Two things have our Readers Who Comment really exercised today: John R. Bolton's op-ed attacking the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that says Iran probably isn't building an A-bomb, and the deal to freeze interest rates on some subprime mortgages.
Bolton, the neocon lightning rod who could not get Senate confirmation to become ambassador to the United Nations and so was given a now-expired recess appointment to that job by President Bush, said the new NIE has five major flaws. Further, "While the president and others argue that we need to maintain pressure on Iran, this 'intelligence' torpedo has all but sunk those efforts, inadequate as they were." Most of our RWC disagree, although Bolton has his defenders. Many of our RWC are as angry with the Post for giving Bolton a platform as they are about what Bolton has to say.
As for the mortgage story, many commenters dislike the freeze and see it as a bailout for the unworthy. Why should the government and investors help those who should have been smart enough not to buy more house than they could afford with loans they couldn't pay back? There are a few voices noting that this problem affects us all, even if we don't like how it happened, and regard government intervention as necessary even if unappetizing. A Post editorial this morning called the plan as outlined "enlightened self-interest."
First, the comments on the Bolton story.
jgrasse succinctly summed views expressed by many in writing, "Another neocon trying to terrify the public into supporting a bombing of another muslim country. WaPo is a sounding board for neocons. Bolton is a war monger."
williamhenline said, "Ambassador Bolton, ...you have no credibility when it comes to lamenting an alleged bias contained within intelligence findings. You do, however, have an extensive track record in creating and rewarding such bias in intelligence for your own ideological purposes..."
chrisfox8 wrote, "Oh thank God we can all go back to hiding under the bed... thanks John Bolton for putting the fear back... WaPo, why do you carry this tripe?!? This guy has the credibility of Dick Cheney."
Bolton has a few supporters, like pastor_bob, who said, "Bolton is right on with his analysis. If folks want to react to this Polyannaish report like those aboard the capsized Poseidon, who did nothing but wait to be rescued, we'll all be treated to a similar hellish fate."
And yonaton added, "THREE THINGS (1) - Thank you, Mr. Bolton. (2) - Why aren't there more like you? (3) - Why aren't YOU running for president?"
But styles1 said that "Mr. Bolton managed to parse this in such a way as to imply that Intelligence Reports are not used when making Policy Decisions. It is the standard 'anything we can't control, we deny.' "
TedFrier noted that "...If the intelligence community has fudged its numbers in the way Bolton describes, then the only thing that can explain why they did it is knowledge that momentum building within the adminitration for another unilateral war was overwhelming... Imagine if the NIE had been less conclusive?"
We'll give those who blame The Washington Post Co. one more shot with eham3, who wrote, "I was shocked when Newsweek accepted Karl Rove as a commentator in their magazine but I think WP may have dropped even lower to print John Bolton on your opinion pages. How irrelevant do these jokers have to become to not be welcomed by allegedly reputable newsprint?"
And we'll close this subject with wellworn444, who seems to have a sense of humor about the whole thing in writing that Bolton "...Clearly... has more intelligence in his little finger that the entire current State Department has. We can only hope that when Rudy gets sworn in in Jan 08 that the first appointment he makes is John Bolton for Sec of State. Then we will know we are on the right track."
Now we'll turn to the mortgage freeze story and we'll start with HankTheCat, whose brief post summarizes what many have written in longer form. Hank asked, "Why should the rest of us bail out a few financial morons?"
Perry3 opined that "This mortgage mess is clearly a result of flawed right wing, discredited ideology. When "the market" fails as it always does, the Kool Aid drinkers resort to fixing the problem with socialist methods. Had they not relied on "the market" but had reasonable regulations in place, this problem could have been averted. I want to return to the party of Roosevelt!"
chritipurr said, "infuriating. While everyone tried to get in on the get-rich-quick scheme I wisely decided not to buy. As it turned out I lost my job and was unemployed for 4 months shortly after I turned down signing a contract. Now what we have is instead of socialized medicine we have socialized housing. I feel sick."
Vze2sr66 wrote, "It's the perfect storm. The economy is noesdiving just before an election. The republicans are doing everything they can to give their candidates a fighting chance and the dems are trying to prove they can't be out done. I hope our financial system survives."
gitarre offered support for the plan in writing, "... the president has crafted a fairly elegant solution with little taxpayer money. While it justifiably offends the sensibilities of many to offer even temporary relief to the irresponsible, it would do none of us any good to see the courts, the real estate market, and the mortgage market awash in foreclosures for years..."
But Alsatian1 disagreed, writing, "Hey Gitarre, you can't say it wouldn't do ANY of us any good. It would do me plenty of good to see housing prices return to normal..."
book134 opined that "Though this measure is better late than never, it's better than nothing. For hundreds of thousands of mortgage holders, these actions are too little, too late. They've already lost their homes..."
sbundley wrote, "What jumps out in this article is 'damaging earnings at major financial institutions'. I guess we can't have them writing off billions more in loans they never should have issued in the first place..."
MPatalinjug said, "Here is George W interfering in the workings of a free market, apparently in pursuit of a political agenda... Government action, such as that which President Bush now proposes, is unwarranted interference in the business cycle and will surely only result in unwanted distortions."
But nychap44, who gets the last word today, wrote, "This 'bail out' has nothing to do with helping the people who made the bad decisions; it has to do with the negative effect on our overall economy caused by their bad decisions. We would rather not have them continue to be a drag, so we help them out temporarily, prevent the same thing from happening again by implementing some rules that preclude a recurrence and move on..."
All comments on the Bolton op-ed are here.
All comments on the mortgage article are here.
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