Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A word about President Nixon who died on this day in 1994

We remember Richard Nixon who was born on January 9, 1913 in California.     He died on April 22, 1994.

I can still recall hearing of President Nixon's death.

It was a Friday night. We were on our way to the ballgame. The pre-game show was interrupted with the flash that President Nixon had passed away in a NY hospital.

Nixon had suffered a stroke a few days before and was seriously ill.

Mrs. Nixon died the year before or 1993. How can you think of President Nixon without thinking of the wonderful Pat Nixon? She is still one of my favorite First Ladies!

Between his resignation in 1974 and death in 1994, Richard Nixon became a great author and important voice on national security issues.  

President Clinton delivered the eulogy at his funeral and said this about the 37th President of the US:

As a public man, he always seemed to believe the greatest sin was remaining passive in the face of challenges. And he never stopped living by that creed. He gave of himself with intelligence and energy and devotion to duty. And his entire country owes him a debt of gratitude for that service. Oh yes, he knew great controversy amid defeat as well as victory. He made mistakes, and they, like his accomplishments, are part of his life and record.
But the enduring lesson of Richard Nixon is that he never gave up being part of the action and passion of his times. He said many times that unless a person has a goal, a new mountain to climb, his spirit will die. Well, based on our last phone conversation and the letter he wrote me just a month ago, I can say that his spirit was very much alive to the very end. That is a great tribute to him, to his wonderful wife, Pat, to his children, and to his grandchildren whose love he so depended on and whose love he returned in full measure.
Today is a day for his family, his friends, and his nation to remember President Nixon's life in totality. To them, let us say, may the day of judging President Nixon on anything less than his entire life and career come to a close. May we heed his call to maintain the will and the wisdom to build on America's greatest gift, its freedom, to lead a world full of difficulty to the just and lasting peace he dreamed of.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  If you like our posts, drop a dime here. 

Coincidence? The first Earth Day in 1970 on Vladimir Lenin’s 100th birthday?

Image result for earth day lenin images
Before Babalu, American Thinker and websites, I used to write “letters to the editor” in our local newspapers.  It was our only option.
In 1990, I wrote a letter addressing the coincidence that Earth Day 1970 was created on the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday.
It was published in The Dallas Times Herald, a newspaper no longer around.   In other words, I can not link to the letter but can share the content here.
My letter addressed a couple of points:
First, the environmental movement had become a refuge for the left, specially in 1990 following the collapse of the Soviet empire; and,
Two, it was ironically the cities of communist states in Eastern Europe, Cuba and the old USSR with the worst pollution problems in the world.
While efforts to restore clean air to the United States have met with partial success, there is a far greater ecological disaster brewing in Eastern Europe, a report on worldwide air pollution said today.
The report, issued by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based environmental group, warned that gains in the West are quickly being negated by the unrestricted burning of high-sulfur brown coal and diesel fuel that is blackening cities across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
My letter argued that the communist world was polluted because of a lack of property rights as well as the absence of freedom or the rule of law.
It’s no coincidence that democratic states, like the US or Western Europe, are more sensitive to pollution or dirty rivers.  In general, elected representatives are more sensitive to the air that their constituents breathe or the water that they drink.
So is it a coincidence that Earth Day and Lenin’s birthday are on the same day?   I doubt the coincidence given the anti-capitalism tone coming from the movement.
P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  If you like our posts, drop a dime here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The other Bay of Pigs story

(My new American Thinker post)

Fifty-five years ago, my parents and lots of other Cubans woke up to "la invasion," or the invasion that most of us expected and were ready for.  There were groups in Cuba who had been fighting Castro, from sabotage to confronting the regime block by block.

This is about The Bay of Pigs, an event that most people have forgotten unless you're a Cuban of my parents' generation or someone like them who was impacted by it.

The plans for the invasion were passed on to new president Kennedy by the outgoing Eisenhower administration.   

The men who invaded Cuba were primarily refugees trained by the CIA in Nicaragua

They adopted the name of Brigade 2506 in honor of a member killed accidentally during training exercises.  

The veterans of the brigade have a museum in Miami, a reminder to the young about the men who were willing to fight and remove communism from the island.

The politically correct explanation is that the invasion failed because Cubans did not rise up against Castro.  Actually, it failed because the total plan was never carried out, and the men were left stranded, as Michael Sullivan wrote:
The invasion force, with four supply ships, landed at dawn, with a strength of 1,400 men. Initially things looked promising, American planes struck at Cuban air force bases and destroyed Cuban planes on the ground. 
However, the tide quickly turned on the insurgents. 
President Kennedy, anxious to cover up America's role, inexplicably called off all American air support, leaving the rebels stranded on the beach. 
Cuban army and militia units, organized by Castro himself, swarmed the invasion site to block the rebels from gaining the interior of the island. 
The Cuban Air Force rallied to strafe the landing site and the supply ships moored in the bay.
One ship sank and the remaining three barely made it out to sea. 
Without resupply or air support, the men of 2506 Assault Brigade managed to hold out for two days, until nearly all were either killed or captured by pro-Castro forces. When the smoke cleared, 114 died and 1,189 languished in Cuban prisons. 
There they remained for 22 months, until the Kennedy administration paid more than $50 million in food, medicine and cash for their release.
The accusations flew around Washington, as well as Havana, in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs and an administration struggled to retain its credibility.
It was a bad day, and many Cubans were thrown in jail after that.

It was a worse day for the credibility of the Kennedy administration.  He was confronted by Mr. Khrushchev in Vienna and challenged in Southeast Asia.  He left Vienna a very frustrated man after being pushed around by the Soviet leader, as Frederick Kempe wrote:
As he drove away from the Soviet embassy with Secretary of State Dean Rusk in his black limo, Kennedy banged the flat of his hand against the shelf beneath the rear window. Rusk had been shocked that Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had used the word "war" during their acrimonious exchange about Berlin's future, a term diplomats invariably replaced with any number of less alarming synonyms.
Despite all the president's pre-summit briefings, Rusk felt Kennedy had been unprepared for Khrushchev's brutality. The extent of Vienna Summit's failure would not be as easy to measure as the Bay of Pigs fiasco six weeks earlier. There would be no dead, CIA-supported exile combatants in a misbegotten landing area, who had risked their lives on the expectation that Kennedy and the United States would not abandon them.
However, the consequences could have be even bloodier. A little more than two months after Vienna, the Soviet would oversee the construction of the Berlin Wall. That, in turn, would be followed in October 1962 by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Already in Vienna Kennedy was distraught that Khrushchev, assuming that he was weak and indecisive, might engage in the sort of "miscalculation" that could lead to the threat of nuclear war.  He didn't know then that his prediction would become prophesy.
Over the years, I have personally spoken to many of the veterans of Brigade 2506.  Like my parents, they started their new lives in the U.S., and many served in the U.S. military.  Every one of them tells me the mission would have succeeded if the plan had been carried out.   

The lesson of The Bay of Pigs is simple.  Presidential weakness, and confusion, has consequences way beyond the event in question.  

God bless the men of Brigade 2506.  They are heroes in my book.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).

1961: The Bay of Pigs

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My life changed on April 17, 1961 or the Bay of Pigs invasion. 

Without question, this invasion was the biggest political event of my childhood.

Over the years, both sides have argued about what happened on that beach.  On one hand, the Kennedy apologists blamed it on the CIA.  On the other hand, Cuban-Americans blamed it on President Kennedy.

On this one, the Cuban Americans are right because President Kennedy let us down. 

Candidate John Kennedy inspired us during the 1960 election. It was Senaor Kennedy who delivered the tough anti-Castro speeches during the debates and the election.     In fact:
"By the time Kennedy took office in January 1961, he had already made serious commitments to the Cuban exiles, promising to oppose communism at every opportunity, and supporting the overthrow of Castro. 
During the campaign, Kennedy had repeatedly accused Eisenhower of not doing enough about Castro.
The Bay of Pigs made the October 1962 missile crisis possible. It projected the image that Kennedy was weak and indecisive. It probably forced Kennedy to overreact in Vietnam.

Many brave Cubans died at the Bay of Pigs. Castro put thousands in prison because they supported the invasion. Many were executed or spent years in some of the world's worst political prisons.

Let's remember the heroes of Brigade 2506. They were Cubans determined to fight for their country.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We remember Robert Stigwood (1934-2016)

We remember Robert Stigwood who was born in Australia on this day in 1934.  He died in 2016.

In the late 1970's,  just about everyone in the Free World had a 45 or LP from RSO Records or The Robert Stigwood Organization.      I'm sure that there is a copy in one of your boxes or vinyl collections.

In the early days, Stigwood worked with Brian Epstein of The Beatles and groups like Cream.

In 1967, Stigwood signed the very young Gibb brothers (Bee Gees) and managed their international career.   Ten years later, it was The Bee Gees and RSO Records who dominated the pop charts with "Saturday Night Fever", "Grease" and lots of others.

In the 1980's, he produced musicals and movies.   Overall, an incredibly successful entrepreneur and producer.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  If you like our posts, drop a dime here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

President Lincoln died the morning of April 15, 1865

Sunday, April 12, 2009

EASTER SUNDAY and all of the girls with their pretty hats

Image result for easter sunday girl hats clip art images

Hello Easter Sunday Parade

EASTER SUNDAY and all of the girls with their pretty hats......

Perry Como: Easter Parade

"In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it,
you'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade!
I'll be all in clover, and when they look you over
I'll be the proudest fella in the Easter Parade!
On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us
and you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet
and of the girl I'm taking to the Easter Parade!
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet
and of the girl I'm taking to the Easter Parade! "

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Brothers Gibb and other brother/sister musical acts!

(You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  If you like our posts, drop a dime here.)

The brother/sister act is one of my favorite parts of popular music.  It must be fun to sing with your brother or sister.  Wouldn't that be fun?

In this post, I will tell you about my favorite "family" groups.

Let's start with The Beach Boys.  They were the Wilson brothers: Brian, Carl and Dennis. You can add cousin Al Jardine and good friend Mike Love.  The result was wonderful harmonies and great songs like "Barbara Ann".

Second, Richard and Karen Carpenter were very successful in the 1970's.  Karen died in 1983.  They left us some wonderful songs, such as "Goodbye to love".

Third, Donny and Marie Osmond were cute and part of The Osmond family.  They were also very talented. I liked their version of 'Morning Side of the Mountain":

Fourth, Before Michael Jackson, there was The Jackson 5. Why did Michael ever grow up? I loved their songs back then. They still sound great:

Fifth,  The Cowsills were the whole family. They were mom, little sister and brothers. They eventually inspired "The Partridge Family", a popular TV series about a singing family. The Cowsills recorded some very nice songs. Their harmonies were great. I still love "The rain, the park and other things":

Sixth, The Bee Gees.  Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb wrote some of the greatest songs of the pop era. Maurice died in 2003 and The Bee Gees were retired. It's hard to pick one song. I love "Country Lanes" from the "Main Course" LP released in 1975.

Last, but not least, let’s remember The Everly Brothers. They were a bit before my time but their harmonies were great! In fact, their harmonies were very influential on the Beatles' sound. I love "Devoted to you".

Thursday, April 09, 2009

1970: Paul quit The Beatles and "Let it be" was the #1 song in the US

26 Best Paul McCartney, 1970's images | Paul mccartney, The ...
Not surprisingly, The Beatles broke up on this day in 1970.  

It started with Paul McCartney officially leaving the group but the guys had not played together for about a year.      In other words, The Beatles had not really been a group since they recorded "Abbey Road" in the spring and summer of 1969.

2 months after the official breakup, McCartney released a solo album.  It was so "solo" that he played every instrument.   The most popular song was "Maybe I'm amazed" although it was never released as a 45 in the US.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  This is a digital version of "Maybe I'm amazed":

Remembering some of the great Cuban players of major league history

Friday, April 03, 2009

And they play baseball on Good Friday?

Allow me a departure from the politics to share some memories of our first Easter in the U.S.  
It was indeed a welcome sight to see the first signs of spring after heavy snowstorms in February and January.  
It was also a time for a few cultural adjustments for this Cuban kid embracing his new homeland.
We came from a very traditional Spanish Easter culture. We called it “Semana Santa” or Holy Week.
Before Castro outlawed religious celebrations, took our guns away, and shut down the press, Cubans generally celebrated the very Catholic Easter. 
It was a very Spanish country, as most Cubans of my generation have grandparents who moved to the island from Spain from the 1850s to the first half of the 20th century. These Spanish immigrants brought Catholicism and very traditional Christmas and Easter customs. Many of the small merchants were also Spanish immigrants and you could see their traditions in the storefront decorations.   
It started on Palm Sunday. It was followed by Lunes Santo, (Holy Monday), Martes Santo (Holy Tuesday), and Miercoles Santo (Holy Wednesday).
Then it got seriously holy with Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday) leading to Viernes Santo (Holy Friday).   
As I recall, Holy Friday was a day of total meditation and reflection. There was no music on the radio, the TV was practically unplugged and all of the merchants closed. Only hospitals were open but no one wanted to end up there that day.
The meals were light and my mother encouraged us to sit and read Catholic books.   
The streets were empty and everyone was in a very somber mood. We did go out to see the religious marches and the recreation of Christ carrying the cross.
It continued on Sabado Santo (Holy Saturday). In fact, Saturday was another very quiet day. It all had the feeling of mourning the loss of a loved one. My mother reminded us that we were mourning the loss of a special one.
On Sunday, every changed and we called it “El Dia de Resurreccion” or literally the day of resurrection.  
The church bells rang. The wardrobe changed and it was a party atmosphere. We finally had the chance to watch TV. I recall one year that we got to watch Erroll Flynn’s Robin Hood!
Our first encounter with Easter in the U.S. was indeed a cultural shock. My parents did not understand the bit about going to the beach for Easter.    
My favorite recollection of our first Easter was hearing my mother’s reaction to a major league game on TV. She looked at me and said: “They play baseball on Good Friday?”
Have a wonderful Easter however you celebrate the holiday. To be honest, Easter brings me a lot of memories of my parents and grandparents.
P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  If you like our posts, drop a dime here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

1976: The year that Reggie Jackson was an Oriole

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On April 2, 1976, the Orioles and A's swapped some big name players:   Reggie Jackson & Ken Holtzman to Baltimore and Don Baylor & Mike Torrez to Oakland.   It was big!

Reggie had a good season but the Orioles fell short in the AL East:  .277, 27 HR, 82 RBI & 28 stolen bases.    

After the season, Jackson signed a big contract with the Yankees and you know the rest of the story.

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  If you like our posts, drop a dime here.

We remember Jim Fregosi (1942-2014)

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We remember Jim Fregosi who was born on this day in 1942.  He died in 2014.
Fregosi was a shortstop who could hit a home run and turn the double play.  He averaged 14 HRs and 62 RBI's between 1964-70.  
Fregosi is also the man traded for Nolan Ryan after the 1971 season.  The Mets did not think that Ryan would be ever be a consistent major league pitcher. 

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  If you like our posts, drop a dime here.




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