Credibility Questions

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Fareed Zakaria's "The Debt Deal's Failure" rings true [Aug. 15]. I fear Congress has truly lost its ability to understand the situation of the average American. Standard & Poor's decision to downgrade the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history — at a time when America's finances are so very fragile — speaks to this blindness and to our leaders' inability to work together. Our nation's debt did not get where it is overnight and cannot be fixed with one bill. I feel I am watching our nation crash and burn. Perhaps out of the ashes something new will come.
Dale Walling, SHAWNEE, KANS., U.S.

So this is democracy at work? How much longer can we afford to link international trade to a currency dominated by politicians who put partisanship ahead of patriotism and self-interest ahead of serving those who elected them.

You should give more respect to the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. The American voters spoke loudly in 2010. Only timing kept the Senate in the hands of the Democratic Party. The reception of the bill to raise the debt ceiling and deal with the national financial crisis was lukewarm at best only because the Democrats don't get it.
Roger Sollie, FLOURTOWN, PA., U.S.

Is It Teatime?
Re "The Tea Party's Triumph" [Aug. 15]: If it's true that, as Michael Crowley writes, "it is an article of faith in Tea Party circles that Washington and Wall Street are in bed together, colluding for power and profit at the expense of the little guy," it seems odd that all the Tea Party's resentment appears to be focused on one-half of that partnership: the federal government. As willing accomplices to people like Grover Norquist, Dick Armey and the Koch brothers — hardly protectors of the little guy — Tea Partyers would deny resources to the government and give free rein to powerful private entities. Tea Partyers believe government has grown too big. But couldn't the same be said of the too-big-to-fail financial institutions that almost wrecked our economy (saved only by the federal government)? If the Tea Party were in charge, who or what would provide any checks on the most powerful special interests?
Frederic Cohen, HENDERSON, NEV., U.S.

Though Crowley documented the Tea Party's ignorance and willful disdain of facts, he neglected to document the movement's racism, as seen in its displays of President Obama as a witch doctor, complete with a bone through his nose. Members have also been known to carry arms to political meetings. This is not a party; it is a dangerous militia.
Mike W. Barr, AKRON, OHIO, U.S.

Did the Tea Party members of Congress take the same history class Michele Bachmann took? The Boston Tea Party occurred because colonists opposed England's tea tax, which protected, in part, profit for the East India Co., then one of the world's largest companies. The colonists opposed the British government's support for corporate greed. By opposing a repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest, today's Tea Party ignores history.
Howard K. Watkins, FRESNO, CALIF., U.S.

Your article misses the point of the Tea Party. It's very simple: Don't spend more than you earn. If you do, then pay it off as soon as possible.
John Mulligan, RICHMOND, VA., U.S.

Portrait of a Madman
Your article "He Wants You to Look at Him" certainly made Anders Behring Breivik into a somebody, just as he wished [Aug. 15]. How sad that you didn't describe the miracle that happened in Norway as a result of this tragedy. The people declared that their love was more powerful than Breivik's hate, that their courage and focus on the future decried his evil, that caring for one another took the place of revenge on one man.
Connie Toverud, OSLO

Thank you for not putting Breivik on your cover. His goal was to call attention to his wicked agenda and become famous in the process. He should be given as little attention in the media as possible and fade away in history as just another madman.
Fredrik Andrén-Sandberg, LUND, SWEDEN

Facing Islamophobia
Congratulations to Ishaan Tharoor for his excellent Essay on far-right Western terrorism on the occasion of the Oslo massacre [When Slogans Beget Slaughter, Aug. 15]. Ten years after 9/11, Islam and Muslims have become our scapegoats, the screen for projecting all our malaises and fears. It is time to realize and acknowledge where right-wing populism has taken us.
Bernhard Pestalozzi, ZURICH

While most Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists are Muslims. Islamophobia was not just created by far-right ideologues; the silence of moderate Muslims is to blame as well. If moderate Muslims would speak out and condemn terrorism, indiscriminate Islamophobia would subside.
Nicolas Gessner, PARIS

Unlike some extremist Muslims, Breivik was not part of organizations bent on terrorism and backed by Arab politicians and movements; he acted alone. To turn the tragedy in Norway, which affected Westerners, into a heinous Islamophobic crime resulting from Western terrorism is shameless.
Julien Dumont, LASNE, BELGIUM