Bloggers weigh Fidel Castro's decision to hand over power to his brother. They also fulminate over Iran's refusal to halt its nuclear program.
¿Cuba libre? Cuban President Fidel Castro ceded power Monday to his brother and chosen successor, Raul, to undergo surgery for stress-related intestinal bleeding, according to a statement supposedly written by Fidel. Cuban officials claim that Fidel's leave is temporary, but bloggers anticipate a more permanent change.
Conservative bloggers hail Castro's decline with a mix of joy and vitriol. Martin at the Texan blog Blogbat posts photos of the Cuban-Americans celebrating in Florida: "Of course, no official word and Infidel Castrato may still be hanging by a thread above the raging flames, but to borrow an idea from somewhere else, I think we can be pretty sure it's an historic inevitability." David at the conservative group blog The Waterglass offers little sympathy: "What about the excellent health care Cuba is supposed to have?"
Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters doubts that Raul, 75, has his brother's capacity to lead: "Even if Raul could hold things together, it won't be for very much longer in any case. His own advanced age, combined with the stress of domination, will tax him in a way that Fidel somehow avoided -- perhaps because he enjoyed it so much." Bradford Plumer at MoJoBlog, the blog of liberal Mother Jones magazine, examines Castro's plan for succession, in which Raul would cede power to a "civilian triumvirate" composed of current Fidelista ministers: "All of them seem keen on continuing Cuba's socialist government, although historically triumvirates don't always go as smoothly as planned." New Jersey blogger TigerHawk thinks the post-Castro power vacuum might suck in all sorts of undesirables: "If Castro dies, watch for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez -- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new best friend -- to try to take over de facto control of Cuba. That is why Chavez has been underwriting the Cuban economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. He is buying his way in."
Meanwhile, the rumor mill churns furiously with speculation about Castro's death. Val Prieto at Babalu, a Miami-based blog and home of the ongoing Castro Croaking Contest, guesses that this time the rumors might be true: "I should note, for those of you that arent very familiar with fidel castro's deaths, that this is the first time where actual reports on castro's health were made publicly to the Cuban people via Cuban media." (Prieto also offers a thorough Cuba blog roundup.) Charlie at New York-based KillCastro has heard "many stories, from colon cancer to cyrrhosis of the liver, as we have reported so many times. … Also, a source in the health field in Cuba said that kasstro actually has a coleostomy bag, and that it was evident in his last travel to Argentina." Clayton at RedState cites "congressional sources" who claim that Castro's statement came after the surgery, not before, as evidence that the dictator "is in grave condition or is already dead."
Bloggers also imagine what Castro's demise will mean for the United States. R.A. Porter at Coyote Squirrel's Random Musings calls the news a "complete and total win for the U.S. First off, we get a new vacation spot with great food and music. We also get a foreign policy 'victory' at a time we so desperately need something to go our way. And - this is the biggest for me - when the expats return home, it should effect a radical shift in the voting patterns of Florida." Danish-Puerto Rican journalist Solana Larson at Solanasaurus is skeptical of the U.S. offer to aid a transition to democracy: "I have yet to meet anyone in Cuba who think the United States holds the solution to their problems. More common (if unlikely) were fears that the US would somehow turn Havana into the next Baghdad when Castro dies."
Slate contributor Tim Naftali, writing at the Huffington Post, wonders how changes in Cuba might play out in Florida politics: "Will most of the Cuban-Americans continue to vote for the GOP out of gratitude as older working-class voters did for Franklin Roosevelt's party until Ronald Reagan? Or will their concerns now shift to the bread and butter issues that Democrats poll well on?"
Read more about Fidel Castro.
Iran's nukes: Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution warning Iran to halt nuclear enrichment by the end of August or face sanctions. Bloggers connect Iran's stubbornness to its influential position in the current Middle East crisis.
Brian at the conservative Iowa Voice sees a credibility problem: "the UN is warning Iran that if they don't suspend enrichment, then they'll meet again and talk about issuing another warning about possible sanctions." Jeff, a commenter on SoCalPundit, argues that, whatever Iran's agenda, the U.S. and its allies cannot yet justify an attack: "The reality is that Iran is in a strong position. They hold all the cards now vis a vis the Hizballah/Israel situation. I have no doubts that if Ahmadinjead wanted to, he could have Hizballah hand over the Israeli hostages."
Sam Houston at Throwing Heat rails against the U.N. doves: "Ahmadinejad may be a madman by most definitions, but he's not stupid. He has been watching the United Nations long enough to realize that such an impotent organization presents little danger to him or to his plans to bomb Israel out of existence when he has the means to do so. Even if he doesn't get around to dropping the big one on Israel, the new Hitler knows that he can blackmail the civilized portion of the world as long as he has the means to destroy that country."
Read more about Iran's U.N. rebuff.