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October 28, 2008



Can Mr. Obama truly live up to "Obamarism" and all the hopes, dreams, wishes, and flecs of idealism inculcated in it's very conception?

Can the hue-man live up to the human expectations leveled towards him... the inhabitants and actors of history have not been too kind to "great-hopes" regardless of their suave words and classy demeanour.

larry smith

You are right. He has a lot to live up to. Only time will tell.


"...he vows to liberalise relations with Cuba, engage with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, close the Guantanamo prison..." -- wow. Those three things alone should make all Bahamians shudder with fear.

An openly accessible Cuba will not just cripple us, it will amputate our tourism reliance on a U.S. market at the hip that will leave us on our face for 10 years or more.

Chavez is a dangerous egomaniac whose human rights violations are shocking -- for his brazenness and for the fact that so many people in the region don't accept their reality. (Hmmm...sounds like the past and present ignorance of so many regarding Saddam). For Obama to think that the U.S. (and the Bahamas, which has been repeatedly touted) should even consider snuggling up to Chavez is incredible.

Guantanamo Bay is, in my opinion, an important defensive position for the region and particularly the Bahamas. Should there be any Caribbean-based hostilities (see above) Gitmo can serve as a base of defense that would well benefit the Bahamas. I think losing that would be a disadvantage for us.

There are many other reasons I think an Obama presidency would be a bad thing ('redistribution of wealth' being one), but at this point it seems inevitable.

Will the world come to an end because of it? Nah. Well not for a few months anyway. ;-)

Great article.


larry smith

Actually, both candidates have said they will close Guantanamo prison. Engagement with Venezuela was meant in the same sense that Obama would engage with Iran - in the same way that Nixon engaged with Mao's China. And I guess I should have noted that Obama does not propose to remove the embargo on Cuba.

Finally, the US has had a progressive tax system for a long time, and from the information I presented it is clear that Obama's tax plan is not much different from anyone else's. And since we are not Americans, it is neither here nor there.

Erasmus Folly

Closing Guantanamo isn't about a military position - to ejr. They are talking about closing a prison, not surrendering a military base. Those are two very different notions - don't be confused. Furthermore, the USA has things called air craft carriers, war ships and fighter planes... the short trip from Floria to anywhere in this region is laughably easy... long gone are the days where Gitmo was of strategic military significance, nevertheless, closing it is not on the table in terms of its status as a military base.

The question of Cuba, from the American perspective, cannot be looked at through the very simple and selfish prism of Bahamian interests. While I would love that the status quo of Cuba continues, for our own economic interests, the truth is, the Cuban people suffer greatly and engagement is the best policy for long term peaceful change.

Finally, on Chavez, he is a crazy egomaniac, I agree, but Obama will have a much easier time negotiating with him at the beginning of his Presidency, mostly because oil prices have fallen so dramatically recently and that reduces Chavez's leverage, power and flexibility vis a vis the USA. The USA needs good, cheap oil and getting Venezuela back on board as an ally, rather than an adversary should be a top priority. We need to stop giving petrodollars to 'real' potential threats like the Islamic regimes and Russia. Venezuela will never be a major military threat to the United States. I say do business with the devil you can laugh at, not the one you might have to fear.

larry smith

Erasmus is right - the US maintains Gitmo for political reasons.


I agree, Obama is the right choice for the times. He is PRESIDENTIAL. The Bahamas has been through the cleaning up of our Offshore Financial Services so we can't be hurt there. With aging baby boomers, America needs a better health care system and the Dems will do that better. The Dems also care more about keeping American jobs at home than the GOP which loves to send jobs elsewhere so shareholders earn more and pay less taxes while the poor get poorer. John McCain has abundantly demonstated his inability to handle any crises. Who would hire or vote for the person who graduated at the bottom of his class. Its time for change. Go Obama/Biden!


@Larry: Obama's own stated intention is to remove the embargo on Cuba. I cannot find the article I read with his more recent statements on that topic, but in this 2004 video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ3SVok9g34) he says: "I think it's time for us to end the embargo in (on?) Cuba." He goes on to explain that the embargo has "failed to provide the sorts of rising standards of living and has squeezed the innocents in Cuba, and has utterly failed to overthrow Castro". (Has anyone anywhere thought that the embargo would raise the standard of living in Cuba? lol) He has said this more recently as well -- seems clear what his intention is.

@Erasmus: The "very simple and selfish prism of Bahamian interests" are the things that matter most to the Bahamas and Bahamas' economy. Your comment would seem to imply that for a country to hold its own interests first is "simple" and "selfish". I say, to act otherwise would be national suicide.

That said, the people's suffering and oppression in Cuba are indisputable and terrible; to suggest that holding our own country's economy up as of great importance TO US is to therefore minimise or overlook those offenses is just argumentative foolishness.

I misread Larry's original statement regarding Gitmo -- missed the PRISON part. No confusion about what a prison is and what a naval base is -- I misread it. Sorry 'bout that.

But, @Erasmus: Gitmo is a NAVAL base and has been for over 100 years. Naval bases are places where those things called aircraft carriers, warships and aircraft can be deployed from. And those things called aircraft carriers, warships and aircraft still call there today, even though its more common role now has more to do with immigration issues than anything else. Gitmo, as a naval base, CAN be a important defensive base that CAN be of benefit to the Bahamas, if the need arose. IF the NAVAL BASE was closed, that wouldn't be good for the Bahamas, IMHO.

If Obama can get "Venezuela back on board as an ally" maybe *I'LL* start believing he is THE ONE!



@Willie: Care to share any of the abundant examples of John McCain's inability to handle any crises?

I wonder: who would hire or vote for someone sorely lacking experience in the area of business one hopes to lead in? Bring all the grades and degrees you've got, but I'd take someone with actual relevant experience any day over someone with a university degree and only peripheral real-world, practical wisdom.



@Larry: 'progressive tax system' is one thing that I generally agree with -- and you're right, the finer details of the candidates' tax plans are not significantly different. But Obama's past comments that explain what he means by the term "spreading the wealth around" have very little to do with the current U.S. tax system.


I wasn't commenting on the tax system itself, but on what is behind Obama's view on taxes; I believe that is relevant in a discussion about Obama's philosophy of government's role in American society.


Erasmus Folly

1. While the USA may want to keep Gitmo for naval purposes and it will, given that neither candidate is talking of ending the US lease on Guantanamo Bay, having Gitmo as a base is more of a military luxury than a necessity in the modern era. It would be naive to assume that the USA wouldn't completely militarily dominate the Caribbean without the continued possession of Gitmo. The key utility in keeping Gitmo is the strategic leverage it offers vis a vis the Cuban regime. It is a massive proverbial thorn in their side. With one US aircraft carrier parked in Caribbean waters, there isn't a single Caribbean government that would stare down Uncle Sam - not even a Gitmo repossessing Cuba. That was my only point about not needing Gitmo either way.

2. Selfish and simple national interests are nevertheless national interests and there is nothing wrong with that - all countries have them. I think I made that quite clear in my first post. The problem for the Bahamas is that we dangerously assume that American policy to Cuba will continue. We should be operating on the assumption that it could end tomorrow - and prepare for that inevitable outcome. Our selfish and simple national interests need to account for a 'bigger picture view' of the reality of the situation. Otherwise, we will wait and wait and then go into 'crisis response' when Cuba opens, rather than having prepared for it. Our politics is reactionary always, we need proactive politics if we are going to survive the challenges of the 21st century.

3. I think Obama has a better chance of negotiating with Chavez than Bush/McCain did/would. I say that because he provides an opening for a different dialogue on what was once a very strong trading relationship. I don't think Chavez can be pacified easily, but I think that the confrontational approach the Bush administration has taken has enabled Chavez to play the big man. If the approach is more businesslike and less ideological, it reduces Chavez's ability to paint the USA as this 'great capitalist evil' etc, etc. Obama should aim to secure Venezuelan oil for the United States and then aim to contain/manage Chavez - not confront him. The Chavez phenomenon can only be dealt with by Venezuelans ultimately. Their internal wealth inequality is very real and staggering and Chavez taps into that political force. The rejection of that movement has to be organized by centrist and conservative Venezuelans pointing out that Chavez is hypocritical in the extreme. Outside US interference simply fuels the Chavistas.

larry smith

Just for clarification...

On Cuba, Obama said last year that he would lift restrictions imposed by the Bush administration in 2004 and allow Cuban-Americans to visit their relatives more frequently, as well as ease limits on the amount of money they can send to their families.

He called for the embargo to be lifted (like a lot of other mainstream politicians have) during his Senate race in 2003).

The embargo is maintained by the electoral pressure of the Cuban-American community in Florida. However, many observers say that generational changes are softening the Cuban-American attitude.

There is no question that the embargo is an anachronism of the highest order. In my view it should be lifted by negotiation, which means the US must engage with the regime (as it did with Russia, China and Vietnam).

The impact on the Bahamas will depend on conditions at the time, but it is something we should prepare ourselves for. I wrote an article on this subject in 2006 (http://www.bahamapundit.com/2006/08/how_castros_exi.html#more)

On Gitmo - whether or not the US maintains its leased naval facility at Guantanemo will depend on the broader American engagement with Cuba.

The "perpetual lease" was signed in 1903 as a consequence of the Spanish-American War, which helped Cuba achieve independence from the Spanish empire (a 1934 treaty reaffirmed the lease). The US pays $4,085 a year, which the Cuban government has refused to accept since the 1959 revolution.

The lease - and the embargo - are Cold War issues that have remained frozen in time, much like the Castro regime itself.

What would our position be if the US refused to vacate or negotiate the AUTEC base on Andros? It is something that just wouldn't happen in normal circumstances.

larry smith

As regards the right-wing strategy to label Obama a secret communist, this is simply another version of the failed campaigns to identify him as a Muslim or non-American, in my view.

The Financial Times, the respected London-based business daily, has endorsed Obama, even though it prefers the trade policies of John McCain.

Obama's key advisors include Zbigniew Brezinsky and Anthony Lake (former US national security advisors) and Susan Rice, a former assistant secretary of state.

He has been endorsed by former secretary of state (under Bush) Colin Powell, Scott McClellan, Bush's first term White House spokesman, and Ken Duberstein, Ronald Reagan's White House chief of staff. Not to mention former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

These people are all close observers of political and world affairs - to say the very least.

Prominent economic/financial experts who support Obama include Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve 1979-1987, Dan McFadden, 2000 Nobel laureate, Robert Solow, 1987 Nobel laureate, and investor Warren Buffet, the richest person in the world.

And who do you think contributed the $600 million that the Obama campaign raised anyway - the Socialist Workers Party?

Of course, all these people could be part of a massive communist conspiracy too!

The following YouTube clip puts the "redistribution" allegation in context.


I mention these endorsements not to promote Obama, but to discredit this type of election propaganda. It should not be part of a legitimate democratic debate.


Presumably the Democratic line that McCain is simply another George Bush is fair rhetoric among other things?

Politics is what it is. Each side pulling each other apart.

I do not like either candidate as they are both promising to solve every problem faced by every citizen of the US. Raising expectations far beyond reasonableness, and I think it will be a problem for Obama after he wins.

Obama is no doubt much smoother than McCain and could win you over on that alone. I share doubts about his ideology as other people doubt McCain's.

Socialised health care, his stated goal, is bad enough in itself. But McCain's $5,000 tax rebate for health care is virtually the same thing.

One thing for sure, I'll be glad when it's all over next week.

Then whoever wins I'm sure they will wake up and say to themselves; "Ahhhh! What have I done?"

PS. I don't think any taxation is progressive.

larry smith

Branding Obama as a Muslim, a non-American, a black nationalist, or a secret communist is hardly in the same league as saying that McCain voted with George Bush 90 per cent of the time.

The intent of the Obama bashers is to make out that he is un-American - in other words, a traitor. I doubt that supporting Bush could be considered un-American.

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