Thursday, February 28, 2013

Van Cliburn was a great pianist

We heard on Wednesday that Van Cliburn passed away in Ft. Worth.  What else can you say about this amazing pianist?

I found this very interesting about his parents:

"He was born in Shreveport on July 12, 1934, to Harvey Lavan Cliburn, an oil company executive, and Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, herself a classical pianist with an impeccable pedigree. The daughter of a lawyer and former mayor of the small Texas town of McGregor, Mr. Cliburn's mother had gone away to study piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory, and then to New York. Her teacher there was Arthur Friedheim, who had been a pupil of piano legend Franz Liszt.
Rildia Bee Cliburn's piano career would consist mostly of teaching, and her most prominent pupil was her talented and precocious son. In the recent interview, Mr. Cliburn remembered his mother as a very demanding instructor.
"I was about 9 or 10 and she was taking me through the Transcendental Etudes of Liszt," Mr. Cliburn said. "She said, 'Oh, no, dear.' I said, 'I can't play this because I don't have perfect hands like you.'"
His voice became stern as he remembered his mother's reply.
"No one has perfect hands!" she said. "Everyone has problems. Your responsibility is to solve your problems.""

Mr Cliburn played for presidents and world leaders.  He was also a fixture in our area and the kind of man who influenced so many.

This is a great video of Van Cliburn & Pres Reagan:

 



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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Raul Castro and "change"


A lot of people are talking about the "change" in Cuba.  Unfortunately, some things did not and will not change:

1) Opposition parties are not recognized.

2) The political prisons are alive and well.

3) Las Damas en Blanco will continue to be harassed.

4) Cuba will not change but one communist will replace another communist.  So much for change!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Raul Castro retirement announcement, no changes ahead for Cuba

My new American Thinker post

Despite Raul Castro retirement announcement, no changes ahead for Cuba 

Before you call for an end to the embargo or shout that a new day has arrived in Cuba, please sit back and remember this about the new "change" on the island: 

1) Raul Castro was "reelected" for another 5-year term; 

 2) His successor was picked by Raul Castro. We don't know much about Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel- Bermudez. All we know is that he has been a provincial bureaucrat, loyal to Raul Castro, a Beatles fan and could pass for Jose Canseco's older brother; 

3) No opposition party was allowed to put up a candidate. This is because the Cuban regime does not recognize the opposition. Everybody in Cuba is a communist and dissent results in prison. Someone needs to tell Western reporters that especially the next time that they interview so many "happy Cubans" on the island. 

Is that an election? I don't think so. 

Why did Raul Castro decide to retire? 

Nobody really knows but here are my "guesses": 

1) Raul is in his 80s. I'm sure that he'd rather spend the rest of his life with the family millions in an isolated farm. My guess is that Raul does not want to be around the day that they turn out the lights on the regime. 

2) Cuba's problems are beyond repair. There is no "socialista" answer to the island's economic mess. 

3) Raul knows something that most of the Western media does not. Raul knows that communism is not popular in Cuba, specially with the young people who want freedom. There is tremendous dissatisfaction with the Castro regime. As a young person told me, "there is more to life than free health care"! 

4) Raul wants to "fool" the US into ending the embargo. Cuba desperately needs "credit" because it is no longer getting it from other countries. 

Who would have believed this 50 years ago? Cuba desperately needs US credit lines to save the anti-US revolution. 

President Obama should react to the changes in Cuba with a simple statement: "Nice try Raul but call me when you hold free elections and we will consider lifting the embargo."


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The economic "perfect storm" that we better keep an eye on



Let me ask you some questions:

1) Are you paying more for gasoline this week than you did last month?

2) Did you get your health insurance renewal letter?

3) Have you checked your net income lately?

4) Are you a small businessman who can't figure out how Obama-Care will impact your hiring?

The first sign of this "storm" was the quarterly earnings report for Wal-Mart:
"Retailers are preparing for a triple whammy as the restoration of the payroll tax, surging gas prices, and stagnant employment and wages take a bite out of consumers’ disposable income, leaving them with less cash to spend on clothing, groceries, and eating out." (CSM)

The second sign is that   " .....Burger King Worldwide Inc., Kraft Foods Group Inc. and others are lowering forecasts and adjusting sales and marketing strategies, expecting consumers with smaller paychecks to dine out less and trade down to less expensive purchases."

I won't blame gasoline prices on President Obama.  I won't do to him what the other side did to President Bush.   Nevertheless, I spent $35 to fill my Ford Focus last week and $40 last night.   That $ 5 that I won't be able to spend on something else.

I do blame President Obama for the health care premiums.  He gave us exactly the wrong medicine for our health care crisis.  We needed to fine tune the engine rather than replace it with one that no one can afford.

Last, but not least, the employment situation is still uncertain, specially for smaller companies who can't make any sense of all of this uncertainty about Obama-Care.

Yes, Obama-Care is the law of the land but the rules are still unwritten.  This is like changing the speed limit but not posting the new number.

Yes, 2013 will be the year of the "3-part perfect economic storm" and there is nothing pretty about it.





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Monday, February 25, 2013

Afghanistan, Iran and more scary talk from President BO

The White House wants you to think that the world will end if "the sequester" goes into effect on Friday or March 1st.  In fact, Pres BO wants you to think that the police will not show up to work, the inspectors won't check the meat and the airports will close.

The "sequester" episode just confirms the disconnect between Washington's political class and the people who pay the taxes.  In Washington DC, the issue is saving their government jobs.  Outside of the beltway, the issue is spending out of control and the "un-sustainability" of the debt.

Of course, another big issue is the brewing economic perfect storm.  Have you seen your paycheck lately?  put gas in your car?  did you get your insurance renewal premiums?  Americans are being hit in their pockets and there is growing concern that consumer spending could be impacted. 

Last, but not least, we heard today that Afghanistan wants to remove special forces from a certain region.  The Afghan mission is growing more and more unpopular.  Pres Karsai's comments won't help.  At the same, let's remember that we are leaving and Pres Karsai has terrorists to deal with after our departure.

Click here for the Sunday chat with Bill Katz:


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Sunday, February 24, 2013

George Harrison would have been 70 this month

He was the "Quiet Beatle", a realistic reference to the fact that George Harrison played in a band led by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.    

However, George did play lead guitar in all of those great songs that John and Paul sang.  He also wrote some nice songs that the group recorded, from "Something" to "Here comes the sun" to the very prophetic "Taxman".

We remember that George would have been 70 this week.   Of course, George died of cancer back in 2001.

His solo career was short lived but he did record some nice songs, such as "This is love" from the "Cloud Nine" album of the late 1980s.

Click here for the video:


"Precious words drift away from their meaning
And the sun melts the chill from our lives
Helping us all to remember what we came here for
This is love, this is la la la-la love
This is love, this is la la la-la love

Little things that will change you forever
May appear from way out of the blue
Making fools of ev'rybody who don't understand
This is love, this is la la la-la love
This is love, this is la la la-la love

This is love, this is love
This is love, this is la la la-la love

Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome
When we use the power provided free to everyone
This is love, this is la la la-la love
This is love, this is la la la-la love

This is love, this is la la la-la love..."

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

The biggest problem with the Affordable Health Care Act is that it is not affordable

My new American Thinker post.

 My candidate for quote of the year is from Jill Zorn, senior program officer at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. This is what she said about The Affordable Health Care Act:
"The single biggest issue we face now is affordability....."
I guess that's like saying that my biggest concern with that new pitcher is that he can't pitch. 

Affordable health care is now turning into quite for a challenge for those who made a lot of promises. They told us that taxes would go up on the rich.  Not really.

They told us that you could keep your insurance or that your employer-based coverage would not be impacted. 

Again, not really.

We are now learning  that employers are reacting to Obama-Care by reducing payrolls or turning some full time employees into part timers: 

"The mandate to offer health insurance doesn't take effect until 2014, but the "measurement period" used by the feds to determine a firm's average number of full-time employees started last month. So the cutbacks and employment dodges are underway. " (WSJ)

So how did we miss all of this?  How did so many people who voted for this get it wrong?

First, and most important, they didn't read it or hold hearings to "weed out" the fantasy from reality.

Do you recall a hearing where fast-food restaurant owners were invited to react to the law?

Second, no one in the media challenged the premise that you can cover everyone by just raising taxes on the rich.  We can blame that on "media bias" but I think that it was more of "economics" ignorance on the part of the people who cover our news.

Third, and don't underestimate this, many Democrats voted for health care thinking that The Supreme Court would bail them out.  After Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts spoiled their plan, they just bet on a Romney victory and a partial or full repeal.

What happens next?

We will have one train-wreck after another.   By the summer of 2014, Obama Care will be so unpopular that most Democrats will start running from it.

What do we do?

First, hold the Democrats accountable.  They voted for it.
 
Second, nominate candidates who can answer questions about abortion.  

Click here for our chat with Dr Ileana Johnson Paugh:


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Whatever happened to affordable health care?



My candidate for quote of the year is from Jill Zorn, senior program officer at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.  This is what she said about The Affordable Health Care Act:

"The single biggest issue we face now is affordability....."

I guess that's like saying that my biggest concern with that new pitcher is that he can't pitch!

Affordable health care is now turning into quite for a challenge for those who promised it.  

We spoke on Friday with Dr Ileana Johnson-Paugh,  my favorite economist.  She economics interesting rather than the dismal science that we learned in school.

Her new article is just fantastic and outlines everything that is wrong with the legislation that no one read.  Her advise is simple, i.e. pray that you don't get sick:


"To safeguard from disaster, take care of your body, eat right, exercise if you can, and pray very hard that you will not get sick."

Yes, get out the rosary, bible and start praying because the AHA is not affordable or very good.

Click here for our chat with Dr Ileana Johnson about the US economy:


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Friday, February 22, 2013

George Washington 1732-1799

George Washington was born on this day in 1732.  He is still the greatest of all Americans and the one person most responsible for the successful launching of the republic and constitution.  The point is that the US would have been a very different country if we had a leader without Washington's integrity and fine character.

This is a bit about his life:

"Washington rose to eminence on his own merit. His first job at age 17 was as a surveyor in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1752, he joined the British army and served as a lieutenant in the French and Indian War. When the war ended, Washington left the army and returned home to Virginia to manage Mount Vernon, the plantation he had recently inherited upon the death of his older brother. He married a wealthy widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, in 1759. Although the couple had no children, Washington adopted Martha's son and daughter from her previous marriage. While in Virginia, Washington served in the colonial House of Burgesses and, like many of his compatriots, grew increasingly frustrated with the British government. He soon joined his co-revolutionaries in the Continental Congress.
In 1775, the Continental Congress unanimously chose Washington to command the new Continental Army. In addition to advocating civilian control over the military, Washington possessed that intangible quality of a born leader and had earned a reputation for coolness under fire and as a strict disciplinarian during the French and Indian campaign. In that war, he dodged bullets, had horses shot out from under him and was even taken prisoner by the French. Part of his success in the Revolutionary War was due to his shrewd use of what was then considered the ungentlemanly, but effective, tactic of guerrilla warfare, in which stealthy hit-and-run attacks foiled British armies used to close-formation battle-line warfare. Although Washington led almost as many losing battles as he won, his successes at Trenton, Princeton and Yorktown proved pivotal for the Continental Army and the emerging nation. In 1789, in part because of the leadership skills he displayed during the war, the Continental Congress elected Washington as the first American president.....In December 14, 1799, Washington died of a severe respiratory ailment. He humbly identified himself in his will as George Washington, of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States."

George Washington's greatest moment was when he chose to walk away from the presidency.  We know that he would have been reelected to a 3rd term.  He would have been reelected over and over again if he had chosen to be president.  Instead, he said goodbye and let the other guys run the country.  His decision legitimized the constitution and the preaceful transfer of power.

Again, we were very lucky that George Washington was our first president.  He led by example and every young person should read about him in school.


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

How about a little march saying that GITMO and drones recruit terrorists?

My new American Thinker post.


Has the international left gone on vacation?  We have not heard much from them about GITMO recruiting terrorists or President Obama's drones killing civilians.

Today, Sen Graham of South Carolina reported that drones have killed 4,700 people.  I think that we can safely say that there is some "collateral damage" in those numbers.

I support the drone program. It is the right thing to do because it shows terrorist leaders that we will find them 24/7. I don't like the collateral damage but they started this by killing 3,000 innocent people on 9/11. So war is war and that is that. We can ground the drones the minute that they stop waging war on us.

Of course, the real story is the silence from the left here, there and everywhere.

Where are the French politicians saying that France sent troops into Mali without going to the UN?  Where are the Democrats too?

Where is the Nobel Peace Prize committee now that their 2009 recipient is dropping bombs, invading countries and acting more like Bush every minute?  The Committee gave President Obama the prize because he was seen in Europe as the anti-Bush.  They must be having indigestion in Europe every time that they read about the Obama administration turning into Bush II in the anti-terror campagin.

Where are the demonstrators in European cities calling Obama a war criminal and carrying posters of BO like Hitler?  We had weeks of such demonstrations back in 2003.

I don't know about you but I'd love to turn on the TV and watch a nice demonstration in Paris or London criticizing the aggressive policies of the Obama administration.

Or maybe a march saying that President Obama is holding detainees in Guantanamo indefinitely.
 
Please make my day.  I want the international left to prove to all of us that their harsh attacks on President Bush were based on principle rather than politics.



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Dear Yoani: We need to talk por favor!

As you know, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez is on a world tour.   She is a great writer and should be hailed as a courageous woman for criticizing the Castro dictatorship.  

However, her comments in Brazil are very confusing.  She called for an end to the embargo and for the "5" to be released.     

Her reasoning was rather weird.  She wants to see them released because the Cuban government is spending too much money talking about it:

""The amount of money that my country’s government is spending on this worldwide campaign, on [ad] space of international media by the Interior Ministry, the number of hours spent in schools talking about those five people, in order to bring that campaign to an end, they should free them,’’ said Sánchez, 37. “I’m worried about my country’s coffers and would prefer their release to see if they save more [money] because there are more issues on the table.""  (MiamiHerald)

What other issues are on Yoani's table?  What could be more important than the rule of law?  or bringing justice to people who kill innocents?  or what about the money that the dictatorship spends defending the jailing of Mr Gross?  or misleading the world about the "counter-revolutionary activities" of Las Dams en Blanco?

Furthermore, there is no evidence that lifting the embargo or releasing the "5" will make life easier for Yoani or other Cubans.  On the contrary, Castro will hail both of these changes as "victories" and engage in more repressive behavior.

Her comments about the embargo are wrong but understandable given that she grew up in Cuba.  I don't think that she has seen the whole picture.  We need to sit down with Yoani and show her that "fidelismo" not "el embargo" has destroyed Cuba.

Last, but not least, let's remember that Yoani's husband is back in Cuba.  We don't know for sure whether there may be repercussions against him or other family members.  Let's remember that the Cuban government is still a repressive dictatorship.

Click here for the Wednesday show:


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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dear Media: This is what happens when you are in the tank for President Obama

My new American Thinker post.


We woke up yesterday to a rather interesting article over at Politico:  Obama, the puppet master

It complains that President Obama is like the master manipulator or the man who always gets his way with the media.

The article is right about how technology has changed the way that the president can go around the traditional media.  However, the media has brought this on itself.  The media has gladly allowed itself to be manipulated by the man that they are secretly in love with. In the world of romance novels they would call this "blind love."

Again, this is what happens when you are in the tank for a president. He does not respect or care about you.

It started in the '08 campaign and continued during his first term and into the '12 election. This is a man who was allowed to run for reelection on the basis that Romney would kill your wife, outsource your job, send your grandmother back to Mexico and take birth control pills from women.

The media allowed President Obama to get away with a reelection campaign devoid of serious proposals or presentations.  For example, no one challenged President Obama on the US Senate's failure to pass a budget or his continuation of the Bush anti-terror policies that he criticized so much during the campaign.

Why in the world would President Obama want to spend a Sunday afternoon taking photos with such a bunch of media puppies?  Why not leave these silly puppies in the bus and play with his real dog? 

President Obama treated the media down in Florida the same way that a 16-year old boy treats the girl who's been begging him to take her the prom.  He invited someone else and left the girl broken hearted and crying all the way home!

President Obama has never been challenged on anything, from deficit spending to executive orders to Benghazi.  He has governed at will always knowing that the media would carry the bags for him.

The media has a choice.  They can be journalists or puppies.  They can challenge the president with serious questions or they can spend their time crying to each other in the bus.

In the meantime, we are still in dark about President Obama's state of mind on the night that an ambassador and 3 other US citizens were killed by terrorists in Benghazi

Maybe the media can get their reputation back by looking into the Benghazi story.  


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Blacks and immigration reform

Over the last few years, I've picked up some resentment in the black or African American community about all of the attention that the Dems pay to the immigrant issue.

The resentment is rooted on the unemployment and lousy business climate in black districts.

We spoke with  Franco Ordonez, Staff writer for McClatchy Newspapers, which owns 30 papers across the country including Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, Fort Worth Star Telegram.   We discussed immigration reform and the reaction from the African-American community.  

George Rodriguez joined us in part 2 with an update of conservative politics in South Texas.

 Click here for the Tuesday show:


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why are we making it so easy for illegal aliens to get food stamps?

My new American Thinker post:


Frankly, sometimes I feel like I am stuck in a never ending TV marathon of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits".  
 
Can things be more bizarre in this country that I love so much?
 
I just learned today that "food stamps" distributions are way up for illegal aliens.  In fact, they've doubled since 2007!
 
Worse than that, we are apparently working with the Mexican government to advertise that "food stamps" are just around the corner, or should I say on north of the border.
 
This is immoral, insane and an insult to every legal immigrant who came to this land to work and enjoy the rule of law.
 
This is also surprising because the Mexican economy is actually doing quite well.   Mexico is enjoying growth and attracting foreign investment.  Mexico is actually becoming a "middle class" country.  Furthermore, Forbes called Mexico the "darling of the emerging markets" last summer.
 
So why are we "partnering" with the Mexican government to look for "food stamps" clients?
 
The answer is simple. This is not about poverty or hunger.  This is about an Obama administration policy of creating dependency and a need to vote Democrat. 
 
I hate to be cynical but that's what it is.
 
I remember when we came to the US.  We were helped by private institutions, such as churches, and aided by other Cubans who had been in the US a bit longer.
 
My parents never expected the US government to give them anything.  On the contrary, we were grateful that the US gave us a second chance at life by embracing us.
 
We've reached a very ugly moment in the rich and wonderful story of immigration in the US.
 
We now have people who expect something and an Obama administration desperately pandering for Mexican American votes by encouraging people to use those benefits.
 
Put me down as a naturalized citizen who finds this appalling.  I can not believe that we've reached this point but we are living in the Age of Obama.

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Beny More died 50 years ago

Beny More died 50 years ago today.  He was only 43 and a victim of cirrhosis of the liver.

More's music is found in every Cuban household in the US.  I remember that my parents ordered some Beny More LP's when we finally got a record player in Wisconsin.  More's music was exactly what my parents needed to survive those cold Wisconsin winters.

He started singing as a young man and eventually joined Perez Prado, the big Cuban orchestra of the 1950's.  More eventually started his own band and enjoyed tremendous success until his death.

The bad news is that he died young.  The good news is that he left a huge archive of music and much of it is available in the US:

"In 1992, BMG Music released the majority of Moré's 1948-1958 recordings for RCA Victor on five CDs for its Tropical Series. Moré never recorded for anyone other than RCA, so all his hits are here. Nevertheless, his earliest recordings with the Miguel Matamoros conjunto are missing, and only some of his songs with the Perez Prado orchestra are included. From a technical standpoint, the discs are terrific (they sound as if they were made yesterday), but three of the five albums have no liner notes to speak of and information about session dates and personnel is either very sketchy or nonexistent, which is shabby treatment indeed for an artist of Beny Moré's stature. Moré's great legacy, though, is clear on the recordings themselves: a voice that can evoke memories of lost romance, or make you dance with joyous abandon." (Spencer Harrington)

Click here for "Santa Isabel de las Lajas", a song that he wrote about his hometown:



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Monday, February 18, 2013

Pres BO does not have the Democrat votes to pass immigration reform

This my American Thinker post.

We learned this morning that President Obama is impatient with Congress and immigration reform. He is now threatening to do it his way ("decree") and go around Congress:

"The White House is circulating a draft immigration bill that would create a new visa for illegal immigrants living in the United States and allow them to become legal permanent residents within eight years, according to a report published online Saturday by USA Today."
What's wrong with this?
 
"Impatient" with Congress? Why didn't he do something about it when he had 60 votes in the US Senate and large majorities in the US House?
 
First, we don't live in Cuba or Venezuela. We have a constitution that specifically calls for Congress to write laws.
 
Are we going to teach these "new citizens" that in the US the president can govern by decree when he can't persuade Congress, especially one body of Congress controlled by his own party? What kind of "a civics lesson" is that?
 
Second, we are learning again that Democrats love immigration reform but do not like to vote "yes or no." They love the speeches or going on Jorge Ramos' show and talking about immigration reform. They just don't like having to put their name on a piece of legislation.
 
This is specially true of all of those Democrats running for reelection in places like Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, et al.
 
This is also true of Midwestern Democrats who have strong relationships with Big Labor. (Don't you remember how then Senator Obama opposed the work visas in the Kennedy-McCain bill from 2007?)
 
This is also true of the Black Caucus. They are hearing from their districts that President Obama is spending too much time talking about "illegals" rather than doing something about their very high unemployment rate.
 
Third, President Obama wants a quick path to legalization so that he can pander to the Mexican American vote. This is the worst of Obama, a demagogue who only cares about himself rather than the presidential oath that he took a few weeks ago.
 
The presidential oath does not say: "I will pander and pander to "hispanos" even if it means going around the US Constitution." Instead, it calls on the president to "protect and defend the Constitution of the US."
 
As a naturalized citizen, who actually supports a path to legalization for many of these people who want to work here, I am appalled that President Obama is so disrespectful of our constitution.
 
We need to do it the right way. We need hearings and an "up and down" vote in Congress. We need to force Democrats to vote "yes or no" on immigration reform.
 
Again, I am convinced that President Obama and the Democrats do not want a vote on immigration reform. They want the issue. They want to tell "hispanos" that those "racista Republicanos" are against a reform.
 
In fact, it is the Democrats who are against reform. They are hoping that "hispanos" don't catch up to their very cynical game.

Click for our Sunday night chat with Bill Katz of Urgent Agenda:


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