US, Cuba seek to normalize relations after Alan Gross released

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This is from Fox News Politics.

I think that introducing the free market to Cuba will help bring down the Castro Regime.

Look what capitalism did to bring down the Soviet Union people got a taste of freedom and wanted more.

I do not think Obama has what it takes to spread freedom to the world.


Republican lawmakers pushed back strongly Wednesday against President Obama’s decision to enact a series of orders meant to normalize relations with Cuba, with some GOP heavy hitters calling it “another concession to tyranny.”

“These changes will lead to legitimacy for a government that shamelessly continuously abuses human rights but it will not lead to assistance for those whose rights are being abused,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Wednesday.

Obama said on Wednesday that the United States will end what he called an “outdated approach” with Cuba, and take steps to normalize diplomatic relations — including opening an embassy in Havana — after American Alan Gross was released from the communist country following five years in prison.

“In the most significant change in our policy in more than 50 years, we will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between the two countries,” Obama during an address from the White House.

At the same time Obama addressed the U.S., Cuba’s President Raul Castro addressed his country.

“I ask the U.S. government to remove the obstacles that deteriorate or prohibit the links between our people, the families and citizens of both countries, in particular ones relevant to travel, mailing and telecommunication, and to reach a sustained exchange to show it’s possible to find solutions for many problems.”

Sources say Obama also plans to call on Congress to lift the long-standing embargo on Cuba. Together, the announcements would mark the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades and effectively end the half-century freeze in relations between the two countries.

Obama’s announcement was met with immediate condemnations from Republican lawmakers.

“The White House has conceded everything and gained little,” Rubio said. “They gained no commitment on the part of the Cuban regime to freedom of press or freedom of speech, elections. No binding commitment was made to truly open up the Internet. No commitment was made to allowing the establishment of political parties or even to begin the semblance of a transition to a democracy.”

Rubio has said that the administration’s approach will help the Castro government while doing very little to further human rights and democracy in Cuba.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also criticized the administration’s plan to change the current U.S. relationship with Cuba. McConnell said he defers to Rubio on the matter.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a joint statement that the move damages American values.

“Unfortunately, we fear the most damaging chapter to America’s national security is still being written. We dread the day President Obama takes to the podium to announce a nuclear deal with the Iranian ayatollahs which does little, if anything, to deter their nuclear ambitions, placing our nation and our closest allies in even deeper peril,” the said in a joint written statement.

Senior administration officials said Obama spoke with Cuban leader Raul Castro for more than 45 minutes on Tuesday, the first substantive presidential-level discussion between the U.S. and Cuba since 1961.

Obama also plans to take several executive actions, including expanding travel and economic ties to the island. According to a White House document, the U.S. government would raise remittance levels and authorize certain travel to Cuba, as well as start of review of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Obama also has formally directed the State Department to launch talks with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, which were cut in 1961. The embassy in Havana would be opened “in the coming months,” according to the White House.

Officials said the Cuban government was releasing 53 political prisoners. The announcement comes after Gross was freed, as part of an agreement that included the release of three Cubans jailed in the U.S. Gross landed in the U.S. shortly before noon on Wednesday.

A senior Obama administration official told Fox News that Gross left Cuba on a U.S. government plane Wednesday morning, and was “released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the United States.”

Already, the rapid-fire developments were drawing a mixed response in Congress.

“It’s absurd and it’s part of a long record of coddling dictators and tyrants,” Rubio told Fox News, claiming the administration is “constantly giving away unilateral concessions … in exchange for nothing.” Rubio called Obama the “worst negotiator” the U.S. has had as president “since at least Jimmy Carter.” He also said Congress would not support lifting the embargo.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who like Rubio is a Cuban-American lawmaker, said this is a moment of “profound relief” for Gross and his family. But he voiced concerns that this constituted a “swap of convicted spies for an innocent American.”

“President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government,” he said in a statement. “Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.”

Other U.S. lawmakers hailed the agreement, and some even joined Gross on the plane ride to the U.S. — Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., were on that flight. U.S. officials said Pope Francis was personally engaged in the process as well and sent separate letters to Obama and Castro this summer urging them to restart relations.

The three Cubans released are part of the so-called Cuban Five — a group of men who were part of the “Wasp Network” sent by Cuba’s then-President Fidel Castro to spy in South Florida. The men, who are hailed as heroes in Cuba, were convicted in 2001 in Miami on charges including conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents in the U.S.

Two of the Cuban Five were previously released after finishing their sentences.

Cuba was also releasing a non-American intelligence “asset” along with Gross, according to a U.S. official. Administration officials claimed that Gross was not technically traded for the three Cubans, and that his release was humanitarian.

Obama administration officials had considered Gross’ imprisonment an impediment to improving relations with Cuba, and the surprise deal was quickly making way for rapid changes in U.S. policy.

In a statement marking the fifth anniversary of Gross’ detention earlier this month, Obama hinted that his release could lead to a thaw in relations with Cuba.

“The Cuban Government’s release of Alan on humanitarian grounds would remove an impediment to more constructive relations between the United States and Cuba,” Obama said in a statement.

The president has taken some steps to ease U.S. restrictions on Cuba after Raul Castro took over as president in 2010 from his ailing brother. He has sought to ease travel and financial restrictions on Americans with family in Cuba, but had resisted calls to drop the embargo. Obama raised eyebrows when he shook hands with Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service last year.

The release Wednesday follows years of desperate appeals by Gross and his family. His wife, Judy Gross, said earlier this year that she feared for his life, saying he might do “something drastic.”

Gross was detained in December 2009 while working to set up Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. government’s U.S. Agency for International Development, which does work promoting democracy in the communist country. It was his fifth trip to Cuba to work with Jewish communities on setting up Internet access that bypassed local censorship.

Cuba considers USAID’s programs illegal attempts by the U.S. to undermine its government, and Gross was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The surprise prisoner deal has echoes of the deal the U.S. cut earlier this year to secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban. In exchange for his release in May, the U.S. turned over five Taliban prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.


One Picture Puts An End To Everything Dems Say About Walmart And The Minimum Wage

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This is from Independent Journal Review.

This is a classic reason to not have a minimum wage and allowing the free market to set the wages paid.


Liberals have long lamented the Walmart corporation and its supposed cruel treatment of its workers. They’ve also insisted that without a minimum wage, workers have no chance of earning a decent living.

But this one picture, snapped by a University of Michigan economist and reported by, is about to flip both arguments right on their heads.

wal mart jobs


North Dakota does not have a state minimum wage policy. Nor does the city of Williston, where this photo was taken. But a local Walmart proves that it takes care of its workers, and it doesn’t need a set wage to pay its employees well.

Employment policies like this – effectively, more business and less government – have paid off. In six of the past seven years, North Dakota has led the nationin personal income growth.

North Dakota’s policy is obviously working – and other states should sit up and take note.



7 Falsehoods about the Free Market

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Hat Tip to Flyover-Press.

Just as there are timeless truths, there are also timeless falsehoods.Here are a few of the latter that I’ve recently encountered, but there are, of course, plenty more. Some libertarians may not agree with me (at least at first) on all of them.

1) The free market creates scarcity and higher prices. In any economic system—socialist, interventionist, or free market—the quantity of a good will typically not be enough to satisfy demand when the price is zero. In a free market, in which people trade their legitimate claims to those resources, prices will tend to rise or fall to the level where the quantity supplied equals the quantity demanded, and in that way prices help us to cope with scarcity. Not only that, the free market, via a system of profit and loss, gives entrepreneurs an incentive both to supply more of scarce resources and to discover alternatives to them. (But not all “trade” is conducted this way. See No.4 below.)

2) The free market means the government gives businesses special privileges. This is a very common belief based on the idea that pro-market means pro-business. But the free market is free precisely because it denies special legal privileges to any person or group. People sometimes define “privilege” as any advantage a person or group may have over others. Certainly such advantages exist today and would exist in a free market—you may be born into a wealthy family or have superior drive and resourcefulness—but these advantages are consistent with the absence of privilege in the libertarian sense, as long as you acquired such advantages without fraud or the initiation of physical violence against the person or property of others.

3) The pre-Obamacare healthcare industry was a free market. Actually, it was a highly interventionist market, as John C. Goodman explains. Similarly, the failures of the housing and financial markets were hardly the result of “free-market policies,” and the same could be said for practically every other sector of the American economy. The free market is free of legal privileges and discrimination; it is whatever happens in the absence of aggression and within certain “rules of the game”—for example, private property, freedom of association, and the rule of law. Again, it’s not pro-business, pro-consumer, or pro-anything if that means using political power to intentionally help some and hurt others.

4) The free market requires that all valuable resources be privately owned and traded on markets. Even if this was possible, and I’m not convinced that it is, it’s not always the best way to overcome a “tragedy of the commons.” Sometimes the alternatives to individual ownership just work better. Indeed, Elinor Ostrom, who won the Nobel Prize in economics for her research on commons-type problems, found ways that people around the world and throughout history have avoided conflicts over such things as water usage and forest-cutting by using non-market methods of cooperation (and often without the use of government). Indeed, we typically “exchange” favors with family, acquaintances, and sometimes with strangers without the need for formal markets and market prices. And that’s a good thing.

5) The free market encourages racism, homophobia, etc. Now, it’s true that you can be a racist homophobe in a free market, and refuse to live next to a same-sex, interracial couple, or refuse to hire someone because their looks in some way offend you. The consequences of those actions, however, mean that you will tend to pay a higher price for a house or a higher wage to your employees because you’ve deliberately narrowed the range of your choices.

Some critics of the free market scoff at this explanation and argue that it doesn’t address the underlying racism or sexism. Much can be said in response, but I’ll limit myself to two things. First, paying for prejudice may not eliminate it, but it will tend to reduce it (i.e., the demand curve for prejudice slopes downward). Indulging in prejudice means losing out to the family that is more tolerant or the employer who is more competitive. Second, trying to change a person’s attitude toward homosexuality and racism by the use or threat of aggression is not really an effective method; indeed, it usually does more harm than good and causes enormous complications in the long run. The free market gives you an incentive to profit from associating with and learning from others who might be very different from you, who operate outside your normal social networks. Legal mandates tend to breed resentment and rent-seeking that undermine the tolerance necessary to connect to people who are socially distant from you.

6) The free market is pro-war. It’s true that besides being “the health of the state” and the enemy of liberty, war does benefit some special interests such as businesses that produce the weapons of war. But war undermines the free market in general. War and the government interventions that inevitably accompany it restrict markets (domestically and in the countries against which our government is fighting) and free association, make it more costly for most people to buy and sell, reduce the purchasing power of households and businesses, and disrupt the peace that is necessary for a thriving free market.

7) The free market is always efficient. The real world is populated by real people who don’t have complete information, who may have bad information, and who may just make mistakes. An “ideal” economic system is not one in which no one ever makes a mistake; it is one in which the mistakes that people inevitably make are corrected as effectively as possible. Competition in a free market will tend to let you know if you charge too much or too little, overlook an opportunity to lower your cost or raise your revenue, or utilize a new method of consumption or production. The free market is not ideal because it always operates to perfection, but rather because it does better than any other system that we know of so far in correcting mistakes.

How’s that for a start? I’ll get into a few more falsehoods in a future column, but these are worth keeping in mind for now. They tend to be regarded as conventional wisdom by a lot of people, and they underlie a lot of misunderstandings.

Want a free house?

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I got this in an email.

Is this a true story?

I do not know.

But it could be.

This applies to ALL of us, regardless of where we live, which country we live in or what our background may be.
We need to make sure that we understand what we are getting into BEFORE we commit ourselves to anything.
This is a great explanation of Obamacare.
I was in my neighborhood restaurant this morning and was seated behind a group of jubilant individuals celebrating the coming implementation of the health care bill.
I could not finish my breakfast. This is what ensued:
They were a diverse group of several races and both sexes.
I heard a young man exclaim, Isn’t Obama like Jesus Christ? I mean, after all, he is healing the sick.
A young woman enthusiastically proclaimed, Yeah, and he does it for free.
 I cannot believe anyone would think that a free market wouldn’t work for health care.
Another said, “The stupid Republicans want us all to starve to death so they can inherit all of the power.
Obama should be made a Saint for what he did for those of us less fortunate.
At this, I had more than enough. I arose from my seat, mustering all the restraint I could find, and approached their table.
Please excuse me; may I impose upon you for one moment?
They smiled and welcomed me to the conversation. I stood at the end of their table, smiled as best I could and began an experiment.
I would like to give one of you my house. It will cost you no money and I will pay all of the expenses and taxes for as long as you live there.
Anyone interested
They looked at each other in astonishment. Why would you do something like that? asked a young man, There isn’t anything for free in this world.
They began to laugh at me, as they did not realize this man had just made my point.
I am serious, I will give you my house for free, no money whatsoever. Anyone interested?
In unison, a resounding Yeah fills the room.
Since there are too many of you, I will have to make a choice as to who receives this money-free bargain.
I noticed an elderly couple was paying attention to the spectacle unfolding before their eyes, the old man shaking his head in apparent disgust.
I tell you what; I will give it to the one of you most willing to obey my rules.
Again, they looked at one another, an expression of bewilderment on their faces.
The perky young woman asked, What are the rules?
I smiled and said, I don’t know.
I have not yet defined them. However, it is a free home that I offer you.
They giggled amongst themselves, the youngest of which said, What an old coot. He must be crazy to give away his home.
Go take your meds, old man.
I smiled and leaned into the table a bit further. I am serious, this is a legitimate offer.
They gaped at me for a moment.
I’ll take it you old fool. Where are the keys? boasted the youngest among them.
Then I presume you accept ALL of my terms then? I asked.
The elderly couple seemed amused and entertained as they watched from the privacy of their table.
Oh yeah! Where do I sign up?
I took a napkin and wrote, I give this man my home, without the burden of financial obligation, so long as he accepts and abides by the terms that I shall set forth upon consummation of this transaction.
I signed it and handed it to the young man who eagerly scratched out his signature.
Where are the keys to my new house? he asked in a mocking tone of voice.
All eyes were upon us as I stepped back from the table, pulling the keys from pocket and dangling them before the excited new homeowner.
Now that we have entered into this binding contract, witnessed by all of your friends, I have decided upon the conditions you are obligated to adhere to from this point forward.
You may only live in the house for one hour a day. You will not use anything inside of the home.
You will obey me without question or resistance. I expect complete loyalty and admiration for this gift I bestow upon you.
You will accept my commands and wishes with enthusiasm, no matter the nature. Your morals and principles shall be as mine.
You will vote as I do, think as I do and do it with blind faith. These are my terms. Here are your keys.
I reached the keys forward and the young man looked at me dumbfounded.
Are you out of your mind? Who would ever agree to those ridiculous terms? the young man appeared irritated.
You did when you signed this contract before reading it, understanding it and with the full knowledge that I would provide my conditions only after you committed to the agreement.
The elderly man chuckled as his wife tried to restrain him. I was looking at a now silenced and bewildered group of people.
You can shove that stupid deal up your a** old man. I want no part of it! exclaimed the now infuriated young man.
You have committed to the contract, as witnessed by all of your friends. You cannot get out of the deal unless I agree to it.
I do not intend to let you free now that I have you ensnared. I am the power you agreed to.
I am the one you blindly and without thought chose to enslave yourself to. In short, I am your Master.
At this, the table of celebrating individuals became a unified group against the unfairness of the deal.
After a few moments of unrepeatable comments and slurs, I revealed my true intent.
What I did to you is what this administration and congress did to you with the health care legislation.
I easily suckered you in and then revealed the real cost of the bargain.
Your folly was in the belief that you can have something you did not earn, and for that which you did not earn, you willingly allowed someone else to think for you.
Your failure to research, study and inform yourself permitted reason to escape you. You have entered into a trap from which you cannot flee.
Your only chance of freedom is if your new Master gives it to you. A freedom that is given can also be taken away.
Therefore, it is not freedom at all.
With that, I tore up the napkin and placed it before the astonished young man. This is the nature of your new health care legislation.
I turned away to leave these few in thought and contemplation — and was surprised by applause.
The elderly gentleman, who was clearly entertained, shook my hand enthusiastically and said, Thank you, Sir.
These kids don’t understand Liberty .
He refused to allow me to pay my bill as he said, You earned this one.
It is an honor to pick up the tab.
I shook his hand in thanks, leaving the restaurant somewhat humbled and sensing a glimmer of hope for my beloved country.
1. Remember… Four boxes keep us free: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.
2. This should go around the United States so
people can see just what is going on.
Maybe even the politically blind ones
will learn something from it.
“Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the American Government take care of him;better take a closer look at the American Indian.”


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