Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cruising the Web

National Review put together a montage of how some in the media reacted to Castro's death.
Austin Yack compiled a list of the "Ten Most Outrageous Reactions to Castro's Death" by world leaders. It really is a shameful collection.

Meanwhile, David Pryce-Jones reminds us of just two of Castro's victims.
At this moment, there comes to mind Huber Matos. A Cuban intellectual, a teacher, he took part in the 1959 seizure of power but then failed to please Fidel Castro, his erstwhile comrade, now self-styled Máximo Líder. So he spent 20 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement in an underground cell a few feet wide, allowed to dress only in his underwear. He will have to stand for the three or four million persecuted and exiled Cubans.

And there also comes to mind the uncounted number of men summarily executed, mostly humble men whose names are past recall. Arnoldo Ochoa Sanchez will have to stand for them. A ranking general, he commanded the Cuban auxiliaries sent at Moscow’s behest to fight in Angola. On his return, he was made to pay for the failure of this campaign, explicitly accused of damaging the credibility of the Máximo Líder. In a so-called Court of Honor, he confessed his guilt in the public abasement long since practiced and perfected by the Soviets, and the firing squad finalized another judicial murder.
But the stories of victims like this get ignored when President Obama simply refers to "the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation." Really? Altering the course of individual lives is what we're now calling imprisoning thousands and executing political enemies? Jimmy Carter's statement simply refers to how he Rosalynn foundly remember their visits with him and "his love of his country." Pierre Trudeau had asked Castro to be an honorary pallbearer at his funeral and his son, the current Canadian Prime Minister embarrassed himself with his statement on Castro's death.
It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.
Castro was "legendary," although "controversial" with "tremendous dedication" to the people his policies imprisoned and impoverished. What blind ignorance.

The National Review r
eminds us of another of Castro's victims and the contrast with his fans around the world.
Fidel Castro was the most popular dictator in the free and democratic world. Stalin lost his luster after the Secret Speech in 1956. Mao lost his luster, or some of it, in the wake of honest accounts of his rule (by his doctor, Li Zhisui, for example). Ho rode high for a while, but not after the reeducation camps and boat people.

But Castro? In 2002, Carole King, the American singer-songwriter, crooned to him her hit song “You’ve Got a Friend.” He certainly did, a great many of them.

Why did they love him? Why do they still? For one thing, they see him as that defier of the yanqui colossus. But also, they have bought, and propagated, three myths: that the dictatorship has been good for literacy, good for health care, and good for black people (“Afro-Cubans”). All of this is untrue. All of it has been thoroughly debunked.

But, as Armando Valladares says, “What if it were true? Don’t people have literacy and so on in countries that are not cruel dictatorships?”

Valladares was a prisoner in the Castros’ gulag for 22 years. In 1986, he wrote the memoir Against All Hope, earning him a designation: “the Cuban Solzhenitsyn.” That book and others punctured the lies of the Cuban regime. One of the others was Before Night Falls (1993), the memoir by Reinaldo Arenas. It was made into a movie, and an opera, too. Then in 2012 there was the amazingly honest movie Una noche (One Night).

Mainly, however, the Castros’ fog machine prevailed. And opinion leaders in free countries remained indifferent to Cuban suffering, when not outright supportive of the dictatorship.
Here is more on Valladares' story of how he spent 22 years in the prison camps for refusing to put up a sign saying "I'm with Fidel" on his desk in his office at the Ministry of Communication for the Revolutionary Government.
Valladares would spend time in different prison camps for the next 22 years. The first, La Cabaña, forged some of the very worst memories. “Each night, the firing squad executed scores of men in its trenches,” he told the Becket Fund, which last year honored him with its Canterbury Prize, given annually to a person who embodies an unfailing commitment to religious freedom. “We could hear each phase of the executions, and during this time, these young men — patriots — would die shouting ‘Long live Christ, the King. Down with Communism!’ And then you would hear the gunshots. Every night there were shootings. Every night. Every night. Every night.”

Years passed, and the communists fixated on enrolling prisoners in reeducation programs. Valladares, still early in his sentence, was offered the chance at “political rehabilitation” but refused to comply. He was sent to an even more brutal prison, and the government ramped up its efforts to break his spirit.

“I spent eight years locked in a blackout cell, without sunlight or even artificial light. I never left. I was stuck in a cell, ten feet long, four feet wide, with a hole in the corner to take care of my bodily needs. No running water. Naked. Eight years,” Valladares recalled. “All of the torture, all of the violations of human rights, had one goal: break the prisoner’s resistance and make them accept political rehabilitation. That was their only objective.”

After nearly a decade, prison officials adjusted their terms. If Armando would simply sign a document renouncing his beliefs and embracing Communism, he could return to his family. The choice was simple: physical freedom or spiritual liberty.

“For many people, it wasn’t practical to resist. Better to sign the paper and leave,” Valladares said. “But for me, signing that paper would have been spiritual suicide.”
Such moral courage is just beyond my comprehension. He became a poet using his own blood as ink and found comfort in his religion. This man's story should be as well known in the U.S. as Nelson Mandela's was in the years of apartheid. But being a dissident against Castro and suffering to maintain his own principles is just not as appealing.

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Kevin Williamson remarks on the irony of a socialist leader who became a multi-millionaire while those Cubans he supposedly was so devoted to lived impoverished lives.
Fidel Castro was a funny kind of Communist. He died either a billionaire or just short of it and made sure his family grew wealthy, too. That’s par for the course with these champions of the people: María Gabriela Chávez, the daughter of Castro’s Venezuelan comrade, is one of the richest women in the world, with a net worth nearly twice that of Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel — a neat trick for someone who has never had anything that you’d really consider a job. Castro could have given the Kardashians a lesson in tackiness: He liked to wear two Rolex watches on the same wrist in a gaudy display of personal wealth.
Here are some more details that those political leaders talking about what a legendary leader he was are whitewashing from their remarks on his death.
Any political threat was potentially a mortal threat. That meant not only that dissidents were tortured and murdered but that any potential source of social instability was treated as though it were treason. Homosexuals were sent to gulags (the Military Units to Aid Production) where they were remanded without trial to forced labor. Later, when HIV made its appearance in Cuba, those infected were imprisoned in sanitaria; incredibly, life for ordinary Cubans grew so miserable and dire that some young Cubans intentionally contracted HIV, because they had heard that sanitarium prisoners were fed three times a day.

If you want to maintain absolute control over a people in that condition, you simply cannot allow the free flow of information. American liberals may be naïve enough to fall for your imaginative fictions of universal health care and literacy (strange that the same progressives who believe that 9/11 was a hoax accept Cuban government statistics without question) but ordinary Cubans are not in the main afflicted by expensive miseducation. Their minds must be carefully pruned.

The answer, of course, is to ban “terrorist” literature. The speeches of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.? Terrorist propaganda. The U.N. Declaration of Universal Human Rights? Terrorist literature. The great civil libertarian Nat Hentoff dedicated a great deal of work to documenting these stories. He was denounced as an outside agitator. “What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?” one Castro sycophant asked.

“I know that if I were a Cuban, I’d be in prison,” he answered.
Terry Glavin writes in Macleans that Justin Trudeau's fatuous statement on Castro's death has turned him from the personification of cool to a laughingstock.
Trudeau made himself synonymous with Canada. He made Canada cool again. It was fun while it lasted.

By the early hours of Saturday morning, Havana time, Trudeau was an international laughingstock. Canada’s “brand,” so carefully constructed in Vogue photo essays and Economist magazine cover features, seemed to suddenly implode into a bonspiel of the vanities, with humiliating headlines streaming from the Washington Post to the Guardian, and from Huffington Post to USA Today.

....And so, from far-off Antananarivo, Madagascar, where he was attending the 80-government gathering of La Francophonie, Trudeau’s lament for the last of the Cold War dictators ended up confirming every wicked caricature of his own vacuity and every lampoon of the Trudeau government’s foreign-policy lack of seriousness.

....Whether or not Trudeau saw any of this coming, he didn’t appear to notice that he was delivering a speech to La Francophonie delegates in Madagascar that emphasized justice for lesbian, gay and transgender people, while from the other side of his mouth he was praising the legacy of a caudillo who spent the first decade of his rule rounding up gay people for “re-education” in labour camps. Homosexuals were irredeemably bourgeois maricones and agents of imperialism, Castro once explained.

To be perfectly fair, Trudeau did allow that Castro was a “controversial figure,” and nothing in his remarks was as explicit as the minor classic in the genre of dictator-worship that his brother Alexandre composed for the Toronto Star 10 years ago. Alexandre described Castro as “something of a superman. . . an expert on genetics, on automobile combustion engines, on stock markets. On everything.” As for the Cuban people: “They do occasionally complain, often as an adolescent might complain about a too strict and demanding father.”
So by all means, ignore the arrests and imprisonment of all who criticize the Castros or the inequities of their vaunted (by the West) health care system or the way that the Castro family's nepotism has put relatives in key positions. Those in the media should be particularly critical of Castro's regime.
Independent publications are classified as “enemy propaganda.” Citizen journalists are harassed and persecuted as American spies. Reporters Without Borders ranks Cuba at 171 out of 180 countries in press freedom, worse than Iran, worse than Saudi Arabia, worse than Zimbabwe.

So fine, let’s overlook the 5,600 Cubans Fidel Castro executed by firing squad, the 1,200 known to have been liquidated in extrajudicial murders, the tens of thousands dispatched to forced labour camps, or the fifth of the Cuban population that was either driven into the sea or fled the country in terror.
But he wore cool fatigues and was in opposition to the United States and that was enough.

Some of the entries under #trudeaueuologies and TrudeauEulogy are really quite funny. This is why, for all its fault, I still enjoy Twitter.

People are so very clever sometimes. Read the rest for yourselves. Crowd-sourced snark is what the internet sometimes does best. Terry Glavin is right - in one brief statement, Trudeau went from being cool to being a laughingstock.

Of course, Black Lives Matter wants to assert their fondness for Fidel and fight back against the idea that he was a bad guy.
The movement posted said they felt an 'overwhelming sense of loss' of the death of the controversial former Cuban leader on Friday.
'Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,' the movement wrote in an un-bylined article titled 'Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante'.

They also thanked Castro for harboring Assata Shakur - a former Black Panther member and convicted cop killer who is on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list - who they say 'continues to inspire us.'

Shakur, who some described as the 'soul of the Black Liberation Army, was linked to the 'execution-style' murders of four New York police officers between 1971 and 1972 which spurred a nationwide manhunt.

She was cleared but in 1973, she was involved in the fatal shooting of another officer in New Jersey. After several mistrials, she was jailed but later escaped and fled to Cuba.

They also express their thanks for granting refuge to Michael Finney, Ralph Goodwin, Charles Hill and 'so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era.'

Hill, another cop killer, was being hunted by police for the murder of a New Mexico state trooper when he hijacked an airplane from Albuquerque and flew to Havanna.

His two accomplices Finney and Goodwin also fled to Cuba. All three men were members of the Republic of New Afrika, a black power militant group that sought to turn Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina into a separate nation for African-Americans.

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Karol Markowicz is rightly dismayed at the Democrats joining in with Jill Stein's baseless requests for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. There is no reputable election expert who thinks that there is a chance of overturning Trump's leads in those states. This is just a baseless move by Jill Stein to gather some money and media attention.
Third-party liberal candidate Jill Stein last week launched a fundraiser ostensibly to get enough cash to file for a recount in three close states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Yet as the money rolled in from gullible leftists, she kept raising her cash target. Heading into the weekend, it stood at $7 million, a threefold increase from its not-so-humble beginnings.

Stein is, quite clearly, running a “scam-PAC” — a political action committee designed to bilk supporters of their hard-earned cash and laugh all the way to the bank, while building an email contact list for future fundraising endeavors. Stein even confirmed she couldn’t “guarantee” the money would be spent on a recount. Even if a recount were forced, the extra cash would stay with Team Stein.

Worse, the DNC is allowing it. Donna Brazile tweeted, “As Interim chair of the DNC, I have received info and more regarding #AuditTheElection. At this time, the DNC has not issued any statement.” For one of our two major parties to “no comment” accusations of a stolen election should concern all Americans.

During one of the general-election debates, Trump was asked whether he would accept the results if he lost. He famously said, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”

He was rightly pilloried from all corners. The RNC was quick to put out a statement that they would “accept the results and the will of the people.” Trump’s daughter Ivanka, his running mate, Mike Pence, and even his own spokesperson put out statements that the results would be respected. Trump supporters like Hugh Hewitt criticized him, saying, “It is outside the norm of American political rhetoric to express a contingent acceptance of the result.”

Hillary herself responded, “That’s horrifying.” So where’s that horror now that her supporters carry “Not My President” signs and Stein runs a scam-PAC aimed at Hillary’s own voters?

Where are the Democratic Party’s grownups? Their silence suggests they think it benefits them to keep their supporters angry. That’s no way for people in leadership roles to behave. America needs two strong political parties that take our values and institutions seriously and not just when they win — after all, that’s what the Democrats said when they thought Republicans were being intransigent.

“Give Trump a chance” has been the post-election mantra from his support
It's working for Stein - she is raising money and getting attention. Newsbusters reports that the media have paid 12 times as much attention to her recount requests as they did to her throughout the election.
When Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for U.S. president, the networks only gave her 36 seconds of coverage. However, as soon as she launched a campaign to contest the presidential election and demand a recount of ballots in several key states, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC managed to find 7 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage for her in just four days. That's more than 12 times as much coverage as in the entire campaign.

Of course, Donald Trump is making himself ridiculous with his ludicrous and baseless claims that he would have won the popular vote if "millions of people who voted illegally" hadn't been allowed to vote. Oh, geez. Now we have the president elect tweeting about conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the election results. And he's singling out Virginia and New Hampshire, two states that actually have require IDs in order to vote. It's really funny that he's alleging fraud while chewing out Hillary for signing on to efforts alleging that the election was rigged. The man clearly has no concern about the dangers of continued delegitimizing our nation's elections. Allahpundit makes this same point.
Tangentially, with lame efforts now afoot in the electoral college and in Jill Stein’s recount of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s victory, why would Trump himself call into question the integrity of the election? His message right now should be to hail the glorious splendor of a free and fair vote. Instead he’s screwing around on Twitter with this, inadvertently undermining the process that just made him president
Philip Bump at The Fix in the Washington Post thinks that Trump just can't stand losing so he has to allege fraud to explain any defeat even though there is zero evidence of voter fraud that might have cost him the election in those states. It must gripe him that Hillary actually won the popular vote. So he has throw some shade on her popular vote victory.
Trump's frustration that he'll be inaugurated despite having less demonstrated support than his opponent is the most likely explanation for his tweets. He's clearly annoyed that Clinton agreed to participate in Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's efforts to review balloting in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states (an annoyance also made clear on Twitter). It's remarkably similar to what happened when he lost the Iowa caucuses to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.): At first, he accepted the result as it was. Within a day or two, though, he began lashing out at Cruz, accusing him of stealing the vote in the state....

Of course, there's no evidence that Cruz did anything that could be identified as “stealing” the election. But that wasn't the point. The point was that Trump was mad. (Incidentally, this was also the genesis of “Lyin' Ted.")

There has been some social-media speculation that Trump is laying the groundwork for federal efforts to curtail voting access. That's probably backward. It's more likely that Trump is leveraging long-standing, unfounded murmurs of rampant voter fraud as a way to assuage his ego, just as he claimed that Cruz stole the election to save face.

Now the Clinton campaign has signed on to the Stein requests for recounts. There has never been a recount that has made up the thousands of votes that Hillary is behind in these three states. So, when this is all over, she will, once again, lose to Donald Trump. Reportedly, some of her closest allies are very annoyed at her being dragged into this story.

Clinton loyalists must really be ticked at Jill Stein. If we can assume that Green voters would have chosen Clinton if she weren't on the ballot, the number of votes that Stein won in key states was greater than the margin of victory of Trump in those states. For example, Stein got about 50,700 votes in Michigan which Trump won by 10,704 votes. While some have claimed that the combined vote for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson might have cost Hillary Clinton the election in key states. However, the evidence seems rather shaky that even if we could guess how those voters might have voted otherwise or if they would have turned out to vote, it's not clear that their absence would have made a difference.

looked at this question and concluded otherwise.
The third-party vote doesn’t appear to have been the key factor in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the hands of Republican Donald Trump last week.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of the third-party vote across eight states that all tilted Republican shows that Mrs. Clinton would have needed to win a large percentage of a fickle, independent and often-misunderstood group of voters in order to flip enough states to affect the outcome of the election.
Their conclusion in just the states that Jill Stein is contesting is that Clinton would have had to win 70% of the Johnson/Stein votes in order to win those states and swing the election.
It's not clear that those voters would have voted for Clinton. Libertarians aren't naturally attracted to the Democratic Party or Clinton's decidedly non-libertarian policies. I suspect that there were quite a few Libertarian voters who, like some in my family, couldn't bring themselves to vote for either Trump or Clinton and so just voted for Gary Johnson. If he hadn't been on the ballot, they may well have left the presidential line blank or, as I did, written in someone whom they knew would have no choice.

By the way, the only high-profile elections that have been overturned by recounts involved differences after the election of only a few hundred votes, nothing like the thousands separating Trump and Clinton in those three states.

The Washington Post has an interesting article about how the urban-rural divide that we've observed in the U.S. exists in much of Europe also.
What shaped European politics over the past two years might appear to some like a revolution of rural Europe rising up against the establishment and economic winners.

Support for Britain leaving the European Union was highest in rural areas in the June referendum.

It is also “rural France” that might empower far-right politician Marine Le Pen next year.

In Germany, the urban establishment underestimated the backlash the recent influx of refugees would provoke in less densely populated areas.

In northern Europe's biggest countries, the rural-urban divide appears to have shaped Europe in 2016. There is no reason to assume that 2017 will be any different. The divide could affect northern Europe to a much greater extent than southern Europe, however, where cities rather than rural areas are increasingly the source of frustration.

Rural northern Europe has been in crisis for years, as younger and educated men and women have moved to cities to find employment.
There are some interesting maps included.