The Headlines were written by New Times but the content of the letters is mine.
I wrote this letter in response to another reader's letter which I found highly offensive and just plain wrong.
Sleepy Old Miami: It's gone forever, for which you can thank the Cubans: In his letter "Voting Republican Can Induce Delusions" (July 21), Ronnie Fox is all over the board in attacking Cubans living in South Florida, so I'll take his assertions one at a time. He seems to take issue with another reader's statement that Cuban Americans helped turn Miami into a vibrant, thriving city. He mentions overpopulation as if all of our city's troubles have to do with Cuban immigration. Miami is a magnet for people from all over the world and all over the nation. That is nobody's fault. It's ridiculous to deny the role Cubans had in transforming Miami from a seasonal resort town into a viable metropolis.
As far as politics go, Mr. Fox seems to think Cubans have a monopoly on corruption. Sure there have been corrupt Cuban-American politicians, but the truth is that Cubans did not create or perfect political corruption in South Florida. As far back as the days when Meyer Lansky and organized crime ruled, there were corrupt politicians down here. Before any Cubans had any real positions of power, we had scandals like that of schools superintendent Johnny Jones and his gold plumbing. The ongoing list of non-Cuban corruption among local politicos is a mile long.
Mr. Fox denies that the Cuban-American vote was instrumental in the election of George W. Bush in 2000. Let me remind Mr. Fox that Florida's electoral votes went to Bush by virtue of 537 votes out of almost 6 million. That means if only 269 Bush voters had voted for Gore or stayed home, he would have been president. Let me also remind Mr. Fox of the news reports, during the late Nineties, before Elian, that the monolithic Cuban-American vote was beginning to warm to the Democratic Party. Even if he doesn't believe that, he must recognize that the Elian Gonzalez affair surely induced a high voter registration and turnout effort among Cuban Americans. Perhaps Gore opposed sending the boy back to Cuba, but his ties with the Clinton administration, the failure to do anything about the Brothers to the Rescue shootdowns, and the catastrophic "wet foot/dry foot" policy all left Cubans with a nasty taste in their mouths.
Mr. Fox doesn't understand why Cuban Americans are overwhelmingly Republican. He says that "if it weren't for Kennedy, both Cuba and South Florida would have been reduced to a smoldering radioactive ruin." Let me give him a history lesson. Forgetting the fact that Kennedy abandoned the 2506 Brigade by pulling its air support at the last minute, we would have never had a Cuban Missile Crisis if Kennedy had not stopped the U2 flyovers of Cuba; instead he proved what Khrushchev already thought, that he was weak and inexperienced. Here a Soviet satellite state was being set up 90 miles away and we were completely surprised there were missiles in Cuba, even though "those crazy Cubans" had been saying it for some time. So President Kennedy got caught with his pants down and negotiated away U.S. missiles in Turkey and agreed to never invade Cuba or allow an invasion to be launched by others from the U.S.
The few Democratic administrations during the past 46 years have all been catastrophic for the U.S. regarding Cuba policy. Castro played Carter like a cheap fiddle, and I've already mentioned the disastrous Kennedy and Clinton administrations. The reason we're hearing more and more about lowering the embargo lately is because Castro is finally running out of lifelines. Cuba's credit rating is garbage; the regime owes money to every country with which it does business. Cuba is currently able to buy all the food and medicine it wants from the U.S. on a cash up-front basis. But embargo opponents want Castro to have credit, a farm subsidy boondoggle in which he and U.S. farmers win and Cubans and American taxpayers lose. No thanks.
Mr. Fox sounds like an uninformed hater who wants his sleepy little Miami back. Unfortunately for him there's no putting the genie back in the bottle. So he's either going to have to learn to live with and try to understand Cubans or he's going to be miserable.
This letter was in response to a ridiculous piece in the New Times about the Miami Heat, something they are completely unqualified to cover. In fact, this was the first sports story I ever read in their pages and the last.
Free weekly strays from formula, flounders badly: New Times should stick to what it's good at: yellow journalism with a pink slant. Tim Montemayor's story about Miami Heat coach Pat Riley is laughable ("Riley As Patton," January 2). Real newspapers have already reported that the free-throw disparity between the Heat and its opponents was more than a little lopsided (prior to the Riley outburst) given the number of points in the paint the Heat was scoring. Following the outburst that disparity disappeared and the Heat won six of eight games.
But that aside, Montemayor's assertion that the Heat "lacks a big man and has no recourse to one -- thanks to poor cap management" is ludicrous. Anybody even remotely in tune with the sports world knows that the Heat's franchise player, center Alonzo Mourning, is out with a debilitating kidney disease. His guaranteed contract (almost all contracts in the NBA are guaranteed) is in its final year, causing cap problems for his team. Bad luck more than bad cap management has hamstrung the Heat. But I guess that's why Tim Montemayor writes for a free weekly and isn't the general manager of a professional sports franchise.
By the way, in Mourning's absence the Heat's starting center, Brian Grant, is ranked fourth in the league in rebounding and third in field-goal percentage. Not bad for a team that "lacks a big man." Piss off!
This letter was written in response to an article in which the New Times proudly proclaimed Miami as the poorest city in the country.
Poor Miami: Tricky Figures. Statistically challenged free weekly not to be trusted: It took only a couple of minutes scanning "We're Number One!" to see that it's more of what I expect New Times to deliver: misleading, useless, and even wrong statistics to make some sort of point about how crummy South Florida is.
The report isolates the City of Miami as being the poorest in the nation. That may be so, but the City of Miami represents only 15.83 percent of Miami-Dade County's population, an area commonly referred to as Greater Miami. New Times accurately points out that many types of people have abandoned the city, but what relevance does that have? There are going to be pockets of poverty in any major metro area; it just happens that the city in our metro area with the most famous name is the poorest. Would it make New Times feel any better if the poorest city was Hialeah or Sweetwater?
Look at the following quote from the "Compare & Contrast" chart (September 26):
"Take Miami, for example. You know it's the biggest city in Florida, which is to say it has the largest population. But do you know where it ranks among all U.S. cities?"
Well, how can I trust New Times to tell me where Miami ranks among U.S. cities when, in fact, Jacksonville (735,617) has a population more than twice that of Miami? Of course we could be like Jacksonville, where the entire county is incorporated into one giant city and shazam! We would actually be the biggest Florida city in terms of population, but I guarantee that "Miami" would no longer be the poorest city in the nation.
One of the more meaningless statistics I saw, also on the "Compare & Contrast" chart, was the following gem: "Percentage of families living in poverty with female householder, no husband present." Take a minute to figure that out. It's not the number or percentage of single moms living in poverty in comparison to the overall population, but rather the percentage of single mom families living in poverty. That number is high across the board, even in cities much "richer" than Miami. Maybe I'm ignorant but my guess is that regardless of the city, a "family with a female householder, no husband present" is going to have a much greater chance of living in poverty.
Statistics are tricky things. In 1966 there was a proposed merger of two grocery chains in California that was blocked because a study showed that the number of single-store operators had been significantly reduced over a period of several years. The Supreme Court justices assumed that meant consolidation among the giants. They failed to notice that in fact many of the mom-and-pops had added a second store. I think the last institution anybody should trust to interpret statistics is New Times.
The letter below was written in response to a story by New Times writer, Kirk Nielsen. The story was a pity party for the Cuban nationals that were convicted as spies.
Momma's Boys. They won't be going home anytime soon: I have enjoyed New Times's fine investigative journalism for some time, but Kirk Nielsen is a shoe-in for a Pulitzer Prize based on his November 22 article "Mother Knows Best." I sleep much better at night knowing that these convicted Cuban spies have "a lot of nice friendships" in prison.
I can't believe Magaly Llort's son was "unable to contact her by phone or mail until two and a half years after his arrest." Surely this qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. Something about these spy moms complaining that their sons didn't get a fair trial rings true. I mean, isn't it obvious to everyone that only justice Fidel-style is truly blind?
Llort said her son and his chums "wouldn't be capable of committing a [harmful] act against anybody, including the North American people." Thank God we got that all sorted out. Now we can send these innocent men home to their commie mommies.