May 12, 2005


The Castro Caucus: Why would 22 House members oppose a Cuban democracy bill? (Duncan Currie, 05/12/2005, Weekly Standard)

CRANKY CONSERVATIVES often dismiss symbolic pro-democracy legislation as so much claptrap. Of course everyone supports the flowering of liberty on foreign soil, they insist. Of course everyone wants to nourish oases of civil society in the deserts of despotism. So why bother with all these vacuous "Yay for freedom" acts? Aren't they kinda like resolving, "We love our Moms"? Shouldn't it go without saying that every member of Congress favors democrats over dictators?

Yes, it should. But then there's Cuba. To endorse the sociopolitical spadework of Cuban democrats is, of course, to rebuke Fidel Castro. And that, apparently, is too much for a handful of House Democrats--and one Republican--to stomach.

On Tuesday, the House passed a measure first introduced by Miami-area congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican. HR 193 expressed support for the Assembly to Promote the Civil Society in Cuba, an umbrella structure of over 360 dissident and civil society groups led by economist Marta Beatriz Roque. [...]

The legislation passed with 392 supporters--and 22 opponents.

Those voting "nay" included the following Democrats: Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Sam Farr (Calif.), Maurice Hinchey (N.Y.), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio), Carolyn Kilpatrick (Mich.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Jim McDermott (Wash.), Cynthia McKinney (Ga.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), George Miller (Ga.), John Olver (Mass.), Donald Payne (N.J.), Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), José Serrano (N.Y.), Pete Stark (Calif.), Edolphus Towns (N.Y.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), and Lynn Woolsey (Calif.).

Joining the "nays" was Texas Republican Ron Paul, a maverick libertarian. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Democrat Gwen Moore voted "present."

Because, of course, being a libertarian means: "I got mine--get your own."

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 12, 2005 10:01 PM

Rep. Paul probably has some odd explanation for why he voted against, based on some obscure clause in the bill that no one else thought was significant.

Posted by: pj at May 12, 2005 10:44 PM

George Miller is from CA, not GA. I doubt if he could even get elected in John Lewis's district.

Here is the Left in all its glory (Ron Paul excepted, of course). Notice that none of the TX Democrats voted no.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 12, 2005 10:50 PM

Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) represents Ithaca, NY. Of course.

Posted by: John Thacker at May 12, 2005 11:59 PM

In terms of geographic location, Udall's name is the most interesting one of the Democrats on that list, though the Santa Fe area of New Mexico is fast becoming as loopy an area politically as any costal part of the Northeast or California.

Posted by: John at May 13, 2005 12:34 AM

You don't know about the "Ron Paul exception"? He votes against anything he thinks the federal government has no business meddling in. He's a very principled libertarian. I'm sure he agrees with the aims of the resolution, though. Personally, I see his point but would have voted "yes." I'm not so purist.

Posted by: PapayaSF at May 13, 2005 1:55 AM

Why wasn't Bernie Sanders on the list of nays? I can't imagine that he'd vote against his fellow traveller Fidel.

Posted by: Governor Breck at May 13, 2005 6:34 AM

A useful list. We need lists like this. Save this list.

Posted by: Louo Gots at May 13, 2005 7:28 AM


Right. Ron Paul is a pro-lifer but I'm pretty sure if the House passed a bill condeming (but now outlawing) abortion he would've voted against that too. He would say that the Constitution does not give Congress the right to pass bills condemning or approving certain behavior.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at May 13, 2005 8:34 AM

If Ron Paul wants to be a Libertarian, let him run as one. There is no need for him to be a turd in the punch bowl that is the House GOP caucus.

Posted by: bart at May 13, 2005 9:06 AM

"Being a libertarian means: 'I got mine--get your own.'"

Oh, give up and join us on the Dark Side, OJ. You know you want to.

Posted by: Tom at May 13, 2005 10:01 AM


I was, of course, all young white males go through that phase. But we grow up.

Posted by: oj at May 13, 2005 10:16 AM

Mr. Judd;

We do?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at May 13, 2005 10:26 AM

I'm libertarian on most domestic issues, but uber-Jacksonian on foreign and defense matters. There is little on the domestic side of the ledger that government can actually improve, compared to lots of things they just screw up royally. But abandoning the field to foreign powers, which is the upshot of Libertarian foreign and defense policy, is either cowardice or stupidity. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if it isn't American gunboats enforcing some order in international trade affairs, it will be the PRC or some other entity most definitely not to our liking. And the role of the American economy as the world's safe haven, and the premium we get for that, will be ended.

Posted by: bart at May 13, 2005 2:30 PM

No surprise regarding McKinney from Georgia: she's as loopy as they come.

Posted by: Ptah at May 13, 2005 3:46 PM