Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cuba & U.S. Politics

Obama's Successor Will Be Crucial
       Jose Mujica -- the very, very popular former President of Uruguay -- had a long and very pleasant visit in the Havana home of Fidel Castro this past weekend. Mujica, a huge revolutionary friend who was Uruguay's President till March of 2015, has visited Fidel each of the last four Januarys -- 2013, 2014, 2015 and now 2016. At a news conference in Havana Saturday -- January 30, 2016 -- as reported by Fox News Latino and others -- the 80-year-old Mujica said these interesting words: "I had a pretty long meeting with Fidel and we talked about an infinite number of things. He remembered perfectly well our last conversation, and I confess he looked better than he did when I was in his home last year -- always scintillating, with the most diverse concerns. He is concerned about the spreading Zika virus. And he is direly concerned...alarmed, the need to breed livestock as an important food category." Fidel Castro, who has surprised a lot of people for a lot of decades, now plans to celebrate his 90th birthday on August 13th of this year. 
     Cuban President Raul Castro arrived in Paris yesterday -- Sunday, the last day of January, 2016 -- and he will receive all the Bells & Whistles now accorded to major heads of state. That includes a state banquet in his honor at Elysee Palace. This photo shows French President Francois Hollande on his important state visit to Cuba in May of 2015. Hollande was the first of the leading Western Presidents to take full advantage of U. S. President Barack Obama's overtures to Cuba, including the opening of embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961. Prior to Castro's return visit, Hollande's office said, "Cuba is a country that is opening and we want to be a significant part of that opening." The statement also expressed France's recognition that "good relations with Cuba improves France's with all of Latin America." Even prior to Obama's brave efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, major French companies have been doing business with the island for years. Accor is involved in Cuba's hotel industry and Air France has regular flights to Cuba; the French alcohol beverage giant, Pernard Ricard, distributes Cuba's prized Havana Club, etc. Cuba owes France $4 billion but the French appear willing, even anxious, to reinvest most of that debt back into Cuba. Like all of America's best friends, France adamantly opposes the embargo of Cuba, which has been in effect since 1962. On his visit to Cuba in May, France's President Hollande said, "Few nations, large or small, could have withstood over five decades of intransigence from superpower America, with the embargo just one element. But now that Cuba has withstood it, the end of the embargo should stop hurting other nations too."
       President Obama's two-term presidency began with him supposedly marching to defend a Cuban policy that the prior ten U. S. presidents -- including Democrats Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton -- had neither the courage nor the ability to change. But Obama, realizing the negative image it casts worldwide on America, has done all in his power to alter the abomination, changes that France this week is following up on.
        Obama's legacy as President will note that he was the only U. S. President since the 1950s with the guts and decency to extend a warm hand to Cuba. He understood that Cuba's revolution in 1959 didn't overthrow a U.S.-backed Mother Teresa dictatorship in Cuba; he understood the ill-advised Bay of Pigs attack in 1961 only added to the Castro legend, as did countless U.S.-aided Exile and Mafia assassination attempts; he understood that such things as the terrorist bombing of the civilian Cubana Flight 455 and the embargo greatly harmed both everyday Cubans on the island as well as America's international reputation; and he understood that having a Cuban policy designed to sate the revenge, economic, and political motives of a handful of extremists had maligned the image of American and democracy long enough.
      The gutty brilliance of Mr. Obama regarding Cuba highlights the fact that none of his predecessors -- not even Kennedy, Carter and Clinton who tried -- could compete with a bought-and-paid-for Congress when it came to mandating Cuban policy. In the final months of his two-term presidency, Obama is forced to confront belligerents in Congress led by two first-term Cuban-American extremists -- Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio -- who happen to be prime Republican presidential contenders in 2016. Yet, Obama continues into this new month of February-2016 to use his Executive Powers to chip away at the abysmal Congress-mandated Cuban policy that all other U. S. presidents lacked the courage and intelligence to utilize.
       America's most enthused democracy-lovers, such as Sarah Stephens, have walked in stride every step of the way as President Obama has tried to normalize relations with Cuba. Ms. Stephens is the Founder and Director of the influential Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas. In her latest "Cuba Central" update on the CDA website, Ms. Stephens wrote: "President Obama is making it easier for U. S. actors and producers, writers and musicians, to work and perform in Cuba, and engage with Cubans in the process of creating their art. We have come a long way since the days when Cuban artists of the caliber of Latelbrahim Ferrer...were barred by the Bush administration from picking up their Grammy Awards."
       Unfortunately, the two-term George W. Bush presidency directly preceded President Obama's two terms. The Bush dynasty, dating back decades, has benefited massively from economic and political standpoints with its tight alliance with only Cuban-exile extremists as opposed to Cuban-exile moderates. For example, over and beyond the strident bought-and-paid-for Cuban policies of the U. S. Congress, the George W. Bush presidency mandated such anti-Cuban dictates as an expensive, for both taxpayers and America's image, program to entice Cuban doctors and nurses working in poor foreign nations to defect to the U. S., one of the last-minute Bush directives that President Obama inherited and tried to correct.
        During his eight years as President, George W. Bush appointed only anti-Cuban zealots such as Carlos Gutierrez {above}, Roger Noriega, Otto Reich, Mel Martinez, etc., etc., to direct his Cuban and Latin American policies. It was in line with his father's {George H. W. Bush} extreme anti-Cuban policies during a long political career and his brother's {Jeb Bush} extreme anti-Cuban policies during two-terms as Governor of Florida, policies that certainly will be resumed if Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or any other Republican claims the White House in January of 2017 succeeding the decent Mr. Obama. During the preceding George W. Bush presidency, for example, the U. S. executed its last Latin American regime-change, strongly and embarrassingly supporting a coup that overthrew -- for about 72 hours -- Cuba's friend Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. While such a return to abysmal U. S. policies in Latin American still alarms and roils the entire region, the Bush dynasty has always been assured that nothing it does in regards to Cuba will cost it any votes or support from sufficiently proselytized and propagandized Americans who have been primed to think that such abominations as the Bay of Pigs attack, the terrorist bombing of Cubana Flight 455, the Venezuelan coup, etc., etc., were pro-American, pro-democracy acts.
        If Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush -- or any Republican, for that matter -- becomes President of the United States in January of 2017, they will immediately begin rolling back all of the positive overtures President Obama has made regarding Cuba. Yet today -- February 1, 2016 -- as the armies of television pundits analyze the results of the first primary caucus voting in Iowa -- the Cuban issues, as far as the media is concerned, are totally off the table although, in essence, the Cuba issue has a dramatic effect on the overall image of America and democracy. And, sadly, propagandized Americans will merely sigh and not utter a whimper regardless of what any anti-Cuban zealot as President or Commander-in-Chief does.
           Cubana Flight 455 resonates throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, and the world. Yet, Americans have been successfully propagandized into believing it never happened, or at least that it was/is insignificant. Whether goaded by incompetence or intimidation, the U. S. media navigates through an entire presidential campaign cycle, obsessed with such things as today's vote in Iowa, without ever mentioning the vastly significant difference between President Obama's Cuban policy and the Cuban prospects of the would-be Republican presidents, a contest that includes yet another Bush and two Cuban-American anti-Castro extremists. And so, what is the significance of Cubana Flight 455?? Well, if Americans were proselytized to have no reaction to Cubana Flight 455, what could a Republican Commander-in-Chief do regarding Cuba that they would react to? {The operative word being...react}.
       Meet a very important Cuban named Odalys Rodriguez del Toro. She is the Director of ETECSA, the island's networking effort. On this very first day of February of 2016, Odalys has a big announcement: She is launching broadband internet service in two Havana neighborhoods as a pilot project aimed at bringing home access to the island. Then she will allow cafes, bars and restaurants to begin ordering broadband services. To bring that about, Odalys says she is working with Huawei, China's giant telecom operator.
       Cristina Escobar, Cuba's highly regarded and superbly talented television news anchor, reminds her attentive audience that the island "has many friends around the world, including Americans like Mr. Obama, and as you will see this France and China. To move forward, we must work with our friends, the ones we can trust the most." At age 28 and the most influential Cuban among the crucial young-adult generation of Cubans, Ms. Escobar clearly does not trust the U. S., for these reasons: "Miami, Republicans in Congress, and the possibility of a Republican president who will try to undo what Obama is accomplishing."
         During the above session, Cristina cracked up her two guests with this comment: "Your viewpoint gives me a revolutionary thought -- WHY DON'T CUBANS ON THE ISLAND DECIDE THE FATE OF CUBA'S FUTURE!"
Cristina Escobar is very much A CUBAN ON THE ISLAND.
Even Washington now pays attention to her viewpoints FROM HAVANA.
Even in her leisure moments, Cristina Escobar fights for Cuba.
And, I might add, with a revolutionary fervor.

Friday, January 29, 2016

What Cuba Says About America

Far More Than Americans Are Told
Photo courtesy: Doug Mills/New York Times.
        Friday, January 29th -- after Thursday's 7th Republican presidential debate -- the New York Times used the above photo to illustrate its major article by Frank Bruni. The article was entitled: "G.O.P Debate Stars the Ghost of Donald Trump." The first line was: "Donald Trump's Absence, of course, Was the Most Compelling Presence." It was also compelling, I think, that the debate, with the absence of poll-leader Trump, centered on Trump's two primary rivals -- Cuban-American, bought-and-paid-for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Cuban-American, bought-and-paid-for Senator Marco Rubio from Florida. There are countless other moderate Cuban-Americans who are not bought-and-paid-for by the Tea Party and an array of anti-democracy billionaires, but in today's money-crazed political arena in the United States, if you are not bought-and-paid-for than you do not have the money to be a viable contender.
        The serious presidential bids of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio say a lot about a lot of things, namely the overwhelming influence of money on America's political landscape and the drastic decline of the money-crazed, pundit-driven U. S. media. For example, most Cuban-Americans -- along with most Americans and most people in the world -- agree with President Obama's plans to normalize relations with Cuba. But there is zero chance a moderate Cuban-American who feels that way can get elected to a national office in the United States of America.
        One of the most important developments in America in recent decades has been President Obama's bold, legacy-defining attempts to normalize relations with Cuba. In fact, in the annals of recent American history it could rank as the most important event, and not just in the eyes and minds of Cuban aficionados. Since 1952, U.S.-Cuban relations have persistently defined the image of America and its democracy perhaps more than any other single involvement or relationship. President Obama's Cuban policy contrasts sharply with the U. S. theft of Guantanamo Bay in 1903, the U. S. teaming with the Mafia to support the vile Batista regime in Cuba in 1952, the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 that resulted in the reconstitution of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship on U. S. soil, the U.S.-Cuban exile attack at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 that remains the closest the world has ever come to a nuclear holocaust, the Bush dynasty alignment with anti-Castro zealots that came to dictate a self-serving Cuban policy that benefits or sates the revengeful appetites of a few while harming everyone else, and control of the U. S. Congress by a handful of Bush-aligned Cuban-Americans that legalized a Cuban policy opposed by most American and most Cuban-Americans. Thus, Mr. Obama's "NEW CUBAN POLICY" has corrected or ameliorated some of the most flagrant anti-democratic Cuban policies of the past, but not all...NOT YET!!!
        The U. S. broadcast media is currently obsessed with the unending, money-crazed election process that will determine the next President of the United States beginning in January of 2017. In particular, the televised Republican debates have cast a paradoxical anomaly on the U.S.-Cuban conundrum. First off, two prime anti-Obama/anti-Castro, first-time, Cuban-American U. S. Senators -- Marco Rubio from Florida and Ted Cruz from Texas -- are serious Republican presidential candidates, along with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a key component of the powerful Bush dynasty alliance with only the most zealous of the anti-Castro Cuban-American zealots. Secondly, the moderators of the televised Republican debates have consistently asked the candidates a plethora of questions -- ranging from the pertinent to the silly to the sublime. BUT NARY A QUESTION ABOUT CUBA. That reveals the incompetence, the cowardice, and the biased tenets of the U. S. media. Three prime Republicans seeking the presidency -- Rubio, Cruz, and Bush -- are all tightly tied to the Batistiano-directed congressional laws regarding Cuba that President Obama is trying so hard to correct...AND NOT ONE QUESTION TO THEM ABOUT CUBA? Such media cowardice and political chicanery proves yet again that Cuba says a lot more about the U. S. than it says about Cuba.
For example:
            Americans unfamiliar with Ann Louise Bardach are also unfamiliar with today's U.S.-Cuban relations, especially how they evolved over the past six decades. Not to know Ms. Bardach probably means you have formed your opinions about Cuba based on the narrative espoused only by the most extreme remnants of the overthrown Batista-Mafia dictatorship, which immediately reconstituted itself in January of 1959 on U. S. soil, mainly Miami, New Jersey, and then Washington. The best chronicler of all that is Ms. Bardach. As an investigative journalist, essayist, and author, she is nonpareil when it comes to Cuba. It is therefore safe to assume that if you have not read and comprehended her two seminal books -- "CUBA CONFIDENTIAL: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana" and "WITHOUT FIDEL" -- you don't have a clue how the island of Cuba is so intertwined with America's worldwide image. In 1976 Emilio Milian was the top Cuban-American newscaster in Miami. He voiced opposition to rampant Cuban-exile terrorists harming innocent Cubans, views that got him car-bombed. Jim DeFede, the top columnist at the Miami Herald at the time, wrote a famous column in which he excoriated Miami members of Congress -- especially the Havana-born Jeb Bush prodigy Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- for so lavishly supporting and protecting Miami's most famed Cuban-American terrorists. Needless to say, DeFede knowingly put his job on the line when he wrote that article. With the exceptions of Milian and DeFede, few U. S. journalists have had the courage or integrity to write or speak truthfully about U.S.-Cuban relations. That's why Ann Louise Bardach is so important. And, unfortunately, that is why you will seldom, if ever, see true and unbiased experts like her discussing Cuban issues on network "news" programs in the U. S. while pro-Miami and pro-Bush propagandists such as Ana Navarro, Nicole Wallace, Jose Diaz-Balart, etc., verily saturate the American airways with their lucrative and  biased "expertise." But there are exceptions. In rare instances when the broadcast media in the U. S. tries to project fair and balanced Cuban coverage, you might read or hear the true expert opinions of someone like Julia E. Sweig, Sarah Stephens, Wayne S. Smith, Peter Kornbluh, or...Ann Louise Bardach.
In fact:
      Lo 'n behold, The World Post & The Huffington Post recently conducted a major Question & Answer session with Ann Louise Bardach, the greatest chronicler of U.S.-Cuban relations. And the article asked her some of the pertinent questions that the network anchors during the Republican debates don't have the guts or the integrity to ask. For example, Ms. Bardach was asked this very salient and extremely brave question: "It has been known, though rarely reported, that Jeb Bush helped free a Cuban terrorist accused of blowing up a passenger jet carrying 73 people. Should people still care that the 2016 Republican presidential hopeful did this?" Now study that question posed to Ms. Bardach and decide for yourself if it should be asked of Mr. Bush on the campaign trail or in the debates. In any case, Ms. Bardach answered it, as she is prone to do, without bias and with her facts in order. This was her exact reply:
                 "I think it needs to be discussed. He played a huge role. He saw to it that the Justice Department was overruled, that then-Attorney General Dick Thornburgh -- and I wrote about this in Without Fidel and other pieces -- that's a remarkable thing he was able to get his father {the President} to overrule the Attorney General. And I interviewed Dick Thornburgh. He was not happy about this. Very unhappy about it. He thought Orlando Bosch was big trouble and needed to get out of the country, and was a convicted terrorist. That was the opinion of the Attorney General and somehow that got overruled after a lot of back and forth between father and son. People forget that Jeb Bush was the Campaign Manager for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at a very critical time at the peak of power in Miami. And that Ileana's mentor was not just former head of the Cuban American National Foundation Jorge Mas Canosa but also Enrique Ros, her father, was one of the 'militantes.' He believed passionately in 'la lucha' {the fight} against the Castros. This was at the top of their agenda -- free Orlando Bosch. And they did. And they couldn't have done it without the help of Jeb Bush."
          That Q & A session with Ann Louise Bardach was published Dec. 26-2015 in an article entitled: "Why The Cuba Trade Embargo Still Isn't Going Anywhere." You can go online to read it in its entirety. But no one in the mainstream American broadcast industry has the courage or integrity to ask someone like Ms. Bardach such a question, although Americans surely need to hear her expert, important answers. 
         This 1989 photo illustrates what Ms. Bardach discussed in the aforementioned Q & A session. It shows Jeb Bush forming a halo around the head of Havana-born Ileana Ros-Lehtinen after he, her Campaign Manager, had used the Bush dynasty to help get her elected to the U. S. Congress. It, of course, helped Jeb establish his political roots in Florida on his way to becoming a two-term Governor of Florida.
       Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has remained in the U. S. Congress since 1989 as a leading anti-Castro zealot. She has been followed on the Miami-to-Congress path by Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, the sons of former Batista Minister Rafael Diaz-Balart, as well as by Marco Rubio and Carlos Curbelo. Although numerous recent polls show that the majority of Cuban-Americans even in Miami support President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with the island, Miami's democracy seems only capable of sending Cuban hardliners to the U. S. Congress...and hopefully to the Presidency as Commander-in-Chief. The mainstream U. S. media, of course, wouldn't dare to mention such things, or dare not to promote whatever Ros-lehtinen, the Diaz-Balarts, Rubio, and Curbelo say about Cuba. Thus, for the most part, regular Americans, who have not had the freedom to visit Cuba, form their opinions of U.S.-Cuban relations almost exclusively based on what hardliners like Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen tell them to think.
     The Bush dynasty -- starting long, long ago with CIA operative, Vice President, and President George H. W. Bush -- is the prime reason only Cuban hardliners have forged the Cuban policy that President Obama is trying to mollify. This photo shows President George H. W. Bush handing out souvenir pens after signing anti-Castro legislation into law. On the left of this photo gleefully receiving souvenir pens are two Cuban-born top-tier hard-liners -- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Jorge Mas Canosa -- mentioned in Ann Louise Bardach's Q & A answer about the Jeb Bush question that mainstream U. S. journalists don't have the courage to ask. It was as President that George H. W. Bush, at the behest of his ambitious son Jeb in Florida, made Orlando Bosch a life-long and very renowned citizen of Miami as opposed to an imprisoned terrorist.
      As products of the Bush dynasty, the Tea Party, and bought-and-paid-for cash from billionaires, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are serious contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. That's a serious problem for America. Yet, the time is ripe for a non-extremist Cuban-American in the White House, one who cares more about 11 million everyday Cubans on the island than he or she cares about money and power.
And rough times for America.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

P.T. Barnum Was Correct

So Was Thomas Jefferson
       P. T. Barnum was a Connecticut dandy who lived large from 1810 till 1891. He founded Barnum & Bailey Circus and made a lot of money -- by not underestimating the taste {or the intelligence} of the American people. All these decades later, in 2016, the U. S. media and the U. S. political circus have decided to heed P.T.'s advice. And, like P.T., they are raking in the cash while also making a joke of the U. S. democracy.
 Proof that P.T. Barnum was correct.
TV pundits replaced Mr. Jefferson's newspapers.
Pundits prove both Mr. Barnum
and Mr. Jefferson were correct.
That's the way the post-Cronkite media is.

Dear Megyn Kelly: Get Real

And Respect Broadcast Journalism
       Tonight -- Thursday, January 28th, 2016 -- Megyn Kelly will be the prime moderator as Fox News plays host to its 2nd of what now is the 7th Republican presidential debate. {The photos are courtesy of:}. On the eve of this momentous, earth-shaking, and headline-grabbing event, I feel compelled to write an open letter to Megyn Kelly, one she won't read but nevertheless is time-worthy.
    Each weekday Megyn Kelly's The Kelly File airs at 9:00 P. M. on Fox News.
          The headline above has screamed across the United States, and indeed the entire world, because the leading Republican presidential contender, billionaire businessman Donald Trump, said he would not participate in tonight's debate because he believes Megyn Kelly and Fox News, America's most-watched cable news network, are biased against him. Mr. Trump is correct. In the first debate moderated by Ms. Kelly, she clearly, starting famously with the very first question, tried mightily to humiliate Mr. Trump, apparently because she rather obviously favors the candidacy of Marco Rubio and feels she can use the power of Fox News, and the debates, to derail Mr. Trump's amazing dominance of the polls. That being said...Megyn Kelly, Fox News, and the Republican Debates are all emblematic of a seemingly endless, multi-billion dollar election process that, uniquely in America, is primarily designed to enrich already rich capitalists -- including the television industry that makes huge profits from an endless array of obnoxious ads and from being able, month after month, to just use Talking Head political pundits analyzing the election as opposed to actually going out and covering the news, which would be a bit more expensive.
        Indeed, on last night's program -- prior to tonight's debate -- Megyn Kelly did not even try to hide her obsession with making Marco Rubio, the first-term U. S. Senator from Miami, the next President of the United States. Once again -- EVEN LAST NIGHT -- she used her high-powered propaganda machine to propagandize for Rubio's candidacy -- as she will, if a bit more subtlety, during tonight's debate. But there is, I believe, a broader issue than just one Fox anchor's obsession with one particular candidate. It concerns the island of Cuba. Beyond question, President Obama's history-making efforts to normalize relations with the nearby island is either one of or the most significant and most lasting developments of the past year in the United States of America. Moreover, two of the top three Republican presidential candidates happen to be Cuban-obsessed Cuban-American U. S. Senators who scathingly oppose the President's and the world's desire to normalize relations with Cuba, and even most Cuban-Americans are opposed to Marco Rubio's and Ted Cruz's petty intransigence regarding Cuba. And yet, typical of the gutlessness of the U. S. media, the Republican debates have yet to ask Rubio or Cruz a single question about Cuba. It is for that reason, on the eve of tonight's 7th Republican debate and the 2nd one moderated by Megyn Kelly and Fox News, I feel compelled to write an open letter to Ms. Kelly, with all due respect.
"Miss Kelly:
     As a lifelong democracy-loving conservative Republican, I realize that right-wingers have usurped both my party and most of America's prized ideals. Fox News, as evidenced by your nightly program and your conduct during the debate in Cleveland, symbolizes that debacle. Therefore, I would like to suggest a few questions that you should, but won't, ask during tonight's debate. THOSE QUESTIONS, ON BEHALF OF FAIRNESS, ARE:
           "Mr. Rubio, you have said that you don't care if 99% of Americans disagree with you, you will, if elected President, turn back all of the progress that President Obama has made in trying to normalize relations with Cuba, such as reopening embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961. Such statements by you regarding Cuba makes some believe that you have a Banana Republic approach to an issue that perhaps sheds more negative glows on America and democracy than any other single issue, and that insanity has been allowed to exist for going on six decades now. So, sir, would you defend your position on Cuba?"
         "Mr. Rubio, your standard stump speech always includes the line about how you emerged from poverty...your father a bartender, your mother a your current exalted station in life. However, as a Cuban-American in Miami, is it not true, sir, that you had a tremendous advantage over all non-Cuban Americans...based on the political and economic advantages of being a Cuban-American in Miami?"
              "Mr. Rubio, you made it all the way to the U. S. Senate from Miami with your bio making the obligatory claim that your parents escaped Castro's tyranny in Cuba. Then, sir, it was pointed out that your parents actually escaped the Batista tyranny in Cuba long before Castro's revolution was even considered a serious threat. Was that, Mr. Rubio, a lie or a mistake?"
         "Mr. Rubio, the New York Times wrote a scathing article about your multiple financial misdeeds in Florida. But your Tea Party and media friends, and not just us at Fox, dismissed those revelations. In fact, I remember that former Florida congressman, Joe Scarborough, on his politically-oriented MSNBC program, held up a copy of that New York Times and loudly proclaimed such revelations would help get you elected President! That being said, sir, do you think you have been justly or unjustly criticized about financial misdeeds?"
               "Mr. Rubio, the New York Times is not the only source that has criticized your honesty or lack thereof. Ken Silverstein is a respected journalist -- The Los Angeles Times, Harpers Magazine, The New York Observer, and so forth. Last week he wrote a long article entitled: 'Marco Rubio: Poor Little Rich Boy Runs Into Real Estate Trouble.' The sub-title was: 'The Senator's Three Houses, Various Lady Friends, Assorted Con Artist Pals and Piles of Unexplained Income.' The very first sentence was: 'When it comes to sheer brazen corruption, chicanery and dishonesty there is one candidate who stands head and shoulders above everyone else, and that is the right-wing Cuban-American and Tea Party darling Senator Marco Rubio of -- naturally -- the great State of Florida.' Ken Silverstein then went into great detail, naming names and other details to support that headline, that sub-headline, and that first sentence. I don't believe, sir, that you or any of the others have sued him or his newspaper. But tonight, sir, would you comment on what Mr. Silverstein wrote a few days ago?"
               "Mr. Cruz, it has been pointed out that your trip from Texas to the U. S. Senate paralleled Mr. Rubio's journey from Florida. You both latched on strongly to the Bush dynasty and the Tea Party, for example. On Sean Hannity's Fox program last night, Wednesday, you said yet again that your father left Cuba with a $100 bill attached to his underwear and then washed dishes for 50 cents an hour. Like Mr. Rubio, you stress your rise from poverty. You have also stressed that you and your wife Heidi sacrificed your wealth to win the Senate race in Texas. Are they not all lies, sir? I mean, your dad either in Canada where you were born or in Texas a bit later seems to have gotten very rich. Your Princeton and Harvard educations may even be examples of the special benefits accorded to Cuban-Americans. As for your financial sacrifices, sir, is it not true that your Senate bid in Texas was financed by Goldman Sachs, the infamous bank where your wife is an executive?"
                   "Thank you, Mr. Cruz. You are indeed a smart man, a Harvard-taught tort lawyer, and a skilled debater. In the Senate you have railed about the need for tort reform. But, sir, aren't multi-million-dollar tort wins in Texas, along with your wife's Goldman Sachs job, the way you first became a multi-millionaire?"
                   "Very well, Mr. Cruz. Speaking of your 'poor' father. It has been reported that he is even more fanatically evangelical than you. He is also notable for his fiery speeches on your behalf and against President Obama. He claims that he once was a rebel for Castro, and even was with rebel legend Frank Pais just hours before Pais was famously captured and gruesomely executed by Batista's thugs in Santiago de Cuba. But your father's timelines regarding Pais' death have rather easily been disputed. Rubio's bio when he got to the Senate included some falsehoods about his Cuban heritage. So, Mr. Cruz, how truthful is yours?"
                    "Mr. Cruz, both you and your wife, the Goldman Sachs executive, worked feverishly in Texas as obligatory sycophants for the George W. Bush presidential campaigns. Now Mr. Bush says, 'I just don't like the guy.' So, it seems, all the old Republican icons agree with him. Bob Dole, the former presidential contender and top man in the Senate, said this week, 'Nobody likes him" and Dole said your presidency would be even more 'cataclysmic' for America than Donald Trump's. Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor, this week totally echoed Dole's comments. So, Mr. Cruz, if Republicans who know you don't like you and think you would be a disastrous and even dangerous President, why are you a Republican presidential candidate?" 
                   "Now back to Mr. Rubio. Sir, I saw a photo from the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami where supposedly your greatest support lies. The photo, apparently aimed at you, said: 'Embargo Israel, not Cuba.' That was an apparent reference, sir, to the fact that the Cuban-Americans who dominate Little Havana think you have sold out to a host of Jewish billionaires, such as Mr. Singer, Mr. Edelson, etc. Could that possibly be so, sir? You have said your first flight on Air Force One will be to Israel while many in your hometown think it perhaps should be to Miami or some other American city. Is there a disconnect, sir, with your own people?" 
             "But, Mr. Rubio, if I may follow up on that, sir...most Americans, most Cuban-Americans, and most of the whole world strongly support President Obama's overtures to Cuba, all of which you say you will roll back and end starting the first day you are in the White House. A yearly vote in the UN, for example, clearly shows that America's best friends all around the world desire a saner U. S. approach to Cuba, such as an end to the embargo that many feel has shamed America and democracy since 1962. The UN vote in that regard is consistently 191-to-2 with only Israel, by far the biggest recipient of economic and military aid from the U. S., supporting the U.S. regarding Cuba. So, Mr. Rubio, doesn't your opinion regarding Cuba more resemble that of a Banana Republic dictator than a serious candidate to be President of the United States?"
              "Very well, Mr. Rubio, I was already aware of your Talking Points on Cuba. But answer me this: If your views are correct, why do polls show that Mr. Trump is easily defeating both you and your Cuban-aligned mentor Jeb Bush even IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA even though Trump is a New Yorker and you and Bush are Floridians? If most Floridians don't support you, why should most Americans?" 
               "AND NOW ONE FINAL QUESTION, MR. RUBIO, BECAUSE OUR TIME IS ALMOST UP. It has been said by many avowed democracy-lovers -- such as Sarah Stephens, the Founder of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas -- that the Cuban narrative in the U. S., since 1959, as well as Cuban laws in the U. S. Congress, have been dictated by a handful of only the most zealous Miami-based Cuban-Americans such as yourself. How would you respond to that sentiment?"
               "Oh, well, Mr. Rubio, if your answer is just 'It's a lie," it leaves me time for one more final question. The New York Times, and others, have headlined articles about how 'Petty" you and Mr. Cruz are regarding Cuba. For example, sir, you alone have been responsible for some Cuban issues that seem to reveal that one man in the 100-person Senate or the 535-person Congress can, amazingly, exact Cuban rules or laws that adversely affect Cubans and all Americans. For example, your Congressional colleague from Miami who happens to be the son of a former key Batista Minister, Mario Diaz-Balart, recently slipped into a must-past, veto-proof, multi-billion-dollar law that prevents President Obama from closing the democracy-sapping Bush-era prison at Guantanamo Bay and prevents the President from discussing the return of Guantanamo Bay, which most sane people understand was stolen from Cuba way back in 1903. But that was Diaz-Balart, sir. You, Mr. Rubio, are just as bad, in the view of many. For example, a brilliant American diplomat, Roberta Jacobson, is considered by everyone except the Cuban-Americans in Congress to be America's best possible Ambassador to Mexico, a position that is very urgent for the U. S. to fill. Yet, sir, you have used your ungodly power in the Senate to block that nomination. You openly blame Jacobson for her brilliant diplomacy in regards to Cuba this past year. Now, sir, explain to the American people in this final debate before the primary vote in Iowa why you are willing to demean Roberta Jacobson, democracy, and America to assuage your own petty and biased Cuban agenda."
        Yes, it's Jan. 28-2016 -- the night for the second Republican presidential debate moderated by Megyn Kelly and Fox News. It will, I believe, highlight how far removed we are from the Walter Cronkite days of television journalism in the United States. AND, YES!! The transition from the Cronkite-era to the Kelly-era emphasizes two facts about Cuba: {1} Cuba says more about the United States than it says about Cuba; and {2} no issue since World War II has hurt America's image around the world as must as its Cuban policy.
Walter Cronkite died on July 17, 2009.
That's the day that honest television journalism also died.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Roger Ailes Is King

Barack Obama Is President
        King Ailes                 President Obama
And how the King evolved:
        This montage -- Donald Trump vs. Megyn Kelly -- reflects two facts of political and media life in the United States: {1} Roger Ailes is America's unelected King; {2} Barack Obama is America's elected President. Because President Obama has spent two-terms and going on 8 years as leader of the richest and strongest nation in history, everyone knows who he is. On the other hand, King Ailes is not well known nationally or internationally by the general public, and even less people in the U. S. and around the world understand why he is more powerful than Obama in the wild, wacky, weird, and wonderful {at least for television pundits} world of America's money-crazed, pundit-driven political arena. The Trump-Kelly confrontation incredibly dominates this week's news in America because Trump, incredibly, is the leading Republican presidential candidate while Kelly, as a high-profile Fox News anchor, wants to destroy Trump, as least politically, so her preferred candidate, Marco Rubio, gets the Republican nomination. The Trump-Kelly warfare surfaced when Kelly anchored a Republican debate on Fox and from the get-go tried to humiliate and destroy Trump with a series of asinine, puerile questions. Thus, the Trump-Kelly clash reached malevolent and galactic proportions this week when Trump refused to participate in a second Fox debate anchored by Kelly. Raving about whether it helps or hurts Trump will mesmerize the news media, which essentially these days means pundits. But that's of little interest to me. What fascinates me is the fact that Trump vs. Kelly, whether Americans realize it or not, is merely an example of the changing, and already changed, American landscape, which, as an offshoot, leaves Mr. Ailes King and Mr. Obama President.
       Rupert Murdock was born a very rich baby in Melbourne, Australia some 84 years ago. A colossal array of media properties in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, etc., made the adult Mr. Murdock a billionaire. The billions multiplied existentially when he came to the U. S. His properties now include News Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox, publishing giant Harper Collins, The Wall Street Journal, the Fox television enterprises, etc. But the politically astute Murdock's most notable achievement has been Fox News where, almost two decades ago, he hired Roger Ailes, who was merely a conservative/right wing Prince at the time.
    Roger Ailes has taken full advantage of Rupert Murdock's vast media empire, using his position as Chairman and CEO of Fox News to elevate his personal stature from Prince to King. It is no surprise that Ailes was Murdock's choice. As a right-wing Prince, Ailes was largely responsible for making Presidents out of Republicans Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. In his spare time he accomplished other gems such as showing Rudy Giuliani how to become Mayor of New York City.
         The Roger Ailes effect on Fox News has transcended the news media in the United States, not to mention the political landscape. And that's how an un-elected and un-appointed King evolved.
     While Roger Ailes has single-handedly made the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity into major television news anchors, his most beautiful anchor-creation, Megyn Kelly, is now also the most controversial. {Photos are courtesy of}. Thanks to the ascendancy of businessman Donald Trump onto the political scene, Megyn Kelly has become THE NEWS as opposed to REPORTING the news. As a right-wing propaganda machine, Fox is far more concerned with proselytizing Americans than with providing them news anyway. As a result, a typical prime-time hour {at 9:00 PM with a midnight repeatfor Kelly is to spend half her time jostling with cheap and convenient Talking Heads promoting Marco Rubio and the other half cavorting with cheap and convenient Talking Heads debunking Donald Trump, whom she obviously considers the chief threat to Rubio's advancement to the White House. Unfortunately, Megyn Kelly and Fox now constitute what passes as Television News in today's mass media/punditry quagmire.
       As a Fox anchor, and as Fox's lead moderator when it hosts Republican debates, it's not much of a secret that Megyn Kelly's primary task -- with the ultra-powerful backing of Murdock and Ailes -- is to promote the presidential ambitions of Marco Rubio while tearing down anyone who might stand in his way, such as Trump, Obama, Clinton, or even Kelly's obvious second choice, Ted Cruz. Amazingly, such tactics have essentially eliminated whatever plans Fox, in the beginning, might have had to actually cover the news but, just as amazingly, Fox has become the most effective and dynamic propaganda machine in U. S. history, leaving radio pundits like Russ Limbaugh in its wake.
        The Fox News recap of this week's second debate, as with its first debate in Cleveland, will expound endlessly on THE WINNER: Marco Rubio!! Exposing Rubio's shortcomings, of which there are many, is not allowed on Fox.
        Meanwhile, Donald Trump is caught between a rock -- Mr. Ailes -- and a hard place -- Mr. Murdock. The vice is Trump's own creation, for leading the polls in a Republican presidential race ahead of the apparent Ailes-Murdock favorite, Marco Rubio. {And if not Rubio, Ted Cruz}. The polls, fortunately, seem to indicate the American people prefer a non-establishment {meaning a not bought-and-paid-for} President. As for conservative Republican voters, they are mostly left out in the cold as prime propagandists seem to favor only bought-and-paid-for right-wingers. The resulting Republican chaos will probably elect a hated and very beatable Hillary Clinton as the next President.
   While the aforementioned book -- "The Fox Effect" -- effectively explains how Roger Ailes and his Fox News machine pushed the conservative Republican Party into the Far Right stratosphere, it doesn't adequately delineate the overall effect of one man, backed by one multi-billionaire, reshaping the political narrative in the world's most powerful and most influential nation. The far-right grip on one of America's two main political parties essentially is resulting in a one-party nation, China, now poised to creep past the United States in essentials such as...the economy, the military, and international influence. With that being said, there is perhaps one American politician who could stem that untidy, shall I say, tide.
       Beyond doubt, Senator Elizabeth Warren is by far the most qualified American to be the next President of the United States. But there is a problem, not with her but with the money-crazed system. She has refused constant pleas to enter the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. Her refusal is based on her heartfelt belief that the money-crazed system is primarily tailored for those who will sell their politics and their souls to the highest bidders -- ala Clinton, Rubio, Cruz, Bush, etc. Elizabeth Warren refuses to enter such a fray, and the United States will suffer because of her decision.
Enough said!!!!!!
And by the way:
        Meet Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski. {Photo & data courtesy of: Vibe.} She is a 22-year-old Cuban-American from Chicago. It's been known that she is a genius in Physics since she was 14. She zoomed through MIT and is now getting her PhD at Harvard where she is called "the next Albert Einstein." She has already been offered mega-jobs by such people as Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon. You can Google Sabrina but don't try to find her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. She is too smart and too busy being the next Einstein to waste her time on social media.

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