We normally don’t agree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on anything. So when Harry Reid is right about something, it deserves some attention. Watch Reid call President Hu of China, who is attending a state dinner at the White House tonight, a dictator:

Predictably Reid backpedals a little, but he is correct. China has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1949 and, while recent regimes have not been as murderous as the founder of Communist China, Mao Tse Tung, who between 1949 and 1976 caused the death of 40 to 70 million people, China is still ruled by a single party, which is engaged in genocide in Tibet and represses many of its people including 2010 Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo.

China has been very successful economically by largely replacing communist economics with capitalism, so successful, that China today is in fact America’s banker owning a large portion of American government debt. China is also a rising military power building weapons that could become a threat to American military superiority. It is forming alliance and building basis to expand its power into the Indian and Pacific Oceans. And China continues to repress its people’s freedom including freedom of speech and religion.

We have hoped in vain for thirty years that economic liberalization will be followed by political liberalization. This has not happened. Formerly communist Eastern Europe has followed the opposite, and much more successful path: a change in the political system has been followed by economic liberalization and growth in wealth.

Our dependence on China for financing our debt is unfortunate and there are no quick short-term solutions. Our uneasy relationship with China is likely to continue. We need to remain alert to the potential threat China will pose to the United States in the decades to come.

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On Friday the Nobel Prize Committee in Norway announced that the 2010 Nobel Prize for Peace has been awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a jailed Chinese dissident who has fought for democracy in China for more than 20 years. Liu has been detained, arrested and sentenced repeatedly for his peaceful political activities, beginning with his participation in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and on four other occasions since.

This years winner of the Peace Prize is a refreshing contrast from last year when the Nobel Committee awarded the prize to Barack Obama for… well ahh, we are still not sure for exactly what.

The Nobel Committee made its decision after threats from Chinese officials that awarding Liu would damage Norway’s relationship with China.

In recent years, the Peace Prize has been awarded to questionable recipients such as Obama, Al Gore in 2007, Jimmy Carter in 2002 and Yasser Arafat in 1993 to name just a few bad choices. The recent choices of Obama, Gore and Carter were primarily the Norwegian Committee’s equivalent of saying “we hate George Bush.”

There is a better tradition of the Prize being awarded to true heroes who fought their oppressive governments. These include Poland’s Lech Walesa in 1983, Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov in 1975, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 and, more recently, Iranian human rights activits Shirin Ebadi in 2003. See here for a complete list of Peace Prize laureates.

Even the Nobel Prize of Literature this year has gone to an accomplished writer who has been an advocate for freedom. Mario Vargas Llosa, a Peruvian author, who in his youth supported Castro’s revolution, changed his views over time and, in 1990, ran unsuccessfully for president of Peru on an anti-socialist, pro-freedom platform. A great choice, especially given the dominance of leftist writers among fashionable European and American elites.

We are glad that the Nobel Committee has returned to responsible, sane choices after last year’s infatuation with Barack Obama.


Finally we are reading about a government laying off half a million government employees and wanting more jobs in the private sector. Has President Obama suddenly had an epiphany and reversed his previous policies?

Well, not exactly. The announcement of seemingly sensible policies comes from ahhh, … this is embarrassing… from communist Cuba:

Havana, Cuba (CNN) — Cuba announced on Monday it would lay off “at least” half a million state workers over the next six months and simultaneously allow more jobs to be created in the private sector as the socialist economy struggles to get back on its feet.

The plan announced in state media confirms that President Raul Castro is following through on his pledge to shed some one million state jobs, a full fifth of the official workforce — but in a shorter timeframe than initially anticipated.

“Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities and services with inflated payrolls and losses that damage our economy and result counterproductive, create bad habits and distort workers’ conduct,” the CTC, Cuba’s official labor union, said in newspapers.

The last paragraph sounds like something we could say about the businesses the Obama administration has bailed out.

Florida Pundit is featuring this story not because we believe that real reform can take place under the Castro brother tyranny even if Fidel admitted that communism doesn’t work for Cuba. (He has been trying to claim that he didn’t mean it.)

It is just interesting that even the most entrenched communist regime is at least making noises that sound like the direct opposite of what the Obama administration is pursuing.

For a more sobering perspective on what is going on in Cuba read Investor’s Business Daily (via Babalu Blog):

It sounds like a necessary bow to fiscal reality in a state that produces nothing of value. But the incredible thing is, the cutbacks will barely begin to address the government’s issues.

Sixty percent of the Cuban work force is completely unproductive, according to a U.S. State Department report.

So a 12% layoff of the work force would leave about half of the state’s remaining work force still standing around on work sites with nothing to do but collect paychecks.

The Castro brothers are trying to sugarcoat these layoffs as “reforms” to the system — offering to increase private business licenses for tiny outfits such as nail salons, taxis and auto mechanics, as if they would willingly permit a small window of capitalism.

But even that’s unlikely. Only 200,000 extra permits will be issued, leaving most laid-off workers out in the cold. Getting a business permit will soon be a major source of corruption in an already-corrupt state.

What’s more, once these new businesses get profitable, the state will step in to confiscate their “excessive” earnings, negating the entire point of private enterprise — as they did a decade ago.

All this shows is how the ruling Castro oligarchy works. It’s a master at creating a crisis, mitigating it for a time, consolidating its power, then cracking down anew. If that’s not failure, what is?


Fidel Castro, recently returned from the almost dead, has become quite talkative giving speeches in public and now an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic.

When asked if he believed the Cuban model was still something worth exporting he answered: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”

No kidding. Watch this video for to see what 51 years of Cuban communism have done (via Babalu Blog):

But why would Castro make such an admission? Goldberg tries to explain the statement away and goes on trying to show what a cuddly old retiree the murderous dictator has become telling us about a visit with Castro to a dolphin show.

We don’t know what’s going in Castro’s mind, but some of the other things he said may offer clues to his agenda. Like he did in front of Cuba’s communist parliament a few weeks ago he talks Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He throws Goldberg a line condemning Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s anti-semitism. He even expresses regret about asking the Soviet Union to threaten the US with nuclear weapons during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration would like to lift the embargo against Cuba. Could Castro’s behavior be targeted to encourage the forces in America that would like to see the embargo lifted? A few nice-sounding phrases for a massive economic lifeline thrown to the decrepit Cuban regime may seem like a good trade off for the Castro brothers. Allahpundit at Hot Air was one of the first to speculate about this.

I have no illusion about Fidel or Raul Castro. These two gangsters have been playing games with gullible Westerners too long to have any credibility. If Castro were serious about the his communist model for Cuba not working, why not initiate massive change?

Cuba could benefit from the examples of former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe that have transformed themselves from communist slave state to thriving free societies. There is twenty years of experience that Cuba could learn from.

If Castro wants the embargo lifted, that is a good argument for keeping it in place until the decrepit regime collapses. I understand Cuban-American support for the embargo although I have always been ambivalent about it. If we could establish trade that doesn’t benefit the regime, but rather individual Cubans (a big if), could trade with Cuba hasten the demise of the regime? After all communist countries like the former Czechoslovakia and Poland conducted trade with the West in the 1970s and 1980s. Communication between visiting Westerners and locals helped firmly entrench the political and economic ideas of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan which became guiding forces once the people of Eastern Europe were free to choose their destiny.

Still this is not the time to lift the embargo especially if most Cuban Americans, many of whom have family members still suffering in Cuba, oppose such a move. While it would be intriguing to set up more contact with the Cuban people and such a move could help subvert the regime, the gang in Washington certainly isn’t capable of executing such a plan. The Obama administration with its leftist elitism instead would focus on building relationships with the government and just help prop it up longer.

We shouldn’t be fooled by Castro playing the mellow old man who suddenly says surprising things. There is an agenda there and it can’t be anything good for the Cuban people and for the advance of freedom.

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On Saturday Fidel Castro for the first time in four years addressed Cuba’s communist parliament. He almost died in 2006 from intestinal problems when he handed over power to his now 79-year-old brother Raul Castro. The almost 84-year-old gave a ten minute speech warning about a nuclear holocaust if the United States and Israel stand firm against the dictators of Iran and North Korea and their efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The Miami Herald reports:

Castro noted that after months of warning of the risks of nuclear war if the United States tries to inspect Iranian ships beginning in September, as part of U.N. sanctions, he’s now less pesimistic.

“At first I thought that the imminent danger of war had no solution possible,” he said.

“I am sure, however, that it will not happen that way and that, on the contrary, the conditions for a solution . . . are being created at this time.”

“One man alone will have to make the decision: The president of the United States,” Castro said, because Iran will not bow to U.S. and Israeli demands to halt its nuclear program.

If Obama approves an attack on Iran, he added, he will trigger a war that will spread through the Middle East and Asia and cause “the instantaneous death of hundreds of millions of people, among them an incalculable number of people in his own country.”

The “established order of the planet . . . will inevitably collapse, the reigning social order will disappear abruptly” and all currencies will be worthless, he added.

Castro noted that “as luck would have it,” Obama’s father was Muslim and his mother was Christian and added he hoped the U.S. president will become conscious of the threat to world peace.

Unfortunately, Castro is right about Obama’s unwillingness to seriously confront Iran and take out it’s nuclear capability. The real threat to the world is the opposite of Castro’s warning. Not confronting Iran and destroying its nuclear facilities creates the risk of a nuclear war in the Middle East.

If we had a president who understood the nature of the Iranian regime and of propaganda from old dictators like Castro, he would see through Castro’s rhetoric and understand that doing the opposite of what Castro recommends will ensure the world’s safety. Unfortunately, President Obama has been incapable of understanding the evil nature of Iran’s leaders and has grown up surrounded by leftist intellectuals who still idealize Castro’s murderous regime. Obama won’t admit this in public, but he is likely to find validation in the warnings of a decrepit dictator.