Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Commotion in Austin over sanctuary cities and a few other thoughts




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How much more chaos can Brazil take?

brazil_outline
According to Simon Romero, this is how many Brazilians are feeling these days:   
Cartoonish depictions of Brazil’s president are so popular that his office is trying to restrict access to his pictures — so they don’t get turned into lampoons on social media.
Some Brazilians joke that a bold outsider — like Tite, the coach turning around the fortunes of Brazil’s national soccer team — should run the country instead. 
Maybe his star player, Neymar, could become finance minister, they say.
Then there’s the growing chorus of Brazilians who contend that the presidency should be abolished altogether, replaced by citizens making decisions via the instant-messaging service WhatsApp.
Once again, Brazil has found itself in upheaval, with President Michel Temer engulfed in a graft scandal that is threatening his presidency. 
Now, amid all the hand-wringing, anger and exasperation, the crisis is bolstering Brazil’s tradition of gallows humor, fueling a mix of satire and existential resignation.
Of course, we understand the anger over a corrupt system that has become Exhibit A of Crony Capitalism and the talk of Latin America. At the same time, can any country survive such cynicism? As the article explains:  
At the core of the humor is a sobering nationwide trend: a declining faith in the nation’s democracy.
Even before the latest scandal exploded this month, support for democracy in Brazil plunged in 2016 to 32 percent from 54 percent the year earlier, according to Latinobarómetro, a Chilean company that surveys political views around Latin America. 
Only Guatemala, where President Otto Pérez Molina was forced to resign because of a fraud scandal, ranked lower, with only 30 percent there supporting democracy.
Again, we understand the anger and cynicism. In other words, the last president was removed. The current president faces a mountain of problems, too. Can an honest politician be found?
As always, I’d like to check with my Brazilian friend for a little context. His attitude is this: “Letting people govern directly via WhatsApp can’t be worse than what we have now.”  At the same time, my friend is hoping for an honest politician instead. He assures me with a grin that his countrymen would probably get into fist fights if they governed by WhatsApp.
Here is a lesson here for the rest of us. Brazilian crony capitalism worked well when the economy was booming and politicians could give away things in exchange for votes. The whole system is now collapsing because the bad economy forced cuts in social programs and exposed the corrupt relationship between the political class, big business and the public sector unions.    
Will Brazil’s political system survive? Probably, but things cannot get any worse before I start looking at other alternative outcomes.
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

President Trump back home, leaks and other thoughts




Tags: President Trump and NATO, leaks and Trump, Mantle 1956 To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the My View by Silvio Canto, Jr. Thanks!

President Trump and NATO



We’ve heard about this for years, i.e. our allies are not carrying their share. I remember when NATO troops went into Afghanistan but only a few countries were willing to put their soldiers on the battlefield.
So it was great to hear a U.S. president tell Europeans, not just the political class in private, that it’s time to act and commit 2% of their GDP to defense.
President Trump’s trip made an impression, as Nile Gardiner wrote:  
On this first overseas tour, President Trump certainly made an indelible impression. In the Middle East, traditional allies will feel reassured that the United States stands with them, especially in reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
In Europe, Trump will probably never be loved, but he is increasingly acknowledged as someone who means business in aggressively advancing US interests, which include strengthening the NATO alliance.
In contrast to his predecessor in the White House, President Trump showed no willingness to atone to other world leaders for his country’s actions, and seemed determined to project strength and resolve at a time when American leadership is increasingly being challenged. 
This was not the “leading from behind” approach of the Obama era, but a return to a more traditionally assertive US foreign policy based on clear-cut national interests.
Yes, it was a successful trip and time will tell whether accomplishments will follow.    
However, President Trump faces a huge challenge at home. He flew back to a city where leaks have become a way of life, or certainly a way to embarrass the president and even his conversations with other world leaders.
It would be nice to hear one Democrat step up and remind “the leakers” that they are violating the law and making the U.S., not necessarily President Trump, look bad.
Well done Mr. President. Now, go after the leakers, and fast!
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Monday, May 29, 2017

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


Guest: Bill Katz, the editor of Urgent Agenda.........President Trump's trip overseas and NATO...the media and the Trump administration.....terrible leaks are hurting the US.....another special election and another defeat for Democrats.............Memorial Day this weekend and a time to remember......President Kennedy was born 100 years ago today................plus other stories.....

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

OK movie but heck of a good investment

Let me paraphrase Wolfman Jack and ask you:   Where were you in '77?

We remember this weekend the 40th anniversary of "Star Wars".   In my mind, the movie was OK but the return on the investment was really something else, as we see here:   

The original Star Wars film is the third-highest-grossing film of all time, raking in close to $2 billion when adjusted for inflation. That alone would’ve made the original investment a spectacular one........

Although Gone with the Wind remains the highest-grossing film of all time (when adjusted for inflation over the 78 years since the film’s first release), no single film can hold a candle to the money-making empire that Star Wars unleashed. 

Spurring at least 10 lucrative sequels and prequels, five TV series, and multiple made-for-TV movies (so far), as well as billions of dollars in books and merchandise, Lucas couldn’t possibly have imagined just how successful his creation would become over the next 40 years.

It was also a marketing bonanza.   Every boy was Luke Skywalker and every girl was Princess Leia:   

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake.” Beginning with–in Fisher’s words–“a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags,” the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

By fall, discotheques had young people dancing to a disco version of the theme song by Meco!  By the way, Meco was Domenico Monardo, who once played in the Cadet Band at West Point.

And rest assured that The Force will be with you for a long time:   

But the real money for Disney is in leveraging the Star Wars brand for just about anything it can think of: toys, games, merchandise, cruises, theme park rides, hotels. The list is endless and Disney is pursuing them all. 

There will soon be a Star Wars-themed section of Disneyland and Disney World in California and Florida, where children and adults can spend their days riding Star Wars rides, drinking Star Wars drinks (blue milk, perhaps?), eating Star Wars food, sleeping in Star Wars rooms, and, of course, buying Star Wars swag.

Who would have believed any of this that Memorial Day weekend of 1977?  I certainly didn't and most of you probably didn't either.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Another tough night for the resistance

On the eve of Montana’s election, Chris Cillizza wrote this:  
The current pro-Democratic — or, more accurately, anti-Trump — environment helps on that front in two ways.
It convinces top-tier Democratic recruits that 2018 might be the year for them to run for Congress. And it serves as the tipping point for Republicans teetering on the edge of retirement. 
Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s retirement in Florida is one example; she leaves behind an open seat race where Democrats are favored.
The critical question, of course, is what the political environment looks like next November. 
 
And, as Gonzales and Cook note, that’s impossible to say today. But, as Gonzales rightly adds:
“Time should not be an excuse to ignore the fact that history and the current political dynamic favors Democrats and are good reasons to watch the fight for the House.”
He’s 100% right. The wave looks to be forming. 
Could it fizzle out before it ever comes close to swamping Republicans? 
Of course! 
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep a very close eye on it. 
We should.
And then Montana stepped into the picture and now it’s time to delete “the wave is forming” memo and pull out the one about a “moral victory.”
The so called “resistance” keeps putting everything on the line and then explaining another loss as a moral victory. It happened in Kansas and now in Montana!
After all, isn’t getting 43% of the vote in Montana sort of like a moral victory? Not really, especially after so much effort was put into the campaign.   Furthermore, Montana elected Democrat Senator Tester in 2006 and reelected him in 2012. In other words, a Democrat can win in Montana — but not the one that the Democrats nominated this time around.
So where do the Democrats go from here? How many more moral victories before the people putting up the money get sick of this?
The Democrats’ main problem is that their hatred of Trump has blinded them from reality. They are not really offering anything other than “Trump is evil” or that “the GOP wants to take away your health insurance.”
What’s wrong with that approach? President Trump’s approvals may be low but you still need a candidate who can do more than sing country songs.
To be honest, 2018 could be a huge year for the Democrats. It could also be a big year for the GOP. Frankly, we don’t know yet because there is so much yet to happen.   
In the meantime. get ready for the next one down in Georgia. We will again hear that it’s another big election and that Trump is on the line. If the Democrat pulls out a victory, it will be the most important election in U.S. history since the U.S. Constitution was ratified. If the GOP wins then we will hear about a moral victory and how the GOP underperformed.
If I were a Democrat, I demand a refund of my dues and stop watching CNN!
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Friday, May 26, 2017

An election in Montana, NATO, Memorial Day & John Wayne 1907..




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Is another Brazilian President going down?



It’s been a year of scandals and more scandals down in Brazil. As you may a recall, the president reelected in 2012 was recently removed over corruption.    
It appears that the new guy may be facing a load of problems as well. Corruption is knocking on his door, too.
To make matters more complicated, President Michel Temer ordered troops to put down a protest:   
Besieged by protests, Brazil’s president on Wednesday deployed federal troops to restore order in the capital, Brasília, after demonstrators calling for his ouster clashed with security forces.
Defense Minister Raul Jungmann went on national television on Wednesday afternoon to insist that President Michel Temer was only trying to restore calm in the capital by calling in the troops to patrol some areas. One of the city’s iconic modernist buildings, the Agriculture Ministry, was set on fire, and other government buildings were vandalized during the mayhem. Regional officials in Brasília put the number of protesters on Wednesday around 35,000.
 
“A protest that was supposed to be peaceful deteriorated into violence, vandalism and disrespect,” Mr. Jungmann said.
While supporters of the move say the capital must remain calm and functioning, the use of the armed forces in Brazil touches a nerve among critics of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, a period known for human rights abuses and the restriction of civil liberties.
Jairo Nicolau, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said the move to call in the armed forces was a “mistake.” 
It is probably a mistake, indeed.    
First, it is irresponsible for crowds to get out of control and attack property or security forces. So I understand the show of force to maintain order. 
Second, people in Brazil are frustrated with the corruption. It seems like a new scandal hits the front pages everyday.    
Third, the anger is also driven by a terrible recession, the worst in decades.     
As a Brazilian friend said: “It’s one thing to have corruption when the country is booming. It’s another thing to have these people steal money when the rest of us are suffering.”
So Brazil floats along but the anger is getting worse. Don’t be surprised if Brazil has a new president soon!  
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Star Wars 1977 and a look at the front pages



Guest: Frank Burke, author, businessman and contributor to American Thinker.........We will look at the state of politics in Washington, from the trip to Europe, the Manchester terror act and Star Wars was released in 1977......plus other stories.....

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Isn’t Senator Kaine a bit late talking to the middle class?



Not long ago, Senator Tim Kaine was the kind of Democrat who could win a district between the coasts.  After all, he was pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, and he went out of his way to remind everyone that he was not a liberal.  Listen to his radio ads from yesteryear.
In 2016, Senator Kaine became the other half of the Clinton-Kaine ticket.  He bombed, to be polite.  He did not deliver anything to the party.  The left saw him as a phony, and the right did, too.
Now Senator Kaine is calling on the Democrats to talk to the middle class:
If you ask regular folks what Democrats want to do to the economy, not many will mention growth as the goal. (This is partly due to broad anti-business rhetoric that is directed toward Wall Street or multinationals but manages to scare off entrepreneurs and small businesses too.) 
The Democratic economic goal is more likely to be described as about fairness, regulation, taxation or redistribution.
And if you ask folks how the Democrats plan to accomplish their economic goal(s), you often get a blank look. We are wonky people and usually have a ten point plan with multiple sub-points about jobs and the economy. 
Complexity doesn’t communicate well and we seldom deliver an economic message that really sticks.
My 23 years in state, local and federal politics have convinced me that Democrats will always lose on economic messaging unless we have a simple and compelling growth strategy. If the Republicans pitch growth and we pitch anything else, we lose.
We can sometimes make it up on other issues, but why start behind on people’s key concern?
Question for Senator Kaine: Why do most people describe the Democrats’ message as about fairness, regulation, taxation, or redistribution?
Answer: Because it is about fairness, regulation, taxation, and redistribution.
This is what Senator Kaine, and others trying to recover from losing 1,000 seats in the Obama years, is missing.
Senator Kaine chose the wrong train when he dropped his conservative roots in exchange for identity politics.  He has to live with that decision.
Yes, there is room for a Democrat who rejects the status quo.  Sorry, but Senator Kaine is not the one!
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Terror in Manchester, Trump overseas and other stories



We will look at the Manchester terrorist attack.....can governments in Europe protect their people anymore.......President Trump doing well overseas, from Saudi Arabia to Israel to the Vatican.......where is the crime in the Russia collusion story.......are Democrats walking back the impeachment talk........plus Bob Dylan is 76 today......plus other stories....

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Tags: Manchester terrorist attack, can governments in Europe protect their own people from terrorists, Russia collusion story, Democrats and impeachment talk, Bob Dylan 1941 , To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the My View by Silvio Canto, Jr. Thanks!

They want to kill us all


terrorism-clipart-banner_terrorism
What more do we need to know about these people? Can their intentions be more clear? What else do they have to do? Blow up teen girls at a pop concert?
As Roger Simon wrote:     
If you think what happened in Blighty can’t happen here — 19 killed, 59 injured — you’ll  have to excuse me if I say “You’re out of your bloomin’ mind.” Did you already forget 9/11/2001?  Or the Boston Marathon? Or San Bernardino? Or the Orlando gay bar attack less than a year ago that killed 49?
Oh, yeah.  Seems so long ago, doesn’t it, even that last one? The “new normal.”  We put these things out of our minds the week after to deal with the next trivial Washington scandal or go about our petty lives.  
Our culture lives in a self-destructive willful blindness, refusing to see the obvious even though it happens again and again across the globe.  
Radical Islam, Islamism, or whatever you want to call it has been at war with us since the Twin Towers came down and even well before.  And they have no intention whatsoever of stopping.
Nevertheless we respond in the most perfunctory manner, nattering on about how Islam is a”religion of peace,” criticizing ourselves and others for “Islamophbia,” or dismissing it all as a police matter.
My guess is that we will react decisively in the US.  We’ve had a much more realistic view of terrorism over here.  As a last resort, we believe in self defense and allow some citizens to carry guns and serve as a line of protection.
However, I’m not very optimistic about Europe. For example, Salman Abedi, the alleged terrorist, was known to British authorities prior to the attack. Wonder how that makes any parent feel about the next concert that their teens want to go to? Or the next time that there is a big soccer event? In other words, would you attend a concert in the UK any time soon knowing that  people under the eye of the police will join you for the proceedings?
Most of all, it makes President Trump’s realism about terrorism and uncontrolled immigration really stand out.   
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A chat with Leslie Eastman and Dawn Wildman




Tags: The Moms March 2017, California politics 2017  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the My View by Silvio Canto, Jr. Thanks!

NAFTA back to the table

Eight years ago, then-senator Obama called for a renegotiation of NAFTA.  We understand that Mr. Obama did it in 2008 to beat up Mrs. Clinton, who had supported the trade agreement.
Nevertheless, this is where we are today:
The Trump administration gave Congress official notice on Thursday that it plans to renegotiate Nafta but provided only the vaguest of hints about modest changes President Trump would seek to an agreement that he has called “the worst trade deal ever.”
In a brief letter to lawmakers, Robert Lighthizer, the newly confirmed United States trade representative, said the administration aimed to support economic growth and better-paying jobs through unspecified improvements to Nafta that would modernize the 23-year-old agreement. But the notice — a drastically scaled-back version of a draft the administration circulated this year — promised no major modifications of the sort that the president has hinted he will seek.
Mr. Trump had threatened to withdraw completely from the agreement, only to relent in late April when the leaders of Canada and Mexico, the other parties to the deal, called and asked him to renegotiate instead. Sonny Perdue, his secretary of agriculture, also presented Mr. Trump with a map illustrating the potential negative consequences for American farmers if the deal were shut down.
 
We will see where it goes from here.
As a supporter of NAFTA, I welcome the review.  After all, 23 years is a long time, and some adjustments may be in order.
On the Mexico side, NAFTA is controversial.
On the one hand, professional and well educated Mexicans love the fact that they can work in all of those multinational companies that headed south.  By the way, I am not talking only about U.S. companies.  Go to San Luis Potosi in central Mexico or Queretaro, about two hours north of Mexico City, and you will see an amazing display of international operations.  These companies are using cheaper labor but rely on very well paid professional Mexicans to work in accounting, quality control, and general management.
On the other hand, talk to small retailers or grocers, and they will tell you that NAFTA, and all of those cheap imports, put them out of business.  They correctly point out that Mexico’s GDP has not kept up with other countries.
So my guess is that a NAFTA renegotiation will get a thumbs-up south of the border.  I remember all of the rhetoric of 1993, or how NAFTA would pull Mexico out of the Third World.  Yes, you can see all of those modern plants all over Mexico, but there is no sense, fair or unfair, that the workers or farmers have benefited at all.
Let the talks begin.  NAFTA is probably going to be a huge topic in Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections.
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