When Losing Your Country Leads To "Lunacy"

It always bothers me that people pretend not to understand interest group politics. The Left will call the anti-choice movement reactionaries and the Right will call civil liberties activists the "loony Left." It simply makes no sense. I actually admire anyone who fights hard for what they believe in. And if I agree with them, I hope I stand on the barricades with them.

The normally mild mannered Kevin Drum decides to potshot Cuban Americans who support the embargo (I vehemently disagree with the embargo as I have for my entire adult life). Kevin asks:

Jeebus. What is it about Cuba that drives people into decades-long fits of insanity?

This is Kevin's way of disagreeing with the views of some Cuban-Americans on the embargo. It is offensive. Kevin would never wonder about the "lunacy" of pro-Israel groups in this fashion. Kevin writes:

What's more, it's a different kind of crazy from most exile communities. What accounts for it?

Is it really? Or is it just that the pro-embargo Cuban exile communiity has been more successful at American politics than other exile groups? Is AIPAC a "lunatic" organization? Will Kevin write that it is?

As for what accounts for it, it seems pretty damned obvious to me - Cuba has been under a totalitarian dictatorship for 50 years. I happen to agree with Kevin's assessment of the inefficacy of the embargo on Cuba. I would lift it immediately. But let's suppose for a moment you actually believed the Cuba embargo was effective policy that will help lead to a free Cuba -- would you label taking a firm stance in its favor "lunacy?" Of course not. So the "lunacy" here is, apparently, not agreeing with Kevin Drum (and me) that the Cuba embargo is bad policy.

The other point to make here is Senator Bob Menendez, the subject of Kevin's post, is a politician. He is supporting, not only his constituency (which includes a significant Cuban American population) but he is also listening to people who give him a lot of money. Just like any other politican. Or does Kevin think Tom Harkin and Dick Lugar want to lift the embargo simply on the principle? Does he REALLY believe that who they represent and who donates to their campaigns is not effecting their views on the issue? If Kevin believes that, then he is a lunatic.

Of course Kevin's invective and ignorance (Kevin actually argues that "most Cuban exiles, when they fled the island after Castro's takeover, left with their entire families." If that were the case, why would anyone care about expanding the number of trips Cuban Americans could take to Cuba? Who would they be visiting exactly?) leads to the typical slanderous comments about Cuban Americans. Here is one example:

When Castro took over, he pretty much cut off every man's balls who fled Cuba. He exposed them for the weak cowards they really are. They had the Government, they had the US, they had the military and Castro kicked their asses. Because Castro is more of a man than the entire cuban exile population combined. So the only way they can get their manhood back is to completely eradicate Castro and his friends - anything less than that is emasculation.

Yes Kevin, you invited those comments. Castro is DA MAN! Lenin and Stalin also kicked ass and took names, they were REAL men!

Here's one I took to heart:

. . . How lucky for us that these crazy, vindictive, selfish immigrants chose our country to perpetuate their inbred nastiness while insisting that we support and participate in their multigenerational tantrum.

Thanks Kevin. Thanks for stirring up the hate. Good job.

Speaking for me, as a Cuban American, only

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    Point of personal privilege (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:00:18 PM EST

    You're entitled. (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:32:09 PM EST
    I'm wondering why the comments are so vicious against immigrants from Cuba.  

    We are all landed oligarchy (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:35:45 PM EST
    just itching to rip the free health care away from all Cubans that the wonderful Fidel Castro has provided.

    Yup (none / 0) (#16)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:37:02 PM EST
    "Gentry" was the phrase.

    I think those types of commenters used to be called "useful idiots."


    Don't forget the universal literacy. (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:50:36 PM EST
    Perhaps (none / 0) (#41)
    by Baal on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:13:27 AM EST
    the Elian Gonzalez affair.  

    Cubans are Different from Other Exile Communities (none / 0) (#71)
    by msaroff on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 11:16:38 AM EST
    I went to High School with an Estonian, and (big surprise) he hated the Soviets, and once a year he did the protest at the local consulate, and he was a hawk, but he wasn't nuts, like the guy who bombed a Venezuelan air line, or pretty much everyone trying to keep Elian Gonzalez from his dad.

    The difference is that, particularly for the generation that left, they come from a history of Spanish governance, where the rulers were absolute, and were literally anointed by God.

    This is why, for 400 years, when the Crown of England got uppity, they were reminded of the Magna Carta, and told that "This isn't Spain."

    The elites in former Spanish possessions continue to hold the idea of divine right as to their status, and while a revolution that replaces one group of people within the elite with another group of people within that elite is within the "divine" scheme, but Castro threw them all out, and on a very deep level, this is not just a taking, but an affront to God's will.

    This problem has been exacerbated by the fact that, after 40 years of politicians of all stripes kowtowing to them, there is a sense that they are entitled to those destructive policies.


    Sheesh (none / 0) (#73)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 11:40:00 AM EST
    What a bigoted comment.

    Jeez (none / 0) (#75)
    by cal1942 on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 02:11:49 PM EST
    This is why, for 400 years, when the Crown of England got uppity, they were reminded of the Magna Carta, and told that "This isn't Spain."

    Your substitution of imagination for history is astounding.

    And yes, your comment is bigoted.


    Complete nonsense (none / 0) (#79)
    by herb the verb on Fri Mar 06, 2009 at 01:31:40 AM EST
    Alcoa called: they need their tin-foil back.

    Kevin is one of those bright, educated guys (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Pacific John on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:22:22 PM EST
    ... who presumes he understands people in circumstances other than his own, and when he can't, he thinks they're crazy.

    But long ago, I put myself on a Drum diet, when he said, (to the best of my recollection) social churning is over, and the talented people are at the top. What can you say when someone writes off 2/3 of the population?

    I know so little about this issue (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by caseyOR on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:49:09 AM EST
    I had a friend in grade school whose mother, a Cuban, had gone to school with Fidel Castro. She would come to our school and tell us stories about how bad Castro was. It was a Catholic school, so most of the stories centered on the godlessness of the communists and the ways that Castro tricked the young children into losing faith in g@d and, instead, believing in Castro. This was in the early "60s.

    I realized later that, since my friend was born in the USA in 1952 and never lived in Cuba, that her mother left Cuba before the revolution. Nonetheless, when I was a second-grader her mother's stories made a big impression on me.

    That and knowing some folks who went to Cuba in the '70s with the Venceramos Brigade, is the sum of my personal knowledge about Cuba.

    Sometimes I think on the blogs (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:20:24 AM EST
    this attitude comes from thinking interest groups are an irrelevant model (regardless of whether they are or not).  I recall Steve Hildebrand saying that Obama "doesn't see people in boxes" or something when they were in Nevada for the caucus.  Interest groups are so 90s.  "Old politics."  Etc.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with interest groups - and it pissed me off during the election that if you were part of one of those groups, you had to put certain issues aside.  So for example if you didn't like Obama's stance on gay rights, you were being difficult.  If you didn't think he was giving gay rights as much attention as he could, you were being a whiny Clintonite.  

    So what did we get?  Rick Warren.

    Isn't BTD kinda saying.... (none / 0) (#61)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:59:59 AM EST
    we should give the Rick Warren traditional marriage crew the benefit of the doubt, like we should give the anti-abortion, pro-Israel and pro-embargo crews the benefit of the doubt?  Debate them, break bread with them, be civil with them and try to find common ground with them if possible?

    One thing for sure...calling people names, demonizing people without taking the time to try and walk in their shoes just digs deeper trenches between us and makes it more difficult to find workable solutions and compromises.  


    These are two different things (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 09:33:56 AM EST
    I credit Rick Warren with professing his beliefs and fighting for them in good faith (as I do almost all anti-choicers), but I will not pretend I do not vehemently disagree with him and will not endorse having him given a sign of approval of his views.

    He really does think gays are perverts and that abortions should be outlawed is what I am saying.

    The first of these views is not acceptable discourse in my view, and I will not treat it as such (though, like Voltaire, I will defend in his right to say it and my right to call him on it).

    The second is premised on the view that a fetus is a human life and that thus abortion is murder. If I believed abortion was murder, I would agree that it should be outlawed. I do not and strongly believe in the privacy and choice rights of individuals on the matter.

    On the second point, it is why I find and have always found the idea of "compromise" on choice and abortion absurd. what is the possible compromise between these views?


    my question is (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 11:20:29 AM EST
    is interest group politicking more or less difficult to do under Obama?  On one hand, his impulse is to generalize and find commonalities and look beyond the special interest of choice (at least that's how he presents himself).  On the other hand, you could argue that behind the scenes, interest group politics are as strong as ever.  Interest group politics never dies - there are only (new) winners and losers.  

    Thanks for clarifying... (none / 0) (#64)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 09:39:35 AM EST
    As for a possible compromise on abortion...how about safe and legal but cannot be funded by tax dollars?  Not that either side would go for that.

    safety (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by lilburro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 09:50:03 AM EST
    requires regulation which requires tax dollars.  

    no compromise.


    if it's legal, it needs to be accessible health (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by nycvoter on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:21:25 PM EST
    care like any other procedure and your inability to pay cannot compromise your right to excercise your choice.

    I didn't support the Iraq war, but my tax dollars pay for it, I don't support the death penalty, but my tax dollars support it.  


    That's not how I interpret what he's (none / 0) (#62)
    by dk on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 09:18:33 AM EST
    saying.  I see what he's saying as trying your hardest, through rational argument, to get people onto your side (not find common ground or compromise with them).  If they ignore that reasoning, then it's best to simply ignore them (instead of accusing them of being insane and other such things) and do your best to make sure you have more influence and control over politicians than the other side, since fear and self-interest is what drives most successful politicians.

    That last bit about choosing OUR country, (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 09:58:09 AM EST
    I thought other than Native Americans all other Americans were immigrants.  I know that I was only properly indoctrinated as a child in MY country's school system, but I was taught that America is a shining light where abused persons come to iron out the past social wrinkles they managed to survive long enough to get here.

    Welcome to the Blogosphere. . . (4.00 / 0) (#49)
    by LarryInNYC on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 07:01:31 AM EST
    where every issue is the issue, every politician a sinner or a saint, and there are no shades of gray.  This article surprises you?

    So the "lunacy" here is, apparently, not agreeing with Kevin Drum (and me) that the Cuba embargo is bad policy.

    To be fair, I have to question the ability to reason logically of anyone who, after fifty years, believes that the Cuban embargo is either improving conditions for Cubans or accelerating the end of the Castro regime.

    I question their rightness (none / 0) (#50)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 07:14:38 AM EST
    And I would accept calling the issue analysis "emotional," but the easy way in which he questioned their sanity, which frankly was just a way to open the door to the "Batista"/ "landed oligarchs" nonsense and the Castro has been great for Cuba crowd is what bothers me.

    Let me put it this way, Kevin Drum never called anyone a "lunatic" for supporting George W. Bush. and I think the evidence on Bush is pretty damn conclusive.

    If he ran around calling everyone a "lunatic" then I think I would not have felt that he singled Cuban Americans out for offensive treatment.


    Pols are pols (none / 0) (#2)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:14:11 PM EST
    but I would not be surprised to find out Menendez has strong personal feelings on the issue of Cuba to go along with whatever pressure he gets from his constituents.  Why wouldn't he?  But even if it's strictly interest group politics, I don't understand why people get so worked up over it.  That's how politics works.  Form your own interest group to combat them if it bothers you so much.

    This is really just a subset of one of the most tiresome things about politics, which is that one's political opponents must always be arguing in bad faith or else just plain crazy.  Bob Somerby has been on a roll this week knocking down stuff like this.  Personally, I would love to sit down with a Cuban-American who favors the embargo and say why?  what makes this such an important issue to you?  why do you believe it will be effective since it hasn't in the past?  Much more satisfying to have that kind of conversation than to just label them as a bunch of lunatics.

    I have sat down with them (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:30:04 PM EST
    From my father to Jorge Mas Canosa, and debated the issues with them in depth.

    No one was referred to as a lunatic.


    I would be interested to hear (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:33:32 PM EST
    the capsule version of their argument.

    As an outsider to the debate I just find it hard to grasp what they think the embargo is accomplishing at this point.


    Mas is dead (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:40:29 PM EST
    so you would have to understand the time frame.

    I debated with Mas about this in the early 1990s - his argument then was that Cuba had lost its subsidizer - the Soviet Union - and therefore the embargo would be effective to put on pressure - he argued that in that point in time, it was more akin to the embargo on South Africa in the 80s.

    I told him that was simply wrong - the differences between the South Africa embargo and the Cuba embargo was that no other country participated in it with the US (unlike the South Africa embargo) and that Castro did not care that his economy was wrecked and the Cuban People suffering even more hardships (in south Africa the the embargo was devatating to the South African embargo - hurting white South Africans and thus an effective vehicle for putting pressure on white South African politicians.)

    I told him my opwn pessimistic view - that until the Castros died, their grip on pwer was impossible to break - like the North Korean Kims.


    Interesting (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:52:18 PM EST
    Sounds like his position was more reasoned than just a "multigenerational tantrum" - but what do I know?

    I believe economic sanctions are a difficult issue in general, and that they're too easily accepted in some quarters because they're the default liberal alternative to military action.  Sanctions worked in Libya, apparently (because they applied pressure to the right people, as with your South Africa example).  But they were a complete disaster in Iraq as far as I'm concerned.


    If that last quote were about AIPAC (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:19:58 PM EST
    he would be looking for a new job. And rightly so.

    Your point about Harkin and Lugar is an interesting one. You think they'd be cool with letting in Cuban sugar duty free? /snark

    Sorry, I didn't realize (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:23:58 PM EST
    that your last quote was from the comments.

    Cuban ethanol (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:30:40 PM EST
    Where does Harkin stand on that?

    heh (none / 0) (#10)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:33:16 PM EST
    Answer is surely "no way." If the ethanol doesn't come from corn, he ain't interested.

    Harkin, of course, wants to open up Cuba (none / 0) (#54)
    by DFLer on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:02:11 AM EST
    to US ag imports.

    But not open up the US (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:10:19 AM EST
    to Cuban sugar ethanol exports?

    I am shocked!!


    I missed that part about banning (none / 0) (#58)
    by DFLer on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:24:27 AM EST
    Cuban sugar.

    I was responding to this (none / 0) (#59)
    by DFLer on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:35:44 AM EST
    Or does Kevin think Tom Harkin and Dick Lugar want to lift the embargo simply on the principle?

    Of course it's not simply on principle....but to sell Iowa goods in Cuba.


    That's not true (none / 0) (#57)
    by Steve M on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:21:13 AM EST
    He's in favor of ethanol from feedstock as well. :)

    As for what Kevin would write about AIPAC (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:31:59 PM EST
    I assure you whe will never call them "lunatics." Or "mafiosi" or any of the fine names Cuban Americans are called.

    He does not have the guts to do that.


    Remember the ad the Republicans ran (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:35:05 PM EST
    against Menendez? The Sopranos spoof?

    Not for exactly the same reasons, of course, but it comes to mind.


    For the record (none / 0) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:41:43 PM EST
    I do not care for Menendez personally, he is a pretty scummy guy and a real blowhard personally.

    An interesting choice on Corzine's part (none / 0) (#20)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:43:47 PM EST
    (and of course now he is in trouble).

    BTW (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:34:18 PM EST
    Kevin;s attempt to not identify the "cuban American candidate" is pretty transparent - I bet it was Joe Garcia and I bet he did not say what Kevin said.

    Joe was probably discussing a certain set of implacable foes he now has.

    I wonder if Joe will be asked about this.

    And in case you are wondering, Joe supports the "lunatic" embargo. As does Barack Obama for those keeping score.

    And Hillary (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:36:11 PM EST
    I think it's a requirement for anyone running in Florida.

    Of course (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:42:08 PM EST
    Pols are pols . . .

    As I recall (none / 0) (#21)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:50:10 PM EST
    Obama took the boldest stand during the primaries by at least suggesting an incremental weakening of the embargo.

    Of course we all know this was political suicide that squandered any chance of ever winning Florida in the GE, right?  The blog reaction to Obama's position had all the nuance of Kevin Drum's comment section.


    Not really (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:19:10 AM EST
    Obama only suggested that he would allow more travel by Cuban Americans. It is the policy Menendez objects to but no one seriously thought it was a big deal for most voters.

    This is about Menendez's big money contributors.


    Reading assignment (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:22:25 AM EST
    for non fiction account of one family's immigration from Cuba to U.S. (kids first w/o a parent, mother came later, father stayed in Cuba):  Carlos Eire's "Waiting for Snow in Havana."  

    My own family history (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:30:37 AM EST
    is as follows:

    My father came to the US, ostensibly to work the sugar harvest in Louisiana, leaving my mother and two brothers in Cuba, applied for political asylum, and then the Cuban government, treating my mother and brothers as a charge on the state, allowed them to leave. My grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc., remained in Cuba.

    For the record, my family had no lands to lose or fortunes to be expropriasted. they arrived with the shirts on their back (Cuba did not permit taking anything out of the country.)

    Some of our extended family later came to the US.

    To this day, I have aunts, uncles and cousins (many of them remain avowed Communists) in Cuba.

    My mother has returned to Cuba on a number of occasions.

    My family makes remittances to our Cuban family members on a regular basis.


    Quite poignant. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:48:52 AM EST
    In addition to permitting more frequent (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:42:27 AM EST
    visits  to Cuba by Cuban-Americans, as I recall Obama also called for an increase in the amount of remittances.  

    So, were you the youngest? (none / 0) (#29)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:27:43 AM EST
    Born later in the USA?

    Quite an achievement to get a BA or BS, much less a law degree, considering the family's assets to begin with.  Want to share how you did that?

    I've heard that there is a difference between the generations of Cuban Americans re Castro and Cuba and the politics of same in Florida.  Is that true?  Is it significant?


    Born in New Orleans (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:34:31 AM EST
    I won a pretty hefty scholarship for college that paid part of the cost. I took on loans. I did work-study. Like a lot of people. The family found the way to find the rest of what was needed. I worked a lot. I was lucky when my college went to a long break system. I remember working at the sugar mill for 38 straight days (I missed the first week of the semster.) I was in the IAM local (mandatory of course), so the pay was good. In the summers, I worked for the Summer Yourh Employment Program in "mamangement" (which meant I got $0.75 above minmum wage.)

    In law school, I took on more loans. I worked summers (at good pay, that is the good part of law school).

    After graduating, I got paid a lot and paid back my loans.


    A classic up-from-nothing (none / 0) (#33)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:55:13 AM EST
    American story...a familiar one to those of us who were among the first in our families to graduate high school or college.  As Bill Clinton used to say, "those who work hard and play by the rules..."

    If we could do it then, it can still be done now but you wouldn't think so to hear the endless complaints about the cost of higher education.  It matters how much you want it.

    But...what about the rumored political generational split among Cuban Americans?


    Oldpro (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 05:31:56 AM EST
    Read what he said.  BTD was able to pay back his loans quickly because he went into a lucrative field of work.  Good for him.  It was a great investment of both money and what sounds like pretty tough labor.

    But education loans are often a crushing burden for people who enter less well-paying professions.  "Endless complaints" hardly seems a fair way of characterizing that burden.


    Stop. Quickly or slowly, (none / 0) (#69)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 11:06:02 AM EST
    paying back loans is the contract, whether it's for education, a car, a house, a boat, another car, an RV, a trip to Europe or whatever. Have we learned nothing from the daily news and the housing crisis, the credit crisis, the debt crisis?

    Anyone who takes out an education loan that becomes a "crushing burden" is living well beyond their means.  This is a choice, whether out of ignorance or stupidity, that some feel entitled to make.  I feel entitled to point out that it's not a smart choice...not a good choice...and not the only choice.

    Yes..."endless complaints" refers to general public complaints about 'the cost of college,' not only from those already in debt for their education.  Generally speaking, these complaints are grounded in ignorance and some wacky sense of entitlement by people who live in some other universe than the one I inhabit.

    I generalize from the specific, having reviewed hundreds of local applications for scholarships over the past 30 years.  Let me give you a brief glimpse of what I see:

    First, applicants with no job, no savings, very little or no prospective help from parents and evidently no clue, who want to attend a private college!  They often write that they 'need' a scholarship because they don't want to 'have to borrow' to continue their education...never imagining that a scholarship committee is unlikely to want to invest in anyone who won't invest in themselves.

    Second, lifestyle expectations.  In the application process, students are asked to present a budget of expected costs of attending college.  The smallest items in their budgets are tuition, books, school fees when they are expecting to attend a public college or university.  The biggest items (both boys and girls) are often their auto payments and car insurance along with room/board and 'spending money.'  These are not actually 'the cost of college.'  These are the cost of living whether one is attending college or not.  Borrowing to live is what becomes a 'crushing burden' for most folks.  

    Many seem incapable of cutting back on a lifestyle while attending school, of lowering expectations, of working while in school and every summer, of facing the difference between wants and needs.

    Private colleges are seductive of course, baiting the hook with what looks like a large scholarship for maybe half their tuition, leaving the other half (still larger than a whole year's public school's tuition) to be paid somehow...by loans, no doubt.

    Public college in my state (WA) is cheap (much cheaper than many other state's tuition for 4-year schools) and there is huge support for needy students.  Living is expensive.  Private schools are expensive.  

    Knowing the difference and making choices one can afford gets my admiration and support.  Endless complaining about 'the cost of college' doesn't.

    Yes.  I'm a hard case.


    It is more a question (none / 0) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:58:41 AM EST
    if intensity on the issue than a split on the issue.

    Certainly, like in all demos, right now Dems when younger Cubans in higher numbers than they used to.


    If the Castros were gone (none / 0) (#36)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 02:10:14 AM EST
    and the Cuban government changed, would many in the US 'go back' to Cuba?

    I imagine there are many influences but it seems to me that the longer expats are here, the less likely they are to want to return...even if, somehow, they identify more as Cuban than as American, which I suppose some do...particularly those old enough to remember a previous life in another country.

    Would your mother move back to Cuba under favorable circumstances?  Can't imagine that if she has children (and grandchilren?) who are here.


    Of course not (none / 0) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 07:16:11 AM EST
    It's been over 40 years for most people.

    How many Vientnamese would go back to Vietnam now were it to become democratic?


    Agree. Next to none. (none / 0) (#70)
    by oldpro on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 11:14:03 AM EST
    Wishful thinking on the part of some anti-immigrant folks, though, who wish we'd all go 'back where we came from.'

    Not gonna hoppen.


    "Pretty Damned Obvious" (none / 0) (#32)
    by Chatham on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:50:58 AM EST
    "As for what accounts for it, it seems pretty damned obvious to me - Cuba has been under a totalitarian dictatorship for 50 years."

    For only 50?  Cuba has been under a dictatorship before.  There are many dictatorships around, many worse (many much, much worse) than Cuba's.  Does that mean that whatever Castro does is fine, and I would love to be a Cuban?  No, of course not.  But Cuba seems to get an inordinate amount of attention for being an dictatorship, compared to other countries that often get a pass (I see human rights mentioned much, much less often when people talk about the UAE, Jorda, India, etc.).

    It's sort of like how whenever Chavez is mentioned, we have to say he's a thug, but I almost never hear the same thing about Saakashvili (he's usually mentioned as our embittered ally).

    For some of us, it seems "pretty damned obvious" that there are other issues at play.

    Other issues at play for whom? (none / 0) (#34)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:57:19 AM EST
    For Cubans? you think that it is weird that Cubans care about Cuba?

    Or you think it is weird that the US cares about Cuba? do you think it is weird the US cares about Israel?

    Do you think it is pretty obvious that "other issues are at play?

    Do you think AIPAC is comprised of "lunatics?"


    For the media and the government (none / 0) (#37)
    by Chatham on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 02:28:09 AM EST
    For the Media?  The government?  You don't think it's strange that the US and the media cares about Cubans and Chinese but not Jordans, Egyptians, Emeritis, Indians, etc.?  That's fine?

    And where did I say that US policy towards Israel or Cuba is weird, or that Cuban Americans are lunatics?  You'll have to show me, because I'm pretty sure I never said that.  But you think that the US has the stance it does because it cares about Israel and Cuba, and not about the Ugandans/Vietnamese/Azerbaijani?  Do what do you attribute the unequal attention giving by US representatives, the media, your posts? Is it because these dictatorships aren't as bad (we can argue this if you want)?

    As for the Cuban Americans, no, it's normal for groups like these to care about their roots.  The Armenian groups in the US recently pressed for the US to pass a measure denouncing the Armenian genocide.  Yes, there are legitimate reasons for them to be angry, and even if there are crazies in the movement (and I don't think anyone here is going to deny that?), it doesn't mean that every anti-Castro Cuban should be branded that way.

    Though I'm sure that there are other issues at play there too (I can discuss further if you like), I was commenting more on the general representation coming from the US government, media, etc.  So the discrepancy is just because we like Cubans and Israelis more, and don't care as much when other people get tortured?


    In your comment (none / 0) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:56:22 AM EST
    That you did not use the word "weird" does not mean you did not say it.

    OK (none / 0) (#78)
    by Chatham on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 10:53:21 PM EST
    Show me where I implied it.  As I don't think it's strange at all, I must be missing what you are seeing.  Or perhaps you can tell me what I think?

    And as to my questions...?


    not at all. (none / 0) (#38)
    by cpinva on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 04:17:20 AM EST
    you think that it is weird that Cubans care about Cuba?

    what i think is "weird" is that cuban-americans seem to suffer "batista" blindness, when it comes to cuba & castro. bear in mind, castro's revolution wouldn't have succeeded, absent the support of most of the cuban people, no revolution can.

    had batista not been such a (US supported) despot, it's unlikely castro would have fairly easily overthrown him and his government. of the first wave of cuban refugees, most were batista loyalists, the wealthy landowners. they benefited from batista, and pretty much lost it all when he got bounced.  

    since i learned the actual history of the cuban revolution, and the US's active role in basically subjugating the populace, to support the anti-communist batista, i've come to fully understand why castro was so popular.

    the embargo was a dumb reaction (so was the Bay of Pigs), should have been abolished years ago. flooding the soviet union with western goods pretty much wiped it out.

    BTD, just because a small group has a "feeling", doesn't make it good foreign policy. just as someone feeling abortion is wrong doesn't mean it should be public policy for everyone, they don't have to get one, if they don't want to.


    Not unique to Cuban folks (none / 0) (#40)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 05:48:29 AM EST
    I used to have many friends in the "white Russian" emigre community, and they were passionately convinced that life was wonderful and free and the peasants were happy and well treated under the tsars.  I think it's pretty common, and entirely understandable, that these narratives get exaggerated and hardened in the sometimes quite brutal exile experience.

    My friends were not of the land-owning aristocracy nor the peasant class, but the urban artistic and intellectual communities that flourished and flowered for such a brief period pre-revolution.

    As you say, revolutions happen for a reason, even if they turn out badly in the end.


    Thanks for the insult (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:55:37 AM EST
    You do not know what you are talking about.

    Pace, BTD (none / 0) (#67)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 10:13:16 AM EST
    I really don't know why that struck you as particularly insulting.  Every family in America has a narrative that's got lots of emotion and mythmaking, including mine.  I'm at a loss to understand the violence of your objection.

    You invented your own (none / 0) (#68)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 10:42:31 AM EST
    about Cuban Americans.

    It offended me.

    I do not know any white Russians so I can not speak for your friends, but no Cuban American I know of does not know what Batista was.

    You are engaging in ugly stereotyping based on your own ignorance.


    Batista blindness? (none / 0) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:54:58 AM EST
    You have no effing idea what you are talking about.

    Your comment is simply offensive.

    Most of the most hardened anti-castro people were anti-Batista people, hell they were pro-castro once.

    50 effing years!! That is like saying that the anti-Mao people have Chiang Kai Chek blindness.

    It is so supremely ridiculous that it actually proves my point.


    We have tried it one way for 50 years (none / 0) (#42)
    by Baal on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:18:58 AM EST
    and it hasn't done anyone any good.  Time to open up.  The arguments against it ARE crazy and it leads people to crazy actions as in the Elian Gonzalez affair.  We have diplomatic relations with much worse regimes and the current status is really bad for Cubans.  BTD's argument that the passion underlying an argument is in and of itself sufficient to make it rational is weird.

    The argument is wrong (none / 0) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:51:12 AM EST
    I disagree with it.

    You seem to take the view that simply saying "50 years" and "I disagree" is the basis for insulting people.


    Another point I should make (none / 0) (#43)
    by Baal on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:22:13 AM EST
    that makes me agree with Kevin Drum in this case is that Cuban-Americans seem to claim veto-power over a foreign policy decision that affects the entire hemisphere.  Indeed, Cuban-Americans for a long time have made over-arching political decisions on the basis of a single issue, which is why they are almost unique among the recent immigrants from Latin America in being represented by right wing nutcases.

    They exercise political power (none / 0) (#45)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 06:53:00 AM EST
    Pro-choice people like myself want to exercise "veto power" over the choice issue. Everyone wants to "exercise veto power" over any issue they care about.

    Your signling out Cuban Americans on this is precisely what is wrong.

    You want to single out American Jewish Israel supporters in the same way?


    What do you think will happen with Cuba (none / 0) (#52)
    by Saul on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 07:58:12 AM EST
    under Obama?   What advice would you give Obama concerning Cuba.

    Nothing will happen (none / 0) (#53)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 07:58:59 AM EST
    Armando, your point is well taken (none / 0) (#60)
    by Think Before You Type on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 08:51:07 AM EST
    and sorely needed.  Thanks for making it.

    Incidentally, I endorse your sentiments, speaking as a [non-hyphenated] American.


    On a different note... (none / 0) (#76)
    by Left2Say on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 03:36:24 PM EST
    A recent cabinet shuffle by Raul Castro seemed pretty interesting. At least 20 people were shifted, promoted or demoted. Among them, the foreign minister and an Economic czar. Although Fidel Castro said they lost sight of interests for Cuba, quoting "The foreign enemy pinned many hopes on them," I can't help but feel that Raul is planning to steer clear from his brother's shadow and implement a new form of policies to "perfect the Cuban system."

    Fidel Castro said these changes were (none / 0) (#77)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 03:39:59 PM EST
    run by him before they were made and:  the 'honey of power' led top Cuban officials to 'unworthy role'.