Today's reversal by Governor McDonnell of the Virginia State Police policy permitting only nondenominational, inclusive invocations at government-sponsored functions is an affront to all Virginians of minority religion or no religion.
As a Jew, I am proud of Virginia's history of religious inclusiveness, which started with Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Statute of Religious Freedom, and George Washington, who promised the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, an American government "which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."
As an Air Force veteran raised on U.S. military bases overseas, I have experienced firsthand the unifying power of military chaplains, who defend the First Amendment by ministering in their own particular faith traditions to their denominational flocks while providing inclusive, nondenominational blessings at official government functions. Even beyond that, military chaplains pride themselves on ensuring people under their charge of all faiths -- or no faith -- are able to exercise their beliefs. As an Air Force officer, I attended Passover seders and other Jewish observances organized by Methodist, Baptist, and Catholic chaplains.
Rather than look to this proven, constitutional model, Bob McDonnell has chosen a policy that allows agents of the government to foist their religious beliefs on others, satisfying the Religious Right while turning his back on the diversity and pluralism that has made our country great.
1. NORTHROP GRUMMAN PICKS VIRGINIA FOR CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS
3. MCDONNELL: VA. SPENDS $12M-$15M TO LURE NORTHROP
4. MCDONNELL GETS PRAISE FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE OVER NORTHROP DEAL
6. NORTHROP GRUMMAN'S VIRGINIA DONATIONS FEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS...
9. MCDONNELL STILL COMMITTED TO OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING
10. GROUPS ASK MCDONNELL TO DROP LETTER REQUIREMENT, REVAMP RIGHTS RESTORATION PROCESS FOR FELONS
11. ON ROLE OF FEDERAL LAWSUITS TO AG'S TERM, CUCCINELLI AND DEMOCRATS AGREE
12. WEBB: PUT COAL-MINING SAFETY BEFORE PROFITS
14. 9TH DISTRICT GOP CANDIDATES TOUT PLATFORMS
15. ALBEMARLE TEA PARTY CRASHES FIFTH DISTRICT CHAIRMAN'S ENDORSEMENT
16. PERRIELLO VOTES AGAINST PAY RAISE, RETURNS MONEY TO TREASURY
19. PRESIDENT DECLARES VA. DISASTER TO HELP PAY FOR SNOW RECOVERY
"Tell Republicans, if they side with Wall Street over Main Street, you won't be siding with them."
Now, I've said that it's important that we not restrict the review or the recommendations that this commission comes up with in any way. Everything has to be on the table. And I just met briefly with the commission and said the same thing to them. Of course, this means that all of you, our friends in the media, will ask me and others once a week or once a day about what we're willing to rule out or rule in when it comes to the recommendations of the commission. That's an old Washington game and it's one that has made it all but impossible in the past for people to sit down and have an honest discussion about putting our country on a more secure fiscal footing.
So I want to deliver this message today: We're not playing that game. I'm not going to say what's in. I'm not going to say what's out. I want this commission to be free to do its work.
In theory, there are few issues on which there is more vigorous bipartisan agreement than fiscal responsibility. But in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to special interest pressures, to the pull of local concerns, and to the reality familiar to every single American -- it's a lot easier to spend a dollar than to save one. That's what, at root, led to these exploding deficits. And that is what will lead to a day of reckoning.
But I believe, with the help of these gentlemen and this commission, we can begin to meet this challenge in a serious and thoughtful way. And I believe we must, for the future of our country.
According to Mark Warner, "If there's not commonality around the fact that we need financial reform, 18 months after the meltdown, then I don't think we're going to get anything done anywhere." On a more positive note, Warner says, "At the end of the day, I do not believe that the complete unanimity of the Republican Party says 'we don't want financial reform in this country 18 months after the meltdown' in 2008, I just don't believe that." We'll see...
1. FOR SALE: GUBERNATORIAL COTTAGE?
2. MCDONNELL SAYS LEGAL IMMIGRATION FUELS ECONOMY
3. MCDONNELL ASKED TO LIFT A BAN ON STATE POLICE TROOPERS REFERRING TO JESUS IN PUBLIC PRAYERS
4. AND AFTER 100 DAYS - HOW DOES THE MCDONNELL ADMINISTRATION LOOK TO DEMOCRATS?
5. STATE ACTION ON PIT BULL ADOPTION RULES QUASHED
7. WARNER: FINANCIAL OVERHAUL WOULD PROTECT TAXPAYERS
8. MCAULIFFE CRITICAL OF MCDONNELL
9. ONCE AND MAYBE FUTURE CANDIDATE MCAULIFFE HIRES FORMER DPVA CHIEF
10. DEMS STILL CHASING CANTOR
12. NORTHROP GRUMMAN DECIDES TO MOVE HEADQUARTERS TO NORTHERN VIRGINIA
15. D.C. SUBURBS LAG BEHIND CITY IN EFFORTS TO FIGHT AIDS, STUDY SAYS
18. METRO ON A SLIPPERY SLOPE
The question is, why are Republicans more concerned with hyper-partisan posturing and with blocking reform of Wall Street than with protecting Americans from another financial meltdown? Priorities, priorities, I guess.
And no, immigration reform should not be an excuse to put off crucial, clean energy and climate change legislation. Last I checked, the Congress was supposed to be able to walk, talk and chew gum at the same time. I see no reason why Congress can't pass BOTH clean energy/climate change legislation AND immigration reform legislation.
Everyday the Senate fails to pass clean energy and climate legislation we put our economy, our national security and our environment at greater risk. Americans are demanding the millions of jobs, energy independence, and clean air and water comprehensive legislation can deliver. Inaction is too costly, and the challenge is too urgent.
The tireless work of Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman is proof positive that bipartisan success is well within reach. The House has passed historic legislation; now it is time for the Senate and the White House to stay focused and finish the job. The moment is ours. Now is the time for our leaders to act.
Alliance for Climate Protection
Blue Green Alliance
Environmental Defense Fund
League of Conservation Voters
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
Union of Concerned Scientists