- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 24, 2001

Article makes inappropriate implication about spy's religion

I read with great interest the fine piece penned by Kenneth Smith in your Feb. 22 edition, "Friends of taxes: Super rich push tax on others."

Way back in 1992, the 60 Plus Association coined the label "death tax" for the federal "estate and gift taxes" and the "tax on generation-skipping transfers," imposing a $1 fine for any 60 Plus Association staffer who failed to call it the death tax. Through the years, we also have called it the "grave robber's tax," "grim reaper's tax," "exit" or "departure tax," "success tax," "virtue tax" and "cruel tax," among other names. These names have been part of our effort to highlight the fact that death alone triggers this tax and that dying should not be a taxable event.

Now that this hardy band of 100 or so super-rich deign to speak for millions of hard-working taxpayers who, by a majority of 77 percent to 20 percent, favor abolishing this tax, I believe that we can satisfy both sides. Legislators should repeal this confiscatory, job-robbing, anti-savings, pro-consumption tax and then designate it as a voluntary tax, thus allowing these well-intentioned but foolishly misguided souls to pay the 55 percent levy on their after-tax assets.

JAMES L. MARTIN

President

60 Plus Association

Arlington

Mexican foreign minister espouses radical immigration strategy

Catholic bashing is to be expected from The Washington Post, but it comes as a shock to find it in The Washington Times. Your Feb. 23 front page features the unconscionable headline, above the fold, "Suspect had ties to Catholic group." Why is it relevant that alleged spy Robert Hanssen is a Roman Catholic? Your headline treats his religious affiliation as if it somehow explains his alleged espionage. And what relevance does it have that he attended Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Church?

What religion was (convicted spy) Aldrich Ames? I never saw a headline proclaiming his religious affiliation. Perhaps he was not a Catholic.

If The Washington Times sinks to The Washington Post's level of Catholic bashing, I will stop purchasing your paper.

PAUL BARSNICA

Fairfax Station, Va.

PETA is grassroots organization, not major lobby

Catholic bashing is to be expected from The Washington Post, but it comes as a shock to find it in The Washington Times. Your Feb. 23 front page features the unconscionable headline, above the fold, "Suspect had ties to Catholic group." Why is it relevant that alleged spy Robert Hanssen is a Roman Catholic? Your headline treats his religious affiliation as if it somehow explains his alleged espionage. And what relevance does it have that he attended Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Church?

What religion was (convicted spy) Aldrich Ames? I never saw a headline proclaiming his religious affiliation. Perhaps he was not a Catholic.

If The Washington Times sinks to The Washington Post's level of Catholic bashing, I will stop purchasing your paper.

PAUL BARSNICA

Fairfax Station, Va.

Pardoned basketball player deserved his sentence

I am highly disappointed in your coverage of former college basketball player Derrick Curry in the article "Another shot at life" (Sports, Feb. 20). Mr. Curry is not an innocent victim of mandatory minimum sentencing laws but a perpetrator of drug crimes in our society. Pardoned along with fugitive financier Marc Rich and other criminals by former President Clinton, Mr. Curry is less than honorable, and the commutation of his sentence does a disservice to those who have suffered from the work of drug pushers.

Though Mr. Curry's parents contend that their son was never in trouble with the law, he twice passed crack cocaine to undercover agents involved in a large sting operation prior to his initial arrest. He was also the roommate of Norman Brown, a major player in a 29-member drug ring. He counted among his associates, Brian Tribble, who was acquitted on charges of providing the illegal drugs that killed Maryland basketball star Len Bias but eventually served prison time for other drug charges. Was Mr. Curry really that naive?

The purpose of the mandatory minimum sentence is to severely penalize those who commit drug crimes. In Mr. Curry's case, it worked appropriately. Is there any reason to believe that Derrick Curry would not have continued pushing crack cocaine had he not been caught?

EMMETT LAUER

Silver Spring

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