Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Can someone ask Obama about the wave of arrests in Cuba?

(My new American Thinker post)

The "new thaw" is about two weeks old, but things in Cuba are not changing – not even on the surface to make President Obama look good.

Let's just say that there is "no thaw" in the relationship between the Castro regime and dissidents, as reported by The Miami Herald via Babalu Blog:
Cuban authorities arrested several dissidents and independent journalists Tuesday in an apparent attempt to prevent them from attending a rally in Havana’s revolutionary square organized by a new movement that calls itself #YoTambienExijo (IAlsoDemand).
Among those detained as of early afternoon were journalist Reinaldo Escobar, editor of the online 14ymedio publication and husband of prominent blogger Yoani Sánchez. Eliecer Ávila, an activist, and Antonio Rodiles, who directs a human rights group called Estado de Sats, also were taken into custody. The arrests were reported via Twitter by Sánchez, who founded 14ymedio.
Sánchez said she was placed under house arrest and also reported that several other 14ymedio contributors were visited by State Security officers, who warned them not cover the event, which was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. at the Plaza de la Revolución. The demonstration called for participants to go before a microphone for one minute to share their thoughts, concerns or ideas about how Cuba’s future should unfold.     
The rally was promoted via social media after the historic Dec. 17 announcement of renewed diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana. Hundreds of people said they planned to attend even though Cuban authorities denied permission to organizers, headed by prominent Cuban artist Tania Brugera.
Cuban government opposition leader, Angel Moya, also reported the arrest of Aliuska Gómez, a member of the Ladies in White group, and said several other human rights activists had gotten visits by State Security officers at their homes.
Several opponents and independent journalists said they were receiving fake text messages on their cell phones stating that the event had been cancelled.
So much for reforms.     

I guess that we know now that Castro was dead serious.At the same time, Raul Castro did say recently that Cuba was not changing. 



It's the same old Castro regime, except that they've found a new lifeline courtesy of President Obama!  The Castro regime has a new source to finance their corrupt enterprise.  I hope that Americans think of that when they rush to Cuban beaches.

P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


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DALLAS-FT WORTH SPORTS: THE COWBOYS, MAVERICKS, STARS AND THE RANGERS' OFF SEASON



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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The origins and causes of World War I with Barry Jacobsen


We looked at the 100th anniversary of World War I with Barry Jacobsen.   Here is the first part: 



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Lucy Webb Hayes, the first wife to be referred to as First Lady

Future President Rutherford Hayes married Lucy Webb on this day in 1852.     

Hayes won the extremely controversial election of 1876 against Governor Samuel Tilden of New York.  

Hayes lost the popular vote by 300,000 out of the 8 million cast.   

After weeks of negotiations, Hayes won the electoral college 185-184.   

Historians believe that Mr Hayes' election was part of a deal to get federal troops out of the South.

Hayes had problems governing, in large measure because of his disputed election.   

Nevertheless, First Lady Lucy was quite a charm:
"The very popular Lucy Hayes was the first wife of a president to be referred to as "first lady"--a title that grew out of her husband's reference to her as the "first lady of the land." Lucy was an abolitionist and supported, in theory at least, the early women's suffrage movement. She was often criticized for not taking a more active role in promoting women's suffrage and while she and Rutherford were both believers in the temperance movement, it was her husband's idea--not hers as legend has it--to forbid serving alcohol in the White House. Lucy allowed White House servants to take time off to pursue their education and commissioned paintings of the presidents who had not yet had portraits hung in the White House. She also had a portrait of Martha Washington created to hang next to George Washington's."
The wife of the president has properly been referred to as "The First Lady" ever since!



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2014 was a bad year for liberals

(My new American Thinker)

As we take stock of 2014, I come to two conclusions:

1) It was the year of the Obama devaluation.  His currency, prestige, and standing suffered a great deal.  It's hard to see how he recovers and finishes strong, like President Reagan or President Clinton.  His job approval may go up, but he is too divisive and toxic to turn things around.

2) Liberal ideas had a very bad time, specially in the 2nd term.  Liberal ideas are not gaining traction anymore, as Kurt Schlichter wrote:
2014 was the year when the rest of America saw the truth. And the truth will force normal Americans to choose sides.
Do they stand with a president who lies to them about his health scheme, or with conservatives who seek to dismantle it?
Will they stand with liberal feminist radicals who want to ruin their sons’ lives to score political points, or with conservatives who demand due process for all?
Will they stand with the cop-hating, anti-American degenerates, or with those of us who support the men and women who ran into the burning World Trade Center?   
It’s an easy call. We saw a preview last November, but the real precursors were 1968 and 1972. Will the Silent Majority stand with the flag-burners, the looters, and the bums, or again choose those who love this country and believe in self-sufficiency as well as self-determination?
Yes, it will be a very easy call in 2016 because liberals can no longer hide the truth.

The problem is that liberals have nothing to show for after six years of President Obama and a majority in the U.S. Senate.  


Yes, they passed Obamacare, but it is very unpopular.  

Yes, the 3rd-quarter GDP was good, but there are still concerns about wage growth or the number of people who've stopped looking for work.  

And President Obama's foreign policy problems won't get any better, from ISIS to Russia to China.

We are not saying that liberals will stop promoting their ideas or stop using all of those despicable "cards" such as race, gender, or class warfare.  In fact, they may get more vicious as they see the handwriting on the wall.  


The results aren't there, which is the main reason why many of their voters stayed home in 2014.  It's hard to see how Mrs. Clinton excites the Obama coalition to show up again.

Yes, 2014 was a terrible year for liberalism and liberals.  It is now up to conservatives to put their ideas on the table and start taking votes in Congress.

P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.



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Let's talk about Cuba with Alain Castillo, young Cuban American



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Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec 29, 1845: Texas enters the Union



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Wishful Thinking about Cuba

Let's say that the men and women at the NY Times are persistent when it comes to writing about Cuba.  

The past  weekend's latest Cuba editorial identifies some truths about Cuba:
"Under Communist Party rule, Cubans endure the austerity of living under a stagnant, centrally planned economy.
Their access to the Internet is severely limited and censored. The island’s official press is wholly subservient to the state.
Outside the rigid mechanisms of the party, Cubans have few substantive vehicles to challenge their leaders."
The editorial also blames the U.S. for the lack of opposition of Cuba. They say that the embargo rallied Cubans against the U.S. Let me say two things about that:

1) I have never heard a Cuban dissident blame the U.S. Instead, they blame Castro and some go to jail for it; and

2) I guess that no one at the editorial board has a clue of the repressive nature of the Castro regime. In Cuba, dissidents are not worried about a U.S. invasion. Instead, they worry about Castro's thugs knocking on the door at night and taking someone to jail.

Again, I've been talking to Cubans who have lived these experiences.  Apparently, the people at The NY Times are doing "hope and change".

The editorial also calls on Latin American leaders to attack the lack of human rights in Cuba:

"For decades, Latin American governments have coddled, or appeased, the Castro regime because confronting it would be interpreted as an endorsement of Washington’s harshly punitive policy toward the island. By changing that policy, Mr. Obama has removed that concern, which should allow leaders from democratic nations to support the principles Cuban activists have put forward. The leaders of Latin America’s largest economies, in particular, can be strong champions of Cuba’s opposition leaders at the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April.
Despite a traditional reluctance to meddle in other countries’ internal affairs, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil should speak up unequivocally for democratic values that are embraced by most nations in the Americas. As a former political prisoner, a leftist and the leader of one of Cuba’s main trading allies, Ms. Rousseff would arguably carry the most weight.
It would be nice but this is silly and "wishful thinking" of the worst kind.

First, Latin American opposition to the U.S. trade embargo had nothing to do with the U.S. or Cuba. In fact, many countries, like Mexico with tourism and Brazil with sugar production, have actually benefited from the embargo. For example, did any of your grandparents spend their honeymoon in Cancun in the 1950s? The answer is no because Cancun as a tourism destination did not exist prior to the embargo. All of that Mexican Caribbean tourist industry came about because Americans could not go to Cuba. I recall speaking with a hotel manager in Cancun years ago who admitted that lifting the U.S. embargo would hurt their business.

Second, Latin American leaders have legitimized Castro to please their domestic leftist movements. They support Castro so that they can keep the left happy. It has nothing to do with Cuba or the U.S., it's all about their domestic politics, i.e. giving "candy to the left" as a Mexican politician told me over lunch.

Again, it would be nice if Latin American leaders would now start calling on the Castros to move on and bring change to Cuba. Unfortunately, I don't see it. 

Let me say it again. The Obama-Castro deal was bad because it demanded nothing from Cuba. In fact, the deal will turn into a "lifeline", unless the GOP Senate and House put the brakes on lifting the embargo or extending credit to the regime.

P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


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THE WEEK IN REVIEW WITH BILL KATZ, EDITOR OF URGENT AGENDA



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Sunday, December 28, 2014

The story of Adele Astaire, or Fred's older sister!



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Why checks and balances? Check out Venezuela today

During our school days, we learned of those "checks and balances" in our U.S. Constitution.  My guess is that it was a bit abstract and theoretical for most American kids.  I had the advantage of Cuban parents who taught us to value freedom and the personal experience of watching an absolute dictatorship at work.

Our friend Fausta Wertz, the editor of Fausta's Blog, has brought this letter from Leopoldo Lopez to our attention.  Mr. Lopez is sitting in jail in Venezuela.  It describes how his homeland is moving further and further into a ruthless dictatorship:
When the current ruling party, the United Socialist Party, first took power in 1999, its supporters viewed human rights as a luxury, not a necessity. Large segments of the population were living in poverty, and in need of food, housing and security. Protecting free speech and the separation of powers seemed frivolous. In the name of expediency, these values were compromised and then dismantled entirely. 
The legislature was neutered, allowing the executive to rule by decree without the checks and balances that prevent government from veering off track. The judiciary was made accountable to the ruling party, rendering the constitution and the law meaningless. In an infamous 2009 case, Judge Mary Lourdes Afiuni was imprisoned for ordering the release of a businessman and government critic who had been held for three years in pretrial detention, one year more than allowed under Venezuelan law. 
Meanwhile, political leaders—myself included—were persecuted and imprisoned, stifling the competition of ideas that could have led to better decisions and policies. Independent news organizations were dismantled, seized or driven out of business. The “sunshine that disinfects,” and the scrutiny that motivates good decision-making, no longer benefit our leadership. 
Venezuela’s current president, Nicolás Maduro, has taken this to a terrible new low.
Venezuela is a Government 101 lesson, or what happens in a country where unchecked presidential power rules by decree and whims.

Over the last few years, as my friend Comandante Cazorla told me on yesterday's show, President Chávez, and now Maduro, arbitrarily used oil, the nation's main resource, to subsidize governments in Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.  The people of Venezuela were never seriously consulted.  It was an ego trip to promote Chávez as an international figure. 


Also, the public sector and the government have become one.  They touch everyone's life or business.  They demand total loyalty and will punish dissent.  
It's awful what we are watching in Venezuela.

Twenty years ago, Venezuela was that lovely country that exported baseball shortstops and was always a finalist in the Miss Universe pageant.

Today, it is a country of shortages, incredible crime, and total dysfunction.  Or Exhibit A of a nation without those checks and balances that our teachers told us about in school.

P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


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The latest from Venezuela with Comandante Cazorla



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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Castro to Obama: Who said we have to make concessions?

There are many troubling issues with this new "Cuba thaw" announced by President Obama last week.

We recently discussed "the swap" of Alan Gross for convicted spies and the very serious matter of the confiscation of U.S. property by the communist regime years ago.

It's possible that public opinion won't pay much attention to those issues.  Gross is back and investment law is complicated. 

However, the fugitive matter could be explosive for President Obama, especially given the shooting of two police officers in New York City.

According to news reports, there are many U.S. citizens hiding in Cuba from U.S. law:
For decades some of America's most-wanted fugitives made new lives for themselves in Cuba, marrying, having children and becoming fixtures of their modest Havana neighborhoods as their cases went mostly forgotten at home. 
Granted political asylum by former President Fidel Castro, they became players in his government's outreach to American minorities and leftists, giving talks about Cuba's merits to sympathetic visitors, medical students and reporters from the U.S. 
Last week's stunning reconciliation between the U.S. and Cuba has returned these graying relics of the Cold War to the headlines, transforming them into a potential source of tension in the new era of detente between the two nations. 
The dozens of men and woman wanted by the U.S. range from quotidian Medicaid fraud suspects to black militants and Puerto Rican nationalists with major bounties on their heads. 
They include Joanne Chesimard, a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation  Army.
Now known as Assata Shakur, she was convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper and was sentenced to life in prison. She escaped, and wound up in Cuba in the 1980s.
Like other fugitives with political asylum here, she was living so openly in Havana that her number was listed in the phone book.  
"I came and it was like a whole new world," she told the director of a 1997 documentary.
"This is one of the most beautiful places I've seen in my life. Everything is so lush, so green, so ripe." 
Life for Shakur changed as U.S. authorities raised the price on her head. The reward offered by the FBI and the New Jersey State Police for information leading to her capture now stands at $2 million and members of the once close-knit community of black militants living in Cuba say their only contact with Shakur these days is an occasional unexpected but friendly phone call.

How does the president of the U.S. announce a "new approach" toward Cuba and say nothing about a cop-killer hiding in that island?


It's one thing when we talk about Medicare-fraud fugitives, but cop-killers and Puerto Rican nationalists touch a raw political nerve.  

I'm not optimistic that a member of the Washington press will ask President Obama about the issue of Ms. Chesimard, especially after watching this last pre-vacation press conference.  It was an embarrassing performance by the White House press corps, as Howard Kurtz wrote.

I am optimistic that the Chesimard issue will catch fire on talk radio and cable news, thus forcing President Obama to defend police officers calling for this lady to be returned to the U.S. 

In other words, President Obama will have to address the issue. 

After all, what's the point of establishing diplomatic relations with a country harboring cop-killers?  What message does that send to the men and women who wear the uniform?

P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.


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National security issues of the week with Barry Jacobsen



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Friday, December 26, 2014

"On Freedom's Shores: The Unbroken Circle" by Victor Triay, author



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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Paul McCartney's "Pipes of Peace": Christmas 1914



PAUL MCCARTNEY
PIPES OF PEACE

"I light a candle to our love In love our problems disappear
  • But all in all we soon discover
    That one and one is all we long to hear
  • All round the world Little children being born to the world
    Got to give them all we can till the war is won
    Then will the work be done
  • Help them to learn (help them to learn)
    Songs of joy instead of burn, baby, burn, (burn, baby burn)
    Let us show them how to play the pipes of peace
    Play the pipes of peace
  • Help me to learn
  • Songs of joy Instead of burn, baby, burn
    Won't you show me to play, (how to play) the pipes of peace, (pipes of peace)
    Play the pipes of peace
  • What do you say? (what do you say)
    Will the human race be run in a day? (in a day)
    Or will someone save this planet we're playing on?
    Is it the only one? (what are we going to do?)
  • Help them to see (help them to see)
    That the people here are like you and me, (you and me)
    Let us show them how to play, (how to play)
    The pipes of peace (pipes of peace)
    Play the pipes of peace Ooh...
    I light a candle to our love In love our problems disappear
    But all in all we soon discover That one and one is all we long to hear
  • All 'round the world Little children being born to the world
    Got to give them all we can 'til the war is won
    Then will the work be done
  • Help them to learn (help them to learn)
    Songs of joy instead of burn, baby, burn(burn, baby burn)
    Let us show them how to play the pipes of peace
    Play the pipes of peace
  • Help me to learn
  • Songs of joy instead of burn, baby, burn
    Won't you show me to play(how to play) the pipes of peace(pipes of
    Peace) Play the pipes of peace
  • What do you say?(what do you say)
    Will the human race be run in a day? (in a day)
    Or will someone save this planet we're playing on?
    Is it the only one? (what are we going to do?)
  • Help them to see (help them to see)
    That the people here are like you and me (you and me)
    Let us show them how to play(how to play)the pipes of
    Peace(pipes of peace) Play the pipes of peace
    Ooh  I light a candle to our love In love our problems disappear
    But all in all we soon discover That one and one is all we long to hear......."

This is an editorial from today's Dallas Morning News..........

A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER

One hundred years ago today, something of a battlefield miracle occurred amid one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. Soldiers on both sides of the Great War’s front lines let down their guard and allowed faith in the goodness of their fellow man to prevail over hatred and distrust. Warring soldiers put down their weapons, emerged from their trenches and sang “Silent Night” together.
It began with a simple call by Pope Benedict XV on Dec. 7, 1914, “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang.” The pope’s words were deemed by many to have resonated throughout the cold trenches of Flanders, where Germans and Britons were locked in mortal struggle.
It was as if both sides grasped the hypocrisy of Christians killing fellow Christians on a day devoted to the peaceful message of Christ’s birth. No account from the witnesses recalls anyone articulating such thoughts. Yet all seemed to grasp the opportunity presented by this special day.
Those who were present in Flanders described an unusual silence that morning as the smoke cleared from incessant artillery and machine-gun fire. British troops heard the faint sound of a German band playing familiar Christmas tunes. One side broke out in a carol, answered by one from the other side. Back and forth, growing louder and more boisterous with each exchange.
Then came a German’s voice: “We good. We no shoot,” recounted British soldiers Frank and Maurice Wray, of the London Rifle Brigade. Soldiers from both sides cautiously approached one another across a no-man’s land, unsure whether this might be a setup for a surprise attack.
What each encountered was nothing more than a few lonely soldiers, anxious to set aside the fighting and celebrate Christmas with their fellow man. Some chatted. Others exchanged small gifts of food, cigarettes, beer or mementos. They sang more songs. A few tried to improvise a soccer match.
Up and down the front lines, word spread of the unofficial Christmas truce. An estimated 100,000 troops joined in.
Of course, the world knows about the awful fighting and millions of deaths that followed. But, for today at least, let’s focus on the message of hope that emerged from a battlefield far away and long ago.
“So Christmas, the celebration of love, made sure that the hated enemies turned into friends for a short time,” German Lt. Kurt Zehmisch wrote in his diary that day. “This Christmas will remain unforgettable.”



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MERRY CHRISTMAS.....FELIZ NAVIDAD....HAVE A NICE DAY WITH YOUR FAMILY



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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Luciano Pavaroti: "O Holy Night"



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The Christmas play in "The Bells of St Mary's"



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The Ronettes: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus


"I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.

She didn't see me creep

Down the stairs to have a peek

She thought I was tucked
Up in my bedroom fast asleep.

Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus

Underneath his beard so snowy white.

Oh, what a laugh it would have been, 

If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night!"



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The Drifters: White Christmas



WHITE CHRISTMAS    

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas Just like the ones I used to know
 Where those treetops glisten and children listen To hear sleigh bells in the snow, the snow Then I, I, I am dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
I, I, I am dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow
I, I, I am dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way, ooh.........."

The Drifters: White Christmas https://t.co/JT5DHDyLz1 via @YouTube


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