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Author Topic: USA and Cuba to normalize relations?
DonaldD
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And now, for something completely different: CNN: Cuba releases American Alan Gross, paves way for historic easing of American sanctions

I can't see this as anything but a great thing for both Cuba and the USA.

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NobleHunter
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Apparently Obama said something about having an honest and serious discussion with Congress. I wonder how he said that with a straight face.

Commenters on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp website were bitching about how this means Cuban resorts will be inundated with Americans.

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Seneca
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60 years of oppressing their own people, torturing them, imprisoning them for political beliefs and threatening the US with nukes is now rewarded by Obama.

This is a slap in the face to all the refugees who risked their lives fleeing from Cuba not for a job or free stuff, but to escape torture and execution. Absolutely disgusting.

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Pyrtolin
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If he was sending them back, perhaps that might be valid. But taking actions that might actually help alleviate those conditions instead of maintianing ones that help to actively perpetuate them does not amount to such.
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The Drake
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If only we would embargo countries who oppress, torture and imprison for political beliefs. Then we would not trade with China, most of the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, Egypt, Chile, and probably ourselves as well.

This incoherent strategy has long since been proven ineffective.

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Seneca
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Obama is taking actions that legitimize the Castro regime and help it secure itself as a more permanent fixture in Cuba, thus helping to perpetuate the human rights abuses that occur there.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
If only we would embargo countries who oppress, torture and imprison for political beliefs. Then we would not trade with China, most of the Middle East, Russia, Venezuela, Egypt, Chile, and probably ourselves as well.

This incoherent strategy has long since been proven ineffective.

Can you think of a difference between Cuba and those countries? Our national interest also plays a role...

What does Cuba have to offer from a pragmatic standpoint that we should grab an exception from our standards to it?

[ December 17, 2014, 05:06 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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NobleHunter
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How does it legitimize the Castro regime beyond what decades of staying in power has accomplished? Is anyone going to respond to this by saying: 'Oh, well, now the Castro regime really is the government of Cuba.'
quote:
What does Cuba have to offer from a pragmatic standpoint that we should grab an exception from our standards to it?

This is about ending an exception, not creating one. I don't see why the US should treat it like all the other countries they neither like nor find threatening.
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Seneca
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You don't see how this legitimizes Cuba?

Also, you don't see how Cuba is different from other despotic regimes we deal with? Here's a hint, those others have something to offer us.

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NobleHunter
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No, I don't, it's a decades old policy that has long since failed to achieve its goal. What does it have to do with the legitimacy of Cuba's government?

It has wicked good vacation spots, apparently. Although some fear their value will be reduced by an influx of Americans.

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Seneca
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Normalizing relations is a sign we approve enough of their government to deal with them.

Why don't we have normal relations with North Korea?

As for what they have to offer, that is seriously all you can say? Vacation spots?

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Seneca
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Also from what I understand, the three spies we traded helped lead to an American being murdered back in the 1990s and the spies were duly convicted for their role. This now incentivises regimes all over the world to start kidnapping Americans for swaps.

Also, Obama's actions are a direct violation of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996. He does not have the authority to do what he is doing.

[ December 17, 2014, 05:39 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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Rafi
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This makes the odds of delegitimizating or toppling the Castro regime go from about 1% to about 1%. I find it hard to really care. Although, the complete capitulation by Obama, getting nothing material in return, is unfortunately par for the course these days.
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Rafi
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:

Also, Obama's actions are a direct violation of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996. He does not have the authority to do what he is doing.

While I agree with your point, I believe we are well past the point where Obama and his supporters care about the law. Laws are for the little people.
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TomDavidson
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Guys, this is all about taking advantage of the collapse of the Russian economy.
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NobleHunter
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Or it's a sign that the government exists and there's no feasible alternative.

Because North Korea threatens your allies, with whom I think they are still technically still at war.

Why do they need to offer anything? If it's a matter of principle, then nothing should be enough; if it isn't, then what benefit is there to the US to keep treating Cuba differently?

I trust you'll be able to cite chapter and verse of the Helms-Burton Act to back up your claims.

Tom, how so?

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TomDavidson
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We're buying in for cheap, before China or Brazil can.
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The Drake
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Normalizing relations isn't about approval (we had embassies in the Soviet Union, remember?). It is about recognizing that the government there is actually in power.

The US is not the sole arbiter of legitimacy, you know. Cuba is a member of the WTO, the UN, and recognized by most, if not all, other nations. Only Israel joined the United States opposing a 2013 UN vote urging the US to lift the embargo.

As for something to offer us, there's always some way to exploit 11 million people and a $1B economy, I'm sure.

The embargo is embarassing, like still believing in Santa when you're 19 years old. Let it go already.

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DonaldD
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That can't be right, Tom.

By definition, Obama is wrong, so stopping China from aquiring a client state 50 miles off the coast of the USA is actually a bad thing.

After all, it worked so well in 1961.

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Seneca
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1. Something very disturbing is that Cuba is still listed as an official state sponsor of terrorism. It is possible that Obama would, for the first time, have us attempt to normalize relations with a country that we still consider to be a state sponsor of terrorism... This is a terrible precedent, as Cuba is actively engaged in aiding terrorist operations against the United States while Obama wants to "normalize relations with them." Wouldn't that be like us having trade talks with Afghanistan after 9-11?

http://www.state.gov/j/ct/list/c14151.htm

One of the many reasons behind this is the aid and assistance provided by the Castro regime to FARC. In 2002 FARC's head stated that FARC owed its survival to the Castro regime.

2. Here is the text of the Helms-Burton Act. Among other things it stipulates that relations to Cuba may only normalize when the government there gives the people freedom of association, speech and political rights relating to free elections.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:H.R.927.ENR:

Obama admitted in his own speech that these were not achieved, so he is admitting that he is openly defying the Helms Burton Act.

3. The spies Obama traded for a guy trying to distribute communication technology to Jews in Cuba were CONVICTED by American juries (none of which sat America-Cuban refugees and were as impartial as possible) of conspiracy to commit murder and espionage and were linked to at least one death in the 1990s.

https://news.yahoo.com/the-cuban-spy-at-the-center-of-the-obama-castro-deal-185349758.html


4. Lies and lack of transparency. On November 18th, Marco Rubio questioned Tony Blinken, the Deputy US Secretary of State, under oath. He asked Blinken 3 separate times if there were any ongoing actions to change the relationship between Cuba and the US. Blinken refused to answer directly. Blinken also promised that the Obama administration would not attempt to alter the relationship in the future without consulting Congress, which it failed to do.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/rubio-administration-lied-about-cuba-policy-change_821777.html

In Jun of this year the administration was questioned about whether they were working on a secret swap for Gross and they denied it.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article1965474.html


All in all we see a consistent pattern here of recklessness, hypocrisy, contradiction, deception and lawlessness.

[ December 17, 2014, 07:28 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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Seneca
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Also, the goal was never about overturning Castro, it was about containment until the people either rose up and rebelled or the Castros died out or both.
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scifibum
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Seneca:

quote:
2. Here is the text of the Helms-Burton Act. Among other things it stipulates that relations to Cuba may only normalize when the government there gives the people freedom of association, speech and political rights relating to free elections.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:H.R.927.ENR:

Obama admitted in his own speech that these were not achieved, so he is admitting that he is openly defying the Helms Burton Act.

You seem to be referring to the requirements to lift the economic embargo. That's not the same thing as recognizing the government of Cuba.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Seneca:

quote:
2. Here is the text of the Helms-Burton Act. Among other things it stipulates that relations to Cuba may only normalize when the government there gives the people freedom of association, speech and political rights relating to free elections.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:H.R.927.ENR:

Obama admitted in his own speech that these were not achieved, so he is admitting that he is openly defying the Helms Burton Act.

You seem to be referring to the requirements to lift the economic embargo. That's not the same thing as recognizing the government of Cuba.
Try reading it again, then look at ALL the things Obama is saying he will do. Pay special attention to the "purposes" section and commands to the President.
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scifibum
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It seems more useful for you to actually cite the details you seem to think prove your point.
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JoshCrow
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The embargo was designed to do something. Clearly, what they wanted it to do has not happened. There is now 50 years of evidence that it plainly didn't make things better for either side.

I should think that some basic things like having an embassy there are in order. It doesn't mean "we approve of how you do things". It just means "we'll talk to you", and brings along the very real possibility that an eventually improved Cuban standard of living will encourage further reforms there. We've seen this model before - I wonder if Seneca also rejects our recent exchanges with Burma/Myanmar, which might coax them further out of their repressive shell.

I think Seneca's status-quo model of permanent disengagement until some sort of internal revolution occurs is a flawed one from a perspective of fomenting democratic reform. I can think of some very recent examples of that failing.

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
The embargo was designed to do something. Clearly, what they wanted it to do has not happened. There is now 50 years of evidence that it plainly didn't make things better for either side.

I should think that some basic things like having an embassy there are in order. It doesn't mean "we approve of how you do things". It just means "we'll talk to you", and brings along the very real possibility that an eventually improved Cuban standard of living will encourage further reforms there. We've seen this model before - I wonder if Seneca also rejects our recent exchanges with Burma/Myanmar, which might coax them further out of their repressive shell.

I think Seneca's status-quo model of permanent disengagement until some sort of internal revolution occurs is a flawed one from a perspective of fomenting democratic reform. I can think of some very recent examples of that failing.

The embargo was designed to contain the communist regime there. It worked. You surely must acknowledge that.

As for the Helms Burton Act, members of Congress are now stepping up and talking about how Obama has violated it. Even Democrats are now coming out against Obama.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/cuba-alan-gross-patrick-leahy-jeff-flake-chris-van-hollen-113638.html
quote:
Ros-Lehtinen had already accused the Obama administration of potentially violating a series of laws that dictates how the U.S. can interact with Cuba.
“The White House attempts to normalize relationships with Cuba without the approval of Congress may be in direct violation” of the Helms-Burton Act, which “specifically states that all political prisoners must be released and free and fair elections must be held before establishing a diplomatic relationship,” she said.
Some Democrats joined in. Outgoing Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) quickly criticized the White House, saying it “vindicated” the “brutal behavior of the Cuban government” by trading Gross for convicted spies.
“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,” Menendez said. “I fear that today’s actions will put at risk the thousands of Americans that work overseas to support civil society, advocate for access to information, provide humanitarian services, and promote democratic reforms.”

Menendez said that one of the spies the U.S. traded for Gross was convicted of conspiracy to murder as part of the 1996 incident in which the Cuban military shot down two American civilian planes.

scifibum, since you refuse to read it for yourself, here is the relevant section:
quote:
(13) To consider the restoration of diplomatic recognition and support the reintegration of the Cuban Government into Inter-American organizations when the President determines that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba.
Obama is admitting that he is violating this law.
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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
The embargo was designed to contain the communist regime there. It worked. You surely must acknowledge that.

Is your evidence for this that we're not currently all living in the Commie States of America, and is your claim that without this embargo, we would have been?

I would be impressed if you can explain how an embargo, particularly by one country, was ever intended to "contain the communist regime". What, did we have them physically surrounded? Nope. Did we block third-party transactions with them? We did basically nothing to even seriously discourage it until Helms-Burton... that's 35+ years! There's something amiss, then, about your "containment" hypothesis.

[ December 17, 2014, 09:05 PM: Message edited by: JoshCrow ]

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshCrow:
quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
The embargo was designed to contain the communist regime there. It worked. You surely must acknowledge that.

Is your evidence for this that we're not currently all living in the Commie States of America, and is your claim that without this embargo, we would have been?

I would be impressed if you can explain how an embargo, particularly by one country, was ever intended to "contain the communist regime". What, did we have them physically surrounded? Nope. Did we block third-party transactions with them? Again, nope. There's something amiss, then, about your "containment" hypothesis.

What other territory did Cuba annex?

Also, how about the clear violation of Helms-Burton?

How about the fact that the Obama administration still lists Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, one of only 4 countries on the entire planet?

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JoshCrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
What other territory did Cuba annex?

If I pray for a sunny day, and lo and behold, it's sunny out - ergo, I magically prevented the rain. Maybe try explaining some kind of connection that isn't magical between the embargo and "containment"? It starts with explaining what they would have done without the embargo.

quote:
Also, how about the clear violation of Helms-Burton?
I'm pretty sure he has good lawyers who have already determined what he can do - why don't you try suing him?

quote:

How about the fact that the Obama administration still lists Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, one of only 4 countries on the entire planet?

Easy - take them off the list. In fact, that's part of the plan.
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Seneca
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Wow. You certainly make the case for defending a lawless, Imperial presidency. The law specifically and clearly lists the preconditions that must be met before Obama does what he is doing.

As to the terrorism issue, shouldn't they have done a review BEFORE announcing this? After all it's not even a foregone conclusion the review will remove the designation. ..

Your logic could be used to defend any action any president takes under any circumstances.

As to containment, are you really going to deny that was the stated policy we had towards communist nations and Cuba?

[ December 17, 2014, 09:34 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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TomDavidson
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I find the idea that Cuba was aggressively expansionist and needed to be curtailed in its conquering desires to be actually laughable.

quote:
As to containment, are you really going to deny that was the stated policy we had towards communist nations and Cuba?
In related news, the hula hoop is the hottest new toy of the Christmas season. Additionally, you can now buy record players capable of stereophonic sound.
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Seneca
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Nice to know that when people consider laws to be outdated they just ignore them rather than work to repeal them and abide by them until they are repealed. There are many Constitutional laws I consider bad but still follow until they are repealed. Apparently Obama doesn't have to live by the same standard.

I wonder why this law was signed by Bill Clinton instead of being vetoed... I know, it's because Bill Clinton is racist and foresaw the ability to cause problems for Obama right?

In other news Obama has placed new sanctions on Venezuela recently...

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Nice to know that when people consider laws to be outdated they just ignore them rather than work to repeal them...
Are we talking about law or "stated policy?" Because I was replying to a comment about the latter.
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Fenring
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Regardless of whether there should be an embargo on Cuba, Seneca seems to have a point about the legality of removing it in this manner. Bear in mind Seneca isn't saying that it categorically should not be lifted, he's saying that according to the law it should not be lifted now, and not without congressional approval.

JoshCrow, I'll have to disagree with you on the notion that the embargo never accomplished anything; it's too counter-factual and especially in light of having a communist enemy so close to U.S. shores in the 60's. But this isn't the same as saying that the embargo has served its purpose by now and there's no need for it any more, which I might be inclined to agree with even though we're lacking information that Obama has.

Tom may be right about the timing coinciding with Russia's problems. It has the ring of truth, even though I'm somewhat ignorant on certain foreign affairs issues.

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Seneca
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We're definitely moving into a truly post-constitutional era. Acts of Congress will be more and more ignored by Presidents, and I'm sure the next president will be worse than Obama, regardless of which party they're from.
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TomDavidson
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I find that The Hill is generally a good source of analysis for stuff like this:
http://thehill.com/policy/finance/227442-can-obama-lift-cuba-embargo-without-congress

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Seneca
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quote:
President Obama has significant powers at his disposal to make the U.S. trade and travel embargoes on Cuba meaningless, though action by Congress is required to formally lift the sanctions.
quote:
Obama on Wednesday announced the U.S. will seek formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, and travel and trade restrictions will be eased.
quote:
(13) To consider the restoration of diplomatic recognition and support the reintegration of the Cuban Government into Inter-American organizations when the President determines that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba.
Where is the statement from Obama that a democratically elected government is already running Cuba as of his other announcement? I must have missed that... I suppose he could always lie and just pretend that the Castro regime was democratically elected, but he isn't even trying that, just blatant illegality.
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philnotfil
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What Obama actually said about lifting the embargo:
quote:
These are the steps [beginning discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations, reviewing Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information) that I can take as president to change this policy. The embargo that's been imposed for decades is now codified in legislation. As these changes unfold, I look forward to engaging Congress in an honest and serious debate about lifting the embargo.
the full text of his comments
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Seneca
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According to Helms-Burton you can't even
quote:
beginning discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations,
(which is the same as)
quote:
To consider the restoration of diplomatic recognition
UNLESS,
quote:
the President determines that there exists a democratically elected government in Cuba.
Is this even up for debate? This is pretty clear cut.

This law says "only do X when Y"

And Obama is doing X when not Y, and everyone agrees that Y is not present, even him.

[ December 17, 2014, 10:54 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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DonaldD
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"Is this eve up for debate?"

Yes, obviously, though it's not exactly surprising that you are unable to parse those two phrases to understand how they differ.

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