Last Saturday Robert Farley from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky hosted a Firedoglake Book Salon with Reese Erlich, who’s newest book, Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba. It was a fascinating session and I strongly urge you to read it over at the link above. Today, I want to talk with Reese not so much about the future of Cuba, but the future of the U.S., at least insofar as it is effected by our relationship with the island 90 miles off our southern coast.

Monday, Reese and his publisher allowed me to post a portion of a chapter from Dateline Havana, where he looked at what the real aims of the U.S. wanting to "bring freedom" to Cuba. Concurrently, President Obama announced a disappointingly modest few steps towards normalizing relations with Cuba, and a small gaggle of noisy wingnuts, predominantly Florida Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who fancies himself the future presidente of his Cuban birthplace (and the prospective, and equally right-wing, first brother, Mario) announced their opposition. This morning they were joined by two right-wing Illinois Republicans–odd, because most farm state congressmen are pushing Obama to move further and faster–John Shimkus, who first came to national prominence as a Mark Foley enabler, and Aaron Schock, who is Congress’ youngest member and purportedly a new and improved version of the same Mark Foley.

Schock isn’t just parroting role model Mark Foley’s support for ideological intransigence towards Cuba; he’s actually confused–he’s just a kid–about the difference in the kinds of trade bills he’s pushing to pass for Panama and Colombia (the NAFTA/CAFTA kind that exports American jobs) and what opening up normal trade relations with Cuba means–selling the Peoria area’s agricultural and manufactured products into the Cuban market.

In the past, we’ve looked at the "special" relationship, both financial and political–one that cuts across partisan lines–between members of Congress and vested interests with a gigantic stake in maintaining the status quo in U.S. Cuba relations. reese-erlich-with-friend.thumbnail.jpgToday, we want to discuss those issues–the Cuba-US Democracy PAC, Florida sugar interests, the corruption of Democrats like Debbie Wasserman Schultz–with Reese. Please join us in the comments section below.