[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: November 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pope Benedict in Turkey

Pope Benedict XVI is in Turkey to try to patch relations between him and the Muslim community, especially following his controversial remarks in September which triggered an unfortunate but all-too-predictable reaction from radical Muslims.

Turkey appears to be playing nice so far. Will the majority of non-violent and non-extremist Muslims get Benedict's message of peace and reconciliation and try to spread it across their own communities, or will the extremists win out as has always been the case? The onus is on the "moderate Muslims" to put pressure on the radical factions of their faith.

Coming Down on Tancredo

In light of Rep. Tom Tancredo's recent categorization of Miami as a third-world country has triggered some strong responses, not only by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, but also by Governor Jeb Bush and especially by Miami-Dade Beacon Council President Frank Nero.

You can read Jeb Bush's letter to Tancredo here. Well done by the guvna.

Nero's letter was even better. Please take the time to read it here. I can't agree more with what Mr. Nero wrote.

Here's a snippet from Mr. Nero's letter:
Miami is fortunate that we will continue to move forward with our leaders to capitalize on the realities of the 21st century world, while people like you will become the relics of bigotry and ignorance.
Then again, I'm an unapologetic and pedestrian homer, so what do I know?

It's good to see people in this community put down their sarcasm and cynicism for a second and join to rebuke Tancredo. I did mention yesterday, however, that there are plenty in this community that agreed wholeheartedly with Tancredo's assessment of Miami.

Those people are not hard to find. In fact, the following editorial cartoon by the Herald's Jim Morin was from August 31st of this year:

Cartoon courtesy of Stuck on the Palmetto.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Herald Reports on Dissidents' Request

Yesterday I posted about a report by European news agencies on a document signed by four leading Cuban dissidents requesting that the US/Cuba travel restrictions be at least softened.

Today, the Miami Herald has caught on to the story and published was is basically a repeat of the AFP story. Make sure to also check out a copy of the document, in English and Spanish, at the Herald site.

One interesting portion of the document that the Herald excluded from their article and which refers to the lack of control and efficiency of the USAID program:
It is precisely that paragraph which some press media in the United States have utilized to cast doubt on the credibility and integrity of organizations and personalities in exile such as Frank Hernandez Trujillo of the Support Group for Democracy, and Juan Carlos Acosta of Cuban Democratic Action, in a suspicious coincidence with the interests of the Cuban government and its repressive organizations.
Hmmm. As George Michael so succinctly put it back in the 80s, "Guilty feet have got no rhythm" (the first and hopefully last Wham reference on this blog).

Tancredo: Miami is Third World (UPDATED)

At least that's what Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo thinks.

Was Rep. Tancredo referring to Miami's problems with corruption and inefficient government? Was he referring to those living below the poverty line? If so, he wouldn't get much of a reasonable argument.

No. He was referring to the large number of immigrants that make up South Florida.

At first, Rep. Tancredo pinned Miami's third-world status on crime statistics.
Tancredo, who chairs the bipartisan House Immigration Reform Caucus and championed a fence along the border with Mexico, said Monday in an e-mail sent by his office that his comparison was based on crime statistics he believes ``are deeply rooted in the immigration debate.
If crime was indeed the defining factor for third-world status, then where do cities such as St. Louis and Detroit fall - fourth-world? Let's not even ask Tancredo why he feels those cities have such high crime rates, higher than Miami's.

Then, he got to the real reason:
''Moreover, the sheer size and number of ethnic enclaves devoid of any English and dominated by foreign cultures is widespread,'' Tancredo said in the statement. "Frankly, many of these areas could have been located in another country. And until America gets serious about demanding assimilation, this problem will continue to spread.''
I'm sure many in South Florida will wholeheartedly agree with Tancredo, their civic pride swelling to all-time highs.

South Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, while perhaps overstating things a bit, still deserves credit for countering Tancredo's comments:
Miami, Ros-Lehtinen said, is a ``world class city where diversity is celebrated. Here people have the opportunity to meet folks from across the globe and honor different cultures. Miami-Dade County is home to many outstanding universities, is headquarters to international businesses and has a vibrant economy.''
While it does bother me that someone would dismiss Miami as a third-world region without doing some serious analysis, it's especially disturbing that a congressman would use immigration as a way to slight a community. This is someone that is very outspoken against illegal immigration, and while that indeed needs to be addressed, you can't throw out the baby with the bath water.

As a product of immigrants and of Miami, I find Tancredo to be seriously out of touch and out of his league when it comes to immigration and assimilation. Look around. It shouldn't be hard to see daily examples of immigrants who have assimilated and have made positive contributions. What's occuring in Miami has occurred over and over throughout our nation's history. We are the latest region to experience mass migration and all the issues that come with it. But Trancredo's implication that immigrants do more harm than good is, at best, ignorant and, at worst, racist. He's an embarrassment to the Republican Party.

UPDATE: I missed this post from a while back, but Josue nails it on the head regarding immigration and assimilation. Perhaps we should send the link to Rep. Tancredo. What do you all think?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dissidents Want Travel Restrictions Eliminated (UPDATED)

H/T Phil Peters:

AFP released a report on Saturday indicating that four leading Cuban dissidents have released a statement which suggests that they would be in favor of lifting travel restrictions to Cuba in order to facilitate the delivery of aid and money to dissidents.

I don't have the link to the original AFP article, but Phil has provided a partial translation, which was also posted on Western Hemisphere Policy Watch.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the AFP article (in Spanish).
UPDATE 2: The above link is broken. Try this one from Cubanet.
The statement was signed by four dissidents who represent the full spectrum of dissident opinion: Martha Beatriz Roque, of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society, Elizardo Sanchez, of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, Vladimiro Roca, spokesman of the Todos Unidos group, and Gisela Delgado, leader of the Independent Libraries Project.

The dissidents called for errors in the program to be corrected so that “a greater amount of aid may reach the pro-democracy activists.” They said it is “very important to achieve greater efficiency in the use of those funds.”

“We believe,” they said, “that one possible way to achieve that would be to eliminate a series of existing restrictions on the sending of aid and travel to Cuba, which don’t at all help the struggle for democracy that we are carrying out inside our country.”

The statement, read by Vladimiro Roca on Radio Marti, was also critical of the media for its over-emphasis of the GAO report highlighting the inefficiencies in the USAID program to send goods to dissidents. Roca was quoted as saying that the dissidents lamented that the paragraph of the GAO report which considered the delivery of items such as crab meat, Godiva chocolates, sweaters and jackets as excessive was being used by "some U.S. media to place doubt on the credibility and integrity of certain organizations and individuals (which have provided aid)...in suspicious coincidence with the Cuban regime's interests and its repressive outlets."

Anyone else thinking of the Miami Herald report? The dissidents said it, not me.

About the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the travel restrictions: it's obvious that there has to be a better way to get goods and other critical items delivered more efficiently to the dissidents. How much of this is a result of the travel restrictions, and how much of it is a direct result of the regime's own restrictions? I think it's safe to say that even if we were to lift all travel restrictions, it's doubtful that the regime will suddenly let goods flow uncontrolled through the island. I wonder what the dissidents' opinion is of this.

For the record, I think the restrictions pertaining to the frequency of family visits is excessive. One visit a year seems like a better, more humane policy. Keep in mind that I'm not advocating a full lifting of the restrictions. Besides, people find ways to get around the restrictions all the time, the island's resorts are filled with tourists, and what good has it done? The potential impact of American tourists on the island is frequently overhyped, in my opinion.

Still, do the dissidents have a point? The battle needs to be fought from within. Whom better than these brave dissidents to receive the aid that they deserve to accomplish the goal.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving? Who Cares?

In light of yesterday's Black Friday mad dash to the stores to take advantage of the good deals, 26th Parallel is proud to announce the winner of the first-ever Setting Your Priorities Straight Award.

Janela Tay-Lee of Davie, come on DOWN! You're the winner!

Janela Taylee of Plantation lost out last year on all of the good deals because she arrived at Best Buy at 3:30 a.m. to find a line already stretching around the building. This year she wasn't taking any chances, because stores may have only 10 or less of some key sale items, which makes getting at the front of the line critical.

Taylee organized her whole family into shifts and they started camping out at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Best Buy in Plantation, more than 32 hours before the store's 5 a.m. opening Friday. The benefit: It was early enough to put them first in line.

In order to hold on to the coveted spot, one of Taylee's sons and her cousin had to skip Thanksgiving dinner at her Davie home. Yet, Taylee enjoyed waiting in line because she got to catch up with her family.

''It's nice quality time,'' said Taylee, although she admits finances were the driving force behind the expedition. ``If we were rich, we wouldn't be doing this.''

There's more, courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel:
"We're not rich, so just to save a few extra bucks we decided to do this," said Janela Tay-Lee. Last year, the family was at the back of the line, she said, noting this year they took turns waiting so that they could buy two laptops, a digital camera and other expensive electronics for a bargain price.
They may not be rich, but many families in South Florida and around the country would kill to be able to purchase only one of the items they purchased yesterday, even at heavily discounted prices.

Perhaps I'm the one screwed up here. I mean, what's more important, quality time together with all your family to enjoy a meal, or standing in line just to get 30-50 percent off the latest gadgets?

I don't know who's more screwed up...Taylee, or her relatives for playing along.

Whatever...it's a free country after all. Who am I to judge? But if I hear people like Tay-Lee complaining later about their financial situation and how life is so expensive in South Florida, I would only have one thing to say:

Too bad.

Friday, November 24, 2006

El Nuevo Cartoonist Empties Newsroom

News is breaking of a situation at The El Nuevo Herald offices involving their editorial cartoonist Jose Varela. Varela walked into the office with a knife and some type of firearm, and is holed up in Executive Editor Humberto Castello's office.

From the article:
You're talking with the new editor of the newspaper, and I am here to uncover the true conflicts of the newspaper. Here they ridicule the exiles, there are problems with pay,'' said the cartoonist in a telephone conversation with a reporter for El Nuevo. ''You know that the newspaper lasts little today. This little problem is over now. This is a pig sty and somebody needs to pay, somebody has to do it, because this is how you clean shit (ed. first time I've seen the Herald publish an article with a "forbidden" word). It's about time, now that they're mocking people. Today they're going to see it as violence. But somebody has to pay and that is going to be Castelló.
Let's hope no one gets hurt. No matter how true or false Varela's accusations are, his way of resolving it won't help his case or the exiles' cause one bit.

Too bad, because I much prefer his work to that of his Miami Herald counterpart Jim Morin.

More at Herald Watch and Babalu.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

I have a lot to be thankful for:
  • A wonderful family and warm home to raise them in.
  • Living in a great country where I have the freedom to express my thoughts and opinions, no matter how irrational or unpopular.
  • Big Cuban families.
  • Old friends and new friends.
  • The blogosphere for opening up a new world for me, and especially those with whom we are united with for a common cause.
  • 45-degree mornings and 70-degree afternoons.
  • Being able to get together with family on Thanksgiving.
  • Brave souls who fight for freedom regardless of their situation or popular opinion.
  • Enjoying turkey on Thanksgiving with all the fixings plus moros, then finishing it off with flan, pumpkin pie, and café cubano.
Have a great Thanksgiving!

Cold Morning

It was 42 degrees at the crack of dawn at 26th Parallel HQ this morning. Pretty chilly for November by South Florida standards.

I'm sure most of my fellow South Floridians were bundled up and fearing going outside this morning.


I went for a stroll around the neighborhood at 7 AM. Nothing better than a walk on a cold morning, if you ask me.

Sorry Steve, but I love this kind of weather, if at least for a few days.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Herald Arrogance

The latest in the story concerning the Marti Moonlighters evolves around an investigation of the Herald story written by Oscar Corral, which brought to light journalists either directly or indirectly associated with the Herald who were also working for TV/Radio Marti. The investigation, by Clark Hoyt, was largely critical of the Herald's coverage of the story.

Check out this link from Herald Watch for details of the investigation.

What strikes many as arrogant is the Herald management's reaction to the investigation. Basically, they acknowledge that errors were made in the reporting of the story, but refuse to offer any kind of apology or retraction to the journalists involved. This display of arrogance shouldn't be surprising, as Tom Fiedler has recently shown us.

Because of this, Pablo Alfonso of El Nuevo Herald, one of the reporters dismissed only to be later reinstated, has resigned. All he wanted was an apology and a retraction, it appears. One may think that Alfonso is being selfish, but remember, his journalistic reputation has been needlessly tarnished by Oscar Corral's sloppy reporting.

Is a professional apology too much to ask for from Fiedler and company?

Apparently so.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Breakfast Time

Horse Country, Miami-Dade County - 11/19/06

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wishful Thinking on Imminent Change in Cuba?

Check out my post over at Babalu and decide for yourself.

Toto, We're Back in Kansas

Via Florida Masochist - yet more proof that strange things happen everywhere. Again, this is sure to burst the bubble of those who think these type of things can only happen in South Florida.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Miami to Install Street Cameras

In an article that has only appeared in El Nuevo Herald as far as I know, it appears that the city of Miami is set to purchase and install cameras and several public locations. They would be used as an anti-terrorism tool through monitoring of crowds during organized events, as well as for traffic monitoring.

I would be more excited about this if the cameras were used to catch red-light runners, but I guess that's not the intended plan.

The ACLU, as the article states, is firmly against the camera installations as can be expected.

I don't have time to translate the article, but here's the link for Spanish readers and more adventurous types out there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Week After the Election Update

Just saw the results of an AP poll which shows that although more Americans see Iraq as the number one priority of the new Democratic Congress, a majority said the Democrats don't have a plan for the war.

While voters in Election Day surveys said corruption and scandal in Congress was one of the most important factors in their vote, the postelection poll showed that 37 percent of all adults said the war in Iraq should be at the top of the congressional agenda during the next two years. The issue of terrorism, the second most mentioned priority, was ranked highest by 15 percent of those polled.

Though voters apparently embraced the Democratic mantra of changing course in Iraq, a majority of the public did not detect a clear Democratic blueprint for ending the war. Fifty-seven percent of all adults in the AP-Ipsos poll said Democrats do not have a plan for Iraq; 29 percent said they do. The poll of 1,002 adults has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The fact that Democrats don't have a clear Iraq plan shouldn't be shocking, but the fact that much of these same people voted Democrats into power while regarding Iraq as a top issue should make anyone scratch their head. Change for the sake of change?

John Rodon, a retiree from Green Bay, Wis., said the situation in Iraq is "a big mistake" and voted for a Democrat for Congress. He doubted, however, that the Democrats would solve the war.

"I don't think anybody has an answer for this," he said.

There are some who have some ideas that they would like the Democrats to adopt, like this one from a Jupiter man:

Francis Curran, a 43-year-old carpenter from Jupiter, Fla., said he thinks Democrats would approach Iraq with a better lens.

"You can't solve that problem without involving the other players in the region. I think Democrats might be more willing to at least not call (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) the Axis of Evil," Curran said. "I don't know if the president would go with this, but this administration has to involve other nations in that region."

On second thought, not calling the Iranian president evil is, well, downright dangerous. Wanting to negotiate with someone that merely wishes for the end of western civilization only makes sense to those that wouldn't mind a world dominated by lunatics such as Ahmadinejad.

Speaking of the Democratic congress, looks like the political infighting has already begun, and we're barely a week past the elections. Let's keep our eyes on this one.

Murtha or Hoyer.

I get the feeling the fun has only begun, folks.

Closed-Minded on Herald Cuba Coverage?

This post and this post by Rick at SoTP points out two recent Herald editorials which fell in line with mainstream Cuban-American thinking - and goes against the perception by some CA's that the Herald is anti-Cuban American. Rick used the editorials as proof that the Herald really isn't anti-Cuban American, and alleges that this blog as well as other CA blogs usually have our blinders on and removed them just in time to see that there really is no Herald bias.

I think this is a case where if Rick would have done a little research, he would have discovered that this very issue of perceived Herald anti Cuban-American bias has already been addressed and discussed here two months ago, and even here at his own site. Also, Henry of Cuban American Pundits started Herald Watch recently, not as a way of proving anti-Cuban bias, but to illustrate inconsistencies in the way the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald cover the same stories. To me, this does not show narrow-mindedness in the least. I think Rick fell into the perception trap and he was over-anxious to make a big catch, when in fact there's not much to "catch".

Do we have strong opinions on many issues? Sure! One can argue that it's a sign of narrow-mindedness, and perhaps in some cases it is. But one can also make the argument that strong opinions are shaped by someone's evaluation of the big picture and arriving at a decision which agrees with his/her views and experiences. This is hardly being narrow-minded.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Herald on Posada Case

An interesting editorial was published by the Miami Herald today concerning the current and future status of Luis Posada Carriles.

I must admit (my apologies to the Herald-bashers out there) that the Herald was pretty fair with their assessment.
Where's the Evidence For Detaining Posada?


U.S. District Judge Philip Martinez made a tough but fair decision in the case against terror suspect Luis Posada Carriles. He gave the government three months to make the case for indefinitely detaining Mr. Posada. Yet the judge didn't order Mr. Posada released, as his lawyers asked.

Mr. Posada has a shady past as a Cold War operative. Nevertheless, he is entitled to the due process required by U.S. law. Immigration authorities must provide substantive evidence before condemning someone to what could be life in prison. Mr. Posada has been accused of being a terrorist by some, including his avowed enemy Fidel Castro. But allegations, rumors and speculation aren't enough to make the case that Mr. Posada is a ''terrorist'' or would be an ongoing public menace while in this country.

Detained 18 months

Judge Martinez acknowledged that Mr. Posada already has been locked up ''well beyond'' the six-month limit set by the Supreme Court for releasing a foreigner who hasn't been deported. In fact, Mr. Posada has been detained by immigration authorities for nearly a year and a half. An immigration judge barred U.S. authorities from deporting Mr. Posada to Cuba or Venezuela under a treaty that prohibits sending anyone to a country were they might be tortured. Meanwhile, U.S. officials haven't been able to find any other country that will accept him. That's why a federal magistrate has already recommended that Mr. Posada be released.

Clearly Mr. Posada is no choir boy. He is a former CIA agent who has continued to work on overthrowing the Castro regime for decades. He advocates using any means necessary, including violence against civilians.

Suspect in bombings

Mr. Posada has long been suspected of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jet, which killed 76 people. He was acquitted of that crime by a military tribunal in Venezuela. He was imprisoned for nine years while awaiting trial for the same crime in a civilian court before he escaped in 1985. He has been a suspect in 1997-98 bombings at Cuban tourist sites, one of which killed an Italian visitor. Though a federal grand jury in New Jersey is investigating Posada's alleged involvement, he hasn't been convicted of those bombings, either. He was tried in connection to an alleged Castro assassination plot. For that, he was convicted of endangering public safety and pardoned in 2005.

We strongly disapprove of Mr. Posada's philosophy that the ends justify the means. Our eyes would be bone dry if a judge decides that he remain detained. But such a ruling must be based on the law and hard evidence. Justice Department officials say that Mr. Posada is ''an admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks.'' Fine. Let them prove it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day

Don't have anything new and original to post on this Veterans Day, but I thought I'd link to a few pieces which appropriately commemorate the day.

- At the Mall and The Mailbox courtesy of Babalu.

- Freedom Isn't Free, a 26th Parallel repost from May 2005.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Going Digital

Not being a "techy" kind of person, I'm usually a bit behind with the latest electronic and technological gadgets out there. Just recently I bought my first digital camera, and so far I've put it to good use.

I plan to use my new camera to take pictures such as the one in the post below this one, highlighting some of the natural and unnatural scenery around South Florida. This is not an attempt to rival these excellent photoblogs, just something different to spice things up around here a bit.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Picture Break

Picture taken from 26th Parallel HQ

South Florida may not be a perfect paradise, but on days like these and with views like these, it's tough to knock it.

Cuban Memorial Has Permanent Home (UPDATE)

The Cuban Memorial, which had become a once-a-year tribute to those Cubans who have perished as a result of the castro regime, will finally have a permanent home in Tamiami Park.

UPDATE: Val has more information here.

After years of searching, a group of Cuban exiles has gotten approval for a site to build a memorial honoring victims of Fidel Castro's government.

By Yudy Pineiro

Cuban exiles raised crosses some years ago at Tamiami Park in Westchester as a symbolic gesture in honor of those who have died fighting Fidel Castro's government -- political prisoners, dissidents, and Bay of Pigs Invasion fighters.

The exiles honor Castro's victims every year, and have sought to build a permanent memorial for a long time, but didn't have the money, nor the place.

Then, last week, county officials announced Tamiami Park would house the memorial.

''For five years, we had this dream of honoring the victims of the Castro regime -- and here we are,'' said Renato Gomez, Cuban Memorial board member, fighting back tears.

A monument bearing a Cuban flag, enclosed by granite slabs engraved with victims' names will soon be erected at a corner of Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24th St., county parks officials announced at a special ceremony at the site Nov. 1.

Gomez thanked Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Joe A. Martinez, who represents parts of West Miami-Dade, for keeping his word to find them a permanent home.

''This is something we should have done a long time ago,'' Martinez said.

Impressed by the work of Gomez and other exiles in producing the yearly memorial event at Tamiami Park, Martinez promised the exile group about two years ago to help find them a permanent home.

Last year, Martinez thought he had found the perfect place: Camp Matecumbe, a West Kendall site that became home to about 4,000 Cuban boys during the 1960s. They were sent to Miami under Operation Pedro Pan, by parents who feared the boys would be indoctrinated by Castro's government.

But plans to put the memorial at Camp Matecumbe did not pan out. So Tamiami Park seemed the next best option.

On Wednesday, Martinez, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, county parks and recreation officials, and Cuban exiles grabbed shovels to plant a palm tree at the park.

Willy Borroto, the architect who designed and donated money for the approximately $200,000 memorial, said that was the last of 15 trees needed to encircle the memorial.

Atop a keystone-tiled floor in the shape of a star will be the obelisk reaching up 50 feet in the air and showcasing a Cuban flag designed out of ceramic tiles.

At the base of each star leg: a wall with victims' names facing the palm trees, and pieces of shattered glass facing the monument. Borroto said the shattered glass causes visitors to see their distorted reflection.

As visitors step farther away from the glass, and closer to the monument, the flag and their image will appear whole because, Borroto said, ``We are a dismembered people, but we are one.''

The memorial should be ready for Feb. 17 -- the day of the yearly El Memorial Cubano.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thoughts on Mid-Term Elections (UPDATE)

With Democrats gaining control of the House, and very close to doing the same in the Senate, here are my thoughts:

- This was indeed a vote for change. This reaction is very typical, very human. You think something's not working, you change it. The only problem I see with this is, what exactly are we changing for? The Democrats have been woefully lacking in ideas (real ideas, not just rhetoric), and now it's time for them to tell us what they have in plan.

(Note: "cut and run" in Iraq is not an acceptable option).

- A bunch of conservative Democrats - "blue dogs" - tipped the scales. Will they be able to tip the scale of their own party to the center, or are they mere opportunists who saw blood in the water?

- Now that the Democrats are in a position of power, how will New House Leader Nancy Pelosi (gulp!) deal with not only the President, but with the emergent conservative side of her own party. The burden of proof is not on Bush, but on Pelosi. She's talked a lot, now it's time for some action.

Here's Pelosi's reaction:
"Today, the American people voted for change, and they voted for Democrats to take our country in a new direction,— and that is exactly what we intend to do," Pelosi said at a raucous victory rally in Washington.

"Let us work together to find a solution to the war in Iraq," she said, adding: "We cannot continue down this catastrophic path."
If the following quote is any indication of the mainstream Democratic attitude, then we're in trouble:
"Tonight is a total repudiation of the Bush administration," said Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. "The Bush administration in America is over. It doesn't exist anymore. There is no Bush presidency."
Of course not, McAuliffe, that guy in the White House is a figment of your imagination.

Compare his response to that of outgoing Majority Leader John Boehner:
"I'd like to congratulate House Democrats on a hard-fought campaign," he said. "We are deeply disappointed in the outcome, but as Republicans we must recommit ourselves to the principles that brought us to the majority and renew our drive for smaller, more efficient, more accountable government."
Here are some reactions from the local blogosphere:

- Pitbull at Babalu:

I can tell you with one word why Republicans lost: principles. Conservatives have not held the feet of our representatives to the fire enough when it comes to our core principles. Republicans have lost their way and this is the result. I am unhappy and upset. But I know one thing for certain. Until and unless Republicans in elected office come back to their conservative roots they are doomed.

- Click here for a quickie from Rick from Stuck on the Palmetto, who never misses an opportunity to paint the President in anything but a negative light.

- Srcohiba at Cuban-American Pundits warns us about the consequences of the Democratic victory:

In any event, with the Dems now in control, the tax cuts will sunset and we'’ll be paying a lot more in taxes again. I pay enough money for my 60-80 hour weeks in taxes, but that isn'’t enough. We’ll folks, don'’t cry me a river when you have less money in your pocket.

- SWLiP has some interesting thoughts:

I can't read the mind of every voter who punched a ballot or pulled a lever, yesterday, but in general terms I agree with Glenn Reynolds that the Republicans probably deserved to lose this election, mainly due to a series of unforced errors on their part. Reckless spending, inability to pass immigration enforcement reforms, pork, corruption and other issues all added up.

The Democrats talked a lot about change, about bringing the country back together. The ball's indeed in their court now. Let's see what happens. You can bet we'll be watching.

UPDATE: La Ventanita has more.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dolphins Win!!!

Miami 31 - Chicago 13.

OK, when do we play the Colts?

Oh right...December 31st at Indianapolis.

Who is hoping for a 15-0 Indy team facing the Dolphins in the last regular season game?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Telling It Like It Is (UPDATE)

From reader Lissy comes this gem of a comment recently submitted in response to this post.

Probably the best and most heartfelt comment ever received in this blog.

UPDATE: Lissy has started a new blog. Looking forward to reading her thoughts and opinions.

All I have to say is: Amen. A-MEN.
Here's a harsh truth, but someone has got to say it.

First of all, let me tell you I'm a black Cuban-American. My grandparents were Batista sympathizers and they fled with their children. My father finished high school here in the States. He then went on to serve in the Army as there was a draft. When he was done with serving the country he became an electrical engineer. To this day he has yet to call himself an African-American. According to him and the rest of us, we're all Cuban-Americans.

We have a very large family of black Cubans and through the years they've married white Cubans, black Cubans and even some black Jamaicans, as some of the family fled to Jamaica.

Now that you know where I'm coming from, let me tell that Anonymous and any others something that nobody has brought up.

There are very little or no black folks that are immigrants in this country that would ever call themselves African-Americans. They're Cuban, Jamaican, Haitians, Dominicans, Bahamians, or Puertoricans. The truth is that anyone from South Africa whose white can call themselves an African-American too. So looking for a politically correct label other than calling a spade a spade has turned out looking stupid.

The reason for that is while the blacks in the U.S. have decided to keep the chip on their shoulders and play the race card at every turn, blacks everywhere else have used the cards they've been dealt to make themselves a better future and haven't griped about racism at every opportunity.

That being said I know that there are plenty of black Americans that are successful. I don't understand why the black American continues to let extremist groups speak for them. Those groups are the true racists. They are the ones who continue to try to make rifts and canyons between the races

The Cubans came only 47 years ago, without a penny to their names, without welfare and without the language and look what they have accomplished. They didn't form a coalition to force people to accept them. They made lemonade out of lemons. They mopped floors and waited on tables, all the while instilling pride and hard work in their children. Teaching them that the only way to get ahead was to get an education and work hard. Who cares what people thought about the loud and rowdy Cubans. Let them point and let them move away, we're different, so what. Now look at all of those who laughed and moved away. They're moving back like nuts trying to get a piece of the pie the Cubans baked in South Florida.

Blacks from other countries don't want to be called "The Successful Black Man" They want be known as the "Successful Man", period. They don't want special treatment. They know that if you've got it, people are going to want it, regardless of your skin color or ethnicity.

I take offense with anyone who tries to treat me with kid gloves because I'm black. I don't want people around me walking on eggshells because they may insult me and start a riot.

Groups that pretend they're there to help the black man have other agendas, and helping is not one of them. Stop being so blind. Stop seeing everything as a black vs. white issue, it is not. The world does not revolve around us. Life is not about "black", "white", "red" or "yellow" skin. It is about proving you're a good human worthy of respect. Respect comes automatically, if you deserve it...

Trolling for Ana

Remember my post about the Honda ads popping up around Miami praising different Hispanic groups?

Well...our resident bleeding heart at the Herald, Ana Menendez, took the bait. Hook. Line. Sinker.

Not in response to my post, but to Honda's advertising schtick.

Must have been a slow week at the Herald for Ana.

That's OK. She's getting warmed up for her big post-election column this coming week.

Ay Dios Mio!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Tale of Two Ideologies

From today's Herald op-ed page, two columns. One by conservative Cal Thomas. The other by liberal Richard Cohen.

Thomas: Conservatives must unite.

Cohen: Fight for democracy.

If you read Thomas' piece, you can probably come up with another appropriate headline to his column:

Fight for freedom.

Fight for freedom. Fight for democracy. Same thing, right? Basically, yes.

The essential difference lies in where the "fight" is directed towards.

One is directed at a group of people who are driven to eliminate us and our way of life. The other is directed at an administration it is at odds with.

One is directed at a proven, real and present threat. The other is directed at a president and administration that, while committing many mistakes, has not posed anywhere near a threat to our way of life as those from the first group.

There it is in a nutshell folks.

Rats in Schools

I'm talking about the real ones, you know, rodents. Last week, the Miami Herald ran a story about a rat infestation at an inner-city Miami elementary school. Now it appears that 21 schools in all have been cited for poor conditions.

Most of the blame for this has been placed on the school district. They definitely deserve a share of the blame for not reacting fast enough to complaints and recommendations dating back to August.

I also think there's another entity to blame here: the schools themselves.

Seems logical, right?

Well, you have to look hard at the Herald article to find any sort of blame given to the school.

Here it is, about halfway down the article.

Although the health department conducts routine inspections throughout the school year, the responsibility for ensuring that problems are addressed depends upon the school principal and other administrators at the school notifying school district officials, said Samir Elmir, director of Environmental Health for Miami-Dade County.

''We've found that these problems often occur at schools where the principal doesn't take inspections seriously,'' Elmir said.

But Felipe Noguera, a school district spokesman, said that, on further investigation, school officials found that in many instances, school personnel such as cafeteria workers never turned bad inspection reports into the principal. In other cases, there was a delay in reviewing reports because some were sent in bulk, he said.

I feel there's still something obvious that's not being mentioned. If rats are running around a school, or any other place for that matter, it's because of one reason: unsanitary conditions. That means garbage, food and other things that attract rats is not being picked up and properly disposed of. Rats are everywhere in South Florida, they are attracted by water, which we have plenty of 'round these parts. So then why do only certain schools have these problems?

Once again, our society has been conditioned to pass the blame. "It's not our fault, blame the people downtown". That seems to be the message here. And I don't like it one bit. Perhaps this assessment is too un-PC. We would rather blame the big-wigs than take an honest look at ourselves.

Yes, the district needs to enforce regulations better. But the individual schools need to do a much better job of cleaning their campuses, plain and simple. A broom and mop can work wonders for the sanitary conditions of a place.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Saturday Suggestion

I don't think I've ever posted a tip on upcoming events here in South Florida, so this is a first.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra will perform in concert tomorrow night at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise at 8 PM.

Trans-Siberian who?...you may be asking.

TSO is an ensemble that combines hard rock with classical orchestra, and focuses on Christmas/Holiday songs and themes. They have released 4 CDs to date, all but one having a Christmas theme. They receive quite a bit of airplay on radio and VH-1 during the holidays, mainly for their instrumental tune "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo". Their CDs are made up of a mix of interpretations of classical pieces by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Lizst and others, as well as original compositions. Think Mannheim Steamroller, but with much more steam coming out of their engine. They also resemble other bands who have successfully melded rock with classical, such as ELP and ELO.

Check out some video/audio samples here. Also, check out this cool video filmed by a fan from Ohio who synchronized his house Christmas lights to the music. This video became such an underground smash that the Miller Brewing Company picked up on it and featured it in a Miller Lite commercial which ran last December.

Their tours are hugely successful, and last year they ranked as the 12th most successful touring act. Their holiday tour began last night and runs all the way until the end of the year. I've never seen them in concert, but they have a reputation for putting on a hell of a show.

I know it's still a little early to get into the true holiday spirit, but the show tomorrow night should be a fine start to the holiday season.

An Open Response

My post last week on former state Representative Ralph Arza and his use of the n-word triggered the most comments of any post on this humble blog. One of the most recent comments was left yesterday by that ever-present Anonymous person (he/she really gets around, eh?)

In the comment, our fair Anonymous from an undisclosed fair location really gives it to white Cubans, and covers everything from Nelson Mandela to the "social clash" between blacks and whites. The comment is posted in its entirety below.

I am opening this up for responses from our esteemed readers. After all, it's never a bad time to educate.
Maybe I'd have to be in Florida, inhaling the cocaine laden air to not find so many posts here, as absolutely sick.

Cuban vs. Black

Obviously there aren't too many black cubans posting, because the tone seems heavy on the white cubans inbred mentality of racism that conveniently excises anything black/african from their culture, until they want to shout about Cuban music. Azucar Negra indeed.


Oh how horrible Mandela was to give any praise to Castro who offered support against the system of racism and Apartheid that had been destroying his people for centuries. Of course WHITE cubans can't find respect for anyone that fights against a racist system - White cuban are only against economic systems that deprive them of slave plantations, automatic racial privilege, mafia gambling, and in general the luxury life while watching poverty in the fields enjoyment that they feel is inherent in for the descendants of slave owners and pirates. Sorry, I meant to say inherent for the descendants of Spain's best exports.

Social Clash

Obviously it is important for many Cubans to believe that all African-Americans are poor, uneducated, criminals, lazy and uncultured, because that makes them feel they have a group of people to consider lower than them. Reminds the Cubans of the home they fled when because they lost their plantations and unquestioned right to racism and class bigotry. It is even easier to not understand the history of slavery, racism, class issues in the the US, when they deliberately ignored them in their own Cuban country.

That a lot of African-Americans are good people, cultured, educated,kind, generous, hard-working, etc. is something unacceptable to Cubans who grew up with the image of the "lazy" black slave who just happened to do most of the work in the country.

Also lost on such people is the fact that African-Americans didn't flee the US, but stayed and fought for rights, justice, etc. that made American even begin to live up to what American ethics claimed to be from the beginning. It is easy to be smug and flee to another country with struggles fought by OTHER people for a better national ethic, instead of staying in your own country and making a change.

Of course this Cubans cannot understand racism very well, because in general Latin Americans is centuries backwards on such issues. Blacks in those countries trying very hard to be seen as "latino" not black, because they know that black is unnacceptable unless you sing like Celia Cruz or can serve as a low-paid slave.

For those white cubans (and non-skin color denying blacks and "mulatos", and those who have a whole lot of relatives who are obvious blacks/mulatos even if they themselves came out white)who are not racist, I don't know how you can exist in a community for whom racism is more natural than breathing.

It Pays to Advertise

This post at Stuck on the Palmetto mentioned a billboard ad by Honda praising Colombians. It's apparently part of a marketing scheme by the auto company to appeal to Hispanics.

They also send a valentine to Cubans, as pointed out in this Herald letter to the editor:

Slight to non-Cubans

There is a huge cloth billboard sponsored by Honda looming over downtown Miami Avenue and Flagler Street written in Spanish. Translated it says: ``The Cubans are responsible for making Miami a paradise.''

I'm not quite sure what prompted this ad, but I can only imagine how the thousands of people of other cultural backgrounds who have made wonderful contributions to this city must have felt upon reading it. (Both of my parents are from Cuba.)

What prompted Honda to put up this billboard?


The answer to Diana's question is easy: advertising. They don't care about Cubans, Colombians or anyone else for that matter. They care about our greenbacks. That's why I just shrug when I see these type of ads. Besides, just because Cubans may be responsible for making Miami a paradise doesn't imply that others aren't responsible as well.

But that's obviously not the point Honda is trying to make. Let's not turn this into another ethnic "I'm better than you" issue. It's an ad meant to make us spend money so that we can fund some Honda big-wig kid's education. That's all.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

OAS Comes Down on Cuba (UPDATE)

The human rights branch of the Organization of American States (OAS) has condemned the numerous human rights violations committed by the castro regime in recent years, reports Pablo Bachelet of the Miam Herald.

Unfortunately, the condemnation has virtually no bite to it. Why?
The decision by the commission, a branch of the Organization of American States (OAS), will likely have little immediate impact on the 61 dissidents still in jail or the relatives of the three hijackers because Cuba has not recognized previous commission decisions.

Cuba argues the commission has no jurisdiction over Havana because the country was suspended from the OAS in 1962. It routinely returns IACHR communications unopened.
The online version of this story is pathetic compared to the much greater detail offered in the print version. I guess the Herald didn't want to give it's non-subscribers the "real scoop". Hmmm.

: The full version is now available online here.

The print version mentiones that while Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962, the human rights commission argues that Cuba is "still subject to its jurisdiction because it continues to be part of the 1948 Charter of the OAS and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man of the same year".

On the other hand, Cuba wasn't part of another agreement in 1969 that created the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, therefore neither side can take their case to this court.

Sounds like a typical diplomatic and legislative mess that in the end doesn't resolve anything.