Stick to CowsI wish Peter Jay would concentrate his...


January 09, 1995

Stick to Cows

I wish Peter Jay would concentrate his journalistic efforts on his cows rather than on his politics.

His charming articles on the pleasures and problems of being a farmer, his intensely humane attitude toward his animals, are hard to reconcile with his tired and somewhat aimless political sarcasm (example: the Janet Awards) so sadly reminiscent of H. L. Mencken in his final decline.

Please, Mr. Jay, tell us more about your livestock and less about your political foibles!

Louise Armstrong


Pennsylvania Clout

A more complete search by Theo Lippman of Pennsylvanians running for president (Nov. 17) would have turned up the Quaker bones of Alexander Mitchell Palmer (yes, "Mr. Red Scare" himself), who was a prime contender for the Democratic nomination in 1920.

The infamous "Palmer Raids" mounted on the first day of the new decade was in many ways a calculated effort by Palmer to position himself for president.

(Incidentally, Palmer's chief lieutenant in the campaign to rid the country of Bolsheviki and various other undesirables was a curly-haired, baby-faced young clerk in the Justice Department's new investigations division named John Edgar Hoover).

In January 1919, Palmer finally got the office he had long pursued. Wilson appointed him attorney general, an act that would propel Palmer to attempt to harness the dark forces of nativism to his presidential ambitions. Hence the raids of Jan. 1, 1920.

However, it was not to be. Palmer dropped out after a bitter nominating battle at the Democratic convention in San Francisco. The nomination went to an Ohio newspaper publisher, James W. Cox, with the young assistant secretary of the navy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as his running mate.

In dismissing Pennsylvania's political clout, Mr. Lippman, an able and astute observer of politics, should not forget the Keystone State's long role in influencing the presidency.

Beginning with the first House Speaker, Peter Muhlenberg, Pennsylvanians may not have held the office of president (except for James Buchanan) , but were always behind the curtains pulling the strings to get them elected.

Lincoln had Simon Cameron, the Democrat-turned-Republican who became his first secretary of war and later U.S. senator.

Cameron swung Pennsylvania's electoral votes behind the man from Springfield in the four-way race for president in 1860.

Later, his son, J. Donald Cameron, succeeded him in the Senate and brought Pennsylvania home for Grant, Hayes and Garfield.

Sen. Matthew S. Quay managed Benjamin Harrison's campaign in 1888 against Grover Cleveland, (Arthur Pue Gorman of Maryland managed Cleveland's).

Linked to Pennsylvania Sen. Boies Penrose, chairman of both the Republican National committee and the Senate Finance committee -- a formidable combination -- Quay and Don Cameron kept the presidency and Pennsylvania safely in Republican hands until Theodore Roosevelt and his Bull Moosers split the Grand Old Party in 1912.

The moderate (nee liberal) Republican Arlen Specter running in the 1996 Iowa caucuses might have second thoughts about pursuing the presidency if he puts any credence in Simon Cameron's definition of political integrity: "An honest politician is one who when bought stays bought."

John W. Eddinger


High Taxes

Robert C. Embry Jr. wrote in your Dec. 6 issue that some of his friends complain about high Maryland taxes. He says they are wrong to concentrate on income taxes, since Maryland ranks 36th in overall taxation of the average wage earner.

However, to an upper middle-class worker, income taxes dwarf everything else.

To the people who pay a very big chunk of this state's taxes, combined federal and state rates top 40 percent. Some might consider that level to be expropriation.

As to Mr. Embry's international comparison ("U.S. citizens pay less than almost any other of the world's industrialized 'u countries"), we should remember that many countries do not tax capital gains.

Deductions, which have been virtually eliminated in the U.S., remain rampant elsewhere, as do tax-free housing and automobile allowances. Thus, realized tax rates may be much closer across countries than he realizes.

Mr. Embry is right in saying that public education is no more wastefully administered than private education.

But he may be wrong in failing to state that a flat tax (same percentage for all) would be a fairer way to pay for it.

Joel N. Morse


Bikers & Helmets

In a recent commentary, Roger Simon praised the Maryland mandatory helmet law and how it had caused a dent in the motorcycle accident and fatality statistics . . .

As for the federal highway money he says we will lose if the state repeals the helmet law, this isn't quite right.

Instead the state must transfer between 1 and 3 percent of its highway funds into 402 funds (safety funds). We don't lose the money, we move it around.

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