- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2003

Light the grill

Timely “cow facts,” presented as a public courtesy to the woman who asked a waitress at a Boxing Day party Friday if the hors d’oeuvres she was serving contained cow meat:

• Central nervous system tissue from the Washington-state dairy cow that tested positive for mad cow disease never entered the human food chain. It was for non-human food uses.

• The mad cow disease agent is not found in muscle meat that humans consume, such as steaks, roasts or ground beef.

• Central nervous system tissues, such as the spinal cord and brain, are carriers for the disease — again, not New York strips or T-bones.

• The Food and Drug Administration says it has “under control” all rendered product from the Washington cow.

Inspiring Reagan

We thought Christmas was over until the Republican Study Committee, chaired by North Carolina Rep. Sue Myrick, greeted us this morning with a quote from the all-but-forgotten Calvin Coolidge, who was president from 1923 to 1929: “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

As for Mr. Coolidge’s bad rap, Mrs. Myrick says he was the most Jeffersonian of all 20th-century presidents. And Washington author Peter Hannaford recently told the annual gathering of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation that the 30th president’s strong moral character and support of limited government were an inspiration to another great leader of our time.

“Shortly after he was inaugurated as the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan ordered a portrait of Calvin Coolidge hung in the Cabinet Room of the White House,” Mr. Hannaford recalls. “The news of this startled the Washington press corps.

“Why, they wondered, would Reagan want to hang the picture of a man who had nothing to say and little to do when he occupied the White House? They reminded us that biographers described Coolidge as cold, aloof, unfeeling, materialistic, in the pocket of big business and, otherwise, a cipher.”

But Mr. Hannaford, associated with Mr. Reagan for a number of years both in Washington and California, says Mr. Reagan knew differently. In fact, one dramatic action in Mr. Reagan’s first year as president can be traced directly to an action that Coolidge took decades earlier.

“In August 1981, the air-traffic controllers’ union called a strike. President Reagan said that, as public employees, they could not do that and any who weren’t back on the job within 48 hours would be fired. Those who went back to work kept their jobs; those who didn’t were fired,” Mr. Hannaford says.

Mr. Reagan was inspired by the stand that Coolidge took as governor of Massachusetts in 1919, when Boston police went on strike. Coolidge brought out the state militia to keep public order against looting, fired the strikers and defended his actions by saying: “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”

Peroutka for president

The betting is on Maryland lawyer Michael Anthony Peroutka to be the Constitution Party presidential candidate after that party’s convention in June.

Mr. Peroutka, a married father of three, founded the Institute on the Constitution, which seeks to educate Americans about their history, heritage and form of government.

He says it was his passion for learning about and restoring constitutional government in his home state of Maryland that led him to the Constitution Party and its dedication to principle over politics. A Loyola College graduate, he currently serves as chairman of the Constitution Party of Maryland and on the executive committee of the national party.

Theme of his campaign: “God, Family, Republic.”

Alec sequel

The left-leaning People For the American Way says it is calling on Hollywood again to renew the fight against “Patriot Act II,” saying the anti-terrorism legislation gives greater powers to the U.S. government to act against citizens without the checks and balances of judicial and congressional oversight and review.

Leading the charge, says PFAW, will be actors/free-speech advocates who include Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, Chris Cooper, Nathan Lane, Ed Harris, Anthony LaPaglia and Gore Vidal, to name several familiar faces both on and off screen.

Meanwhile, the Washington-based PFAW, headed by Ralph G. Neas, says since President Bush took office three years ago, its list of members and supporters has doubled to 600,000, its budget has increased by 35 percent, and it has opened regional offices in Tallahassee, Fla., Houston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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