Cross: Political Executions in Communist Cuba

Writes James Scott Linville on Plimpton and Hemingway in Cuba in The Paris Review:

Castro’s death has renewed an open, vibrant, and sometimes heated debate about his regime and its treatment of Cuban citizens. Twenty years ago, in the aftermath of the Cold War, much less was known in the U.S.—these were not things the American media dwelled upon. An incident while working at The Paris Review with George Plimpton in the early nineties opened my eyes, especially to Che Guevara’s supervision of the detention of political prisoners at La Cabana prison in Havana.


A sad look overtook his face, and he began to explain: “Years ago, after we’d done the interview, Papa invited me down again to visit him in Cuba.” (In the fifties, George had interviewed Hemingway for the magazine on the Art of Fiction, and now he always referred to him as Papa, as Hemingway encouraged his young friends to do.) “It was right after the revolution,” George continued. After he arrived in Havana, he settled in at a hotel room above a bar. One afternoon, at the end of the day, Hemingway told him, “There’s something you should see,” and to come by the house.

When he arrived at Hemingway’s house he saw they were preparing for some sort of expedition. Before they ventured forth, the elder writer made shakers of drinks, daiquiris or whatever, and packed them up. This group, including a few others, got in the car and drove for some time to the outside of town. Arriving at their destination, they got out, set up chairs, brought out the drinks, and arranged themselves as if they were going to watch the sunset. Soon enough, a truck came, and that, explained George to me, was what they’d been waiting for. It came, as Hemingway explained to them, the same time each day. The truck stopped and some men with guns got out of it. In back were a couple of dozen others who were tied up. Prisoners. The men with guns hustled the others out of the back of the truck and lined them up. And then they shot them. They put the bodies back in the truck and drove off.

Castro’s Legacy: Torture and Execution of Political Opponents

Writes Lee Habeeb on Fidel Castro’s Brutal Dictatorship: Armando Valladares & Cuban Dissidents Tortured | National Review:

A young artist and poet who also happened to be a Christian, Valladares understood the meaning of the request. What he did not know, and could not know, was how far his own government would go to bend him to its will. Soon after his refusal to comply, Valladares was arrested by political police at his parents’ home. Faced with trumped up charges of terrorism — a favorite tactic of the Castro regime for silencing dissent — he was given a 30-year sentence.

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.”


“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.”

Related Reading:

Trudeau: Castro’s Useful Idiot

Writes Jonah Goldberg on Fidel Castro died as he lived — praised by useful idiots – LA Times:

The gold medal in the Useful Idiot Olympics should probably go to Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. In a statement, he expressed his “deep sorrow” upon learning that “Cuba’s longest serving president” had died. […] “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century,” Trudeau continued, repeating that word. “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.’”

“El Comandante”: The term drips with affection, doesn’t it? Castro’s “detractors”? Would those be the families of the thousands he had executed? The survivors of Castro’s Caribbean gulag? Those who didn’t drown trying to escape?

Trudeau’s expression of “deep sorrow” was typical of a whole genre of Castro eulogies. His apologists have tended to romanticize the “revolution” and parrot Cuban state propaganda – literacy rates! Free healthcare! – while dispensing antiseptic euphemisms for the brutal reality of what the revolution wrought. At least when people note that Hitler built the autobahn and Mussolini made the trains run on time, they’re usually being ironic. To listen to some Castro defenders, you’d think the scales of justice can balance out any load of horrors, so long as the substandard healthcare is free and the schools (allegedly) teach everyone to read.

As much of the American left is openly mooting whether or not the American president-elect is a dictator in waiting, one has to wonder whether they would take that bargain: No more elections, no more free speech, no more civil liberties of any kind, but socialized medicine and literacy for everyone! American political dissidents, homosexuals, journalists and the clergy, just like in Cuba, can languish in prison or internal exile, but at least they’ll be able to read the charges against them.

The Dangers of Trump ‘Protectionism’

Writes Tyler Cowen on Trump’s Disastrous Pledge to Keep Jobs in the U.S.:

“…a policy limiting the ability of American companies to move funds outside of the U.S. would create a dangerous new set of government powers. Imagine giving an administration the potential to rule whether a given transfer of funds would endanger job creation or job maintenance in the United States. That’s not exactly an objective standard, and so every capital transfer decision would be subject to the arbitrary diktats of politicians and bureaucrats. It’s not hard to imagine a Trump administration using such regulations to reward supportive businesses and to punish opponents. Even in the absence of explicit favoritism, companies wouldn’t know the rules of the game in advance, and they would be reluctant to speak out in ways that anger the powers that be.”

“In other words, the Trump program for protectionism could go far beyond interference in international trade. It also could bring the kind of crony capitalist nightmare scenarios described by Ayn Rand in her novel ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ a book many Republican legislators would be well advised to now read or reread.” [Bloomberg View]

Ben Shaprio on the Alt-Right Movement

 Good interview with a Ben Shaprio on the Alt-Right movement, Steven Bannon and Donal Trump. Two important points:

1. “Alt-Right” Ties Western Civilization (Good) with White Nationalism (Bad).

Basically, the alt-right is a group of thinkers who believe that Western civilization is inseparable from European ethnicity—which is racist, obviously. It’s people who believe that if Western civilization were to take in too many people of different colors and different ethnicities and different religions, then that would necessarily involve the interior collapse of Western civilization. As you may notice, this has nothing to do with the Constitution. It has nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence. It has nothing to do actually with Western civilization. The whole principle of Western civilization is that anybody can involve himself or herself in civilized values.

2. Left is making a mistake of labeling everyone on the right, or who voted for Trump, as “alt-right.”

I think that the left is making a huge mistake by labeling everybody on the right “alt-right.” Because what they’re doing is they’re pushing people into the arms of the alt-right. You call people racist enough, and they begin to think OK, well, who’s not calling me a racist—I’ll side with that guy. So the worst thing the left can do is continue to suggest that everyone who backed Trump was a racist, sexist, bigot homophobe; everyone’s evil, everyone’s terrible. What they really should be doing is they should be saying, “Look, we understand one of the reasons that we lost is because Hillary Clinton was a uniquely terrible candidate”—she really was—“and because of that, we’re not trying to throw you guys out of the tent. We think it was a bad choice to choose Trump, but we would sort of appeal to the better angels of your nature—that if we think he’s divisive as time goes on, that you recognize that he’s being divisive.” I think it’s a big mistake to have the left pushing the notion that they’re just going to double-down on the Obama coalition and tell everybody else to go screw.

Read the entire interview here: Ben Shapiro on Steve Bannon, the alt-right, and why the left needs to turn down the outrage.

Ayn Rand, Objectivism and Practical Politics: John Allison For Treasury Secretary vs Alan Greenspan as FED Chair

Don Watkins — coauthor of Free Market Revolution and Equal is Unfair ( ) — has posted some some excellent comments on the GREAT John Allison for Treasury Secretary:

Trump is apparently considering the great John Allison for Treasury secretary. I don’t have a definite view about whether John should accept the position if offered. There are good arguments going both ways (and in any case I assume he isn’t going to base his decision on Facebook posts).

But one thing I do want to comment on: the parallels some are making to Alan Greenspan. There are certainly lessons we should learn from Greenspan’s career, but…

  • Greenspan took on an *illegitimate* job as the head of the Fed. Head of Treasury is legitimate.
  • How much Greenspan ever truly understood and valued Objectivism is debatable. With John, it isn’t.
  • Washington didn’t corrupt Greenspan. He actively sought out power and importance–whatever convictions he held always took a back seat. John’s achievements have come from living by his convictions.
  • The biggest problem with Greenspan is not that others blamed his failures on capitalism (and Ayn Rand)–it’s that *he* blamed his failure on capitalism.

Finally, I’ll just note that Trump’s failures will be blamed on capitalism no matter what. We can’t avoid that. We can only counter it.



Hudson: The Problem with Steve Bannon

Photo: by Don Irvine Photos

Walter Hudson has a fantastic op-ed — Fellow Republicans, Don’t Sell Your Souls for Bannon and the Alt-Right | PJ Media: — on Steve Bannon — the former head of Breitbart News who served as Trump’s campaign CEO, and has been named the Trump  administration’s chief strategist and senior advisor —  and his relationship with the white nationalist, anti-individual rights movememt that calls itself the “alt-right.”

1.  The problem with Bannon is not his personal views, but his role in disseminating abhorrent views

[…] The problem with Steve Bannon is not his personal views, for which there seems to be little evidence of anything egregious.The problem with Steve Bannon is the role he has played in proliferating the abhorrent views of others. While in charge of Breitbart News, Bannon transformed it into a haven for the alt-right. While Bannon may not be racist, antisemitic, or white nationalist himself, the alt-right plainly is. It’s their defining characteristic, and they’ll be the first ones to tell you so.

2. Coiner of the term “alt-right” admits Trump and Breitbart and Bannon are NOT part of alt-right

The man who coined the term “alt-right” is Richard Spencer. He holds a distinction as the movement’s most prominent thought leader. As president of the National Policy Institute, an alt-right think tank, Spencer spoke at a celebration in Washington D.C. over the weekend attended by his fellow white nationalists. From Politico:

[…] “I would say Steve Bannon’s comment that [Breitbart is] a platform of the alt-right is probably something I could agree with, say 90 percent, just in the sense that it’s clearly moved away from the conservative movement,” Spencer said. “It was pro-Trump, it was also a site that tons of people on the alt-right [go] to get their news from, they share [it]. I don’t think Breitbart is really ideologically alt-right, no, but it’s interesting and very hopeful for me that Bannon is at least open to these things.”

3. Trump (and Bannon) should distance himself from those who identify with ethnic identity and not America’s founding principles

[…] As that same son of a black father and a white mother, my existence proves offensive to the alt-right. According to them, I have no worth whatsoever. Neither do my children.

[…] Trump should go out of his way to condemn the alt-right. He should make clear that their objectively racist, white nationalist views have no place in his administration or in the Republican Party. That declaration should be echoed by a repentant Bannon, or Bannon should be fired. It must be abundantly clear that American greatness is defined by our founding principles and not ethnic identity.

Well said.

Ghate: What the success of the Trump campaign reveals about the United States

What does the Trump’s campaign success signifies about the American electorate — and America’s future? This is the question post by Ayn Rand Institute senior fellow Onkar Ghate in his essay “One Small Step for Dictatorship.

Writes Ghate:

…as destructive to freedom as I think a Trump administration is likely to be, this is also not my point.

My argument is that Trump publicly projected the mentality, methods and campaign of a would-be dictator—however much it may have been an act and however difficult it may be to enact specific decrees—and that he won the presidency because of this.

The issue is not Trump the person or what he might do to the country while in office. (Though these are important concerns.) The issue is what the success of his campaign reveals about the country.

Read the full article: One Small Step for Dictatorship

I’m a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump

Asra Q. Nomani, has written an interesting perspective in The Washington Post on how “… a 51-year-old, a Muslim, an immigrant woman ‘of color’ — am one of those silent voters for Donald Trump. And I’m not a “bigot,” “racist,” “chauvinist” or “white supremacist,” as Trump voters are being called, nor part of some “whitelash.”

Writes Nomani:

Days before the election, a journalist from India emailed me, asking: What are your thoughts being a Muslim in “Trump’s America”?

I wrote that as a child of India, arriving in the United States at the age of 4 in the summer of 1969, I have absolutely no fears about being a Muslim in a “Trump America.” The checks and balances in America and our rich history of social justice and civil rights will never allow the fear-mongering that has been attached to candidate Trump’s rhetoric to come to fruition.

What worried me the most were my concerns about the influence of theocratic Muslim dictatorships, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in a Hillary Clinton America. These dictatorships are no shining examples of progressive society with their failure to offer fundamental human rights and pathways to citizenship to immigrants from India, refugees from Syria and the entire class of de facto slaves that live in those dictatorships.

We have to stand up with moral courage against not just hate against Muslims, but hate by Muslims, so that everyone can live with sukhun, or peace of mind, I finished in my reflections to the journalist in India. [I’m a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump.]

Gun Free Zones Benefit Mass Shooters

Writes John Lott Jr. in the The Washington Post:

Since at least 1950, every single one of Europe’s public mass shootings has occurred in a place where general citizens are banned from carrying guns. In America, there have been four exceptions to that rule.

In late 2013, the secretary general of Interpol — essentially a global version of the FBI — proposed two ways of preventing mass shootings: “One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that. Another is to say the enclaves [should be] so secure that in order to get into the soft target, you’re going to have to pass through extraordinary security.”

But Noble warned, “You can’t have armed police forces everywhere.” He also suggested that it is essentially impossible to stop killers from getting weapons into these “secure” areas. He concluded by posing the question, “Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past, with an evolving threat of terrorism?” The answer is an emphatic yes. [It’s already too late for gun control to work]