Monday, February 29, 2016

1972: Hank Aaron signed the biggest contract in baseball


The Atlanta Braves made Hank Aaron the best paid baseball player before the 1972 season:   a 3 year deal worth around $ 600.000!

A couple of years later, Aaron passed Ruth in the all time HR list.    

He retired with 755 after the 1976 season.

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A visit to the leadership table


I stopped by the leadership table with photos of President Reagan, President Bush and President Bush..........we miss leadership!

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Cuba on the eve of Obama’s visit

Back in December 2014, President Obama started a new relationship with the Cuban dictatorship. It was based on the idea that we had to try something different.    
How does that look now? Let’s see:
1) The “let’s try something different” argument was flawed. It was the Cuban government, not the U.S., that refused to reach out. President Carter almost reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba but pulled back when Castro sent Cuban troops into Africa. President Clinton was looking at it until the Cuban government shot down four U.S. citizens over the Florida Straits in 1996. There were talks in 1982under President Reagan. Channels were open under other administrations, too.
It is untrue that the U.S. refused to talk to Cuba. It was the Castro regime that refused to change.
2) The people in Cuba are not buying “hope and change”. They want out, as we see from news reports:
Eight-year-old Vanesa Amador stands patiently on a bridge that joins Mexico and the United States. She is feet away from a country she admits she knows nothing about but has strong feelings for.
“The United States is the best country in the whole world,” she says, smiling.Vanesa and her mother, Mayra, are part of a group of about 120 Cubans who made a long journey through several Latin American countries before boarding a charter plane in Costa Rica to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, the border town with Laredo, Texas.
The number of Cubans entering the United States nearly doubled last year, compared with the year before. That trend shows no signs of slowing. More Cubans are coming to the United States because they fear that a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations will end a longstanding policy granting legal status to any Cuban national who reaches dry land in the United States.
The Obama administration made some big mistakes in opening this new relationship with Cuba:
1) It did not consult with Congress. It would have been easier to work with Cuba under a bipartisan plan that called for this in exchange for that. For example, we open the embassy if you provide us a plan totake care of U.S. citizens who had their property stolen. Or, we will allow more investment in Cuba if you hold elections or tolerate a free press. Keeping Congress out makes it more difficult to lift the embargo.
2) No one realized in the Obama administration that opening an embassy in Cuba would encourage many to leave to take advantage of the refugee status that Cubans have enjoyed. This is a “refugee” problem that the Obama administration does not need on top of kids showing on the border or Middle East refugees.
So where are we now? We have an embassy in Cuba but people are still trying to leave the island and repression has gotten worse. Didn’t any one in the White House think of this?
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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The week in review with Bill Katz, the editor of Urgent Agenda




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Sunday, February 28, 2016

1976: "Theme from SWAT" by Rhythm Heritage was # 1 this week


To be honest, I don't remember the TV show but the theme song was great and on the top of the charts this week in 1976:





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1975: "Pick up the pieces" by Average White Band was # 1 this week



There were great instrumentals in the 1970s, from Barry White "Love's theme" to Walter Murphy's "A fifth of Beethoven".    In 1975, The Average White Band gave us one of the best in "Pick up the pieces":




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Hola, Telemundo: 2% growth is not helping Hispanics!

During the GOP debate, the Telemundo journalist asked the candidates about “getting it” on Hispanic issues.  She did what so much of the Hispanic media always does: immigration, immigration, and more immigration!
I thought Senator Cruz had a great response.  He said Hispanics are concerned about more than immigration.  He correctly reminded everyone that Hispanics are serving in the U.S. military in huge numbers.  In other words, there are going to be a lot of Hispanic parents concerned if we send troops to fight a war anytime soon.  He also spoke of public schools and the lack of parental choice and social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
His best response was about the US economy.  Hispanics have not benefited from the anemic growth under President Obama, as Larry Kudlow pointed out this week:
The good news is that the economy is growing at 2 percent and that there’s no recession in sight (barring a complete collapse of profits). The bad news is that the economy is growing at 2 percent. It’s been doing so for nearly 15 years under Democratic and Republican administrations.
Coming off a deep recession, real GDP growth is averaging no better than 2 percent. After 25 quarters of so-called recovery under Obama, it has increased a total of only 14.3 percent.
Two-percent growth is bad news for everybody, but especially Hispanics, a growing and younger sector of the population.  Hispanics need jobs, and they are not finding them under the Obama administration!
Hispanics also apparently voted for immigration reform.  They didn’t get that from Obama and large Democrat majorities in Congress, either!
Memo to Telemundo, et al.: There is more being talked about at the Hispanic dinner table than immigration!
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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Mexico reacts to Trump





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Obama talks GITMO and plans a trip to Cuba




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The state of the race after South Carolina with Barry Casselman





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National security and the 2016 election





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A look to Super Tuesday with Chris Corbett




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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Trump: Tariffs and trade deals


Just watched Mr Trump at a rally in Arkansas.   He said somethings that were rather interesting about tariffs and trade deals.

First, he will put a tariff on products coming from US companies overseas.    Second, he is going to negotiate better trade deals/

Can a President Trump issue a tariff or renegotiate trade deals without going to Congress? 

I don't think so!

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From Trump, more nonsense about Mexico


Since 1994, and the very responsible policies put in place by President Ernesto Zedillo after the economic collapse that year, Mexico has floated its currency.  
At the last debate last night, Mr. Trump said that Mexico was devaluing its currency to gain an advantage on the U.S.
Frankly, Mr. Trump is wrong. The peso is falling today and it is not part of any plan. The New York Timesreports on the peso:
One of those causes is the fall in oil prices, which saps market confidence in oil exporters like Mexico. The government here relies on oil revenues to finance part of the budget, and the price drop has already forced budget cuts. Last week the president of the central bank, Agustín Carstens, insisted that more cutbacks were needed to avoid “a much longer and more painful adjustment process.”
Still, analysts say the economy is better protected than in the past. Public debt is manageable and the central bank sits on healthy foreign reserves. Unlike many of the emerging market economies that have also watched their currencies struggle against the dollar, Mexico’s economy grew a modest 2.5 percent last year, and is expected to grow again this year.
Mexico has developed a rather huge economic relationship with the U.S. since NAFTA. It makes no sense for Mexico to play with its currency and make U.S. products more expensive. Mexico buys these goods and services, as we see from this report:
Mexico was the United States’ 2nd largest goods export market in 2013. 
U.S. goods exports to Mexico in 2013 were $226.2 billion, up 4.7% ($10.2 billion) from 2012, and up 132% from 2003. It is up 444% since 1993 (Pre-NAFTA). U.S. exports to Mexico accounted for 14.3% of overall U.S. exports in 2013.
The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2013 were: Machinery ($38.5 billion), Electrical Machinery ($36.7 billion), Mineral Fuel and Oil ($23.0 billion), Vehicles ($21.6 billion), and Plastic ($15.3 billion).
U.S. exports of agricultural products to Mexico totaled $18.1 billion in 2013, the 3rd largest U.S. Ag export market. Leading categories include: corn ($1.8 billion), soybeans ($1.5 billion), dairy products ($1.4 billion), pork and pork products ($1.2 billion), and poultry meat (excluding eggs) ($1.2 billion).
U.S. exports of private commercial services* (i.e., excluding military and government) to Mexico were $27.4 billion in 2012 (latest data available), 6.8% ($1.7 billion) more than 2011 and 57% greater than 2002. It was up 163% from 2003 (Pre-NAFTA). The other private services (business, professional and technical services and financial services), and the travel categories accounted for most of U.S. services exports to Mexico.
It’s time to call out Mr. Trump’s nonsense that actually puts U.S. jobs at risk by calling for a trade war with a major trading partner.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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National security and the 2016 election




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Friday, February 26, 2016

Why is everything amnesty?



Senator Cruz and Rubio will argue a lot about amnesty in the next few days. I guess that standing against amnesty has become the new flag that every GOP candidate wants to carry.
Yet, who is actually calling for amnesty? Or something like what President Reagan did in 1986?
Have they changed the definition of the word amnesty? According to the dictionary, amnesty is “the act of an authority (as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals.”
Who is pardoning any group or letting people stay here without consequences?
The GOP should be for an immigration solution that enforces the law against employers and protects the border. At the same time, what is wrong with offering some of those here a chance to stay here? It would go like this:
1) The illegal immigrant would be given a chance to apply for a work visa supported by an employer’s letter that a job actually exists;
2)  He or she would undergo a full criminal background check including fingerprints. We will also check with the home country to verify that the applicant is not married here and back home;
3)  The applicant will pay a fine for violating the law and or not filing tax returns;
4)  He or she will be under a period of probation where the person could be deported in case of any violation of law; 
5)   No path to citizenship or green card will be available to this person; and,
6)   Employers will be harshly punished, including jail time, for hiring someone without papers.
How is that amnesty? Who is getting off free for violating the law?
We have been arguing about immigration for too long. It’s time to fix the problem rather than just shout at each other. As Newt Gingrich said in 2012:
“And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality so that they are not separated from their families.”
So let’s stop shouting about immigration, settle the issue and move to other topics, like ISIS and the U.S. economy.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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A look at the GOP going into Super Tuesday with Chris Corbett




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Thursday, February 25, 2016

I voted for Marco Rubio this week

We vote early in Texas. In fact, I have not voted on election day since standing in line to vote for Bush in 1988.
Today, I voted for Senator Rubio in the Texas GOP primary.
To be honest, I did not start out as a Rubio supporter.   I was very impressed with the governors, from Kasich of Ohio to Bush of Florida to Walker of Wisconsin to our own Perry of Texas.   We learned over the last few months that those men did not turn on the voters despite very successful records as governors.
Today, we are really down to three: Trump, Cruz and Rubio.
Trump will lose to Hillary Clinton and Cruz will not unite the party.
So I voted for Rubio because he has the broadest appeal and beats Clinton in the polls.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.


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1958-2016: Bye Bye Bon Bon, the Dallas chimp


Bin Bon was born in 1958 and died this week.   She was one of the most popular animals at The Dallas Zoo!


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Why are so many abortion clinics closing?


Judge Scalia’s death put Roe v. Wade back in the conversation. After all, abortion and that 1973 opinion are always foremost in the minds of U.S. Senators confirming judicial nominees. One side is looking for a justice to save it and the other side wants one to overturn it.  
Nevertheless, abortion clinics are closing across the country and it has nothing to do with Roe v. Wade. It’s about states restricting the clinics, as we see in this report:
At no time since before 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion, has a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy been more dependent on her zip code or financial resources to travel.
The drop-off in providers — more than one every two weeks — occurred in 35 states, in both small towns and big cities that are home to more than 30 million women of reproductive age.
My state of Texas has been at the forefront of this issue. The legislature has drawn up very tough mandates forcing doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals nearby. Back to the aforementioned article:
The drop-off in access has helped depress the abortion rate in the state by 13 percent, according to a July study, and providers there say full implementation of the law would leave almost a fifth of Texas women 150 miles or more from a facility.
There are two issues here: a woman’s safety and whether or not a state legislature can regulate abortion.  
On the safety issue, it sounds reasonable to me to have certain standards at the abortion clinics. After all, an abortion is a medical procedure and there are risks to the woman.   
On the state issue, it is totally legitimate for citizens to make these decisions in their legislatures.  
No one is denying a woman her right to an abortion. We are simply seeing states creating some rules to reflect the wishes of its citizens. It sounds like democracy to me. It sure sounds like what the Founding Fathers had in mind.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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Obama trip to Cuba and other Latin America stories of the week




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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

1973: Roberta Flack and "Killing me softly" was # 1 this week


As a young woman, Roberta Flack loved classical piano and won a music scholarship to Howard University.  She became a music teacher after graduation and sang at a club to make a little extra money.   Eventually, someone heard her lovely voice and the rest is music history.    

Her first hit was "The first time ever I saw your face", an absolutely amazing vocal performance.   Intense and lovely!

Her second song was "Killing me softly" and it sat at the # 1 position this week in 1973:




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1965: The Beatles started working on "Help" this week


The Beatles made two movies in a year.    They started filming "Help" in the Bahamas this week in 1965.   

The first one ("A hard day's night") was basically the group on tour.  

The second one ("Help") was a bit of a spy story.   The story saw The Beatles on the beaches of the Caribbean and skying in the Alps.   There was a lot of music in between!

The Beatles' movies were great and I still enjoy them a lot:




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Happy # 60 to Eddie Murray


We say happy # 60 to Eddie Murray, one of the Orioles' greats.     

He broke in 1977 and turned into one of the most consistent hitters in major league history:  .287 career batting average, 504 HR, 3,255 hits and 1,917 RBI.

Murray was a key piece of the teams that played in the 1979 and 1983 World Series.   He hit 2 HR in game 5 of the 1983 World Series to clinch the title for Baltimore.



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1996: The 20th anniversary of the shooting of the "Brothers to the rescue"



We remember today the 20th anniversary of the murder of 4 men of the group "Brothers to the rescue".     The men were Carlos Costa, Pablo Morales, Mario de la Pena and Armando Alejendre, Jr.     

We remember the four men and their families.   

We remind you that President Obama will soon be shaking hands with Raul Castro, the man who ordered a Cuban MIG to shoot down their plane.



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Mr Trump: More specifics about Mexico paying for the wall



Donald Trump is “gringo numero uno” in the Mexican media, from the serious pundits to the comedians who make fun of his hair.   
My friend Allan Wall just got back from one of his trips to Mexico and posted a long list of samples about how our friends south of the border are reacting to Trump:   
The Trump candidacy inspired the production and sale of Donald Trump piñatas (just a few days after his announcement), and Donald Trump masks were doing a brisk business in mid-October.   
The Mexican video game company Karaokulta developed a game calledTrumpéalo, in which the player throws shoes, beer bottles and nopal cacti at Donald Trump.
Yes, Mexicans have always been very sensitive about criticism from abroad, specially from the United States.  Mr Trump has pushed this to a new level.
Nevertheless, I have a lot of questions about what Mr Trump is saying about Mexico.  
Mr Trump wants to build a fence on the border.   Frankly, I’m OK with that although it’s hard to see how beneficial a border fence would be in the open and desolate areas of Arizona and Mexico. I would rather see a military presence in the open areas because it is cartels not people who use these routes.  Also, let’s remember that many illegal immigrants are simply flying in and over staying their tourist visas
Mr Trump also wants Mexico to pay for the fence. It is one of his most popular lines. Unfortunately, he has not explained how exactly Mexico will do that.   
A Trump supporter told me recently that he plans to tax “remittances” currently about $ 25 billion.   How do you determine whether Jose sending money to his mother is illegal or not?   My point is that there are a lot of Mexicans here legally who send money to their families. Is Western Union going to be requiring documents before wiring money?  Is 7-11 going to require documents when someone buys a $ 100 pre-paid Visa? My point is that this is very difficult to do.  
Mr Trump is talking about “Mexico ripping off the US”, another popular line. Where is that happening?   According to the latest info available,US-Mexico trade is rather substantial:
The United States is Mexico’s largest trading partner, buying 77.5% of Mexican exports in 2012.  Total U.S. goods trade with Mexico equaled USD 493 billion in 2012; 7% more than in 2011.  Mexico exports more to the United States in goods and services in just over a month than it does in one year to the 27 countries of the European Union.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. goods exports to Mexico were USD 216 billion in 2012, up 9% compared to 2011 and   31.9% from 2010.  U.S. goods imports from Mexico in 2012 accounted for USD 277.5 billion, an increase of 5% over 2011 and 20% since 2010.
I see a lot of business.  I don’t see anybody getting ripped off.  I don’t hear exporters to Mexico, or the people working in those companies, complaining about it.  On the contrary, they are looking for people who speak Spanish to service their customers south of the border.
Mr Trump touches a nerve when he talks about US companies moving to Mexico. However, you can fix that by making the US more attractive to manufacturing rather getting into a trade war with Mexico.  
Last, but not least, our trade relationship with Mexico is in the context of NAFTA.  Is Mr Trump calling for a renegotiation of NAFTA?   Remember what happened to Senator Obama when he suggested that in 2008?   His calls for renegotiating NAFTA stopped when someone whispered in his ear that the “NA” in NAFTA means North America, such as Canada.   
Sorry but Mr Trump needs to get more specific.   So far, I hear good campaign lines but not much more.
P. S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.


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Trump and Mexico with Allan Wall




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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Obama talking GITMO before going to Cuba



Maybe President Obama should check out Donald Trump’s “The art of making a deal”. Trump is not my candidate but he knows how to negotiate, specially the part about putting all of your cards on the table in public.
It makes no sense because he has not forced the Castro regime to give up anything in this new relationship.    In other words, GITMO for what in return?
Of course, where are you going to put the people in GITMO?   Nobody wants them. Democrat majorities rejected the idea of bringing them to the US.
So where are these people going to?   Many are going back to the fight.
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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1861: President elect Lincoln avoids assassination attempt

The United States was an angry country as President-elect Lincoln took a train east to assume the presidency.   There were threats of secession and war.   It was not a happy time.

On this day in 1861, President elect Lincoln arrived in Washington DC rather than Baltimore.    He was warned about an assasination attempt in Baltimore and reluctantly changed plans.

Two weeks later, he became the 16th president of the US.    


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Thinking about South Carolina and beyond



My friend Barry Casselman has a bit of advice for everyone:
"The results from the Democratic Nevada caucus and the Republican South Carolina primary did not provide any big surprises, but they also did not provide the winners with any big boosts.
In Nevada, Hillary Clinton won a narrow victory in a caucus that only brought out a small percentage of those eligible to vote, as is the case in all caucuses. The caucus vote was also reported to be down one-third from 2008, the last time the event was competitive. Not only that, exit polls indicated Mrs. Clinton lost voters who valued “honesty” and “trustworthiness” by an astonishing 9-1.That Mr. Sanders and his late-surging campaign came as close as he did to beat Mrs. Clinton can only strengthen his surging campaign as the contest heads toward Super Tuesday on March 1. Mrs. Clinton is also expected to win the Democratic South Carolina primary next week. She remains the frontrunner, but her lackluster performance and the Nevada exit polls will continue to provide profound concern for her party and its leaders.
In South Carolina, Donald Trump won but his margin was not quite as large as expected. Marco Rubio came in second; Ted Cruz, a less-than-expected third, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Ben Carson trailed in single digits. Mr. Bush has now retired from the race. Mr. Kasich perhaps remains a while longer. Mr. Cruz probably remains in the race indefinitely. Dr. Carson stays in perhaps until his resources run out. Barring the unforeseen, however, Marco Rubio is now the candidate of the Republican mainstream grass roots. As such, he will again be a prime target of his rivals. Governor Christie might have done Mr. Rubio a favor before New Hampshire by preparing him then for what is to come now.
Next week, it will be the Republicans’ turn in Nevada, and the Democrats’ turn in South Carolina, but the main drama now shifts to the March 1 Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses, 13 of them.
The Democratic contest remains muddied; the Republican race has been made clearer, but its outcome is not yet assured."
Let me add a couple of thoughts:
First, South Carolina and Nevada were a contrast in turnout. In other words, the GOP turned out and the Democrats really didn’t, as we saw in news reports: GOP up 20% from 2012 and the Democrats 33% downfrom 2008!
It’s early and there big states around the corner. Nevertheless, we can say today that Republicans are excited and Democrats are not. It may not matter in the primaries because Mrs. Clinton is headed for the nomination. It may be a problem next fall when she has to get all of these groups to get up and vote.
Second, Donald Trump won but this is not over by any means. He is not running any table, unless he suddenly starts getting 51% of the vote in the next month!
Once again, we see Mr. Trump winning with about 33% of the vote. In other words, 67% are voting for a number of other candidates.   
Over the next few weeks, we will know whether Senator Cruz can turn his campaign around. He may have money and ground game but does have votes?
We will also learn where Governor Bush’s voters go to. My guess is that they won’t go to Trump!
We have a long way to go but it was a good night for Senator Rubio. He is the one most likely to win the nomination after South Carolina. And the polls show that he is the one who beats Mrs. Clinton over and over again!
P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.


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