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Truth often hidden ?in counter espionage

A recent letter complained about the falsehood supposedly given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice by the CIA regarding the attack on our embassy in Benghazi. While skepticism should never be resisted, a presumption of incompetence or political cover-up by our top leaders may be premature.

For example, while the CIA knew within minutes that this was not just a street demonstration, it may not have been able to exactly identify the perpetrators. Given that attacks of this sort are really publicity stunts, it is important for the perpetrators to get credit. If they are led to believe their bravado is not being recognized, they are likely to persist in claiming responsibility, which gives us additional opportunities to track them down.

The Osama bin Laden raid and drone strikes demonstrate that we can be very good at this. So, it may well be that the CIA, Rice, even Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham are knowing participants in a deliberate ruse. In any case, we will doubtlessly never know whether it was, or if successful, because it is a process that will never be publicly acknowledged. Such is the world of counterespionage.

Andrew R. Graham

Buffalo

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Trickle-down test ?has failed terribly

The 30-year supply-side, trickle-down experiment is not working anywhere in the advanced free world and causes abuse and suffering in Third World countries.

During wars, the U.S. economy formerly boomed. With our current trade and economic strategy and no military draft, during the last two wars, enlistees in the formerly ancillary National Guard and Reserves wound up doing double and triple combat duty with prolonged, multiple deployments. They face reduced wages and unemployment upon return because of outsourcing. Manufacturing booms now get transferred to unfair and illegal foreign competitors.

Tax-and-purge gambits being foisted as deficit solutions cannot offset the loss of revenue from transition to the service economy. New Deal policies with reciprocal trade agreements were the most successful in history and should serve as a template for future improvement, not the current unsuccessful Reagan departure, which belongs in the movies.

Louis L. Boehm

Orchard Park

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Palestinians have not ?lived up to their word

A response is needed to the Dec. 5 letter praising the U.N. vote granting non-member statehood to the Palestinians, and attacking Israel. It spouts the routine Palestinian/leftist propaganda that the Palestinians have "struggled against Israeli apartheid and oppression." However, when examined, the charges are neither logical nor true.

Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel have the same rights. Palestinians who are not citizens are not entitled to the same rights. Any restrictions that may exist are for security purposes. During the second intifada, more than 1,000 Israelis were killed from bombings and other terror attacks. If that were to happen in the United States, that would be equal to 51,000 Americans being killed. It is absurd to believe that the United States or any other country would not enact security measures. Since security measures were enacted, Israel has suffered fewer than five terror attacks originating from Palestinian areas.

The writer should acquaint himself on some area history. The Arabs rejected the U.N. 1947 partition plan creating Israel and another Arab state. Jordan and Egypt occupied land (1947-1967) that the Palestinians want to have for a state. Why wasn't it done then? In negotiations with the Israelis, the Palestinians received tangible benefits while the Israelis received only promises. I challenge the writer to name just two promises or obligations the Palestinians have lived up to. The answer is zero. Furthermore, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate during the past four years. Why bother negotiating with people who don't live up to their word?

One obligation created by previous negotiations was that the Palestinians would pursue a state only by negotiations with Israel. They broke that promise by going to the United Nations for the recent vote.

James Sterman

East Amherst

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Higher capital gains tax? will not stop investors

As the debate on tax rates is argued in Congress and the media, I am puzzled by one statement. If the tax rate on capital gains and dividends is allowed to rise, this will have a serious effect on people's desire to invest. That seems to be a swift and easy response, but does not really examine how the wealthy will probably react. Ask what they will do with that money.

Would they put that money into a bank account at perhaps 1 percent interest? And if they did, wouldn't the bank then invest that in home mortgages and consumer and car loans?

Or would the wealthy then go out and spend lavishly with the funds that they refuse to invest? That consumer spending might then trickle through the economy and stimulate spending and growth for all.

Or would they stuff the cold, hard cash under the mattress or bury it in the back yard? These people did not get wealthy by being stupid. They know that the best return on their dollars will still be investing in the stock market.

Yes, they will have slightly less to invest if the capital gains rate increases as proposed, from 15 percent to 20 percent. But that increase is not going to cause the "job creators" to flee the market.

Martin Besant

East Aurora

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We tend to forget ?taxes are immoral

In the wake of the fiscal cliff discussions and the current political discourse, we tend to forget some basic American moral foundations that we seemed to, at one point in our nation's history, ubiquitously understand. What is a tax? As economist Walter Williams has repeatedly said, "Taxes are government claims on private property." Similarly, John Marshall said, "The power to tax is the power to destroy."

One could also argue that taxes are a violation of the 8th Commandment in that they are inherently theft. The 8th Commandment commands us not to steal. The government confiscates income (private property) from the taxpayer. Nor are taxes voluntary. Thomas Jefferson argued what is now referred to as the "non-aggression principle" and thought that contracts and transactions must be voluntary to be valid. Imagine if I went over to my neighbor and demanded 15 percent of his income. Or, if he was "wealthy," 40 percent. And if he didn't pay, I'd use the power of enforcement. This may seem simplistic, but that is what taxes amount to.

None of these foundational points on taxes takes away from the benefit that some of the programs from taxes provide: police, fire, military, social services, etc. But until we understand that taxes are inherently immoral, we will continue to get the fundamental narrative wrong.

David Thomas

Tonawanda