Bush's Convoluted Concept of Freedom

Here's a terrific idea: Let's condemn Fidel Castro for not allowing enough freedom for Cuban citizens ... then let's punish him by curtailing the freedom of our own citizens.

This is what passes for logic in George W's knee-jerk, reactionary Cuban policy. For some 40 years, assorted U.S. presidents have tried everything from exploding cigars to economic boycotts in a futile effort to drive Castro from power. Never mind that Castro's Cuba poses zero threat to our national security, he makes a popular political whipping boy.

Now, Bush is adding to the lunacy. Stunned that Jimmy Carter dared to cross the Florida straits and call for the end of the U.S. boycott against Cubans, Bush rushed to Florida to announce a get-tougher policy, under which he said he will crack down on U.S. citizens who travel there. Hello. He's going to advance freedom in Cuba by restricting freedom at home? That'll teach them! This is why American literature has so little political satire in it -- our political reality is satire.

Yes, travel to Cuba has long been technically illegal, but recent presidents have not chosen to crack the whip over U.S. citizens who defy the travel ban and make peaceful and pleasurable trips to Cuba each year. However, in George's first presidential year, his autocratic regime went after nearly 800 Americans who had traveled to Castro-land.

Were these people radicals bent on importing Castro's communism to our shores? Hardly. Senator Byron Dorgan points to two examples -- a 75-year-old retired schoolteacher who went on a bicycle ride in Cuba, and a man who went there to scatter the ashes of his parents at a Cuban church they had helped to found. Bush whacked both of them with criminal charges and $7,500 fines.

Ironically, just before announcing his travel crackdown, Bush puffed out his chest and said: "My message to the Cuban people is: Demand freedom, and you've got a president who stands with you."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... What about a president who'll stand for freedom here?

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