Daily Flog: Smears and schmears; meltdowns on Wall Street and in the Arctic

Running down the press:


This'll teach Barack Obama to stick a fork in the other white meat:

Barack Obama stuck his foot in his mouth yesterday when he said "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig"- which the angry McCain campaign immediately denounced as an out-of-bounds attack on running mate Sarah Palin.

The U.S. has made at least some progress: Only 60 years ago, he would have been lynched for talking like that about a white gal.

Obama wasn't directly referring to Palin as a pig — he was talking about the GOP's braying about how it stands for "change." But as the L.A. Times notes, his using that simile on the heels of Palin's "lipstick" comment — not to mention the mentioning of the sensitive word "pig" anywhere even near a female candidate — left him wide open.

Palin presents a potentially big problem for the Democrats. With only a short time before the election, how are they going to reveal her as a know-nothing, religious-right wingnut? Etiquette, unfortunately, precludes them from simply laughing at her. Joe Biden is a hard-working pragmatic pol, but his tight little smile and penchant for chattering on and on aren't made for TV. Besides, the Republicans know that any hard attack on Palin will only stir up the anti-intellectual reverse snobbery that gave two full terms to such an uninterested-in-issues moron as George W. Bush.

In some ways, Palin is more dangerous than Bush. Both are proud of not being brainy, and that's clearly no handicap these days — them East Coast big shots aren't going to tell us how to run our country. But she has the zeal of her extremely conservative convictions, like any number of other anti-Darwinists whose presence on the planet actually proves their own point that humans haven't evolved.

Poke the pig at your own peril.


Charlie's provocative musing about reinstating the draft? Now there's a draft afoot to oust him from his powerful job:

Embattled Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel is facing possible ouster from his powerful committee chairmanship as he scrambles to file new tax returns in a desperate bid to hold on to his job.

The amended returns will reflect years of income he never bothered reporting from renting out his beachfront Caribbean villa, his lawyer said yesterday.

House Republicans yesterday pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to dump Rangel as head of the Ways & Means Committee, which writes the nation's tax laws.


The last thing you want to hear is moaning from the state and city governments about their budget problems. What this and every other story doesn't tell you is that there's plenty of money in Manhattan; it's just being diverted, with little or no regulation, into the pockets of the Wall Streeters who churn money from your mortgage payments, bank fees, and pension funds to their own benefit.

Times: 'Across Country, New Challenges to Term Limits'

Good puff for Mike Bloomberg's attempt make himself into NYC's version of Turkmenbashi and other presidents-for-life:

A decade after communities around the country adopted term limits to force entrenched politicians from office, at least two dozen local governments are suffering from a case of buyer’s remorse, with legislative bodies from New York City to Tacoma, Wash., trying to overturn or tweak the laws.


Free advertising from David Seifman for a former stooge of the fabled Nassau County GOP machine:

Add another name to the list of mayoral contenders - Republican Bruce Blakeman, whose estranged wife is hot and heavy with Paul McCartney.

After months of sounding out would-be supporters and pondering his chances in this overwhelmingly Democratic city, Blakeman told The Post yesterday: "I am going to be running for mayor."

Here's more from the press release that poses as a story:

A 52-year-old former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, Blakeman said he intends to follow in the mold of both Mayor Bloomberg and his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, and to build upon their accomplishments.

"I think there's a real desire for continuity," said Blakeman.

Great quote!

Blakeman was one of the top officials spawned by the Nassau GOP, which was long controlled by Al D'Amato and responsible for George Pataki's ill reign. Until only a few years ago, the Nassau GOP (headquartered, fittingly, in a former bank building) was the most hilariously crooked local political machine in the country that was still controlling a sizeable population.

That background — not even a sanitized version — isn't in Seifman's story.

Wall Street Journal: 'Lehman Faces Mounting Pressures'

The head may not mean too much, but the story contains a frightening description of the U.S. economy:

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. came under mounting pressure Tuesday after hopes faded for an investment deal with a Korean bank, helping to trigger a 45% fall in the firm's shares.

Lehman's troubles mark the latest installment in the worst financial-system crunch in decades, coming just two days after the U.S. government announced its plan to take over the two giants of the mortgage business. U.S. stocks fell Tuesday, giving back gains that had greeted the weekend bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Yes, "the worst financial-system crunch in decades."

Forget that Toyota "sales event." If you really want a smokin' deal, bring your checkbook to Lehman's HQ at 745 Seventh Avenue — it's a closeout, clearance, fire sale! As the Financial Times (U.K.) notes this morning:

The bank said it would spin off the majority of its commercial real estate assets into a public company by the first quarter of next year, a move which will vastly reducing its exposure to the troubled sector.

It also intends to sell a majority interest in its asset management division.

Any second now, Lehman will be changing its corporate history, which now describes the company as "an innovator in global finance."

Soon to be a major non-player in global finance, Lehman does have a fascinating history. The Lehman boys immigrated from Europe and founded their company in 1850 in Montgomery, Alabama. The company made its fortune trading cotton in that slave-based economy.

Now, 150 years later, the whole cotton-pickin' conglomerate is about to go under.

Jewish Daily Forward: 'First Criminal Charges Filed Against Agriprocessors Owners'

The only NYC paper to cover the hell out of the slaughterhouse jive in Iowa — one of the most interesting immigration stories unfolding anywhere in the U.S. — is the Forward. Nathaniel Popper continues his fine coverage:

The first criminal charges were filed against the owners of the country’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, Agriprocessors, in connection with a May immigration raid at the plant.

The Iowa attorney general filed more than 9,000 separate child labor charges against the company, its human resources managers and members of the family that owns the plant, including Aaron Rubashkin, CEO of the company, and Sholom Rubashkin, who had overseen operations at its Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse.

In the immediate aftermath of the charges, the leading kosher certifier in the United States, the Orthodox Union, said it would suspend its certification of Agriprocessors unless the company finds new management within a few weeks.

The Forward doesn't just cover the Jewish angle of this mess — it also explores the exploitation of slaughterhouse workers. Sticking close to home, the paper wades into the labor practices of another big Kosher processor operating right here in NYC. Popper's September 4 piece, "Workers Speak Out at Nation’s New Leading Kosher Producer," is a detailed feature that starts:

Luis Molina lost part of his middle finger to a 2,000-pound food mixer while working at what is now the country’s largest producer of kosher beef, Alle Processing.

Molina, 23, said that the accident, which happened when a fellow employee flipped a power switch, was not a surprise, given that he and others on his team had not received safety training. But he also said that what’s happened since then has added insult to injury.

The company, which operates a plant in Queens, stopped his pay the same hour he got injured, he said, leaving him in the lurch financially. Then, he continued, when he went into the office to talk to his supervisor, he was told that when he returned to work he would be suspended for four weeks without pay, because he used the machine improperly. After three years with the company, Molina said even this was not unexpected.

“They love suspending people there for any little thing,” Molina said while recuperating at his home in Brooklyn as his two children ran around him. “Two weeks, three weeks, they think it’s a joke ’cause they got that little power.”

Jewish Daily Forward: 'With White House at Stake, Ultra-Orthodox Work To Get Out the Vote — in Israel'

More praise for the Forward, which is the only NYC paper to consistently cover (and without doses of political correctness) right-wing Jews' political maneuvering. This one's about the black hats — the Haredi, the most ultra-Orthodox of Orthodox Jews — seeing McCain as the guy with the white hat:

As the American presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain heads into its final stretch, a group of leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel is preparing to release a statement that urges the country’s American expatriates to exercise their voting rights in November by casting absentee ballots.

The statement comes on the heels of a visit to Israel by Haredi lobbyist Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, who is the director of government affairs at Agudath Israel of America, a leading Haredi advocacy organization. Kalish spent a week in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak early this month, meeting with rabbis to request their help in mobilizing Americans living in Israel to register and vote.

Imagine the consternation in the U.S. press if some overseas imam controlling mosques over there and in the U.S. injected himself into our presidential campaign. Anyway, Nathan Jeffay's story gets past the bullshit and right to the heart of matters:

“Every vote cast from Eretz Yisrael comes from someone concerned for the safety and security of people living there, and this will be understood in Washington,” Kalish told the Forward. Aaron Spetner, a Jerusalem-based Agudath Israel activist who is heading the campaign, added that “if thousands of voter registration forms are coming in from Israel, it makes us powerful in Washington — with the president, senators and congressmen.”

There are an estimated 200,000 Americans living in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Only 35,000 are currently registered to vote.

Several experts contacted by the Forward voiced skepticism, however, at the organizers’ claim of nonpartisanship, pointing to conservative leanings among Haredi voters. “While I can’t be sure, Haredim are much more right-wing and want to show McCain that they are capable of delivering the goods,” said Bar-Ilan University sociologist Menachem Friedman, an expert in Haredi culture.

Political activists were more direct. “You would have trouble convincing me that this is not done in support for McCain by people who favor McCain,” said Gershon Baskin, founder and CEO of the dovish Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information.

Times: 'A New Voice From Within'

Michael Kimmelman's lede strikes just the right note of condescension:

The name Thomas P. Campbell probably won’t ring many bells with the public. Inside the Metropolitan Museum, though, the news of his ascension to director is likely to be greeted by many colleagues with pleasure and relief.

McClatchy: 'Federal deficit soars, but McCain, Obama offer no answers'

Somehow managing to provide news with interpretation and also flaying both presidential candidates, David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall hold the smears and hold the schmears. Instead they write:

Just weeks before the government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday projected a near-record federal budget deficit of $407 billion, sharply higher than White House projections six weeks ago and more than double last year's figure.

Mammoth federal-budget deficits feed inflation, make America dependent on foreign lenders, cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments on the growing national debt and drain capital savings from more productive investments.

The widening gap between what the government spends and the revenue it brings in is sure to weigh on the next president and impede his efforts to spend on new or larger programs or to cut taxes.

Yet John McCain and Barack Obama show few signs that they're ready to take tough steps to curb deficits, according to budget analysts.

McClatchy: 'Low levels of Arctic sea ice signal global warming's advance'

One great thing about global warming: We don't have to worry about destroying the Arctic ice by drilling into it because it's already gone. Renee Schoof explains:

This year will see the second-biggest loss on record of Arctic sea ice — a sign that the area of ice coverage is shrinking at a pace faster than once expected.

The trend also suggests that global warming is likely to increase, polar bear habitat will decline and previously icebound areas could be opened to oil and gas exploration.

Daily Flog 8/5/08: Death of a smart Alek, crime by kids, mad scientists, veep intrigue, close shaves, kosher giraffes

Running down the press:

Daily News: 'Crime by kids soars - blame the iPhone'

Don't ever trust crime stats touted at NYPD press conferences, especially by a pinch-faced commissioner hungering to be mayor someday, but . . .:

Muggers are getting younger — and the iPhone is to blame.

Kids ages 11 to 19 make up a growing proportion of the crooks arrested this year for theft, fueled in part by a lust for the snazzy new phones, police said.

"The explosive popularity of these devices has also made them inviting targets for thefts. Teens are commonly the culprits as well as the victims," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Juveniles accounted for 29% of the 7,340 robbery arrests and 27% of the 4,566 grand larceny busts this year, an 8% jump in each category compared to this time last year, police said.

Electronics - mostly iPhones, iPods and Sidekicks - were the stolen booty in 20% of the robbery arrests and 12% of the grand larceny arrests.


Love the angle, and the Post and everyone else has posthumously convicted him, so what the hell:

The mad scientist suspected of orchestrating the deadly 2001 anthrax-letter spree was obsessed with a prestigious sorority that keeps an office just 300 feet from a Princeton, NJ, mailbox where the poisonous missives were dropped. Bruce Ivins' creepy fixation on Kappa Kappa Gamma may explain why he chose that spot - some 200 miles from his Frederick, Md., home and workplace - to mail the seven anthrax- laced letters that killed five people, sickened 17 and petrified a nation still reeling from the 9/11 terror attacks.

Ivins was obsessed with KKG going back to his college days at the University of Cincinnati, when he apparently was spurned by a woman in the Columbus-based sorority, US officials told The Associated Press - and the fixation never waned in the decades after he left with a Ph.D. in microbiology.

If you can't go Greek, go geek.

Daily News: 'Goats penetrate fence at heavily guarded base of Verrazano Bridge'

Obvious but fun:

Watch out for these weapons of grass destruction.

New Yorker: 'Deep In the Woods'

The best seven-year-old story today — and the best high ground amid the flood of lame stories about Russia "saying farewell" to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — is this reprise of editor David Remnick's August 2001 Letter from Moscow. This isn't from the lede, because the New Yorker doesn't deal in traditional nut grafs, but it does indicate that many people said their farewells to the gulag-bred polemicist years ago:

When [Boris] Yeltsin left office, on the eve of 2000, Solzhenitsyn was furious that the new President, Vladimir Putin, had granted his predecessor immunity from prosecution. Solzhenitsyn declared that Yeltsin "along with another one or two hundred people must be brought to book."

By now, Solzhenitsyn had managed to alienate almost everyone. The Communists despised him, of course, and the hard-line Russian nationalists, who had once hoped he would be their standard-bearer, found him too liberal. The liberals, who looked west for their models, could not take seriously Solzhenitsyn's derisory view of the West as a trove of useless materialism and a wasteland of spiritual emptiness. Nor could they abide conservative positions such as his support for the reinstatement of the death penalty.

When Solzhenitsyn first arrived in Moscow, his name was invoked as a possible successor to Yeltsin. This was always a fantasy, but it did indicate his enormous prestige. And yet with time, and with Solzhenitsyn's weekly exposure on television, the majority of the public soured on him or grew indifferent. His television appearances were cancelled. He fell in the political ratings and then disappeared from them. He began to appear less and less in public. But still he continued to write. I was able to obtain, through his sons Ignat, a concert pianist and conductor in Philadelphia, and Stephan, an urban-planning and environmental consultant in Boston, an advance copy of the first volume of "Two Hundred Years Together" and made plans to pay him a visit on the outer edge of the capital.

As it happened, I arrived in Moscow just after George W. Bush had met with Putin in Slovenia. . . .

You probably can't tell from the above excerpt, but nobody (including Hunter Thompson) wrote better first-person journalism since A.J. Liebling's The Earl of Louisiana (1961) than Remnick's Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire (1993). Even if that turns out to be Remnick's high-water mark (and it probably will, because now he's an editor), what a high. Just about anything Remnick has written about Russia — not boxing, but Russia — is worth reading today. Even if, like this piece, it's seven years old.

New York Observer: 'VP Speculation Is Much Ado About Something'

A wonkish and pretty thorough history lesson from Steve Kornacki, including this:

A VP candidate whose selection captures the country's interest (in a positive way) and who performs skillfully in the fall debate can dramatically improve the public's instinctive, knee-jerk impression of the presidential candidate with whom he or she is running – making it much more likely that voters will view that presidential candidate favorably when they consider "the issues."

A terrific example of this is 2000. On the Republican side, [Dick] Cheney brought Bush a week's worth of favorable press about the wisdom he, an inexperienced and untested governor, had displayed in tapping such a wise and seasoned foreign policy master and his "gravitas." Cheney followed that up with a surprisingly strong and humorous showing in his VP debate with [Joe] Lieberman. It's impossible to quantify the effect Cheney had, and you certainly can't pinpoint it to one state or region. But his presence, and the press he received, almost certainly made many voters more receptive to Bush and his message.

Times: 'An Olympic Stadium Worth Remembering'

The Times promo'ed this review of Beijing's National Stadium with classic Gray-Lady-with-pince-nez phrasing:

The National Stadium reaffirms architecture's civilizing role in a nation that is struggling to forge a new identity out of a maelstrom of inner conflict.

Would you click to read more? Too bad, because Nicolai Ouroussoff's piece is considerably less pretentious (what isn't?) and starts out pretty damned well:

Given the astounding expectations piled upon the National Stadium, I'm surprised it hasn't collapsed under the strain.

More than 90,000 spectators will stream through its gates on Friday for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games; billions are expected to watch the fireworks on television. At the center of it all is this dazzling stadium, which is said to embody everything from China's muscle-flexing nationalism to a newfound cultural sophistication.

Times: 'Aux Barricades! France and the Jews'

Roger Cohen's op-ed piece adds a schmear of smut — the phrase "shaved Jewess" — to the Times. For the full flavor of a story practically ignored by the isolationist U.S. press, here are the first several grafs:

It's not quite the Dreyfus Affair, at least not yet. But France is divided again over power and the Jews.

While the United States has been debating the New Yorker's caricature of Barack Obama as a Muslim, France has gone off the deep end over a brief item in the country's leading satirical magazine portraying the relationship between President Nicolas Sarkozy's fast-rising son, Jean, and his Jewish fiancée.

The offending piece in Charlie Hebdo, a pillar of the left-libertarian media establishment, was penned last month by a 79-year-old columnist-cartoonist who goes by the name of Bob Siné. He described the plans — since denied — of Jean Sarkozy, 21, to convert to Judaism before marrying Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, an heiress to the fortune of the Darty electrical goods retailing chain.

"He'll go far in life, this little fellow!" Siné wrote of Sarkozy Jr.

He added, in a separate item on whether Muslims should abandon their traditions, that: "Honestly, between a Muslim in a chador and a shaved Jewess, my choice is made!"

Nobody paid attention for a week: Siné is a notorious provocateur whose strong pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist views have in the past crossed the line into anti-Semitism. I'd say he's far from alone in that among a certain French left.

But this is the summer, news is slow, and since a journalist at the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur denounced the article as "anti-Semitic" on July 8, France has worked itself into a fit of high intellectual dudgeon.

Forward: 'Ad Hoc Outreach Effort May Hinder McCain's Bid for Communal Vote'

From just about the only paper that covers establishment Jews' financial and political clout, some fascinating nuggets about not only McCain's campaign strategies but also Obama's and Bush Jr.'s. And unlike the blather from the mainstream press, these nuggets aren't first mined from the eager mouths of each campaign's flacks and "advisers." Anthony Weiss's July 31 lede:

In a year when polls suggest that Senator John McCain is positioned to garner more Jewish votes than any Republican candidate in the past two decades, his campaign is attempting to woo Jewish voters with a small, decentralized operation that critics are charging has no single address.

In contrast to the corporate discipline of George W. Bush in 2004 and the well-staffed ground operation of Democratic opponent Senator Barack Obama, McCain is counting on an ad hoc, almost informal approach to reaching Jewish voters. To date, the McCain campaign's Jewish outreach has been conducted through a combination of political donors and campaign surrogates that campaign insiders defend as reflecting sensitivity to needs on the ground.

And here's the context:

Some Republican Jewish insiders have criticized this approach, arguing that it has led to competing centers of influence and no clear lines of authority or communication. These critics point out that at this point in the 2004 campaign, the Bush campaign had dispatched Jewish outreach teams to several states, organized multiple fundraisers and was well into the planning stage for a Jewish leadership event at the Republican convention.

McCain's defenders respond that the senator is simply running a different campaign, reflecting both the aftermath of a chaotic primary season and McCain's own management style.

The debate comes in a year when a number of observers have suggested that McCain is uniquely well positioned to reach Jewish voters. Recent polls released by Gallup and by the left-leaning lobbying organization J Street both showed McCain running well for a Republican candidate, polling 29% and 32%, respectively. Supporters cite McCain's long record on Israel-related issues and national security, and McCain faces, in Barack Obama, a candidate who has struggled to define a positive image for himself in the Jewish community, particularly on issues related to Israel. Jewish voters could be especially significant in a number of potential swing states, particularly Pennsylvania and Florida.

But McCain's Jewish outreach also must go up against a formidable Obama operation that has had a staff member serving as a Jewish liaison for more than a year and began building a national grass-roots operation during the primary season.

Forward: 'Giraffe Milk Is Kosher'

Stanley Siegelman's Siegelmania column milchs this item for all it's worth. An Israeli rabbi declared that a giraffe "has all signs of a ritually pure animal, and the milk that forms curds strengthened that." Siegelman's resulting doggerel starts: "Imagine milking a giraffe! ..." Or, put another way:

Oysmelkn ken men a zhiraf?
Der moyekh zogt tsu unz: S'iz tough!
Di hoykhenish iz a problem,
Der nopl iz vayt avek (ahem!)

Di milkh iz yetst derklert nit treyf,
Der rebbe zogt der sheid iz safe.
A curd farmogt es — gantz O.K.!
Shray nit "gevald," shray nit "oy whey"!


Stefanie Cohen's hot-blooded take on a typically cold-blooded legal maneuver:

In a heartless legal maneuver, city lawyers say they shouldn't have to shell out too much cash to a man who was paralyzed from the neck down in the Staten Island Ferry crash because he's not going to live that long anyway, according to court papers.

James McMillan Jr., 44, has only 16 more years to live, according to a doctor hired by the city, and the lawyers hope a jury uses that number to determine what his payout should be, the papers show.

McMillan's lawyer, Evan Torgan, says his client, if properly cared for, could live much longer than that.

"The city paralyzed him, and now they're saying that he is going to die young because of the damage they caused," Torgan said. "They're turning a personal-injury case into a wrongful-death case."

An epidemiologist hired by the city, Michael DeVivo, wrote in court filings, "The injury has reduced Mr. McMillan's current life expectancy by 13.8 years or 46 percent."


Apparently it's open season on cult leaders. That's really too bad. It's also too bad that the story interjects predictable reaction quotes too high. Skip from the first graf . . .:

In a stunning verdict, a jury cleared ex-hippie Rebekah Johnson of all charges in the attempted murder of a Staten Island cult leader who was ambushed outside his home and shot six times as he begged for his life.
. . . to these grafs:

The jury rejected prosecutors' claims that an obsessed Johnson targeted Jeff Gross in May 2006 after he repeatedly booted her from the Ganas commune and rebuffed her demands for millions of dollars.

It was unclear whether the jurors cleared Johnson because they didn't think she fired the shots or because they believed she was the victim of cult brainwashing.

They made a hurried departure from the courthouse, declining to speak to reporters.


Good, all-purpose hed for a story on a lamster wannabe:

He thought his port-a-potty scam would leave him flush with cash. Instead, it got him thrown in the can.

An accountant for Tishman Construction will be indisposed in prison for the next seven years after pleading guilty yesterday to embezzling $2.8 million.

He altered checks payable to Mr. John, a company that deals in portable bathrooms, and made them payable to himself - Mr. John Hoeffner. . . .

Prosecutors said the suddenly-wealthy Hoeffner then blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on a girlfriend in Cali, Colombia.

Rove's Defining Legacy


Monument to failure: DeLay and Abramoff are long gone. Now Rove is almost gone, and only Cheney (right) is left.

George W. Bush nicknamed Karl Rove "The Architect," but the POTUS isn't much of a reader, so we need a better definition of the guy who always relished his role as Rasputin.

My dictionary says "rove" is the past tense of "rive":

1. To tear apart or in pieces by pulling or tugging; to rend or lacerate with the hands, claws, etc.; to pull asunder.

(Yes, I know that "My dictionary says …" is a hackneyed device, but my dictionary is the OED on CD-ROM, and Rove himself is a hackneyed device, so do me a favor and keep reading.)

The fact is that Rove is definitely not past tense on Capitol Hill, as I noted early yesterday. Later in the day, New York senator Chuck Schumer spoke the obligatory words:

Karl Rove's resignation will not stop our inquiry into the firings of the U.S. attorneys. He has every bit as much of a legal obligation to reveal the truth once he steps down as he does today.

That ship has sailed. As a verb by its intransitive lonesome, "rove" takes on another meaning:

To practise piracy; to sail as pirates.

Unfortunately, this political plunderer's shredder is probably overheating right now. We already know that thousands of juicy e-mails describing his plots are out there. But shredding is Rove's name, if you believe the OED, and I do:

To tear up (a letter, document, etc.), so as to destroy or cancel.

For the sake of history, though, Rove is "rove" in a broader sense:

To commit spoliation or robbery; to reave; to take away from. Now dial.

What's the use. Rove's already in transit out of D.C. If issues make you reach for tissues, this definition (of "rive" and thus "rove") is for you:

To rend (the heart, soul, etc.) with painful thoughts or feelings.

Whether or not he's ever called back from Texas to testify — and it would probably take a stint at Gitmo to get him to do it — Rove could very well end up as a memorable, if improper, noun. This 15th century usage fits, but it's obsolete:

1. a. A scabby, scaly, or scurfy condition of the skin. b. A scab; the scaly crust of a healed or healing wound.

No, forget "architect," scabs, and all other nouns. To me, Rove will always be a verb, especially in this sense:

To shoot with arrows at a mark selected at pleasure or at random, and not of any fixed distance.

Kind of a Robin Hood, except that Rove, as I pointed out yesterday, robs the poor to give to the rich.

What a con he pulled on us marks. Yes, that is true "roving." The OED elaborates:

The object of roving was evidently to give practice in finding the range of the mark, while shooting at the butts and pricks taught accuracy of aim.

Rove's 'Generation of Peace' to Finally End

Bush's Rasputin gives two weeks' notice, will flee to Texas.


The hands holding this "Generation of Peace" bumper sticker are Karl Rove's. He's being interviewed by Dan Rather in 1972 while working for Richard Nixon's re-election in the midst of an unpopular war.

Karl Rove is leaving George W. Bush's White House. The president's Edgar Bergen tells the Wall Street Journal in an interview published this morning, quoted by the New York Times:

"I just think it’s time. There's always something that can keep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family."

Yeah, these people are always leaving for the "sake" of their families. This is for Rove's own sake, judging by the 24th, 25th, and 26th paragraphs of an April 20 Washington Post story, "Senators Chastise Gonzales at Hearing," which starts out like this:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales came under withering attack from members of his own party yesterday over the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys, facing the first resignation demand from a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and doubts from others about his candor and his ability to lead the Justice Department.

Way down in the story are the three paragraphs crucial to understanding the gripes of wrath that are causing Rove to hitch up the wagons for a westward trek:

Gonzales said he made the final decision to approve the firings but took the recommendations of his assistants without closely reviewing their reasons for dismissing each prosecutor. He said his former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, was in charge of the details and updated him only occasionally on his progress. The attorney general said he made a mistake by not being more closely involved in the process.

Gonzales confirmed statements by Sampson that presidential adviser Karl Rove passed along GOP complaints to Gonzales last fall about the alleged lack of aggressiveness by [David C. Iglesias of New Mexico] and two other U.S. attorneys in prosecuting voter fraud. Gonzales said he passed on the complaints to Sampson, who at some point in the same time period placed Iglesias on the firing list.

The attorney general said he could not remember a similar conversation on Oct. 11 with Bush, who has publicly confirmed the discussion.

Rove says "there's always something that keeps you here," referring to D.C. In this case, it's the flood of requests that he come to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the U.S. attorney firings.

Moving to Texas will make serving him with subpoenas more difficult. Don't think for a minute that he'll stop doing at least some of Bush's thinking.

But Rove's usefulness to Dick Cheney's Bush regime is really over. He miraculously brought the regime a second term, but he couldn't pull off the 2006 mid-term elections, and the big problem is the Iraq war.

Thirty-five years ago, when he was a College Republicans operative being interviewed by Dan Rather, Rove proudly showed off his "Generation of Peace" bumper sticker brainstorm while working for Richard Nixon's re-election.

Shades of 2004, when Rove helped the Bush regime pull off a miracle.

But Iraq is too much of a debacle, and the time for bumper stickers is past. The only thing Rove could do in this war would be to don a uniform, fly to Baghdead, and lead a surge. That's unlikely.

Talk to the Hand


Bush and Cheney in the White House Situation Room, listening to pleas of help from Iraq.

Wolfowitz Leaves Pentagon Without Causing Further Casualties

He gets to play soldier one last time. We'll never forget him.


Cherie A. Thurlby/Defense Dept.

Pompous circumstance: Paul Wolfowitz, who never served in the military, salutes real soldiers honoring him Friday with a ridiculous ceremony at the Pentagon. Below are his daughter Rachel and ex-wife, Clare, sandwiched between Don Rumsfeld's wife, Joyce (right) and General Peter Pace's wife, Lynne. Not pictured is Wolfowitz's girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza.


Paul Wolfowitz, leaving the Pentagon for the World Bank, got a grand send-off Friday, a complete military review with marching troops, flags, speeches, and all that. And he saluted back.

It was one of the few military exercises lately that Wolfowitz, architect of our Iraq debacle, had anything to do with in which no American soldiers were killed or wounded. Collaterally, no Iraqis were harmed during the production of this ceremony.

Permanently embedded reporter Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service wrote:

    Wolfowitz thanked the men and women of the military and the civil service. "They are the ones who serve America quietly and professionally every day," he said. "They are the ones who deserve our special and lasting gratitude."

More than 1,500 of them, plus upwards of 21,000 Iraqis, are permanently quiet.

The current crop of Pentagon civilians and other top Bush regime officials slays me. They just love the military trappings of their jobs, even though most of them did all they could to stay out of action when they were young enough to fight.

I stayed out. I was No. 13 in the first draft lottery for the Vietnam War and was called up for an Army physical in Kansas City in early 1970. I flunked it with a psychiatric 4-F, thanks to a sympathetic doctor who wrote, "If inducted into the Army, Mr. Harkavy will become psychotic." Many of us college mooks that day in Kansas City were fortunate to stay out of that disastrous and wrong war. Not so the farm boys and inner-city kids who didn't want to go; they didn't have friendly draft counselors and doctors to help them stay out of the slaughter.

Thirty-five years later, all I can say is that, unlike fellow draft dodgers Wolfowitz, Cheney, and Bush (yeah, he dodged it by joining the National Guard), I'm not sending young Americans overseas to risk death for the sake of corporate profits.

My colleague Tom Robbins produced a list last August of the current administration's draft-dodger codgers; check it out. He dug up one of my favorite quotes, student- and marriage-deferred Dick Cheney's excuse: "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service."

My favorite fellow 4-F'er is Rush Limbaugh: He got his because of a case of anal cysts, as I noted back in March '04.

Wolfowitz skated by on student deferments at Cornell and the University of Chicago. But he knows how to salute (see photo).

A sadder Wolfowitz-related exit is the announced end of worldbankpresident.org, the lively site that sizzled with inside info from before Wolfowitz's nomination to now.

Belgium-based Alex Wilks, a co-producer of the site, penned his farewll the other day, but promised to release the hounds on Wolfie if the situation warrants. In the meantime, the site will stay up, he says. And it's a good resource and record of recent history.

For ongoing news on Wolfie and the World Bank, see Wilks's organization, Eurodad, and other NGO sites, like IFIwatchnet and the Bretton Woods Project.

And there are plenty of thoughtful stories analyzing the new reign of Wolfie the World Banker, like Daphne Eviatar's April 26 Salon analysis of "the war hawk's fealty to the oil industry."

Actually, I'm glad Wolfie was moved into the World Bank job by George W. Bush's handlers. That just gives more visibility to the World Bank and to poor countries (most of the planet).

Expressing that idea in a more sophisticated and lively way is progressive George Monbiot, a columnist for the Guardian (U.K.), whose April 5 "I'm With Wolfowitz" piece is provocative and shrewd. Here's part of Monbiot's reasoning:

    Wolfowitz's appointment is a good thing for three reasons. It highlights the profoundly unfair and undemocratic nature of decision-making at the bank. His presidency will stand as a constant reminder that this institution, which calls on the nations it bullies to exercise "good governance and democratization" is run like a medieval monarchy.

    It also demolishes the hopeless reformism of men such as [Joseph] Stiglitz and George Soros who, blithely ignoring the fact that the US can veto any attempt to challenge its veto, keep waving their wands in the expectation that a body designed to project US power can be magically transformed into a body that works for the poor. Had Stiglitz's attempt to tinker with the presidency succeeded, it would simply have lent credibility to an illegitimate institution, enhancing its powers. With Wolfowitz in charge, its credibility plummets.

    Best of all is the chance that the neocons might just be stupid enough to use the new wolf to blow the bank down. Clare Short laments that "it's as though they are trying to wreck our international systems". What a tragedy that would be. I'd sob all the way to the party.

Monbiot probably did goof on Harry Dexter White (below, left), the guy who brainstormed the creation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in the '40s.


World Bank

Harry Dexter White and John Maynard Keynes, "the intellectual founding fathers" of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in the mid-'40s.

Monbiot characterized White as an evil genius, but White's daughter Joan Pinkham wrote from Amherst, Massachusetts, to defend her departed dad, who was branded a Commie-lover by the right wing way back when. Here's most of what Pinkham had to say:

    Monbiot correctly attributes to White the conception of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now the World Bank). But he goes on to speak of White's nefarious intentions (the burden of economic stabilization should be placed on the countries least able to bear it); of the completely negative response of the allied nations to the Bretton Woods proposals; of White's insistence on an undemocratic voting system and a US veto; of his decision that the new institutions would be in Washington etc.

    As conceived by my father, these two institutions were designed to create a more equitable, stable, and prosperous world economy. Being neither an economist nor a historian, I cannot pretend to explain how they were eventually converted into the instruments of reaction that Monbiot so rightfully excoriates today. An economist friend, when I asked him how this had come about, once responded with a laugh: "The bankers took them over!" In any event, I would like to assure Monbiot that the present incarnations of the progressive institutions imagined by my father are perversions of their original purposes. The irony is that Harry White, a loyal civil servant with a humane and internationalist outlook, is now attacked from both ends of the political spectrum. Since his untimely death in 1948, he has been repeatedly accused of having betrayed US interests in favor of Soviet communism. Now he is also accused of having relentlessly promoted the hegemony of US capitalism.

See, Wolfie's appointment to the World Bank is a good thing if it focuses more attention on the Bank, its history, and the countries it supposedly helps.

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