Friday, April 17, 2009

Absolute Must Read Today: Bay of Pigs

Too often the MSM discusses the Bay of Pigs landing in terms of its failure. It may have been a failure in geopolitical terms, but it was as grand and noble as the charge of the light brigade. The extraordinary courage and efficacy of that small landing force, one thousand some odd, as it faced Cuba's Russian tanks, alone and abandoned by the US President, is truly awe inspiring. My hope is that one day, a Cuban American filmmaker will bring it to the big screen.

Perhaps no one succeeds in bringing the moment to life like Humberto Fontova. He has not disappointed this year. His depiction of the battle brought tears to my eyes. See, Cuban Americans don't see the Bay of Pigs quite the way their fellow citizens do. I'll leave you with a snippet that encapsulates how we feel, but do read the whole thing.

These things went on for three days.

The Brigada's spent ammo inevitably forced a retreat. Castro's jets and Sea Furies were roaming overhead at will and tens of thousands of his Soviet-lavished troops were closing in. The Castro planes now concentrated on strafing the helpless, ammo-less freedom-fighters men.

"Can't continue, " Lynch's radio crackled - it was San Roman [The Commander] again. "Have nothing left to fight with ...out of ammo...Russian tanks in view....destroying my equipment ...How can you people do this to us?" The radio went dead.

"Tears flooded my eyes," writes Grayston Lynch. "For the first time in my 37 years I was ashamed of my country."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Floridian's Quip

If the state is going to raise- the third increase in as many months- my cigarette taxes in the guise of user fees, they can increase revenues exponentially by doing the same for Twinkies, Big Macs, and Bud.

In Which I Reconsider an Opinion

Before Mr. Obama was elected, I was quite apprehensive that he would smile and smile at Cuban Americans, all the while giving away the store to the ruling military junta of Cuba. I now begin to suspect that he is actually glad handing the left by lifting minor restrictions and talking nicely while maintaining the embargo et al . Could be I was wrong.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dear Mr. O'Reilly

The following was sent in response to a discussion on the recent easing of restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba on The Factor:

Monica Crowley, Alan Colmes, and you, Mr. O'Reilly, all missed the most
salient point here. The entire rest of the world travels to Cuba and suns
on its beaches. To date, not a mojito-swilling sun bather has succeeded in
bringing about an iota of democratic change. Does it not seem a bit
arrogant to think that Americans are going to cause Raul Castro to rend his
khakis, break out his guitar, and start singing "kum-ba-ya"?

Updated: Just How Puerile They Are

For the record: I am proud of the thousands of my countrymen who registered their displeasure with the direction in which the country is going today. It is their right, and one might argue their duty. Apparently the CNN reporter in this video did not share my sentiments. A less professional display I have never witnessed.

That was until I glommed the Coulter column this week. It would seem that some MSNBC commentators have had great fun with the similarity between tea parties and a homosexual sexual practice. Not numbering proficiency in the terminology commonly used to describe male homosexual practices, aside from the obvious, amongst my many accomplishments, I did a cursory survey on the internet. (Warning: graphic content ahead) "Tea bagging" is the "dipping of one partners testicles into the mouth of the other." And this bears on the manifestations how? This is the best they could muster? This is professional television on a supposed news channel? What's next? Ca-Ca jokes? It only goes to reinforce the view that the people in charge of much of our society, i.e. the media, are stuck in permanent adolescence. Incredible.

H/T Alberto

Update: Not to be outdone, check out this clip from CNN's Anderson Cooper. Unbelievable

The Professor Speaks...or...Writes of Cuba

Seems Cubans have more than one friend at Yale. I knew about Professor Carlos Eire, author of the most moving memoir- Waiting for Snow in Havana- and staunch friend of Cuban freedom. But here is a commentary from another, Roberto González Echevarría, in which he indicates that Obama should ask for a bit of reciprocity from the regime. Most surprising of all is the venue here: CNN. My, is that a pig I see above me?

For me, the money quote:

My apprehension about enacting policies that will improve economic conditions on the island is that they will only serve to strengthen the white, male gerontocracy's grip on power. In totalitarian regimes with no transparency or input by the people on the allotment of funds, history shows that the ruling class keeps the lion's share. Cuba is no exception.

Read it for yourself here.

Cross-posted at Babalublog

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easing Restrictions on Cuba: A Bonanza for the Buzzards

Take that you intransigent hardliners! Chalk up another one for the ruling military junta. Not because as the media would have you believe, it is a sign of the eroding support for holding said misgoverning body accountable, but rather because it is a win-win situation for the Havana strongmen. They have gained untold millions without losing a single cog in the machinery of repression. Because of today’s announcement, tomorrow, no independent librarian is going to be able to enter a bookstore and buy a copy of Animal Farm. No newspaper is going to print an op-ed piece by Maria Beatriz Roque or Hector Palacios. Not a single prisoner of conscience is going to see the dawn a free man. Nothing has essentially changed. Well, almost nothing.

700 million dollars. That is the total of remittances sent to Cuba under the much maligned Bush rules which allowed Cuban Americans to send 1200 dollars a year-300 hundred a quarter- to relatives on the blighted island. Some calculate the figure at a billion dollars. Of that money, about 25% goes directly into the pockets of the regime in the form of a punishing exchange tariff. Ka-ching. The rest, as it makes its way to the street vendor, the black market, whatever, supplies desperately needed- since the country suffers from a chronic case of Marxist induced anemia- lifeblood to the economy. Ka-ching. Finally, by easing the pressure created by perpetual want on the regime…. Priceless.

Essentially, by lifting the restrictions on remittances, the American government has moved to provide a subsidy to the moribund Communist dictatorship. Yes, there are humanitarian considerations. No one is more aware of these. To us Cubans are not an abstraction. They have names: Nito and Berta and Fefa and Blanca and Juan. They have titles: Mami, Abuela, Tio, Prima. But there is a difference between sending over enough to keep the wolf from the door and feeding the beast.

As always seems the case, common sense never seems to inform our policies. The previous rules denied the importance of uncles, aunts, cousins, an important consideration now that the older generations are dying off. The new ones make dorming with a Cuban roommate a qualification for sending money. The limit on remittances under the old policy was generous for a population with an average income of 20 dollars a month. Under the new rules, I fear our tendency to get carried away and turn a seemingly beneficent gesture into financial bovine the likes of which fidel never even envisioned for his mini cow.

Tonight's Quip

"In America, they gave Obama the White House. In Cuba, they gave Oscar Elias Biscet 25 years in prison.''

Danbury attorney Rafael Pina in this NewsTimes article comparing the fates of two black men who sought change- Barack Obama and Elias Biscet.

A Virtual Tea Party Put Out of Business

The Republicans are offering virtual tea bags. Interested?

Mail is undeliverable at the moment. Guess they don't want to hear from you over at the White House and the Capitol.

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Which I Lament an Omission

Those of you who visit regularly will know that I am extraordinarily fond of Cold Case. Yup, that's the one with the cute Cuban. Surprisingly, however, I never know when the sucker is on, usually on a Saturday night, I thought. So last night, as I was watching Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman in his seemingly new buff body and wondering whether what Perez Hilton says is true. The guy's married, for Lord's sake! Oh, dear, let me finish that sentence: I not only missed a new episode, but I missed one based on a would be Cuban defector baseball player. It is not the first time the show has made an allusion to the situation, but they have always been pretty spot on before. Babalu has clips.

H/T Henry Gomez

Momentous Quote for the Evening

Targeting specific, identifiable persons or entities for unfavorable treatment, and transferring their assets to equally identifiable persons or entities, surely also raises equal protection [constitutional] issues.

-George Will from the aforecited column.

Monday Recap

Peter and Paul. It's been a long time since a George Will column has spoken to me. This one about taxing one group to specifically fund another group of citizens and its dubious constitutionality hits close to home. Is he writing about taxing smokers to provide health insurance for the children of others? No. The case he writes about is in Illinois. The principle holds.

One and Two. Another entry from Townhall is a feature about new media sensation Glenn Beck. Beck who's gone slightly off the reservation lately, and I write this as a longtime fan, is in actuality performing a great service for many of us. Beck vocalizes what we fear and should make it clear to the big government one world types that we will not go gently into that good night. Besides, the guy's funny.

Glitter and Gold. Just as the wires are burning up with this news, I'd like to offer a timely reminder with this. Amado Veloso Vega whose quest for freedom included a number of attempts to flee Cuba and resulted in the loss of both legs has graduated as a radiologist, walking on prosthetics donated by a Cuban American doctor. The doctor's only request was that he "stand as a role model of success." Talk about your insight into the Cuban American psyche.

Victory and Defeat. Here's one near and dear to my heart: a warm thanks to Patrick Nagle and all those who made the Sarasota "Fringe Festival" possible. Through a clerical error, over three hundred aspiring filmakers being rejected by the Sarasota Film Festival received a mass emailing. Story here. One thing led to another, and a new festival was born. I attended the last day and was thrilled to see real art in all its rawness. Bought my t shirt. Kudos, and I'm there next year.

Adam and Eve. From the Today Show comes the a listing of the 19 worst fast food meals. They probably taste the best, too. Nothing like your fat for your flavor. Take it with a grain of salt, I say. Two, that's two puns, or is it?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Reads: Some Light Fare for an Easter Sunday

I was comparing notes with a coworker the other day and happened to mention that I really enjoyed those fluffy, quirky whodunits set in the South, like those by Carolyn Haines and- to a lesser extent- Mary Kay Andrews. She clued me in to Mary Kay Andrews' alter identity of Kathy Hogan Trochek. The central stratagem in her earlier novels, the cleaning service with the unfortunate tendency of encountering corpses was to good to pass up. So I had to pick up To Live and Die in Dixie, apparently the second in the series. Couldn't resist. It was well worth the read. What more delightful way to pass the afternoon than to spend it with ex-cop Callahan Garrity, her mother, the assorted employees of "House Mouse' and the victim du jour? Truly enjoyable.

On a whole different level, but with the same feel, if a bit more grounded in African culture and human nature, was the Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. I felt I had to read it now that they were making a movie. I have to confess to being something of a snob. Ever the individualist, I refuse to climb on the bandwagon for a book. If I don't catch it early on, I may never read it. If they make a movie, I never will. Alas, it took me a year to read the first Harry Potter, fortunately before the movie. I really do have to work on it.

Because of this character flaw, when it became a smash hit with the book club set, I resisted reading the adventures of Precious Ramotswe in her newly minted detective agency in Gaborone. I was the poorer for it. This one is sweet and entertaining. The innocence and basic decency of Precious does not keep her from carrying out her duty, African style. Unlike our literary gumshoes, the fledgling detective uses her knowledge of the way things operate to solve her cases. At times, there is a kind of irony as the reader is left to wonder just how effective she has been. The copious amounts of bush tea ladled out by her secretary, bearer of the distinction of having scored a 97 on the typing test as we are advised frequently, are just part of the affectionate local color here.