Tag Archives: Miami

Live-blogging the eighth Democratic presidential debate tonight

Tonight’s Democratic Party presidential debate in Miami, Florida, is the eighth of 10 scheduled Dem debates (recall that six originally had been scheduled, but then four more were added), and it takes place just a few days after the seventh debate, in Flint, Michigan, which I think we safely can say Bernie Sanders won, since he won Michigan yesterday.

(Bernie won Michigan by 1.5 percent, but hey, it was a win; again, Billary “won” Iowa by only 0.3 percent and won Massachussetts by 1.4 percent.)

While I just live-blogged a Dem debate and am not too excited about live-blogging another one so soon afterward, tonight’s debate is an important one. Hey, Bernie debated in Michigan and then won Michigan; if he wins Florida on Tuesday, which would indicate that he’d also win Ohio (and perhaps also Illinois and/or Missouri) on Tuesday, I don’t know that Billary could recover from that.

And yes, were Bernie to continue win the big states, such as Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California and New York, I don’t see the “super-delegates” continuing to support Billary against the popular tide (especially against how their own states voted).

So: I will live-blog tonight’s debate, which begins at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific. The debate is being sponsored by Univision and the Washington Post, and one of its moderators is Univision’s Jorge Ramos, whom I like and respect greatly.

Information on how to watch the debate is here; I probably will watch it via CNN’s online streaming.

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Ozzie Guillen guilty of telling the truth

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen listens to a question during  a news conference at Marlins Stadium in Miami, Tuesday April 10, 2012. Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.  (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Associated Press photo

In a nation that only claims to value the freedom of speech, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for five games for having made comments to TIME magazine that (gasp!) offended Miami’s right-wing, pro-plutocratic Cuban Americans. Guillen is pictured above apologizing at a press conference in Miami today for having voiced his opinion on a politically charged matter, something that in a truly free nation he should not have been pressured to apologize for.

Before today I hadn’t heard of Ozzie Guillen, who is the manager of the Miami Marlins. Before today, I wasn’t even sure what type of sports team the Marlins is (um, it’s a baseball team).

While I am not big on sports (although I’m OK with men’s diving…), I am big on politics, and Cuba and Venezuela and the socialist revolution that has swept many of the nations of Latin America (since the United States has been meddling in the Middle East for the past 10-plus years instead of in Latin America, which for decades had been the target of the Eye of Sauron, which sits atop the Pentagon) are of great interest to me.

Ozzie Guillen made the mistake of exercising his right to free speech in Miami, Florida, you see.

Apparently Guillen recently told a reporter for TIME magazine, “I love Fidel Castro,” but then amended that comment: “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here.”

TIME also reports that Guillen, a native of Venezuela, has stated that he has respect for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as well.

Guillen might have realized that praising or even appearing to perhaps be praising Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Miami — which is home to the Ritchie Riches (would that be los Ricardos Ricos?) who fled Cuba when Castro’s revolution ended the capitalistic orgy there, and home to their brainwashed progeny — might not have been the brightest thing to do, politically speaking, but the Cuban Americans who want his head on a pike — here is a mob of them outside of a press conference that Guillen held in Miami today to apologize for words that he had no reason to apologize for:

Protesters

— are telling us a lot more about themselves than they are about Guillen: Namely, that they’re fucking hypocrites, that while they criticize Fidel Castro’s regime for stifling political dissent, they feel no hypocrisy or shame in doing the same fucking thing themselves.

It’s always perfectly OK to stifle left-wing political speech, you see, but it’s never OK to stifle right-wing political speech. Speech that is free only when you agree with it makes the whole idea of free speech moot, but that point is lost on the right-wing nutjobs, who by definition are hypocrites.

I don’t know everything that Fidel Castro has done, and therefore I don’t give him my 100 percent approval, but the fact of the matter is that, whether you love him or hate him or are indifferent to him, despite the United States’ decades-long attempt to cripple Castro’s rule — hurting the people of Cuba more than it ever hurt Castro himself, I’m sure — the fact of the fucking matter is that Fidel Castro indeed is one tough cookie to still be standing after all of these decades.

Hugo Chavez, too, is one tough cookie, having survived a blatantly treasonous and anti-democratic right-wing (and probably CIA-and/or-otherwise-unelected-Bush-regime-assisted) attempt to overthrow him in 2002 and replace him with an unelected, pro-plutocratic, right-wing usurper. That’s just a fucking fact, whether you love Chavez or hate him or are indifferent to him.

But Guillen’s biggest “crime” here, it seems to me, is that he hasn’t bowed down before the statue of the golden calf that is capitalism.

It is interesting that capitalists won’t shut the fuck up about “freedom,” yet they wish to deny everyone the basic fucking freedom of praising — indeed, even just discussing — any other economic system than capitalism, in which the goal is to become filthy rich yourself by fucking over everyone else.

I tell you fucking what: Mittens Romney, to name just one multi-millionaire, did not do multi-millions of dollars’ worth of work.

No. The only way to make that kind of money is to exploit others. You “win” in capitalism by paying your employees as little as you can get away with (including fucking them over on benefits, of course, and doing such things as firing them just before they can retire and collect retirement benefits, and by shutting their factories down and getting cheaper labor elsewhere, as Mittens can tell you all about) and by overcharging your customers for your product or service as much as you possibly can. You also “win” in capitalism by despoiling the environment in your insatiable quest for ever-increasing profits. In health/wealth care, the idea is to charge as much as you can for health insurance coverage, yet to deny as many health insurance claims as possible in order to increase your profits. Just like Jesus would do! Gooooo capitalism! (Indeed, the right wing loves to intertwine Christianity and capitalism, when even a grade schooler could read the New Testament and tell you that Jesus Christ, according to his own words, was against the rich and for the poor and was dead-set against shameless profiteering.)

The kind of shit that we see committed in the economic system of capitalism is not called “stealing” or “plundering” or even “exploitation,” however. It’s called “business” and “free enterprise” and the like, and while it’s sociofuckingpathic to knowingly harm others for purely selfish, personal gain, in the United States of America it is widely considered to be quite normal — even admirable.

If capitalism were so fucking inarguably inherently and self-evidently great, however, then why do the vast majority of its adherents try to prohibit the rest of us from even discussing capitalism’s obvious weaknesses and evils and from discussing other socioeconomic systems that might work better for us?

Why do the capitalist hypocrites claim that the “free marketplace” is the only way to go, but they absolutely won’t tolerate a free fucking marketplace of ideas?

Are they afraid that capitalism — which, increasingly, is good for only a few — can’t survive in such an environment?

And Cuban Americans need to shut the fuck up already. The Cubans who fled to the United States after Castro took over for the most part were the filthy rich Cubans who were exploiting other, poorer Cubans. And these rich Cubans’ beloved right-wing leader whom Fidel Castro overthrew, Fulgencio Batista, himself was a dictator who had thousands of his political opponents slaughtered — only he supported the plutocrats, so he was a good dictator, you see.

Castro’s Cuba has struggled not because socialism inherently cannot work, but primarily because the pro-plutocratic fascists in the United States for decades have done everything in their power to cripple Cuba and then say, “See? Communism doesn’t work!”

And old-school, big-“C” Communism indeed didn’t work, but little-“s” socialism can. Democratic socialism is the ideal socioeconomic system. (Old-school Communism wasn’t democratic, its major problem.) I’d even settle for a hybrid socioeconomic system, at least for now, with the essentials for human well-being and dignity, such as as quality health care and quality education, being made available to all regardless of their ability to pay for them, with the private sector able to continue to sell non-essentials. (Indeed, it looks as though Cuba is evolving into such a hybrid socioeconomic system itself.)

Corporatism, if we allow it to, will kill us all. The right wing now assures us that even more of the same will cure what ails us. That is as sane as asserting that the cure for arsenic poisoning is more arsenic.

And the people of Cuba, it seems to me, are much better off under Fidel and Raul Castro than they would be under another Fulgencio-Batista type, a “good” dictator who sells out his nation and his nation’s people to corporations for his own selfish gain and the selfish gain of his fucking cronies, who (and whose progeny) now populate Miami.

Ozzie Guillen has my support. I support his right to free speech, and I support a robustly free marketplace of ideas.

It’s too bad that the freedom-hating, anti-American wingnuts in Miami and their sympathizers do not.

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A decade later, Elián is still a pawn

Elian Gonzalez attends  the UJC, Union of Young Communists, ...

Associated Press photo

Elián Gonzalez, now 16, is shown in Havana, Cuba, three days ago.

I remember when the right-wing, mostly Repugnican, anti-Fidel-Castro Cuban-Americans and their supporters made Elián Gonzalez, then only 6 years old, a pawn in their feud with Cuban President Fidel Castro a decade ago. (And I remember how ironic I found it that his name sounded an awful lot like the word “alien,” which he was…)

Gonzalez’ mother had tried to get Elián into the United States illegally in order to join her relatives in Miami. In November 1999, she left Cuba in a boat with Elián, who at that time was 5 years old (he turned 6 the next month), and several others without having first informed Elián’s father. She and most of the others drowned during their attempt to make it to Florida, and Elián was one of three survivors found holding onto an inner tube off of the coast of Florida. (Since 1995, U.S. law has stated that Cubans intercepted in the water attempting to reach U.S. soil may not remain on U.S. soil, but must be returned to Cuba or to a third country.)

After a protracted political and legal battle, Elián finally was returned to his father in in April 2000 – per the international law that mandated that the child, a citizen of another nation, be returned to his father, who still was residing in that nation. If you were Elián’s father, you would have wanted his return, too.

The relatives of Elián’s mother in Miami absolutely refused to release him to the rightful custody of his father in Cuba, so federal authorities, under order of then-Attorney General Janet Reno, had to force their way into Elián’s relatives’ house and take him forcibly.

While they wanted to appear to be martyrs, Elián’s relatives were simply lawbreakers, and it is reported that they tried to brainwash Elián against returning to his father in Cuba; notes Wikipedia:

On April 14, [2000,] a video was released [by Elián’s mother’s relatives] in which Elián tells [his father] that he wants to stay in the United States. However, many considered that he had been coached, as a male voice was heard off-camera directing the young boy.

In a September 2005 interview with “60 Minutes” after [having been] sent back to Cuba, Elián stated that during his stay in the U.S., his family members were “telling [him] bad things about [his father]” and “were also telling [him] to tell [his father] that [he] did not want to go back to Cuba, [when he] always told them [he] wanted to.”

I tend to believe Elián’s account that he wanted to return to his father in his familiar Cuba instead of remain with relatives in a strange land whom he didn’t even know, relatives who essentially were keeping him as their political/ideological prisoner — and who had the support of the right wing.

Now, had Elián been Mexican and his mother died while trying to get him across the southern border, and had he been found wandering in the desert, it would have been an entirely different story. Then, he would have been an “illegal Elián” – er, “illegal alien,” no question about it. No right-wingers would have taken up his “cause.”

But because Miami’s embittered Cuban-American community and its supporters wanted to turn Elián into a political football in their ideological war with Fidel Castro, the law was supposed to be bent to their political will, and Janet Reno and then-President Bill Clinton were demonized for only having followed the law (and common decency, which dictates that a child whose mother has died be returned to his father unless there is a very compelling reason not to do so, and a difference in political ideology is not such a compelling reason).

The Cuban government has been accused of propaganda for having recently released some images of an apparently happy and healthy teenaged Elián, but it wasn’t Cuba that turned Elián into a symbol of the decades-long cold war between Cuba and the United States – it was his mother’s relatives in Florida and their supporters who did that.

And to this day the American right wing asserts that Elián should not have been returned to his father. Yahoo! News quotes a wingnut blogger as having proclaimed:

If Elián had been granted asylum, today he would be a teenager preparing to go to college with every opportunity for success ahead of him. Instead, on the cusp of adulthood, Elián poses for propaganda photos sandwiched between Cuban army soldiers attending the Union of Young Communists congress in Havana…

The youthful Gonzalez should have been wrapped in the America flag. Instead, a boy who once represented the quest for the God-given right to be free, waves a Cuban flag symbolizing poverty, oppression, authoritarianism and misinformation.

Oh, Jesus fuck. Where to begin?

“Wrapped in the American flag”? That blogger must be a fucking virgin to use ridiculously jingoistic rhetoric like that. I mean, fuck — cue the screeching bald eagle!

Look, if Elián were an American teenager, he’d be lucky to be able to even get into a good university, and if he did, he’d probably graduate with a mountain of debt, because instead of being seen as valuable individuals inherently worthy of educating, our young are seen only as cash cows, such as for the student-loan sharks and the textbook-industry rectal rapists.

Maybe, not being able to afford college and not wishing to take on major student-loan debt, Elián would have joined the crusade in Iraq or Afghanistan for the war profiteers and the oil profiteers — er, I mean, for freeeedom — and he’d have been maimed or killed.

Or maybe he’d just have an exciting career as a wage slave for his capitalist masters ahead of him.

Oh, yeah, it’s sooooo much better here in the United States of Amurica, with our robust economy and freedom in such abundance that it’s oozing out of our asses.

As for the “If Elián had been granted asylum” bullshit, Wikpedia notes that

After Elián was returned to his father’s custody, he remained in the United States while the Miami relatives exhausted their legal options. A three-judge federal panel had ruled that he could not go back to Cuba until he was granted an asylum hearing, but the case turned on the right of the relatives to request that hearing on behalf of the boy.

On June 1, 2000, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Elián was too young to file for asylum; only his father could speak for him, and the relatives lacked legal standing. On June 28, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision. Later the same day, Elián González and his family returned home to Cuba.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene. That’s good enough for me that what was done in Elián’s case was legally proper.

And it’s interesting that a wingnut would trash Cuba as “symbolizing poverty, oppression, authoritarianism and misinformation.”

First of all, since the anti-capitalist Cuban Revolution, the capitalist U.S. government has done everything in its power to cripple Cuba. To try to cripple a much smaller, much weaker nation, and then to criticize it for not being stronger than it is is insane – but of course the wingnuts are, by definition, insane.

Secondly, we have plenty of poverty here at home, and capitalist oppression and exploitation and authoritarianism, too (oppression and exploitation are OK with the wingnuts as long as it’s making someone money), and misinformation?

Oh, please, how about the ominous warnings of the members of the unelected Bush regime about “mushroom clouds” here in the United States if we didn’t nip Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” in the bud?

No, the U.S. government never is guilty of misinforming its citizens. Never.

Oh. And Hurricane Katrina.

And the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors.

And speaking of Cuba – how about that Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp?

I certainly don’t assert that Cuba is perfect. Elián is closely guarded by the Cuban government, the media report, and I find that at least moderately disconcerting, even while, from the Cuban government’s standpoint, it’s understandable.

What I do assert is that Cuba surely isn’t as bad as all of the wingnuts paint it to be, that Cuba would be much worse off than it is now if it were opened up to capitalist exploitation as the American wingnuts want it to be, and that Cuba would be an awful lot better if it hadn’t had to endure the wingnuts’ decades-long effort to make it fail because they disagree with its government’s ideology.

All in all, I tend to believe that Elián Gonzalez is better off where he is.

P.S. I read the above-referenced wingnut’s entire nauseating piece on Elián Gonzalez. The wingnut, who, I was surprised to learn, apparently is a female, a she-wingnut, also wrote these gems: 

As Elian was placed into [his father’s] arms, [his mother’s] death was officially for naught.  Hope for Elian growing up liberated disappeared beneath the cold, murky waters between Cuba and the U.S. like a mother failing to find safe haven for an only child.

Wow. So it wasn’t a child rightfully being returned to his father. It was the child’s mother’s death being “for naught.” And when Cubans (especially the light-skinned, Repugnican-supporting variety) try to get into the nation illegally, it’s for freedom, you see, but when Mexicans and other undesirables (Democratic-supporting, most likely) try to get into the nation illegally, it’s only to freeload. (Please try to keep up!)

Fast-forward 10 years and take a glimpse into Elian’s life as a teenager. Instead of a Miami Dolphins Jersey, “Cuba released photos of one-time exile cause celeb Elian Gonzalez wearing an olive-green military school uniform.” Elian Gonzalez is what youthful subjugation looks like when a boy, a heartbeat from freedom, is deprived [of] liberty…

So all of those graves at Arlington National Cemetery — they died for our freedom to wear football jerseys. And apparently the U.S. military is full of “subjugated,” liberty-deprived youths, since they have to wear those anti-freedom olive-green military uniforms.

Really, everyone in the U.S. military should be wearing football jerseys — which we now should call freedom jerseys.

In Cuba, Elian is a hero. Yearly, Fidel approved celebrations marking Gonzalez’s birthday because Elian epitomizes the height of Cuban triumph over America. Lest we forget, America willingly acquiesced in the battle to grant a defenseless child freedom, choosing instead to don riot gear and send a terrified child back under Castro-inflicted bondage.

Really? Elián says he wanted to go back to his father in Cuba. And the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene… And again, it wasn’t about reuniting a child with his fatherno, it was a big, bad-ass “battle to grant a defenseless child freedom” (even though the child wanted to go back home to Cuba…).

There was a “Cuban triumph” over the United States back in 2000? Really? I missed that in the news… I’d thought that Cuba was a rather small, rather defenseless nation…

And the “riot gear” — well, as the family of Elián’s mother refused to release him to the custody of his father, and as the officials who came to get Elián (only because his mother’s relatives were illegally holding him) had been threatened with violence by the family spokeswoman should they attempt to enter the home, and indeed they were pelted with rocks and bottles, it seems to me that the “riot gear” was appropriate protection and not some sign of “liberal” “fascism.”

Also, from what I can tell, contributing to the fact that the feds went to get Elián is that the local law enforcement officials, apparently in a gross dereliction of duty, had refused to do so. (Of course, as Elián was not in the United States legally and was a citizen of another nation, it became an immigration, and thus a federal, matter, and maybe it would have been illegal for local officials to get involved in taking him from his kidnappers.)

Sure Elián was scared when they came to get him — but it was his stupid fucking relatives (and those who aided and abetted them) who made that scene necessary, and I blame them, not the federal authorities who had to resort to what they had to resort to. 

As Barack Obama emulates Fidel Castro’s health care system and ferries a reluctant nation toward socialism, the scenario is reminiscent of a frightened Elian Gonzalez being wrested from the arms of liberty by an out of control federal government dictated to by a liberal American president.

Free people should take a good, long look at Elian Gonzalez and observe what our nation has the potential to become 10 years down the line if, instead of moving in the opposite direction, America’s rowboat continues to inch closer to Cuba’s shores.

Actually, “Obamacare” is much, much closer to Repugnican Mitt Romney’s health care for Massachusetts than it is anything like Castro’s health care, and how in the hell do we go from Elián Gonzalez to Obama and health care and “Obamacare”? (And hasn’t the fucktarded charge of  “socialism” been so overused to the point that it’s rather meaningless now?)

The bottom line: The Elián Gonzalez case was just another example of Repugnican meddling in a private family matter in Florida for perverse political gain – just like the Terri Schiavo case was in 2005. Just as the Repugnicans in Washington passed legislation specific to Terri Schiavo (in order to get her case kicked up to the U.S. Supreme Court — which promptly refused to hear it!), the Repugnicans in D.C. tried to pass legislation specific to Elián Gonzalez to make him a U.S. citizen – because, after all, Florida is a swing state and Florida has a lot of Cuban-American voters, and the majority of them vote Repugnican because the Repugnicans hate Fidel Castro, too.

(Passing legislation for just one person is illegal, by the way. It’s called a “bill of attainder.” Check it. Not that the Repugnicans give a flying fuck about what’s legal and what’s illegal.)

And again, it wasn’t an  “out-of-control-federal government dictated to by a liberal American president” that returned Elián Gonzalez to his father — it essentially was the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to intervene on behalf of Elián’s mother’s family, just as it would later refuse to intervene in the Schiavo case — because the U.S. Supreme Court, while it picked our “president” for us in late 2000, generally refuses to get involved in family law, leaving it to the courts below it that handle family law.

But the wingnuts are No. 1 in cheesy rhetoric — to the wingnuts, Elián wasn’t returned to his father, whom he wanted to be with, but was “wrested from the arms of liberty” (try not to choke on your own vomit there), and surely it’s clear from just reading my blog that “America’s rowboat continues to inch closer to Cuba’s shores.”

I mean, shit! To paraphrase Sarah Palin-Quayle, I can see Havana from my house!

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