If you are traveling to Cuba… Make a Pledge!

Please, if you are traveling to Cuba, keep in mind that behind the facade of
beautiful countryside views, with its ever-present majestic Royal Palm tree; behind the 50s automobiles giving you a back to the future tour experience; behind the rhythmic and contagious music; behind the cheerful, informal attitude and hospitality of the Cubans; behind all the beauty and excitement of this wonder-full land and surrounding waters; behind all these facades there is a tyrannical, oppressive and repressive omnipresent authority.

The Washington Post Editorial Board expresses my mental rumination struggle more clearly than I could ever hope:

“In all the enthusiasm in the United States for more tourism, cultural exchanges and investment in Cuba, there have been far too few demands for more democracy on the island. A lesson of Mr. Obama’s visit, and the Communist Party’s overheated reaction, is that the mere mention of democracy and freedom is a powerful tool. Mr. Obama put it simply in Havana, declaring that ‘citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear.’ Those rushing to Havana lately must not forget to articulate this message, again and again.”
I am going to repeat, yes being redundant; perhaps you will remember on your trip to Cuba: “Those rushing to Havana lately must not forget to articulate this message, again and again.” (President Obama’s message: “citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear.”

What about a pledge for those who will experience their magical tour: “For each payment with my hard earned dollars I will express aloud or in whisper: every Cuban should feel free to speak their mind without fear of reprisal.” Make this pledge in your own words, with your own pictures, with your own creative expression, but please, make the pledge. You can be part of a positive human rights and democracy development, and perhaps revolution. Do it for the Cuban people, do it for the advance of free, civil society, do it for your satisfaction, find your own reason; JUST DO IT – TAKE THE PLEDGE!

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How long are we going to allow the powerful weapon industry to manipulate and mislead us?


How often we will continue to be in front of our television crying in agony because another father and mother suffer the loss of a child killed by a random bullet? Are we totally incapable and powerless to stop the madness? Did we lose the capacity to empathize with suffering families? How long are we going to allow the powerful weapon industry to manipulate our constitution in order to mislead a majority of Americans? Have we sold our values and moral judgment to an organization that pretends to represent us but instead do the dirty work for the seemingly omnipotent gun manufacturers and merchants? How long are we going to allow them to speak for us? Can we continue to turn a blind eye to where the money leads? Is the Constitution establishing the rules of an unlikely and unimaginable new nation the reason for that country’s unstoppable violence and eventual collapse?
The answers are blowing in the wind but we are rendered disable to grasp them and much less to act upon them. The killings will continue, the degradation of our planet will continue, and the concentration of political and economic power will progressively erode our valued Democracy and convert our government into a tyrannical corporate Oligarchy. Is this a cynical opinion? Maybe, but it is happening before our blind eyes and impotent will.
Those who feel strongly about arming themselves with powerful, destructive weapons in order to defend the Constitution against our government are fatally undervaluing the power and purpose of that constitution. The Constitution cannot be effectively defended from the government with guns because the best defense is its content. We must go back to our High School Civic textbook, we must read the content of that precious text, and we must follow its directions. We must appreciate its gift of organized, responsive, limited power and its promise of liberty to a subjugated humanity. The Constitution of the United States of America is the best defense against a tyrannical government, not a totally armed citizenry living in fear of bad government, producing more violence, accepting killings of children as a price of a constitutional democracy because the revered document gives us the right to own guns. A society that accepts and promotes violence, thinking that guns are the only way to combat it, is a society that will gun down itself to anarchy and destruction.
“in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” That is the unequivocal purpose of our founding fathers. The rules for governing and the list of rights were established for that purpose. What happens then when we accept and promote violence? What happens when we are lead to justify that insane attitude with “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”? What does “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” means at a time when weapons are unreasonably destructive? Can we find a rational answer in the 9th Amendment? It states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” It could be argued that the rules and list of rights cannot contradict the Constitution’s purposes in order to:
– Form a more perfect Union (not just perfect, but a more perfect – still working on it)
– Establish Justice (for all, because the truth is self-evident, that all men are created equal)
– Insure domestic Tranquility (law and order, not disturbance and violence)
– Provide for the common defense (of our life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness)
– Promote the general Welfare (free from fear and poverty)
– Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity (to this end we should “pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor”)
If we believe in the power and the promise of our Constitution of the United States of America we must use it to defend ourselves from undue imposition of government and/or the few powerful persons or groups. We must use it to demand that the government be responsive to the needs and aspirations of the governed, not to the greedy few. That was the purpose of the founding father when they painfully debated to create a document to guide a new nation.
Perhaps the most difficult and controversial question we must answer in the dawn of the 21st Century is: Are we going to allow our quixotic obsession with “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” to transcend and trample the Constitution’s overwhelming purposes as enumerated in its Preamble?

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A Century and a Half Later a Child is killed with Impunity

I have been reading Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist. Dickens describes England in the mid 1800’s. Orphan children were a worthless burden to society. They were fed as little as possible in the hope that they will die at an early age – of natural causes, of course – and therefore stop costing society (the Church of England at the time) for their care. As I read, I am thinking, not so much about Oliver, who manages to survive, but about all the other children who ended up in Mr. Sowerberry’s (sounds like sour berry) little, cheap coffin.

Then, over a century and a half later, in a town called Sanford, in a so called civilized nation named the United States of America -because it is comprised of many states, in a vast continent, and beyond; with different laws and different ways of interpreting those laws- a child is killed, gun down by a merciless soul. The police authority decides that since the child is black it was OK for the killer to go his merry way, without interrogation, without confiscating the gun, without making a background check, without administering a drug test (all the procedures that at the beginning of 21st Century the authorities have at there disposal and are required to follow) But, the child was black. What was the police authority thinking? He is black. No one will claim him. There goes one less headache for society. Call Mr. Sowerberry he can supply a cheap pine coffin.

It is sickening and it hurts all the way to the remnant of my human soul.

I should have been in Sanford tonight where people gathered to protest another unspeakable injustice in our United States of America.

Are we ever going to learn?

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Are Americans as Stupid and Ignorant as the Republican Presidential Candidate Treats Them?

If I had to characterize the ongoing Republican presidential campaign in a few words, I would have to say it is a long, twisted road overabundant with misinformation, exaggerations, and lies designed to deceit, confuse and scare the voters. It is also designed to enlist those voters who are convinced, thanks to the Republican party, with the assistant of powerful reactionary ‘family values” non-profit groups, and, lets not forget Fox networks, that President Barack Obama is a  Muslim, socialist-communist, foreign, and quietly, whispering: BLACK, working to destroy the White American values of our founding fathers and capitalism.

The evidence, therefore, the truth, is that the President is a self-described Christian (whatever that means because today been a Christian can mean somewhere between “love your neighbor as yourself” and “let your neighbor fence for him self” meaning let the capitalist market place take care of all the woes in society.) Who, other than an omniscient God, has the power to judge whether or not he is a Christian? Oh, yes, the “real”, “born again”, “self-righteous” bunch, lead by the money-making, fear mongering, anti-social  religious machine, they have the answer: he is a dangerous Muslim! And that’s that. The judgment stands.

President Obama might be view by History as the president that saved Capitalism and its excesses. (A hyperbolic statement? Maybe, but not as hyper as most political conversation today). He saved not only General Motor, but also the American auto industry, period. I remember as a Republican when what was good for GM was good for America – or what was good for America was good for GM – something like that. Remember?  He saved the American, perhaps the global financial system from self-destruction and total collapse. Many of us learned from this crisis that the number one enemy of Capitalism is the unbridled, unregulated, greedy capitalist. Unfortunately, many Americans forgot, or never knew, never understood, how close we were to a financial meltdown and who was responsible for this crisis.

The lie and controversy about being foreign-born would have never been concocted and fabricated if the President was white, which brings us to the quiet whispering, off the record: he is black, OMG: BLACK! Let’s face it: we are bigoted people in a racist society. It hurts to say that. It hurts because I like to believe that it is not true. I like to believe that we are a more advanced, more civilized, more fair. Fairness is important in our Americanism, in the way that capitalism should perform. It really hurts to admit that, but it has to be said if we are to understand this “foreign born” “Muslim” invention. Also is important to say it because maybe, hopefully, stretching my optimism, we can open our minds and hearts to take a careful, honest look at our views and opinions concerning races, and what type of emotions this subject emote.

Are the voters so ignorant and bigoted to accept this deceit? No they are not. I have always thought that this nation’s electorate, some how, like magic, is able to choose the president needed for the moment. I will continue to hope and pray that it is still true. Bigotry and deceit can not be part of our democratic society in the 21st Century and the voters will not allow it.

Oh, and yes, for the time being, I will continue to enjoy the most entertaining, comical and absurd political campaign in my life time.

PS: I wrote the above rumination a few weeks ago when a Santorum’s supporter called President Obama a Muslim. Santorum smiled, looked down and did not correct the ignorant utterance. We all remember how Senator McCain dealt with exactly the same situation during his presidential campaign. I thought at the time that what I wrote was out of date. But yesterday Santorum, in his own words, continued the deceitful insinuations, and then one of his staff, in trying to clarify what Santorum had said the day before had a slip of the tongue herself and called President Obama’s policies “Islamic”.(By the way if I knew Arabic I would like to be call a Muslim – “one who submits to God”)

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Republican majority? A disastrous misfortune

I’ve got to, got to, got to say it! I am asphyxiating from holding it back. It must be said: Let’s not allow the Republican party to gain a majority in the House or the Senate. It is sad that a great number of Americans have forgotten the economic mess created by the Republican policies of the Bush administration. Do you remember that? Too many have a serious case of amnesia brought by fear and insecurity. Some, lets face it, have a deep seeded resentment and animosity toward a president that they believe to be foreign (not born in the United States), of a religion other than Christian and many other lies fed by the multiplicity of hate mongers who put another notch in their fame and another dollar in their bank.

How can we forget that the Republican policies delivered the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression? These are the policies that allowed unbridled capitalism run wild to the edge of the abyss. These are the divine priests of the Almighty Dollar sermonizing about free markets regardless of the consequences to consumers. Preaching that “greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” They forgot that consumers are the lifeblood energizing free markets. They forgot that consumers must be respected and protected. Now, we are suffering the results of Republican unregulated, free-wheeling capitalism.

Now, these same priests, who almost destroyed  capitalism, want to save the country with a cynical Pledge to America. An empty program with no concrete solutions to our economic predicament.

There, I said it! I can breath now. What a relief!

In addition: This Republican Pledge to America is nothing new. Even John Boehner said, “We are not going to be any different than we’ve been.” They’re offering the same agenda that put us on a path to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

  • That means they’re not prepared to discuss protecting Social Security and Medicare.
  • They have no plan for education or teachers.
  • They offer up no solutions to the outsourcing of American jobs.
  • They lay out no plans to invest in key industries like clean energy and manufacturing.
  • They don’t talk about rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and railways.

There are more reasons, many more, why the Republican party must not take back the majority in our Legislature.

(For those of you in-the-know, yes, I plagiarized the above list. I plead guilty. I did it because I could. By this disclosure I admit that the list was copied and pasted because it summarizes my thought on this ridiculous Pledge. It would have been longer and wordier if I had written it)

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Glenn Beck – savior, entertainer or megalomaniac?

Before this weekend I thought of Glenn Beck as another loud mouth TV pundit. In a few occasions I found him mildly and perhaps cheaply entertaining. I did not agree with the way he uses and manipulates the fear and insecurity of his audience for the purpose of gaining larger and larger audience. It is the audience choice to tune him in or out. I Gave him no importance.

In the last few days I have been bombarded with so much opinions -pro and con, some admiring and even idolizing him, others hating and even demonizing  him, that I had to hear for myself his already famous or infamous speech given in front of one of our greatest National Monument-Temple. I really wanted to read it, to be able to ruminate it easier. No where in the red of web was I able to find a written transcription. Even the magnificent-omnipresent later-days Deity Google couldn’t help me. If there was no choice but to watch the speech, my next task was to find it in its totality -unedited, uncommentarized. Where could I find such an eccentric and exceptional video? Then I thought: where do exceptional programing can usually be found on TV?  Only two network came to mind. PBS didn’t broadcast it -I know its schedule. The other was C-SPAN. Yes they had it, all three and a half hour of the main-event.

My first and lingering impression of the speech: cliché after cliché – a string of clichés we’ve  heard before again and again; on the street, at the neighborhood bar, at church, at political rallies, at the city corner from “end of the world is near” nay Sayers. We have heard and read those great phases from great minds from the past and present. We have read them in books from Mark Twain’s humor to the Bible’s wisdom and redemption… Great, solemn, meaningful words transformed into  clichés by the abusive and repetitious misuse through time.
He could have adorned these clichés by quoting some poetic verses from Emerson or Salomon here and there. He could have thrown some accurate references to Franklin (and I mean Benjamin), Adams or Jefferson. To be fair he does try to do that, but his quotations and references still sound clichéish. I am not a speech writer, as you know already by reading this, but those ideas seem simple enough. But no he insisted on platitudes (by the way, his speech illustrated, for the first time, the real meaning of that word). It seems designed to sound ignorant and illiterate enough to be understood by his audience. I wonder if some of the audience felt offended by been treated that way.

If I was writing an essay I would have to give examples of at least some of these clichés, and expand on how I arrived at the above conclusion, but I am not writing an essay or an academic paper that would require it, so I will skip that process.

The thought that keeps coming back is that maybe the whole show was an introduction to his next best selling book: The Glenn Beck Unabridged Encyclopedia of Clichés – From Abraham to Reagan.

Then there is the question: what is the meaning, the real objectives of the whole show? To delve into that would be judgmental and self-righteous. To judge his motivation would be unfair. But this is a journal to express my thinking and to write whatever is in my mind.

I was born and raised in Cuba until I was sixteen years old. I have spent years studying its history and how and why a rich country with industrious people can decline into total deterioration. The study hasn’t help much to clarify these questions, but… (That is a subject to expand in another occasion)  The point is: I have a fairly good idea of the characteristics of a  megalomaniac, egocentric, absolutist person and how to recognize one. The political power acquired by of the most successful of them have shaped my life, the life of my family and the life of every single Cuban for over 50 years.  Therefore, I must say: Glenn Beck is a self-serving, self-promoting, narcissist -characteristics of a megalomaniac-who is building an economic empire exploiting  the hopes and dreams of gullible, fearful, insecure God loving religious people. His radio show wasn’t enough, his popular TV show wasn’t sufficient, his best selling books didn’t satisfy the insatiable appetite for grandiosity. Now he is metamorphosing as the new unsurpassed tele-evangelist, a new Moses leading the lost people “back to God.” He is using the name of God as a banner to be waved so others can follow and his empire can grow. Some might call this behavior sacrilegious –by using the name of God in vain, remember, “Thou should not…” (My mother probably would have describe it as such, I am not sure, but I can not ask her, she is where she had the conviction she would be through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross)

A brief visit to his website will provide a glimpse into his empire: http://www.glennbeck.com/

Glenn Beck is manipulative and deceptive. For instance, there is the question of the money raised at the rally on the 28th. Beck promised to contribute all the money raised to SOWF (Special Operations Warrior Foundation), a very worthwhile organization that help children who’s military fathers die in the current wars. Beck’s website claims: “With your support and help we were able to raise more than $5-million dollars for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Oh! really Glenn? That is nice. Your patriotic organization is going to contribute all that money to SOWF. Well, not so fast. At the bottom of Beck’s 8/28 website, in small letters of course, there’s the following disclaimer: “All contributions made to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) will first be applied to the costs of the Restoring Honor Rally taking place August 28, 2010. All contributions in excess of these costs will be retained by SOWF.” So, how much was the contribution?

(It has been  a week since I began this post. I have wonder if I am too harsh on poor Glenn.  Maybe I have been too radical, exaggerating a bit, or a lot. It might be so,  but I am convinced that the truth is  somewhere in the perimeter of my opinion)

Until soon.

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A challege to Christians of all persuations

No need to comment. My thought for the moment:

“Giving all Diligence, add to your Faith, Virtue; and to Virtue, Knowledge; and to Knowledge, Temperance; and to Temperance, Patience; and to Patience, Godliness; and to Godliness, Brotherly Kindness; and to Brotherly Kindness, Charity. For if these
Things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren
nor unfruitful in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that
lacketh these Things, is blind, and cannot see far off, and hath forgotten
that he was purged from his old Sins”
. – Address To Protestants Of All Perswasions by William Penn in 1726.

Yes, there is a comment: some of these Christian attributes might not be found in the contemporary vocabulary, but it doesn’t mean they are not essential to Christians and relevant to civic behavior.

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