[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: September 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Changes to South Florida Radio

I found out about this kind of late, but Contemporary Christian station WMCU 89.7 FM, otherwise known as Spirit FM, has been sold to American Public Media Group. Spirit FM had been one of the more stable, if not obscure, stations in the market, offering Christian-themed contemporary music for a long time.

To me, that's somewhat bad news. I'm not a big listener of the station, but the few times I did listen I was pleased by the non-sensationalistic, positive message the music and broadcasters conveyed.

However, not all is lost. Not by a long shot.

American Public Media Group will convert 89.7 FM to a classical music format. That's right, the void of classical music on FM reaching a large audience in South Florida is coming to a thankful end. I am most definitely looking forward to once again having a professional, first-class classical music station in South Florida.

We deserve it. Let's support this station and the cultural benefits it will no doubt provide to our community.

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Holy Image Dissapears

Reports from sources very close to 26th Parallel indicate that the image projected onto a tapestry at St. Brendan Catholic Church that many believed to be that of the Holy Family is no longer visible.

It appears that a candle above the tapestry burned out, and after it was replaced with another candle, the image was no longer visible.

Oh well. At least the image represented hope and faith for many. That's what it should be all about.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Play Time for Loons

Ah yes...fall is in the air. Leaves are changing up north, temperatures are falling into the upper 80s across South Florida, football season is kicking into second gear...

And the leftist loons from Latin America are running around New York City.

Consider the following nuggets uttered in recent days by Latin American lefty leaders:

(Daniel) Ortega, the head of the Marxist-leaning Sandinista party that ruled the country in the 1980s, acted as if the Cold War had never ended, telling the U.N. audience that the United States was the ``most gigantic and impressive dictatorship that has existed in the history of humanity.''

He met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for more than an hour, and the two parted with a warm embrace as cameras flashed. Afterward, Ortega told journalists his nation and Iran would form an unspecified ``front for the fight of peace.''

Image courtesy AP/David Karp

And this from our favorite Andean leader, Evo Morales:

Meanwhile (Evo) Morales, who is looking to build a reputation as a champion of indigenous rights, filled his four-day New York agenda with 21 appointments, including a Sunday soccer match against a team of Bolivian expatriates from Northern Virginia. He botched a penalty kick but his squad still won, 3-2.

On Monday he recounted his political career before an audience of nearly 1,000 that filled the Great Hall of The Cooper Union in Manhattan, which claims to be a birthplace of sorts for movements like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and The American Red Cross.

Morales was cheered when he touted his government's achievements, praised Cuban leader Fidel Castro and dubbed capitalism as ``the worst enemy of humanity.''

He suggested U.S. aid programs were undermining his government and drew chuckles from his audience as he narrated how he recently summoned the U.S. ambassador in Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, to a 5 a.m. meeting at the presidential palace

He peppered his comments with clever maxims, such as his teasing of a Cabinet minister for wearing a tie.

''I believe the tie separates the head from the heart,'' he said.

Last year, Morales made a splash when he brandished a coca leaf -- the raw material to make cocaine -- as he addressed the General Assembly as part of a campaign to decriminalize the plant that indigenous communities consider part of their traditions. This year he toned down his mentions of the coca leaf and addressed his bad-boy image.

''Please don't consider me the axis of evil,'' he joked with Jon Stewart.

That's OK Evo, we won't. You're the leader of the "axis of idiots".

Next time you hear someone from Central or South America complain about how the United States has ruined their region, think about the people leading several key countries in the region, then tell them what the real problem is.

Speaking of Jon Stewart, check out his interview with Evo on The Daily Show earlier this week. Stewart and his audience's fawning over Evo's remarks was embarrassing, not to mention sickening. But, should we be surprised?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TV Shaping Perception

I didn't watch the opener of the new CBS series Cane. Yeah, yeah I know. I'm probably the only Cuban who didn't bother watching it. It airs just past my bedtime, for starters, and frankly I don't have high hopes for it.

That being said...the debate over at Babalu over the influence of the show on how Cuban-Americans are viewed in mainstream America has been quite interesting. I can see the points made by those who feel that indeed the influence it casts on mainstream America is something to be concerned about. Unfortunately, too many people are too lazy to inform themselves based on facts, so they rely on the boob-tube to "educate" them.

However, I feel differently. If we're going to let lazy folks who's window to the world looks out to American Idol shape perceptions on Cuban-Americans, then we're in trouble. Big time. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many rosy pictures are painted about Cuban-Americans, there's always going to be someone out there who doesn't get it.

Frustrating? Damned right.

These fears could also be a result of underestimating mainstream American intelligence and common sense. I recall during my college days "up north" when Miami Vice was still a big hit, when people found out I was from Miami, they would often ask "Is Miami like what they show on Miami Vice"? They obviously weren't convinced, so they sought verification from a native. My answer was always, "sure I own a yacht and take weekend trips around town in my Ferrari." They got the message.

How do we counter this? First of all, no calls for canceling the program. That would play right into the eager hands of the anti-exiles. I say we turn this issue of perception-based-on-fiction on its head and start promoting ourselves based on FACTS. Can we reach the same audience that CBS can with a TV series? Of course not. However, if we didn't think we could make a difference by blogging, we'd be doing something else, like watching American Idol re-runs for example. It's WAY past time that someone in the Cuban-American community start a campaign that promotes Cuban-Americans. Our accomplishments, our rags-to-riches stories, our perseverance despite heartbreak, our service to the United States, etc. ad infinitum. It may seem arrogant to do such a thing, but what the heck, I'll take that chance if it means that mainstream America will have the opportunity to see and hear true stories from ordinary Cuban-Americans.

And you know what? I may actually stay up past my bedtime and start watching Cane.


Quite A Shock

For those of you who ride motorcycles or like to occasionally "relieve yourself" in the open, or both, this story is for you.

Please be careful, and keep an eye to the sky.
Biker's Penis Struck By Lightning

They say the odds of being struck by lightning are one in a million, but a Croatian motorcyclist has beaten those odds — and then some.

The last thing Ante Djindjic could remember was stopping to take a quick toilet break while out on a ride.

The 29-year-old then awoke in hospital to be told that lightning had struck his penis.

"I don't remember what happened: one minute I was taking a leak, and the next thing I knew I was in hospital," Djindjic told Metro.co.uk.

"Doctors said the lightning went through my body and because I was wearing rubber boots it earthed itself through my penis."

Despite the strike, the motorcyclist received only minor burns to his arms and chest and was assured that his penis would function normally … eventually.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Response to Miracle

Yesterday's post on the holy apparition at St. Brendan's Church has drawn numerous hits from people doing Google searches on the topic. This might very well be the most viewed post/topic via a Google search on this blog, which comes as a surprise since I rarely address religious topics.

Most of the hits have been local (South Florida), but a few have come in from Brazil and England. The word must be getting out.

To those of you who discovered the blog via a Google search on the apparition, welcome! I'll do my best to stay informed and updated on this fascinating story.


Monday, September 24, 2007

castro: dead or alive

Hats off to Val for having the guts to face criticism and apologize for jumping on the recent fidel is dead rumors. Whether or not Val needed to apologize is not the point.

Honestly, I've never believed that the guy is dead. A story that big would get out in a heartbeat, regardless of whether it comes from communist Cuba or a free society. Also, the eventual news of fidel's passing will likely arrive swiftly and without much advance rumors or "chatter".

I've heard Oscar Haza state several times, "when I announce the news, you'll know he's dead". It's not an arrogant statement on Haza's part, but simply stating that when the facts are out there, it will be known.

Wake me up when he's officially dead!


Miracle in Miami?

I'm normally not inclined to believe the validity of holy apparitions. Neither is the Catholic Church for that matter. Of course, we have the big ones that have actually received acceptance by the Church, such as Lourdes and Fatima. But for every one of those there are countless others that tend to "fade away" with time.

Having said this, news of an apparent holy apparition at a local church in the Westchester section of Miami has people talking, and believing. That church is St. Brendan, a church well-known in local circles as having devout parishioners located in a predominantly Cuban-American section of town, and where I was confirmed.

Hundreds lined up outside a Westchester chapel Friday to see it for themselves: the silhouette of the Holy Family projected mysteriously onto a white tapestry.

''It gave me goose bumps,'' Samuel Rosario said as he left the chapel at St. Brendan Catholic Church, cellphone in hand. ``I had to come and see it. It's a miracle.''

Since first appearing late Wednesday, the shadow at St. Brendan has drawn long lines. Parents clutching rosaries and camcorders. Schoolchildren in their uniforms. The aged. Worshipers from as far away as the Keys.

Officials at the church won't say whether they believe the Virgin Mary has appeared, but they're thrilled by the turnout.

''What the people see, that's up to their interpretation,'' said Father Fernando Heria of St. Brendan, at 8725 SW 32nd St. ``What's important is the awakening in people's hearts. Thousands of people have come through the doors of our little chapel. As a priest, what more can I ask for?''

I agree with the Father here. It's nice to see these stories, not because of the validity of the image, but because of the faith it inspires. In a day when religious faith is poo-pooed on by elements of the mass media, it's nice to see that there are still plenty of believers out there who realize that there's more to life than the self, that there's indeed something bigger and more important out there.

Like I said above, I'm typically skeptical of these things. But for a on-again, off-again practicing Catholic, it would be awesome if this ended up being real, right here in Miami.


Et Tu, Defense?

Oy vey, another long season upcoming for our Miami Dolphins. The defense, which for so long has kept the ship from totally sinking, is springing leaks all over the place. Case in point, yesterday's 31-28 loss to the Stinking Jets.

Note: to the rest of the world, they are the New York Jets. To self-respecting Dolfans, however, they are the Stinking Jets. Catch me in a bad mood, and stinking turns to something a little more spicy.

Jason Taylor: who kidnapped you and has kept you from playing the past few weeks? The number 99 I've being watching on the telly doesn't resemble you.

At least we discovered something. Give Ronnie Brown the ball enough, and he will produce.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Please Let It End

The much-ballyhooed U.S./Cuba child custody battle....OK so it's just the Herald and us bored bloggers making a big deal about it....appears to be coming to a conclusion.

It couldn't come soon enough.

Is it just me, or is judge Jeri Cohen sort of a Larry Seidlin-light? She's not as upfront or obnoxious in seeking the limelight, but her facial expressions and occasional opinionated outbursts have gotten quite irritating. Anyway that's beside the point.

I've arrived at the conclusion that if the girl's father really wants to take her back to Cuba, go right ahead. Please. Leave us alone already. I'll be shocked if Judge Cohen rules for the girl to stay. That may sound insensitive, but let's face it, one girl's return to Cuba isn't going to change anything regarding Cuba. Neither would her staying here accomplish much in the larger picture.

Judge Cohen's eventual decision to allow the father to take the girl back to Cuba will be met with the same interest the case has been garnering, which is pretty much with a shrug. Most Cuban-Americans obviously won't be pleased, but for those few Cuban-Americans who love to diss the "historic" hard-liners and secretly reveled in the fiasco that was Elian, realize this: you aren't going to get any big embarrassing reaction this time around. I know that will come as a major disappointment, but as I like to say, "Forget About It"!

Elian Part 2, this is not.


Rather? I'd Rather Not

Dan Rather's lawsuit against his former employer, CBS, over the desperate "Bushgate" scandal that never was struck me as quite odd.

Rather blames his firing on CBS trying to "curry favor with the (Bush) administration".


Rather narrated the September 2004 report that said Bush disobeyed orders and shirked some of his duties during his National Guard service and that a commander felt pressured to sugarcoat Bush's record.

In his lawsuit, Rather maintains the story was true but says if any aspect of the broadcast was not accurate, he was not responsible for the errors. By forcing Rather to apologize publicly, "CBS intentionally caused the public and the media to attribute CBS' alleged bungling of the episode to Mr. Rather," the lawsuit claimed.

Rather's claims that CBS forced him out because of favoritism to the Bush administration seem pretty bogus to me. It's safe to say that Rather had a lot of leeway and pull in the operations of CBS Evening News, including and especially the aired content. He had plenty of opportunity to present his side of the story, which CBS had no problem with at the time.

Wonder what Bernard Goldberg thinks of all this?


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Poor Taste?

This editorial cartoon by Jim Morin was published in yesterday's Miami Herald, the same day a Miami-Dade police officer was buried.

Was this in poor taste? I think so. How about you?


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hold On To Those Wallets!

Obama Proposes U.S. Middle-Class Tax

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama proposed up to $85 billion in tax cuts for about 150 million Americans on Tuesday, paid for by raising capital gains and dividend taxes on wealthy investors.

Obama's tax plan, set to be announced in a speech in Washington, includes a cut of up to $1,000 for working families, a mortgage interest credit for low- and middle-income homeowners and the elimination of income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 per year.


Obama said he would pay for the middle-class tax relief with a crackdown on corporate loopholes and offshore tax havens and an increase in the highest bracket for capital gains and dividend taxes. He did not specify the size of the increase.

I wonder how many middle-class "working families" will be impacted by the increase in capital gains taxes? Of course, the liberal philosophy is that the rich are "privileged" and "fortunate" and aren't really considered working class because well, they just don't work. Money falls out of trees for them. Any money they make is subject to be paid back to the government for just causes.

I'm all for closing loopholes and sneaky back ways to avoid paying taxes. But why penalize the "filthy" rich just because of their success? Don't they have a right to profit from all the good and wise decisions they've made? Of course, I'm not a liberal so I guess I just don't get it.

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Magda Sticks It To Us Again

Okay, maybe not directly...but as you all know I love to pick on South Florida's very own resident castro cheerleader.

Everyone in South Florida has heard about the child custody case involving the now five year old Cuban girl whose birth father, Rafael Izquierdo, is trying to take back to Cuba. Representing the father are, of course, Magda Montiel Davis and hubby Ira Kurzban.

Check out this nugget from yesterday's Herald (emphasis mine):

Izquierdo's lawyers -- Ira Kurzban, law partner Steven Weinger and Kurzban's wife, Magda Montiel Davis -- say they are representing Izquierdo for free, but many of their expenses are being reimbursed by the state Judicial Administration Commission, which covers legal work for indigent Floridians. Davis said they will ask to be reimbursed for $100,000 -- which will be covered by taxpayers.

Davis said she estimates that all members of the legal team probably have foregone about $1 million in legal fees by devoting the bulk of their work time to a case that will earn them nothing.

Ouch! Can you say: neither pro nor bono? I realize that the state DCF is also involved, and that the fees for their reps will likely also be footed by us taxpayers. Still, makes you think about what pro bono really means in this case, eh?

Who needs to complain about using public money to build a baseball stadium when we have lawyers handing us the bill for a child custody case?

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Saturday, September 15, 2007


There's a lot I like about South Florida, which makes me somewhat of a rare bird 'round these parts. That's the problem, we have way too many people who just plainly and simply don't like living in South Florida, yet find a way to stay here for years on end.

A side effect of this epidemic of malcontentedness is something that I'll refer to as NIMBY-ism. NIMBY stands for "Not in My Backyard", and represents those who go out of their way to resist change in the community just for the heck of it.

Transit Miami, one of my favorite local blogs, has waged a continuous war against this sadly South Florida mentality. Transportation issues is one of the areas in which many of our esteemed residents can't agree on. We agree that transportation and congestion is a problem, but too many people seem to care enough about it just to complain.

There's the crux of the problem. It's perfectly fine to complain as long as you have some solutions in mind. It's NOT perfectly fine to complain and complain and complain like so many South Floridians do and do absolutely NOTHING about it. At that point, it's just mere whining.

Transit Miami complains, THEN offers solutions. That's what we should be doing as a community. What a novel concept!

Another case in point which clearly illustrates this frustrating South Florida NIMBY mentality: the proposed Marlins baseball stadium issue. Here's a letter to the editor in today's Herald:

No to a stadium

How many times must residents say No to a baseball stadium while Mayors Manny Diaz and Carlos Alvarez insist on using public money to build it? The Marlins are not popular, the stands are empty at games.

I see so much misery in Miami, many people can barely make ends meet. Diaz has always been power hungry -- look at how he is destroying Miami with overdevelopment. He should finance the stadium out of his personal fortune and not from taxpayers' pockets.


Mr. Harris, here are a few things you might want to consider:

Exactly how many times have residents been asked to decide on a baseball stadium? That's right, zero. Unless you have some special connections to Mayors Diaz and Alvarez, your first statement is false.

But it's his next statement that's often used as the main reason the stadium shouldn't be built. There are so many poor people in Miami that need help, so why would we dare to use "our" money to build a stadium for the rich. Common perception with many false assumptions. First, let's not mix the needs of the poor with the stadium issue. Funding for these issues come from two totally separate pots. We can and should be doing more to help the poor, that's why there's so many programs currently in place to help these folks. The money for a stadium would come largely from a bed tax that tourists pay for every night they stay at a hotel in our community. Tourists flock to South Florida, stay in hotels, pay some ridiculous amount of tourist tax tacked on to room charges. That's essentially where the stadium money would come from. That money CAN'T be used for anything not related to entertainment or tourism-related things. Remember the Performing Arts Center? The money for that project came from the same CDT pool of money.

Lastly, for Mr. Harris to say that Mayor Diaz should pay for the stadium with his own money is laughable if not embarrassing to fellow Miami residents.

Again, Mr. Harris' comments are a classic example of South Florida NIMBY-ism at work. Let's resist building a stadium in order to keep Major League Baseball in South Florida just because there are lots of poor people walking around. Most of all, don't mess with my money (even though it really isn't). Last time I checked, there are plenty of poor people in every major U.S. city, yet they've managed to build stadiums for baseball that undoubtedly add to the value of a community, not to mention create jobs (however many or few those might be).

South Florida's boatload of malcontents will only serve to sink this area into a huge hole if enough people with even a shred of civic pride don't stand up and make their voices and solutions heard. Transit Miami is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise depressing landscape of whining and complaining.

What are you going to do about this, my fellow South Florida readers?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thank An Officer

Yesterday's shooting of 4 police officers, one being killed, by a 25-year-old man with a prior criminal record (and as just read here at Babalu, has criminal relatives) served as an unfortunate reminder of the danger that police officers face daily. What started out as a traffic stop turned into a two-county odyssey, with the killer eventually cornered and shot dead by police last night.

This wasn't even the first police officer killed in the line of duty in South Florida this year.

It shouldn't take events like these to remind us how valuable police officers are to the community. The outpouring of support for law enforcement after 9/11 was very nice, but it's easy to slip back into a normal routine where we under-appreciate the fine work they do.

I sometimes hear and read comments that police officers are "assholes", "jerks", etc. You know what? They're not always going to be the most pleasant people to be around when they're on duty. They have to deal with bad people on a daily basis. Besides, their job isn't to play footsie with people, they work to protect us and show strength and authority in doing so. If they don't exactly smile and offer a bouquet of roses when they pull you over for speeding, then that's just something we have to deal with.

The police's show of force and brotherhood on display yesterday was impressive. It could have been very easy for the scumbag to slip away in a community of 4 million people. Some may think it was overkill, and some may even think that they wouldn't have displayed such manpower if a civilian was shot and killed. To that I say...doubtful. A man with an AK-47 and full body armor on the loose and desperate is someone that needs to be taken very seriously.

Anyway, I know what I need to do. Next time I see a police officer, I'm going to thank them. And they don't have to respond if they don't wish to. That's OK. They're putting their life on the line every day for us. That's good enough for me.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Plus 6 Years - What Have We Learned?

Exactly six years ago right at this moment, the United States of America was under attack from Islamic terrorists. It was the worst day in this generation's lifetime, and quite possibly in the history of this great country.

Anniversaries are always good times to look back as well as to take inventory. Where are we today? Where will we be tomorrow? As always, there are different perspectives. I'd like to start off with one published by the Miami Herald editorial board.

The Herald's conclusion: we're no safer than 6 years ago. On top of that, the real damage caused by 9/11 wasn't to the 3,000 people who perished that day, nor is it the worthy but painful war that we must wage against the Islamofascists. No. It is the supposed lack of freedom we must endure in this country post 9-11.

That's right.

Six years ago today, the United States was attacked in a cowardly and terrifying fashion by terrorists who hate America and everything it stands for. The 19 hijackers did a lot of damage, killing at least 2,974 innocent people and causing enormous destruction in lower Manhattan and at the Pentagon. Looking back from the vantage point of 2007, it may well be that the most lasting damage has been to the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms that it is intended to guarantee.

A variety of laws relating to civil liberties have been distorted, overlooked, restricted or simply denied, all in the name of improving our security. But are we really safer when the government is free to declare that some individuals -- American citizens -- can be denied the fundamental right of habeas corpus just because they are deemed ''enemy combatants''? Should we sleep better knowing that the government can eavesdrop on phone calls or cyberspace messages without judicial approval, i.e., just because it wants to?

Exploiting fears

Are we better off now that the government has decided that spy satellites whose use was once limited to the overseas monitoring of terrorists can now be used to monitor domestic activities of interest to law enforcement and intelligence agencies? Could any of this have been accomplished without stoking the fears created by 9/11?

Those fears were fully understandable. Surprise attacks have a way of arousing our deepest anxieties. But unlike the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, which forged a sense of common purpose and national resolve, 9/11 became the catalyst for stoking partisan divisions that persist to this day because of the government's uneven response.

Herald editors, you can take it to the bank that I sleep good at night thinking that we are keeping a close eye and ear on suspected terrorist activity in our country. The government has a primary responsibility to keep all of us safe, and if that means "eavesdropping" and aiming satellites on a select few individuals, then so be it.

Apparently, I'm not alone in thinking that I'm safer now than 6 years ago. According to a purely unscientific online poll conducted by WIOD radio here in Miami, two-thirds of people feel safer now than 6 years ago. So much for the Herald slam dunk conclusion that we're no safer today.

I don't know about you, but where's the outrage at the fact that terrorists holed up in Guantanamo get three meals a day, free healthcare (paid for by Americans) and prayer services? Exactly.

The Herald concludes with the following:

The threats are real, but the greatest damage comes from our own fears. Six years later, it may be time to recognize that the best way to beat al Qaeda is to reject those fears and stay true to our values, our freedoms and our Constitution.

Talk about wishy-washy.

I checked the Sun-Sentinel's editorial, and here's their conclusion:
The country mustn't let disagreements and division over the war in Iraq distract us from the Sept. 11 enemy. In fact, just last week, Osama bin Laden called on the United States to virtually surrender, and to convert to Islam.

No, thanks. We'll stick with the Bill of Rights, which guarantees everyone's freedom to worship as they choose. That provision in the U.S. Constitution, plus others guaranteeing freedom of speech, press and property rights, are the hallmark principles that made America a beacon and model for the rest of the world.

That, and much sacrifice in the past 231 years.

So, take part in the ceremonies commemorating 9-11 in your hometowns, today if you can. It's important to remember you live in a world that often demands the sacrifice of innocents and soldiers alike.

By taking a moment of remembrance, you accept your duty to share the burden of sacrifice, and lend urgency to the ongoing mission at hand.
Better. At least a recognition of the importance of the battle we're facing and what it takes to succeed.

Best of all, however, were the comments by Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy (and surely a Republican hack), in an interview this morning on WIOD. Listen to it here.

It's well worth your 5 minutes.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Conservative and Liberal Wiring

Conservatives: ever wonder why it's virtually impossible to convince liberals that our view of the world is the right one?

Liberals: ever get frustrated trying to break down and explain complex concepts to simpletons like us neanderthal conservatives (John Kerry, are you out there?)?

Here may be the answer.

I read with interest this AFP article about how conservatives and liberals differ when it comes to how their brains process information and make choices. Basically, the two groups have different "wiring" which is pretty much something you're born with.

Being a big fan and believer in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (if you've never taken the test, you really ought to), the findings of the study come as little surprise. For those of you familiar with the Myers-Briggs lingo, SJs are conservatives (order, authority, structure, judgers), and NPs are liberals (intuitive perceivers). It should come as no surprise, then, that I'm a very strong SJ.

Of course, nothing is set in stone, and experiences can modify personalities and values over time. But the groundwork for our likely ideological and political orientations is in our genes.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Should GOP Debate in Spanish?

The Herald published an editorial today lamenting GOP presidential candidates' lack of participation in upcoming debates hosted by Univision.

I agree. Too bad that the GOP candidates (save John McCain) didn't accept the invitation to participate in a debate to be watched by millions of Hispanics nationwide. They're missing an opportunity to present a reasonable, sensible alternative to the usual Democratic pandering of Hispanics nationwide (of course, when Republicans do this, Democrats call it pandering. Go figure).

They're missing an opportunity to show their conservative ideals to a group of people that deep inside are quite conservative, especially when it comes to social issues.

One can argue that Hispanics, like blacks, will always lean Democrat, so why should the GOP bother?

Here's why they should bother:

By not taking part in the Univision debates, the GOP candidates, above all, are missing an opportunity to finally explain to misled and misinformed Hispanics across the USA that conservatives aren't anti-immigrant. They are ANTI ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. They could spell this out in clear Spanish (via translators) so that once and for all, alarmists and troublemakers will sound stupid for parroting the rhetoric that Republicans and conservatives are bigots for wanting to enforce immigration laws.

That right there is worth the trouble to head down to Miami and debate in Spanish.

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Linda's Back!

My heart held hope when I read a recent Herald sports article written by none other than Linda Robertson, who has been on leave for a year on a fellowship at the University of Michigan. Today, however, my heart leaped for joy when I saw a front-page column with her familiar smiling face on it. She's back!

OK, so I'm being sarcastic.

Being a long-time Herald reader (go ahead and laugh, I'm used to it), I've always considered Linda Robertson to be pretty much at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to their sports reporters/columnists. That's saying a lot, trust me. She has this terribly annoying condescending attitude in most of her articles and columns that's hard to pin down with specifics, but when you read enough of her work, it comes through loud and clear.

It only took her first column - the opening paragraph - to remind me of this:
I came back home last week after a year away. I was a journalism fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a beguiling city that is the opposite of Miami. Winters are cold and gray; people are smart and friendly; and the area's teams -- with the exception of the Detroit Lions and the Wolverines' debacle against Appalachian State -- are stellar and beloved.
Sorry you had to leave Eden to come back to Hell. Or perhaps you're here on a mission to either prove to us how smart you are or to show the rest of us uneducated, stupid and rude Miamians how civilized people behave. Besides, South Floridians as a whole have never been sports-intensive, but that's a topic of a future post.

(It's comments like Robertson's that sometimes makes me wish Miami's climate was more like Jacksonville's or Savannah's, cold enough to drive the wimps out of here but not cold enough to make it totally miserable like Ann Arbor.)

A little more:

The Marlins are fading fast, again, and still hunting for a stadium. After considering every site except Lolita's tank at Seaquarium, they are now discussing the Orange Bowl. And they're still panhandling for public money from the country's fifth-poorest city, even though attendance is still second-worst in Major League Baseball. The Detroit Shock, a women's basketball team, commands more loyalty than the Marlins.

Then there's UM, opening a new chapter with a new coach and quarterback. But as far as the rest of the nation is concerned, Miami is still Thug U., a team associated with brawls and guns.

Gator fans: Still obnoxious.

Linda Robertson after a year in Michigan: still obnoxious.

And I'm afraid we're stuck with her.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Surge in Iraq Working?

I was more than a little surprised when I opened up the Sunday Herald, and right there at the top of Page One was a story on U.S. casualties dropping in Iraq.

How can this be? Didn't we just increase the number of troops with the so-called surge? That's right. And it makes perfect sense, too. The Herald article indicates that there is disagreement as to why an increase in troops would result in a decrease in casualties. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that insurgent terrorists want nothing to do with actual warfare?

I don't know, just a thought. But consider this quote from the article:

Supporters of the troop increase say the lower casualty figures show that the larger number of troops and the counterinsurgency approach of Gen. David Petraeus, the latest U.S. commander in Iraq, have turned Iraqi citizens against armed groups, putting them on the run and fracturing them.

''The population is progressively turning to coalition and Iraqi forces and making a positive difference in bringing security to their towns, villages and neighborhoods,'' Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander, said in August. ``They are pointing out extremist leaders, identifying caches and [improvised explosive devices] and asking to be a part of the legitimate Iraqi security force.''


Most agree that a second reason for the decline is the dramatic change of conditions in Anbar province, where former Sunni insurgents have teamed up with American troops to rid the province of the group al Qaeda in Iraq. About one-third of U.S. casualties have been in Anbar province, but that has shifted since the troop increase began. In August, about 10 percent of U.S. casualties occurred there, compared with 30 percent in January, when the buildup began.

Shiites are fighting one another for control of the southern provinces. Some Pentagon commanders have told McClatchy that they think rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army left Baghdad before the built-up forces began to fight in the south. Throughout the buildup, Sadr has issued statements discouraging his followers from attacking U.S. forces and Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, most recently last week.


Others, however, noted that as U.S. combat deaths have declined, deaths among Iraqi civilians have remained constant and the ''ethnic cleansing'' -- the street-by-street homogenization -- of Baghdad's neighborhoods has continued almost unabated.

While the Shiite Mahdi Army militia has lowered its profile in the capital, it has battled the rival Badr Organization of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council for control of southern Iraq. Two southern provincial governors have been assassinated -- many allege by the Mahdi Army. In northern Iraq, suspected Sunni insurgents killed more than 400 people in a coordinated attack on two villages, the largest terrorist act since the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

''We know a lot of them have left Baghdad,'' the senior Pentagon official said.

Basically what we have now are the militias fleeing Baghdad and continuing their bloodbath in other less secure areas of Iraq. This part still needs to be resolved, of course. But if the encouraging news from Anbar Province can be replicated with the same focus in other parts of Iraq, then the only question we'll be asking is: Why Didn't George Bush execute the surge sooner?"


A Refresher on Magda

Looking through referral links today, I stumbled onto a post of mine from back in 2006 regarding a letter to the editor written by none other than our favorite Miami immigration attorney: Magda Montiel Davis.

Just a reminder of how slimy pro-castro people are.

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