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On the Failure (Success) of Cuban Communism

The first time I visited Cuba, I was just three years old. A young man named Fidel Castro had just graduated from college with a degree in law. Carlos Prío was president of a corrupt Cuban government. Bautista had not yet taken power. Even though I was a small child at the time, I still have some vivid memories of the Cuba of 1950, the narrow streets, the open stores and markets with meat hanging overhead, the sandy beach and a friendly police officer who carried me on his shoulders. This early experience in Cuba undoubtedly had a great impact on my lifelong love and intrigue with this beautiful Caribbean island.

Less than twenty years later, I had embarked on a career as a news reporter, writer and broadcaster. Thanks to the acrimonious relations between the United States and Fidel’s communist Cuba, I could no longer visit the island. Propagandists on both sides of the fence painted lurid pictures of their evil neighbors ninety miles away. As a reporter, I learned pure, unbiased, objective reporting was sometimes a noble goal, but was impossible to obtain. As often as not, it wasn’t even the goal. The news was and continues to be distorted with intent by the government, corporate sponsors and biased news reporters. I can guarantee you that our views of Cuba, the embargo and the people of Cuba are colored by the lenses we’re forced to look through as we try to interpret the island that has been taboo to Americans for more than fifty years.

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Paul Ryan, Fantasyland and the price of Chinese Tea

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a fairly privileged upper-middle class world. I’m a third generation engineer whose routine involves contact with others of my social and educational background. For some reason, many of my friends have more conservative tendencies than do I. In many ways, I too remain conservative, especially on fiscal matters and sometimes even on social issues. But I’m definitely not an over-the-top, dogmatic, blind faith type of person. I like to look at things from different angles and think my way through them.

Having plenty of contact with the right wingers provides me with an unending source of entertainment and humor. Unlike trying to have an intelligent conversation with the likes of the Tea Party Patriots, many of my friends enjoy the sparring. They’ll actually “engage” in discussion and almost without exception, our conversations are spirited and fun. One of my more conservative friends recently sent me an email on the subject of Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. Like many populist conservatives, Ryan’s siren song has its appeal – at least until you look under the covers. When my friend sent his missive, I responded to some of his “points”. For thought, I include his email (black) and my responses (blue) below.

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The Tea Party’s Assault on the 1st Amendment

You really have to love these guys. Well, maybe that’s pushing it a bit. But you have to admit, if they weren’t so inept and dangerous to our nation’s wellbeing, members of the Tea Party would be fun to watch – sort of like a kid with a feather and honey. They’re drawing a lot of attention to themselves with some pretty nonsensical and destructive behavior. The problem is they’re dragging more rational, clear thinking people into the maelstrom they’re creating. Blinded by their anger and deafened by their din, they rail against one cause after another.

The latest bit of pure insanity involves the issue of “net neutrality”. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t fully comprehend the significance of the issue and many don’t care because they believe the issue doesn’t impact them directly. Believe me, it does. It is one of the biggest issues facing our nation today. It threatens to undermine our entire concept of freedom.

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Sucker Words – Wealth Redistribution

In the grand tradition of famed propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, talking heads in pulpits across the nation corral the great American sheep with their invisible staffs of fear. Preachers like Limbaugh and his clones cart their millions to the banks with glee on their faces and profits in their hearts. They delight every time they see Americans react to their rhetoric like a school of lemming turning in unison to every little source of fear, real or imagined.

American propagandists constantly take otherwise innocent, benign words and phrases and paint them with dark, insidious overtones and watch as society’s shallow thinkers, such as members of the Tea Party, turn them into weapons and unwittingly do the bidding of the propagandists themselves. Is it any wonder Limbaugh, Hannity, Palin and others of their ilk are often seen with the smirk of a prankster? Consider these evil terms, “liberal”, “socialist”, “gay”, “atheist”, and “illegal immigrant”. The list is lengthy, but you get the point. All are words or terms that have been vilified by the talking heads. Reactionaries reflexively recoil in horror when they hear them.

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Free at Last – Free at Last

Judge Roger Vinson apparently has an insatiable need to be well known, not an unusual need for a Federal Judge. It’s been my experience that most Judges, especially those in the Federal Courts, have far more ego than common sense. By that standard, Judge Vinson fits the stereotype.

Vinson is the guy that pandered to the Tea Party by declaring the health care act unconstitutional. Like other simple minded myopes, e.g., Arizona buffoon in chief, Jan Brewer, Vinson says the Constitution somehow prevents the government from forcing people to buy health insurance. He justified his logic by announcing in his written decision, “It is difficult to imagine that a country which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in American would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place.”

What the hell is this guy talking about? He’s a judge; surely he understands the concept of non-sequitor. As the Tea Party’s chief intellectual, Sarah Palin, calls them, this was clearly a WTF moment.

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Tax Cuts for the Rich – The Latest Proof We’re Imbeciles

I’m not an economist, but I did ride in an elevator with one last month. I guess that makes me as qualified as the next guy to comment on the absurdity of the continuation of the Bush tax cuts. Republican warlords entrenched in the hills of Washington have continued to snipe at President Obama. In his own words, he has taken a shellacking. Now Obama gives us another word to play with, “capitulation”. For those of you inclined to syllabic minimalization, you may substitute “surrender”. Actually we can cut it to just one syllable; he “quit”. Republicans acting as the hand-puppets of the ultra-rich have strangled the President and with that treasonous act, murdered the hopes of the American middle-class.

How does this serve to prove Americans are imbeciles? Consider this – many Americans are rejoicing in this news especially that enlightened flock of Murdockian sheep known as the Tea Party. They’ve been herded into their pen by the shepherds of idiocy at FOX News and other right wing Kool-Aid pushers and have been told they should be delighted because everyone is getting big tax breaks. As they dance and sing with joy, they don’t have a clue they’ve just walked into their own slaughter house.

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Taxes, Texans and Tea

Conservatives from shore to shore rail against the evils of taxation. Tea baggers stand on street corners hoisting their signs skyward bemoaning the taxes they view as unnecessary to pay for the programs that will ultimately care for them such as social security and medicare. “We’re mortgaging our children’s future,” they shout.

For the most part, their time would be better spent singing the lyrics of the scarecrow’s song from the Wizard of Oz.

Oh, I could tell you why the ocean’s near the shore.

I could think of things I never thunk before.

And then I’d sit, and think some more.

I would not be just a nothin’ my head all full of stuffin’

My heart all full of pain.

I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry,

If I only had a brain.

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