28 September 2008

Just A Thought

El compañero Fidel continues his ideological musings from the sidelines, yet it’s clear that the First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party and therefore, still Cuba’s leader has had a resurgence of health and influence of late.

As Raúl has remained out of sight, Fidel has been leading the ideological charge from his blog and his hard line sycophants in “La Mesa Redonda”

If in fact it’s Fidel who is writing, and I believe it is, it is clear that at least mentally, Fidel is dong much better.

And it leads me to ponder what kind of resources have been invested into his recovery.

According to Jesús Marzo Fernández an ex-regime functionary, Cuba has spared no expense in acquiring the latest and greatest equipment available to treat the tyrant, have a medical team at his disposal 24/7 and trying experimental procedures including stem cell treatments designed to help Castro regain his mental agility.

According to his sources, the regime has invested $48 Million in the tyrant’s health.

Let’s say that between Cuban hyperbole and the normal deterioration of information that happens when information is passed from person to person by word of mouth, that they have spent $20 Million. (ever play telephone in 5th grade?) That’s 4 times what the US offered to send to the hurricane battered island.

Habitat for Humanity can build a simple home for about $2,500. Assuming the regime’s 20% cut, that’s 6,667 homes that could have been built with the money that was used to keep Fidel writing his reflections.

6,667 families could have had shelter and we would have been spared…

…just a thought…

26 September 2008

Kindred Spirits

Sometimes I read the on-line newspapers and my head feels like its going explode. Like Marta La Cocinera says, “EHS-Exploding Head Syndrome-there’s a lot of that going around lately”

For example, why would the Cuban vice president, Ramón Machado Ventura, get THREE standing ovations at Harlem event? The fact is that this man has been an integral part of a regime that has oppressed its people for 50 years, a regime that is responsible for the death of over 100,000 of its citizens, a regime that is racist and rules as a white majority over a majority brown/black population running the island more like a slave plantation than a country doesn’t seem to matter.

It makes no sense.

But then again, you read about the Josh Howard disparaging the national anthem and about the event held for Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and you just have get a grip on you EHS.

It’s all about kindred spirits.

All these folks have something in common in that they reject American values and blame these values for everything that is wrong with the world,

When they hear a guy like Chavez or Ahmadinejad speak, it strikes a chord with them. It makes sense. Kind of like when Navin R. Johnson heard rock for the first time or when the clingers in flyover country listen to Sarah Palin.

Well, it’s Friday and I’m going over to buy some libations for happy hour with WaMu debit card…hopefully it still works or else I’m going to have a serious EHS relapse.

23 September 2008

The Trouble With Money

One of the inherent problems in relaxing the remittance limits to Cuba to deal with the aftermath of hurricanes Gustav and Ike is that not all Cubans have relatives in the US to send them money.

When you have a situation where one neighbor has cash and another doesn’t and both are equally desperate to feed their kids and survive, it can get hostile. Also, the majority of blacks in Cuba don’t have relatives abroad so it adds a race to an already unfair situation.

Because of this, I would prefer that the regime allow the US to reach all the hurricane victims. But, fat chance of that happening.

I have, unfortunately, experienced the conflict and confrontations that can happen after a natural disaster like a hurricane in Cuba when the necessities of life become scarcer with each passing day. Even between family members things can get dicey.

But in my experience, the real problem after the hurricane comes from the regime itself. The Cuban people tend to be generous and neighborly and share whatever they have with their neighbors. But, the Cuban regime is another story. It has a civil paramilitary civilian security arm which it regulates through the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, the CDR’s, These communist foot soldiers of the regime at the local level are the ones that control the neighborhood through fear and intimidation. These are not the most compassionate in the neighborhood. In fact they are usually the most bitter, envious and thuggish elements of society.

After a hurricane, more so than usual, they relish exerting their “power” by taking every advantage to be had for themselves and their friends while making sure that those that don’t sympathize with Fidel and his sick ideology get the short end of the stick.

Now how do these elements react when a “gusano” gets money and they, “the powers that be”, only get to wallow in their misery and frustration?

Here’s one example:

The diplomatic note went ignored amid several reports that Cubans receiving cash storm aid from an exile group in Miami were being threatened by state security.

Melba Santana, the wife of a political prisoner in Las Tunas, said that when she attempted to distribute some money to neighbors from $300 in storm aid sent by the Cuban American National Foundation, state security agents threatened to criminally charge her.

''Let's see how far they are willing to take this, how far they are willing to sacrifice people's suffering,'' Santana said in a telephone interview. ``It was a miserable little $10 I was giving out and people are in need.''

I certainly hope that this is an isolated incident and not a sign of things to come.

22 September 2008

Just The Facts:

From Henrietta H. Fore, USAID Administrator, here’s a summary of the steps taken by the US agency responsible for distributing US Aid and response to natural disasters, USAID.

The rest of the noise really doesn’t matter much.

If the Cuban regime refuses these generous offers, and continues to make unreasonable demands, there is little that the US can do to help the Cuban people short of a liberating invasion……We cannot force Cuba to take our aid.


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.

Here are some of the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s
thoughts on the subject:

The U.S. had $2 million in emergency supplies ready to go, pending a report from the usual assessment team about where help was needed. Not so fast, said Fidel. First, Havana refused to accept the aid because the assessment team is a "condition," and Havana can't accept help with strings attached. Washington offered to drop the assessment team and send the $2 million anyway. The regime still said "no." This time the problem was that Cuba can't take charity from a country with an embargo against it.

In a U.S. presidential election year, snowballs have a better chance in Havana than the nearly 50-year-old Cuban embargo has of being overturned in Washington. This week there was some good news, however, when the Bush administration announced that $1.65 million in
supplies will be distributed through nongovernmental organizations that work in Cuba. That Fidel will let that aid through is unquestionably a sign of Cuban desperation.

If the Cuban regime was serious about negotiating with the US about the relaxation of some of the sanctions currently imposed on the island, it would begin the process by accepting the aid and then talking.

Instead we get Fidel Castro himself warning in his blog that:

Any product that enters Cuba from the United States for a counterrevolutionary purpose must be returned or confiscated.

He does, however, prefer that you send cash:

Those who receive remittances from the United States can, upon paying the relevant tax, buy the regular rations at extremely low prices and also purchase goods in the hard-currency shops which sell products that are now significantly more expensive elsewhere in the world.

So there you have it, your marching orders, right from the horse’s mouth. Send him money. He needs the “relevant tax” and the profits.

19 September 2008

The Shoe Doesn't Fit Zapatero

Cranky old guy John McCain came to South Florida early this week.

When he was being interviewed on Miami’s Radio Caracol, he totally confused and angered the MSM with one of his answers.

McCain was being asked about the relationship between the US and the likes of Chavez or Morales. The MSM was of course disappointed that McCain didn’t volunteer to welcome Hugo Chavez to Washington and put him up in the Lincoln bedroom without any pre-conditions.(except maybe a suitcase full of cash…but that’s another post)

McCain was then asked whether he would meet with this blog’s “favorite” European, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spain’s very Socialist prime minister.

McCain reiterated his position:

"I will meet with those leaders who are our friends and who want to work with us cooperatively,"

But, but, pero…

The questioner tried to clarify, "Okay, but I'm talking about Europe - the president of Spain, would you meet with him?"

(actually, Zapatero is the Prime Minister of Spain, not the president)

"I will meet with any leader who has the same principles and philosophy that we do: human rights, democracy, and liberty. And I will confront those that don't,"

Said the cranky old white guy.

That was more than the MSM could bear. Why McCain seemed to be lumping Zapatero in with the likes of Chavez and Castro….surely he must have Bush disease from voting with Bush 90% of the time….(That’s the fun thing about the MSM they swallow a fake lure hook line and sinker and yet let the real worm get away…McCain is actually more like Ahhnold except he can’t lift his arms, he’s crankier and harder to understand…) and was having his own Parvez Musharaff moment. It’s must be ignorance, senility or both.

Does he not know who Zapatero is, that Spain is in Europe, that Spain is a NATO ally?

What a gaffe! The MSM marveled.

It’s interesting how a presidential candidate who gives away the store before his inevitable coronation as President of the World by announcing that he would meet with all our enemies without any preconditions, gets hailed for being an enlightened diplomat while McCain is seen as a dunce for even insinuating that even our allies should be held to some “liberal” standards before invitations are extended.

Zapatero was thrown in with Castro and Chavez by the cranky old white guy because he has earned a place in that trash heap of humanity by the actions of his very socialist government.

Since taking office, Zapatero has made it a priority to prop up the Castro dictatorship which directly affects the political and social stability of this hemisphere.

He has done so because of ideology and to protect the quasi-colonial business interests of Spanish companies in Cuba at the expense and exploitation of the Cuban workers.

His government reversed course and rather than continue as the advocate for the oppressed Cuban people in the European Union as the previous Spanish government had, it became the chief promoter of the Cuban communist regime in Brussels, working to lift sanctions and normalize diplomatic relations with the regime and promote “critical dialogue” with Havana.

When the cranky old guy said:

"I will meet with any leader who has the same principles and philosophy that we do: human rights, democracy, and liberty. And I will confront those that don't,"

He knew exactly who and what Zapatero is. Too bad the MSM doesn’t or what's worse, doesn’t want to know.

Zapatero and the Spanish know that the shoe, zapato, of a “leader who has the same principles and philosophy that we do: human rights, democracy, and liberty" doesn’t fit Zapatero and there will be no all-expense paid trip to Washington in his future in the unlikely chance that the cranky old white guy gets elected.

Maybe just some “critical dialogue.”


17 September 2008

Pretty Pathetic

More than a week after Hurricane Ike roared into Cuba leaving a path of devastation in its wake, Cuba’s new leader has finally shown his face in public.

Yes, Raúl Castro finally came out of his high and dry hiding place to personally inspect the latest damage to the island.

In some places, it’s hard to tell which hurricane caused the damage, Michelle, Denis, Wilma, Gustav, Ike or Fidel. The damage from any of these has never been fully repaired, so one can sympathize with Raúl for not wanting to show his face.

The international press has excused his lax, aloof attitude as his low-key style. I wonder what they would say if a leader of a representative democracy had acted as uninterested as Raúl has. But since he doesn’t have to answer to anybody, except maybe his moribund brother, it ultimately doesn’t matter.

And what words of wisdom, inspiration and comfort did Raúl Castro have for the Cuban people?

"There were places so affected (by the storm), like the island," Castro said in a report on state-run television.

But, he said, "they will be put back as before, and prettier."

Prettier. I like that word ... "pretty." I think I'll use it in a sentence.

Isn’t it pretty to think so…

US Gives The Regime "More or Less" What They Wanted UPDATED

The Castro regime has admitted that it doesn’t have the resources to reconstruct the damages caused by hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

The problem is that they don’t have the resources to reconstruct the damages caused by hurricane Fidel.

Before the two storms hit the island, Cuba was already a crumbling, deteriorating shadow of its former self.

Of course they don’t have the resources to rebuild. They don’t produce anything or create any wealth.

But anyway, the US has quietly worked out a deal with the regime to “sell” it “agricultural” supplies:

Bypassing its trade embargo on communist Cuba, the United States on Tuesday announced approving 250 million dollars in "farm sales" to Havana after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike devastated Cuba's crops.

The licenses for agricultural sales, which include food and construction materials, were approved after Ike lashed Cuba a week ago and "wood, a material essential to rebuilding, is included," read a State Department communiqué delivered to reporters at the US Interests Section in Havana.

The United States has decided to pay part of the ransom that the regime was asking. The regime wins again:

The bilateral breakthrough "is more or less what they (the Cubans) are asking for, not credit because our law does not permit it. That will have to be through third parties. The license includes food and wood," a US diplomat in Havana told AFP privately.

Right. More or less. Credit through “third parties”-Leahman Brothers maybe?

Without a doubt, the Cuban people are in dire straights and those of us who know how the regime operates, realize that for all intense and purposes the Cuban people are on their own. Even if one quarter of the US aid reaches the Cuban people, that’s one quarter more than they would have gotten from their “government”.

From what we’re hearing and from past experience, Cubans will be have to “buy” much of the foreign aid from the regime at the regime’s company stores. Keep in mind that the state owns all property in Cuba. So Cubans will be forced to buy the materials to repair the state’s property from the state at the state set prices.

Lest you think that that statement is just another exile rant here’s a quote form a Cuban government official from a Miami Herald article:

''In an eight-day period, two hurricanes struck us; that had never happened in the history of Cuba,'' politburo member Estéban Lazo told the Cuban media last week. ``Gustav affected the people in Pinar del Río, but Ike caused damage to the 169 municipalities. The country does not have sufficient economic resources, so we can't allow someone whose mattress was soaked or who lost a zinc roof tile or several planks of wood to demand that we replace each item.

``The mattress must be dried, the roof tiles must be replaced, the nails must be recovered and re-used to affix the wooden planks. Everything must be recovered. That's what the country is asking for today.''

I’m sure in the coming weeks we will be treated to an article by Anita Snow telling us how much we can learn from Cuba’s hurricane recovery plan because by “recycling” storm damaged materials to repair damaged state property, Cubans are not only teaching us the real meaning of community but also setting the example on how to be better global citizens by reducing the human footprint

AND....Here's a picture from the Miami Herald of a Cuban woman straighting out the "recycled" nails so they could be re-used to repair her blown out roof:

14 September 2008


Cuba is a devastated, hurricane battered island.

By the regime’s own admission, they do not have enough reserves to feed its people.

More than 500,000 homes have been destroyed which would cost $8 Billion to rebuild.

More than one third of the island is in darkness, without running water, food or hope.

And what is Cuban government’s response to all this misery?

Well, its number one priority is not to take care of the Cuban people, but to wage a propaganda war on the United States by saying that it doesn’t need humanitarian aid, but credit-which means to relax the series of trade sanctions commonly referred to as the “embargo.”

Its second priority is to re-start its lucrative tourist industry:

The report in the newspaper stated that approximately 30,000 foreign tourist have arrived since the storm moved into the Gulf of Mexico, and are vacationing at resorts scattered throughout the island.

So while Cubans face the aftermath of the worst natural disaster in its modern history, without electricity, food water or any hope that the regime is going to help them or allow anyone with the wherewithal to be effective, (the US), to help them, tourists are drinking mojitos and learning to dance the Mambo just miles away.

Can you imagine the outrage if the US would have allowed tourists to party in New Orleans’ French Quarter days after the levees flooded the city? No, of course not. The outcry would have been deafening and righteously so. But since its Cuba, the world shrugs and turns a blind eye as usual.

And the third priority is to divide the Cuban American exile community by…Oh no wait, That we do on our own, so that we can support another of the regime’s most lucrative industries: remittances from abroad.

11 September 2008

The Hostage Situation

They show you the proof of life videos, the devastation and the suffering on TV.

You know that there, for the grace of God, go you.

Your heart aches, your eyes tear, you want to help.

You take the bait.

They say that the only way you can help them is by doing what they ask.

If you don’t do exactly what they ask, they will let these people die.

They will torture them front of your eyes by not giving them food or water or shelter.

They will parade them in front of the TV cameras and say that if anything happens to them, its your fault because you would not meet their demands.

They are hostages.

Nobody Does It Better

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you’re the best.

The Associated Press’ Anita Snow is so infatuated with communism that she never passes up the opportunity to show her love for the system that has been directly responsible for the death of 100,000,000 people.

She once decided, with much fanfare, to go on the Cuban diet- to eat the typical diet of a Cuban who has been forced to live on the libreta, ration card, for 45 years. She gloated about how she had lost weight eating the healthy, simple peasant food and waxed on nostalgically on how the diet reminded her of the simple southern cuisine of her youth. She told us she would celebrate the end of her moth long “ordeal” of an “experiment” by eating a fat juicy steak.

In her latest love song to Fidel, she reminds us of how much we have to learn from Cuba when it comes to Hurricane preparedness:

But if there's one thing the communist island does right, it's evacuations. And in the end, that saves more lives than anything else.

Anita says.

Imagine that. A police state where there is no rule of law and citizens have no rights and are forced at gun point to obey soldier’s orders is good at getting citizens to “cooperate” during voluntary evacuations. (The regime also has a good track record of getting Cuban citizens to perform “volunteer work” for the revolution.)

Is she for real?!? You bet. The secret, she reminds us, is to “teach” the citizens from an early age to follow orders.(or else)…
Cubans are taught from an early age to move quickly in the event of a natural disaster and to follow authorities' instructions. So the government rarely has to force people to leave.

That’s right. Armed thugs seldom do.

But aside from the gun barrel pointed at their heads, Cubans have other advantages that make it easier to leave their homes, according to Ms. Snow.

You see, Cubans live in an idyllic world where going to a shelter means…

… soft beds, free meals, the attention of a doctor and solicitous social workers — and the companionship of other friendly Cubans...

Yes, to a Cuban, a shelter is like a luxury hotel- a reprieve from the daily struggle for their daily bread.

It also makes it easier that Cubans have nothing to lose. They are slaves have very few possessions to get stolen. No cars to clog the highways… nothing to live or die for…the brotherhood of man … and cops who shoot on sight and ask no questions, not first, not later…

Most Cubans work for the government and don't have to worry about losing wages if they take off from work. And because police keep a close eye on evacuated areas — and because most Cubans have few possessions of value anyway — looting isn't a major concern.

Imagine what her friends in the press would have written if the Louisiana National Guard had evacuated New Orleans, at gunpoint, before Katrina hit in 2005. Rest assured it wouldn’t have been a glowing love sonnet like Anita’s piece on the Cuban evacuations before Ike’s landfall.
Snow reminds us that especial attention is paid to elderly and the handicapped who in the US where “abandoned” by “US authorities” during Katrina.

She also reminds us that the revolution is also apt at “teaching lessons” by making examples of those who are injured or die by not obeying evacuation orders:

And if anyone has doubts, authorities quickly put an end to them. The state news media often makes examples of people who fail to move out — and who are killed or injured.

Yes, I remember the regime's examples well. My friend's dad-he didn't want to work for the regime. He wanted to work for himself and provide for his family. He was selling margerine on the black market. He got caught and they made an example of him too. 20 years in jail.

If you follow Snow’s (and the regime’s) logic, the US authorities, which in Katrina’s case would have been Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco, did a bang up job in teaching the US population as witnessed by the way most got out of Gustav’s path in New Orleans. Please!
I don’t know if people like Anita Snow really admire Cuba’s communist collective hell because they want to be part of it or because it flies in the face of the free market system that has given them every advantage but yet they find unfair due to guilt or deeper psychological issues or because they are bigoted elitists who don’t think that Cubans are capable of handling freedom and need a daddy state to take care of them or if they are just useful idiots. But I do know that all these articles do, to use the phrase du jour, is put a bunch of lipstick on an ugly and deadly pig.
And nobody does it better
Though sometimes I wish someone could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why'd you have to be so good?

10 September 2008

King "O" the World

I’m so bummed out.

It looks like the rest of the world is not going to be too happy with us Americans if we vote McCain Palin into the White House in the fall.

And world opinion of America is the stuff that keeps me up at nights, really.

Panicked by the recent reversal of fortune in the presidential campaign some brit named Jonathan is warning us not to make the same mistake again:

If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger.

And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift. Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for.

I’m just a dumb refugee, but didn’t Americans stop drinking tea and switch to coffee back in 1776? Wasn’t the whole point of the tea party and the ensuing rebellion to cut ties with the royalists?

I understand that Senator Obama is the world’s candidate and that he’s loved more abroad than aparently he is at home. (Maybe he should have a heart to heart with Jerry Lewis.) But Jonathan should be happy that in the rest of the world Obama is still the beloved:

All 22 countries covered in the poll would prefer to see Senator Obama elected US president ahead of Republican John McCain.

In 17 of the 22 nations, people expect relations between the US and the rest of the world to improve if Senator Obama wins.

But still, Jonathan's a warning is a little hysterical.

Perhaps Jonathan should switch to herbal tea, after all, even Jonathan’s wise and enlightened PM, Gordon Brown, has broken protocol and thrown his support behind Senator Obama. Classy.

And once middle America finds out that the English PM is throwing his tremendous world-wide influence behind Barrack, the polls will rebound and the planet will start to heal and the oceans will begin to recede once again.

We colonials may be provincial and simplistic, but when we realize that its not in our more enlightened and civilized earth-mates abroad, and especially in England, best wishes for us to vote for McCain, we’ll mend our ways and try to please our foreign friends because that’s what we’re here for.

I mean, foreigners, and especially Europeans, have shown in the last 100 years that if anyone can make the right decisions is them. Even in simple things like soccer games, they demonstrate a sophistication that we Americans could never ever even come close to.

For example, our foreign hand ringing American critics are so enlightened that they’re not buying what the US is government is selling about the 9-11 attacks :

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, there is no consensus outside the United States that Islamist militants from al Qaeda were responsible, according to an international poll published Wednesday.

The survey of 16,063 people in 17 nations found majorities in only nine countries believe al Qaeda was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001.

….Shows you how much I know. I just figured that Bin Laden’s al Qaeda was responsible since they took credit. But that just makes me a primitive and incapable of making sophisticated nuansed decisions like voting for Fidel Castro's favorite candidate who just happens to have a first cousin named Fidel Castro Odinga.

08 September 2008

Life In The Cone

Waking up in the morning to find out that you’re in the path of a killer category four hurricane is unsettling. For us Floridians the fear of Hurricanes is more like the fear of the ensuing inconveniences –a few days of urban camping followed by the hassle of picking up the mess and making some repairs.

Watching an update on TV and finding out that the killer storm now has Cuba in its sights is disheartening. You know that whatever damage the hurricane causes will not be repaired and the victims will be suffering even worse hardships than the ones that they are ordinarily subjected to.

Here in Florida, most of us have homes built to standards that ensure that they will withstand hurricanes. Whatever damage a storm manages to inflict on our properties, there is insurance to help us rebuild and repair. Not so in Cuba. There is no insurance in Cuba because there is no private property and no money to pay for insurance and no Home Depot to go buy the materials needed for repairs.

In this Sun Sentinel article, we learn about a Cuban town, Playa del Cajio's, that is still waiting for regime officials to check on them to see how they’ve faired since the hurricane.

That would be Hurricane Charlie back in 2004…

In the days since Hurricane Gustav pummeled western Cuba, angry residents here aid not a single official had checked on this fishing town that was virtually erased by Hurricane Charlie four years ago.

"No one has stopped by to see if we're eating," said 91-year-old Juana Diaz Gonzalez, whose seaside home lost part of its roof to Gustav's Category 4 winds. "We eat what we can. We live like dogs."

The plight of many of Playa del Cajio's 1,500 residents offers a lesson for other hard-hit communities that hope the state will help them rebuild quickly.

People here said they have struggled with official bureaucracy and ineptitude since Charlie battered the town in 2004.

"It's been four years since Charlie and we're still waiting for new homes," said Rachel Gonzalez Ojeda, 44, seated outside her roofless wood and concrete home. "We never even got the materials to do the repairs. We rebuilt what we could on our own."

As she spoke, more than a dozen neighbors nodded in agreement. "We can't remain silent anymore," she said.

Meanwhile, the regime ignores the victims of Gustav as it will surely ignore Ike’s devastation. The Cuban regime will not allow the international Red Cross, for example, to help the Hurricane victims. Why? Because it wants absolute and total control of the aid. The aid will be distributed the way the regime sees fit, which is usually to take care of the party and its faithful.

The United States has offered to send humanitarian aid directly to the vivtims, but the regime “politely” declined. How you “politely” decline to allow international organizations to help victims of natural disasters is beyond me. It’s more like they negligently or criminally declined US assistance.

But the Castro regime did ask for the US to bend the embargo rules so that it could get “credit” from American institutions. Clearly, the regime is using the suffering of the hurricane victims for political reasons and to try to line the party’s, (the Castro family’s), pockets with money that they have no intentions of ever paying back. Cuba never pays its debts.

And here in the US, those like Presidential candidate Barrack Obama, who philosophically oppose the embargo, are also politicizing the devastation in Cuba. The Democratic candidate is calling for the relaxation of rules that govern remittances to Cuba from the US, to drive a wedge and divide the Cuban American community in South Florida where three democratic challengers are campaigning against the tightened Bush administration Cuba policies.

07 September 2008

The New Democrats?

A few months back, when it became obvious that Sen John McCain would win his party’s nomination, I stumbled across a link for McCain-Palin ’08 on an internet site. I clicked and was taken to a website where some folks were running a blog based campaign to get the Alaskan Governor nominated as McCain’s VP. Democracy and the internet: perfect together. “Thanks, Al.” Then, I thought to myself-“dream on.”

Fast forward to Friday and this woman gets picked and I’m dumbfounded and I’m saying to myself, “that’s the lady from the blog!”

I immediately went to the bastion of conservatism that is Babalú and expected Henry George and Mike to be denouncing the pick, but to my surprise, they as well as most conservatives were delighted with the pick. I was shocked. Conservatives are a critical lot. Even uber McCain critic Rush Limbaugh donned the Arizona Senator “John McBrilliant.”

I don’t know too many conservatives, but the few I know love the Alaskan Governor. A few Libertarians, ditto.

My many Liberal friends were at first giddy then angry.

The lady from the great white north is a threat. And after her speech on Wednesday what I first thought to be a gimmicky pick turned real serious, real fast.

I was talking to a friend who kept arguing that Govenor Palin was even less experienced than Senator Obama. I’ve seen pundits on TV argue that since Obama has been running his Presidential campaign for over a year that he does have enough “executive” experience to compete with Palin’s.

This all may or may not be true, even academic, but the Democrats are arguing whether or not their Presidential candidate is worthy of a spot on the Republican ticket and whether he’s stronger candidate than a “girl.” Subtly, the argument has turned into whether Senator Obama is fit to be second fiddle. He’s vying for first and he’s essentially competing for fourth place in the presidential ticket experience sweepstakes.

A while back I was co-hosting Babalu’s Internet Radio show and Henry Gomez asked me which Democrat I like and who I would be voting for. As a joke, I said I would be supporting Senator McCain-the best Democrat running.

After McCain’s convention, that idea of “RINO” McCain as a Democrat doesn’t seem like much of a joke anymore. Senator McCain and Palin have taken the mantle of fighting for the little guy from the Democrats who have now taken the mantle of fighting for the State from the European social democracies.

McCain’s true and tried creed of putting country first and the people before party resonates with the little guy. His history as well as his pick of a small town mom as a running mate highlights that he means what he says. Under his leadership the Republican Party is looking to refocus its historical affinity for individual rights to “fight” for the welfare of common, working class small town Americans. This demographic, forgotten and taken for granted, has always been the bread and butter of the democratic party and constituted the vast majority of the Reagan Democrats-people who just want an opportunity to fend for themselves and get ahead through their own efforts and hard work. These are folks that are not interested in handouts but in opportunity.

The Democratic strategy is to say that a McCain presidency would be just a continuation of Bush-Cheney only it is well known that McCain has been Dubya’s Republican nemesis for eight long years.

Senator Obama, on the other side, is asking us to believe:

He is asking the traditional Democratic small town working stiff voter to believe and cling to the hope that he will make things better after he disrespected them by suggesting that what was wrong with them is that they bitterly cling to God and guns and antipathy to people who aren’t like them.

Most working class Democratic voters probably have no use for Peter Pan politics where the candidate depends on the beliefs of the would be voters in order to achieve a fairy tale promised land that will take care of the constituents. They prefer common sense.

With Palin’s pick, the Republicans are looking to rebuild a new voting coalition by appealing to the traditional Republican base and expanding the tent to include working class Democrats, women and Catholics, all early indications are is that the McCain-Palin will be able to achieve this, even if only modestly. But any amount of votes you are able to skim from swing constituencies in key battleground swing states are pure gold in a close election.

The Obama-Biden ticket continues to try to attract those that are disaffected and unhappy with the current state of affairs in the country. Given the approval rates of President Bush and the current congress, the mortgage crisis and the energy price crisis, there’s plenty of voters to attract.

The one problem with this coalition is that in order to grow it, you have to preach doom and gloom while preaching hope at the same time. This from a candidate who claims to be above the negative politics of old.

02 September 2008

Number 2 - With A Bullet?

La jeva esta le mete miedo al susto

Guapa a lo Cubano y guapa...