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I took a couple of weeks off from blogging, mostly because there seemed so little new going on: Democrats propose, Republicans oppose. Ho Hum.

But now, comes news: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29951874//

Yes, we Americans may soon be able to travel to Cuba without slinking through Canada. Cuban immigration will be able to stamp American passports, memorializing their visit. A failed American policy will soon see its sunset.

While unrestricted travel does not change regimes (e.g., China), it does ultimately result in economic changes that over time can influence those regimes. Certainly, the American policy toward Cuba served primarily to isolate it, but did not remove Castro from power. Castro wants American dollars for his economy. Ultimately, those dollars would likely play less of a role in maintaining the status quo there and play a larger role in enhancing the quality of life and economic expectations of Cubans. Over time, this could result in increased momentum towards a less restrictive regime, which Raul Castro already appears to be considering.

For reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with politics I am looking forward to an opportunity to see Cuba. If it was good enough for Hemingway and the Mafia, there must be something there for me.

GOPThe train wreck that is the GOP reminds me of a bunch of middle schoolers who can’t agree on who will be Best Friends Forever this week.

Michael Steele seems totally unprepared for his position at the right hand of God, AKA Rush Limbaugh.  Steele’s missteps and reed-in-the-wind leadership style has left a vacuum that only Limbaugh seems interested in filling, although with false modesty he resists that interpretation. Given the size of the vacuum and Limbaugh’s girth, he may be the only one able to do so. Unfortunately for the GOP, which had it’s ass handed to it in the 2008 elections, Limbaugh is as polarizing as Bush, only louder and more obnoxious.

So the Bush legacy lives on and evidently the GOP learned nothing about the corrosive effects of  this approach to the electorate. During times of stress and outright fear many voters are willing to forgo ideology for practical solutions. Whether the Obama administration’s policies will provide the relief and solutions we need remains to be seen, although voter approval of Obama is extraordinary.

So as we anxiously await the economy’s recovery, we can at least be entertained by the GOP’s infighting, sniping, and pouting. And the voters who voted for Republican senators and members of congress can wonder just what kind of leadership they’re getting.

It has always amused me that Limbaugh is variously described as an “entertainer,” “commentator,” and of course, “comedian.” If he’s what the GOP wants as its defacto leader, then they will have to content themselves with the fallout in the 2010 elections. And the rest of us will keep moving forward without a backward glance.

publicspeakingThe Republicans’ choice of Bobby Jindal to deliver a response to President Obama’s speech on the economy on February 24 was a logical one. Jindal, as I’m sure we’ll be frequently reminded, is the son of Indian immigrants, something of a counter to Obama’s rags-to-riches story.

Unfortunately for the GOP, Jindal has none of the rhetorical skill of the President. His cringe-worthy sing-song delivery made even hard core party members wince.  His message has been described as “tone deaf” and out of touch with the pain and fear Americans, even those with jobs, are experiencing.  Someone needs to send him back to Public Speaking 101.

On the other hand, why bother?  Sarah Palin is idling in the wings, ready to jump into the fray. Not so fast.  Palin, who has to dig into her purse for $7,000 to reimburse Alaska for her kids’ junkets. And they haven’t even addressed the tax implications, so she may be a little busy.

How about the lifelike mannequin, Mitt Romney?  He just won the CPAC straw poll with 20 percent of the vote, followed by Bobby Jindal with 14 percent, Ron Paul with 13 percent, Sarah Palin with 13 percent, Newt Gingrich with 10 percent and Mike Huckabee with 7 percent. Yawn. It looks like 2008 all over again.

But back to Jindal. You have to like the guy and admire what he’s done. But as a serious presidential candidate he’s just not ready for prime time. In fact, none of the current hopefuls, except for Romney, are likely to create a groundswell of interest and enthusiasm.

It will be interesting to see who is picked to provide the next Republican response. My money’s on the Mittster.