Mr. Boehner, where are my Cohibas?

Speaker of the House John Boehner is going to make us choose, once again between the politics of NO and the politics of STUPID.

Responding to President Obama’s initiative to normalize relations with the island nation of Cuba, Boehner (pronounced Boh’-ner, like a stiff dick) said that he didn’t think our relations with Cuba merited revisiting.

Amazing, isn’t it how few things in Boehner’s world merit contemplation?

Boehner went on to say that the benchmark for revisiting relations with the Castro regime is freedom for the Cuban people.  I’m guessing here, that he meant freedom for the men of Cuba, but he didn’t list any metrics for determining when that freedom will have been achieved.

He also didn’t say how we could expedite that process, being only 90 miles away and all.

Here’s the rub:  After more than 50 years of our current Cuban policy, Boehner is willing to give it more time.  More time for what, I don’t know, but he insists we stay the course.  Yet, on January 21, 2009, just one day after President Obama’s inauguration, Boehner began the where-are-the-jobs? chant.

In Mr. Boehner’s world, some things, like the American economy can be fixed in one day, but relations with a tiny island need about a century to cure.

Author’s note – I’ve noticed in the past six years that Misters Boehner, McConnell, Cruz, et al have all been very decisive about what we shouldn’t do, but I haven’t found anything on the all-inclusive internet about what they think we should do.

So, what’s all the fuss about Cuba?  What’s the problem, when did it all begin and do those hotties really roll cigars on their thighs?

This part is what I like to call “History”, something that seems to have been unavailable to the Boehners of the world. It’s a way the rest of us put current events into perspective and and try to extrapolate how they might turn out.

The U.S. began imposing sanctions against Cuba after Fidel Castro seized power in 1959.  He pissed us off by nationalizing more than $1 billion in American assets.

For perspective, that was two years before Barack Obama was born.

For us, it started out as an economic event.  We were trying to recover money taken from American corporations and investors, the New York crime families among them-see The Godfather, Part III.

We ratcheted up sanctions on Cuba in 1960 and broke off diplomatic relations in 1961 after Cuba signed a trade agreement with the Soviet Union.  Paradoxically, we opened the door to the Cuban-Soviet trade arrangements by slashing our sugar quota and allowing the then USSR to pick up the slack.

See how one thing leads to another, Mr. Boehner?  Before Castro, we controlled the Cuban economy.  Nobody really gave a shit about the Cuban people. Before 1960, Castro wasn’t even a Communist.  It was his partnership with the Russians and their influence that lead him to form the Cuban Communist Party.

By decree, President John F. Kennedy made the embargo official in 1962, and that’s how the embargo was extended, by decree, administration after administration.  It’s open to speculation how much JFK’s decree was influenced by our embarrassing defeat at the Bay of Pigs .

In 1996, Congress decided, with President Bill Clinton’s support, to turn the embargo into law after the Cuban air force shot down two civilian planes north of Havana. The planes were operated by Brothers to the Rescue, a Miami-based anti-Castro group.

Thus was born the Helms-Burton Act, now a law which, unfortunately can only be overturned by Congress.

Shortly after JFK’s embargo decree, we discovered that the Russians, now BFFs with Castro had moved Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) into Cuba.  Those missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads were also capable of striking targets all along our eastern seaboard.  Those of us who have read about it refer to those 13 days in October of 1962 as the Cuban Missile Crisis .

President Kennedy, against all advice was unflinching in his resolve not to escalate the crisis into a nuclear war.  His advisers and military chiefs assured him that there were no nuclear warheads in Cuba and urged him to attack.  If I close my eyes, I can actually hear Lindsay Graham saying that if we don’t attack Cuba, they’ll kill us all.

In case you missed the movie, Russia’s President Nikita Khrushchev backed down and the missiles were removed.  It was decades later that we found out that there actually were nuclear warheads in Cuba and had we attacked, you would not be reading this (assuming you’re still awake) and I would not be writing it.

What, you may ask have our 50 years of embargo accomplished?  As with any embargo, a black market was created, lining the pockets of those in charge.  Fidel and Raul Castro, along with all their top military people are rich men.  The average Cuban earns about $19 a month.

Opening Cuban markets to American business would, obviously be a boon to them, our beloved job creators.  It would also create desperately needed jobs in Cuba.  Just the trade in cigars and rum could infuse billions of dollars into our economy.

If we really want to free the Cuban people, the best way to do it is to expose them to our so-called democracy and offer them hope.  Let them experience their own “Cuban Spring”.

If we break off relations with all the tyrants of the world, we wouldn’t have anyone to loan us money and we’d lose our great friend, the Saudis, along with half the regimes of Western Africa.

One more thing that Mr. Boehner should think about, historically speaking.  Russian President Vladmir Putin seems to have a nostalgic longing for all things he considers Russian.  We saw that when his troops took a wrong turn and wound up in Crimea.

As beloved as he is, the Russian economy is in shambles and the ruble is down 40% against world currencies in the last six months.  This would be an ideal time to reach out to Cuba and welcome them into our sphere of influence.  We’ve already seen what the Russians can do when we turn our backs on our neighbors.

Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio has threatened to block any ambassador appointment to Cuba.  I wonder if he would be OK with sending Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s father back to his home country to act on our behalf.

Back in my 20’s, I worked in a warehouse on the West Side of Chicago. One of the older guys working there used to refer to the “suits” up front as “assholes with teeth.”  It was only recently that I came to truly appreciate that description.

Speaker and Senators Assholes-with-teeth, be careful when accusing a government of being oppressive to the Cuban people.  You just might be talking about yourselves.

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