Considering the costs of war
Oct. 9 marked the 61st day since President Bush dispatched troops to Saudi Arabia to confront Iraq. Under the War Powers Resolution, which is the law of the land, the president is required to remove the troops, absent consent from the Congress.
The last time I checked the Constitution, I found that the responsibility for declaring war was specifically and solely given to the Congress. Are we about to engage in war without congressional consent? In other words, are we going to ignore the Constitution?
Before we jump over the precipice, we need to have a debate in Congress to be sure that the people's will is expressed. We need to take a hard look at what happens if the war doesn't go according to the script laid out by the Pentagon planners. We need to identify our vital interests. For example, is the restoration of the emir of Kuwait really vital to America, and, if not, how many lives is it worth? Since we only get 5 percent of our oil from Iraq and Kuwait combined, why should our commitment extend beyond preserving the security of the oil fields in Saudi Arabia and the other gulf states? How important is it for the U.S. to preserve Western Europe's and Japan's sources of oil?
Stones and walls
William Safire's intelligent column, "Of stones and walls" (Oct. 12) told the truth.
Safire gave a very clear insight into what happened on the eve of the Hebrew holy time called Succoth as thousands of Jews prayed at the sacred site known as the Western Wall. A double desecration took place.
* The column was a real gem.
Betty D. Edlavitch
I would like to remind those Catholics who have doubts regarding the issue of celibacy in the priesthood that the greatest lover on Earth, Jesus Christ, was celibate.
Claire O. Rhoads
Geoffrey W. Fielding is absolutely correct that evicted families are destitute (Forum, Oct. 10).
City official do not seem to recognize that evicted people may have no place to put their possessions even after the 30-day storage period, and that they have no means for acquiring more household goods.
Many of these families are custodial parents raising children alone. A majority are not on the public dole but work for minimal wages. Their budgets are stretched to the breaking point, and a few missed child support payments can be disastrous.
From meager resources, difficult choices must be made regarding food, rent, heating fuel, medical expenses and clothing. How can these necessities be prioritized?
Incinerate their belongings? These people desperately need a helping hand. Let's help them up, rather than stomp them while they're down.
Elaine M. Fromm
A vulnerable Israel
If Herbert J. Scism (Forum, Oct. 9) were suffering from brain damage sustained from a rock hurled down 300 feet upon his head, as some Israeli soldiers are, perhaps he would be more evenhanded in his sympathies.
He wishes to know what is happening on the West Bank and Gaza? Israel occupies these territories as a result of aggressive war waged by Arabs. The press continually reports that Israel "seized" the West Bank and Gaza in the '67 war, while making no mention of the fact that the war was launched by Arabs. The fundamental distinction between aggressor and defender seems to elude the press.
The situation remains unresolved because Arab nations and the PLO still adamantly vow to destroy Israel; any Palestinian genuinely interested in accommodation with Israel is promptly assassinated. Israel learned long ago what the world is in the process of learning to take Arab threats seriously.
Has Scism ever bothered to look at a map of the Middle East? It takes just a glance to see how tiny Israel is surrounded by the vast reaches of Arab states, and to realize just how vulnerable a West Bank in militant Arab hands would render Israel.
Burst the bubble
To quote Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, it is "absolutely ludicrous" that the effective tax rate drops from 33 percent to 28 percent for the wealthiest Americans (i.e. for individuals with taxable income over $89,560 and for married couples with taxable income over $149,250).
Extending the top tax rate of 33 percent to the top taxable income would raise an estimated $44 billion over five years and
produce a fairer, more progressive tax system.
Charlotte B. Stanka
It was bound to happen sooner or later. President Bush has inherited some of the traits of the man he served as vice president: "I don't remember," "I can't recall," "I don't know," "No one informed me," etc.
It is now surfacing with Bush. His recent turnaround on taxing the rich and other issues is called doing the "flip-flop."