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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Cuba Policy: Obama Gets It Right Again

Category: GOP 2014
Posted: 12/19/14 20:48

by Dave Mindeman

I really don't understand the conservative meme on Obama's policy change in regards to Cuba.

It is just opening a door. As far as I can tell, the sanctions still hold. (Except for Cuba's chief export - professional baseball players).

But to look at the Castro regime as some kind of threat is getting more ludicrous by the day. The Cuban people are potential friends. Potential trading partners. A potential market.

Isn't that what conservatives really want anyway? Another means of exporting capitalism?

Cuba is a shadow of the communist regime it once was. And it has no serious outside support with the possible exception of Venezuela. Cuba is more Latin than Communist. More southern hemisphere than northern hemisphere. More in common with the US than different.

The opposition to Obama's initiative is rapidly becoming an archaic response. The proponents are holding onto a 50 year old policy that has not succeeded and has no point.

My guess is that Cuba will soon be chomping at the bit to enter the world as an economic clone of China. Where capitalism and communism coexist. And the new order will create markets only conservatives can love more than the people who benefit.

And besides, what can possibly be wrong with a country that loves '57 Chevys?

Obama is looking forward - not backward. We should all be on that page.
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In Women's Athletics - Even Success Is Not Enough

Category: Women's Issues
Posted: 12/19/14 20:13

by Dave Mindeman

When you try to talk about women's equality issues, it is hard to correlate that with college athletics.

Take the case of Minnesota Duluth Women's Hockey.

Shannon Miller by any measure has been one of the most successful women's hockey coaches since women's hockey gained major college status.

She started the UMD program from scratch and has achieved 5 national championships in 15 years of coaching. Her current team is ranked 6th in the country and has won 12 of its last 13 games.

But apparently that is grounds for dismissal.

The UMD athletic director says ....

"UMD Athletics is not in a position to sustain the current salary levels of our women's hockey coaching staff. However, we remain committed to supporting the Bulldog women's hockey program."

Shannon Miller made $215,000 (her men's counterpart with less tenure and less success makes $235,000; and she offered to take a pay cut). She had two full time assistants (both also fired) and a part-time director of operations (who is also the softball coach- but will no longer be involved in the hockey program).

It is hard to imagine that UMD alumni can seriously believe that UMD is still "committed to supporting the Bulldog women's hockey program"....because if they were, you would not be removing the most essential cog in its success.

Yes, women's hockey does not attract nearly the same fan base that the men's program does....but do you seriously believe that turning out a highly successful coaching staff to begin a completely new program is going to improve attendance?

Not to mention the potential loss of star players, who came to UMD because they were recruited by this successful coach.

This is just more evidence that university athletic directors do not view women's athletics in the same way as the men's counterparts. They do not support them in the same way, they do not promote them in the same way, and they do not hire in the same way.

Yes, the women's programs do not bring in the same kind of revenues - but if your advertising and promotional budgets all go to men's athletics, what do you expect?

Currently women's athletics have to be successful to promote themselves. And apparently, in UMD's case, even that is not enough.

Women have come a long way? Well, in the final analysis, maybe not so much.
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Speaker Daudt Pulls Ominous Move in Removal Of Rep. Wagenius

Category: Environment
Posted: 12/18/14 19:10

by Dave Mindeman

In an ominous move by soon to be Speaker Daudt, Rep. Jean Wagenius was kept off of the Environmental House Committee - even though she was the recommended Democratic lead by Minority Leader Paul Thissen.

Wagenius has a wealth of experience on the environmental front. First elected in 1986, she was the chair of the Environmental Committee during the previous session, but has now been blocked from even being on the committee.

Her new committee assignments will consist of Ways and Means which she has been on before and Capital Investment, where she has not served before.

I'm not sure I like the message that the new Speaker is sending here. Environmental policy is a complicated animal. Tossing away a legislator with over 2 decades of experience in environmental public policy has the look of a deliberate change in public policy.

Rep. Denny McNamara will chair this committee - not exactly a friend of the environment. Look for some restriction easing in regards to standards for sulfides in the water table and other Polymet favorable changes.

Rep. Wagenius would be a leadership voice and a strong counter argument for environmental changes. Apparently Speaker Daudt has decided that her expertise and experience are no longer required.

The last time the GOP moved as a majority on environment with a bill in 2011, Rep. Wagenius had this to say....

"For Minnesotans who value our clean waters, this is going to leave a very bad aftertaste," said Wagenius. "The Republicans are gutting the funds used to protect drinking water sources and neglecting a core government responsibility to ensure we are keeping our natural resources clean and protected for the next generation."

I guess with thoughts like that, Rep. Wagenius needs to take her opinions elsewhere.

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