Odd Man OutThe parallels and historic precedent cited in...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 09, 1994

Odd Man Out

The parallels and historic precedent cited in the criticism of U.S. presidents (feature story Aug. 1) were overshadowed by the stark contrast among the four presidents whose portraits accompanied the article (Clinton, Lincoln, Jefferson and Hoover).

Three of these presidents understood that dissent and criticism were an integral part of our political system and refrained from railing against it.

Three exercised leadership by clear, unwavering commitment to declared principles and policies, even in the face of political adversity.

Three had records of impressive personal achievement outside politics.

Three had contemporary reputations for political courage and impeccable personal honesty.

Three consistently assumed responsibility for shortcomings and failures in their administrations.

In this company, President Clinton is decidedly the odd man out.

David S. Hilder

Arnold

Unheeded Message

Soon Pope John Paul II will visit Baltimore. Many thousands of people will revere him, see his procession and attend the mass he will celebrate. The occasion will be a happy one.

Fortunately for the future of the world, not many people respond to the pope's most frequently spoken message.

Everywhere he goes, he preaches against birth control. And yet, in the Vatican's host country, Italy, the birthrate has fallen below the replacement level.

In every country where people have access to the means of birth control, few people pay attention to his message.

Now the Vatican is waging an intensive campaign to undermine a plan to stabilize the world's population at 7.8 billion people, a plan to be presented at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, in September.

Without a worldwide effort to stabilize the world's population, the numbers of people depending upon the earth's present resources will triple in the next century. This is not an outcome that bodes well for generations to come.

Let us hope that the Vatican's campaign will fail and that sensible policies will prevail. With this understanding, let us just enjoy the pope's visit to Baltimore.

Carleton W. Brown

Elkton

Father's Rights

I have been reading many columns on the issue of child support and I'm continually frustrated to find all the attention to be on enforcement of the law with little or no concern for the cause of the problem.

Of all those delinquent on payments, I believe there to be a great many who would pay support, if their role as a father was protected and encouraged.

In my own situation, I have been divorced six years and separated from a daughter, now 12, by 300 miles. I find that nearly all states favor custody to the mother.

All too often the mother, bitter by divorce, uses the child as a tool of power for revenge. The mother can separate the father and child by hundreds of miles at her discretion, deny visitation at the last second, put the father on a state-enforced program for payment and it goes on.

If fathers are behind on payments, there is a state "figure" they must eventually catch up to. But once visitation is lost, there's no way to get that lost time back.

I drive 300 miles each month (each way) to visit my child -- and that is my one and only right. I have no say on anything regarding her life -- dress, school, religion, etc.

And the mother has no obligation to assist a father in any way with the obstacles to his parenting created by courts and attitudes of the mother.

I feel a God-given right and responsibility to be a father to my daughter. I have compassion for those who have been so separated from their children, and whose role has been so aggravated by courts and mother that their only place now is to pay money, period.

Child support will always have problems until our society realizes the important role of the father as parent.

Michael Northrup

Baltimore

Illegitimate State

In his July 30 letter attacking pro-Confederate letter writers David M. Owings and G. Elliot Cummings, Paul O'Brien says: "Mr. Cummings claims that the South had an absolute right to secede . . ." whereas the U.S. Constitution does not specify this.

On the other hand, it does specify that parts of states cannot secede from their states, unless Congress and such states agree to the separation.

Nevertheless, Lincoln's government connived at the secession of western Virginia from Virginia, during the war. As the U.S. attorney general declared at that time, this was clearly and obviously illegal.

If we agree with the argument that statutes of limitation cannot run out on constitutional rights, the result is that there is legally no such state as West Virginia.

At a social affair, I once tried to explain this to then Gov. Jay Rockefeller, but he was not interested.

Willis Case Rowe

Catonsville

Transcendent

In a July 28 letter to the editor, John Pattillo took issue with Vaclav Havel's Fourth of July address, which was a wise and useful critique of contemporary culture.

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