Sunday, July 23, 2017

Thursday's show: A chat with Alex Lyda about Cuba today.




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Wednesday's show: Venezuela and the GOP struggles with Obama Care




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Tuesday's show: The GOP & Obama Care, La Raza has a name change and other stories..




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Monday's show: The week in review with Bill Katz, the editor of Urgent Agenda




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Dallas and the latest insanity of removing Confederate symbols

A monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee towers over a traffic circle in New Orleans
About 20 years ago, I met a man in Dallas who had a huge collection of Confederate symbols in his home office.  We became great friends and often see each other socially with our spouses.  On several occasions, we discussed the Civil War.  His great ancestors had fought in the war, and it was a topic of huge interest to him.
Let’s add Dallas to the list of places where activists want to erase history by taking down statues or references to the old South.
The Dallas Morning News has a story about the intense situation
Both sides grabbed their modern-day bayonets – social media – and dug in.
One camp, led by a growing cadre of social justice activists, wants to see all symbols of the Confederacy wiped away or hauled off to a museum.
 
The other camp, including organized groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, doesn’t want the city to touch any of the tributes. They say the old monuments and school names should be left in place because they reflect America’s – and Dallas’ – history.
I am not personally involved in this fight.  In other words, I don’t have my modern-day bayonet dug in.
At the same time, please put me down with those who want to preserve the history and the names.
As my aforementioned friend said, my ancestors did not fight for slavery.  They were, he went on to say, fighting for their understanding of states’ rights.  In fact, most of the Southern soldiers did not own slaves.  We should honor their service, especially that of men like General Robert E. Lee, who fought with the U.S. Army before the Civil War.
More importantly, where does this stop?  How far back do we go?
For example, do we remove all references to African history because they were the ones who captured the black men and sold them to the Europeans?  Should we delete all references to pre-17th century African culture because it enslaved black people?
How about the Aztecs down in Mexico?  They made slaves out of the men captured and then raped the women.  They were also very active in human sacrifice.  My guess is that most of men captured by Montezuma would have loved a Gitmo to go to.  Should we stop any reference to Mexican history? 
My point is that history is history, and it should be left alone.  It should be studied, and the actions of 16th-century men and 13th-century Aztecs should be understood in proper context.
Finally, it would be a lot more valuable if we would devote our time and energy to fighting black-on-black crime in our communities or improving the public schools that most Democrat leaders do not send their children to.
This whole thing about removing Confederate symbols is just the latest distraction by black Democrats who don’t want to face the real problems their policies have caused.
Memo to Dallas and others:  Cut this nonsense and let’s do something about these minority districts desperately looking for economic growth and better schools.
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1983: President Reagan wrote a book about abortion




Once in a while, we seek President Reagan's wisdom and common sense.    Yes indeed, as the above quote indicates, everyone in favor of abortion is already born.    It makes a lot of sense.   I would add that aborted girls never get to talk about "choice" or join Planned Parenthood.

 Abortion has emotional consequences as we've read over the years at "Rachel's Vineyard".

Beyond that, there are economic consequences, such as 40 million plus abortions since 1973.  You can't abort millions of babies without consequences.

Can we admit that abortion is bad for women and the nation?    

This what motivated President Reagan to write a book about abortion in 1983, or during his first term:



A show from July 2009: Growing up Cuban in the US, the Cuban baseball edition




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Saturday, July 22, 2017

2009: 40 AL pennants for the Yankees



Move over everybody because no one does it like The New York Yankees.

What else can you say about an organization with 40 AL pennants?

Earlier this season, I wrote that I wanted Derek Jeter to get his 5th ring.....Jeter has 4 and needs another one to join Berra, DiMaggio, Mantle, Ruth and Gehrig!

Last night, Jeter and his Yankees showed why they will be tough to beat in the upcoming series.

First, starting pitching: Sabathia! Petite! Burnett!

Closer: Rivera!

Middle of the order: ARod, Texeira and Matsui!

Intangible: Derek Jeter, one of the greatest Yankee winners ever!

Congratulations to the NY Yankees!


Congratulations to the 2009 Yankees and their 27th World Series title



Last year, the Yankees watched the post season on TV.

Then they signed Texeira, Sabathia and Barnett, the top 3 free agents available last year.  I guess that we can say that Mr. Steinbrenner's investment paid off big time!

Last night, they celebrated their 27th World Series title.

40 AL titles and 27 WS rings is remarkable.

The Yankees won their first title in 1923.

Along the way, they won 5 in a row (1949-1953), Don Larsen pitched a perfect game (1956), and Reggie Jackson hit 3 Hrs in game 6 (1977)!

At one point, they won 20 of 25 AL titles (1923-1962).

It is remarkable story!

Beyond history, I am very happy that Derek Jeter won his 5th ring. Jeter is one of the greatest Yankees ever!

We remember Beny More (1919-63)




Bartolomé Maximiliano Moré Gutiérrez was born in Santa Isabel de Las Lajas on August 23, 1919 and died February 19, 1963.  He was only 43 and and allegedly 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.


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




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Andy Garcia's "The lost city" was a great movie





Let me issue a disclaimer.   I am not a movie critic.  Frankly, I don't watch movies with a critical eye but rather to be entertained.  

In recent years, I enjoyed "Gods and Generals" because I love anything about the US Civil War.  

"March of the Penguins" was well done.  

I liked "The Rookie" because it is such an uplifting story.  

"I walk the line" was fun and informational about Johnny Cash.

"The Lost City" tells a story that most Cuban exiles can relate to.  This is not a pro-Batista movie or presents Cuba as a pre-Castro paradise.

This is a movie about the betrayal of Cuba by Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra.

This is about the young men who died to restore the 1940 Constitution rather than impose a communist dictator.

This is about the Cuban middle class who stood up to Batista.

This is about Fidel Castro canceling elections and bringing the Soviets into Cuba.

This is about Che Guevarra's firing squads.

I was there but too young to remember most of it. 


Yet, our home in the US was always full of Cuban stories.  My parents always reminded us of what we left behind.

I won't spoil it but the movie is about a family caught up in the turmoil of 1958-61.

Want more? Watch the movie!

The music is spectacular. The choreography of old Havana is stunning. Close your eyes and you will feel back in the elegance of La Habana.

You need to watch or download "The Lost City" by Andy Garcia.





We remember Richard Egues (1923-2006)





As a young man growing up in Wisconsin, our family turntable was the best source of Cuban culture.   My parents subscribed to a Cuban "LP of the month club" out of Miami and built up a collection of music. (They still have the LP's today!)

One of our favorite groups was Orquesta Aragon, one of the great Cuban bands of the 20th century. 



Richard Egües was Aragon's flute player.   His unique sound helped the group achieve world-wide popularity.   In '99, Egues released a solo album, "Cuban Sessions".

Egues was born in 1919 and died in 2006.  He was 84 and left us a huge collection of records and songs.



2008: Remember when the Rangers brought up Chris Davis?






Back in June 2008, the Rangers brought up Chris Davis because Hank Blalock was hurt.

Davis was tearing up AAA pitching in Oklahoma City.  

He hit his first home run in 2008.   He hit a lot more, specially after going to Baltimore in 2011.    

Davis hit 42 HR in Texas and has 214 HR already with Baltimore.  

Looking back, the trade made sense in July 2011 because Texas was looking for a second trip to the World Series.   The Orioles, on the other hand, were rebuilding.



Saturday night and a few thoughts about the front pages


We will look at a New York Times editorial blasting China for not living up to environmental standards............also there is a movement in Dallas to replace Confederate symbols......why are we deleting history..........we should learn but not delete our past.......Robinson Crusoe movie 1954..............and other stories...................




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1983: The Police's "Every Breath You Take" was # 1 this week




Frankly, I am not a big fan of 1980's music.   It could be because I was busy working and later raising a family.    Or, maybe I was worn out from listening to so many great songs in the 1970's.

Nevertheless, I went out and bought me a copy "Every breath you take" in the summer of 1983.   

It was a great record:  



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President Bush 1989-93



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July 1974: George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby" was all over the radio and discoteques



Disco music was known as dancing music.   It became disco later in 1978 with "Saturday Night Fever".    

George McCrae may not have invented disco but he had millions dancing from coast to coast:  "Rock your baby":




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July 1969: Tommy James & The Shondells' "Crystal Blue Persuasion" was a big hit that summer on the radio


In the 1960's, Tommy James & The Shondells had a ton of hits, from "Hanky Panky" to "Crimson and clover", both reached # 1 in the US.    

In the summer of 1969, he released one of his very best.   It was a great arrangement coupled with some wonderful lyrics:  "Crystal blue persuasion"




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July 1973: Maureen Mcgovern's "The Morning After" all over the radio


I guess that this song will always remind me of "The Poseidon Adventure", the movie about the cruise ship that flips over in the middle of the ocean.

Scary movie and a nice pop song by Maureen McGovern.  

It was the a big hit in the summer of 1973!  She did not have another Top 20 until "Different worlds" in 1979, a song that reminds me of "The love boat" theme song.

Click here for "Morning After":



"There's got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let's keep on lookin' for the light

Oh, can't you see the morning after
It's waiting right outside the storm
Why don't we cross the bridge together
And find a place that's safe and warm

It's not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It's not too late, not while we're living
Let's put our hands out in time

There's got to be a morning after
We're moving closer to the shore
I know we'll be there by tomorrow
And we'll escape the darkness
We won't be searchin' any more

There's got to be a morning after
(There's got to be a morning after)
There's got to be a morning after..."


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July 1972: Procol Harum's "Conquistador" was on the radio


We remember Procol Harum for "A whiter shade of pale", a huge from 1967.  It is still one of the most popular songs on oldies radio.      

By the summer of 1972, they were back with one of my favorite songs from the 1970's or "Conquistador": 





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July 1971: "Rainy Days And Mondays" by The Carpenters was very popular in the radio



By the summer of 1971, Richard and Karen Carpenters had put several songs in the Top 10.  

"Rainy days and Mondays" was a great song by Paul Williams and it sure felt like Karen was born to sing it:  



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July 1970: Blues Image's "Ride Captain Ride" was a big hit in the radio


In the summer of 1970, we were listening to the last 45 by The Beatles ("The long and winding road") and introduced to "Close to you" by The Carpenters & "Make it with you" by Bread.    

We were also introduced to Blues Image their big hit: "Ride captain ride":





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Happy # 40 Flletwood Mac's "Rumours", great LP from the 1970's


Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" was released in early February.     It became one of the top LP's of the 1970's.      My guess is that most fans did not know that the group was going through some serious conflicts during the recording of this album:   
After years simmering beneath the surface of mainstream tastes, Fleetwood Mac finally hit the big time in late 1975. 
The British blues group, which had been around since 1967 and through various lineup changes since then, recruited a pair of California singer-songwriters for its 10th, self-titled album, and everything almost suddenly changed for them.
Thanks to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood finally scored a No. 1 album, a string of Top 40 hits and a massive tour that helped make them one of the biggest rising bands in the world. 
And things were about to get a whole lot bigger.
Behind the scenes of all this success, Fleetwood Mac were in a state of disarray — nothing really new for them. But the wrinkles were new this time, as the band’s two couples — Buckingham and Nicks, and the McVies — fell apart. Tensions were high as the three chief songwriters — Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie — channeled their aggressions, frustrations and hurt into their new songs.
The result was one of the era’s all-time greatest albums, and a landmark breakup record: Rumours, which was released on Feb. 4, 1977.
And an LP that we still listen to 40 years later.   There were great songs like "Go your own way"!



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Happy # 74 Bobby Sherman (dedicated to my sister who had one of his posters in her room)


Between 1969 and 1972, Bobby Sherman sold millions and millions of records.   As I recall, he was on the radio, TV and maybe a movie as well:



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1964: The Four Seasons' "Rag Doll" was # 1 at Billboard USA


In late July 1964, our family was in Jamaica waiting our entry to the US.   

We heard this great song on the radio but I could not understand the lyrics.   Nevertheless, I fell in love with it.   It is one of the greatest songs of the 1960's:



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So is The New York Times making the case for skipping the Paris climate accords?


A few weeks ago, many of us supported President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accords for a couple of reasons:   
First, President Obama did not send the accord to the US Senate for a treaty ratification; and, second, what’s the point of having an accord that requires nothing from China? Why do a manufacturing surrender and throw US workers under the bus?   
Well, The NY Times’ editorial is making President Trump’s point about China. I’m not sure that this was their intention but their attack on China should have come when this deal was being negotiated.
While President Trump rolls back environmental protections and announces the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord, China is trying to position itself as the world’s climate leader, pledging to cooperate with other countries to build an “eco-civilization.” China has established the largest solar panel farm in the world, plans to close over 100 coal-fired power plants, and is committed to spending at least $361 billion on renewable energy by 2020.
 
All of this is laudable and sorely needed. 
But if China truly wants to be a climate leader it needs to address its global climate footprint, not just pollution within its borders.
China’s lending in Latin American and Caribbean countries provides a telling example of how the country has outsourced its emissions.
The Chinese Development Bank and the China Export-Import Bank provided more than $141 billion in loan commitments to Latin America and the Caribbean from 2005 to 2016, far surpassing lending from multilateral banks to the region. 
These loans have gone mainly to projects with significant environmental effects like oil drilling, coal mining, hydroelectric dam construction and road building. Over half of all public-sector lending from China to Latin America, some $17.2 billion in 2017, went to the fossil-fuel industry.
Thank you for making our case against the Paris Accords.The editorial’s last paragraph is great:    
A true climate leader would invest in the preservation of areas of global ecological importance rather than destroy them.
Are you kidding me? China is not a climate leader anymore than it is a democratic country. China was simply willing to pretend because politicians like President Obama were more interested in signing an accord than anything else. Like the Iran deal, President Obama was simply looking for a resume entry so that he could go around and pretend that he led the world to some kind of climate improvement. 
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Jose Contreras, Fidel Castro and the 2005 World Series





Jose Contreras pitched game 1 of the 2005 World Series and it was a decent effort.  He was helped by Joe Crede, third baseman who made several defensive plays and hit a home run. 

Finally, Cotts and Jents were phenomenal from the bullpen. 

On the field, Contreras beat the Astros.   In Cuba, he beat Castro, who censored the game.

Cubans were not allowed to watch a baseball finals featuring one of the nation's modern baseball idols.

Contreras left Cuba a few years ago. He defected with other players. 

Where are the Hollywood liberals who are constantly traveling to Cuba to kiss the regime's hand?   Why aren't they complaining that Cubans can not watch a baseball game?

The world should put pressure on Castro to show the games on TV. What is Castro afraid of anyway?  Is he afraid that the Cuban people will see a prosperous and free nation?



Baseball and memories of Cuba





Let me share two childhood memories of growing up Cuba. 

The first one is the political turmoil and upheaval that turned Cuba upside down in the early 60's.   It finally led to our departure in '64.

My second memory is more pleasant or baseball.


It seems that my dad took my brother and I to the baseball doubleheader every Sunday.


I don't remember a lot but I do recall Orestes "Minnie" Minoso getting booed because the fans did not think that he was running out a ground ball.

My favorite player was Camilo Pascual, who would go on to win 174 games in the majors with the Senators/Twins.

There were many young Cuban players who who were destined for the majors----Cookie Rojas, Leo Cardenas, Pedro Ramos, Mike Cuellar, Tony Gonzalez, etc. I remember watching them before they left the island and pursued careers in the majors.


Before Castro, great players like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Satchel Paige played in the island. 

The Yankees played spring exhibitions. The Negro League teams were very popular because many Cubans were on the rosters. 

In the 50's, Tommy Lasorda, Willie Mays, "Rifleman" Connors and Brooks Robinson played winter ball in Cuba.

Every Cuban baseball fan should check out this great book about the history of Cuban baseball.    Better than that, buy your Cuban mom or dad an "Almendares" or "Habana" baseball cap!








We will miss Buck O'Neil (1911-2006)




Like so many others, I got to know Buck O'Neil during the Ken Burns' baseball series.   Buck's comments were so great.   His memories of The Negro Leagues were precious.

Since '94, O'Neil became a wonderful baseball ambassador. He visited Dallas many times. I heard him on the radio a couple of times.


A few years ago, Buck died at 94.

We will miss his wonderful face and voice. What a great guy!

Buck was one of the great stars of
The Negro Leagues. Many of these guys played in Cuba. Also, many black Cubans played in that league.


Orestes "Minnie" Minoso belongs in the Hall of Fame





The late Orestes Minoso is once again a candidate for The Baseball Hall of Fame.  He is one of the few players who played in the Negro Leagues and MLB.

I remember watching Minoso play in Cuba in 1960-61.  He played for Marianao in the old Cuban winter league.   In the majors, Minoso was known as Minnie and played with Cleveland and Chicago White Sox.

This is the summary about Minoso from SABR.   It's long but very good.  Minoso retired with a .298 batting average, 1,963 hits and 205 stolen bases.   He led the AL in hits in 1960 and won several stolen bases titles.    

He had a great career and was an inspiration for the many Latinos that came later.   Minoso is also a great part of White Sox history.



Mike Lowell talks about his family in Castro's Cuba


A year ago, everyone had an opinion about Fidel Castro's death. 


Mike Lowell, former Boston Red Sox third baseman and current baseball analyst, put it all in perspective when he spoke about his family:   
Former big-league player and 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell's stance on Fidel Castro hasn't changed over the past decade.
After the Cuban dictator passed away Friday, Lowell - who told the Boston Herald in 2006 he hoped Castro would die because he had family members killed during the former politician's regime - discussed how he felt with Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
"I'm not sad he's dead," Lowell said. "Move on and if this helps change that regime, their thought process or something, it's better for the Cuban people. I think everybody should pursue what they want to make them happy. That's basically the bottom line. I don't think a country should have a say in what you want to make out of your life."
Lowell's father was jailed by Castro for 15 years after not showing support for the dictator's regime, which obviously left the former Boston Red Sox player with ill feelings toward the 17th president of Cuba, as he even compared him to Adolf Hitler.
"Some would put Castro above Hitler, and why? Because they're not Jewish. It's what you relate to. It's what hits home a little bit more," Lowell explained. "I'm not saying Castro is worse than Hitler, or Hitler is worse than Castro. I don't want to get into the atrocities of Hitler because that's possibly the abomination of the world as a human being. But I think Cubans view that as someone who is trying to eliminate everyone who was against what he thought, and he did it to his own Cuban people. If you told me it was a country of people coming in to take over your country, I understand. But it was within your own country. I think that's a much more damaging and a much more savage way to go about things."
Lowell retired from baseball after the 2010 season, following a career that included two World Series titles in 2003 and '07, four All-Star appearances, and a career slash line of .279/.342/.464 with 223 home runs and 952 RBIs.
Cubans understand how Lowell feels.

Santana and Che, years later





Years ago, I spoke with a Cuban who had fled the island.  We chatted politics, a little baseball and music. He made an interesting observation: Castro denied me the Beatles!

Most lefties, and their apologists in Hollywood and elsewhere, do not know, or choose to overlook, that Castro did not allow Cubans to listen to the Beatles, rock music or American movies.  All of these things were hailed as capitalist trash that would poison the minds of revolutionaries.

This is why so many of us reacted with anger when Carlos Santana showed up wearing a Che jersey during the awards a few years ago.

Myriam Marquez wrote this in the Orlando Sentinel:
"Grammy-winning jazz great, Paquito D'Rivera, a worldwide talent who fled Cuba in the 1980s, apparently weighed in this week with an "open letter" to Santana.
He noted that wearing Che's face is "a harsh blow" because Cuban youth in the 1960s "had to go into hiding to listen to your albums, which the Revolution and the troglodyte Argentinean and his cohorts, dubbed as 'imperialist music.' "
Che Guevarra was a man who put many to death. He confiscated private property for no reason at all. 

In the end, he was captured because the Bolivian natives did not support him. Che's Bolivian revolution was a huge failure! Che Guevarra and Fidel Castro turned Cuba into a political prison.

Last but not least, he was part of a dictatorship that did not allow Cuban youths to listen to Santana's music.

Maybe Hollywood will make a movie called "the dissident's diaries", the story of young Cuban who was put in jail for listening to Santana and believing in democracy.





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