncements, lest I get infected. Anyhow, I made it through the beginning in the heartland deco study and the first two stories before an impending fit of apoplexy made me race to the computer and the solace of the Babalu radio show.

Now, I don't want to seem heartless, but I am always suspicious of these hard luck cases. To wit, I'm thinking to myself that the first family whose distress was touted was maybe in no position to buy a suburban home. "But they have four children," the hubster remonstrates. "Yeah, and...," I reply. He was speaking to someone whose bed was the sofa of a three room rental apartment until we could actually afford the house in the suburbs. "And what about the vehicle?" I ask. Something tells me that's a 30 something thousand Ford SUV or mini van. I mean no disrespect, but life is full of hard choices.

Then there were the poor old folks who had their home paid off and were struggling to pay her medical bills. Now with an elderly and infirm geriatric relative in the family, this is something I know much of. I know how prescription drug costs can kill an entire lifetime's worth of work. I also know other things. For instance, joining a Medicare HMO or PPO basically renders most medicine free or cheap and cushions the donut hole. By the way, please remember that the Democrats voted against the Medicare prescription bill because it wasn't Good Enough! In the meantime, senior citizens watched their resources dwindle or had to decide between food or medicine. Back to the infomercial, even if these nice folk live in an area where one is not available, they can contact the drug companies who have very good programs for the economically challenged patient. Remember those commercials? Well, they're true. And if all you have is your home, there is always Medicaid. I hope that other than make hay of their distress, the Obama camp put these nice people in touch with resources. There is much that needs reform, but programs to help these people exist.

By that point, I took off, so I didn't see the others. I had expected to see people starving because they didn't have the resources, people trapped in areas with failing schools. What I saw were people who had other choices to improve their lives, whether they knew about them or not.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Over Hill and Tale

The ending of this article which posits San Juan Hill as emblematic of US-Cuba relations could have been written by the regime. Oh, wait, it probably was, at least indirectly. I'll dispense with the usual explanations, except to say that the comparison is oversimiplified and not quite accurate. Still, there is truth there, particularly the notion that the perspective of American History is different than that of even preCastro Cuba.

Like many of my generation, the Cuban history I know is a mix of American textbooks, familial retelling, and research. That's why the earliest chapters of Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause by Tom Gjelten which focus on the family and its ties to Santiago proves valuable. Mr. Gjelten attempts to convey the Cuban view of the American intervention and its results within the context of telling the story of los Bacardi. Doubtless a delight for students of history and Bacardiphiles, I've been unable to finish it in the one week time frame decreed by my local public library, even with fines. Still from what I've managed to read in the interim, it strikes me as an important book.

Translation: I can't vouch for his treatment of the brothers Castro. I leave you with this excerpt from the author's website:

Over many tellings, the Cuba story has hardened around a few stale themes—Havana in its debauched heyday or Fidel Castro and his dour revolution—and it has lost much of its vitality and wholeness. This book originated in my search for a new narrative, with new Cuban characters and a plot that does justice to this island that produced the conga line and “Guantanamera” as well as Che Guevara’s five-year-plans. I have tried to give a nuanced view of the nation’s experience over the last century and a half. Cuban history was not preordained. There were choices made and paths not taken, and the men and women who were excluded and then exiled deserve to have their contributions recognized, if only to understand why so many became so angry. The Bacardi saga serves all these purposes.

The New York Times reviewed it here.

Tony Hillerman: RIP

For me, the best writers are not necessarily those who make profound statements about the nature of life. I've lived long enough to forgo any instruction on the topic. The most enjoyable writers are those who create a microcosm, their own small world in addition to vibrant characters.

Tony Hillerman was just such an author. It was Hillerman who introduced me to the Four Corners region in the Southwest. What little I know of Navajo customs, crafts, and politics, I learned from his mysteries. Over the years, I have followed the career of his Joe Leaphorn through his wife's illness and death, through retirement, and any number of solved cases; as I have followed Jim Chee, a young man wrestling with his identity, torn between his heritage and the modern world.

Invariably Hillerman's books were well-plotted; his characters rich; and his setting, alive. If you like mysteries and haven't read one, treat yourself one Friday afternoon. As for me, I have lost some friends. Rest in Peace.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thought for the Day

Brent Crude hit $59.00 a barrel today. Does that mean global oil consumption has fallen to less than half? So much for speculators not being a major driver of meteoric oil prices.

Today's Absolutely Must Read

If you have not listened to the audio of the quote below, you really must do it. Just click on the headline at Drudge. It's not just one quote. I have repeatedly maintained that there is a difference between reform and reformation, and I don't think Americans are signing on for juryrigging the Constitution. In this column, Bill Whittle zeroes in on what is so terribly wrong in this election in three "circles of shame," each with at least one quotable quote:

On Obama's philosophy as explained in the audio-
We have, in our storied history, elected Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives and moderates. We have fought, and will continue to fight, pitched battles about how best to govern this nation. But we have never, ever in our 232-year history, elected a president who so completely and openly opposed the idea of limited government, the absolute cornerstone of makes the United States of America unique and exceptional.

On the discovery of the audio by a citizen-
I do not blame Barack Obama for believing in wealth distribution. That’s his right as an American. I do blame him for lying about what he believes. But his entire life has been applying for the next job at the expense of the current one. He’s at the end of the line now.

I do, however, blame the press for allowing an individual citizen to do the work that they employ standing armies of so-called professionals for. I know they are capable of this kind of investigative journalism: It only took them a day or two to damage Sarah Palin with wild accusations about her baby’s paternity and less time than that to destroy a man who happened to be playing ball when the Messiah decided to roll up looking for a few more votes on the way to the inevitable coronation.

On the repercussions of the audio-
This discovery will hurt Obama much more than Joe the Plumber.

What will be left of my friend, and my friend’s family, I wonder, when the press is finished with them?

Quote of the Day: This is What They are about to Elect

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

Barack Obama in a 2001 radio call-in interview. Boldface mine.
Borrowed from post on

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Through the Ages

Over the Hill. On Foxnews, we learn that middle-aged white women are driving up the suicide rate. Cause is as yet unknown. I have an idea that it may have to do with our appearance-driven, youth-venerating society compounding hormonal changes. But, heck, what do I know? Article here.

At the Top. On a brighter note, Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker builds an examination of late bloomers around the story of writer Ben Fountain. A "late bloomer," his recognition came at age 48 after 18 years of trying. With repeated references to Cezanne as well as Fountain, Gladwell makes the point that late bloomers rely heavily for funds and support on those around them. So that's it. He says a lot more, so read it if you're in a New Yorker mood.

Out of the Past. A biologist at the Grand Canyon has lost his life to plague, apparently the same one that wiped out a goodly portion of the European population in the Middle Ages. The means of transmission is thought to be from rodent to mountain lion to biologist, who seems to have contracted the disease while autopsying the cat. Just in case you thought the plague was eradicated. Read all about it here.

By the Numbers. In honor of our financial meltdown, I offer, courtesy of Fox Business News, what not do with the "10 Dumbest Ways to Go into Debt." And finally, to finish off on a high note, I present the RealClearSports' "10 Most Infamous World Series Moments." Go, Rays, go! (They are still playing, aren't they?)

Special Sunday Morning Election Edition

Class Warfare. Try this somewhat withering piece by Sam Schulman on why the Bill Ayers association has been so summarily dismissed. It does make sense. After all, it is mind-boggling that these two unrepentant types have been absorbed seamlessly into the upper echelons of the Chicago mainstream machine.

The Politics of Diversity. Class is just part of the reason Joe has been so savaged, as Carl Platt Liebau makes clear here. Joe- to the Democrats and the left- is incomprehensible. As she sees it, just as Clarence Thomas and Sarah Palin served as exemplars that nanny state philosophy is not the only valid one for African Americans and women and had to be destroyed, Joe presented a working man who wanted to make his own decisions. How dare he! The audacity!

Education Policy. I never thought I'd live to see the day. It is a horrendously sad state of affairs, when I have to link to Phyllis Schlafly, not because I think that Ayers will be sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom, but because this is the only bit I have found that concentrates on the effect Bill Ayers is having now. He is an irrelevancy and a wannabe. When confronted by O'Reilly's show, he demanded his private property rights and called the "pigs." His effect on young minds who don't know he is a poseur is an altogether different matter. He is more dangerous now that he ever was with his half-assed bomb making. Read it.

Market Economy. In my experience during election years, the market tends to run inversely proportional to the fortunes of the Democrat candidate. This year with all of the mayhem, it was hard to spot. Still, lately I was "suspicioning" that the market was reacting to the polls. Then here comes Charlie Gasparino on the first page of the NY Post. Those of us who follow the market know Gasparino as an ace financial reporter. Particularly scary in this article is the contention that Obama's ideology is trumping the advice of his own supporters. Savvy investors seem to be voting with their feet.

Next Election. Michael Medved here taps into my greatest fears about an Obama presidency, namely that much of the damage will be irreversible. As he phrases it, presidents may come and go, but "entitlements go on forever." His is not reform but re-formation. Read the column.

Come back for the regular Sunday edition later.