US can woo India while not wooing Pakistan

In response to your article "US needs fast policy fix on India, Pakistan" (Feb. 7), I agree that if President Clinton does not go to Pakistan it will signal a serious policy shift.

I would add that this shift is long overdue, but argue that India is by no means being rewarded by the president's mere presence. At near four times the population of the United States, and containing the largest number of registered voters and active middle class, the President should be going to India.

To that end, by continuing to view India and Pakistan as Siamese twins, never to be separated, US policy does a dis-service to a stable, democratic partner it should be relying on in Asia -and props up an anachronistic ally, at war with itself and others.

The United States needs to set better priorities in order to produce better policies.

Amb. Arthur H. Davis Washington

Clarifying 'spiritual representatives'

In your article "Adolphus gets married; soon he'll meet his wife" (Feb. 15) I was surprised to see in the description of the Unification Church's latest mass wedding ceremony the statement "Spiritual representatives of Jews, the Nation of Islam, native Americans, the Vatican, Jains, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and others bless the gathering." This can at best be described as imprecise and at worst as untrue.

It is incredible to me, as a theology professor, that representatives of the Nation of Islam, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and any recognized branch of Judaism would have "blessed" the gathering. The word "representative" connotes the person's actually being part of the community of faith which he/she "represents," and having some official sanction from that community. Adding the adjective "spiritual" to it does nothing to explicate what the status of these persons is; rather, it muddies the waters.

Valerie A. Karras, ThD St. Louis

Did Clinton shut down government?

In your Feb. 17 editorial "Saving the conservatives" the following statement was made: "the GOP's attempt to shut down government in 1995."

This is an obvious indication of your embarrassing Democrat bias. The shut-down came after a presidential veto because our "slick" and immoral president wanted to spend more than the Congress would approve. He then out-spun Republicans and helped biased and or ignorant people reach the false conclusion which you state as fact.

The Republicans got outmaneuvered but Clinton had a major roll in the "attempt to shut down government" and, as happened much too often, the press let him avoid responsibility for his actions.

John C. Dowell Oceanside, Calif.

The truth about capital-gains tax

Regarding your article "Stock Nation" (Feb. 1), it bears repeating that many of the newly invested Americans come from the ranks of 401(k) and IRA account-holders. Republicans were and are fond of citing the 50 percent stock ownership figure as evidence of the general benefit of their capital-gains tax cut proposals.

What they always neglect to mention is that profits in these retirement accounts - whether from gains or any other source - are never subject to capital-gains tax and therefore benefit not at all from decreases in capital-gains taxes (and inversely are hurt not at all by increases). Withdrawals from these accounts, designed to take place at retirement, pay taxes as ordinary income.

Laurence Schmitt Milton, Mass.

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