2:33 PM, Dec 18, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Washington Post editorializes:
IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the acceleratingeconomic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly.
On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regimeeverything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.
As part of the bargain, Havana released Alan Gross, a U.S. Agency for International Development contractor who was unjustly imprisoned five years ago for trying to help Cuban Jews. Also freed was an unidentified U.S. intelligence agent in Cuba — as were three Cuban spies who had been convicted of operations in Florida that led to Cuba’s 1996 shootdown of a plane carrying anti-Castro activists. While Mr. Obama sought to portray Mr. Gross’s release as unrelated to the spy swap, there can be no question that Cuba’s hard-line intelligence apparatus obtained exactly what it sought when it made Mr. Gross a de facto hostage.
No wonder Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s leading dissident blogger, concluded Wednesday that “Castroism has won” and predicted that for weeks Cubans will have to endure proclamations by the government that it is the “winner of its ultimate battle.”
Whole thing here.
11:51 AM, Dec 18, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama quietly issued 12 pardons and 8 commutations late yesterday afternoon, which happened to be one of the busiest news days of the year.
Here are the dozen folks pardoned:
10:11 AM, Dec 18, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Obama feels liberated, aides say, and sees the recent flurry of aggressive executive action and deal-making as a pivot for him to spend the last two years being more of the president he always wanted to be.
1:35 PM, Dec 17, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican senator Marco Rubio said a top State Department official was "dishonest" about the Obama administration's plans to change its policy on Cuba. Tony Blinken, the newly confirmed deputy secretary of State, told the Florida senator at his confirmation hearing in November that the administration would not unilaterally change its Cuba policy without "full consultation" with Congress. That consultation, Rubio says, never happened to his knowledge.
"He was dishonest," Rubio told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Wednesday. "He was clearly evasive."
11:29 AM, Dec 17, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Obama administration is embarking on a “policy shift” to normalize diplomatic and economic relations between the United States and Cuba, according to senior administration officials who spoke with reporters on background Wednesday morning. One official described the current Cuban policy as “past its expiration date.”
9:08 AM, Dec 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House announced President Obama will deliver remarks on Cuba later today.
In the afternoon, the President will deliver a statement on Cuba from the Cabinet Room at 12:01:30pm. There will be limited pool coverage.
8:40 AM, Dec 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Obamas talked with People magazine about dealing with their "own racist experiences," as the magazine described.
Michelle Obama told one story that recently took place, even as she was first lady of the United States.
10:24 PM, Dec 16, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The New York Times reports the Obama administration relaxed immigration restrictions and did favors for a wealthy Ecuadorian family after some members of the family donated to Democratic campaigns. From the Times:
12:01 PM, Dec 16, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
When President Obama visited Brisbane, Australia in November for the G-20 summit, the large U.S. delegation required multiple hotels and thousands of "room nights" for the length of the stay, though the president himself spent only one night in his hotel.
9:32 AM, Dec 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama's statement condemning the mass murder in a Pakistan school fails to blame the perpetrators, the Taliban. Here's Obama's full statement:
9:06 AM, Dec 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
On MSNBC, David Axelrod said that Hillary Clinton was in "danger" of getting "in front of any rationale for" her presidential candidacy:
5:28 PM, Dec 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In one final ignominious act of parliamentary genius, outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid rolled Republican troublemaker Ted Cruz of Texas over the weekend, robbing the GOP of a chance to stop Democrats in the lame-duck session.
'I want to go home.'11:09 AM, Dec 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid, admitted today that he hasn't slept at home since May. The admission comes the same week Reid is beginning to plot his 2016 reelection.
'What is it we're trying to accomplish beyond disruption?'12:32 PM, Dec 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick explained on CNN that part of the point of protests yesterday in Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. was to be "disruptive."
The CNN host asked, "What is the goal here?"