My latest year-in-music blog is still a work in progress, so here's a quick topical dispatch:
I'm convinced that Cuba is on the verge of collapse. This week's historic decision by President Obama to reopen diplomatic ties after a 55-year hiatus was daring, perhaps even partisan, but also potentially a cry for help. This is a country without a strategic lifeline, no world power to back them up. Beyond the elderly, frail Fidel Castro and his 85-year-old kid brother Raul, there is no clear order of succession in the event either were to pass away. Communism in the Caribbean has five years left, tops. Castro lived enough to see his regime thrive (briefly) and slowly watch it die as other Communist powers were leveled out for democracy. Cuba is at our mercy, and Obama knows it.
On the surface, ending the Cuba embargo is a gift to the GOP, the final wrapped box on the right-wing Christmas that was 2014. Florida has an abundance of Cuban refugees and their progeny; they are mostly (but not overwhelmingly) Republican, and known for having long memories. Sen. Marco Rubio, a son of refugees in his own right, declared the move foolish. In contrast, fellow Republican and Libertarian golden boy Rand Paul called the move savvy, and the beginning of the end of a policy that never worked to begin with. It's a fascinating clash between the pragmatist and the hardliner, between a man whose politics was defined by the brutal regime of his parents' homeland against a strategist who wants to leave the Cold War behind. If Rubio wants to remain hawkish, that's his risk to take, and one that could either help or hinder him if he chooses to run for president in 2016.