Feed on Posts or Comments 23 January 2018

2006 Election &Virginia politics Richard Falknor on 28 Sep 2006 02:01 pm

Virginians in Congress: The Good, the Bad, and the Lost

ED: This posting first appeared on NoVaPolitics.

The Good: Last week, all sorts and conditions of Virginia House Republicans came together to support the Federal Election Integrity Act, H.R. 4844, requiring photo-identification to vote in Federal elections and proof of citizenship to register for Federal elections.

And, as a bonus to fiscal conservatives, Virginia Representative Eric Cantor teamed up with Indiana Representative Mike Pence to offer legislation, H.R. 6057, eliminating the capital gains tax on inflation. Some tax authorities argue that the Administration could do this by executive order. (Full disclosure: your correspondent was one of 20 signers of a coalition letter to Congress urging an end to taxing inflation on capital gains.) The Club for Growth has made H. R. 6057 a priority. That pro-growth voice reports 67 co-sponsors of the measure last evening.

The Bad: In a time of porous U.S. borders, one would think members of all parties would be eager to secure the US voting system. Lamentably, Virginia U.S. Representatives Robert Scott, Rick Boucher, and James Moran voted not to do so.

And Tenth District challenger for the U.S. House Judy Feder crows:

People in this district – indeed, all across Virginia and across America – are desperate for change and accountability in Washington, DC.”

But apparently that promised accountability does not extend to explaining where she stands on securing our voting system. NoVaPolitics asked Ms. Feder for her views on the Federal Election Integrity Act. She failed to respond.

THE LOST: Working chaplains report that the military commands have been increasingly restricting their freedom to pray publicly according to their own religious beliefs. The Washington Times quotes Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina:

“Mr. Jones said Mr. [John] Warner should hear more stories like that of Capt. Jonathan Stertzbach, a Christian Army chaplain serving in Iraq, who told The Washington Times early this year that he and chaplains of other faiths were being pressured to offer only nonsectarian prayers. He was silenced by his supervisors soon after his public statements.”

Representative Todd Akin of Missouri was the initial author of a proposed safeguard to protect the chaplains in the field. The chaplain safeguard, incorporated in the House-passed version of the current defense authorization bill, is now before a House-Senate conference.

But Senator John Warner heading that body’s Armed Services panel doesn’t know which way to leap on the chaplain matter as he leads the Senate side of this conference. The House Armed Services panel had added language to protect the chaplains in their exercise of their faith:

“Each Chaplain shall have the prerogative to pray according to the dictates of the Chaplain’s own conscience, except as must be limited by military necessity, with any such limitation being imposed in the least restrictive manner feasible.”

The House panel had rejected what charitably might be called politically correct language:

“… except that chaplains shall demonstrate sensitivity, respect, and tolerance for all faiths present on each occasion at which prayers are offered”

The good Senator declares he is at a loss to know what he believes:

I personally have not decided on what version I personally feel should address this problem, so I remain of an open mind. But I remain very firmly of a mind that in the brief time that we have had an opportunity to look at it and examine it here on the Senate side, the time is inadequate to address an issue which I regard as of enormous importance.”

Freedom of speech and conscience versus fear of giving offense: surely these are the searing choices, requiring extended deliberation, facing the thoughtful post-modern United States senator. But should a senator from Virginia see religious freedom in this nuanced way? Some might say this perspective would be more typical of a senator speaking for the culture of northern California.

In his Hamlet-like statement on this matter, Senator Warner had suggested further hearings. But after Congress accepts the House-approved chaplain safeguard, the only Congressional hearings on this anyone should be proposing are investigatory in nature: precisely who was behind all these chaplain restrictions to begin with? And why?

NoVaPolitics cautions its readers sufficiently moved by the senator’s perplexity over religious freedom that they have only a day or two to help Mr. Warner get his bearings on military chaplains.

POSTSCRIPT: Once more, in the Bush administration, we are facing a failure to rein in the Permanent Government. Would not a word from the White House end the Pentagon bureaucracy’s meddling with chaplains’ freedom of speech and conscience that are such ancient rights in the English speaking world? And thus allow our senators and representatives on the armed services panels to focus on fighting the terror masters.

Trackback This Post | Subscribe to the comments through RSS Feed

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.