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The Chairman Smiles
November 4, 2001 6:16 AM   Subscribe

The Chairman Smiles......Mao......Fidel.....Stalin .....Che........Nostalgia for the evil ones of our past. I wonder how many of us would trade today's War on Terrorism for the Cold War.
posted by Voyageman (91 comments total)

 
Hey! Stalin was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year' for 1942. Sure, he had about 26 million people killed, but we can overlook that, because Time magazine said so.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:21 AM on November 4, 2001


No, somehow the thought that a few frayed nerves might trigger mutually assured destruction doesn't really appeal to me. Besides, Osama is a piker in the body count department compared to Stalin.

I especially liked the poster announcing the "Fourth and Final Year of the Five Year Plan." It reads like an Onion headline.
posted by MAYORBOB at 6:27 AM on November 4, 2001


Don't forget Cambodia's Pol Pot!
posted by Carol Anne at 7:05 AM on November 4, 2001


I don't think that becoming Time magazine man of the year means they like you and forgive whatever nasty things you might have done.
posted by Postroad at 7:25 AM on November 4, 2001


I don't think you could really put Che up there with the rest of those fiends. Sure, he helped El Presidentè run Cuba for a bit, but he had to leave on account of his criticisms of Mother Russia. Some people think he's a good role model for the idealistic. Eh, I think Rage Against the Machine may have drowned this notion by flashing his image.
posted by Fahrenheit at 7:26 AM on November 4, 2001


Hey! Stalin was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year' for 1942. Sure, he had about 26 million people killed, but we can overlook that, because Time magazine said so.

Man of the Year means you were the most newsworthy figure that year, not that there is anything noble about you. There certainly wasn't anything noble about Stalin.
posted by ljromanoff at 7:36 AM on November 4, 2001


First-off, I was kidding.

Secondly, he did take direct control of the Russian army and they DID beat back the Germans. Give credit where it's due.

And yes, he was a horrible man who had millions killed. No dispute here.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:50 AM on November 4, 2001


Where the #$%# do you get off lumping in Che Guevara with mass-murdering, hypocritic dictators?? Do you know anything about this man's life? For that matter I see it hard to lump Fidel in on murder charges and he can hardly be called evil, or "of the past". Lets just lump every non-religious-right-Republican into the evil category while we're at it, eh?
posted by locombia at 8:24 AM on November 4, 2001


Re Che-mea culpa, mea culpa (its a great looking poster though.) Re Fidel - can be debated re degree of "evil", not exactly a democratic freedoms loving chap, though certainly is very present.
posted by Voyageman at 8:51 AM on November 4, 2001


Voyageman, this depends on your definition of "democratic freedoms".
posted by arf at 9:10 AM on November 4, 2001


m-i-c-k-e-y m-o-u-s-e. (nice observation carol anne)
posted by clavdivs at 9:26 AM on November 4, 2001


Do you know anything about this man's life? For that matter I see it hard to lump Fidel in on murder charges and he can hardly be called evil...

The million Cuba exiles, hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, and thousands killed by Castro's firing squads might disagree with your assessment.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2001


First-off, I was kidding.

As an employer of sarcasm myself, I did notice.

Secondly, he did take direct control of the Russian army and they DID beat back the Germans. Give credit where it's due.

Undoubtedly he was a valuable ally in the sense that he maintained a second front in the European theater. But doing so because your ally of choice (Hitler) doublecrosses you is hardly something to cheer. Furthermore, I doubt the Ukrainians and others were all that thrilled that their choice was occupation by one totalitarian empire versus occupation by another totalitarian empire that happened to carry a flag in a different shade of red.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:42 AM on November 4, 2001


Arf-re definitions, I was thinking along the these lines.....".....We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed..." Fidel doesn't immediately come to mind, does he?
posted by Voyageman at 9:52 AM on November 4, 2001


hundreds of thousands of political prisoners

Once more, let's play fact or fantasy with ljromanoff:

Several hundred political prisoners, including a number of prisoners of conscience, were believed to be held in Cuba, most of whom were convicted after unfair trials. By the end of 1999, AI was working on behalf of 19 prisoners of conscience. The absence of official data and the severe restrictions on human rights monitoring made it difficult to confirm information on other possible prisoners of conscience.

Not good, by any stretch. Not good at all. And nobody regards Cuba as a socialist utopia. (Join Amnesty. Learn what's going on. Write the letters.) But to magnify "several hundred and several more we can't verify" -- or even Human Rights Watch's couple of thousand -- into "hundreds of thousands" is sheer propaganda. Then again, we know that it's much easier for the ignorant right-wing to get away with telling big lies, especially about Cuba. A pity, though, that such whoppers make it harder to challenge the real human rights abuses.
posted by holgate at 10:34 AM on November 4, 2001


An argument could be made in favor of Castro's non-evilness. I don't believe it, but there's some people that say the only reason his regime is so oppressive is because Cuba's been embargoed by the US and friends for the past 40 years. We'll never know how he would've handled things if his hands weren't tied.

However, I'm not going to start defending the man's character based on a game of 'what if'.
posted by Fahrenheit at 10:47 AM on November 4, 2001


Granted it's from the perfectly objective Free Cuba Foundation, but nothing like seeing real names and real faces while we continue to engage in our much beloved freedom of speech this Sunday : Political Prisoner Names in Alphabetical Order.......List of Offenses...my personal favorite is DCJ, "disrespect of Commander in Chief," think David Letterman in solitary confinement.
posted by Voyageman at 10:56 AM on November 4, 2001


Once more, let's play fact or fantasy with ljromanoff

Sure, my fact versus your fantasy.

But to magnify "several hundred and several more we can't verify" -- or even Human Rights Watch's couple of thousand -- into "hundreds of thousands" is sheer propaganda.

"The highest record of political prisoners in Cuba (at a given time) throughout its history amounted to 60 thousand during the 1960's. Amnesty International points out that in the mid-1970's, some 20 thousand prisoners had been freed. In a comparative base, these two amounts would be the equivalent, in a country the size of the United States, in the amount of 1,410,000 and 466,000 during that era.

This would make Cuba the country with the highest percentage (per capita) of political prisoners in the Western Hemisphere, even higher than the percentage for the Soviet Union."

from Cuba: Myth and Reality, sociologist Juan Clark

"Since Fidel Castro took power in 1959, Cuba has confined large numbers of political prisoners for longer periods than any other country in the world. No one outside Cuba knows how many, but Fidel Castro himself has said publicly that at one time there were as many as fifteen thousand, and he reportedly told one of his biographers that the number was twenty thousand."

from Aryeh Neier, former Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

"In 1978 there were between 15000 and 20000 prisoners of conscience in Cuba. Many came from M-26 or the student anti-Batista movements. At the same time, an additional 35000 were enrolled in the Patriotic Military Service, where they were forcibly engaged in heavy work as a penal or disciplinary measure.

In 1986 some 12000 - 15000 political prisoners were kept in fifty regional prisons throughout the island.

From 1959 through the late 1990s more than 100000 Cubans experienced life in one of the camps, prisons, or open-regime sites. Between 15000 and 17000 people were shot."

from Yves Santamaria, historian and author of "Du printemps des peuples a la societe des nations."

Then again, we know that it's much easier for the ignorant right-wing to get away with telling big lies, especially about Cuba.

As usual, Nick, your grasp on the facts are shattered by your own prejudices and your contributions only serve to point out that your primary skill lies in name calling.
posted by ljromanoff at 11:33 AM on November 4, 2001


Why isn't Kissinger in the list?
posted by pixelgeek at 11:56 AM on November 4, 2001


Oh, you crack me up, Lance. When you're not cheerleading your own favourite dictators, you're offering highly biased sources and selective quotation as undisputed fact. But that's what happens when you type "cuban political prisoners" into Google and don't bother corroborating the "evidence" that comes from Cuban-American sites.

Juan Clark isn't just a "sociologist": he's a pillar of the anti-Castro community in Miami, who was wheeled out for quotes throughout the Elián mess; Santamaria's reputation for political impartiality doesn't inspire confidence, given that he neglects to mention the opposing role of the CIA in his account of Cuban support for Angola; and Aryeh Neier is on record as noting that:

Though I think it is important to recall the extent of political imprisonment in Cuba in the 1960s in assessing Fidel Castro's regime, it is also useful to acknowledge the decline in the number of political prisoners since then in calling attention to the remaining prisoners and to the many other persisting abuses of human rights.

Finally: even taking Santamaria's dubious figures, "more than 100000 Cubans" in some form of detention over 40 years can't be manufactured into "hundreds of thousands", however much it might feed your ideological fantasies. (And no, "comparative bases" don't count, since you didn't bother with that qualification in your initial claim.) Shall I buy you a gift membership to Amnesty as a Christmas present? It might help you out next time to separate the real human rights issues in Cuba from your own pathological hatred of the Red Menace.
posted by holgate at 12:50 PM on November 4, 2001


This would make Cuba the country with the highest percentage (per capita) of political prisoners in the Western Hemisphere...

And we have the highest percentage (or #2) of people in jail in the world now, disproportianately minorities and many for victimless crimes like drug-related charges. I guess it all depends on how you define "political prisoner" as perhaps the right to make a living is not among the rights of the new authoritarian right.
posted by locombia at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2001


Oh, you crack me up, Lance. When you're not cheerleading your own favourite dictators

I'm not the one making apologies for dictators, Nick, you are.

But that's what happens when you type "cuban political prisoners" into Google

I wouldn't know about that. Perhaps you should broaden your methods of research. I hear AltaVista is a pretty good search engine, too.

Juan Clark isn't just a "sociologist": he's a pillar of the anti-Castro community in Miami

And this is negates his data, some of which comes from Amnesty International? Nice try.

he neglects to mention the opposing role of the CIA in his account of Cuban support for Angola

Good to know you can still trot out your old bogeymen when all else fails.

it is also useful to acknowledge the decline in the number of political prisoners since then in calling attention to the remaining prisoners and to the many other persisting abuses of human rights.

The fact that the number of political prisoners has declined due to international pressure on Cuba does not alter the fact that there have been vastly more of them than you are apparently willing to admit.

It might help you out next time to separate the real human rights issues in Cuba from your own pathological hatred of the Red Menace.

I take my pathological hatred of murderous, totalitarian dictators over your pathological blindness to their crimes any time.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:57 PM on November 4, 2001


Kissinger is on this thread. His pseudonym is ljromanoff.
posted by mmarcos at 2:01 PM on November 4, 2001


Kissinger is on this thread. His pseudonym is ljromanoff.

"Witty one-liners" don't get any better the second time around. Especially if they aren't particularly witty the first time.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:05 PM on November 4, 2001


But ljr, you act like the U.S. was also against the previous Cuban dictator, but we liked him fine because he was good for business.

Anyway, I like the link. Studying propoganda can help us be savvy about the message our own government gives us. My favorite so far .
posted by chrismc at 2:13 PM on November 4, 2001


Kissinger is on this thread. His pseudonym is ljromanoff.
Third time lucky?
posted by Zootoon at 2:14 PM on November 4, 2001


But ljr, you act like the U.S. was also against the previous Cuban dictator, but we liked him fine because he was good for business.

I don't remember commenting about Batista one way or the other.

Kissinger is on this thread. His pseudonym is ljromanoff.
Third time lucky?


Uh, no.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:19 PM on November 4, 2001


Thought not.
So where are you on Batista and Pinochet, or are you only against left wing murderous dictators?
posted by Zootoon at 2:22 PM on November 4, 2001


You're not going to get away with your blatant untruths, Lance. "Hundreds of thousands"? Even the wildest figures don't approach it, and Amnesty's certainly don't. 20,000 over 40 years, by Amnesty's estimate? 100,000 in various forms of detention and service? Still doesn't add up to "hundreds of thousands". Admit that you just make up the numbers for rhetorical effect.

Perhaps you should broaden your methods of research.

Perhaps you should try a little humility to salve your self-righteous mendacity.

I take my pathological hatred of murderous, totalitarian dictators over your pathological blindness to their crimes any time.

And yet you can't quite bring yourself to breathe a word against such examples of democratic splendour as General Pinochet. Nice one. Hypocrisy is, of course, the greatest of all luxuries.
posted by holgate at 2:22 PM on November 4, 2001


The thing about Stalin is, that Russia beat back the Germans despite his being Chairman, not because of it. The Insane One had most of the experienced officers in the Soviet Army executed before the German push (and in fact his actions probably led to the Germans feeling that they could take Russia in the first place).

As for Che, he never was chairman of anything, so he doesn't really belong in that group, especially considering the way his image is being used nowadays to hawk large numbers of consumer goods... then again that's the problem with being an icon noways :-)
posted by clevershark at 2:28 PM on November 4, 2001


Thought not.
So where are you on Batista and Pinochet, or are you only against left wing murderous dictators?


Not a big fan. I'm only arguing against the left wing dictators because there are actually people on MeFi arguing on their behalf.

Even the wildest figures don't approach it

The only wild figures around here are your claims of only a "several hundred or possibly a couple of thousand" political prisoners. Are you repudiating that number now?

and Amnesty's certainly don't. 20,000 over 40 years

Amnesty number is 20,000 released by 1978, not 20,000 over 40 years. There is a huge difference.

Perhaps you should try a little humility to salve your self-righteous mendacity.

If you think I am in error, prove me wrong. Prove your numbers to be correct. You haven't done it before, I doubt you can manage it now.

And yet you can't quite bring yourself to breathe a word against such examples of democratic splendour as General Pinochet.

When someone starts making arguments in his favor, I'll be happy to.

Hypocrisy is, of course, the greatest of all luxuries

And ignorance is bliss, which must make you one very happy fellow.
posted by ljromanoff at 2:32 PM on November 4, 2001


I assume you don't mean "not a big fan" literally because next to pathological hatred (not originally from you but you do use it) it sounds kind of imbalanced or unbalanced, whatever the word. Like I say, I assume you don't. I don't see who's arguing in favour of dictators here, the Stalin comments aside, which I don't see as really being arguing on his behaviour, so I suppose it's down to Castro, but I see your discussion with Holgate as being over numbers, sources and especially comparison - for me lumping him (Castro and even moreso Che) in with Stalin is bemeaning to the many millions slaughtered by Stalin. Comparing Pinochet with Stalin would be the same. I think Holgate's mention of Pinochet (and maybe my own) comes after the recent discussion on the CIA and Chile. I think neither your posture on that point nor his on this implies defence of the dictatorship, but in such interchanges, these things easily cause misunderstandings.
What do you think?
posted by Zootoon at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2001


"the U.S. was also against the previous Cuban dictator, but we liked him fine because he was good for business" then why did the CIA give castro limited aid. Because castro said he would not take a communist line.
posted by clavdivs at 2:56 PM on November 4, 2001


bad fidel, bad.
posted by clavdivs at 2:57 PM on November 4, 2001


The only wild figures around here are your claims of only a "several hundred or possibly a couple of thousand" political prisoners. Are you repudiating that number now?

Howdy Lance. I'm sorry to see your struggles with proper quoting are still continuing. Best of luck and get well soon.
posted by boaz at 3:01 PM on November 4, 2001


I assume you don't mean "not a big fan" literally because next to pathological hatred (not originally from you but you do use it) it sounds kind of imbalanced or unbalanced

I offered only a somewhat sarcastic answer to that question as I think it's pretty silly to ask anyone if they approved of Pinochet or Batista. Being honest about how they came into power (in the case of Pinochet) or pointing out the realities of life under their replacement (in the case of Batista) does not imply support for either of them, despite what some members of MeFi would like to believe.

Like I say, I assume you don't. I don't see who's arguing in favour of dictators here

My initial response re: Castro was in reply to this: "I see it hard to lump Fidel in on murder charges and he can hardly be called evil..."

If that isn't an argument in favor of Castro, I don't know what is. If not an outright praising of him, it is certainly pro-Castro in that it dismisses his many crimes.
posted by ljromanoff at 3:04 PM on November 4, 2001


Howdy Lance. I'm sorry to see your struggles with proper quoting are still continuing. Best of luck and get well soon.

Nice to see your obsession over grammatical trivialities in lieu of actually participating in the discussion hasn't abated.
posted by ljromanoff at 3:05 PM on November 4, 2001


Nice to see your obsession over grammatical trivialities in lieu of actually participating in the discussion hasn't abated.

So Lance, would you care to repudiate your statement about Pinochet and Battista where you called yourself "a big fan. I'm arguing on their behalf."? ;)
posted by boaz at 3:12 PM on November 4, 2001


So Lance, would you care to repudiate your statement about Pinochet and Battista where you called yourself "a big fan. I'm arguing on their behalf."? ;)

The only dictator I've ever been a fan of is Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. I'll argue for him anytime.
posted by ljromanoff at 3:19 PM on November 4, 2001


Maybe all this arguing ties in nicely with the poster collection link after all. Ljr, I think I was just trying to get to the point about why people are rabidly anti-castro. And the hypocripsy question does come up because we use words like democracy and human rights to argue against dictators we don't like. But it seems that that word is just a tool of propoganda when you consider regimes we support that are not democratic, but for various reasons, oil or the domino theory, we support them. So that's one point. But also I think it seems like right wingers like Kissinger defend Pinochet and hate Castro specifically because one is good for business and the other is not. If you are not there with Kissinger and Pinochet, great. I admit that lefties have a soft spot for Fidel because Cuba, despite it's poverty has a commitment to universal health care and education.
posted by chrismc at 3:35 PM on November 4, 2001


Don't think the christians who were persecuted, tortured and executed would agree with you on that one, ljr.
posted by Zootoon at 3:46 PM on November 4, 2001


No Lenin? Aw...
posted by e^2 at 3:46 PM on November 4, 2001


May I bring you back to the orginal post : "...I wonder how many of us would trade today's War on Terrorism for the Cold War..." Ignoring how many political prisoners there have been in Cuba (certainly many) and ignoring how misunderstood comrade Che may have been (bless his soul), the fact remains that our Soviet-Cuban brothers brought us (and the rest of mankind) closer to nuclear Armageddon than any other enemy in history, when in 1962 "photo intelligence identified Soviet nuclear missile installations under construction on the island of Cuba, some ninety miles off the Florida coast." The hand-written note from the Document Archive of Declassified Files from the Cuban Missile Crisis sums it up. That's pretty evil of our Cuban, cigar smoking friend, isnt'it?
posted by Voyageman at 3:47 PM on November 4, 2001


The only wild figures around here are your claims of only a "several hundred or possibly a couple of thousand" political prisoners. Are you repudiating that number now?

Why should I? Those are the numbers currently being held, rather than the total number since 1959, as you'd know very well if you'd actually read the sources I posted. And since you didn't make that differentiation when you first made your outrageous claim of "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners", you have no right to think otherwise; given that you used the present tense ("hundreds of thousands of political prisoners . . . might disagree with your assessment") is it unreasonable to think that you were referring to the present day? If so, I apologise for not misreading your grammar accordingly.

If you think I am in error, prove me wrong. Prove your numbers to be correct. You haven't done it before, I doubt you can manage it now.

Again, I'm not the one who made the initial unqualified reference to "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners". The burden of proof rests squarely with you, and the figures you've already cited certainly don't back up that claim, even using the broadest possible definition of the term. And since you don't hold my research in high regard, I'm certainly not going to do your hard work for you.
posted by holgate at 3:49 PM on November 4, 2001


(And to show some respect to the original subject of this post, I love this poster because it doesn't fall into the usual Realist stereotypes of Communist political art: the Cubans are lucky to have such a powerful flag design.)
posted by holgate at 3:56 PM on November 4, 2001


Why should I? Those are the numbers currently being held, rather than the total number since 1959, as you'd know very well if you'd actually read the sources I posted.

I did read the sources you posted. To limit yourself to only the current number of prisoners is somewhat absurd as it was quite clear the issue was the Castro regime in its entirety.

is it unreasonable to think that you were referring to the present day?

Yes it certainly is, unless you believe the dead can actually talk.

Again, I'm not the one who made the initial unqualified reference to "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners". The burden of proof rests squarely with you, and the figures you've already cited certainly don't back up that claim

They don't back it up to your satisfaction as any qualified data that would support my numbers would be immediately dismissed by you as being too politically biased to be valid. As you have already convinced yourself of your rightness, no amount of actual evidence will suit you.

Maybe all this arguing ties in nicely with the poster collection link after all. Ljr, I think I was just trying to get to the point about why people are rabidly anti-castro.

I suspect the rabidity of anti-Castroism is a result of the reality of thousands of his victims actually being here, living only a short distance from the homeland they feel is being destroyed.

Don't think the christians who were persecuted, tortured and executed would agree with you on that one

Ah, I blame the CIA's covert ops for that.

No Lenin? Aw...

No, Lennon.
posted by ljromanoff at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2001


More historic posters at Internationalposter.com
posted by ljromanoff at 6:04 PM on November 4, 2001


For some stunning design check out these Spanish Civil War posters. (Reminds me of the recent Polish poster thread.)
posted by mmarcos at 6:21 PM on November 4, 2001


so bizarre. i was just surfing this stuff today, come to mefi. and this link is showing as visited. wiiieeerrrddd.
posted by adampsyche at 6:29 PM on November 4, 2001


Fun activity for free time--airbrush out Stalin or Mao's head in your favorite poster and replace it with your own! Now you too can be a leader of the Proletarian Revolution or the Great Patriotic War!
posted by gimonca at 7:11 PM on November 4, 2001


Yes it certainly is, unless you believe the dead can actually talk.

The dead are still dead in the present. Not an English major, I see. Ah well.

They don't back it up to your satisfaction as any qualified data that would support my numbers would be immediately dismissed by you as being too politically biased to be valid.

And yet again, you put words into my mouth. An easy way to try to excuse your reference to "hundreds and thousands of political prisoners." Try me if you feel confident in your assertions. But whatever. The point has been made that your numbers are uncorroborated. And since we're fast and loose with standards of proof, let's work with this premise: as other posters have suggested, you are actually Henry Kissinger. If you think I am in error, prove me wrong. Prove your identity to be otherwise. You haven't done it before, Henry: I doubt you can manage it now.


posted by holgate at 9:12 PM on November 4, 2001


What's with the font change and the last indentation on this thread?
posted by mmarcos at 3:19 AM on November 5, 2001


"...I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him".
-Marcus Aurelius
"the Cubans are lucky to have such a powerful flag design."
hey nick, i got a great cuban flag from sister-in-law. (bought it after the cuba security service tried to sell them illegal drugs for the second time) i'd like to send it to you. The cuban people still feel fear. they train young men to be police starting, well, young. There is a cop on every corner. The intellectuals are reluctant to display anything not approved(reapproved is the term) by the state. cuba is...a country waiting for fidel to die. a limbo like state that relies on foreign currency to survive. (they can keep a old Nash running though)
posted by clavdivs at 6:53 AM on November 5, 2001


The dead are still dead in the present. Not an English major, I see. Ah well.

Trying to cover your lack of reading comprehension with snide remarks is unbecoming, yet typical, of you Nick.

But whatever. The point has been made that your numbers are uncorroborated.

The argument has been made, the point has not. I have provided you with several sources. You respond by dismissing their data based on your own ideological prejudices. There is no convincing you as you refuse admit you were wildly underestimating the number of Cuban political prisoners.

Prove your identity to be otherwise. You haven't done it before, Henry: I doubt you can manage it now.

There are other MeFi members who can verify that. You prove you aren't Vladimir Posner.
posted by ljromanoff at 7:35 AM on November 5, 2001


Trying to cover your lack of reading comprehension with snide remarks is unbecoming, yet typical, of you Nick.

Damn, Henry, you've convinced me to return all my degrees to the university. They certainly had looser standards than yours when it comes to mastering insult and sarcasm as a means of sustaining an argument. Of course, your choosing the route of personal abuse to hide your blushes has become oh-so-familiar to everyone here. I believe the term is "thread death".

You got called on your opening flourish, and find yourself incapable of admitting it. It's not the first time your rhetoric has got the better of you. "Hundreds of thousands"? I'm still waiting for you to provide a source that comes close to that number; more importantly, so is everyone else reading this thread. And as I said, accepting the highest number you produced still can't get you up to "hundreds of thousands". Keep trying. Send Amnesty an email: see what they have to say. But the longer you prevaricate, Henry, the worse it makes you look.


posted by holgate at 9:05 AM on November 5, 2001


Damn, Henry, you've convinced me to return all my degrees to the university

Much more drivel like this from you and they might save you the trouble and simply revoke them.

You got called on your opening flourish, and find yourself incapable of admitting it.

Can't even see the words on your screen, Nick? It's your data that's bad. You won't even retract your number even after your precious Amnesty International contradicts you.

But the longer you prevaricate, Henry, the worse it makes you look.

Whatever you say, Vladimir. The more you write the less anyone reading MeFi pays attention to your hollow arguments.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:32 AM on November 5, 2001


Geeez---all I wanted to do was share some pretty artwork. This is next generation Crossfire. I wonder if we cant make this into a regular column- I post topics, you both let it rip, we syndicate, and all retire counting the beans. PS Legally, who owns the threads?
posted by Voyageman at 9:46 AM on November 5, 2001


PS Legally, who owns the threads?

That would be Mr. Haughey.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:50 AM on November 5, 2001


Much more drivel like this from you and they might save you the trouble and simply revoke them.

Ooh, handbags. Doesn't poor Henry get all aggressive when he's backed up into a corner? Don't like the feeling, do you? But then again, isn't that typical of a proven bully?

It's quite a breathless series of argumentative lapses: to summarise your last evasion, ad hominem, ad ignorantium, and shifting the burden of proof, and yet again you've offered not a single source that supports your claim of "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners". If we were playing fallacy baseball, that'd be three strikes and out.
posted by holgate at 3:53 PM on November 5, 2001


On a lighter note, since the Shopping Season is just ahead:
Revolutions in doll making: Blitzkrieg Toyz (sic) in New York City has just shipped 3,000 "El Comandante Fidel Castro" action figures to retailers. The 12-inch, hand-painted dolls are available in two styles: Revolutionary Fidel with jet black hair and beard, and salt-and-pepper Modern Fidel..."
posted by Carol Anne at 5:18 PM on November 5, 2001


But then again, isn't that typical of a proven bully?

I'm sorry you don't feel up to the task of actually defending your utter confusion and instead have resorted to not only name calling, but trying again and again to throw around the same tiresome insult as if it impresses anyone other than you, Vladimir.

yet again you've offered not a single source that supports your claim of "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners".

In fact, I have. Rather than dispute them, you dismiss them as "biased" based on nothing more than the fact that they don't fit into your narrow field of vision. Meanwhile, you maintain your fantasy statistic of a "few hundred, maybe a couple thousand." I can't say that I'm surprised that you are willing to ignore the evidence, there's certainly more than enough precedent of you doing the exact same thing in the past.
posted by ljromanoff at 5:46 PM on November 5, 2001


In fact, I have. Rather than dispute them, you dismiss them as "biased" based on nothing more than the fact that they don't fit into your narrow field of vision.

In fact you haven't. Squeal, Henry, squeal. Your highest number is "more than 100,000", based upon a definition of the term that includes "open-regime sites", and which not even you can massage into "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners". Take the leap: email Amnesty with a request for its estimate. You might even learn something.

Meanwhile, you maintain your fantasy statistic of a "few hundred, maybe a couple thousand."

Oh, poor Henry, it's a sign you're getting desparate when you resort to selective quotation and sheer misrepresentation. My "fantasy statistics" are drawn from the reports of those desparate fantasists at Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, and refer to current prisoners; my citation provides more than adequate context, unlike your initial unqualified reference to "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners". The burden of proof remains yours, and all this wriggling and bluster can't change the fact that you dug a big rhetorical hole for yourself. Normally, you'd get away with it, because you bully people out of threads who dare to call you on your arrogant, groundless pontification. Not this time, Henry. Not a chance.
posted by holgate at 6:30 PM on November 5, 2001


Your highest number is "more than 100,000", based upon a definition of the term that includes "open-regime sites"

I'm glad you find it so easy to dismiss away certain classes of political prisoners. Typical of your callous revisionism to suit your own ideological ends.

You might even learn something.

Perhaps. Doesn't seem to have helped you get a grasp on the situation.

My "fantasy statistics" are drawn from the reports of those desparate fantasists at Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, and refer to current prisoners

Which is where your error lies. It is abundantly clear that the history of the Castro regime, like the history of the other communist leaders, is what was being discussed. Simply admit you missed this obvious point.

Normally, you'd get away with it, because you bully people out of threads

Nick, if you feel the need to bail out of a thread due to the shortcomings of your arguments, that's your problem.
posted by ljromanoff at 6:45 PM on November 5, 2001


Here is more to keep the flame alive and burning strong. Todays evil ones: State Sponsored Terrorism Heads of State-Worlds Most Wanted....nice picture of Fidel.
posted by Voyageman at 7:48 PM on November 5, 2001


Insult, evasion, evasion, insult, evasion. Says it all, poor pitiful Henry, painting yourself into an ever-smaller corner. As for revisionism: it's simply your own shame that you have to revise away the need to defend your own exaggerated claims, even though one only has to scroll to the top of the page to read them. And bail? Why should I? I'm still waiting. "Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners", poor pathetic Henry: no amount of (rather tired) invective directed towards me will deliver you of your obligation to come up with some proof.
posted by holgate at 3:04 AM on November 6, 2001


Insult, evasion, evasion, insult, evasion.

Working on your resume? You might have a few other skills than those you've listed above. We have yet to see them, but they might exist.

no amount of invective directed towards me will deliver you of your obligation to come up with some proof.

Nor will any amount of your weak posturing negate your inability to accept that you misunderstood what was being discussed in this thread from the outset.

Furthermore, the proof has been provided. You can attempt to smear its credibility and pretend that it doesn't exist if that suits you, but your only making yourself look the fool.
posted by ljromanoff at 5:25 AM on November 6, 2001


Evasion, lie, evasion. My data came with context and corroboration; your reference to "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners" has neither. Try again, poor Henry: we're still waiting.
posted by holgate at 7:53 AM on November 6, 2001


I could watch you two forever.
posted by thirteen at 8:06 AM on November 6, 2001


I know, this is great! Quick, give them some catnip!
posted by adampsyche at 8:12 AM on November 6, 2001


Evasion, lie, evasion.

Don't forget 'insult' and 'kung-fu grip'. You'll have a list of your special abilities in no time!

My data came with context and corroboration

It had neither in regard to this discussion. You are confused about the historical period in question, making your data irrelevant as it ignores the vast majority of the time we are discussing.

simply; your reference to "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners" has neither. Try again, poor Henry: we're still waiting.

I assume you have mastered the ability to scroll upward to the top of the page. If so, you will have what you need. Feel free to read it again and scramble madly in another attempt to dismiss it. I know how tough it is for you when reality knocks over your political house of cards.

By the way, how much longer before you start referring to everyone as "ignorant fuckwits"? I would hate to miss that.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:33 AM on November 6, 2001


hmmm, this is risky and probably not worth it, but I just re-read this thread, and it is clear that ljr's initial claim of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in cuba was never substantiated. When this was initially pointed out, defensive mode was immediately set, and then things devolved into "nick vs. lance", (I don't know who started that "real" name thing, but it's pretty funny).

so I return to this point, hyper conservatives are eager to pounce if anything kind is said about a socialist. however, right wing dictators are backed when it's convenient and even terrorism is happily funded (contras) if it is anti-socialist. so that is hypocrisy, because it is then obvious that capitalism is really what these people care about and not democracy (you can have one without the other-Greece, Sweden).
posted by chrismc at 11:23 AM on November 6, 2001


hmmm, this is risky and probably not worth it, but I just re-read this thread, and it is clear that ljr's initial claim of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in cuba was never substantiated.

I disagree. Here's a few more items:

"FIFTY-FOURTH SESSION OF THE
UN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
ITEM 10
SPEECH DELIVERED BY MR. LUIS ZUNIGA

[...]
Mister President:

Once more, the reports presented by the Special Rapporteur for Cuba
continue to show the existence of persistent violations and a total
disregard for the fundamental rights of the Cuban people.
[...]
As evidence, witness the Cuban people and their thousands of dead,
another hundreds of thousands whose bodies and souls have been lacerated
by abuse and mistreatment in the prisons, 10% of its population in
exile, families divided by official extremism and intolerance.
Thirty-nine years and four generations of Cubans who do not know the
meaning of human rights, four generations of Cubans who have never been
able to form political alliances nor freely elect their leaders,
millions of Cubans who have not been allowed to study or hold a job
because the state has blacklisted them as "political malcontents". "

"Cuban Internal Opposition Assistance Act of 2001 (Introduced in the House)
HR 1271 IH
107th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1271
To assist the internal opposition in Cuba, and to further help the Cuban
people to regain their freedom.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 28, 2001


A BILL

To assist the internal opposition in Cuba, and to further help the Cuban
people to regain their freedom. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled
[...]
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:
[...]
(4) There are a large number of Cubans who are the victims of the most
extreme political repression, specifically those surviving immediate
relatives of Cubans who were assassinated by the Castro regime, political
prisoners and their immediate relatives, former political prisoners and their
immediate relatives, and activists of the internal opposition and their
immediate relatives.

(5) Thousands of people have been assassinated by the Castro dictatorship
during the last 42 years;

(6) There are hundreds of thousands of former political prisoners in Cuba."


Unfortunately, the most substantial evidence will not be available until the Castro regime is gone. However, there are certainly enough sources to validate my claim. It is undoubtedly more accurate than Holgate's undercount, which he has already confessed was due to only examining the current situation and not the totality of the Castro's record.

When this was initially pointed out, defensive mode was immediately set.

That's what happens when one side decides to start the debate with lines like "let's play fact or fantasy." You can pretty much guarantee that reasonable discussion is over when that is an opening salvo.
posted by ljromanoff at 1:31 PM on November 6, 2001


Point.Set.Match.
posted by Voyageman at 1:48 PM on November 6, 2001


Great. Zuniga, a member of CANF. Wonderful.

I wonder of all the people who have written in this thread, how many have been to Cuba personally or know someone living there or who has visited there.

I was born in Havana and raised mostly in the US. I have family in both countries, I love both countries and both peoples.

Cubans are enduring a harsh economy, in no small part due to the US embargo since October 1960 and subsequent US legislation that pressures foreign parties who do business or dock in Cuba. It's a chore to get food and basic medicines. Prostitution has disgustingly reappeared and includes teenagers. There is no public dissent; however, no one I met in Santiago or Havana, family, friends, strangers, ever looked behind their back 'just in case' when they complained about the situation. Everycody wants change. And when they complained it was in terms that were gray, some good things remain, surprisingly.

I stayed with family in a house with little running water and electricity was shut off at regular periods. However, they're all healthy, all went or go to school, all have major medical issues taken care of. The people in general, children in particular, are much better educated, that is they know more about the rest of the world, including the US, than the my school friends. No one was hungry.

Broadbrush claims about Cuba are off the mark, the situation is complex and is not black or white. Things are bad, in part because of Fidel, in part because of the Cuban exiles, in part because of the US. I can only hope that when Fidel is gone, the Cubans are able to decide for themselves what should be done in the country and the Zunigas, Mas Canosas and Gloria Estefans keep their exiled and monied noses out of there. Or better yet, if they're so incredibly concerned about Cuba, go back and fight it face to face, not with the help of the biggest guy in the school yard; the other big guy left a long time ago. There are a lot of unpublicized dissenters in Cuba who stay and put themselves at risk every day (as there were behind the Iron Curtain, as there are in China). Neither Fidel, nor the exiles, nor the US will take away what is overwhelming and beautiful about Cuba: Cuban character.
posted by mmarcos at 2:50 PM on November 6, 2001


mmarcos - what is your opinion of Fidel? Which other world leaders past or present can he be compared to ?
posted by Voyageman at 2:57 PM on November 6, 2001


That's an interesting question, VoyageMan. I don't have an answer. Fidel is a strange animal. He's very intelligent and a really good public speaker, written speech or improvised. But he's too dominating, and, the older he gets, more dogmatic. He was a lawyer, Jesuit educated and a really good baseball pitcher, too. My dad knew him a little from his days at the University of Havana. I don't know who to compare him with because he is quite 'Cuban'. If really pressed, I guess I would say Yugoslavia's Tito.

I wonder about the early days of the revolution a lot. Fidel and his colleagues took over Havana on Jan 1, 1959 amidst massive cheering crowds. Until then he was simply a revolutionary. To commit the big changes he had in mind for Cuba meant taking some radical steps and he could not count on the people who formerly had power/money. Things deteriorated between the US and Cuba, Cuba started getting chummy with the USSR, and on Dec 2, 1961 Castro declares himself a "Marxist-Leninist." This declaration left a lot of Cubans bewildered. Then there's the disagreement between Fidel and Che. Cuba committed some bold acts in the name of redistributing wealth, including nationalization of the US companies, so the US freaked out. I wish the US had pursued matter another way. The cold war was going on, but I agree with Walter Lippman in this: "For the thing we should never do in dealing with revolutionary countries, in which the world abounds, is to push them behind an iron curtain raised by ourselves. On the contrary, even when they have been seduced and subverted and are drawn across the line, the right thing to do is to keep the way open for their return."
posted by mmarcos at 4:21 PM on November 6, 2001


"should be done in the country and the Zunigas, Mas Canosas and Gloria Estefans keep their exiled and monied noses out of there." amen. i think fidel should have killed for CMC. But you speakalot of truth. my father lived there for two and half years. many familiy have been going since the 40's. I plan to make my first trip next year. I do not like the tourist economies food allocation,(why is the fruit so bland?) they get alot of the food and of course the tourists cant eat it all in one sitting. I think they make the portions huge to give an impression of abundence. But to see the reluctant gratitude when you leave behind stuff(razors, toothpaste, etc.) for your new friends...well the cuban character prevails. VIVE CUBA, VIVE Marti.
posted by clavdivs at 4:56 PM on November 6, 2001


¡Viva Martí!
posted by mmarcos at 5:38 AM on November 7, 2001


Ci. Viva Marti'. good job LJ.
posted by clavdivs at 7:41 AM on November 7, 2001


Ci. Viva Marti'. good job LJ.

Gracias. On to Nicaragua next, anyone?
posted by ljromanoff at 7:53 AM on November 7, 2001


Oh, you can't help but twist my words, ljr. You deprive them of the context I supplied, while you refuse to admit that yours had none. Oh well, I suppose I can't expect anything else from you now. The numbers I dug out from 40 years of Amnesty reports, backed up by conversations at Amnesty head office, put the high estimate, using the widest definition of "prisoner", at around 140,000 over 40 years, a figure that also includes deaths from attempted escapes to Florida. The low figure is around 40,000, which uses the much stricter definition of "prisoner of conscience". (And no, as mmarcos suggests, I regard neither a director of CANF, nor the House of Representatives as valid independent assessors of the Cuban situation. A political speech from an anti-Castro campaign is not a historical source, nor is the preamble of a piece of legislation from a body that has consistently toed the anti-Castro line since 1959.) And while 140,000 is not a pleasant number to consider, it doesn't approach the "hundreds of thousands" to which ljr still clings. Obviously, there's not going to be any agreement on this, since we both have different criteria when it comes to factual data, and right now I really don't have the time or desire to persist with a "has not! has too!" parody debate. But I would point out that with the political prisoner numbers in Cuba down to the high hundreds, I never thought I'd see the day when the US threatened to outdo the Castro regime in its use of clandestine detention, nor that some Americans would openly discuss the advantages of different forms of torture against some of the hundreds of people detained since September 11th. And yes, the resilience of the Cuban people never ceases to amaze me.
posted by holgate at 7:56 AM on November 7, 2001


You deprive them of the context I supplied, while you refuse to admit that yours had none.

Again, your context was irrelevant in regard to the argument at hand.

Amnesty reports, backed up by conversations at Amnesty head office, put the high estimate, using the widest definition of "prisoner", at around 140,000

Fine, so be it. I maintain their number is low. History will judge. In any event, your argument of a few hundred is obviously way off the mark.

I regard neither a director of CANF, nor the House of Representatives as valid independent assessors of the Cuban situation

Well, c'est une surprise. Not all of us can dig up highly impartial sources like Covert Action Quarterly to make our cases.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:15 AM on November 7, 2001


In any event, your argument of a few hundred is obviously way off the mark.

Oh, your disdain for context is depressing. Is Amnesty "way off the mark" as well? Is your "maintaining" to be regarded as the one true fountain of historical accuracy? In which case, Matt should close all threads as soon as you've given your ex cathedra ruling on the One Holy Libertarian Truth. After all, how can Amnesty or Human Rights Watch compete with such omniscience? I'm surprised you don't ascend into the heavens on the force of your own ego.

Just to add an iota of historical method here: the high estimate includes all short-term detentions, including demonstrators thrown in jail for the night. It might be worth considering the number of American citizens who've suffered the same fate in the last 40 years, particularly those who protested for civil rights or against the Vietnam War.


posted by holgate at 8:23 AM on November 7, 2001


Oh, your disdain for context is depressing.

My only distain is for your labored attempts at making some kind of point.

In which case, Matt should close all threads as soon as you've given your ex cathedra ruling on the One Holy Libertarian Truth.

Nick, it's fortunate for you that your pomposity doesn't exist as matter or the ensuing gravity well would cause the known universe to collapse in around you.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:33 AM on November 7, 2001


This is becoming an episode of "Moonlighting." Why don't you guys just hurry up and get together for a heartwarming round of invigorating coitus? The ratings will be dynamite.
posted by Skot at 9:00 AM on November 7, 2001


I have discovered the root of the disagreement. Now it all makes perfect sense. NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS: BOUGHT FOR THE PRICE OF A DRINK "At the end of April, the British National Union of Students (NUS) voted to accept a three-year 'sole supply' deal worth £625,000 with Bacardi rum. In doing so, the NUS places itself incontrovertibly on the side of the illegal and criminal 41-year United States blockade of Cuba..."
posted by Voyageman at 10:45 AM on November 7, 2001


ljromanoff, read up on Marti, my friend. Do you know anything about him? Do you know what era he belongs to? Do you know what he did for a living? Who he fought? How he died? What he wrote? Where he travelled and lived?
posted by mmarcos at 1:25 PM on November 7, 2001


ljromanoff, read up on Marti, my friend. Do you know anything about him? Do you know what era he belongs to? Do you know what he did for a living? Who he fought? How he died? What he wrote? Where he travelled and lived?

Yes to all the above. And?
posted by ljromanoff at 1:43 PM on November 7, 2001


Pardon me. What did "Gracias. On to Nicaragua next, anyone?" mean?
posted by mmarcos at 3:28 PM on November 7, 2001


Pardon me. What did "Gracias. On to Nicaragua next, anyone?" mean?

We've debated Chile and Cuba, I figured the next controversial Latin American nation likely to pop up would be Nicaragua, especially considering the election this week. Not a reference to Marti.
posted by ljromanoff at 4:25 PM on November 7, 2001


OK. Misunderstanding. My apologies. Seeing Marti next to Nicaragua in the context of this thread...
posted by mmarcos at 5:58 PM on November 7, 2001


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