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Obama’s decision on relations with Cuba makes sense for U.S.

Date: 12/23/2014

In 1972, President Richard Nixon visited the People’s Republic of China and began the process of establishing diplomatic relations with that communist nation. He was hailed for taking a progressive step that has ultimately resulted in an opening of that nation to American business interests.

He did not take this action with the approval of Congress. As president he is allowed to take such steps in international relations.

So why is President Barack Obama taking such criticism about his efforts to normalize a relationship with Cuba?

The policy of trying isolate Cuba hasn’t caused the fall of its dictatorship, which was the intent of the strategy. If anything, it gave hardliners in Cuba a big, highly recognizable common enemy.

We’ve seen how communism failed in Eastern Europe, giving rise to countries that are democracies. We seek the struggles against communism in China that have come about because of Nixon’s actions.

We never cut relations with Russia, even at the height of the Cold War, and one could argue that was ultimately a better way to influence the country than not talking with them.

Obama is doing something that has worked well for this country. An embargo against Cuba has not accomplished very much. Obama, though, could come up with the cure for the common cold, develop cold fusion technology and a dessert topping that is also a floor cleaner and some people would still hate him.

I applaud the president’s effort. It makes sense as it falls in line with how this country has tried to deal with communist countries. I also think it’s fairly amazing that Pope Francis had a hand in international diplomacy.

If you want to criticize the president there are plenty of things – perhaps some we could agree upon – to talk about. Cuba, though, shouldn’t be one of them.

And yes, I’m looking forward to some cigars.

Attribution is essential

The following is why we seldom, if ever, use unnamed sources at this newspaper. Chris Maza, our assistant managing editor, spotted a story by Gerry Cantlon, a reporter for the Hartford Wolf Pack fan blog that cited three anonymous sources in the American Hockey League who insisted the Springfield Falcons will be bought and moved from the city.

The Falcons have said there is no truth in this report.

I don’t know Cantlon, but I do know this is why unnamed sources are dangerous. The goal in journalism is for a source to stand by his or her words. You do that by quoting them and properly attributing the quote.

People only tell you what they want you to know and in many cases what best serves their interests. By allowing someone to tell you something secretly the reporter is now on the hook instead of the source.

By the way, I’m glad the Falcons are staying put.

Waiting for the spirit

I will readily admit that I’m not much in the holiday mood. I’m searching for inspiration – with both hands.

This time of the year, guys like me who write columns like this are supposed to deliver some inspiring, or at least interesting assembly of words about Christmas – the season’s promise of love and joy; its message of hope and peace.

I’m having trouble finding it.

I know it’s there, but it’s like trying to hear something in a noisy room. It keeps getting drowned out.    

At this time of year, the spirit of the Christmas holiday is supposed to help us overcome the most depressing realities of this world at least for a day or two. That’s a big job and the only way the holiday can accomplish this task is through our own actions.

Can we commit ourselves to change?
Mark Twain wrote in a letter from 1907, “The Xmas holidays have this high value: that they remind forgetters of the forgotten and repair damaged relationships.”

In the next few days, I will look forward to the trigger event that will allow me to forget the events that surround us and find the Christmas spirit. I suspect decorating the tree with the help of the cats just might do it.

Merry Christmas to my colleagues, readers and advertisers.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.