The New York Times bringing the Fande (even when it’s Opinion)

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/opinion/14krugman.html?hp

EXCERPT:

“Once you understand the imperatives Republicans face, however, it all makes sense. By slashing future-oriented programs, they can deliver the instant spending cuts Tea Partiers demand, without imposing too much immediate pain on voters. And as for the future costs — a population damaged by childhood malnutrition, an increased chance of terrorist attacks, a revenue system undermined by widespread tax evasion — well, tomorrow is another day.

In a better world, politicians would talk to voters as if they were adults. They would explain that discretionary spending has little to do with the long-run imbalance between spending and revenues. They would then explain that solving that long-run problem requires two main things: reining in health-care costs and, realistically, increasing taxes to pay for the programs that Americans really want.

But Republican leaders can’t do that, of course: they refuse to admit that taxes ever need to rise, and they spent much of the last two years screaming ‘death panels!’ in response to even the most modest, sensible efforts to ensure that Medicare dollars are well spent.”

And so they had to produce something like Friday’s proposal, a plan that would save remarkably little money but would do a remarkably large amount of harm.”

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/opinion/14Salmon.html?hp

EXCERPTS:

“What the market is not doing so well is its core public function: allocating capital efficiently. Apple, for instance, is hugely profitable and sits on an enormous pile of cash; it is thus very unlikely to use its highly rated stock to pay for any acquisitions. It hasn’t used the stock market to raise money since 1981, and there’s a good bet it never will again.

Meanwhile, the companies in which people most want to invest, technology stars like Facebook and Twitter, are managing to avoid the public markets entirely by raising hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars privately. You and I can’t buy into these companies; only very select institutions and well-connected individuals can. And companies prefer it that way.

A private company’s stock isn’t affected by the unpredictable waves of the stock market as a whole. Its chief executive can concentrate on running the company rather than answering endless questions from investors, analysts and the press.

There’s much less pressure to meet quarterly earnings targets. When the stock does trade, the deals can be negotiated quietly, in private markets, rather than fall victim to short-term speculation from the high-frequency traders who populate public markets. And companies love how private markets allow them to avoid much of the regulatory burden of being public.

That burden comes largely from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was created in the wake of the 1929 stock-market crash to protect small investors. But if the move to private markets continues, small investors aren’t going to need much protection any more: they’ll be able to invest in only a relative handful of companies anyway.

Only the biggest and oldest companies are happy being listed on public markets today. As a result, the stock market as a whole increasingly fails to reflect the vibrancy and heterogeneity of the broader economy. To invest in younger, smaller companies, you increasingly need to be a member of the ultra-rich elite.

At risk, then, is the shareholder democracy that America forged, slowly, over the past 50 years. Civilians, rather than plutocrats, controlled corporate America, and that relationship improved standards of living and usually kept the worst of corporate abuses in check. With America Inc. owned by its citizens, the success of American business translated into large gains in the stock portfolios of anybody who put his savings in the market over most of the postwar period.

Today, however, stock markets, once the bedrock of American capitalism, are slowly becoming a noisy sideshow that churns out increasingly meager returns. The show still gets lots of attention, but the real business of the global economy is inexorably leaving the stock market — and the vast majority of us — behind.”

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/opinion/13dowd.html?src=me&ref=general

EXCERPTS in italics from The New York Times:

As a Republican congressman in the Johnson era and a Nixon White House official, Rummy had a front-row seat to the ego-driven bungling on Vietnam. But unlike McNamara, who said that the U.S. repeated Vietnam’s moral, political, economic and cultural mistakes in Iraq, Rumsfeld is still blinded by ego.

As part of his “Je ne regret rien pas” book tour, the 78-year-old former defense secretary stopped by the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, where he got the group’s annual “Defender of the Constitution” award. Only another person with such an ironic spin on the phrase “Defender of the Constitution” could present the award, of course, so Dick Cheney popped by to give it to his old pal.

Cheney’s entrance music was Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best,” also favored by Ricky Gervais for motivational speeches in the British version of “The Office.” When supporters of Ron and Rand Paul heckled the crusty pair — yelling “draft dodger” at Cheney, “Where’s bin Laden?” at Rumsfeld, and “war criminal” at both — Cheney blithely ordered them to “Sit down and shut up.”

Noting that his friend was both the youngest and oldest defense secretary, Cheney said, “Maybe if we give him a third term he’ll get it right.”

Doubtful. Rummy was still full of vinegar as he taunted President Obama for the conservatives.

Looking at the administration’s many “reversals of their announced policies on national security issues — Guantánamo Bay, military commissions, indefinite detention, CIA drone strikes,” he said, it makes me wonder if Dick has had more influence on President Obama than the people that got him elected.”

He is still oblivious about how wrong it was to shunt aside Afghanistan and goose up reasons to go careering into Iraq, which he felt had easier-to-hit targets and easier-to-find villains. He doesn’t agree with the “If you break it, you own it” theory. He thinks you can break it and just leave and not get bogged down in trying to build democratic dream countries.

Rummy’s memoir, “Known and Unknown,” is an unnerving reminder of how the Iraq hawks took crazy conditionals and turned them into urgent imperatives to justify what the defense chief termed “anticipatory self-defense.”

At “Rumsfeld.com,” the author has put up an archive of records and memos. One, marked “SECRET” and declassified last month at his request, is dated Sept. 9, 2002. That was after his P.R. roll-out to the March 2003 Iraq invasion was under way.

The subject line reads “WMD.” Secretary Rumsfeld is sending a secret report that he received a few days earlier to Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, asking: “Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big.”

The attachment is from Major Gen. Glen Shaffer, then the director for intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense, responding to Rummy’s request to know the “unknowns” about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

“We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their program,” Shaffer wrote. Unfortunately, the 0% had to do with actual weapons.

“Our assessments rely heavily on analytic assumptions and judgment rather than hard evidence,” the report said. “The evidentiary base is particularly sparse for Iraqi nuclear programs.”

It added: “We don’t know with any precision how much we don’t know.” And continued: “We do not know if they have purchased, or attempted to purchase, a nuclear weapon. We do not know with confidence the location of any nuclear weapon-related facilities. Our knowledge of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program is based largely — perhaps 90% — on analysis of imprecise intelligence.”

On biological weapons: “We cannot confirm the identity of any Iraqi facilities that produce, test, fill, or store biological weapons,” the report said, adding: “We believe Iraq has 7 mobile BW agent production plants but cannot locate them … our knowledge of how and where they are produced is probably up to 90% incomplete.”

On chemical weapons: “We cannot confirm the identity of any Iraqi sites that produce final chemical agent.” And on ballistic missile programs they had “little missile-specific data.”

Somehow that was twisted into “a slam-dunk.” You go to war with the army you have, but the facts you want.

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