A Communist Paradise
February 18, 2001
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The New York Times travel section today advises readers on how to break American law in order to aid a brutal Communist dictatorship.
The Times prints an article about a bike tour of Cuba. The article omits any mention of the country's horrible human rights record. The article paints Castro's island as practically paradise. "No one is ever in a hurry," the article claims. At a medical clinic, "The care was professional, courteous and free." "Cuban culture, we discovered, is distinctive and flourishing," the article reports.
Most disgusting is the sidebar that runs along with the Times article. Titled "Arranging a tour," the sidebar reports, "According to the Trading With the Enemy Act, it is illegal for most Americans to spend dollars in Cuba without first obtaining a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Treasury Department. Numerous United States organizations promoting cultural and educational exchanges have obtained such licenses, which permit travelers to spend a limited amount of dollars, and are bringing thousands of visitors to Cuba each month. Nevertheless, many Americans ignore this law by entering Cuba from either Canada or Mexico, which was what our group did (the International Bicycle Fund has applied for licenses but never received one, said Dave Moser, a fund official). For details on enforcement of the act, contact the Center for Constitutional Rights, 666 Broadway, New York, N.Y."
First, note the incredible euphemism. When George W. Bush broke the law against driving under the influence of alcohol, did the Times write that he "ignored" the law? No, he broke the law, violated the law, committed a crime. "Ignore the law" is an artful way to put it. Just to get a measure of the Times' hypocrisy on this point, remember that violating the "Trading With the Enemy Act" is one of the accusations that has been made against Clinton pardon recipient Marc Rich. A Times editorial last month hyperventilated that Mr. Rich had been "illegally trading with Iran in oil," and that Clinton's pardon of him was "indefensible" and "a shocking abuse of presidential power." Yet here the Times has one of its own free-lance travel writers contributing a sunny feature about going along on a group that "ignored" the same law the Times is so exercised that Mr. Rich supposedly violated.
What takes the cake, though, is that the Times is referring its readers for information on enforcement of this law not to the U.S. Department of State nor to the U.S. Department of Treasury but to this outfit called the Center for Constitutional Rights. The executive director of this group turns out to be Ron Daniels. And Mr. Daniels, it turns out, is something of a revolutionary himself. "What Black America needs is a visionary movement which understands the need to fundamentally change the racist/sexist/exploitive capitalist society we live in and advances a politics of social transformation," he wrote last fall. And lest you misunderstand what he means by "social transformation," Mr. Daniels explained, "voting in and of itself and by itself is not sufficient to make sustained progress on the Black agenda in this country, particularly on those issues where the politicians are reluctant to act. If Black people expect to make significant progress on issues like affirmative action, a moratorium on more police, prisons and the death penalty, a domestic marshal plan for urban and rural development and reparations, we had better be prepared to rock this nation to its foundation with massive demonstrations, strikes, civil disobedience campaigns and economic sanctions." (He means "Marshall" Plan, but never mind.)
Oh, and one other thing about Mr. Daniels. He was one of four persons honored at an event on November 14, 1999, at the Communist Party Headquarters in New York marking the 75th anniversary of the newspaper of the Communist Party, USA. According to a report of the event in the Communist newspaper, he told the crowd that it is "vital" that the People's Weekly World "remain solid, especially in the era of the conglomeration of the media. We need a place we can get our message out."
Well, looks like Mr. Daniels has found a place other than the People's Weekly World where he can get his message out. It's called the New York Times.
Some Smartertimes.com readers wonder why Smartertimes.com makes such a fuss over the American Communists and even Cuba now that the Cold War has ended. After all, the notion of a bike tour with Cuba as "trading with the enemy" may seem almost quaint, or even paranoid, in 2001.
But there are no apologies here for marking these points, because they are marked most emphatically by Cubans themselves, who have been struggling courageously for years at great personal risk to throw off Castro's yoke. So while the Times "ignores" the American laws on trade with Cuba and portrays the island as a paradise, the most recent annual report on Cuba from Freedom House reports, "Political dissent, spoken or written, is a punishable offense, and those so punished frequently receive years of imprisonment for seemingly minor infractions. A person can even go to jail for possession of a fax machine or a photocopier. Although there has been a slight relaxation of strictures on cultural life, the educational system, the judicial system, labor unions, professional organizations, and all media remain state controlled. . . . Cuba under Castro has one of the highest per capita rates of imprisonment for political offenses of any country in the world."
So if those trapped under Castro's boot can even to this day risk years in prison for challenging the dictator, the least Smartertimes.com can do is risk being caricatured by some of its good liberal friends as a relic of the Cold War.
Pardon Him: The New York Times lets Bill Clinton get away with some real stretchers in an op-ed piece today explaining his decision to pardon Marc Rich and Pincus Green. Reason number five, according to Mr. Clinton, has to do with the fact that "the Justice Department in 1989 rejected the use of racketeering statutes in tax cases like this one, a position that The Wall Street Journal editorial page, among others, agreed with at the time." Well, if Mr. Clinton is all of a sudden taking marching orders from the Wall Street Journal editorial page when it comes to RICO prosecutions and pardons, why did he pardon Rich and Green but not Michael Milken, who served his time and never was a fugitive?
The op-ed piece also strangely claims, "While I was aware of and took into account the fact that the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York did not support these pardons, in retrospect, the process would have been better served had I sought her views directly." What's puzzling is how -- other than clairvoyance -- Mr. Clinton could have been aware of the U.S. attorney's opposition to the Rich and Green pardons. The U.S. attorney was widely quoted the day after the pardons came down saying she had no idea they were even under consideration. The quotes from the U.S attorney seemed to suggest that no one had sought her views on the matter, directly or indirectly. So it is hard for Smartertimes.com to understand how Mr. Clinton could have been "aware of" her opposition to a pardon.
Your Taxes: An article in the business section of today's New York Times reports, "Saying that it is needed to shore up the faltering economy, President Bush has proposed a $1.6 trillion tax cut over 10 years. He also wants to gradually repeal the estate and gift tax, reduce the marriage penalty and double the child tax credit." The word "also" suggests that the estate and gift tax, marriage penalty and child tax credit provisions would be over and above the $1.6 trillion tax cut; in fact, they are part of the $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan and are included in its estimated cost.
Slumming in the Slums: An "Economic View" column in the business section of today's New York Times purports to be about an economic study but in fact is an editorial in favor of Section 8 housing vouchers, which help some poor people afford better housing. The column reports that "The culture of poverty begins to lift only when slum dwellers move to better neighborhoods." The column says that "That insight runs counter to current public policy, which tries to improve life in the slums by spending millions on police, schools and jobs." Well, it may well be true that moving to better neighborhoods is better for slum-dwellers. But the Times column entirely ignores the effect that an influx of government-subsidized former slum-dwellers could have on a suburban neighborhood. Writing in the Baltimore Sun, Gady Epstein reported in November of 2000 on the effects the Section 8 housing program had on suburban Columbia, Maryland. After residents moved to Columbia from Baltimore with the help of the Section 8 program, the crime rate in Columbia skyrocketed, the performance of the Columbia schools declined, and Columbia's white homeowners started moving away in droves. The study cited in the Economic View column is mildly interesting, but the columnist goes way too far in drawing broad conclusions about anti-poverty policy from a narrow study. The column seems to endorse the idea of taxpayer subsidies to move poor people from slums to wealthy suburbs. But the column doesn't compare the cost of such a plan to that of other anti-poverty strategies.
'An Exemplary Intellectual Life': The New York Times book review today carries a laudatory review of a book of essays by Edward Said, calling it "the portrait of an exemplary intellectual life." Smartertimes.com wonders which part of Mr. Said's life the New York Times judges to be exemplary and intellectual -- the part where he was photographed throwing a stone from Lebanon at the Israeli border, or the part where, as documented by Commentary, he distorted and overstated his own connection to Jerusalem.
Immigration Assumptions: A long front-page article about Harlem in this morning's New York Times apportions credit to both conservatives and liberals for the neighborhood's improvement. "Conservatives can point to tough-minded welfare policies and aggressive police work. Liberals can point to the lowering of immigration bars," the Times says.
The assumption that liberals are for free immigration and conservatives are against it is just false. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, for instance, has long supported a constitutional amendment for open borders, and Republican senators like Phil Gramm and Spencer Abraham have called for increases in immigration. Some liberals, including labor leaders and African Americans like the late Barbara Jordan, have voiced support for restrictions on immigration, arguing that immigrants take jobs away from American workers and exert downward pressure on wages.
And, in fairness, while Bill Clinton twice vetoed welfare reform, he did eventually sign it, and he deserved credit for campaigning on a pledge to "end welfare as we know it."
So for the Times to paint liberals as pro-immigrant and give conservatives all the credit for welfare reform is an oversimplification.
Late Again: A front-page story in today's New York Times explores the tax consequences for Internet company employees who exercised stock options only to see the value of the stock plummet. This is old news to readers of the Los Angeles Times, which ran an article on the front of its business section on December 22, 2000, that began, "The 'dot-com' shakeout is claiming a new wave of victims: workers who face huge tax bills on phantom profits from employee stock options."
Late Again: The Week in Review section of today's New York Times carries an article under the headline, "Breast-Feeding: How Old Is Too Old?" This is old news to readers of the Los Angeles Times, which carried a story on February 5, 2001, under the headline "Breast-Feeding Beyond Babyhood." The New York Times story focuses on the same Champaign, Ill., court case that the Los Angeles Times story focused on, and the New York Times story quotes one of the same experts, Katherine Dettwyler, who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times article. The New York Times article today gives no credit or mention to the report in the Los Angeles Times.
Can't Spell: What is it with the New York Times that it can't spell names correctly? The Week in Review section today, in an item on donations to Planned Parenthood, refers to "a White House spokesman, Scott McClennan." It's a pretty good bet the spokesman in question was Scott McClellan, who spells his name like that.
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