Readers write

Pro football still faces many race barriers

I was pleased to see your Jan. 5 article "Football's last race barrier crumbles" dealt with the often overlooked issue of race in athletics.

It is true that recently more and more athletes are being judged by ability rather than skin color. However, it is incorrect to label the quarterback position the "last race barrier" in football. Such a description leads the reader to believe that once there are more black quarterbacks in the league, race will no longer be an issue. That is not true.

Among all the NFL teams there are only two nonwhite head coaches: Tony Dungy and Dennis Green. Blacks have always been, and are still, overwhelmingly relegated to supporting roles on coaching staffs. Even that is not the "last race barrier." There is also the issue of the majority of white team owners and general managers.

With an issue such as race, it is impossible to define a "last race barrier."

Christo Sedgewick Auburn, Maine

Should generals be involved in politics?

Gen. Colin L. Powell's appointment as secretary of State has been widely acclaimed. Widely overlooked, however, in the media's coverage - and cause for concern - is that the retired general immersed himself in partisan politics many months ago, an involvement now capped by his appointment to the president-elect's cabinet.

I question not his right to revealed political partisanship nor the choice he made, but the propriety of open involvement in partisan politics by a retired officer of that rank. It impairs the apolitical image we should expect from military officers of that level.

What General Powell did is not comparable with Gen. George Marshall's appointment as secretary of State following World War II. General Marshall never involved himself in partisan politics. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower did not do so before accepting a presidential nomination. Does General Powell's immersion in partisan politics set an acceptable example for future retired generals and admirals of that rank?

David J. Steinberg Alexandria, Va.

Tax system tramples on hard work

It scares me that President-elect Bush wants to lower the federal income tax, thus forcing increased use of regressive payroll taxes to cover government expenses, while leaving a huge debt burden to our children.

Our ridiculous tax system tramples on the great American value of hard work.

After investing years of their lives educating themselves and gaining skills which contribute to society, workers find that investors are the favored ones who are showered with gifts - generous tax breaks and a lower tax rate. Middle-class workers make up the difference and debt accumulates for our children.

Laurie Kimberling Vale, Ore.

Mrs. Clinton's book money

Regarding your Dec. 22 editorial "Hillary's publishing deal":

Mrs. Clinton used an open-bidding, pay-up-front system for her book so that she would get all her money prior to taking office as New York's senator.

A stream of royalty income might have placed her within government ethics standards.

Thus we see the workings of Mrs. Clinton's legal mind, which follows only the letter of the law, and which has gotten her and her husband into trouble these past eight years.

Simon & Schuster will make a lot of money on the deal, as Mrs. Clinton's tell-all book ought to be a hit. I do not think Viacom (the former CBS) was out to buy influence.

Bob Chernow River Hills, Wis.

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