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Author Topic: USA and Cuba to normalize relations?
Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I should point out that I shouldn't have called diplomatic recognition of Cuba exploiting a loophole. I was mistaken about that (although I wasn't mistaken about the lack of any restriction on the recognition power in the act in question).

Congress simply can't tell the President which countries to recognize. The act in question said recognition should be considered under certain circumstances. But that power rests with the Executive.

Do you have authority on that last proposition? I usually have answers on separation of powers, but I'm drawing a blank there. I thought Senate and Perez shared power when it came to foreign affairs and such status ...

OTOH, I'm shocked that the Senate would oppose normalization given that Cuba is releasing its political prisoners. Are we really so pissy as to freeze off a neighbor over monies supposedly owned by mob owned corporations?

Are antiObaman Republicans so blind that they can't see victory when it sits on their faces?

Oh, and merry Christmas.


?

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scifibum
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Pete, I'm rather fresh to the topic but the court case I linked to in this thread seems to have found plenty of precedent and affirms that the Executive branch holds the recognition power. Whenever the Supreme Court opines on that particular case, which I think they heard in November, we'll see.

Merry Christmas to you too. [Smile]

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Pete at Home
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Helms Burton can't overwrite the constitution.
The Senate lacks power to prevent the president from considering peace and entering negotiations. If Helms Burton says what you say then that part is unconstitutional.

OTOH your point re giving up murderous spies certainly does bear considering.

quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
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.


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Mynnion
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I was reading yesterday about two Saudi women in the UAE who have been turned over to the terrorist court for the heinous crime of ......Driving. I find it incredibly hypocritical for those who support normalized relations with S.A. and the UAE to scream about human rights abuses in Cuba.
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Pete at Home
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That word hypocritical doesn't mean what you seem to assume it means. Just because there are other factors in play other than human rights does not mean that human rights are not a factor.
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Pete at Home
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What you said is like saying it was hypocritical to fight ww2not to fight Stalin and Mao. Very sshallow and simplistic.
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Pete at Home
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I strongly agree with you that we should get easier on Cuba, and harder on Saudi Arabia, but I think you've gotten there to some sloppy reasoning.
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Mynnion
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One of the arguments (not the only one) for not normalizing relations is the lack of human rights. I believe that argument to be hypocritical since it is being made by those that strongly support relations with nations such as the UAE which are far more repressive. The other arguments are also pretty lame and purely designed to please a portion of specific constituencies.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
One of the arguments (not the only one) for not normalizing relations is the lack of human rights. I believe that argument to be hypocritical since it is being made by those that strongly support relations with nations such as the UAE which are far more repressive.

It does not reasonably follow from that evidence alone that the argument is "hypocritical." You acknowledge that human rights is only one of several arguments against Cuba; could it be that there are arguments for the UAE that in the minds of those making the arguments, simply outweigh the human rights issue for the UAE? Just as we ignored Stalin's various evils when he was our partner against Hitler?

Hypocrisy means that one is touting a value that one does not even feel. Not for touting a value in some cases, and then seeing that value outweighed in other cases. You'd make a better argument for hypocrisy if you argued that the USA is levying sanctions for some human rights abuses that sanction-advocates themselves advocate be practiced BY the US government. In recent years, one might even question whether the Cubans or the Americans have committed more human rights abuses on Cuban soil ...

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Mynnion
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I should know better than to argue with a lawyer [Eek!] but I call it as I see it. Hypocrisy means saying one thing and doing something different. Those who use human rights as an argument against normalization but ignore the UAE and Saudi's transgressions because of oil and resources are acting in a hypocritical manner. It doesn't mean that they don't believe that human rights is not an issue only that money is more important. You are welcome to disagree but since we are actually mostly in agreement on the issue it seems like a wasted effort.
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Pete at Home
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"Hypocrisy means saying one thing and doing something different."

That definition makes sense in simple cases where facts are parallel. if you say one thing in one case, and do another in another case, where different factors occur (such as Cuba vs the UAE) then it's foolish to call it hypocrisy. We overlook UAE transgressions because of the economic and political necessity involving terrorism and oil. That's not hypocrisy; that's simply some factors outweighing others.

Lawyers are trained to weigh multiple factors when analyzing an issue, but you shouldn't have to be a lawyer to pull it off.

Unfortunately modern political rhetoric has left most discursants retarded when it comes to weighing factors. Modern discussion gives one the impression that argument must always involve dismissing opposing arguments entirely as dishonest or hypocritical or otherwise false. In fact, most of the thinking that does any good in the world, involves taking multiple factors into consideration. Your argument is a classic dicto simpliciter fallacy, but unfortunately that's how most people argue these days. Basically your argument presumes that if human rights are *a* factor in our relations with Cuba, then they should be the SOLE factor in our relations with the UAE.

[ December 26, 2014, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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KidTokyo
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I hope Florida gets taken over by communists.

I'm not kidding. I actually want that to happen.

Communist Florida.

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The Drake
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Perhaps not hypocritical, but I believe incoherent. Similar arguments about human rights were made when Nixon recognized communist China. Now there were several specific reasons why this was done - driving a wedge between the USSR and China among them. Roosevelt faced similar challenges in recognizing the USSR, again involving strategic interests, but right in the middle of Stalinist purges.

One key question, I think, looking only at the human rights aspect. Does diplomatic engagement and presence within a nation encourage human rights reforms, or discourage them? If you are a trading partner, you can leverage sanctions if abuses rise. If travel is allowed between your countries, human rights abuses can be brought out and exposed.

One example some may remember, when Michael Fay was caned in Singapore. Suddenly the whole world was talking about the brutality of a common practice of corporal punishment in that country. Is this more of an impact for reform, or less?

Then there is the chance for people who want to travel from Cuba to perhaps do so, allowing them to seek political asylum or other refuge. Cuba itself is okay with that now, apparently, which is news to me. Cuba relaxes travel restrictions for citizens

quote:
Some analysts say the change also puts pressure on Washington's "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, which lets nearly all Cubans who make it to the US stay and fast-tracks them for permanent residency, and throws the spotlight on US embargo rules that bar most American travel to Cuba.

At least when it comes to crossing the Florida Straits, "Cuba now provides greater freedom of travel to virtually all of its citizens than does the US", said John McAuliff of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, which lobbies for engagement between Washington and Cuba.


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Pete at Home
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" Perhaps not hypocritical, but I believe incoherent."

Agreed.

" Similar arguments about human rights were made when Nixon recognized communist China. Now there were several specific reasons why this was done - driving a wedge between the USSR and China among them. Roosevelt faced similar challenges in recognizing the USSR, again involving strategic interests, but right in the middle of Stalinist purges."

I think Conservatives are missing the point that Obama is making this rapprochement with Cuba at the same time that we're slapping sanctions on Venezuela.

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Fenring
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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/world/americas/us-eases-decades-old-rules-on-travel-to-cuba.html?_r=0

Well at least now we know that Obama didn't merely mean that he was establishing diplomatic relations; it seems that the embargo is slowly being lifted outright.

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scifibum
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That article doesn't say anything about lifting the trade embargo, and the things it does mention seem to be in line with what was previously announced.
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Pete at Home
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What SciFi said. Allowing limited tourism and $400 in goods per traveler isn't exactly lifting the trade embargo.

OTOH it does open the door for more black marketeering, if you can't be arrested for possession of a box of Cuban cigars. Which I have to admit I would like to try out.

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Fenring
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Previously in the thread people had been saying that President Obama wasn't abrogating the law in terms of lifting the embargo on the grounds that whether or not the U.S. has an embassy in Cuba has nothing to do with whether trade sanctions are on or off. Opening up diplomatic relations was seen as within Presidential powers and not to do with the embargo as such.

But it seems to me that allowing free travel between both countries and some importing of goods and souvenirs is a step unrelated to establishing an embassy or lines of communication; it is a move towards freeing up commerce and trade between the nations. I'm not saying I'm against that, but I don't see how this step can be seen as anything other than moving towards lifting the embargo.

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scifibum
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Well, mainly, there's no change with regard to commercial activity, e.g. Florida's Fudge-R-Us trying to sell crates of Pecan Pumpkin Panic to distributors in Cuba, or anybody who wants to import Cuban stogies for resale. They still can't.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Well, mainly, there's no change with regard to commercial activity, e.g. Florida's Fudge-R-Us trying to sell crates of Pecan Pumpkin Panic to distributors in Cuba, or anybody who wants to import Cuban stogies for resale. They still can't.

Hence "a move towards." Think of the war on drugs for an example of this. Certain states have legalized medical pot. This doesn't mean that the war on drugs is over, or that the drug laws have all been reformed, but it does indicate a step in the direction of modernizing our sense of what drug laws should be. The other steps may never happen and it could stop here, but regardless that one important step seems to indicate that more steps will be taken in the future. The same seems to be in evidence in the Cuba situation, where after a period of successful travel allowance Cuba may then be deemed to be ready for the next step.
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scifibum
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That's true enough. I am still going to insist on a distinction between travel restrictions and regulations on personal transactions and the embargo, though, the same as people should distinguish between federal drug schedules and the laws of Colorado.
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Pete at Home
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Yes, normalizing travel is a step towards normalized trade. But it's also an immediate natural extension of normalized diplomatic relations.
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Pete at Home
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In exchange for freeing a US aid worker, Obama has turned over three traitors who took us citizenship and then helped Cuba murder four American aid workers in 1996. The murdered aid workees' only crime was to try to help save Cuban refugees from dying at sea.
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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
Yes, normalizing travel is a step towards normalized trade. But it's also an immediate natural extension of normalized diplomatic relations.

My point is that according to others in this thread normalizing trade isn't an immediate natural extension of normalizing diplomatic relations, because while the latter may be the purview of the President to decide, the former is apparently prohibited by the Helms-Burton Act.

Some people earlier in the thread argued that Obama was fully within his rights to establish diplomatic relations and that it didn't mean at all that he was breaking the law and lifting the embargo. Now it seems that he's taking steps towards lifting the embargo as well.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
Some people earlier in the thread argued that Obama was fully within his rights to establish diplomatic relations and that it didn't mean at all that he was breaking the law and lifting the embargo. Now it seems that he's taking steps towards lifting the embargo as well.

He's taking steps that would make it clear that it's in our best interests to lift the embargo, but he can't lift the embargo itself. As long as he doesn't try to allow commercial trade, he hadn't lifted the embargo.

To go for a sexual metaphor- all the heavy petting you like might certainly whet the appetite for penetration, but it isn't penetration, no matter how much you might want to go there as a result.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
Some people earlier in the thread argued that Obama was fully within his rights to establish diplomatic relations and that it didn't mean at all that he was breaking the law and lifting the embargo. Now it seems that he's taking steps towards lifting the embargo as well.

He's taking steps that would make it clear that it's in our best interests to lift the embargo, but he can't lift the embargo itself. As long as he doesn't try to allow commercial trade, he hadn't lifted the embargo.

To go for a sexual metaphor- all the heavy petting you like might certainly whet the appetite for penetration, but it isn't penetration, no matter how much you might want to go there as a result.

Since we're going the lewd route, I'd rather recall the Clinton incident, where when asked whether he had engaged in sexual relations (which were prohibited by the terms of his marriage) he initially denied it on the grounds that he and Lewinsky hadn't had actual sex. Obviously the finer points of what is or isn't 'sexual relations' in that context was irrelevant because cheating is cheating, even if you don't go all the way.

In this case, is Obama having 'trading relations' with Cuba even if full trade penetration is still prohibited?

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The Drake
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Cuban rules on travel have ebbed and flowed quite a bit, completely within the discretion of the Executive.

I'm very much not sure how they legally justify the allowance for $400 per traveller in Cuban goods, unless they intend to argue that Helms-Burton is unconstitutional.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Fenring:
Some people earlier in the thread argued that Obama was fully within his rights to establish diplomatic relations and that it didn't mean at all that he was breaking the law and lifting the embargo. Now it seems that he's taking steps towards lifting the embargo as well.

He's taking steps that would make it clear that it's in our best interests to lift the embargo, but he can't lift the embargo itself. As long as he doesn't try to allow commercial trade, he hadn't lifted the embargo.

To go for a sexual metaphor- all the heavy petting you like might certainly whet the appetite for penetration, but it isn't penetration, no matter how much you might want to go there as a result.

Since we're going the lewd route, I'd rather recall the Clinton incident, where when asked whether he had engaged in sexual relations (which were prohibited by the terms of his marriage) he initially denied it on the grounds that he and Lewinsky hadn't had actual sex. Obviously the finer points of what is or isn't 'sexual relations' in that context was irrelevant because cheating is cheating, even if you don't go all the way.

In this case, is Obama having 'trading relations' with Cuba even if full trade penetration is still prohibited?

The confusion here seems to be centered on the implication that Obama is skirting or breaking a law. If you are asking "Is Obama doing all he can, as President, to get trade going between us and Cuba?", the answer is "probably." Its one of our most pointless policy positions, an obvious example of pandering to a shrinking but decisive minority. What people are objecting to is your apparent idea that this is somehow improper. He is clearly not breaking any law, nor taking any authority that hasn't existed (and been exercised) in his office. And it would actually be a pretty clear line if he crossed it, so its not like he's going to sneak one past anyone. He's simply exercising the power of the executive; in this case, probably towards an aim that is contrary to the intent of the legislature, as expressed in laws regarding Cuba. So long as the domains remain distinct, this is simply what people in government do (and are supposed to do): exercise their authority to the best of their judgement. Obama should no more allow the will of the legislature to direct his branch's prerogative, then congress should write laws based on the Presidency's will as expressed in his actions. Separation of powers; a very intentional aspect of our government.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
Cuban rules on travel have ebbed and flowed quite a bit, completely within the discretion of the Executive.

I'm very much not sure how they legally justify the allowance for $400 per traveller in Cuban goods, unless they intend to argue that Helms-Burton is unconstitutional.

You could reasonably argue that helms Burton wasn't written to last this long and that $400 in today's dollars matches the limits of HB in 1950s dollars.
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Pete at Home
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"

posted December 17, 2014 10:52 PM                    
According to Helms-Burton you can't even
quote:
beginning discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations"

That's unconstitutional as I explained above. You might as well have Congress designate the Supreme Court to fight a war as tell the pres he can't negotiate.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
Cuban rules on travel have ebbed and flowed quite a bit, completely within the discretion of the Executive.

I'm very much not sure how they legally justify the allowance for $400 per traveller in Cuban goods, unless they intend to argue that Helms-Burton is unconstitutional.

You could reasonably argue that helms Burton wasn't written to last this long and that $400 in today's dollars matches the limits of HB in 1950s dollars.
You could if Helms Burton wasn't passed in 1996. [Smile]
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Pete at Home
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You got.me.there [Smile]

I could argue that helms Burton was written in a 1950s time capsule but since I'm not a legal postmodernist, I won't.

[ January 20, 2015, 07:40 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Seneca
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Today Obama, despite evidence that Cuba is still offering support to terrorist groups, removed Cuba from our list of state sponsors of terrorism. This was entirely political and detached from the reality of Cuba's actions.

[ April 14, 2015, 03:36 PM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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Pyrtolin
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You mean "a lack of evidence" there, since, of the two groups that it historically worked with, one (ETA) is all but defunct, and Cuba has been cooperating with Spain to send back the handful of members that it had been providing haven to, and it is helping facilitate peace talks with the other (FARC) and the government of Colombia, and even to the extent that FARC could be considered a terrorist group, there is no evidence that Cuba has recently provided any support to it, be it training, weapons, or money laundering.
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stilesbn
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I went to a Cuban restaurant one time. The food was good. Seems like a good idea to allow Americans (me) to go there.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
I went to a Cuban restaurant one time. The food was good. Seems like a good idea to allow Americans (me) to go there.

I went to a good Persian restaurant. So what?

How about you go down to Havana, stand on a street corner and advocate for government reform and see what happens?

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
I went to a Cuban restaurant one time. The food was good. Seems like a good idea to allow Americans (me) to go there.

I went to a good Persian restaurant. So what?

How about you go down to Havana, stand on a street corner and advocate for government reform and see what happens?

Did you really? I don't think I've ever seen a Persian restaurant, although I'd be happy to try it.

Ironically certain kinds of people who advocate for government reform in the U.S. are being reclassified as terrorists now, according to the inter-agency extremism booklet distributed to American law enforcement. For the life of me I can't find it right now; I should have saved it. If anyone happens across it can you link it? It defines, among other things, what sorts of groups or actions are considered to be terrorism or extremism, and includes on the list 'constitutionalists', or something like that.

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Mynnion
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Seneca-
quote:
How about you go down to Havana, stand on a street corner and advocate for government reform and see what happens?
That holds true for many of our allies.
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KidTokyo
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As does support for terrorist groups.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
Seneca-
quote:
How about you go down to Havana, stand on a street corner and advocate for government reform and see what happens?
That holds true for many of our allies.
I was responding to the absurd suggestion that because someone likes a national-themed restaurant that that means travel to the country should be allowed on that basis.
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