[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

What About the Embargo?

The Miami Herald embarked on a five-part series on the "embargo" with part one yesterday (comprised of two article). I know what some of you are thinking.

"The Herald writing a story on Cuba must be some kind of castro love-fest" and/or exile-bashing contest".

Neither of the above would apply to the articles referenced here. It's actually a rather nuanced and surprisingly analytical and realistic view of the "embargo". Those who are dead set against the embargo because it prevents some sort of opening will likely squirm in their chairs in certain parts of the article, while those of us who favor sanctions will find good material to support our arguments but at the same time some thought-provoking stuff as well.

The best of the two articles is this one.

Lost in the argument over what the United States might do is the fact that change is a two-way street. Cuba can say thank you, but no, we don't want to do business with you.

``What the Cuban government wants is more American tourists,'' said Mauricio Claver-Carone, board member with the politically influential U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, a pro-embargo group that contributed $452,000 to Democrats and $308,500 to Republicans in 2008. ``It's an easy source of financing, and they control that commodity.''

The other article focuses on American products sold in Cuba at prices that are out of the reach of most Cubans.
While U.S. consumer goods may be readily available on the island, they are not always within reach of average Cubans.

Take the Wilson baseball cap, for example. With a price tag of 11.20 convertible pesos, that makes it about $14. Now consider that base minimum wage on the island is about $10 a month. If the same cap were adjusted for the U.S. minimum wage, it would cost $1,624. (The comparison is not entirely accurate, though, for a nation where housing, food and medical treatment are either free or subsidized.)

The best quote from either article, however, is this one from a typically surname-less Cuban:

``The embargo is not between America and Cuba,'' said Manuel, 46, a Havana cab driver. ``It's between Cubans -- those who can afford things and those who can't.''

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Inspiration

Sometimes, reading the Sunday Herald can yield some nice surprises. Like this story by Dan LeBatard on former University of Miami basketball star, Miami Heat first-round pick, Miami native and all-around class act Tim James' service in Iraq.

A more inspiring story is very difficult to find, IMO.
James hasn't shared his past with fellow soldiers. Quiet, remember? Humble, too. He wanted to be just another teammate. So none of James' fellow soldiers knew he used to play pro basketball, though they all said he should have after he scorched those younger soldiers in a pickup game one day during training. He didn't tell them after that, either.


Word on the base is now spreading that James was an NBA player, so during the hottest and dirtiest days, fellow soldiers will ask: What the hell are you doing here? You chose this?

You ever doubt your decision, Tim?

``Absolutely not,'' he says. ``To be able to support and defend freedom gives me great joy. A lot of people have died for something many Americans take for granted. I wake up every day knowing I'm doing something important with my life. This is so fulfilling. Keeping our country safe gives me great purpose.''

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Government Control of the Internet

To be honest, I don't think there's anything wrong with the federal government taking measures to protect us from cyber-attacks. After all, it falls within their job description of protecting our national interests in cases of imminent threats to our safety and well-being.

As always, though, the devil is in the details. There are legitimate concerns about privacy and undue access to private records, not to mention the federal government's less than stellar record on cybersecurity. Thus, it would behoove all of us to closely watch the progress of the Rockefeller bill. This shouldn't preclude us from wanting or even expecting the government to step in during critical emergencies, however.

This article addresses some of these issues.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Raises and Taxes

In the wake of the news that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez gave significant raises to 12 of his employees weeks after instituting a 5% across-the-board pay cut for county employees, I received my property tax notice in the mail yesterday. Here are the results:

- Assessed value of my home plummeted - predictably.

- Taxable value remained virtually the same, predictably, thanks to Save Our Homes.

- Property taxes will INCREASE by at least $200 over last year. Whoa!

Mayor Alvarez is going to have a hard time explaining this in light of his select pay raises while the rest of the county workforce swallows a cut in pay. I've always liked Mayor Alvarez and he's pretty much a straight-up guy, but on this issue he's totally blown it. Hugely disappointing.

EU Diplomats Visit Cuban Dissidents

Keep this up, EU, and you can kiss your "warmer relations with Cuba" goodbye. You see, the Cuban regime considers warm relations to be akin to the relationship between a drill sergeant and his troops. Don't even try to stray and investigate suspicious regime activity.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's Good for the Goose...

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Glenn Garvin.
...anybody who stops buying Puffins at Whole Foods over John Mackey's theories on Obamacare has no right to criticize Cuban Americans for burning the singer Juanes' CDs over his affection for Fidel Castro. And if you want Fox News to kick Glenn Beck off the air, you can't complain about Clear Channel doing the same to the Dixie Chicks. That shut-up-and-sing stuff goes both ways.

The Catholic Church and Cuba

As a practicing Catholic, I can say with total honesty that I've often been disappointed by the U.S and Cuban Catholic Church's lack of strong denunciation of human rights violations in Cuba. I don't agree with their stance on the embargo, but it would be much more palatable for me if they were even stronger in their criticism of the utter lack of human rights in Cuba, not to mention open and frequent acknowledgment of the imprisoned dissidents on the island.

Nevertheless, I can't deny the good the Catholic Church has done for Cuba. This letter by Rev. Thomas Wenski, Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando, highlights some of their accomplishments in bringing direct aid to Cuba.
Did the help sent through the church after last year's hurricanes reach its intended destination? The answer to that question was Yes -- and part of our visit was actually to see where and how the help sent from the United States made a difference last year. Caritas Cuba (the Cuban equivalent of Catholic Charities) coordinated and supervised the distribution of tons of relief supplies sent from Miami in an effort mounted on this side by Catholic Relief Services and the Archdiocese of Miami's Catholic Charities.
There's one other very important thing I'd like to point out from Rev. Wenski's letter. People frequently wonder why we don't see big changes in Cuba. Most Cubans are undoubtedly fed up with the situation in Cuba, so what's going on? There are many plausible reasons and it's not something that can be answered in a quick sound byte. One reason is the stripping of faith and religion from the Cuban society over the past several decades, courtesy of castro, Inc. There's a direct correlation between faith, hope and seeking change, IMO. This fact isn't lost on Rev. Wenski:
In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict wrote: ``A world without God is a world without hope.'' When a society closes the door to the Infinite, to transcendence -- whether by adherence to ideological materialism (as in the case of Marxist-Leninism) or by adherence to practical materialism (as is increasingly the case in our Western democracies) hope is exiled. While Cuba is no longer an officially ``atheistic'' state, 50 years of communism during which religious practice was actively discouraged has had its effect on Cuban society.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yoani Sanchez and Juanes (UPDATED)

The Herald published a front-page Sunday article on Yoani Sanchez today, spanning a total of three pages (not something they do very often, BTW). For anyone familiar with Yoani and her work on Generation Y, most of the article is standard "who is Yoani and why does she do it". An interesting section in the third page addresses the Juanes concert controversy. Lydia Martin quotes part of a recent Generation Y post:

"(Juanes) will raise his voice before a people who have been divided, classified according to a political color and compelled to confront any who think differently,'' (Yoani Sanchez) recently posted. ``We need his voice, but only if he comes to sing without forgetting any Cuban, without rejecting any difference.''

Sounds fairly innocent and pro-Juanes sounding, doesn't it? It appears, however, that Lydia Martin was just showing her thinly-veiled attempt to show support for the Juanes concert by taking a small part of Yoani's post which portrays the concert in a rather favorable light.

If you want to get the full picture of Yoani's thoughts, here's the entire post titled Juanes and the Plaza:

A grey place, of concrete and marble, that makes people feel tiny and insignificant. I pass near the Plaza of the Revolution every day on my way home and cannot stop feeling overwhelmed, seeing myself crushed before that architecture so reminiscent of fascist megalomania. I was there once with a white and yellow banner shouting “freedom,” in front of a dove-shaped altar designed for the Pope. I’m not Catholic, but I wouldn’t have missed the chance for anything in the world to say another kind of slogan in that Plaza.

It appears that on the September 20th, Juanes will try to put a human face on an architectural ensemble where no one is going to go and sit placidly. I have never seen a couple or a Cuban family there who—without being called—find a corner to talk or laugh. A space without trees, designed to gather, overcrowded, for the leader to shout at us from his height, some meters above the pavement, and wait for us to respond with some repetitive slogan of, “We shall conquer!” “To the wall!” or “Viva!”

I think that Juanes should come and sing. If his subject is peace, he will have to know that this Island is not immersed in bellicose conflict, but neither does it know concord. He will raise his voice before a people who have been divided, classified according to a political color and compelled to confront any who think differently. A population that for years has not heard talk of harmony and that knows the punishment given to those who dare to voice their criticisms. We need his voice, but only if he comes to sing without forgetting any Cuban, without rejecting any difference.

We would like him to accompany his song with the cadence of Willy Chirino, the trumpet of Arturo Sandoval, the rhythm of Albita Rodríguez or the sensual sax of Paquito D´ Rivera… but none of them will be allowed to be there. Juanes will enjoy the privilege of the foreigner, who on this Island is worth much more than the natives. Everything he says between songs—if he says anything—will be interpreted as his support for a system that ebbs away, as the accolade to a group in power.

It was not an innocent decision to choose the Plaza of the Revolution as a stage for his music and he will not be able to shake the political weight that it carries. But if it has to be so, if there is no space in the poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, in my birthplace of Central Havana, on the brink of collapse, if he’s not allowed to immerse himself in San Miguel or Marianao, or even to use the Latin American Stadium, then let him sing under the statue of Martí, facing the image of Che Guevara, but at least let him sing for everyone.

*I wonder if the same thing will happen as at the last two concerts of Pedro Luís Ferrer, where they didn’t let some bloggers in.

A totally different picture is painted when the entire post is included. Yoani knows that Juanes won't be able to fulfill her request, that is, to "sing for everyone". It's a classic set-up, and exactly the reason why this concert will end up being just like all the ones that have preceded it: nothing to see here. Move on.

Bravo, Yoani!

If Juanes wants to play in Cuba, go right ahead. I don't agree with it, but I would rather use this opportunity to remind people of the truth in Cuba and the people Juanes is "buddying up" with who have either directly or indirectly imposed the five-decade long suffering on the Cuban people, not to mention the hypocrisy of the whole "concert for peace" thing. It's much more effective than smashing a pile of Juanes CDs in Little Havana or tweeting death threats. The former approach makes people think. The latter approach doesn't.

UPDATE: Carlos Miller writes an piece at the pathetic NBCMiami.com site that does absolutely nothing to advance the dialogue one bit (including a shout out to a local lefty Miami blogger). And I thought journalists were at least supposed to give the impression of being impartial, even if they're really not.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Forgive Me, Father

Watching and hearing Obama reach out to Christians and appealing that his health care plan is a "moral obligation", I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, or both. On the one hand, I kind of feel sorry for the guy. It's obvious he's reaching. Not necessarily reaching out, just reaching desperately for anything that might stick. But on the other...

Before I tackle the moral obligation aspect of public/universal health care, didn't anyone find it rather offensive that Obama called out those against his plan as "bearing false witness"? He's my president, not my pastor or spiritual leader (gotta wonder if the anti-religion loons on the far-left were similarly bothered by that remark, but for a totally different reason). Besides, who exactly is Barack Obama to call me a liar in light of what we know and don't know about his plan?

I agree that as a moral and just society, we must provide and care for those who can't help themselves (notice I said can't...not won't). Everyone should have access to health care, and for those that need assistance, government should step in. Sound familiar? It should. It's mainly what we have now in the form of Medicare, Medicaid, and free ER visits for the uninsured. Is this good enough? What about those who don't meet the criteria for government assistance yet run into trouble with health care? Those are valid questions worth pondering.

Here's something else to ponder: if we have a moral obligation to provide access to health care for everyone, then we also have the moral responsibility to ensure that we don't unnecessarily burden our neighbors by selfish, personal actions and/or misguided priorities. If I am a 25-year-old with a perfect medical history who has decided to chance it and not purchase adequate medical insurance, then I suddenly come down with a catastrophic illness and can't pay the medical bills, is it your responsibility to cover me? Hmmm.

Many on Obama's side use that very scenario to justify mandating health care for everyone, just like automobile insurance. They have a good point here. The problem is, of course, that they want to run the show and not let individuals and the private sector take the lead. Former senator Rick Santorum nailed the moral obligation argument when he stated the following on Greta Van Susteren's On The Record last night:
...But the question is, is it's (sic) our obligation to provide. I mean, the reason the Catholic church, for example, has hospitals all over the country is because the Catholic church felt it was an obligation for them and for the community to provide. It isn't the obligation for the government to do it. Then you're really taking the obligation from you and from the family and from the community and from -- from each of us individually and -- and to do -- and giving it to some, you know, rather feckless organization, the federal government, to provide care for us.
I certainly hope this is good enough for Pastor Obama. Otherwise, Reconciliation on Saturday between 3 and 4 PM in the Oval Office.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Being Nice Versus Being Honest

Speaking of "death panels", a fascinating piece by David Warren in Real Clear Politics addresses being blunt and honest versus being "nice".

Candour is when you tell a truth that is disturbing, in language so unambiguous that persons in polite company will not want to hear you. It is a way to lose the respect of the genteel -- of those who are "respectable" in the shallowest sense. Rude language is quite unnecessary to this end: the hard truth itself, spoken plainly and publicly, will give sufficient offence.

Thuggery is unrelated to this. It consists not of candid argument but of naked intimidation. It may be done crassly -- for instance, by the union thugs who have begun to appear at U.S. townhall meetings, to confront opponents of the Democrats' health-care agenda. Or it may be done smoothly, with the politically correct gesture, that conveys the threat of later reprisal against anyone who utters the contrary, "incorrect" thought. A good example would be the "flag@whitehouse.gov" e-mail address that was set up on the official White House website, to which Obama supporters across the country were invited to report "fishy" opposition to that health-care agenda.

And "niceness" is something else again, usually allied with hypocrisy. For one can be very selectively nice -- outraged, scandalized, breathtaken with surprise, when Richard Nixon was caught compiling an "enemies list." Yet perfectly indifferent when Barack Obama advertises for input to compile his.

How many "nice" people I know, who casually asserted that a certain George W. Bush was mentally retarded, resembled a monkey, and was guilty of war crimes. Suddenly the same people have "had it up to here" with squalid personal attacks on his successor.


Needless to say the proposals themselves had been couched in "feelgood" language, with public relations campaigns at the ready in case someone like Palin called a spade a spade. She did so in full knowledge of how that publicity machine would respond.

It is assumed she will be running for president on the redneck ticket. But as we saw last week, she does not need any office to get results. For after many nice legislators had condemned her for her "unreasonable" criticisms, the U.S. Senate finance committee this week dropped a key provision to which she had referred, from the House health-care bill before them. According to the ranking Republican member, it was dropped "because it could be misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly."

That's a very nice way of saying that Sarah Palin had a point. And it is a point that would have passed unnoticed, had she confined herself to "nice" language.

I wasn't a fan of the "death panel" terminology used by Palin. But can one argue that it wasn't effective? That it wasn't rooted in some semblance of reality? The answer to those are clear. And that speaks volumes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thank You, Mr. President

Thank you, Mr. President, for being ready to admit that the "public option" was a mistake and to strike it from your health care bill. Maybe it's the pragmatist in Obama, or maybe he knows a sinking ship when he's in one. Regardless, the media will most likely play this out as a "victory" for Obama because he will be seen as having reached out and compromised (how much remains to be seen). Remember, just a few days ago he was in full "bravado" mode telling Republicans to "get out of the way". Of course, waking up on a Sunday morning and realizing that your side is taking a beating kind of makes one reconsider, eh? Perhaps a lot of mainstream Democrats will love Obama even more for this, but I wonder if most independents and centrists will forgive him for taking it this far. The far-left, ironically enough, will have an even harder time forgiving Obama for abandoning the public option, but where else are they going to turn to?

Despite a media-based perception of an Obama rescue, what does this say about the power of the American people? I mean, Obama is less than a year removed from a huge political victory and has a overwhelming majority Democrat Congress that he could have and will still use to drive home his policies. Yet, the people spoke out and not even a super-majority in Congress was enough. If there's one thing conservatives have learned, and I hope this is only the start, is that speaking out and sticking with a theme despite the inevitable cries of "mob" and "racist" pays dividends.

Now, Mr. President, it's YOUR turn to get out of the way and let BOTH sides of Congress sit down and work out a deal. Despite the lack of reporting in most of the media, there is a reasonable alternative health care plan presented by Republicans that can serve as a starting point for discussion. It's the Patients' Choice Act and it's currently going through committee in Congress. Republicans and conservatives have much to gain from this, so let's see if they take advantage.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ohio Survey Ranks Hispanics Low - Right-Wing To Blame

This piece in Time on a survey conducted in Ohio on stereotypes of immigrants in the U.S. should be subtitled:

Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck and all of FOX News hates Hispanics. Here's proof.

By reading this terrible excuse for an objective article and study, you get the clear impression that Ohioans who supposedly live in a "no-immigrant" bubble get their views that Hispanic Americans are crime-ridden, anti-assimilating and poorly-educated people (compared to other immigrants), from the above-mentioned sources.

One of the study's authors, Jeffrey Timberlake of the University of Cincinnati, says as much:
The extremely low marks for Latinos, on the other hand, are of more recent vintage. Immigrants from south of the border may never have enjoyed the same cultural cachet as, say, those from France or England, but the cratering of their numbers is almost surely the result of more than two years of campaign-trail rhetoric and cable fulminations on the issue of illegal Mexican immigrants. "I can't say for certain how the data would have been different in the pre–Lou Dobbs or Glenn Beck era," says Timberlake, "but it seems we're seeing the reflection of the general debate."
OK. And this:
"(Cable TV personalities) are entertainers seeking attention." I don't see the value of ginning up hatred of a particular group. All that does is diminish our chance to solve the problem."
I don't know how accurate the poll really is in reflecting the true tendency of immigrant groups in the United States. I don't believe the results are representative. Do the feelings of 2,000 relatively homogeneous Ohioans speak for folks in many areas of the country where Hispanics are more diverse, both ethnically and economically? I would hazard a guess as to say no.

What's truly pathetic about this study is the foolish attempt to try to blame conservative and anti-illegal immigration people for supposed Hispanic ills. Unfortunately, some people - too many and almost exclusively from the left and academia - continue to insist that people who are against illegal immigration are automatically anti-Hispanic. Chances are these people have never viewed an entire Glenn Beck or Lou Dobbs program, which makes their accusations even more pathetic.

And I thought professors were supposed to be smart. Silly me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Height of Hypocrisy

The Miami Herald Editorial Board blasts the protests which have erupted all across the country at various recent town hall meetings on health care. While I share their concern that shouting down and yelling at your congressperson isn't a constructive way to have your voice heard and for those in power to hear our voices, guess what? It happens from time to time in a representative democracy, especially when big issues are at stake. For the Herald to take the high road here is at best naive, but more likely disingenuous and hypocritical.

Nowhere in the editorial does it mention the union thugs who beat up a conservative protester in St. Louis last week. Nowhere does it mention similar, if not worse, tactics performed by leftist agitators over the past several years. It does, however, mention that many of the health care protesters are part of an organized right-wing opposition movement, thereby making it easier to dismiss the legitimate concerns of average citizens. Do the esteemed Herald editors recall the organizations on the LEFT who have disrupted many a demonstration in the past? Conveniently, no. Also, please note the comparison of the town hall protesters to Cuba's goon squads. Rich.

As a rule, giving politicians a piece of your mind now and then is a good idea. Occasionally, elected officials need to be reminded who's in charge. But don't confuse the rowdy protests in the healthcare reform forums with the fine American tradition of talking back to those who wield political power.

In forum after forum around the country, including Florida, members of Congress have been shouted down, cursed out and forced to cancel town hall meetings on healthcare reform because of bully tactics by opponents of healthcare proposals.

This doesn't promote debate and the exchange of ideas. Rather, it promotes fear and intimidation -- similar to the Cuban government's goon squads, the so-called repudiation brigades.

I'm also waiting for the editors to opine on the White House "e-snitch" account, a topic the Herald hasn't even bothered bringing up almost a full week after it was rolled out by Team Obama. If you want to draw a better parallel to Cuba's repressive forces, this may be a better place to start.

The editorial can be read in its entirety here.

Flag This

My wife, who's not typically the activist type, was outraged enough at Obama's e-snitch program to write a note to our friends at flag@whitehouse.gov. I guess we're now doomed to be on "the list":
To whom it may concern,

I am quite concerned over this request of sending questionable e-mails or conversations relating to the Health Care Reform Plan.

Are you asking us to be watchdogs, to turn people in for expressing their personal opinion and/or feeling about the reform if they are in disagreement?

I am an American citizen. My parents fled their homeland(Cuba), along with my sister and I, because of such practices by the government of their country.

I am fearful this request is a step in the wrong direction. The First Amendment protects American citizens from government restriction on free speech. Where do we draw the line? If we continue down this bumpy road and government intrudes on our right to express whatever opinion, as fishy or valid as it may be, where are we to flee?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

On Sweeps and Bill O'Reilly

This is kind of a strange post, but I'm in a strange mood today.

First off, our unpredictable Florida Marlins...fresh off a demoralizing and near knockout butt-whipping at the hands of the last-place Washington Nationals, do nothing less than bounce back and sweep the world champs in their own ballpark. Talk about saving a season!

One of the most misunderstood people in America today is Bill O'Reilly. Demonized by many on the left as some sort of species slightly below Satan, feelings about Mr. O'Reilly are extremely polarized. However, for anyone that has read any of his books or watches his show more than just every once in a while, it becomes apparent that there's more to the man than his bloviating, sometimes curmudgeon presence suggests.

Case in point: an article in this week's Parade Magazine. For all the things I disagree with President Obama about, I can't and won't deny the fact that his rise to the top is an inspirational story. This is not lost on Bill O'Reilly and he lays it out right here. Also, Parade discovers the nice guy in O'Reilly. There's more than one reason why The O'Reilly Factor is #1 in the ratings and his books are best-sellers.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

More on That Pesky Dissent

A sort-of follow up on a previous post courtesy of Glenn Reynolds:
When handfuls of Code Pink ladies disrupted congressional hearings or speeches by Bush administration officials, it was taken as evidence that the administration's policies were unpopular, and that the thinking parts of the populace were rising up in true democratic fashion.

Even disruptive tactics aimed at blocking President Bush's Social Security reform program were merely seen as evidence of boisterous high spirits and robust, wide-open debate. On May 23, 2005, the Savannah Morning News reported:

“By now, Jack Kingston is used to shouted questions, interruptions and boos. Republican congressmen expect such responses these days when they meet with constituents about President Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security.
“Tinkering with the system is always controversial. To make Bush's plan even more so -- political foes are sending people to Social Security forums armed with hostile questions.

By now, Kingston, a Savannah lawmaker and part of the GOP House leadership, has held 10 such sessions and plans at least seven more.”

On March 16, USA Today reported that Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum "was among dozens of members of Congress who ran gantlets of demonstrators and shouted over hecklers at Social Security events last month. Many who showed up to protest were alerted by e-mails and bused in by anti-Bush organizations such as MoveOn.org and USAction, a liberal advocacy group. They came with prepared questions and instructions on how to confront lawmakers."

This was just good, boisterous politics: "Robust, wide-open debate." But when it happens to Democrats, it's something different: A threat to democracy, a sign of incipient fascism, and an opportunity to set up a (possibly illegal) White House "snitch line" where people are encouraged to report "fishy" statements to the authorities.


It's true, of course, that conservative and libertarian organizations -- ranging from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's American Solutions to FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity -- are getting involved and providing advice and support, just as numerous lefty groups have always done with left-leaning movements.
But, as I noted in an April 15 column in The Wall Street Journal, those groups were playing catch-up to a movement that was already rolling on its own.

The truth is that for my adult lifetime, "protest" has been a kind of Kabuki engaged in by organized groups on the Left with help from the press -- as in the recent bus tour of AIG executives that was organized and paid for by an ACORN affiliate and in which the protesters were heavily outnumbered by the media, who nonetheless generally treated it as an "authentic" expression of populist discontent.
Read it all here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Hispanics Get Sicker in U.S.

Interesting article in the New York Times and Atlanta Journal Constitution on a study done right here at the University of Miami which indicates that first-generation Hispanics have a greater incidence of developing cancer than their countrymen in their native countries.

From the NY Times:
Researchers speculate that one reason for the increase in cancer risk is that immigrants quickly adopt new, less healthy dietary and lifestyle habits, such as increased alcohol consumption, after moving to the United States. It is also possible that some of the increase may be due to more aggressive diagnostic measures in the United States that result in greater cancer detection compared to other countries.

Researchers found that after moving to Florida, Cuban-Americans experienced the most dramatic increase in cancer rates, while Mexican-Americans experienced the least. Overall, Puerto Ricans who had moved to Florida had the highest cancer rates, followed by Cuban-Americans, while Mexican-Americans had the lowest.

The differences among the Hispanic groups were somewhat surprising to the researchers. A possible explanation is that “Mexicans in Florida are very recent arrivals. They have had less exposure to the U.S. environment,” said Dr. Paulo Pinheiro, deputy director of the Global Research and Evaluation Center at the university and the study’s lead researcher.

Cubans who had moved to Florida faced the biggest increases in rates of colorectal, endometrial and prostate cancers compared to those who remained in Cuba. These cancers may be influenced in part by diet, the researchers noted.

Men in all the Hispanic subgroups in the United States were also more likely than the men who remained in their native countries to develop tobacco related cancers like lung cancer. The highest incident of lung cancer among Hispanic men in Florida was observed in Cuban-Americans.
There's no doubt that the largely sedentary American lifestyle and easy access to fatty fast foods, combined with a high level of stress that many first-generation immigrants who are battling to stay above water have to deal with, could very well be a factor here. But are other factors being overlooked? I found a possible one by doing a simple search on smoking rates by country, and found that Cuba leads the world with 40% according to a Gallup poll back in 2007, compared to the United States' 24%. It's logical to think that first-generation Cuban immigrants are more likely to already have been smokers upon arrival in the U.S., which correlates quite well with the higher lung cancer rate among Hispanics in Florida. Makes you wonder what else they may be missing.

The Times' mention of more aggressive diagnostic methods in the U.S. can't be overstated, either. Also, what are the rates of other diseases in Latin countries such as heart disease and diabetes that claim lives before cancer has a chance to set in? Are they comparable to the United States?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Summer of Desperation

I've been following the whole ObamaCare situation rather closely the past few days, especially news coverage and reaction to the several town hall meetings which have featured lots of venting and outrage from Americans from Texas to Wisconsin to Pennsylvania.

What's my take on this? I'll take my cues from Jorge.

Leading Democrats in Congress (that's YOU, Nancy Pelosi), the Obama administration, the DNC and surely countless lefty bloggers are categorizing the angry Americans at the town halls as "mobs" and "anti-Obama operatives", and their reactions as "manufactured anger". Not surprising. Remember their reaction to the tea parties this past spring? Why would one expect fair and lucid thought from these folks now that the heat is really on in August?

The party that turned dissent and grass-roots mobilization into an art form the past few years is now seeing a little dose of their own medicine. This time around, the average folks that the Democratic Party is supposed to represent are turning against them, not because the opposition is making them, but because they see the raw numbers and connecting the dots. Perhaps it's this simple fact that's making the Democrats sweat.

It therefore must be an act of desperation for the White House to look for "informants" to pass along any communication critical of ObamaCare. I mean, why else would they do something that is a trademark of communist, totalitarian regimes? Never mind that throughout history, leftists have often resorted to similar tactics to intimidate and harrass. They're in charge now. They're supposed to be our leaders. This is America. Remember back in the halcyon days of 2003, 2004 when the GOP ruled the land and the Democrats were the dissenters? "Dissent is patriotic" was their mantra. Where's that spirit now? This time, it's not men in black holding billy clubs in front of polling precincts, universities being hostile to opposing points of view or comparing a sitting American president to Adolf Hitler. It's ridiculing and calling out ordinary Americans. It's delusional. Then again, who can blame them? The dog days are here, and it's only getting hotter in Washington.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes

My 7-year-old daughter Natalie: "Dad, where are going for work tomorrow?"

Dad: "Hollywood".

Natalie: "Really? Are you going to see any movie stars"?

Dad: "No. Hollywood, Florida".

Natalie: "Oh".