Passport

Will Ryan's record on Cuba hurt Romney in Florida?

One area where Paul Ryan has strayed from GOP orthodoxy is his stance on Cuba, as the Miami Herald explains

The Wisconsin Congressman has voted at least three times in opposition to the embargo. A handful of current and former Republican Cuban-American lawmakers, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of bucking their own party, told The Miami Herald that Ryan’s record on the Cuban embargo might disappoint Cuban voters, who comprise 72 percent of the GOP electorate in Miami-Dade, Florida’s largest county.


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/08/flip-flop-or-evolution-paul-ryans-cuban-embargo-stance-could-be-a-sore-point-in-miami-dade.html#storylink=cpy

James Fallows cheers. The Herald  asks whether this, combined with disappointment that Marco Rubio wasn't added to the ticket, could hurt Romney in Florida. “How could you pass over Marco and pick someone who’s anti-embargo?”asks one of the anonymous operatives . “This might snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

That seems pretty doubtful, judging from the reaction of the CubaCon blogosphere. Capitol Hill Cubans notes that while Ryan entered congress as  "an unconditional free trader," he has "evolved" on this issue: 

In 2007, Ryan voted against an amendment to the Farm Bill by U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) that sought to ease financing and other restrictions on trade with the Castro regime.

That same year, he opposed efforts to cut funding for Cuba democracy programs.

Moreover, Ryan publicly withdrew his name from a bill seeking to allow unfettered travel between the U.S. and Cuba.

Since then, Ryan has consistently opposed Congressional efforts to unconditionally lift sanctions towards Cuba. 

Former congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart gave a similar narrative

“He was a free-trader and we explained to him the human-rights and terrorist record of the Cuban dictatorship,” Diaz-Balart said. “His record ever since is one of a strong supporter for freedom in Cuba. He is a strong ally."


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/08/flip-flop-or-evolution-paul-ryans-cuban-embargo-stance-could-be-a-sore-point-in-miami-dade.html#storylink=cpy

Of course, this ignores the fact that in 2009, Ryan told a newspaper interviewer, "If we’re going to have free trade with China, why not Cuba?" If Ryan really has evolved on Cuba, is it more believable that he didn't know the country was a repressive dictatorship until Lincoln Diaz-Balart explained it to him or that at a certain point he decided this might be one area where it would be prudent to compromise his free-market principles?

But it still seems unlikely that this will matter all that much. The Cuban voters for whom the embargo is a major deciding factor will likely come around to Ryan because, well, the alternative is voting for Barack Obama. As Henry Louis Gomez of the hardline pro-embargo Babalu Blog writes:

The alternative in Obama/Biden is not an alternative for anyone who wants a hard line against the castro brothers. 

All the same, it won't be surprising if we see Ryan downing a few extra cafés con leche at Versailles while explaining himself over the next few weeks.


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/08/flip-flop-or-evolution-paul-ryans-cuban-embargo-stance-could-be-a-sore-point-in-miami-dade.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/08/flip-flop-or-evolution-paul-ryans-cuban-embargo-stance-could-be-a-sore-point-in-miami-dade.html#storylink=cpy

John Adkisson/Getty Images

Passport

Australian island considers Assange monument

Magnetic Island, the island off the coast of Queensland, Australia where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange lived as a child, is considering putting up a monument of the hometown boy:

Islanders are hosting a picnic at Picnic Bay on Sunday, to voice their support for the freedom of information fighter, the Townsville Bulletin reports.

They will also discuss plans to erect a monument to Mr Assange, to mark his childhood island home, and as a symbol of his battle for truth and justice.

Local activist David "Crusty" Herron, who in the past has floated the idea of Wikileaks-inspired public urinal in the past, believed a proper monument was still a good idea.

"He's an award-winning journalist, who has shown the little bloke that he can't be pushed around," he said.

Recent polls show that while Australians are split on their views of Assange, most support his legal case. The Ecuadorean government will likely soon announce a decision on whether to grant asylum to Assange, who is currently holed up at the country's embassy in London.