[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: July 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's All About the Beer

Since today's much-ballyhooed beer summit was nothing more than a photo-op for President Obama and couldn't be taken seriously by this blogger, I figured I'd join in the levity and critique the participants' choice of beer.

Biden drank a non-alcoholic beer. Whatever.

Gates drank Sam Adams Light. Not bad, but figures an "elite" wouldn't stoop low enough to drink the high octane version.

Crowley drank Blue Moon (with an orange slice). Very good choice.

Obama drank Bud Light. Figures.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

True Lessons

I don't care how many lessons African-American elites tell us we need to learn from Gatesgate. I don't care about the educational background of said elites. What I do care about are people's words and actions. Watching the video below really brought it home for me because, in the end, I believe the vast majority of decent Americans judge and treat someone based on their character, not their color.

Seeing Jim Crowley's fellow officers stick up for him the way they have teaches more of a lesson about basic human dignity and respect than anything uttered recently by the likes of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Henry Gates, Leonard Pitts, and, yes, Barack Obama.

(Video courtesy of Drudge)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saving a Sinking Ship

I thought of this while sweating my brains out doing yard work this morning, so take it for what it's worth:

As polls come out showing Barack Obama's approval numbers continuing to tank (it's not a free-fall yet, so too early to cue up Tom Petty), no doubt due in large part to the Cap and Trade and ObamaCare fiascoes stalled in Congress, conservatives naturally see blood in the water.

To those conservatives I would say: not so fast.

Sure, Obama's wish to jam the aforementioned bills down our throats as soon as possible isn't playing too well. What happens from here on forward will depend on whether we see "Obama The Post-Partisan Pragmatist" or "Obama The Statist Ideologue". So far it's been mostly the latter. No surprise there. But don't underestimate Obama's ability to play the polls...remember, he's a politician first and foremost. Politicians, especially Obama, love power. Therefore, don't be surprised if Team Obama takes the foot off the pedal, waits until after recess and comes swooping in to save the day with some sort of compromise. Remember, Pelosi and Reid are politicians, too. Exactly what kind of compromise, who knows? It's irrelevant because as long as the trusting media portrays it as Obama saving the day, he comes out ahead regardless of how little is actually compromised and how much we'll still end up getting screwed. It's all about the image. Approval ratings go back up. End of crisis. Better yet, another crisis put to good use.

My advice to fellow conservatives and conservatives in Congress: watch your back.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pulling Together For the Marlins

Following is a very good letter to the Miami Herald by Cutler Bay resident Paul Czekanski that touches on several important aspects of the whole Florida Marlins ballpark deal and what it can mean for South Florida if people are willing to get behind the team.

There was a song back in the '60s called Give Peace a Chance. How about giving the Florida Marlins a chance, too. Let's have a fresh start for our team, two-time World Series champions. Let's get behind and support them. Enough already with bashing the team and stadium deal. It's tiresome.

The stadium deal was done in a public forum. Whether or not you agree with the final decision, the pro side won, and it's time for opponents to stop whining like spoiled children who did not get their way. Move on, and support something positive in our community. Would you rather the Orange Bowl site sit unused, rather than be the site of a tax-generating facility?

Those who blame attendance on having minor-league players should know that Major League Baseball payroll very often does not produce. Look at the Mets now, and the Yankees are not doing much better with their bloated payrolls. And yet our lower paid ``minor league'' players won two World Series championships.

To our Broward and Palm Beach fans: We want you and need you. But please, enough griping about where the stadium is located and having to ``drive all the way down there to see a game.''

Mets and Yankees fans who live in New Jersey, upstate New York and Connecticut often travel up to an hour or more to watch their teams play, as my family did when I was growing up. Not every Red Sox fan lives in or near Boston.

The Marlins stadium site is not that far from Fort Lauderdale, or even West Palm Beach. Eventually a rail link or other transit options might make it easier.

Get behind our Marlins and give the team a chance.

Don't be annoyed at the team changing its name to the Miami Marlins. Let's be honest, not one public entity from either Broward County or Palm Beach County ever stepped up to try to forge a partnership with the team, or with Miami-Dade County to build a permanent home. From the get-go, it has been the city of Miami and Miami-Dade that have stepped up to the plate and have gone through this painstaking process. Therefore, this community has every right to rename the team.

Let's pull together for a fresh start. Get behind our Marlins and give the team a chance. You might actually enjoy the national pastime again in South Florida -- and in a comfortable setting devoid of rain delays or postponed games.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Turtle Skeleton, Aerojet Road, Everglades

Friday, July 24, 2009

With Leaders Like That...

President Obama, apologized...kinda sorta maybe...to Sgt. Crowley and the Cambridge, MA Police Department for calling the officer's actions stupid.

I don't know what's more disturbing: the fact that an educated man such as Henry Louis Gates, a professor, immediately and unjustly plays the race card...

...or that the President of the United States jumped to conclusions in publicly and without hesitation criticizing the actions of an officer of the law.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Weather Forecast

The Miami Herald's editorial board recently wrote an editorial very critical of Obama's proposed healthcare plan, in particular the tax on small businesses.

In other news....

A strong cold front just swept through Hell.

Monday, July 20, 2009

They Get Letters

And we review them. It's been a while since I've done a "Herald letter to the editor" post. There are a few good ones today so here goes:

As a Miami Senior High School teacher, I find Sarah Palin's July 16 Other Views commentary, We can control our energy, to be articulate and eloquent -- I don't believe that she could have written it.

However, Palin (and her ghost writer) miss the point of Obama's cap-and-trade energy plan. Alaska and its leaders profit from our nation's reliance on dirty fossil fuels because their state happens to have a lot of the stuff. They have everything to gain by preventing a green-energy economy from emerging.

Cap-and-trade's main objective is not economic stimulus. Its main goal is to curb greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. It will accomplish this by rewarding nonpolluting energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal) and by penalizing dirty fuels (natural gas, oil, coal).

What science has shown us is that we are toying with our climate in an unprecedented way. We may be threatening our own survival and that of countless other species if we continue on this course.


Perhaps it's the science you want to see, Ms. Georgiadis. When your utility bills skyrocket, as so many people say it will if cap and trade passes, you can come back and complain about how smart and articulate Ms. Palin's ghost writer is (sheesh). One more thing: I hope you're presenting both sides of the issue to your Miami High students.

Nix Zelaya, embargo

I agree with the 17 Republican senators who sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her and the Obama administration to support the removal of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

They point out that ``we should at least ask ourselves if we are right when we find ourselves on the side of Chávez, Castro and Ortega''.

We should ask ourselves if we are right when later this year the United Nations General Assembly votes for the umpteenth time on the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Will we again find ourselves alone or on the side of Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands (with all due respect for these loyal allies)? Or will we go against the good sense of many of our most valued partners in the world?


Next time, Mr. Palli, please try to use a little more moral equivalence to make your argument, OK?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Peering Into Sotomayor's Soul

Myriam Marquez tells us crazy white (Hispanic) male Republicans that we have it all wrong when it comes to Sonia Sotomayor's controversial comment about being a wise Latina. You see, Marquez looks into Sotomayor's soul and tells us what the soon-to-be Supreme Court justice really meant:

Wisdom imparted by Cuba-born U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who backs Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor -- despite her controversial ''wise Latina'' quip attacked by GOP conservatives, particularly white male senators, as a huffy proclamation of prejudiced superiority:

''For someone who is of Latin background, personally, I understand what she is trying to say, which is, the richness of her experience forms who she is,'' said the Orlando Republican, who left his homeland alone as a Pedro Pan kid and lived in Catholic foster homes for four years before reuniting with his family in Florida.

``It forms who I am.''

Each one of us creates from our individual experiences a tapestry of who we become -- for good or ill -- filled with joyous colors and pocked by messy indiscretions.

So it is that a Puerto Rican legal whiz kid, who grew up watching Perry Mason on her way out of the projects, can say from her heart that she would hope as a Latina her experiences would matter, perhaps making her wiser than white men.

That's no different than Justice Samuel Alito telling Congress during his confirmation hearing that he could relate to prejudice and discrimination because of his family's Italian immigrant background or Chief Justice John Roberts connecting to working class America by talking about his summer job at a steel mill.

Lost in the political posturing over Sotomayor are all the white American male influences that shaped her, too -- and have shaped all of us.

Excuse me, Ms. Marquez (and Senator Martinez by extension), but I missed the part where Justices Alito and Roberts used their background to imply some sort of superiority over others. To compare their remarks to Sotomayor's "wise Latina" quip that smacked of ethnic superiority is to severely suspend any sense of reason on this particular issue, IMO.

Ballpark Groundbreaking Reactions

Two interesting columns following the groundbreaking ceremony for the Marlins' new ballpark:

The Miami Herald's Dan LeBatard touches on the emotional side of the event:

It is a beautiful thing, really, that all those kids holding hands with their parents Saturday morning were making their way toward a lifetime of new memories. And that all those sons, all grown up now, were pushing fathers in wheelchairs over the dirt where progress will be built and tomorrows will be remembered.

That is priceless . . . even as it will cost our city either hundreds of millions or billions, depending on whom you believe. So I kept making U-turns in Abuelita's old neighborhood Saturday until I could finally follow the crowds and the noise toward the big party on the burial ground meant to celebrate tomorrow.

It is hard to make a sound argument for our broke city spending these kinds of dollars to build a new palace for a bunch of rich guys to play games, but that argument is emotional, not logical, and it certainly felt good on this morning.
The Sun-Sentinel's Ethan Skolnick has a spot-on request for David Samson and the Marlins:
Let's hope (the Marlins) understand the stadium deal is a beginning, not an end, and that the burden is on them, not the public, since the latter entity has already contributed more than enough. Let's hope team President David Samson reconsiders his recently-stated position that they'll show players the money only after fans show their support at the gate. Let's hope that, at the very least, he keeps similarly buzz-killing declarations to himself from here forward.


Saturday, July 18, 2009



Friday, July 17, 2009

More On Cubans and Fraud

I realize this post accomplishes or says absolutely nothing noteworthy, but I just couldn't help myself.

Re my previous post taking Herald columnist Jackie Bueno Sousa to task for her broad-brush accusation that Cuban-Americans are accepting of fraudulent behavior: three Miami-Dade residents were arrested on Wednesday and charged with taking part in a locally-based interstate drug prescription ring.

The surnames of the arrested: Hernandez, Gonzalez, Alejo. Odds are at least one of them is Cuban.

OK, Jackie. They were arrested. They deserve to spend a long time in jail if convicted. Is that good enough for you? Or will you continue to insist that we constantly apologize for behavior that we have absolutely nothing to do with?

Marlins Ballpark Groundbreaking Tomorrow!

Tomorrow at 10 AM, the Florida Marlins will conduct the "official" groundbreaking for the new ballpark at the Orange Bowl site.

Ballpark opponents, irked that the stadium plans are rushing forward, are apparently grasping at air to find anything...anything to make the decision to build the stadium look foolish. The latest attempt is a link to the recent cuts imposed by Miami-Dade government.

Random Pixels has the dirty details here , discovered at the NBC Miami site that has become little more than a gossip/opinion rag (BTW, nice bananas, Carlos. Next time, tell us how you really feel about Miami).

All I can say is, nice try guys.

While I've pointed out here several times that it's perfectly legitimate to criticize the principle behind this deal between the Marlins, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami, making tenuous connections or even connections that don't exist don't help advance the argument. The county is using hotel "bed" tax revenue to fund their part of the deal. If Miami-Dade County (and every other county, city and federal entity) misspent their windfall 3-4 years ago and now sees a need to cut across the board, it has little to nothing to do with the stadium deal based on the way the deal was structured and the fact that bed tax revenue can't be used to help offset losses in other areas. If bed tax revenues end up being less than forecast in the coming years, then we have a real, legitimate beef.

Are Random Pixels and Carlos Miller clairvoyants? There's a slight chance, but based on their arguments, I wouldn't bet on it.

Florida Marlins: Congratulations. May you dig deep and often.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Garvin Nails OAS

The column is two days old, but it's never too late to point out how ridiculous and utterly useless organizations like the OAS are:

Ladies and gentlemen: Glenn Garvin.

There's been no formal announcement yet, but I think Woody Allen must be remaking Bananas, his old comedy about Latin American politics. Really: When Argentine president Cristina Fernandez tells the Organization of American States that the miliary coup in Honduras amounted to ''kidnapping the democratic restoration in Latin America,'' how could it be anything but a punch line? And the joke -- a very sad and expensive one -- is the OAS.

An organization that can, with a straight face, expel Honduras as a threat to democracy barely a month after inviting Cuba (50 years without elections and still counting) to join, has lost any claim to serious consideration, much less the funding of American taxpayers.

Founded in 1948, the OAS is an artifact of the Cold War, originally intended to resist Soviet mischief in Latin America. How much it really accomplished in that regard, and at what cost, are open to debate. But what isn't arguable is that for the past 30 years, the OAS has devolved into a pack of circus clowns who perform political somersaults for the amusement of the region's leftists -- all on the nickel of U.S. taxpayers, who put up more than 60 percent of the OAS budget.

The OAS double standard on democracy dates at least to the late 1970s, when it worked to oust Nicaragua's anti-communist Somoza dynasty while breathing not a word about Omar Torrijos, the vicious left-wing military dictator just over the hill in Panama.

But in the past decade, the organization has outdone itself. If the OAS were a sports team, its official mascot would be a pipe cleaner, its motto Capable of bending around any corner.

The rule of law? That's very important for a centrist government in Honduras -- so much so that the OAS has appointed itself the ultimate arbiter of the country's constitution, overruling the Honduran supreme court. Not so much in Venezuela, where leftist strongman Hugo Chávez sent mobs to Caracas city hall to keep a victorious opposition candidate from taking office after he won election last year.

The sanctity of elections? Absolutely crucial in Honduras, where the OAS insists that Chávez's sock-puppet Manuel Zelaya be returned to power to serve out the final six months of his term even though practically every political force in the country opposes him. But much less so for Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega's Sandinista party was so obvious in its theft of 40 mayoral elections last fall that even the ordinarily sympathetic European Union cut off aid.

Toppling elected governments? That's an authoritarian affront to the hemisphere if it's done by the army in Honduras and participatory democracy when it happens at the hands of leftist mobs in Ecuador, where Jamil Mahuad was forced out in 2000. (Pssst! Don't tell the OAS, but the Ecuadoran army helped, too!) Or in Bolivia, where two presidents in two years were driven from office by machete-wielding gangs loyal to cocaine socialist Evo Morales -- who, in an amazing coincidence, was elected president right afterward.

Literally nothing -- not even captured documents showing that he was supplying money, oil and weapons (including anti-aircraft missiles) to Marxist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia -- can prod the OAS into breathing a word against Chávez and his left-wing cronies.

The organization's left-eye-blindness reached terminal levels in the wake of last month's coup, when the OAS ignored Chávez's ranting threats to invade, then blandly cited ''the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states'' as its justification for expelling Honduras and threatening the broke little country with economic sanctions. As Woody Allen said in Bananas, ``It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.''

Judging Equally

To all those people who think that a "no" vote on Sonia Sotomayor is a vote against Hispanics and other majorities, and implies some sort of racism:

Get off your faux moral high horse and realize that equality means equal justice for ALL, and that the reason people like Martin Luther King, Jr. risked their lives day in and day out was to ensure that ALL people had that right to be treated and judged on the same plane, not just a select group of minorities.

This also includes the right to be passed up for a job based on merit, qualifications and past actions.

Thanks for listening.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jackie Bueno Sousa's Cuban Problem

Been catching up to the latest musings of our favorite Miami Herald columnists, and not one, but two of Jackie Bueno Sousa's columns perked my interest. The first one, back on June 28th, served as a good reminder not to draw conclusions about minorities based on the actions of some. The second one, written exactly one week later, implores us to admit that Cuban-Americans have a knack for looking the other way when some of their own scam the government or other big business, whether it's Medicare, the mortgage/real estate industry, or anything else.

If you would have told me that Sousa wrote the first column and Carl Hiaasen the second, I wouldn't have batted an eye. The fact that Sousa wrote both is puzzling, not to mention amazingly contradictory, for a major newspaper columnist to pen exactly one week apart. Oh, and that Sousa is Cuban-American.

Somehow, the Cuban-bashers that wrote to Sousa in the wake of her first column made an impression on her. She basically admits as much. These folks apparently managed to convince Sousa in the span of one week that there is more than just a kernel of truth in the perception that Cuban-Americans as a whole have a bad tendency to "accept" dishonesty and fraud.

Good Jackie circa June 28th, 2009:
Certainly many Cubans have been involved in the recent strings of Medicare fraud arrests, and I wouldn't even be surprised if, as some believe, the Cuban government were benefiting from a scam that totals hundreds of millions of dollars. But the notion that Cubans are primarily responsible for such a popular criminal scheme highlights a myopic mentality in vogue these days.
Not-so-good Jackie circa July 6th, 2009:
While the overwhelming majority of Miami's Cuban community consists of honest, hard-working people, there's a certain passivity and acceptance in how we react to those who do engage in such fraudulent acts.
Yes, there are Cuban-Americans that take advantage of the system and commit all sorts of fraud, major and minor. I know some. Is it enough to categorize as a broad "acceptance" issue for Cuban-Americans as a whole? Of course not. A columnist with basic smarts and common-sense principles such as Sousa should know that. If I'm wrong or just simply naive, prove it to me (and no, distant relatives in Cuba don't count as broad anecdotal evidence).

Whenever Cubans pound their chest and proclaim that they turned Miami from a small meaningless town in the swamp to a major metropolis, I cringe. Whenever non-Cubans blame Cubans for South Florida's problems, I cringe. Whenever one generalizes the bad of their own group, I cringe.

I play no favorites here. If our local history has taught us something, it's that each and every ethnic group that has set up camp in South Florida has its share of successes and downfalls that we can point to. Just like the rest of the world. In the end, we all put our pants on the same way and have to deal in the real world with both good and not-so-good individuals.

The main underlying problem we DO have as a community is this: we have a tendency to see the worst in our neighbors, especially if they're from "somewhere else" (which they almost inevitably are). It's largely because we don't see ourselves as being from Miami, but from "somewhere else", with the invariable "where I'm from, we don't do things this way" attitude that comes attached with the misplaced sense of ethnic/regional/national pride. It's therefore no surprise that Sousa got the type of letters she did in response to her spot-on first column (why her knees turned to jelly afterward remains a mystery). With all of our diverse groups serving as experts in pointing out each other's flaws, you would think our problems would have been resolved a long time ago, right? Yeah.

When You Have No Solid Argument...

you can always fall back on the good ol' trusted war horse.

This article posted at Babalu the other day reminded me of the silly arguments and name-calling people on both sides of the Cuba issue often fall back on when solid, factual arguments aren't enough or don't exist. My grievance is mostly with the pro-engagement-with-Cuba crowd who often finds itself resorting to cries of "Batistianos" and "Mafiosos" in reference to the hardline right, but some on my side of the fence fall into a similar trap as well, calling anyone and everyone who doesn't agree with them "comunistas", whether it's warranted or not.

I don't have a suggestion for our friends on the left...they can use their allegedly superior intellect to figure it out on their own. I will, however, remind those on the RIGHT side (in more ways than one) that when one stops using facts and logic and resorts to similar tactics employed by the other side, it's we who lose the argument every single time.

Instead, we should take to heart the immortal words the immortal Mr. Miyagi once said:


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not All Presidential Ousters Are Made Equal

Back from a week of dodging thunderstorms up in Northeast Florida (meanwhile, the weather in South Florida made a turn for the better). Just my luck. Nevertheless, it was good to do a little body surfing in the nice 4-5 foot swells (sorry, I don't have any pictures).

I left last week with a note on the situation in Honduras, and I return with another one. Andres Oppenheimer opined early last week about how the U.S. made the right decision by not supporting the ouster of Zelaya in Honduras. I understand the general sentiment, but the problem I have with it is this: the ouster was driven by Zelaya's thoroughly un-democratic actions. I think responsible people can make a distinction between what happened in Honduras and what's occurred in places such as Venezuela, for example. Perhaps there was a better way of deposing Zelaya. But if the goal of the overthrow in Honduras was to re-establish a semblance of democracy, shouldn't that also be noted and supported by the U.S. and other democracy-supporting states?

This was Oppenheimer's only flaw in what was a dead-on article which rightly took the OAS to task for its hypocrisy and double-standards.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Pinecrest Today


Happy Fourth of July!

Peeking my head in for just a second to wish everyone a happy and SAFE Fourth of July. Remember, nature's fireworks can be deadly, too.

I am retreating just as quick as I came in, since I will be out of town and with zero computer access for a week. Feel free to look around, throw a few parties...but just make sure everything is back in its place, OK?

Before I leave, I just want to say one small thing to Rick Sanchez:

Shut up already. You're embarrassing us.

Honduras to OAS: Get Lost

Honduras' governmental body has guts. That's all I can say in the wake of what's happened over the past couple of weeks, including their most recent decision to get out of the useless Organization of American States.

Meanwhile, the Herald thinks the new government's actions and statements in deposing Zelaya to exile hurts the cause of democracy in Honduras. Sure, the government could have been a little "cleaner" in its removal of Zelaya. But to make that the centerpiece of Honduras' problems and not the fact that Zelaya was using overtly anti-democratic means (with assistance from his friends Chavez and Ortega) to take over his country speaks volumes for where some people's priorities lie.

Bravo, Honduras!