Friday, July 24, 2009

So Sad

When the Congressional Black Caucus took its junket to Cuba earlier this year, they were criticised by Conservative pundits for failing to include a visit to the prison cell of Oscar Elias Biscet in their itinerary. The Capos in Havana are quite good at hiding the true face of their regime from the rest of the world. The case of Dr. Biscet, however, is one that speaks volumes about the true nature of their crimes.

Jailed as a threat to the government, sentenced to 25 years in a hell hole, Biscet's crime was to believe in the dignity of the human being and to demand that the government respect that dignity. For this crime, he has been jailed since 2003. Recently, Rudy Mayor over at The Politics of Freedom has posted some of a letter written by Dr. Biscet. Those words speak volumes about the man:

"Today, on the eve of my 48th birthday, I write these lines from prison cell #1232. If this testimony from the box where I have been unjustly forced to live for almost 10 years now is of some interest to mankind, then publish it.

When I began advocating the philosophies of Gandhi and Thoreau, I remember those who commented that I would soon begin walking through the streets of Havana in a loincloth like Gandhi. Upon hearing these insults, I'd simply smile, as surely I would soon be subjected to this condition -- not in the streets of Havana, but in the indefinite confinement that I would face for such advocacy. Those that resorted to such insults, seeking to humiliate me, would not be mistaken after all, but it is through the humiliation of a man in loincloth that human dignity is reflected over barbarism.

When you ask me how I am doing, and I tell you that I am resisting, it is because the environment I find myself in is too brutal for any civilized man imprisoned for promoting ideas of love, the respect for human rights and the defense of life. Yet, I thank God as I awake every day, for in this dark and lonely cell, I know He is with me."

- Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Cuban pro-democracy leader and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience serving a 25-year sentence, in a letter to his wife and the world.

Tomorrow students in Washington DC will be doing their part to help. Read about it here.

h/t Jose at Cubanology

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Morning Miscellanea

Facts and Figures. In this WSJ article, Mort Zuckerman- a man I respect- informs us that things are worse than they seem. Aside from backing up Biden's assessment of the economy, he sees the need for a real stimulus, one that consists of infrastructure projects. You decide.

Fact and Fallacy. Bill O'Reilly takes on Palin critics over at Townhall, arguing that the attacks are meant to marginalize Palin, but more importantly to neutralize growing criticism of the growing government takeover of everything. I know he didn't just realize it's a left/media braintrust at work. I suspect he was trying to be fair to the new administration, but he's a little late to the fair, nonetheless. Read it here.

Fact and Feature. Over at National Review, David Kahane presents a series of comparisons that range from Entourage to Gone With The Wind, culminating in a parallel between the One and Evita of "Don't cry for me, Argentina" fame as the basis for a remake of the original show. Somewhere in "their," he manages a few well-aimed swipes at Sotomayor. Most notable for the prodigious number of modifiers. Silly, but point well-taken.

Fact and Fancy. Looking for something to do? Hop on a plane to Afghanistan, take a dangerous 7 hour car ride, and visit the Bamiyan, the site of the blown up Buddhas. Kid you not, according to FoxNews here, the government is gearing up, hoping to lure tourists the well-known site. They've got something there, but one can't help thinking they may have jumped the gun a bit.

Fact and Freak. It's alive! Yup, a mysterious blob up in Arctic waters, which stretches for miles, has turned out to be living, a massive bloom of algae. Read about it at Time. Also of interest is the nugget that the Maine coastline has been besieged by Red Tide, another algal bloom, one I know something about.

Fact and Factoid. Reading McCourt's obit, I came across this list of "100 all-Time Best Novels." For once, I've read a fair number of them. My vote for one and two positions, All The King's Men and Crime and Punishment. I'm pretty catholic in my tastes. (This last is an allusion to one of my favorite plays.) Tata.

Frank McCourt: Sad News

News is that Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes, has passed away. I can still remember the God awful scenes in the book when his father would wake up the children in the middle of the night upon his return from the local pub and make them sing the Irish National Anthem or some such. I remember my mother, who read the book twice before she died, saying that it seemed like fiction, the way one calamity after another would befall the family.

May he be in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows he's dead.

Quote for the Evening

This one in which he describes his an encounter with Walter Cronkite from Kevin D Williamson in the National Review Media Blog.

It was the sort of experience that is tediously familiar to conservatives: You meet somebody who starts ranting in the most intemperate fashion about conservatives and/or Republicans, and it is clear that they cannot imagine that they might be speaking to one. (Harry Stein has a book out about this curious phenomenon.) Mr. Cronkite took it for granted that his opinions were shared, and shared because they were self-evidently true, and that seems to me to be the main defect of the media culture that holds him up as a hero.