The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Town Halls and Catcalls

I was in Cuba with the family. Whaddya want, a substitute? I suppose I could have left an "Out of Blogosphere" message, but I do appreciate your concern, really. Now that Americans can easily go to Cuba you'll hear tons of people saying (nasally whine) "oh, I just got back from Cuba and I'll bet you want to hear ALL about it." Yuck. So...let me tell you all about it! Next post. Hint - don't expect culinary genius or inexpensivity. And pretty much everything you take for granted is out the window.

The Town Hall Meeting. In some towns, a Town Hall Meeting takes place in the Town Hall. Typically, however, it's in a public school auditorium or similar non-threatening meeting place. Just about any elected official might call one, book the date, choose the topic, look like they're doing something. Most of the time it's a quiet, thumb-twiddling affair whose most notable features are bad sound and poor ventilation. Not so in the roaring Tea Party 10's, and not now neither. Boy howdy, the Left's on the loose. Do they have the stuff to go the distance? More on that in a sec...

While I was trying vainly to find an internet hotspot in Old Havana, y'all were not attending the local CB9 meeting, a sort of monthly ongoing mini-Town Hall where since 2013 that familiar "disrupt and dismantle" playbook has been followed ferociously by MTOPP. Once again, common sense and compromise were wrestled to a choke-hold by the misguided, misinformed and thoroughly unhinged Ms. Alicia Boyd. Get a load of this terrific footage from DNA Info's write-up on fiery NY Assembly member Diana Richardson's attempt to talk sense:

Then came an ACTUAL Town Hall, also not at a Town Hall but at a just-south-of-secular Reform Synagogue on Eastern Parkway, hosted by your suddenly awakened Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. A bit of vid can be found here. I gotta be honest here. I don't find her to be terribly inspiring. She seems a solid C+, the plus for voting the right way. But she's been damn near nowhere for YEARS, and trust me I've actively sought her out. She's not particularly well-respected or even well-known in D.C. She's not much of an orator or interviewee. But you know how this game goes. Reps in NYC tend to be there a long, long time. At least until they move on to higher office or get indicted. Only once in a blue moon does a Rep even get close to losing their gig. But I do hope that the political moment will bring out the best in her, and I was glad to hear positive reports on this week's shindig. The "town hall" was overflowing, quite literally, since many folks were unable to breach the official fire code capacity figure.

What's to become of all this angst and chutzpah?

Take away the absurdity of DJT himself, there is a certain symmetry in this political moment just 7 years on. What were they claiming about Obama? Socialism, communism, even Islamism. Yes, tons of folks still think he's a Muslim. What are we claiming of Trump? Fascism, Racism, Nationalism. Tons of people still think he's an Asshole. Symmetry. (Difference being reality vs fiction. Right?)

Obviously, America's got some issues to resolve, or it only gets uglier from here. We have yet to shut the back door on our ugliest past, or open the front door to a more egalitarian future. As far as I can tell, no neatly defined "group" has offered itself up to be the last through that front door. You never know who's going to slam it shut in your face, right?

Say this for the Donald. If we weren't watching closely enough before, he certainly got our attention.


Anonymous said...

Cuba? Fascinating. Did you notice that Cuba -- an island nation -- doesn't have a fishing industry? I think the last fisherman to leave the northern coast was Santiago in Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Can't let those Cubans off shore in power boats capable of reaching the US in a matter of hours.

Yvette Clarke, yeah, well, Shirley Chisholm is rolling in her grave. But her invisibility and uselessness is offset by the new team heading the DNC: Tom Perez and Mr Muslim himself, Keith Ellison. It's now painfully obvious that Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam will have a place at the table next to Ellison's pals, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yes, by Islamic tradition, Obama was a Muslim. The child of an Islamic father is, at birth, a Muslim. But his status at birth isn't the issue. Obama spent his most impressionable years -- ages 6 to 12 -- living in Indonesia, which was an Islamic military dictatorship while he was there. During those years, a kid absorbs his surroundings. Drinks it in without a thought. The experience defines him. The impact is inescapable and so deep it can't be rooted out.

Yeah, he put a Christian veneer over his Islamic framework. A Christian veneer applied by Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who happens to be a pal of Louis Farrakhan's.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:48 am,
You need a life!

Anonymous said...

anonymous 8:48
........wait are we on the "obama was a big black scary muslim" thing? still?

he's not the president anymore! it doesn't matter anymore! it never mattered but it matters less now! shut the hell up already and just revel in the fact that your fascist candidate won!

Curious32 said...

Coming for Mrs. Richardson? She AIN'T THE ONE lol

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Now that Obama has solidly nailed the top resume filler on earth, he'll have plenty of time to dig deeper into his Muslim heritage. What a laugh. Hell whatever's in his heart is none of yours or my business anyway. Something in the Constitution suggests that's protected. Now where is that musty rag anyway?

You know what our gay Cuban host said about Obama? "The day he was elected I felt hope for the world; we are so sorry to see him go. Your new guy does not seem okay in the head and very dangerous. When Obama came to Cuba, every person with dark skin cried and laughed."

Dude, you can't buy that kind of P.R. for America. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, Mr. Obama was nothing if not a terrific spokesperson for values, integrity, compassion and decency. And he had a level head, firm grasp of history, and he started no new new wars. For that alone he'll be remembered as one of the greats in a time of immense change and bitter partisanship.

Anonymous said...

You know what our gay Cuban host said about Obama? "The day he was elected I felt hope for the world; we are so sorry to see him go. Your new guy does not seem okay in the head and very dangerous. When Obama came to Cuba, every person with dark skin cried and laughed."

Hilarious. Your guide, a product of Cuba, in a nation anchored in the past, in poverty, controlled by its military and secret police, a nation ruled by one nut for over 50 years, is critical of democracy, freedom and prosperity.

How does that Cuban travel ban work? Oh yeah, they can't leave home. Even if they were to have a Mastercard, which they don't, they can't leave. Heck, they have to file papers with the government if they want to move to Havana. Especially the women, who often go to Havana to peddle themselves to the tourists -- because selling sex pays better than working as a doctor.

One of Obama's few good moves was opening the way to Cuba. Of course he could have ended the Embargo. He should have. But, you know, why take a single step that would lift an entire country out of its misery? He could have put the Castro regime out of business by ending the embargo. However, Obama's just not that kind of guy when it comes to dictators.

And what did he do his last week in office? He ended the Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy of giving asylum to Cubans who made it to the US. Following his last-minute reversal, if Cubans are caught on dry land in the US, they're sent back.

So yeah, sure, who wouldn't accept the goofy observations of some dope who probably filed a report on you with the local authorities?

Anonymous said...

What does your host being gay have anything to do with this story? No one ever verbally makes note when people are straight, why would you call out that he's gay?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon 1:12 - You're right. I didn't follow through on his thoughts about how Obama had changed the way gays viewed themselves in Cuba through his embrace of gay marriage, still a long way off in Cuba. So given what I wrote it looks like a lame adjective.

Tough crowd! But good point.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Yes, you loving and generous man Anon at 10:09, Matias was a dope who filed a report on us for being kind and inquisitive. How dare we engage him in conversation! The world really doesn't much care for Trump, but clearly that won't keep you up at night. Eventually, you're going to have to stop blaming Obama for everything. He's not the president anymore. Right wing misfits like yourself are going to have a hard time switching poses. Barak is out; his time is up. If Trump fixes all the things that are broken then I'm sure we'll come around to him. I'm not holding my breath.

I feel for your family, Anon NoSlappz. I really do. If they haven't already left you for someone who LIKES people.

Anonymous said...

Eventually, you're going to have to stop blaming Obama for everything

The blame is specific. The two moves with respect to Cuba. He could have ended the embargo and accelerated the demise of the Castro regime while bringing Cuba out of the 50s and into the 21st century. He could have done it without firing a shot.

The funny thing is how individual Cubans will eventually start counting real estate profits once their marxist madness is expunged.

They'll understand that feeling of well-being that comes from having an asset that someone else would gladly buy from them. And it won't be just Americans driving the Cuban real estate market. For Cubans, it will be the equivalent -- though better -- of getting the insider price on a co-op conversion.

What the heck made Obama end the Wet-foot/Dry-foot policy that had worked pretty well -- with the exception of Elian Gonzales -- for over 20 years? How mean.

Maybe it's news to you, but Cuban guides do report to the local authorities. Maybe you weren't engaged in anything subversive, like handing out flash drives or soap, though I hope you did slip a few items past the watchers. So maybe your guide had nothing to report. Maybe you gave him a good tip.

The world really doesn't much care for Trump

Really? How did you reach this conclusion? Has some nation declared it would no longer trade with the US? Has China decided the place to be is Africa? Is Canada cutting back on its oil and gas exports to the US? Has drug smuggling from Mexico slowed? Have Cubans decided to stick with home sweet home rather than paddle a raft across the Gulf?

Is the booming stock market an illusion? It's driven by money coming in from all over the globe. If the world didn't care for Trump, wouldn't you expect the market to go down? Some people have probably seen the value of their Apple stock rise enough since election day to afford a home in PLG. Of the two, I'm not sure which is rising faster?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Obama could no more "end the embargo" than he could sign a deal with the Palestinians. There is a huge and powerful constituency that would have vigorously protested. He took the wise choice - a slow warming, rather than risk a battle in Congress that he probably would have lost. Shrewd guy that Obama.

My hunch is that the informing is WAY less than it was. Most Cubans we talked to didn't like Castro anymore. They're thrilled at the prospect of a new socialism that doesn't include the iron fist. Cab drivers felt free to talk openly about politics. This was not the case even 10 years ago. This is the result, I believe, of Fidel's passing.

The booming stock market is, in fact, an illusion. But it's never been very reflective of anything political. It's very risky to take credit for the stock market - most economists believe we're overvalued. The Schiller ratio says we're heading for another crash. Better sell now Anon!

But unlike you, I won't blame Trump. The markets are fickle and respond to their own rhythms.

The Obama years saw an incredible bull market - one of the greatest in history. Are you willing to give him credit for turning around the fiscal crisis as well? Probably not. Repubs are stingy with their praise, just as stingy as Dems. So sad. There are tremendous places to collaborate, but after the witch hunts and resistance of the last 8 years, expect more of the same in response. What goes around comes around. I'm pretty much in the stick-it-to-the-assholes camp.

Anonymous said...

A few words on Cuba:

Cuba Kills Another Dissident
After Obama’s detente: More tourists on the island and more repression.
By Mary Anastasia O’Grady
March 5, 2017 5:08 p.m. ET

Score another kill for the Cuban military dictatorship: Last month it eliminated Afro-Cuban dissident Hamell Santiago Más Hernández, an inmate of one of its most notoriously brutal prisons.

The remarkable thing was not the death of a critic. That’s routine in a police state that holds all the guns, bayonets, money and food. What’s noteworthy is that the world hardly blinked, which is to say that two years after President Obama’s detente with Raúl Castro, the regime still dispatches adversaries with impunity. It also routinely blocks visitors to the island, even of the leftist stripe—more on this in a moment—in order to keep the population isolated. “Normalization” to the contrary, Cuba is the same totalitarian hellhole that it has been for the past 58 years.
Cuba's now-President Raul Castro at Revolution Square in Havana during a 2006 military parade.

Forty-five-year-old Más Hernández was a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba, a group working for a peaceful transition to democracy. He was healthy when he was arrested in June and sentenced to four years in prison for “disrespect for authority”—a k a failure to bow to the masters of the slave plantation. His real crime was advocating for a free Cuba while black. There are few more lethal combinations.

The black Cuban is supposed to show gratitude to the revolution to sustain the myth that he has been elevated by communism. The grim reality is the opposite, but heaven help those who dare to say so.

In November, Más Hernández was transferred to Combinado del Este prison, a dungeon not fit for animals. There he developed a kidney infection. His wife told the independent media in Cuba that he lost almost 35 pounds. According to his overlords he died on Feb. 24 of a “heart attack.” Funny, that epidemic of heart disease among those who cross Castro.

His death ought to prick the conscience of the free world. But while the island is crawling with foreign news bureaus, the story has not appeared in the English-language press. President Obama may have opened Cuba to more tourists, but the regime takes pains to keep its 11 million captive souls and their misery invisible.

The Castro family is a crime syndicate and many American businesses want a piece of the action. Sheraton Four Points now runs a hotel owned by the military regime. The luggage company Tumi spent the winter promoting Cuba travel on its website. (Note to self: Buy that new suitcase from someone who isn’t blind to tyranny.) The upshot is that more U.S. dollars flow to Cuba’s military coffers than ever before.

Mr. Obama argued that more contact with outsiders would empower Cubans. The regime agrees. It has been open to foreign tourism and investment since the end of Soviet subsidies in the early 1990s, and millions of Europeans, Latin Americans and Asians have flooded the country. But its secret police keep a tight leash on visitors.

British real-estate developer Stephen Purvis, Canadian businessmen Cy Tokmakjian and Sarkis Yacoubian and U.S. Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross all did time in Cuban jails for being too independent of the mob boss.

Anonymous said...

A few words about Cuba -- part II:

Last month Castro took the audacious step of refusing visas to three prominent Latin American politicians who could hardly be regarded as enemies of Cuba.

Organization of American States Secretary-General Luis Almagro was invited to Cuba by Rosa María Payá. She is the daughter of the late Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in a suspicious car accident in the summer of 2012. Mr. Almagro was slated to receive an award named for Ms. Payá’s father from the Latin America Youth Network for Democracy. But Mr. Almagro, who is a Uruguayan leftist, was denied entry to the island.

The regime also blocked Mariana Aylwin, the daughter of Patricio Aylwin, the first elected Chilean president post-Pinochet. Ms. Aylwin is a Christian Democrat and a former education minister and was to accept a posthumous award for her late father. She remains an important voice in the Chilean Christian Democrat Party, which is a member, with the Communist Party among others, of the governing coalition.

Ms. Payá also invited former Mexican President Felipe Calderón to the event. Mr. Calderón is a member of Mexico’s center-right PAN, but as head of state he was friendly toward Cuba. One memorable moment was when he welcomed Raúl at the Rio Group summit on the Mayan Riviera in 2010 at a time when Orlando Zapata, another black Cuban dissident, lay dying in a military prison. Mr. Calderón was also denied a visa.

Cuba is not reforming. As always, dissidents are sent to prison death traps, and now Castro insults highly placed onetime friends by refusing them access to the island. Tourists are welcome, but only to drink state propaganda and leave behind hard currency. Any suggestion that Cubans have a right to self-determination remains a crime against the state.

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