Sunday, September 17, 2017

Constitution Day 2017: 230 years after signing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution

In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American. - Antonin Scalia, Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 534 U.S. 103 (1995).

Constitutional Convention completed ratification on September 17, 1787
 230 years ago by 35 of the founders of the United States signed and ratified the Constitution of the United States. First recognized by Iowa schools in 1911, Sons of the American Revolution in 1917, and finally by  September 17th is set aside as Constitution Day in observance of this important day that established the U.S. Constitution. 
"We the people of the United States, 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, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."


Today some will revere the Constitution as a sacred text but how did one of the actual signers view it at the time? Benjamin Franklin, during a speech in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (September 17, 1787); reported in James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, ed. E. H. Scott (1893), p. 742:
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. 
 The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, observed in a fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798:
"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
Today is a good day to re-read the Constitution and remind ourselves as citizens that we must hold the politicians accountable in order to preserve liberty and avoid despotism. Furthermore that over time amendments have been necessary to cautiously improve on the original document.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Remembering and honoring Winston Churchill, the greatest Briton, who was anti-Nazi, anti-Communist and pro-freedom

"Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism… As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot those kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into more hideous strife, which none can say has ended with their destruction." - Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm (1948)

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the greatest Briton
Today the United Nations is observing World Democracy Day and the United Kingdom is observing Battle of Britain Day.  This double observance heightens the importance of remembering the wisdom of Winston Churchill and honor the man who twice saved democracy from Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism.  Today in 1940, the Battle of Britain's most decisive clash saw the Royal Air Force repel the largest Luftwaffe air strike against the United Kingdom. Months earlier on June 18, 1940 in a speech in The House of Commons titled "Their Finest Hour" Prime Minister Churchill explained the stakes of World War II and the start of the existential clash for Great Britain: 
I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
The apologists for international communism  like to extol their so-called "antifascist"credentials while remaining silent or finding bizarre revisionist explanations on the connections between fascism and communism that Mr. Churchill succinctly outlined in the quote at the top of the page. Of even greater concern is the attempt to deny the fact that Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin signed a pact in August of 1939, that secretly included the division of Central and Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, that started World War II. This alliance lasted until the summer of 1941 when Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet union. Consider for a moment that it was Britain and France who honoring their alliance declared war on Nazi Germany on September 1, 1939 when Poland was invaded by Hitler's Third Reich.  Churchill did not equivocate and in a radio address on October 1, 1939 described the Russian's role as invaders along with the Nazis days after.
 "Poland has been again overrun by two of the great Powers which held her in bondage for 150 years, but were unable to quench the spirit of the Polish nation. The heroic defense of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible, and that she will rise again like a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock."
Britain and France were convinced that Russia and Germany were allies and plans were drawn up to attack Russian oil fields in order to deny them to the Nazis in what became known in the planning stages as Operation Pike.  Months later the reversals continued for Christendom. The Fall of France to the Nazi war machine took place between May 10 and June 25, 1940 over the span of 46 days ending in the evacuation of Dunkirk. This disaster is what led to Operation Pike being scrapped.


The British Empire was alone for almost a year between June 25, 1940 through June 22, 1941 as the sole main resistance to Nazi Germany. The United States would remain neutral until Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the Soviet Union was a de facto ally of Nazi Germany until Hitler invaded communist Russia on June 22, 1941 in Operation Barbarossa. The United Kingdom was all that stood between the survival of Christian civilization and a new Dark Age that Adolf Hitler called the Thousand Year Reich. If one is truly Anti-Nazi then one must celebrate and honor the legacy of Winston Churchill, who early on identified the Nazi threat and issued calls to to resistance with one of the most important in a radio address to London and the United States on October 16, 1938.
"Dictatorship – the fetish worship of one man – is a passing phase. A state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world. The light of civilised progress with its tolerances and co-operation, with its dignities and joys, has often in the past been blotted out. But I hold the belief that we have now at last got far enough ahead of barbarism to control it, and to avert it, if only we realise what is afoot and make up our minds in time. We shall do it in the end. But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay! Is this a call to war? Does anyone pretend that preparation for resistance to aggression is unleashing war? I declare it to be the sole guarantee of peace. We need the swift gathering of forces to confront not only military but moral aggression; the resolute and sober acceptance of their duty by the English-speaking peoples and by all the nations, great and small, who wish to walk with them."
Four years earlier on November 16, 1934, after the Nazis had just been in power a little over two years Winston Churchill warned of their threat to peace:
There is a nation which has abandoned all its liberties in order to augment its collective strength. There is a nation which, with all its strength and virtue, is in the grip of a group of ruthless men, preaching a gospel of intolerance and racial pride, unrestrained by law, by parliament, or by public opinion. In that country all pacifist speeches, all morbid war books are forbidden or suppressed, and their authors rigorously imprisoned. From their new table of commandments they have omitted “thou shall not kill.”
Sadly the world did not listen to Churchill until it was too late to avoid a major conflict, but at least it was not too late to stop the Nazi war machine although it came at great cost and suffering. Churchill understood that to defeat Hitler the Soviet Union would have to change sides and when the Nazis invaded Russia the British Prime Minister joked, "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.” The price of ending Hitler was cozying up to Josef Stalin, another genocidal totalitarian monster.

Churchill was not blind to the nature of his wartime ally and understood the threat of Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union and thankfully his warnings on March 5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri were listened to this time and may have avoided World War III, albeit with a cold peace.
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow." 
He then went on to make a remarkable statement about the circumstances that led to World War II and how it was completely avoidable:
Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honoured to-day; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. We surely must not let that happen again.
Churchill was not only an Anti-Nazi but also an Anti-Communist and a conservative who on May 24, 1948 observed: "Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy." He also understood and celebrated the importance of free speech. In the midst of the war in 1943 he observed: "Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage."  Today let us remember this great statesman, democrat, and conservative and call on all people of good will to learn form this greatest of Britons.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fact checking the AP for errors of omission on 21 US diplomats harmed in Cuba

What was left unsaid about the mystery in Cuba.

Fact checking the Associated Press for errors of omission
 
The Associated Press (AP) has released a remarkable article today titled "Cuba mystery grows: New details on what befell US diplomats" on what they described as the "least 21 U.S. victims in an astonishing international mystery."  The AP story then quotes Fulton Armstong, without providing any context into his background beyond "a former CIA official who served in Havana long before America re-opened an embassy there" who went on to claim that there was no "reasonable explanation" and that it was "just mystery after mystery after mystery."  This ignores a long history of harassment and violence against diplomats over the years, including during prior efforts of normalizing relations not to mention outlaw international behavior. The question that arises is how could someone who was in the CIA get the Castro regime so wrong?

What the AP forgot to mention
 
Fulton Armstrong, a harsh critic of U.S. pro-democracy programs suspected of leaking and spinning information to the Associated Press to compromise them was also a close confidante of Ana Belen Montes, a long time agent of  the Castro regime at the Pentagon. Mr. Armstrong has sought to undermine USAID's pro-democracy programs in Cuba and was caught red handed in 2014 fabricating information with a pro-regime spin. U.S. spy catcher Chris Simmons offered the following assessment at the time on his blog:
Armstrong is well-known for consistently minimizing Cuba’s ability to threaten U.S. interests and its continued support to terrorists. In one interview, Scott Carmichael – the senior Counterintelligence investigator for the Defense Intelligence Agency – said Montes was “on a first name basis” with the Armstrong. In fact, Montes and Armstrong confided in one another by phone into the final stages of her investigation.
There has been a decades long obsession in the U.S. establishment to cozy up to the Castro regime that achieved its first concrete achievements in 1977 during the Carter Administration, followed later on in 1993 during the Clinton Administration, and finally full normalization during the Obama Administration in 2014 despite numerous setbacks against U.S. national security. Fulton Armstrong, a former staffer to Senator John Kerry, has been an advocate for these efforts.

 The Associate Press has a pattern that stretches back years of publishing pro-Castro regime spin and self-censorship while at the same time seeking to minimize and marginalize Cuban democrats. In 2014 Yoani Sánchez  warned foreign news agencies of this practice: "Caution foreign news agencies! Your representatives in these lands are always in danger of becoming hostages, first, and then collaborators of the rulers." Sadly the Associated Press has not only been guilty of this in Cuba, but today in North Korea and and also in Nazi Germany until 1941.

Readers beware if you want to get spin free news on Cuba go elsewhere or read the AP articles with the same caution and skepticism that you read Castro regime publications.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ominous storm clouds continue: 2 more American diplomats harmed in Cuba

A tale of two hurricanes: Irma and Castro


Hurricane Irma devastated Cuba, but lack of infrastructure Castro regime's fault
Over the past week the news regarding Cuba has rightfully focused on the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on the island.  The worse of the storm's impact was along the north shore where the hurricane arrived, but even in Havana that was just grazed by the storm there was significant damage and at least 10 deaths. According to EFE Irma damaged 4,288 homes in Havana, with 157 totally destroyed and 986 partially destroyed. The damage in the Cuban Capital also demonstrates over a half century of neglect by the Castro regime.

There was also some controversy regarding the tourism industry that is run by the Cuban military.  On Wednesday, September 6, 2017 the day before the Castro regime gave the order to evacuate Cayo Coco British tourists were still flying into Cuba. The British travel agency "Thomas Cook has defended itself saying the company followed the Cuban government's emergency instructions to the letter," reported BBC News. Cayo Coco suffered the full impact of Hurricane Irma and was destroyed by the storm.

However another controversy continues to fester in Cuba. American diplomats severely injured in a series of sonic attacks that caused brain trauma and hearing loss that began in November of 2016 and continued until August of 2017. Two more American diplomats have been identified as being harmed in Cuba in reports that appeared in The Washington Post, CBS News and other outlets. This brings the total number of Americans attacked in Cuba to 21.

Back on December 17, 2014 this blog made the following observation: "Rewarding the hard line and rogue elements in the Castro regime is unlikely to improve the dictatorship's behavior to the contrary it may worsen."

On September 1, 2017 in an open letter to President Trump made the stakes for changing the current policy and holding the Castro regime accountable clear:
Maintaining the present policy established by the previous administration is harming the lives of American diplomats and needs to be dismantled as soon as possible.  As you stated it is time to adopt a policy approach based "in a principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense."

The Castro regime has a record of attacking and mistreating diplomats stationed in Cuba. Common sense dictates viewing them as hostile not only to American interests but also American lives and security precautions taken to ensure the physical safety of diplomats and their families stationed in Cuba.
There are ominous storm clouds over relations between Cuba and the United States. Americans are already being harmed. Now is the time to address the problem before things deteriorate further. It is important for policymakers to distinguish between the totalitarian dictatorship that represses Cubans, and attacks American diplomats, and the Cuban people.

Policy should seek to help everyday Cubans while not providing or minimizing funds wherever possible going to the repressive apparatus.  Hurricane Irma was a terrible disaster for Cuba but it is also important to remember that Hurricane Castro has been an even greater disaster for the island since 1959 and shows no signs of leaving.

Ominous clouds over US - Cuba relations



Friday, September 8, 2017

Cachita's Feast Day, Hurricane Irma and the Christian Liberation Movement's Founding

"Lift up your heart and do not succumb in the face of adversities, persevere in the way of good; tirelessly helping those oppressed by sorrows and afflictions: these are the important lessons taught to us by Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre." - Pope Francis

Hurricane Irma batters Cuba on September 8, 2017
Today is the Feast Day for Cuba's Our Lady Charity and it coincides with Hurricane Irma devastating the north coast of Cuba's central provinces. Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits are praying for the intercession of Cachita for those impacted by the force five hurricane.Rosa María Payá Acevedo tweeted a photo of the Maria of Cuba along with the following message: "To the Maria of Cuba we entrust the families affected by Irma. At the feet of the Virgin of the Caridad de la Cobre our sorrows and joys."

In the pictures below taken in 2011, one in Miami and one in Havana, on the same day Cubans gathered to pray and worship for the Virgin of Charity also known affectionately as "Cachita." The Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba unites Cubans inside the island and in the diaspora.


For the past four centuries, since the Virgin of Charity appeared to the three Juanes in the Bay of Nipe in 1612, She has been a source of popular devotion among Cubans and on May 10, 1916 forever linked with Cuban independence when Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Her Patroness of Cuba in response to a request by veterans of the Cuban war of independence. Since then She has also been known as the Virgin Mambisa. Since 1959 she has accompanied the Cuban diaspora.

Today she gives comfort to the impacted and the afflicted by this monstrous storm.  In 1988 on her feast day a movement was born inspired by Christian teachings and the desire to be free. On this day in 2014 Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement released a statement recalling their founding:

We were born there in the parish of the Cerro, one of the many neighborhoods of Havana. The background: The Circle of the Cerro. Then something more formal, The Circle of Cuban Christian Thought. This was banned and dissolved when it launched the first free Cuban publication, also prohibited, titled "People of God", proclaiming the source of liberation: when we said, "We must obey God before men", "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's, "But if God gives you Freedom, who is Cesar to take it away? "All men and women are my brothers and sisters." "We will not act violently or submit to violence," "You are my brother, I do not hate you, but I am not afraid of you."
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas described how the Christian Liberation Movement, a democratic opposition movement, came into existence and explained how it was related to the birth of his first child, Oswaldo José.

“When our first child was going to be born, we have three children, we said that our children cannot live in a country without liberty and we are not going to another country to seek freedom. Therefore we have to fight for our children to live free here in Cuba and everyone else's children and their parents too.”    
Oswaldo José was born on February 17, 1988 and the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was founded that same year on September 8, 1988.   Oswaldo Payá was killed on July 22, 2012 along with the movement's youth leader Harold Cepero. 

Jesús Mustafá Felipe at Solemn Mass for Our Lady of Charity
The dictatorship in Cuba is cruel and represses Cubans and also endangers the lives of foreign visitors. Reports emerged in the British press that travel agencies had not alerted tourists that four of the island's provinces, like South Florida, is presently under a hurricane warning. Mimi Whitfield in The Miami Herald, who on occasion gives the Castro regime the benefit of the doubt in her reporting, published a strange tweet on September 7th stating "Cuba expected to escape Hurricane Irma’s full force." Independent Cuban journalists trying to cover preparations for Hurricane Irma in Cuba have been arrested. Tonight many Cubans on and off the island would strongly disagree with her but more importantly many will be praying for Cachita for protection.

Tonight in Miami and Havana many are praying to Cachita to see them through this terrible storm and in their appeal they are united.