Marlins lead with their Chen

weiToday’s home opener for the Miami Marlins vs the Detroit Tigers will have in attendance a trio of international players and one Tiger coach [Omar Vizquel] who can easily be considered the greatest MLB players their countries ever produced.

  • The Great Ichiro Suzuki [OF] – Japan
  • Wei-Yin Chen [P] – Taiwan [Free China]
  • Omar Vizquel – Venezuela [Free]
  • Miguel Cabrera [1B] – Venezuela [Chavista]

The Marlins opening day starter Wei-Yin Chen is not just the best MLB player Taiwan has produced, he is likely their most accomplished male athlete ever. The qualifier is due to the fact that Yani Tseng is the Gaylord Perry of Women’s golf.

Below is a list of all the Asian players currently in MLB.

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Shane Battier, Vasily Alekseyev and the Cuban Embargo

asilvevAs the supposed death watch on the Cuban Embargo unfolds, fear not my fellow reactionary bitterly exiled heartless souls, all is not lost. In fact, given octogenarian and nonagenarian actuarial tables, the probabilities still favor the Embargo being in effect when the first of the Castro brothers pass on to Gehenna. To avoid favoritism, every effort should be made to keep it in place until both have passed.

To help us understand why the Embargo is healthier than recent headlines would suggest, recall the following:

  • Cuban Embargo is a law which Congress must overturn
  • Republicans have controlled the House since 2011 and the Senate since 2015
  • Shane Battier
  • Vasily Alekseyev

Vasily Ivanovich Alekseyev was a Soviet weightlifter. He set 80 world records beginning in 1970 through 1977. He received a bonus every time he set a world record, so he made it a point to gradually increase his world records by 0.5 kg.

Think of Vasily when the next choreographed corporate initiative promoted by the State Department comes over the transom. Does everyone recall the cleverly planned PR campaign associated with the fall of the Berlin Wall? I don’t either. Real change trumps PR departments. I fantasize that within the State Department they’ve nicknamed their Cuba strategy ‘Vasilando como Vasily.’

In what may be the beginning of a foreign policy version of the SI jinx, Starwood’s $14 billion Anbang deal fell apart a few days after announcing their Cuba venture. The EU recently abandoned efforts to change Cuba’s one-party system. Brexit anyone? Somewhere Amado FakhreCy Tokmakjian and Sarkis Yacoubian smile and nod. They get why business is lured. They were willing to assume risks too, until they weren’t.

When only appearing to take a shot is the point

Shane Battier is a now retired NBA player who spent the final 3 years of his 14-year career with the Miami Heat. One of my all-time favorite Heat moments involved Battier fake-rolling himself on top of a helpless and apoplectic Joakim Noah during a playoff game.

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Why and how to NeverTrump

I have a vague vision of how this ends. In about 30 years at the nicest KardashianCare facility that yuans can buy, I’ll make a note on my ever present napkin, crumple it, toss it on a fellow ‘resident’ and expire. Although I frequently would forget my friend’s name, I never let him forget who he supported in the 2016 GOP primaries. The note will read, “Trump you.”

For NeverTrumpians, this has been a frustrating time. Jonah Goldberg captures the bittersweet realization about our once respected GOP brethren:

I sometimes think I’m living in a weird remake of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers…. you know the pattern. Someone you know or love goes to sleep one night and appears the next day to be the exact same person you always knew.


Except they’re different, somehow. They talk funny. They don’t care about the same things they used to. It’s almost like they became Canadian overnight — seemingly normal, but off in some way. Even once-friendly dogs start barking at them. I live in constant fear that I will run into [friends] who start telling me that Donald Trump is a serious person because he’s tapping into this or he’s willing to say that. I imagine my dog suddenly barking at them uncontrollably. (I don’t worry about this with Ramesh Ponnuru because Vulcans are immune.)

In a useful twist of fate, the recent spate of Zombie-based entertainment has taught us not to expect change based on otherwise normal human appearance. They are gone and our chances in November went with them. We know how this unfolds. Trump will not be our nominee. GOP fractured. DOJ declines to indict. FBI investigators resign. HRC wins.

Here’s the therapy inducing aspect to that already depressing scenario; it might be our best case scenario! Michael Gerson explains the whole NeverTrump thing:

For Republicans, accommodation with Trump is not just a choice; it is a verdict. None will come away unstained. For evangelical Christians, it is the stain of hypocrisy — making their movement synonymous with exclusion and gullibility. For GOP job seekers, it is the stain of opportunism. (Consider the sad decline into sycophancy of Chris Christie.) For conservatives, it is the stain of betrayal — the equivalent of supporting George Wallace in 1968 as an authentic populist voice.

All this leaves completely horrible options: sitting the election out, supporting a third-party candidate, contemplating a difficult vote for Clinton. But these are the only honorable options. As one Republican friend wrote me of Trump: “He would destroy everything Hillary Clinton would destroy, plus one more thing: the Republican Party.”

Now for the fun part. How to make the coming months more bearable? Mercilessly exploit the following fact; Trump voters can’t understand how we could possibly take a position which helps elect a Clinton. They can’t believe … wait for it …. that we would throw away our votes … wait for it … in anger.

It’s true. Adding a sense of irony to their already impressive list of deficiencies, Trump voters will try to talk you out of your NeverTrump position. My initial instinctual response was to patiently explain why I despised their candidate. Unsurprisingly, in retrospect, this was not effective.

But my 2nd option, man, my 2nd [OK maybe 3rd] option is cruel and fun, i.e. genius. From now until the city of Cleveland is burned down [how will they be able to tell?] during the convention, my position will be expressed as follows to strangers not tattooed with swastikas or confederate flags [another infamous 47% GOP reference]: “I’m leaning towards Trump, but not there yet.” Depending on the mood, a what-to-do head shake might make an appearance.

Worst case scenario

GOP nominee Trump institutes Conservatism reeducation camps during fall campaign – I take a gander as to the questions which may arise:

Q – I thought the reason we hated Bill and Hillary Clinton is that they are pathological liars. How can we now support Trump?
A – It matters who does the lying and why. If Hillary pushes babies into the path of a careening bus and Trump pushes those same babies away from the careening bus, people like you are focused on the fact that both pushed the babies. Weak. Very weak. The Clinton’s lie for evil. Trump lies to put himself in position to make ‘merica great again.

Q – Why are people concerned about the details of a candidate’s plans really just tools of the establishment?
A – See, that’s why we don’t win anymore. Everyone making plans instead of just winning. Besides, the lack of specifics keeps the opposition off balance. I know this is complicated, but stick with it. Subjugating one’s normal thought process gets easier as we empty ourselves for the greater good.

Q – For tomorrow’s quiz, will we be responsible for both the truth and revisionism?
A – Just revisionism for now

Q – Will that Eastern European chick be the First Lady?
A – [Former Trump University instructor cues video]

NeverTrump resources

Ross Douthat – Why the GOP is much more than one presidential election
Bill Kristol – Decadence
WSJ Editorial being WSJ Editorial
Ben Shapiro saying no

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Ichiro and how he gets to 3,000

sfl-ichiro-passes-cobb-hits-20150816Of the current 29 players with at least 3,000 hits in the history of MLB, the highest average hits per season belongs to Pete Rose at 177. If Ichiro reaches exactly 3,000 in 2016, his average hits per year would be 188. That’s what can happen when real legends take their talent to Little Havana and see things through.

When Giancarlo Stanton broke a bone in his hand on June 26, 2015, fate seemed to have handed Ichiro Suzuki’s quest for 4,257 and 3,000 hits the one thing he needed which was beyond his control. Enough plate appearances [PA] to reach his goals. On that day, Ichiro’s batting average and OBP was .275/.325, right in line with his 2014 totals with the abominable Yankees, .284/.324.

Ichiro 2015 months png

At the beginning of 2015, getting 300 PA’s for Ichiro as the Marlins 4th outfielder was considered optimistic. He ended up the 2015 season with 438. If Ichiro had finished the 2015 year at his .275 average on 06/26, that should have translated into about 120 hits for the year. He only ended up with 91 hits. Ichiro’s disappointing 2015 numbers were .229/.282.

In 2015, Ichiro was his 41 year-old self for only about half the season. Joe Frisaro of makes the case that Ichiro wore down in the 2nd half of the season. I’d like to buy into that rationale, but how to explain his performance in August?

Ichiro 2016 months pngIn 2016, 43 more hits for Ichiro gives him 4,257 professional hits. No one, least of all Ichiro, is suggesting that he would be eclipsing the gambling man. But it is a milestone nonetheless. An additional 22 hits, giving him 65 for the season, puts him at 3,000. The holy hits grail, doubly impressive when the journey started at the age 27.

Want to know what the difference could be between that epic achievement as opposed to coming up just short of the magic 3,000 hits?

At the end of 2016, his 25th professional season, the last 16 in MLB, one measly hit per month.


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Scalia on the Culture Wars

scaliaA great Catholic and American passed today. Many of Antonin Scalia’s opinions were an inspiration to us non-lawyers on how the public debate should be approached.

Scalia’s dissent on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2015:

… to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions…. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance … is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” ”injure,” “degrade,” ”demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual.

All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence—indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it … enemies of the human race.
In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement
over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution.We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

Scalia’s dissent on a case involving homosexual rights in May 1996:

When the Court takes sides in the culture wars, it tends to be with the knights rather than the villains–and more specifically with the Templars, reflecting the views and values of the lawyer class from which the Court’s Members are drawn. How that class feels about homosexuality will be evident to anyone who wishes to interview job applicants at virtually any of the Nation’s law schools. The interviewer may refuse to offer a job because the applicant is a Republican; because he is an adulterer; because he went to the wrong prep school or belongs to the wrong country club; because he eats snails; because he is a womanizer; because she wears real animal fur; or even because he hates the Chicago Cubs. But if the interviewer should wish not to be an associate or partner of an applicant because he disapproves of the applicant’s homosexuality, then he will have violated the pledge which the Association of American Law Schools requires all its member schools to exact from job interviewers: “assurance of the employer’s willingness” to hire homosexuals.
Today’s opinion has no foundation in American constitutional law, and barely pretends to. The people of Colorado have adopted an entirely reasonable provision which does not even disfavor homosexuals in any substantive sense, but merely denies them preferential treatment. Amendment 2 is designed to prevent piecemeal deterioration of the sexual morality favored by a majority of Coloradans, and is not only an appropriate means to that legitimate end, but a means that Americans have employed before. Striking it down is an act, not of judicial judgment, but of political will. I dissent.

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The Nanny State of mind on the Heat beat

If Miami Heat fandom were measured in Scientological verbiage, my Heat-Thetan levels would be off the audit charts. After victories I wallow in post-game interviews, podcasts and NBA filtered Twitter. After defeats, my self-enforced blackouts mirror the regimen of Dwyane Wade recovering from a migraine, as described by Tony Fiorentino. In short, I, like the average fan, think of myself as a little above average in all matters Heat.

The average fan’s exaggerated sense of awareness about their teams is understandably of great irritation to those whose job it is to be truly informed on the matter, local beat writers. I follow and mostly read them all. Main drawback is that when Josh McRoberts is listed questionable for a game by Spoelstra at midday, my Twitter feed reacts as though a Kardashian has tested positive for pubic crab lice on live TV.

Ethan Skolnick is the Miami Herald’s beat writer covering the Heat, is very accessible on social media and hosts a radio show. For me, his likability outweighs his lefty politics [depressingly par for the NBA course]. I get perverse pleasure from the fact that he cannot help but constantly remind his readers and listeners that most things they believe about the NBA and Miami Heat are wrong. Sometimes it feels as though we are just one synthetic drug use away from hearing the TRUTH about the NBA from Skolnick, but its not something I root for since he’s got a youngin at home.

In a recent column, Skolnick got wind[hourst] of Heat fans frolicking in Northeast Ohio schadenfreude and was determined to nip it in the bud, an excerpt.

For reeling Heat fans, especially the most active on social media, there was a welcome distraction this week: the seeming chaos in Cleveland….

[JC: Skolnick then lists every problem the Heat have encountered since the day Lewis Schaffel was born through Deng’s eye poke and indexed each incident by year]….

So catch yourself before laughing too hard at Cleveland.

So it is with proponents of Nanny State politics. Inappropriate fun was detected and the offenders chastised. Their demagogic hero no doubt would approve of the efforts to promote the ‘right kind of cheering.’ Its kinda like being on the ‘right side of history.’

A little perspective. The Heat are going through a very bad stretch with many road games and injuries. Then, in the midst of our gloom, the basketball gods saw fit to throw us a rather large bone.

The franchise we most wish ill is showing structural cracks. LeBron James just got his coach fired, while pretending otherwise. Comical after he undermined the rookie coach to the point that only the corpse remained to be moved in year two. Blatt was moved for yet another rookie coach, who was part of the Blatt attack. The Love trade and subsequent max deal, is now seen as a mistake as Wiggins develops nicely under a rookie contract. The conflict with James business interests, through his best friend agent, vs what is best for the Cavaliers team have been exposed by the Thompson signing and Jackson overtures.

I thought it would take a James injury and/or the inevitable Irving re-injury [a Rose by any other name …] to see Cleveland’s championship window start to close. This way is way better.

So, no Ethan, I don’t think we will be ‘catching ourselves’ anytime soon. Pending improved health, Dragic channeling a Tony Montana mindset and a consistent Green 3-point shot, James failure to deliver for Northeast Ohio will do just fine.

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When Trump invokes William F Buckley Jr

WFB mouse padWhen Donald Trump invokes the memory of my hero, William F. Buckley Jr. — the image to the right is on my mouse pad — my first reaction is a vague recall of the gag, ideally voiced with a Southern accent, about the man who had not minded when his friends and neighbors had been shot at, but when his dog was targeted, well that was the last straw.

So as a loyal Republican who has voted for almost all [couldn’t do Dole] of the party’s nominees in primaries since Reagan, I’ve watched this pre-Primary season with some regret as the embodiment of a charlatan has consistently been leading in our polls. Bad enough. But now this, Trump attempting to wrap himself in the Buckley mantle.

NationalReviewSTOPTRUMP(1)The magazine which WFB founded, National Review, has just come out with an anti-Trump edition. Good for them. I digitally subscribed in gratitude.

As someone who has read almost everything the prolific writer wrote, the idea of any intellectual connection between Trump and Buckley creates a sensory overload of disbelief.

Buckley’s Catholicism was at the center of his life and he exhibited great manners in his countless appearances in over 50 years in the public square. You might say the contrast with Trump is yuuugggeee. We don’t even have to guess what WFB thought of Trump – the excerpt below is from a 2000 article reproduced in the recent National Review edition:

… Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.

Buckley had good reason to wish to root out narcissists in our politics. Early in his active ventures into politics, Buckley had a front row seat to how badly the wrong messenger hungering for the limelight can harm the conservative cause. His name was Joseph McCarthy.


Whittaker Chambers giving Witness

The cause back in the 1950’s was communist infiltration of our politics by elites who sympathized with Stalin’s Russia following WWII. The tragic and compelling figure of Whittaker Chambers did much to expose the reality of traitors like Alger Hiss who had effectively burrowed their way into American government. McCarthy’s excesses [although WFB always maintained that McCarthy’s excesses never approached the excesses of his critics] caused great harm to the conservative movement.  America deserved better than a McCarthy to wage the battle Chambers had exposed.

Similarly, if one believes that Western cultures are on the verge of having to do battle with Islamists — Muslims who wish to impose their version of Islam over society — it’s critical that we enlist leaders in that battle who avoid overreach in their public pronouncements.  The call to ban all Muslims exemplifies the type of strategic error that would be almost guaranteed from a Trump-type.  To paraphrase an old saying, if you’re gonna take a swing at the caliphate….

The entire WFB article which discussed Trump is copied at end of post.
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If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons

muhammad15“If it’s not the Crusades, it’s the cartoons,” was the reaction of President Bush back in 2006 as to possible motivations of Islamist jihadists. Cartoons which depicted Muhammad were published by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, in September of 2005 with the by now predictable outrage.

Fleming Rose an editor at the Danish newspaper, made the following defense of the decision to publish in 2005:

The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims….

As a former correspondent in the Soviet Union, I am sensitive about calls for censorship on the grounds of insult. This is a popular trick of totalitarian movements: Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders. That is what happened to human rights activists and writers such as Andrei Sakharov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Natan Sharansky, Boris Pasternak. The regime accused them of anti-Soviet propaganda, just as some Muslims are labeling 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper anti-Islamic.

The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.

ch3ch2ch1This was ten years before Charlie Hebdo. These photos reflect the results of that attack. None of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons were printed in any major U.S. newspaper. A major victory for the Islamists.

About those Crusades. A reminder from historian Bernard Lewis:

The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad — a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war…

Mohammed himself led the first jihad, in the wars of the Muslims against the pagans in Arabia. The jihad continued under his successors, with a series of wars that brought the Middle East, including the Holy Land, under Arab Muslim rule and then continued eastward into Asia, westward into Africa, and three times into Europe — the Moors in Spain, the Tatars in Russia, the Turks in the Balkans. The Crusade was part of the European counterattack. The Christian re-conquest succeeded in Spain, Russia and eventually the Balkans; it failed to recover the Holy Land of Christendom.

Ross Douthat with a perspective on the Crusades that inspires:

… not interested in an exercise in historical amnesia where the actual necessities of medieval geopolitics get wiped out of Western memory in favor of blanket condemnation of anyone who took the cross. If you want me to condemn pogroms in the Rhineland or the bloody aftermath of Jerusalem’s fall or the entirety of the Fourth Crusade, I will, and readily. But ask me if I’m sorry that Spain is Spain and not Al-Andalus, or if I regret Lepanto or Jan Sobieski’s gallop to Vienna, or if I wish that Saint Louis had somehow rescued Outremer or that aid had come to Constantinople in the 15th century — I’m not, I don’t, I do.


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Why our Civilization could fall to Islamists

Historian Niall Ferguson does not look away from the weakness being exploited by *Islamists:

I am not going to repeat what you have already read or heard. I am not going to say that what happened in Paris on Friday night was unprecedented horror, for it was not. I am not going to say that the world stands with France, for it is a hollow phrase. Nor am I going to applaud President Hollande’s pledge of “pitiless” vengeance, for I do not believe it. I am, instead, going to tell you that this is exactly how civilizations fall.

Here is how Edward Gibbon described the Goths’ sack of Rome in August 410 AD:

“In the hour of savage license, when every passion was inflamed, and every restraint was removed . . . a cruel slaughter was made of the Romans; and . . . the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies . . . Whenever the Barbarians were provoked by opposition, they extended the promiscuous massacre to the feeble, the innocent, and the helpless . . .”

Now, does that not describe the scenes we witnessed in Paris on Friday night?
Let us be clear about what is happening. Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defenses to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.

So who exactly will speak up to ensure that future citizens ‘renounce their ancestral faiths’ when those faiths are incompatible with western secular values? Clearly not a job for the feint of heart, or perhaps we can just use the shorthand ‘college administrators‘ going forward. Someone who is up to the job is named Maajid Nawaz.

Nawaz coined the term *Islamists. He is a British Muslim who speaks frankly and at great personal danger about the extremism in the Muslim world. He describes Islamists as “those who wish to impose their version of Islam over society.” [see video at the 11 min mark below]. More from Nawaz:

[He likens] Islamism to the evil character Voldemort, from the Harry Potter books. In the novels, Harry is the only one allowed to name Voldemort and acknowledge his existence, while the rest of the wizard community are too scared to do so and instead insist he does not exist.

“When we’re dealing with the challenge that we call Islamism, if we get to a situation where the president of the United States cannot even bring himself to name this ideology, we cannot even begin to tackle it. So what we’ve been doing with the British government is focusing on getting the British government and the prime minister to recognise that there is an ideology.

This ideology is called Islamism. It needs to be isolated from whichever interpretation of Islam Muslims may happen to subscribe to and then it needs to be challenged, because we are indeed engaged in an ideological war.”

Nawaz’s influence might have had something to do with the fact that this week British Prime Minister David Cameron finally broke with those leaders who to date continue to pretend that terrorism is unrelated to Islam.

Douglas Murray, another British warrior in this cause, who also happens to be a gay atheist, happily documented the PM’s newfound clarity, Cameron said the following:

“It is not good enough to say simply that Islam is a religion of peace and then to deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists. Why? Because these extremists are self-identifying as Muslims.”

The Niall Ferguson article is copied in full at end of post

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Pope Francis denies the dignity of the Cuban dissident

Just when you thought this Papal visit couldn’t get any more dispiriting to Cuban dissidents, it did.

The following questions were asked of Pope Francis on his plane trip leaving Cuba:

Rosa Flores, CNN: We understand that more than 50 dissidents were arrested as they were trying to have a meeting with you. First, would you like to have a meeting with the dissidents, and if you had that meeting, what would you say?

Pope Francis: Look, I don’t have any news that that has happened. I don’t have any news. Some yes, yes, no, I don’t know. I don’t know, directly. The two questions are about reading the future. Would I like this to happen? … I like to meet with all people. I consider that all people are children of God and the law. And secondly, a relationship with another person always enriches. Even though it was soothsaying, that’s my reply. I would like to meet with everyone. If you want me to speak more about the dissidents, you can ask me something more concrete.

Rosa Flores, with the follow-up later on: What would you tell them if you met with them.

Pope Francis: Oh, my daughter, I don’t know what I would say. (laughs) I would wish everyone well, but what one says comes in that moment and … You’ve got the Nobel Prize for being a reader of the future, eh? (laughs)

Given a second opportunity to give a word of encouragement to the truly dispossessed in Cuba, Pope Francis not only declines, twice, but goes out of his way to minimize their dignity, by noting four times in this brief exchange that his thoughts on the matter apply to EVERYONE.

Mission accomplished. No one can report that the Pope repudiated the dissidents, but neither can they report that Pope Francis wished to meet with the dissidents. The exchange is skillful on his part, note the playfulness at the end, it only lacks in morality.

This from a pope who recently visited a prison in Bolivia and stating that “he could not leave without visiting with them.” This from a Pope who will visit a Philadelphia prison during this U.S. visit. This from a Pope whose frequent off-hand comments have caused great confusion in the Church. And yet, at the prospect of offending the Castros, or reneging on whatever deal he made, discipline rules the day. Will this constitute his first miracle?

Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal on the politicization of the Pope Francis:

Francis’ popularity remains high, but the dangers in his current course are high. What many of his new political friends mainly seek is to have the pope “moralize” their politics. Francis’ spiritual message could not be more secondary. They won’t be with him in Philadelphia. How allowing the papacy’s core moral authority to be politicized is in the interests of the Catholic Church as an institution is difficult to see.

For those interested in following this issue, Charles Lane is a great source on Twitter.

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