Viva Cuba libre

“Wonder why the Cubans in Miami agree with the embargo? Maybe because they were driven out of their own country by a totalitarian regime”, is a popular rightwing claim. “Saddam helped plan 9/11″ is another. Perhaps “monkeys fly out of my arse” could become a third.

The Saddam claim has been utterly, comprehensively destroyed, and anyone who still believes it can be rejected offhand as an idiot or a maniac. The Miami Cubans claim needs more refutation.

Cubans in Miami are mostly economic opportunists, like any migrant to America. This is all well and good. Unfortunately, an immigrant community’s political leanings tend to be shaped by the people in the community who care about that sort of thing, rather than about making cash for their families. In Miami, these people are almost all half-crazed rightwing ideologues.

Some of these left Cuba because they couldn’t bear to live in a country with universal healthcare and a good public education system; others left because Fidel Castro (in possibly the most amusingly cynical thing any leader has ever done) deliberately sent boatloads of Cuban criminals and mentally ill people to Miami to get them out of the way.

Mr Castro is a relatively nasty piece of work (although Cuba, unlike much of Central America, has been devoid of starvation, war and nun-raping death squads for the last 30 years). But talking bollocks about how evil and North Korea-y his country is serves no purpose whatsoever. I, and plenty of people I know have been there; there’s a lot of poverty, but everyone is well-fed, well-educated, and well-, erm, -healthcared – not just in Havana city, but in small villages throughout the country.

I’ll leave someone else to refute the “monkeys fly out of my arse” claim.

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Soaring through all the galaxies

Happy Bloomsday.

Chris Brooke says that Ulysses is the book that has given and will continue to give him the most reading pleasure.

This is probably true for me as well; however, I still haven’t managed to finish it (I reached page 500 a couple of years ago, but then I got a job). One of the mitigating factors for me in (any of: going to prison / a slow boat to China / a house with no Internet access) would be the ability to do so…

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Swivel-eyed lucre

According to the ever-reliable Samizdata, Ukip is extraordinarily well-endowed with money because – even though the people who run big companies are keen on the EU – small businessmen with cash to flash hate it. And people who run big companies can’t donate money as easily as small businessmen, because it’s not their money to give.

This makes some intuitive sense. The stereotypical successful small businessman and sterotypical Ukipper are the same person: big house in suburbia, possibly a mason, definitely a golfer, not too keen on immigrants (except the ones he employs below the minimum wage), planning to retire to Spain but avoid the locals and local food… you get the idea.

If the post is right (a big if), this could be worrying.

The comments thread is also entertaining: a well-meaning pro-EU small businessman points out obvious and true things (eg that the ‘EU auditors not signing the accounts for 10 years’ meme is only true because all farmers everywhere, ever, are crooked, and therefore it’s impossible to adequately account for the CAP), and dozens of tinfoil loons all-but accuse him of eating babies.

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Free exchange of ideas

The Adam Smith Institute appear to have banned me from their comments section, for the heinous sin of calling them out on some mistakes and inconsistencies.

My crimes:

* suggesting that they weren’t very ‘classically liberal’ for wanting to ban political demonstrations

* suggesting that they were mistakenly referencing a rigged opinion poll (the You-Kip You-Gov one, where a majority of respondents said they were ‘for’ EU withdrawal after being asked five loaded questions about whether the EU was a threat).

There are two reasons I can think of for not publishing the second comment; one is vanity (not-wanting-to-look-silly), and the other is worse (being-perfectly-aware-they-were-lying-to-start-with).

Far be it from me to decide which one is right…

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Crossed off my list

I always believed Scotland was refreshingly devoid of crackpot Europhobics, because the Scots were all too busy with their endearing love/hate relationship with the English.

But apparently not.

I’m running out of English-speaking places where you can smoke in pubs and which aren’t full of petty-minded bigots to flee to when things go horribly wrong in England…

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You kip #2

It would be a serious mistake (and one that many commentators are making) to view the swivel-eyed loon vote at the Euro elections as showing that Britain is becoming seriously anti-EU.

Less than 10% of the ‘likely to vote in a general election’ electorate view Ukip as the party “closest to their own views on Europe”. It’s safe to assume that no more than 1% of the remaining 91% disapprove of Ukip because it’s too *moderate*… so how could Ukip get 16% of the vote?

The most intuitively appealing possibility is that pretty much everyone who agreed with Ukip’s European stance bothered to turn out in the elections, whereas many pro-Europeans didn’t. This works, as long as we also assume that everyone who agreed with Ukip’s views on Europe voted Ukip: overall turnout was two-thirds that of a general election (making the explanation statistically possible), but was also higher than in Euro elections before the Ukip started ‘seriously’ campaigning (adding credibility too).

In other words, a higher proportion of swivel-eyed-loon acolytes hate Europe enough to have bothered voting, whereas a higher proportion of sane people are aware that the elections don’t really have that much impact and therefore didn’t vote. This is good news, in that it implies the forces of sanity and reason would win any EU referendum with serious consequences.

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Closeted Charles

Spotted in the “inside this newspaper” section on the front page of last Friday’s FT, some surprising and often covered-up news on the late Ray Charles.

Ray Charles, writer of songs including “Hit the road Jack, I can’t stop loving you” and “I Got A Woman”, has died.

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