- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2003

Get over it, Maryland Democrats

I am responding to Thursday’s letter co-signed by prominent Maryland Democrats, “Maryland Dems against Ehrlich.” Their sudden concern for middle-class families possibly having to pay higher tuition rates as a result of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s budget cuts is a whole new angle. They didn’t show any concern for us when they supported a handout to illegal aliens in the form of paying in-state tuition rates at Maryland universities.

Those of us in middle-class families are the very ones who are hurt the most by Democrats’ never-ending creating and increasing of taxes and surtaxes. Licenses and permits are required for many things we do, and the cost of them increases steadily. We also are inundated with fees of all sorts.

The majority of Maryland voters elected a Republican governor because they wanted a change. So get over it, Democrats. We did it your way for too many years. Give Mr. Ehrlich a chance and stop obstructing his efforts to create a better life for Marylanders.

KAREN A. RIGGS

Waldorf, Md.

Portrait of a murderer

On behalf of Virginians United Against Crime, a crime victim’s rights organization representing homicide victims’ survivors and people concerned with the criminal justice system, I would like to address the AP wire story “Retarded man to be executed next week” (Metropolitan, Thursday).

Beginning with the headline of the article, the story gives a distorted view of this case. There is ample evidence that Percy L. Walton is not retarded, but is faking this condition to avoid his scheduled May 28 execution. The article mentions in passing that an anonymous Virginia official said Walton scored higher than 70 on an IQ test, which is a recognized threshold for being classified as retarded. Not only is this true, but the state-appointed psychologist at Walton’s trial, Stanton Samenow, testified that Walton is not retarded. A second expert corroborated this finding.

Furthermore, Walton’s own mother said on the witness stand that her son’s personality changed when he became involved with alcohol and other drugs. She never mentioned anything about mental incapacitation of any sort.

The article also mentioned that another inmate testified how Walton enthusiastically described every move he made during the killings. In fact, two inmates testified not only about Walton’s graphic descriptions of the three homicides he committed, but about his intention to “play crazy” so as to avoid the maximum punishment.

Other facts surrounding this case also point to the fact that Walton knew what he was doing and was capable of making informed choices.

For example, Walton stuffed the body of one of his three victims, Archie Moore, into a closet to hide the body. He then doused the body with cologne so as to cover up the inevitable smell of decomposition. Walton also made statements, previous to his clemency petition, that he was choosing electrocution for his execution because it was a “manly” way to die. This belies his current claim that he “doesn’t know” why he chose electrocution.

In light of last year’s Supreme Court ruling that the retarded cannot be executed, we have seen a predictable increase in the use of this as a defense by condemned inmates. As such, the whole record needs to be examined carefully in each of these cases.

Walton has a long criminal record. He was first expelled from school for bringing a gun into the building. He received later convictions for burglary, grand larceny, assault and battery, resisting arrest and, finally, three counts of capital murder.

This record, combined with his subsequent statements about these crimes, indicates that he is not a helpless (not to mention retarded) individual, but a remorseless murderer.

CHARLES TREW

Virginians United Against Crime

Arlington

Comments on ‘Campaign ‘04’

Jack Kemp is right that there will be no Republican challengers to President Bush in next year’s presidential primaries (“Mandate ‘04,” Commentary, Thursday). As a lifelong Democrat, I’m worried there may not be a candidate from my party who is up to the task, either.

Now that the major combat is over and the process of rebuilding Iraq has begun, the president correctly has set his sights on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, creating a lasting peace in the Middle East, easing tensions between Pakistan and India, providing AIDS relief in Africa and pumping life into a sluggish U.S. economy. Finding Osama bin Laden wouldn’t hurt, either.

In my opinion, if the president delivers on just one of these goals before Christmas, he’ll almost be unbeatable in 2004. If he puts two or more to bed by Election Day, look out Mount Rushmore.

All predictions aside, if the Democrats hope to recapture the White House, they are going to need to keep their eyes on the prize. Getting their collective boxer shorts in a bunch over the president’s speech aboard the USS Lincoln makes them look silly; asking tough questions about tax cuts and job growth makes them look serious.

Voters deserve healthy debates about topics such as foreign policy, health care and, yes, “retirement security,” as Mr. Kemp notes. We don’t need a room full of presidential wannabes arguing about what colors should be added to the $20 bill.

In the end, bold ideas will define the differences between the Democratic contenders and my party’s nominee and the president. Absent any breakthrough ideas, there won’t be much to debate next year — except what color tie Mr. Bush should wear to his second inaugural.

DENNY FREIDENRICH

Laguna Beach, Calif.

Jack Kemp failed to mention what may be an additional, albeit unexpected, benefit to the Institute for Policy Innovation’s proposed Social Security reform plan (“Mandate ‘04,” Commentary, Thursday).

If workers are allowed to invest 5 percent to 6 percent of their income from payroll taxes into a personal investment plan, but the government must borrow to finance the transition costs, the extra government borrowing would inevitably result in higher interest rates on federal Treasury bonds.

Some people, who may be fearful of investing in the stock market after recent losses, would probably seek safety and high returns by buying government bonds, and they would be voluntarily lending to the government the money to bail out Social Security. During bull markets, some of this money would probably be transferred to the stock market, but the government would then receive increased revenue from capital-gains taxes, even if the tax rate were unchanged.

This plan sounds like a win-win scenario, regardless of what happens to the stock market in the future.

STEVEN ZELL

West Hartford, Conn.

Feinstein’s misplaced blame

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s letter to the editor was indicative of the reason many conservatives consider the Democratic Party to be bereft of sensible ideas (“Not California’s problem,” Wednesday).

Mrs. Feinstein tells us the California energy crisis is the fault of energy companies and says the government must fix the disparity that is caused by the corruption and price-gouging of evil companies. The real problem is that, once again, the government got into the job of trying to protect consumers from market-driven price increases through that thoroughly discredited tool known as price controls. Worse yet, the Democratic governor of California, Gray Davis, placed price controls only on the retail price of energy, leaving wholesale prices to float. This left the retailers of energy holding the bag, unable to sell what they had to buy or having to sell the energy at a loss.

Mrs. Feinstein has proved once again that Democrats are incapable of leaving anything alone and destroy everything they try to “fix.”

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

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