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Rice Capades

For crying out lout! Plus: Christ’s actions. U.S. global debt and the GOP -- a special exchange. Macho anti-gas guzzlers. And much else.

4.12.04

SO IT WOULD APPEAR
Re: Todd M. Aglialoro's Gibson and the Neo-Gnostics:

EXACTLY.
-- David James Hanson
Fayette, Iowa

Mr. Aglialoro mentions that, "The Docetists (from the Greek dokein, 'to seem' or 'to appear') believed that Christ didn't have a human body at all, but only appeared to. Consequently, he never really suffered physically during his Passion, instead putting on a grand act for those assembled at Calvary." This matches my understanding of the Muslim interpretation of Christ's actions in this world. They also believe that His suffering was borne by another, probably Judas. They can't wrap their minds around the Christian conceptions of God and redemption. Our differences with the Docetists were worked out centuries ago; our differences with Muslims continue.
-- Martin Morehouse

FOLLOW-UP TESTIMONY
Re: George Neumayr's Condi and the Louts:

"Condi and the Louts" was an excellent article. Thanks to George for the factual reporting which will never be seen in the mainstream media. Keep up the good work!
-- Betty Cummins

Mr. Neumayr tries to point out the double standard of liberals towards President Bush's policies and wishes us to believe their is a mutually exclusive goals of civil liberties and national security. Unfortunately his completely misses another option.

The Bush administration could have easily prevented the tragedy of September 11th and still not even come close to violating any civil rights. If it had just been vigilant in enforcing immigration laws, monitoring the terrorist watch list and investigated the several warning memos about foreign nationals taking pilot training; any of this information would have led the government right to the terrorist.

This administration was just too preoccupied with linking anyone and everyone to Iraq. Ms. Rice, in her testimony, stated that the President was concerned with the strategy of eliminating Al Qaeda, not "swatting flies." To this I reply, the devil is in the details and Mr. Bush wrongly overlooked every detail to this nation's regret.
-- Brian Skornick
Center for Urban Community Services
New York, New York

"...Ben-Veniste and company yesterday demanded an explanation for the 'structural' defects in the U.S. government ..."

Yeah, and these are the same people of "Reinvented the U.S. Government" during the previous administration.
-- Adolfo G. Fabregat
Blythewood, South Carolina

Well put, sir. Could you imagine the outcry of trying to implement the Patriot Act Before 9/11!!! Funny how our world works.
-- Marc Granet
St. Petersburg, Florida

Thank you for the great article and others I have read by George Neumayr.

We owe thanks to Condoleezza Rice too for in the face of fire she was calm and so superior acting than her inquisitors.

God bless our President and our country.
-- Sherry Wynn

It seems clear from public testimony that much of the blame for failure to disrupt the terrorist attacks belongs to the FBI and the Justice Department. Thus it is rather striking that no attempt has been made to call Janet Reno to testify. She was responsible for running DOJ during the critical period when the plot was hatched, and her policies abetted the terrorists in their activities. I can only conclude that the failure to call her as a witness is due to political considerations, as it would seem impossible to fully understand events without questioning her.
-- Ian Callum

Excellent. My take is that neither Ben-Veniste nor Kerrey has ever tried a case. Neither could cross-exam himself out of a paper bag. Neither controlled the witness, both talked over her, and Ben-Veniste cross-examined her as to a piece of inadmissible evidence (the PDB). Inexcusably ignorant. They care not a bit about national security. Kerrey reminded me of a child kicking and screaming and crying on a supermarket floor just to get attention.
-- Alfred Stansbury

Won't anybody with a large audience discuss what this country was like re: Pres. Bush and his nascent haters on Aug. 5, 2001? Boob, cowboy, frat boy, illegitimate (despite after the fact recounts), on Aug. 6th or 7th goes on TV and tries to lead people to serious regard for the long-time development of terrorist hostilities and intentions to do us harm. HaHaHaHaHa. Side splitting. Wag the boob frat dog. Oh, please, I surrender. Better than LenoLetterman.

Can't someone with a large audience put some meat on the bone called "Monday morning quarterbacking"?
-- S. Cohen
Miami, Florida

AT THE MERCY OF FOREIGN CREDITORS
Re: Brandon Crocker's upbeat interpretation of the economy ("It Is the Economy, Mr. Moron," April 9), a few dissident remarks.

No question in my mind he is right to laud the positive effects of the tax cuts. No argument that Kerry and the entire Democratic Party offer few if any credible economic policies. For that matter one would not be far wrong to categorically state that everything they currently propose and stand for is pernicious. (I hope these opening remarks make clear that I am not shilling for the Democrats. I've loyally subscribed to TAS for 25 consecutive years, all right?)

What bothers me is that we have very real economic problems which no party is constructively addressing. (Perhaps the closest to being constructive are the libertarians on this one; I don't know their current platform but I suspect I would have the fewest objections to their overall program.)

Mr. Crocker cites positive economic statistics since the tax cut but omits mention of the main reason we haven't slid into a deep recession: the Fed's interest rate policy, which has created bubbles in bonds, stocks, and real estate, and has produced a significant slide in the dollar accompanied by soaring commodity prices pretty much across the board (a phenomenon curiously not reflected by managed BLS statistics). Over the past several years the Fed's policies have also stimulated a huge increase in private indebtedness, with ever-larger sums of money being loaned to ever-less-creditworthy households on ever-easier terms. This, in turn, has produced levels of bankruptcy, foreclosure, and late payments on credit card debt unseen in decades. What we are seeing, in effect, is one agency of the government creating huge amounts of credit, and other agencies writing off the same debt. One doesn't know whether to give a nod to the ideas of Schumpeter or Ponzi.

While this has been going on, foreign nations have been shipping us container ships full of their manufactured goods while we have been figuratively shipping back container ships full of treasury bills, notes, and bonds. (I am not pounding the drum for protectionism; I am merely reporting what is happening.) Surely our colossal and seemingly intractable fiscal and current account deficits can't be viewed as an unmitigated good over the long haul. While FDR once defended deficit spending by fatuously saying "we owe it to ourselves," we can no longer make even that claim. We owe a very sizable amount (trillions of dollars) to foreigners who could, at their discretion, either stop buying or start aggressively selling their U.S. dollar-denominated debt instruments in the open market, immediately resulting (at the very minimum) in soaring interest rates and a dramatic reversal of all the felicitous trends Mr. Crocker cites.

I am not saying such things will happen. I am saying they could happen, and that we are now in a position where we are at the tender mercies of foreign governments who might, at a time of their choosing, exercise their right to sell, much as George Soros is doing (and give him credit, however wacky his political views, he's a devilishly smart investor). It is astonishing to look at time-graph which depicts the percentage of our national debt now in foreign hands. I don't have the chart handy, but I can assure you the percentage has grown quite large and is climbing rather steeply. Common sense leads one to conclude that long before foreigners own 100% of our national debt something will happen to reverse the trend. It will happen because it MUST happen: we cannot expect the rest of the world to subsidize our standard of living indefinitely, no matter how many aircraft carrier battle groups we have. Please don't interpret these observations as xenophobic; the problem isn't foreigners, it is the deficits we are persistently running.

Finally we are all well aware of the fact that the welfare state as we presently know it is unsustainable for demographic reasons that cannot be altered. A Treasury Department study recently concluded that we had over $40 trillion in unfunded transfer payments on the horizon -- and this was before the administration's major expansion of Medicare benefits, which pushes the number to over $50 trillion. Who honestly believes that we can continue on the present course without major reform? Yet a quick perusal of the incumbents in Congress and their chronically dilatory and self-serving habits leads an intellectually honest person to conclude that no political answer will be realistically possible until we are faced with a wrenching crisis that will require radical corrective measures in a climate of bitter political acrimony.

I grant that tax cuts are a step in the right direction. I certainly share his scorn for Democratic economic policies such as they exist, which offer invariably counterproductive and demagogic answers. But I honestly do not hear constructive let alone comprehensive policies being energetically advanced in our GOP-controlled Congress that might in due course bring the our macroeconomic situation back to some semblance of stability. Citing BLS numbers or the S&P Index, as Mr. Crocker does, is a very weak basis upon which to assess our deteriorating strategic position. And I fear that we are currently as complacent about our economy as we were pre-9/11 with respect to domestic security; if we do not address this issue soon, from a strategic standpoint, we may well be faced with a similarly unexpected outcome one fine morning.
-- Nelson Hernandez
San Francisco, California

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