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We have full diplomatic relations with communist Vietnam where nearly 60,000 Americans and several million Vietnamese died in a conflict that lasted (officially) from 1959-1975. We have full diplomatic with the Peoples Republic of China, which, at least officially is still communist although the system there now might better be called red capitalist. The U.S. has full diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which, despite some decorative parliaments, are dictatorships with terrible human rights records. But, for more than half a century, no relations with Cuba. On the contrary.

At The Atlantic, Matt Ford writes #CancelCastro: Why Is U.S. Policy Toward Cuba So Absurd?

For years, American outreach to Cuba came in many forms: mafiosos, poison-drenched wetsuits, toxic cigars. But today we learned of a new tactic in the campaign to undercut the Castro regime: a stealth effort by the U.S. government's humanitarian aid agency to create a Cuban version of Twitter.

On Thursday, the Associated Press revealed that ZunZuneo, a short-lived Cuban social-messaging service, had been secretly built and operated by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. […]

Pretty mild compared with all the other attempts the United States has made to topple Castro.

Fabian Escalante, a former chief of Cuba's Department of State Security, claimed in 2006 that 638 assassination attempts had targeted Cuba's longtime ruler between 1959 and 2000 (all of them failed). According to Escalante, the closest Castro came to danger was when a supposed CIA operative tried to poison a chocolate milkshakethe leader ordered at a Havana bar. The capsule apparently broke when it froze to the side of the freezer compartment in which it was being stored.

Beyond assassination, the CIA also tried to humiliate Castro. At one point, the agency discussed putting thallium salt in his shoes, in the hopes that it would make his beard fall out. Intelligence officials also debated blaming the Cuban government if John Glenn's Mercury 1962 spaceflight orbiting Earth failed, faking an attack on the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay as a pretense for invading Cuba, and even distributing doctored photos of an overweight Castro feasting with beautiful women to undermine his reputation. […]

A February 2014 survey by the Atlantic Council, for instance, found that 56 percent of Americans support changing U.S. policy toward Cuba, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Sixty-two percent of Hispanics nationwide also favor a policy shift. In Miami-Dade County, which boasts a Cuban-American exile community that can swing presidential elections, nearly 64 percent of respondents now support normalizing relations with the island.

U.S.-Cuban relations have become so surreal that Obama's fleeting handshakewith Raúl Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral made headlines around the world. As public opinion swings steadily toward bringing one of the Cold War's last conflicts to a close, how long will it take for Washington to follow suit? After today's revelations, per[haps] longer than we thought.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011Scott Walker's administration gave a state job and a 26% raise to the son of a major supporter:

Wisconsin Republicans claim that their state is broke, and have used that claim to justify stripping state workers of their collective bargaining rights. And yet, even though they claim to be broke, Scott Walker's administration just gave a state job, and a 26% raise, to the son of a major supporter who has no college degree, no relevant experience, and two drunk driving convictions. JS Online:

Just in his mid-20s, Brian Deschane has no college degree, very little management experience and two drunken-driving convictions.

Yet he has landed an $81,500-per-year job in Gov. Scott Walker's administration overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce. Even though Walker says the state is broke and public employees are overpaid, Deschane already has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.

Ah, a state job with a big salary and a huge raise. You don't need a degree, relevant experience, a clean criminal record, or even a formal application:

Tweet of the Day:

CIA illegally detained 26 of 119 captives who were in agency's custody, according to Senate torture report

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, we've had to reset the mass shooting clock, again. And along with the tragedy itself comes the tragedy of watching people "score points" by rushing to remind people not to try to "score points." Greg Dworkin asks questions about McCutcheon, highlights Sam Baker's ACA-themed Twitter rant, notes the many reasons some might not have paid their premiums, and spots Bobby Jindal trying to deal himself back into the game. More background for and reflection on McCutcheon. MoJo puts an eye on celebs who take big checks to perform for dictators.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments. Overnight News Digest.

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