Sunday, January 25, 2015

A word about Ernie Banks (1931-2015)


In my days in Wisconsin, we used to walk home from school.   One afternoon, I was by myself and saw this elderly couple listening to the radio, a ball game on the radio.
I asked:  "Who is playing"
The lady said:  "The Cubs of course"
I saw the box score the next day and saw that a fellow named Banks played first.     A few years later, that fellow Banks hit # 500 against the Braves.
We were saddened to hear that Ernie Banks died at age 83.  
My guess is that most people don't know much about his younger days in Dallas, Texas:
"Banks was known universally as “Mr. Cub.” 
His mantra “Let’s play two,” referred to his desire to play two games daily for a team that too often struggled to compete.
But Banks’ roots were in Dallas where he was raised on Fairmount Street in what was then known as North Dallas. Today, the downtown Arts District stands in what had been his old neighborhood.
The neighborhood was part of a segregated city back then. Banks was one of 12 children born to Eddie and Essie Banks. He attended nearby Booker T. Washington High School where he was a wide receiver on the football team and played on the softball team. The school did not have a baseball team.
While growing up, he spent many a summer day catching pre-dawn rides on the back of flatbed trucks heading north to the sleepy town of Frisco, where he would earn $1.75 a day picking cotton.
After his 10-game season with the Cubs in 1953, Banks returned to live with his family at 1723 Fairmount Street. To help make ends meet, he landed a job as a bellman at the ritzy Adolphus Hotel, less than a one-mile walk from home.
“Our North Dallas was a great place to grow up,” Banks said in a 2013 interview with The Dallas Morning News in advance of his Presidential honor.
Banks was guided to baseball by a neighbor, William Blair, who played in the old Negro Leagues. Blair, who had watched in awe as Banks pounded softballs over the outfield wall at Booker T., first added him to a barnstorming team he managed. Then Blair steered him to the Negro Leagues’ famed Kansas City Monarchs.
After two years in the Army, it was on to Chicago.
“Not many people know I am from Dallas,” Banks said in the 2013 interview. “I used to get back there some, but I haven’t been there recently…”
Banks said then the last time he had been in Dallas for any extended time was in 2009 when his mother Essie died. “Unfortunately, I only seem to get there now for funerals,” he said.
Blair, who founded the Elite News, a newspaper that served Dallas’ African-American community and worked there for more than five decades, was the driving force behind the establishment of Dallas’ Martin Luther King Jr. People’s Parade.
He hoped to someday organize at least one parade in honor of Ernie Banks.
Blair died in April at age 92.
Asked in 2013 if he might like a parade in his hometown, Banks responded gleefully.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” he said. “I’d be glad to come home.”"
Ernie Banks never got "to come home".
Over the years, I've seen some great players in person and TV.  Sadly, I never got to see Ernie Banks in person but do recall hearing #500 on WGN radio.  
Banks was a great player. Better than that, he was a great human being.  

We will miss Ernie Banks for a long time.

P.S.  You can hear my show  CantoTalk  or  follow me on Twitter  

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Where is our Winston Churchill?


Winston Churchill died 50 years ago today.   He was one of the most consequential men of the 20th century.    Take Churchill out of the story and it would have been a different outcome for the UK and the West.
"“I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
Of course, the reason that we use all of those Churchill quotes is because he had so much to say. Unlike President Obama, he was always serious about the big things, as we saw when he stood up in the 1930s and warned the British people about the Nazi threat.
It makes you wonder:  Is there a Churchill around, here and in Europe?  Is there someone who is willing to tell us what we don't want to hear?  Is there a future president who will talk about something other than "college tuition" and "sick leave"?
Let's hope so, especially on the 50th anniversary of Churchill's passing.
The Daily Mail in the UK has a great editorial about the 50th anniversary of Churchill's death:
"To an astonishing degree, it was Winston Churchill whose single-minded sense of purpose inspired the nation with hope in 1940, when Britain and her empire stood alone against Hitler and all seemed lost.
Indeed, it is hard to exaggerate how much the free world owes to the vision, energy and determination of this one man, who mobilised millions and galvanised Whitehall with his red stickers demanding: ‘Action This Day.’
Now fast forward to the present day, as Sir Winston’s successors at Westminster jockey for position ahead of the election.
Mercifully, the challenges they face are of a far lesser magnitude than those we confronted in May 1940. And of course any comparisons with the great man are bound to be invidious.
But with the tectonic plates of geopolitics fast shifting – and the public finances in a desperately precarious state – might we not expect just a glimmer of Churchillian clarity and vision from today’s politicians?
Instead, we see them engaged in a puerile and self-serving spat about which of them should be invited to appear in the TV election debates, each concerned only with petty party advantage.
Meanwhile, the Opposition leader hastily turns his back on fracking and stakes our future on wind farms – not to further the national interest (far from it), but merely because he fears the threat to the Labour vote from the Greens.
And where Churchill offered only ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’, Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Co promise us the moon – whether tax cuts or vast increases in public spending – while giving us hardly a clue where the money is to come from.
As for any Big Idea or sense of direction, we’re patronised instead by the politics of focus groups, Twitter, inane selfies and crude photo opportunities.
Yes, it is possible that Britain will muddle through. Our recovery may even continue (though it is hard to see how, if we put the economy back into the hands of the party that destroyed it).
But what if, God forbid, we should ever again find ourselves faced with a threat to our survival comparable with the fall of Europe in 1940?
Where, in our ideologically impoverished political class, is the statesman of even a quarter the stature of the national saviour we remember today?"
Let me be optimistic.Some future leader, our next Lincoln or FDR or Reagan, will rise to the occasion and lead us again. 
Like Churchill, he will call terrorists terrorists, he will tell us that we expect too much from government and finally he will not do interviews with people who take "Fruit Loops" baths.

P.S.  You can hear my show  CantoTalk  or  follow me on Twitter  

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The State of the Union speech PLUS a crumbling foreign policy

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ernie Banks (1931-2015)

"Banks was an excellent defensive player at two positions, shortstop from 1953-61, and first base from 1962-71. 
At the former position, he led the league in fielding percentage three times, picking up a gold glove in 1960, when he led all NL shortstops in fielding percentage, double plays, games, put-outs, and assists. 
As a first baseman, he led the league in put-outs five times, assists three times, and double plays and fielding percentage once each, compiling a .994 fielding percentage at the first sack.
It was with the bat that Banks really shone, however, hitting over 40 homers five times and leading the league twice in homers and twice in RBI. 
He was a three-time .300 hitter who compiled a lifetime batting average of .274, along with 2583 hits, 1305 runs scored, and 1636 runs batted in. 
On May 12, 1970, he hit the 500th home run of his career, becoming just the ninth player and first shortstop to reach the plateau. 
He finished with 512."

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We remember Ernie Banks (1931-2015)

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The 'partners' strategy collapses


We hear that President Obama hates the Clintons.  Frankly, I don't know, but can you blame him if he does? 

Back in the late 1990s, an economic boom saved President Clinton from his reckless Oval Office behavior and total indifference to terrorism.  President Clinton coasted in the late 1990s and avoided all the tough calls on Osama bin Laden and Social Security reforms.  

Again, President Clinton got away with it because everybody was busy working and enjoying what Charles Krauthammer called our "holiday from history":
Like the 1920s, the 1990s were a golden age permeated by a postwar euphoria of apparently endless peace and prosperity. Both eras ended abruptly, undermined ultimately by threats that were ignored as they grew and burrowed underground.
Clinton let a decade of unprecedented American prosperity and power go without doing anything about al Qaeda, Afghanistan or Iraq (where his weakness allowed France and Russia to almost totally undermine the post-Gulf War sanctions).
And although al Qaeda declared war on America in 1996 and, as we now know, hatched the Sept. 11 plot that same year, it continued to flourish throughout the decade.
Looking the other way was largely a function of the age -- our holiday from history, our retreat from seriousness, our Seinfeld decade of obsessive ordinariness.
Clinton never could have been elected during the Cold War.
The 1990s produced a president perfectly suited to the time -- a time of domesticity, triviality and self-absorption.
President Obama is not going to enjoy any "holiday from history."  He is not that lucky.  Don't blame President Obama if he prays every night for those late 1990s to come back, and come back soon!  It was certainly easier to be president when all you had to do was enjoy the monthly unemployment reports.

Again, Clinton was born under a lucky star.  Obama wasn't!  And don't expect any lucky stars over the White House any time soon.

This week, Yemen burst open President Obama's door.  Unfortunately for the cultists who blame everything on Bush and the few still faithful "yes we can" screamers, 

President Obama is starting to hear it from liberal sources like the Washington Post:
IN DEVOTING 250 of the 6,800 words of his State of the Union address to the fight against “violent extremism,” President Obama offered a boilerplate description of his policy.
But here is the clincher or hook from the newspaper that endorsed him twice:
The Yemen mess reveals the weaknesses of Mr. Obama’s “partners” strategy, which has been too narrowly focused on drone strikes and training of specialized units, and not enough on providing security for the population, institution-building and support for moderate political forces. Unfortunately, the president’s cursory and formulaic description of his counterterrorism policies this week, following a year in which jihadist forces and terrorist attacks expanded across the world, suggested that he remains uninterested in correcting his mistakes.
Add Thomas Friedman to the list:
When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble.
And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq.
We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.
And Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat from Hawaii:
I think this is a bipartisan concern. It's a bipartisan concern for all of us to make sure that we keep the American people safe and specifically when we talk about this terminology, the use of Islamic extremism. Terminology and the use of this specific term is important because words are an expression of your feeling and your understanding. So as, for example, last night, the president came and talked to Congress about coming to request an authorization to use military force.
Thanks to Mr. Friedman for saying that "we've entered the theater of the absurd."  

The bad news is that we really entered that theater of the absurd when people like Mr. Friedman and others got drunk on the Obama Kool-Aid back in 2008!  Wonder how many of them thought that this was the change we were waiting for?

The good news is that some are waking up, looking at the windshield, and screaming, "Look out, look out there's a truck about to hit us!"

P.S. You can hear my show CantoTalk or follow me on Twitter    We spoke about foreign policy on Saturday's show:

Check Out Politics Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Silvio Canto Jr on BlogTalkRadio


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We remember Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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Happy # 74 to Neil Diamond

"Stones would play inside her headAnd where she slept, They made her bedAnd she would ache for love And get but stonesLa la la la la la la la laLordy, child A good day's comin'And I'll be there to let the sun inAnd bein' lost Is worth the comin' home
La la la la la la la la la on stones
You and me, a time for plantingYou and me, a harvest grantingThe every prayer ever prayedFor just two wild flowers that grow
La la la la la la la la la on stones..."

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Anybody going to Minnesota? THE PRAIRIE EDITOR & The Ten Best Twin Cities.....

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The "Nisman" story from Argentina. via Fausta's Blog

We spoke to Fausta about this story a couple of days ago.... 

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Turning Cuba into another China or Vietnam.....with Jorge Ponce.

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Very sad to think of Cuba as the next Vietnam or China


It's sad to see that some are looking to China and Vietnam as economic models for Cuba, especially now that a U.S. delegation is down on the island negotiating a path forward.

I say sad because China and Vietnam are horrible models for personal freedom or workers' rights.

The Chinese and Vietnamese version of capitalism is a rather cynical formula: the party elites own companies and do joint ventures with international investors looking for cheap labor.  That's not capitalism, or at least what I call capitalism.  In fact, it looks more like communism funded by foreign companies desperately looking to pay the cheapest wages in the world!

The human rights record is terrible.

Human Rights Watch gave Vietnam very bad marks on human rights for 2014:
The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) continued its one-party rule, in place since 1975. While it maintained its monopoly on state power, it faced growing public discontent with lack of basic freedoms. Denial of rights and endemic official corruption are widely seen as stifling Vietnam’s political and economic progress.
In China, it's not that good, either:
The government censors the press, the Internet, print publications, and academic research, and justifies human rights abuses as necessary to preserve “social stability.” It carries out involuntary population relocation and rehousing on a massive scale, and enforces highly repressive policies in ethnic minority areas in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia. Though primary school enrollment and basic literacy rates are high, China’s education system discriminates against children and young people with disabilities. The government obstructs domestic and international scrutiny of its human rights record, insisting it is an attempt to destabilize the country.
Nevertheless, Neil Irwin reports that many are looking to the Chinese and Vietnamese models:
Cubans — and Americans wanting to do business there — will be better off if they instead emulate Vietnam and China, two countries that have migrated from Communism to a hybrid system that is nominally Communist but practices free-market capitalism to a large degree. 
That has allowed them to become more fully integrated into the global economy and helped millions of their citizens escape poverty over the last generation without bloodshed or revolution.
Yes, it's true that Vietnam and China have avoided bloodshed and revolution in recent years.  However, that's not because their people are enjoying more prosperity; rather, it is because of the repressive nature of those regimes.  Vietnam and China are not great places for people with dissenting viewpoints!

China and Vietnam are horrible models for Cuba.  I hope that the U.S. delegation looks at a better example, such as Chile, where property rights and "the rule of law" provide permanent prosperity.

P.S. You can hear my show (CantoTalk) or follow me on Twitter.    We discussed Cuba today with Jorge Ponce:

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Nice harp music with Joanna Mell

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

1973: Another awful anniversary of Roe v Wade

It was on this day in 1973 that the Supreme Court made the awful Roe v Wade decision:
"In a historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Roe v. Wade that women, as part of their constitutional right to privacy, can terminate a pregnancy during its first two trimesters. Only during the last trimester, when the fetus can survive outside the womb, would states be permitted to regulate abortion of a healthy pregnancy."
"Roe v Wade" was wrong on two counts:

First, abortion is the termination of a life.  I understand that some play word games but it is what it is, or the termination of a timeline that puts a little creature in a mother's arms.

Second, "Roe v Wade" did not settle anything.  It made abortion legal but the issue continues to divide the country.  It will continue to be a divisive issue until voters, not 5 Justices in the Supreme Court, decide it in the ballot box.

A very sad anniversary!

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Putin sticks a ship in the middle of U.S.-Cuba talks

We can say that the KGB must have taught its graduates like Mr Putin how to mix a little humor with Realpolitik.  I guess that the crew of that Russian ship must be strolling the streets of Havana singing that old Beatles tune: "I don't want to spoil the party so I'll go...."

The U.S.-Cuba "thaw" just got a bit more strange now that a Russian ship docked in Havana:
US officials in Washington played down the presence of the Russian vessel, saying it was perfectly legal and not at all out of the ordinary.
Of course, it's legal, but that's not the point.  Saying that it's legal just proves that we are weak.  Sadly, no one fears or respects the Obama administration.

This is another "in your face, Obama" from Mr. Putin:
The Viktor Leonov, an armed intelligence-gathering vessel that monitors US communications, arrived at a passenger cruise terminal in full public view for what a Russian embassy official called a “friendly” three-day stay.
The port call came on the same day that Kremlin defence minister Sergei Shoigu announced plans for Russia to extend its global military footprint with new bases in a number of countries, including Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Mr Putin seemed to be sending a typically blunt message about Russia’s influence with its communist Caribbean ally by timing the vessel’s visit to coincide with this week’s trip by a US team led by Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state.
Since the "thaw" was announced, a couple of dissidents released were re-arrested.   

The Castro government has not made a single concession on freedom or property rights.     

Remember access to internet mentioned by President Obama?

The Castro regime arrested a man who wanted to turn on the internet on the island:
Leinier Cruz Salfran, a Cuban computer expert, recently got around financial and other limits on access to the Internet by turning his laptop into a "hot spot," allowing other Cubans high-speed access to the Internet.
The result?
Cruz, 34, was arrested.
And now a Russian spy ship comes to the island to pay a visit.  Is this the same ship that was spying off the Atlantic coast in 2014?   

Am I the only person who thinks that this deal is a bit of a one-way street?  
We throw out the window a policy toward Cuba enforced by every president from JFK to George W. Bush.  We change, but the Cuban government shows no sign of changing.

PS: You can hear my show (CantoTalk) or follow me on Twitter.   We discussed "the ship in Cuba" on Wednesday's show:

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Democrats vs Obama on Iran & Islamic extremism!

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Argentina, Cuba & US-Latin America stories with Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

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