New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 23, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4A New Braunfels \\era\6Zeitung Wednesday, March 23,1983OpinionsHerald-ZeitungDave Kramer, General Manager Robert Jobaeoa, EditorJames J. Kilpatrick'Moment of silence' better than school prayer
President Reagan made a renewed push the other day for his constitutional amendment to authorize prayer in public schools. Down in Tennessee the state legislature came up with a bill that could make such an amendment necessary. Twenty years after the landmark Engel case, this whole lamentable controversy is back In the news.
This is the president’s amendment: “Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by an state to participate in prayer.”
The effect of such an amendment
would be to overrule the Supreme Court’s 6-1 decision of June 1962 in the Engel case. The case involved a brief prayer composed by the New York Board of Regents. Under the New York law, the prayer was to be said in every class at the beginning of every school day. Pupils who asked to be excused could be excused.
Speaking for the court, Justice Hugo Black found the law “wholly inconsistent” with the First Amendment’s prohibition of laws respecting an establishment of religion. It is no part of the business of government, said Black, to compose official prayers to be recited as part of a religious program carried on by government.
Ex-presidents live high off taxpayers
Much has been written about the “imperial presidency” — the sometimes-royal splendor in which our chief executives, their families and their huge staffs are pampered at the taxpayers' expense.
But few Americans realize the staggering cost of what might be called the “imperial ex-presidency’’ — the pensions, expenses, Secret Service protection and office-library upkeep for our former presidents. The situation becomes absurd when you realize that the three current living ex-presidents are all either millionaires or close to it, thanks largely to the opportunities that arose directly from their years in the White House.
The estimated cost of the imperial ex-presidency this year alone is 627 million. Three years ago, the bill was $18 million. And in 1955, when the single ex-president was Harry S. Truman, a man of devoutly democratic tastes, the cost was only $64,000.
In a perverse sort of way, it was the spectacle of Truman, carrying his own luggage into his home in Independence, Mo., and answering his own correspondence after he left office, that inspired Congress to provide staff and stationery expenses for former presidents.
Since that well-intended decision to help a man of modest means cope with the burdens of former high office, the legislated expense accounts for former presidents have ballooned.
Ironically, the growth of ex-presidents’ expenses came at a time when any former president — even one who was forced out of office in disgrace — was guaranteed at least a comfortable income from books, lecture fees, directorships and other sinecures available precisely because he had once held the highest office in the land.
No one wants to see our ex-presidents face financial hardship — like Thomas Jefferson or U.S. Grant, for example — but former presidents have been soaking the taxpayers for staff and expenses used for poltical purposes and to generate income. A former president’s staff allowance now starts at $150,000 a year and decreases to an eventual $96,000.
Oddly enough, it is the ex-president who has been out of office the longest — Richard Nixon — whose staff charges the taxpayers most in one are . travel expenses. Travel vouchers obtained by my associate Vicki Warren show that Nixon’s staff ran up travel bills of more than $20,000 last year.
“There can be no doubt,” Black concluded, “that New York’s state prayer program officially establishes the religious beliefs embodied in the Regents’ prayer.”
I thought the Engel case was wisely and properly decided for all the reasons spelled out in Black’s opinion. To sanction even an innocuous official prayer is to Invite the kind of religious dissension that ought to be avoided in a free society. Nothing in the Engel decision and its progeny, contrary to the implications of the president’s proposed amendment, ever has prohibited "individual” prayer in the schools. All that is forbidden is the kind of school-sanctioned prayer that becomes a religious exercise. This is a
Student thanks groups for putting on program
To the Editor:
On behalf of Mountain Valley Middle School Student Council and student body, I wish to thank Mr. Lefter Jonas, Constable; Carton Stepper, president of Smithson Valley High School Student Council, and Kevin L. McCoy, president of Bulverde Middle School Student Council, for their financial support, time and effort in arranging the
dangerous and divisive territory, as history tells us, in which the state should not intrude.
The president’s amendment got nowhere in the 97th Congress and it almost certainly will get nowhere in the 98th. No hearings have been scheduled in either House or Senate. It is wholly unlikely that the amendment could command the necessary two-thirds majority in each chamber.
If that is an accurate forecast, the situation will remain in status quo. Fine with me. But Tennessee may have come up with a compromise that could ease the tension. A year ago the Tennessee legislature adopted a law permitting a minute of “prayer.” The federal courts promptly threw it out.
Now the legislature has passed a bill, expected to become law this week without the governor’s signature, that mandates a “moment of silence” at the start of every school day.
If the courts ever should hold that law unconstitutional, the courts will contribute to the impression that our courts are, in a polite word, nuts. Surely a "moment of silence” could not be interpreted as an “official prayer” or a “religious exercise” or as the indoctrination of “religious beliefs,” all of which were forbidden under the Engel case. The Tennessee statute does not refer even to “meditation.” All it requires is a moment of “silence.” Every pupil would have to observe it.
What could be wrong with that? Children who wanted to engage in silent prayer would be free to do so. Other children could concentrate on the seven-times table. The teacher could steel her nerves for the day ahead. The American Civil Liberties Union would be hard put to show that silence violates anyone’s civil liberties.
Tennessee’s approach may not satisfy the advocates of formal prayers — the kind of prayers that are said aloud, with bowed heads — but such prayers are the province of the church and the family. They ought never to be the business of school boards.
Gerald Ford’s staff travel expenses were less than half that of Nixon’s last year; Jimmy Carter’s staff travel cost only $7,000.
Bob Barrett, who runs Ford’s office, supports the idea of curbing ex-president’s expenses. He said Ford scrupulously separates official, personal and political expenses. Barrett thinks it would be a good move to have former presidents give Congress a public accounting each year on how the taxpayer’s money is being spent.
Irish Stew: Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., is an erudite and combative public figure in the best tradition of Irish-American politicians. Now he has put his political career in jeopardy by refusing to march in that annual outpouring of Irish enthusiasm, the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Moynihan's decision to boycott the parade, because Grand Marshal Michael Flannery is an unapologetic supporter of the outlaw Irish Republican Army, has outraged many of the senator’s constituents. To unrelenting Irish-Americans who want the British out of Northern Ireland at whatever cost, Moynihan is now right up there with Oliver Cromwell in the pantheon of deep-dyed villians, traitors and spalpeens.
Yet Moynihan, as vice chairman of the Senate Selection Committee on Inteligence, has inside information on the IRA and its links to some of the worst international terrorists: Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, the Italian Red Brigades, West Germany’s Baader-Meinhof gang and extremist elements of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Unpublished studies done for the senator document the IRA’s ties to terrorists. One such study notes, for example, that "the IRA has received increased financing and arms, including M-16 rifles, through their associations with other guerrilla groups” such as the Red Brigades, Baader-Meinhof and the PLO. The IRA has also received arms from Czechoslovakia.
But probably the IRA’s staunchest support comes from Irish-Americans like Flannery. In fact, when the 81-year-old president of the Irish Northern Aid Committee was tried last year on charges of stockpiling machine guns for the IRA, he admitted it in court. But he won acquittal by persuading the jury he had been under the impression he was working with the CIA.
Even Moynihan’s glib tongue is no match for blarney like that.
Tell the truth, Mr. President
programs on Drug and Alcohol Awareness which were presented at our school March 7*11.
We not only enjoyed the programs but feel that they were very interesting and informative as well.
Thankyou, Rheagan Brown President, Mountain Valley Student Council
What in the world do you think all the secrets are that President Reagan doesn’t want the rest of us to find out about?
It never occurred to me that the Administration had so many terrible things to hide from the public until the President announced his new security measures recently.
The new directive calls for Government employees to take a lie detector test if they’re suspected of giving out classified information to the press. More things are going to be stamped “Classified,” too.
“Adverse consequences will follow an employee’s refusal to cooperate with a polygraph examination," the directive says.
Would that mean the employees would face a firing squad? l.ose their government pensions? Just what “adverse consequences” would the President inflict on 'anyone who reported to the press, for example, that a high White House adviser was involved in a financial scandal?
Knowing what kind of a leader President Reagan thinks he is, I’m sure he wouldn’t ask his troops to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. He’d lead his men onto the beaches. Along with this philosophy, I think the President should prove to other government employees that they have nothing to fear if they’re honest, by being the first to take the lie detector test himself. I can imagine it going something like this:
Q: Now, then. You’re all strapped in, Mr. President. That line on the graph there tells the story. I’ll ask you some questions. When you answer and the line remains steady, this machine is indicating you’re telling the truth. If the lines starts to waver up and down, hitting peaks and valleys, that means the machine thinks you’re lying. All right, first question. How are you getting along with your wife, Nancy?
A: That’s one person I don’t have any trouble with. We’re as much in love as we ever were.
Q: Steady as a rock, sir. Not a flicker on the graph. Next question. Do you have any idea whether you’re going to run for a second term?
A: I honestly haven’t made up my mind. It depends on so many things. Sometimes I think I will because I love being in the middle of all this and then sometimes the idea of just get
ting away from it appeals to me. I don’t know.
Q: Straight as an arrow. Your graph never waved there. Now, Mr President, Izvestia, the official newspaper of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, is not allowed to print information about wrongdoing by Soviet government officials. It never prints negative news or what Soviet censors feel is "bad news” about their country. Do you admire this kind of journalism and would you like to have the same kind of control over the press and television news here?
A: Well, as I say, I’m in favor of a free press. I believe in...
Q: Sir! Watch that line. It’s beginning to go a little crazy.
A: I don’t think the press should be under government control at all except when...
Q: Mr. President, that line really jumped up and down on the chart when you said you believe in a free press.
A: Well, you got a bad machine there then, fella. I love having a free press and I like reporters who ask good, tough questions.
Q: Mr. President...if you could just tone down your answers a little. The machine can’t take this kind of wild gyrations on its chart.
A: We aren’t going to use the lie detector as a weapon against the
Q: Whoops, sir. Please...your graph again.
A: I’ve had about enough of this.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Who shall I send the results of this lie detector test to? Can I give it to the press?
A: Here, give me that. I’m going to get it stamped “Classified! ”
AUSTIN (AP) - Here are highlights of floor action in the Legislature on Tuesday:
HB197, extending deadline for filing paternity suits, tentatively approved on voice vote.
HB586, abolishing Battleship Texas Commission, approved on
non-record vote, sent to Senate.
HB227, allowing non-unanimous jury decisions on punishment, approved on voice vote, sent to Senate.
Adjourned until IO a.m. Wednesday.
SB89, 15-year-old ‘hardship”
driver’s license, refused to accept House amendments and asked for appointment of conference committee, voice vote.
SB180, continuation of the Industrial Accident Board, passed to House on voice vote.
Adjourned to ll a.m. Wednesday.