Category Archives: Gay rights

A Respite from the Culture Wars?

Bill Bolling. Photo credit: Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

It sounds like Virginia Republicans have learned a lesson — at least temporarily — from the shellacking they took in the November elections. All the talk of “legitimate rape,” rape-induced pregnancy as a “gift from god” and, earlier this year, trans-vaginal ultrasounds has poisoned the Grand Old Party in the minds of thousands of voters who otherwise would be receptive to its message of limited government.

I believe that most Virginians belong, like me, to the “muddled middle” in the culture war, uncomfortable with positions staked out by extremists on both sides of the political spectrum. A majority of Virginians also are concerned that government has grown too big, too intrusive, too heavily in debt (at the federal level) and a hindrance to economic growth. But many, fearing that Republicans want to roll back the clock on gay rights and women’s rights, cast their ballots for Democrats instead.

It appears that Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has gotten the message, according to Jim Nolan writing in the Times-Dispatch. Speaking to a recent gathering of Republican women in Charlottesville, Bolling called for Republicans to learn the lesson from the election. “I’m a pro-life guy — I have always been a pro-life guy,” he said. “But I understand that within our party we have pro-life Republicans and pro-choice Republicans. Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice there needs to be a respect of opinions on both sides of the issue.”

Meanwhile, other ranking Republicans have signaled a reluctance to resume the abortion fight. House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford told Nolan: “There’s sort of a feeling that we’ve pretty much done everything that needs to be done.”

Sen. Stephen H. Martin, R-Chesterfield, said that the GOP-controlled Senate Education and Health Committee, which he heads, would not reconsider “personhood” legislation.

Bolling defended legislative initiatives in the 1990s and early 2000s that enjoyed broad public support, such as parental notification and consent to abortion, a ban on partial birth abortion, and higher patient safety standards for abortion clinics. But more recent initiatives have turned off voters. Republicans, he suggested, should pick different issues.

“Why aren’t we the party that champions efforts to reduce teen pregnancy in Virginia, which results in so many abortions? Why aren’t we the party that champions support for crisis pregnancy that helps women deal with unwanted or unintended pregnancies? Why aren’t we the party that does more to promote adoption as an option to abortion?”

Ken Cuccinelli

Excellent questions, all. Republicans could frame such proposals as win-win initiatives that win the support of independents and Democrats. Unfortunately, Bolling this morning announced that he would withdraw from the 2013 governor’s race, depriving himself of a soapbox to advance those very causes. His decision effectively cedes the nomination to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a firebrand cultural conservative.

In an interview with Nolan, Cuccinelli said that the GOP needs “to be open to people of different perspectives. … I think that the center of the Republican Party is one that favors life and protects it, but I don’t think we have — and we have to be cautious not to have — an exclusionary mentality for people with different views.”

It’s all well and good to say that the GOP should be a big-tent party. But how would Cuccinelli govern? Would he champion culture-wars issues that turn off the electorate? Or, as a small-government conservative, would he devote his energy to holding the line on taxes while preserving essential state government services? Would he be willing to tackle the deep, structural challenges facing Virginia — the crises in declining economic competitiveness, K-12 education, higher ed, health care, transportation and land use — or would he just paper them over?

We won’t know the answer until 2014 — assuming Cuccinelli assuages voter fears of his deep-rooted cultural conservatism and manages to win the election. Until then, we can at least console ourselves that we should get a break from the culture wars in the 2013 General Assembly session. The big question, then, is this: If the culture wars are off the table, will legislators have anything else to discuss?

President Barack Obama!

By Peter Galuszka

President Barack Obama’s re-election and success with Virginia in Tuesday’s contest could provide  a fresh opportunity to solidify more economic recovery than what have otherwise may have happened. It could be a real chance for bipartisan progress.

Here’s my takeaway at 2:30 a.m.:

  • Virginia has again shown that it is morphing into a different kind of state. Losing some but not all power are the Old Republicans and their new iterations. Gaining power are Democrats, many of them newcomers with diverse backgrounds.
  • Bye, bye Tea Party. The anti-government, anti-spending curmudgeons of  two years ago are quickly fading in influence. Good thing. They had been a major and negative force trumping any bipartisan progress. Although Eric Cantor got re-elected, he’ll have a harder time playing obstructionist since he’ll no longer have a parade to try to race to get in front of and lead. And maybe we can give those God-awful Patrick Henry costumes to Goodwill.
  • Obamacare will not be repealed. GOP hasn’t the votes. Alleluia. Although flawed, Obamacare means that more people will be insured and health insurers won’t be able to get away with such practices as denying coverage for “pre-existing” conditions. No goofy vouchers for Medicare recipients. Not with Democrats controlling the Senate. Let’s get on with price transparency and breaking the stranglehold of Big Insurance and Big Pharma.
  • Hello manufacturing. Goodbye “Knowledge Economy.”  Obama can now solidify gains in the reviving American economy and help us once again make real things instead of just be providers of services that only help export jobs.
  • No more lying ads. We won’t have to listen to Romney  falsehoods about how Obama has a ‘War on Coal” and how he helped kill a crappy Bill’s Barbecue chain and send Jeep jobs to China.
  • Toodles, Ayn Rand. We won’t have to listen to the importance of selfishness by such faddish True Believers as Paul Ryan who was surprisingly irrelevant in the campaign. Now we can concentrate on helping Americans, not lecturing them on their irresponsible, spend thrift ways.
  • Energy. Inevitable changes will proceed, including towards cleaner natural gas, away from dirtier coal and towards renewables. Now we might start paying serious attention to greenhouse gases and make coal mines safer.
  • George Allen’s defeat means we won’t have to turn our clocks back two decades.
  • It will be harder to wage the War on Women with social conservatives trying to dictate unwanted oversight of their personal matters. Medieval advocates of “legal rape” can crawl back in their holes. It looks like Roe V. Wade is secure.
  • All in all a great night.

It’s Time For Loudoun to Dump Delgaudio

By Peter Galuszka

Since 1999, Loudoun County voters have strangely backed radical conservative Eugene Delgaudio as Sterling District supervisor despite his eccentric antics.

When not working at his county job, Delgaudio leads a group called Public Advocate of the United States that bashes gays and pushes limited government. The group has been tagged by the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group because of its strong anti-gay propaganda

Never shy about causing trouble, Delgaudio now finds himself involved in yet another controversy. This time it could have serious consequences for him.

Donna Mateer, a former part-time aide on the county payroll, claims she spent  her workdays fund-raising for Delgaudio before being fired earlier this year. According to The Washington Post, she has filed a workplace complaint with the county and has been interviewed by the FBI, the Post reports. Delgaudio claims Mateer was raising money for a youth football league.

Delgaudio has been in plenty of hot water before, including a recent lawsuit against Public Advocate of the United States by a gay couple whose wedding photo was allegedly altered and then used in an anti-homosexual political campaign in Colorado. The supervisor has won national attention for claiming that a Florida pirate festival was a secret confab of radical homosexuals, staging 1960s-style guerilla theater performances replete with Delgaudio in bizarre costumes and a Public Advocate of the United States e-mail depicting bloodstains from a murder scene in the colors of the gay rights movement.

In the Mateer case, the FBI will not comment. If Delgaudio in fact used a county employee time for his personal fund-raising, he could be in serious legal trouble.

There also are calls for his ouster, too, but Delgaudio has weathered that kind of storm before. He’s been reelected since he first ran for county office 13 years ago. In last year’s election, he easily beat Democrat Al R. Nevarez.

Voting patterns generally reflect the suburban area’s conservativism, but there are far more reasonable right-wingers available. One was former Broad Run Supervisor Lori Waters, who used to work for limited government activist Phyllis Schlafly and then for a charter schools group. Highly respected, she did not run for reelection last year and has since moved to Florida.

Certainly, there are many other conservatives in the county like her, which makes it it seem even odder that Loudoun, the richest county in the nation and among the best-educated, keeps returning Delgaudio to power.

UNDERCLASS LOVER

I want to be an underclass lover

Lay it down like a big ole’ brother

No mind who gets stuck

With the leftover

I get my F&%#

Without too much workover

Don’t care about the deficit

Don’t give a damn about the debt

’cause when it comes to lov’in

You ain’t seen noth’ yet

Ya know, the over class

They got theirs!

Henry the Eighth

And all them squares

And their deficit

Almost as big as mine

So hang on honey

Here it comes

Just a second now, we’re headin’

Right to BOOMERGEDDON!

Oh-YAAAA!

— PAG

Are We Going Back to Selma?

By Peter Galuszka

Imagine it is Alabama in early 1965. The Southern state, like Virginia, has for decades deployed a number of ruses such as poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent U.S. citizens and state residents from voting. These people otherwise would have been qualified voters but also happened to be African-Americans whom the ruling white elite wants to keep from exercising their constitutional right. In Selma in 1965, three civil rights workers, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb and Viola Luizzo who are advocating for voter rights, are shot and killed in their car by the Ku Klux Klan.

Travel a bit farther into south Texas and find that the Lone Star State has its share of disenfranchisement devices in use to stop Mexican-Americans from voting, even though some have been legal residents from the day Texas became a state and part of the United States. In some counties, Mexican-Americans are by far the large group, which is exactly why the white elite want them not voting in strength.

And imagine, a well-meaning, white, privileged and otherwise intelligent man from these parts supporting restrictions on voting, telling people they should “get over it.”

Welcome to the future. The events in 1965 resulted in the Voters Rights Act, a landmark piece of legislation. Yet when Gov. Robert F. McDonnell signing his own weasely version of the voter identification law supported by arch conservative Republicans in the General Assembly, the Old Dominion, most of which still under federal election supervision for its tarnished past, is putting new roadblocks in front of voters.

They used to have to show a photo ID and if they didn’t have one, they’d sign an affidavit saying they were who they claimed to be. Now, their vote will be “provisional” and they will have to show up official at a later date and show the ID. Only then will their vote be counted. To make things easier, McDonnell is ordering millions of new “voter ID” cards to be issued statewide. Odd that he doesn’t mention how much this will cost since the flavor of the moment is strictly containing budget expenses.

A few points on this rather strange set of events:

  • There have been absolutely no known major scandals involving voter fraud in Virginia. So, if there’s nothing broken, why go through all the trouble to “fix” it?
  • It is clear that restricting voting is a major ambition of the Republican Party which fears that President Barack Obama may get the boost in November’s election as he did in 2008 from the poor, the minorities and the young.
  • Regarding these groups, 25 percent of African-American voters do not have valid government-issued IDs compared with 8 percent of whites, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Some 15 percent of people earning less than $35,000 a year likewise have no such ID. According to the Project Vote, about 15,000 people voted without IDs in Virginia in 2008.

Thus, Virginia’s conservative leaders and their cheerleaders are targeting what they consider to be a threatening group of voters as part of a campaign to correct a phony “wrong.” This is just another part of a sweeping socially-conservative agenda that has women, gays, dark-skinned immigrants and African-Americans in their crosshairs.

And no, I’m not going to “get over it.” I refuse to be patronizing when it comes to basic civil rights.

Virginia’s Perpetual Bigotry

By Peter Galuszka

All the talk of a “new” Virginia that is somehow the apple of Richard Florida’s “New Urbanist” eye got a drubbing this week when the General Assembly voted against a gay man for a judgeship, showing just how badly the social right-wing is running amok and how more thoughtful people can’t control them.

Tracy Thorne-Begland, an openly gay man who had been in the Navy for 20 years and had served as deputy commonwealth’s attorney in Richmond, was rejected as a new general district court judge. He was strongly opposed by the Family Foundation lobby and ultra-rightist Del. Bob Marshall who told CNN that “sodomy is not a civil right.”

Even Atty. Gen. Kenneth Cuccinelli had said that sexual orientation should not be a criteria for deciding judgeships. Ditto Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. The man who looks the most gutless in this sorry episode is Gov. Robert F. McDonnell who had supported Thorne-Begland then left him twisting in the wind. The freshly rightist General Assembly had made McDonnell look so Neanderthal on gay and women’s issues just as he was making progress resetting himself as a moderate in a ploy to make him a vice presidential candidate.

The pathetic thing about all of this is that Virginia just can’t shed its historic tendencies for bigotry against African-Americans, gays or brown-skinned foreigners.

Over a vacation, I finished Robert A. Caro’s “Lyndon Johnson, The Passage to Power” which is part of a trilogy. This book covers LBJ from 1960 to 1965 from his hapless vice presidency to his dynamic leadership as the new president after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

At one point, Johnson needed Virginia’s notoriously racist Senator and Kingmaker Harry F. Byrd to agree to a tax bill that would meet Byrd’s demands as head of the Senate Finance Committee to bring down the federal budget (sound familiar?). This was part of Johnson’s agenda for sweeping civil rights reform, which Byrd would naturally oppose.

After all, writes Caro, Byrd was openly hateful of African-Americans and had a very bad reaction when Virginia was forced to conform to the 1954 Brown versus Topeka decision by the Supreme Court that integrated schools and school buses. Caro writes:

“When a federal judge had issued a ruling to enforce it (integration)  in Byrd’s native Virginia, the senator had pointed out the dangers. Six-year-old children of both races were going to be “assembled in little huts before the bus comes, and the bus will then be packed like sardines,” he said – and everyone knew what would come of that: What our people fear most is that by this close intimate contact future generations will intermarry.” Intermarriage! Miscegenation” the mongrel race. . . “

Substitute ‘gay” for “African-American” and you get Marshall, who is today’s “Byrd.”

Odd that one of our esteemed bloggers has just returned from a “New Urbanist” conference in Florida where he waxed eloquent on the teachings of Richard Florida, who believes that a “creative class” of innovators, many of them gay, will be more important than corporations in defining the future of cities. This is a world view one often reads in Bacon’s Rebellion – how Virginia fits very neatly into the Florida ideal.

What the Thorne-Begland decision shows, unfortunately, is that this world view is so much dreamy bullshit. The Old Dominion will never really advance until it sheds its Old Bigotry.

Something Stinks About This Tax Proposal

By Peter Galuszka

Pick a number. Any number.

Could 49,000 jobs be created? How about 44.000 jobs? It could be 77,000 jobs, or maybe as few as 900 jobs. These are the all-over-the-board possibilities suggested by the grandly-named Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy in Springfield, which touts itself as a non-partisan think tank, when, in fact, it is a conservative business lobby.

They have a new study, praised by fellow blogger Jim Bacon, that supposedly would restructure taxes in Virginia in ways to warm the hearts of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and Lt. Gob. Bill “The Jobs Guy” Bolling. The study suggests somehow changing the states sales tax, while expanding it or not expanding it to ”exempt” sectors. The nut of the study is the elimination of three state business taxes that have been around for years – the Business Professional Occupation Licensing tax, the Machine and Tool tax and the Merchants Capital Tax.

Getting rid of these nettlesome taxes has long been a mission of the state’s business lobby. “There is no net tax increase suggested in this study,” writes TJ Institute president Michael Thompson. The study, however,  seems to suggest that eliminating the three business taxes would cost localities $834.1 million that somehow would come from somewhere else.

I gather the make-up money would come by sticking the poor and middle class with extra sales taxes in areas now “exempt from sales taxes.” The states sales tax is now 5 percent but for some exempt foodstuffs, it is only 2.5 percent. The Thompson study doesn’t say exactly which “exempt” sales taxes would be eliminating (although it presumably would be enough to make up $834 million). It does suggest lowering the sales tax overall, but its target numbers vary and there’s little discussion about which and what exactly.

The more bizarre points of the report are the “nine” scenarios that offer a gobble-dee-gook of combinations. Most of the report makes little sense, but it makes bold jobs growth predictions. “Jobs created” range from 900 to 77,000. There is no clear cut analysis of how these out-of-the-dark jobs numbers come from.

Thompson claims he worked with two outside groups to come at his analysis. One is from Chmura Economics and Analytics, a Richmond-based forecasting firm, hired by the TJ Institute  to study various sales tax exemptions. Its head, Chris Chmura is a reputable, former Fed economist, but if her analysis is solid, there is no way of telling in Thompson’s report.

The voodoo economics seems to come from the so-called Beacon Hill Institute of Suffolk University in the Boston area. The fiscally conservative and politically-charged think tank apparently did the “pick a number” jobs creation numbers crunching. The institute itself is suspect. It gets funding from the arch-conservative Coors beer empire that is famous for finding ways to diminish the rights of gay people. Its findings are under constant attack by Massachusetts labor unions and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a watchdog group.

The Thomas Jefferson Institute, in my book, is likewise suspect. It is populated by right-wing lobbyists and not respected economists. In the past, it has touted the supposed benefits of offshore oil drilling in Virginia and cited the projections of an Old Dominion University professor who later told The Wall Street Journal that his estimates were informal and not to be taken seriously.

It is too bad that Bacon’s Rebellion has been hooked by this TJ report without thinking it through.

 

ALEC, the Tea Party and the Feral GOP

House Speaker William J. Howell

By Peter Galuszka

Virginia’s conservatives have gone through a spasm of controversy as they struggle to find their message. They desperately need to balance their ideas of fiscal discipline and limited government with a wide spectrum of unrelated hard-right social issues.

The clearest evidence yet of the quandary for their soul involves the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has just backed away from pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws that were involved in the shooting of a young African-American from Florida, Trayvon Martin.

ALEC had been a cozy, four-decades-old group of deep-pocketed corporations and lobbyists that ghostwrote template-style laws for state legislatures around the country to boost the conservative agenda of cutting taxes and government spending and cater to the business community’s desire for few regulations. For a long while, it seemed like a gigantic Chamber of Commerce funded by big corporate names such as Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and Johnson & Johnson to push business-friendly laws.

But as the Tea Party movement gained steam in 2010, its disparate elements pushed right-wing social issues that ended up alienating many and polarized legislatures, including Virginia’s General Assembly. That spilled over into ALEC, which ended up pushing voter ID laws designed to take voting power away from minorities when there was no real issue over identity fraud and suck up to the gun lobby by pushing the idea that if one feels under attack, he or she may whip out a firearm and blow away an assailant without much legal consequence.

Incredibly, Virginia taxpayers have shelled out $231,000 over the past decade so legislators, mostly Republicans, can go to ALEC confabs and learn what the latest is in conservative designer legislation. A big player is House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), who, according to The Washington Post, made 60 percent of his publicly funded trips to ALEC meetings.

The unexpected fury over the  Trayvon Martin shooting involving a Stand Your Ground law blew everyone’s cover. It had the entire cossetted ALEC world tossed on its head. Firms such as Coca-Cola, Mars, Wendy’s and Kraft, all of which are consumer products firms whose billions debate on a positive public image bailed on ALEC. The constant deluge of the Trayvon shooting was very bad for their business. Now ALEC says it is dumping social issues and sticking to economic ones.

Howell didn’t seem to know what to do. He attacked left-leaning critics such as “ProgressVa” and had the bad taste and judgment to personally insult Anna Scholl, the head of ProgressVA at a press conference, demeaning her intelligence by saying he needed to speak to her only in monosyllables. Howell, usually more stately than that, soon issued a public apology to Scholl.

What’s revealing about Howell’s tantrum, however, is how it shows that mainstream conservatives really don’t know what to do with the social radicals in their movement. For years, they’ve enjoyed the upscale, closed-door demeanor of ALEC meetings until the Tea Party types shook everything up. It was fine, everyday work bashing unions and trying to cut taxes for companies and the rich. Yet they became spooked by what ended up being a weak, ephemeral and loosely organized group that they went freak-out if not totally feral.

Big business interests figured it out faster and with the exceptions of firms such as Wal-Mart, they bailed on ALEC. This shows that a lot of the GOP stalwarts in Virginia and nationally have feet of clay. They are not sure of their agenda, as their unimpressive primary run so far has shown. Locally, they have let social right-wingers hijack this year’s General Assembly with issues that had been decided decades ago, such as women’s right to abortions and gay rights. Real work important to the Commonwealth didn’t get done. Because of the distractions, it took four tries to get a (bad) $85 billion budget passed.

It is time to put the Tea Party in its place and get past it. The Republicans are paying a huge price and will probably lose the presidential election if they continue. Meanwhile, the Democrats, who have stood on the sidelines snickering at the GOP melee, need to get engaged and shut down this social nonsense once and for all.

Five Ways Virginia Sucks

By Peter Galuszka

An alternative blogger is listing five ways Virginia may be the worst state in the union, a.k.a. “Bob Land.”

Tara Lohan of AlterNet notes that generally, watching the news these days is like going through a time warp when it comes to debates about birth control or teaching science in the classroom. States such as Georgia and Missouri come to mind in this regard, but Virginia, she says, is the worst.

Here are five reasons why:

  • Despite the horrific Virginia Tech shootings and public polling wishing otherwise, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has successfully pushed through a measure to repeal the one handgun a month purchase limit in the state. He apparently doesn’t care that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that “Virginia is the No. 1 out-of-state source” of handguns in the country.
  • Virginia may have 1,600 children up for adoption. But not if you are gay or lesbian. Virginia allows adoption agencies to deny placements” to people who conflict with their religious beliefs.
  • Hard right Atty. Gen. Kenneth Cuccinelli has waged a vigorous and expensive campaign in his witch hunt against former University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann.
  •  Virginia’s powers have been backing a new coal-fired electricity plant just upwind of Colonial Williamsburg. According to The Virginian-Pilot, the plant would emit 2,000 pounds of arsenic, up to 7,000 pounds of benzene, 1,390 pounds of chromium and 118 points of mercury into the air every year.
  • McDonnell launched a “War on Women” with his backing of a law requiring women considering abortion to have an ultrasound test. He backed away from a more invasive way of doing the test which is not deemed a medical necessity.

In general, Lohan hits the highlights, although she misses a little context. One is that since he is elected separately, Cuccinnelli doesn’t report to McDonnell. The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative coal plant has been put on hold mostly because of financing issues. The flood of natural gas, much from hydraulic fracking, has put a serious dent in the viability of new coal-fired electricity.

But she hits most of the notes. Interesting to read something other than what a dandy state Virginia is for business.

Richmond’s Arab Spring


By Peter Galuszka

What seems one of the wildest General Assembly sessions that ended on Saturday was actually a healthy display of democracy in action. It could presage a fundamental way that things are done in Richmond.

True, a new Republican and conservative majority in the House of Delegates pushed odious wedge issues at the General Assembly that made Virginia the laughingstock of national late night television. These include attempts to force women to have transvaginal ultrasound exams before they have abortions. In a slap at gay and transgender citizens, it made it harder for them to adopt children.

It pushed back needed health exchanges to get insurance as the Obamacare deadline approaches. Keeping our priorities skewed, public school kids still will have their start-date dictated by huge, profitable theme parts like King’s Dominion and Busch Gardens. Legislators came up with an empty tank when it came to funding transportation projects. And the legislature set up the repeal of the one-handgun-a-month law that could revive Virginia’s key role in pistol trading by East Coast criminals.

That said, a lot of other mayhem was thankfully put to rest. Racist immigration-based citizen checks got nowhere as did a law to burden public school teachers with extra and unneeded reviews. Amazon will be forced to pay sales taxes like everyone else, torpedoing a sweet-heart deal used to attract the digital retailer by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. The Senate killed a bill that would have singled out poor women by forbidding them from having abortions if the fetus has gross abnormalities.

With all this social agenda nonsense, the General Assembly didn’t get on with its most important task p-p- passing a budget –, but it will meet again to do so. Not to first time this has happened.

What has happened, and is very encouraging, is that this is the first time in years that the average public actually gave a damn about their rights to be heard in the legislative process. The State Capitol’s bucolic lawns saw thousands of protestors, including the arrests of 30 or more by state police SWAT teams armed with nightsticks and machine pistols and dressed in protective armor that made them look like fearsome Michelin Men.

What made the scenes so unusual was that most of the participants were middle aged women outraged that McDonnell and the hard-right Republicans would suddenly start dictating some extremely private parts of a woman’s life and deny her what the U.S. Supreme Court says she can do. We’re not talking the long-haired types of my Vietnam generation or more recent Occupy Richmond (or Wall Street or Seattle) people.

For far too long, state politics has been a good old boys’ club run by big corporations who bankroll think tanks and legislators led by the hand by lobbyists. Bill wording can be cut and paste jobs from national right wing outfits. People with opposite points of view are usually sliced out of the loop.

When McDonnell appointed a subcommittee within a state mining department to study the highly controversial notion of uranium mining in Southside, he picked as its head a former natural gas lobbyist with no experience with radioactive issues. She announced there will be no public hearings before her group sends its recommendations about whether or not lift a near 30-year-old ban on uranium mining. This is typical of the way Bob McDonnell and people like him see the world and regard their voters. They are not to be seen. Not to be heard.

While it is doubtful that McDonnell and his ilk will get the message, the outrage over the behavior of the General Assembly by everyday people shows that the old, behind-closed-door way of doing business is over. McDonnell and his spokesman Tucker Martin, can blame the news media. The State Capitol Police, with McDonnell’s acquiescence, can call out the SWAT teams all they want.

One thing they can’t do is kill the spirit of the man who actually designed the State Capitol building that was the locus of so much outrage. That spirit will outlive them all.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Estimado Jefe!

Usted nunca debe salir de la ciudad, señor! Ahora que usted está ausente, la revolución comienza! Amados lectores de ya no ver los artículos que glorifican a los ricos y privilegiados. Vamos a ayudar a la tierra y los pobres y redistribuir los fondos de cobertura. ¡Viva la Revolución!

 

The “Cooch” Makes Things Really Interesting

By Peter Galuszka

Kenneth Cuccinelli’s announcement that he will run for Virginia governor in 2013 presages some very interesting days ahead.

The controversial and hard-right Attorney General has been a highly polarizing figure in state politics. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, he stubbornly  insists that humans have little to do with climate change and has indulged in a months-long witch hunt against a former University of Virginia scientist who, like most of his colleagues in the civilized world, do see a link. Cuccinelli has trampled on gay rights by refusing to extend legal protections against discrimination against gays in public universities. He has fought headlong against President Barack Obama’s health care reform, spending plenty of taxpayer money in the process.

Meanwhile, Cuccinelli hasn’t come up with any positive proposals or platforms. Perhaps that’s not his job as attorney general, but voters have no clear idea of what he stands for, only what he is against. Given Cuccinelli’s obvious and robust reactionary ideas, it will be hard for him to remake himself into a moderate as Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, once a hard-line social conservative, seems to have done successfully.

The state GOP establishment has been pushing Lt. Gov. Bill. Bolling as McDonnell’s successor, notably by calling him the “go to” guy on jobs. The fact is that Bolling is pleasant —  and utterly forgettable.

Who else could run among the Republicans? One possibility is Sean Connaughton, McDonnell’s secretary of transportation and former chairman of the Prince William County board of supervisors. Connaughton is a technocrat professional who once head the National Maritime Administration and has been both a Coast Guard and a Navy officer. He’s been on a tear recently. He fired just about the entire board of the Virginia Ports Authority for failing to keep up with Baltimore and Savannah and has been the brains behind a big bond push to build new roads. Although his methods may be heavy-handed, at least Connaughton is a doer, not a reactionary. Should he run, Connaughton might be a more reasonable choice for the GOP.

Either way, the state Democrats badly need to get their act together. And fast. They are going to have to come up with a better candidate than Creigh Deeds who was easily beaten by McDonnell last time.