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Helen Dragas disparages without disparaging

Helen Dragas is an amazing piece of work.  She’s the rector of the Board of Visitors that forced UVA president Teresa Sullivan to resign.  A new hearing to potentially reinstate Sullivan is scheduled for Tuesday but leading up to it, Dragas is digging in her heels about the rightness of the board’s original decision.

Yesterday, she released a statement explaining why the board forced Sullivan to resign.  It turned out not to have been written by her.  The geeks unpacked the electronic copy to discover that some hack at the PR firm Hill and Knowlton actually wrote it.  Then the professors weighed in and picked it apart.  Jeez, you do not want to get on a Wahoo’s shit list.  They’re having a field day.

Governor McDonnell laid down an ultimatum: get this issue under control by Tuesday or I will ask for the resignations of the whole board.  I’m not sure this works in UVA’s favor though because McDonnell is a Republican and half of the board members were appointed by Tim Kaine, the previous governor who is a Democrat.  That includes Helen Dragas.  The board actions look like they cross party lines, however.  What the board members seem to have in common is that most of them are in the 1%.  To them, party distinctions are irrelevant.  They’re used to getting their own way.

In response to McDonnell’s ultimatum, Dragas fires back a nasty little ditty of her own.  Here are the money quotes:

I also agree with him on the importance of providing clear explanations of our actions, as I aimed to do in my statement yesterday, while being mindful of the constraints of the confidentiality of personnel matters and the non-disparagement agreements in the President’s contract.

I appreciate the Governor’s leadership in affirming the importance of Board governance, and that we alone are appointed to make these decisions on behalf of the University, free of influence from outside political, personal or media pressure.

I look forward to a respectful and dignified meeting on Tuesday, and to an important discussion of the implications of any decision we make on the ability of future Boards to lead the University.”

Let’s leave aside the sheer chutzpah required to tell the Governor to BTFU, what Helen appears to be saying here is roughly the equivalent of “I am prohibited by law from telling you that Teresa Sullivan is a goat fucker.  If I said that, that would be disparagement.  And anyway, that information is confidential.”

I know I should be blogging about the election or the new, incredibly boneheaded and damaging “Fast and Furious” scandal that provoked Obama to claim executive privilege. That scandal seems to have depressed even Jon Stewart.  But this event at UVA is riveting because it is a microcosm of what is happening everywhere in this country, an easy to digest story of  overreach by the privileged for mysterious reasons that may or may not have to do with making money. It’s happening at a historic university, founded by one of the most famous founding fathers who penned the Declaration of Independence.  Jefferson knew all about the motto Sic Semper Tyrannis. There is a lot of Americana and symbolism. The 1% have been doing this very same thing to this country for decades now to different segments of our economy and society.  And the privileged class started crossing party lines to take over the Democratic party in 2007 as well.  But never mind that right now.

What is it that drives Dragas?  There’s a timeline convergence happening in July where the board members are up for renewal.  It doesn’t look like Dragas will be reappointed*.  Is Dragas taking one for the team?  Is she trying to accomplish something before her term is up? Is something big at stake here for her to assert the board’s sovereignty?  Is that why she won’t resign?  Her statement of reasons why Sullivan was “fired” from yesterday seems to be superceded by the statement from tonight where she implies that there’s a blot on Sullivan’s permanent record.  What is this all about? There must be a strategy, because I can’t believe someone would go this far out on a limb without one.  Maybe it only appears to be a Komenesque self-destructive event.

And what are we to make of Sullivan’s confidence?  If she’s been fucking goats, she doesn’t seem to mind anyone finding out about it.

**************************

*Update: @cvillnewscom tweets that a reliable source in the Governor’s office says that Dragas will be reappointed.  If true, the board is determined to get its way and this is going to be a very ugly power struggle.

I saw this quote on twitter in a tweet on #UVA:

“When wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality.”

Red Beanie Boys: nuns help poor too much and condemn sexytime violations too little

Has the whole world’s first and second estates’ completely lost it?  I mean, talk about people who could use a refresher course in the classics.  Don’t they remember what happened to all those kings and princes who insisted on playing god with the power of life and death?

The Vatican is definitely pushing the envelope.  They’ve decided to step in and take over a North American nuns organization, rather imperiously, a la the UVA Board of Visitors, because:

In April, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI had authorized a takeover of the LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of the nation’s 57,000 nuns and sisters. The Vatican’s “doctrinal assessment” said the group was not sufficiently promoting orthodox teachings on sexuality and gender and was spending too much time focusing on social justice issues.

Although the Vatican has been officially scrutinizing the LCWR for several years — and has viewed the U.S. nuns with some suspicion for decades — the takeover came as a surprise. LCWR leaders requested a face-to-face meeting with Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who Benedict named to direct the Vatican effort.

After last week’s talks in Rome, Farrell and Mock said the meeting had been an opportunity for “open dialogue.” A Vatican spokesman said the meeting took place “in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality.”

But right after the meeting, Levada gave an interview in which he said the talks may in fact be a “dialogue of the deaf,” and said the nuns are associating with people who “aren’t representing the church with any reasonable sense of product identity.” Sartain and another U.S. bishop involved in the takeover also said the investigation was aimed at the LCWR, not nuns in general.

Farrell called Levada’s comment “unfortunate” and in its statement on Monday, the LCWR rejected efforts to try to separate the group from the wider community of U.S. nuns, which it said has “keenly felt” the impact of the Vatican campaign.

Yes, the comment was unfortunate but not nearly as unfortunate as the sentiment behind it.  By the way, when did the Vatican get a marketing department concerned with “product identity”. Can you just imagine the personality statement from the ad and marketing group?

“Our product says tradition.  It is not crunchy granola.  It doesn’t wear jeans or have a vegan diet.  It’s wine in golden goblets. It is not who you want to have a beer with. It says it’s going to be here for another 2000 years. It is gentlemen’s club. It’s about labor and delivery while strapped to a bed, not earth mothers and unassisted home water births. It’s the beauty of shame and the ecstasy of fasting…”

Lovely.  More authoritarianism just keeps coming our way.  This won’t end well.

Meanwhile, here’s a great idea: