Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flat-Earth Republicans pick scabs

Plenty of people cynically dismiss politicians of every stripe by saying they’re all alike. Why vote? they ask mockingly, it only encourages ‘em.

Elections prove all politicians aren’t the same. Virginians who were too bored to bother with 2009’s statewide elections are already being taken to school by the two of the Republicans who were sworn in two months ago.

Yes, for better or worse, Gov. Bob McDonnell is going to make a difference. McDonnell is not likely to be mistaken for his predecessor, former Gov. Tim Kaine, any time soon.

However, in the last few days Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has become the most talked about Republican in Virginia. At this writing he looks more like a throwback to the mean old days of institutionalized discrimination than any statewide figure in a long time.

Move over Virgil Goode and Bob Marshall, it looks like Cuccinelli is determined to be the Flat-Earth Republicans' top dog in Virginia.

Cuccinelli’s much-in-the-news letter to Virginia’s colleges and universities has instantly made him into a fresh-faced hero to this country's angry legions of Dittoheads and Sarah Palin fans.

Make no mistake about it, Cuccinell’s move was calculated to do just that. There was no widespread outcry for him to weigh in on this matter. His rather uncalled-for opinion seems to provide cover for university personnel, who might like to use their own homophobic beliefs as a basis to deny someone a job, or acceptance into a program, etc.

In other words, Cuccinelli is saying that only the General Assembly can direct state-supported schools' personnel to be fair in their dealings with all citizens.

How this bizarre legal opinion/stunt will hold up in court tests probably doesn’t concern Cuccinelli all that much. His short-term strategy appears to have more to do with him showboating his way into national prominence than it does with establishing his legal chops.

When a judge puts the kibosh to Cucinelli’s opinion it won't matter so much, because he will have already reaped the benefit he wanted in the first place. For the next four years Cuccinelli is in place to make as much mischief of this sort as he pleases.

Which means that for the next four years we Virginians may see a lot of our tax money devoted to reanimating the zombies of all sorts of issues we thought had been resolved long ago.

That’s how Flat-Earth Republicans operate. They pick at scabs, hoping fresh blood from yesterday’s thought-to-be-healed problems will distract Democrats so much they will lose their focus on today’s battles. That strategy seeks to tie up Democrats defending social gains made decades ago, at the expense of spending time on today’s problems, such as healthcare reform.

Flat-Earth Republicans are prepared to unravel Medicare and Social Security. From their propaganda it looks like they would be happy if all abortions and trade unions were illegal. It seems they would actually like to return to something akin to the time before voting rights were extended to all citizens, before trust-busters in government began to regulate capitalists.

They will continue to tell us it’s about lower taxes and more freedom. But force-marching us all across a narrow bridge to the 19th century appears to be the true agenda.

Yes, you can’t always get what you want … you get what you elect.

-- Words by F.T. Rea

Update No. 1: Click here to read Andrew Sullivan's reaction to the new McDonnell decree.

Update No. 2: Click here to read "Baliles: Cooch's Legal Reasoning Flawed" at Blue Virginia.


Anonymous said...

Cuccinelli gave correct legal advice to his client. Yeah, he should be burned at the stake.

Give me a break. You libs really sound like idiots going after the AG on this one. Go after the General Assembly, not the AG. He has no real power on this issue.

F.T. Rea said...

Anonymous, pests that post anonymous comments, using copycat crap like, "You libs," are not given much sway at SLANTblog.

Stuart said...

Cuccinelli did not give "correct legal advice" in his letter. The Code of Virginia is actually quite explicit in giving university boards the power to make regulations pertaining to admissions and hiring- which is what they did with their nondiscrimination policies.

Section 23-9.2:3 Power of governing body of educational institution to establish rules and regulations...

A. In addition to the powers now enjoyed by it, the board of visitors or other governing body of every educational institution shall have the power:

1. To establish rules and regulations for the acceptance and assistance of students...

2. To establish rules and regulations for the conduct of students while attending such institution.

5. To establish rules and regulations for the employment of professors, teachers, instructors and all other employees and provide for their dismissal for failure to abide by such rules and regulations.

So there you have it, the General Assembly has, through this section of the Code, explicitly given Virginia universities the power to make nondiscrimination regulations. It seems Cuccinelli's legal reasoning- based on only one single court case from 1899- is quite poorly supported.

Anonymous said...

Stuart, I'm not going to get into a debate over the law -- you obviously have your talking points in hand. The fact is it is really irrelevant, as Cuccinelli's letter is nothing more than advice. It's non-binding, in line w/ the opinion of five previous AG's, and he has no power to enforce anything on the issue. State universities can ignore it if they want. If they get sued, ultimately the issue will play out in the courts.

F.T. Rea said...

Anonymous (10:29), In other words, Cuccinelli's letter was a publicity stunt.

But why would you say "universities can ignore it"?

Cuccinelli's opinion didn't command universities to deny equal rights and access to particular groups. My reading of it was that gays and lesbians are (in his opinion) not among the groups protected from discrimination. In other words, it would be OK to fire a professor or reject a student for being gay.

Now, it appears, McDonnell has said the commonwealth's institutions/employees cannot discriminate in such a manner ... not while he is governor, dag nabbit!

Both moves strike me as stunts.

Both men have sent their (it's still OK in the GOP to hate homosexuals) signals to the Flat-Earth Republicans. Both poseurs have now said for public consumption that discriminating is bad.

Now it's back to NOT fixing the roads, NOT privatizing ABC stores, etc...

Anonymous said...

Not sure I follow. I was saying universities can ignore Cuccinelli's letter. He can't direct their actions. He is saying that if you ignore his advice, the state is opening itself up to potential lawsuits. Whether that is true or not, only time will tell.

I certainly agree that McDonnell's response was 100% politically driven. I don't know that about Cuccinelli. Although he may have personally enjoyed sending that letter, is there a legitimate, confirmed reason to doubt that he was in fact asked to offer an opinion on the issue as AG as he states in his letter? That is what the AG does, and what 5 prior AGs have done on this issue.

Stuart said...

"I'm not going to get into a debate over the law -- you obviously have your talking points in hand."
Ok then. I think McDonnell and President Rao have now confirmed, through their own talking points, that the universities have a legitimate position on nondiscrimination.

Anonymous said...

Stuart, the only thing they confirmed is that they THINK they have a legitimate legal position, or maybe less -- that it is politically convenient for them to convey that they think they have a legit position. The issue is ultimately one for the courts unless the GA acts.

Anonymous said...

I think Taliban Bob has enough poltical savy to realize Chuchi's stunt was totally uncalled for - and a major negative diversion. The idea that Cuchi was simply rendering a clarification of the State Code is halarious. Child Please.