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Daily Flog: Snow jobs and mush after Palin completes her first drilling

In a world where a no-name Alaskan could suddenly become an aging heartbeat from the U.S. presidency, as Don LaFontaine might have intoned it if he hadn’t died before I could hire him, the stunning desperation of that very move got glossed over by 99 percent of the U.S. media.

Matt Scully‘s speech at the Republican National Convention — recited by Sarah Palin last night — received the imprimatur from the New York Times: “Palin Assails Critics and Electrifies Party.”

Like an ER team using the paddles to jump-start a dead patient.

As if they were reporting on the emperor’s new clothes, Elizabeth Bumiller and Michael Cooper pronounced the Republican ticket healthy:

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska introduced herself to America before a roaring crowd at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night as “just your average hockey mom” who was as qualified as the Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama, to be president of the United States.

An hour later Senator John McCain, a scrappy, rebellious former prisoner of war in Vietnam whose campaign was resurrected from near-death a year ago, was nominated by the Republican Party to be the 44th president of the United States after asking the cheering delegates, “Do you think we made the right choice” in picking Ms. Palin as the vice-presidential nominee?

What a shock that the delegates said yes.

Of course, Times reporters didn’t have to play into the McCain campaign’s hands by describing him that way. Closer to the truth is that McCain is an admiral’s son who married an Arizona liquor magnate’s daughter, carpetbagged into Congress, and built his career by sucking up to the rich and powerful, including financiopath S&L schnook Charles Keating and newspaper publisher/phony war hero Darrow “Duke” Tully.

They got Palin right, however. She really is a hockey mom — even the father of her accidental grandchild is a high-school kid who plays hockey with his buddies.

Is she really a good choice for the ticket? I don’t know. Alaska.


A look-see at how the rest of the press handled the GOP’s desperate move to offer a Snow White alternative to the Democrats’ Negro candidate:

The Wall Street Journal was more rational, steering clear of the kind of glib labeling used by the likes of the Times and me. The lede by Jerry Seib and Laura Meckler:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin went straight at the critics of her vice-presidential nomination, using an intensely watched national address to portray her experience as governor as sufficient, her time as a small-town mayor as an asset, and the attacks on her record as the work of an elitist media and political establishment.

Speaking to a loudly enthusiastic crowd of delegates at the Republican National Convention, and to a national audience drawn into days of debate about her selection, Gov. Palin used the large stage to introduce both herself and her family. In the process, she also countered a grueling barrage of accusations that she’s not ready for the job.

Perhaps influenced by Fashion Week, the big event going on this week in New York City, our hometown Post picked a glamor image and ran with it:

SHE’S A ‘PIT BULL WITH LIPSTICK’: PALIN WOWS ‘EM BY POUNDING DC SNOBS

Michael Vick‘s pit bulls also had red mouths, but in their case it was blood. Anyway, here’s Brendan Scott and Chuck Bennett‘s lede:

Sarah Palin introduced herself to the nation last night with a part-folksy, part-fiery convention speech, tongue-lashing Barack Obama and her critics and saying she’s been slammed simply for being a Beltway outsider.

Palin, who made history as the first woman to run as vice president on the GOP ticket, proved her chops as presidential nominee John McCain’s tough attack dog.

Not the kind of tongue-lashing Larry Craig — the last unknown Republican from the West to make a splash in Minnesota — was prepared to give in that airport bathroom stall, but at least Palin got it done.

(By the way, she didn’t “prove her chops.” She tried to prove her chops. That’s why the WSJ‘s “countered” is more accurate.)

The Daily News promo’d its coverage nicely with “Hockey mom drops gloves,” but its lede slipped and fell:

Sarah Palin boasts she can take it — and boy, can she dish it out.

“Well, I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment,” Palin told an adoring convention crowd of more than 20,000 in St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

In her one unscripted moment, she flashed her wit when some fellow “hockey moms” gave her a cheer.

“I love those hockey moms. You know they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull: lipstick,” she chuckled.

This is a theme with Republican pols. Rudy Giuliani in drag was also a pit bull with lipstick.

McClatchy noted that Palin “defined herself as someone irritated with the news media and Washington.”

Well, who isn’t?

Nice job by Newsday‘s Craig Gordon:

Capping a five-day rise from near-obscurity to the cusp of history, Sarah Palin accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination Wednesday night with a wry but blistering attack on Barack Obama — portraying herself as a no-nonsense PTA mom who will help John McCain take on the “Washington elite.”

She also took a swipe at news outlets that have dug into her political record as Alaska governor — and her family matters — all week.

But so what. For all the talk about the feistiness of Palin’s speech, you have to remember that the words came from former George W. Bush speechwriter Scully, who’s been spraying similar vitriol at liberals since he was an Arizona college student harassing professors two decades ago.

A surprisingly humdrum lede by the Washington Post:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin electrified the Republican convention Wednesday night, pitching herself as a champion of government reform, mocking Democratic candidate Barack Obama as an elitist and belittling media criticism of her experience.

(Yes, a black man in America is accused of being “elitist,” and it’s reported with a straight face.)

But the WashPost deserves kudos for Dan Balz‘s front-page story yesterday that detailed the GOP’s desperation and shoddy vetting of Palin:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not subjected to a lengthy in-person background interview with the head of Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential vetting team until last Wednesday in Arizona, the day before McCain asked her to be his running mate, and she did not disclose the fact that her 17-year-old daughter was pregnant until that meeting, two knowledgeable McCain officials acknowledged Tuesday.

Interesting blog analysis from the BBC’s U.S. guy Justin Webb:

Palin’s punches

I liked the parliamentary-style jabs at Obama and they have peppered the news coverage, though I still think she is skating on thin ice. Rudy Giuliani stirred the crowd with a demand that “they” stop asking her how she can cope with her parental opportunities as well as this new job. Strikes me that it is a perfectly reasonable question – you could argue that tiny babies need mums more than dads – and anyway “they” are mostly on the right, as here.

Webb doesn’t point this out, but it’s pretty funny that Giuliani has the nerve to talk about what the GOP calls “family values.” This is the same mayor who famously shucked his wife and shunted his kids to the sidelines. (See my colleague Wayne Barrett‘s 2007 piece “Public Displays of Disaffection.”)

The Times (U.K.) had the guts to use the most accurate label for Palin:

She was greeted with a thunderous, sustained ovation by a Republican convention clearly smitten by John McCain’s fresh-faced, feisty, female and — above all — right-wing running-mate.

The most clever review of last night’s sitcom pilot comes from Der Spiegel. The German outlet’s headline and typically (in the foreign press) long subhed:

Resuscitating the Republicans with Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin’s presence on the stage at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul was hardly impressive. But her party hasn’t seemed so human in a long time. Palin’s weaknesses may turn out to be her greatest strength.

Gabor Steingart‘s story is somewhat snooty, but at least it’s original, so you can forgive him the factual boo-boo of confusing Alaska with Arizona. (How’s a German copy editor going to catch that mistake unless he or she grew up reading Karl May‘s novels?) Quoting at length from Steingart:

Was Sarah Palin convincing on Wednesday night in St. Paul? There is a long and a short answer to that question.

The short answer is no.

The 44-year-old governor of Arizona recited in her thin voice a laundry list of accusations levelled at the Democratic candidate for president Barack Obama. One could describe her speech — generously — as brash. But it could just as easily be called hubristic.

The longer answer, though, is yes. Palin did a great service for the Republicans.

Her weakness, as it turns out, is her greatest strength. The party of George W. Bush, responsible for one unnecessary war (Iraq) and one necessary but unsuccessful war (Afghanistan), hasn’t looked so human for a long time. Plainness, as it turns out, can be inviting — and flaws can be beneficial.

Palin’s manifest vulnerability goes a long way toward protecting the Republicans from the accusation that the party wants to seamlessly continue the tenure of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. She came out of nowhere, breezy, bold and inexperienced. She is not belligerent or devious enough to be seen as a hawk. Her conservatism may seem antiquated, but it is certainly not aggressive and arrogant.

We’ll see about that, but congratulations to Steingart for working in a mention of Cheney, who has been our de facto president for the past eight years.

More to the current point, it probably takes a furriner like Steingart to observe our moralistic brand of politics at a safe remove:

Morally, Sarah Palin tends toward rigidity. She is a devout supporter of abstinence-only programs instead of sex education in schools, a position that her own 17-year-old daughter shows as being impracticable.

Indeed, at first blush, it seemed a profound embarrassment to both Palin and her party that, in the same week as the Republican National Convention, McCain’s newly-crowned vice-presidential candidate had to admit to her own daughter’s unplanned teen pregnancy. The Republicans wanted to talk about the myriad threats facing the world — and suddenly they ended up in the bedroom of Palin’s daughter.

But. This particular embarrassment is one that could turn out to be profoundly useful. Indeed, mixed in with the schadenfreude coming from the American left is a certain amount of respect for a family that has treated a potential disaster as little more than real life.

Steingart can get away with using “schadenfreude” in a daily news story. He is German, after all. And the Palin melodrama does have its enjoyable moments.

 

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Daily Flog: Warning to whitey, desired streetcars, soiled Lennon, two Georgias, Target practice

Running down the press:

Daily News: ‘First look at wife of John Lennon slayer in decades – she says let me be’

Jesus Christ! I’d forgotten that Mark David Chapman was such a sicko/twisted Lennon wannabe that he had also married a woman of Japanese descent.


Post: ‘ARK. ASSASSIN GUNS DOWN TOP CLINTON ALLY’

Congratulations to the Post for not only mentioning in the second paragraph that the shooter had just been fired from a Target store but also for showing the maturity not to hammer into readers that grim irony, as I am immaturely doing right now.


Post: ‘COLOR BY NUMBERS: MAC GAINS MORE WHITES VS. OBAMA’

Good story, better head. The fourth graf is key:

McCain has closed the gap by padding his lead among whites, Southerners and white evangelical Christians.

At least that should make the rest of us whites feel better — that we’re not quite as bad at acting on our institutionalized, internalized racist impulses.

Being upfront about race is something that much of the media is not doing. Witness this CNN story:

“McCain, Obama to address ‘values voters’ “

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama plan to appear together Saturday at a minister-moderated forum held in a church as thousands of evangelicals plan to gather in the nation’s capital to pressure both men move further to the right on social issues.

“Values voters” my shiny metal ass. The rest of us also vote our “values.” These are white conservative Christians (99 percent of them), so call them that in the headlines. Christ, there are even political parties in Europe that use “Christian” in their names.


Newsday: ‘Revealed: Julia Child was a U.S. spy in World War II’

This AP story is old news, but it does remind us why she seemed to have such mixed feelings about turkey.


Post: ‘BRETT FEELIN’ UP THE CREAK’

Clever hed on this:

The 38-year-old Favre – who turns 39 in October – had his fifth practice yesterday morning for the New York Jets, but he admitted his arm wasn’t exactly feeling lively.

Brett Favre is one pro athlete who talks like a real person, unlike the platitudinous Derek Jeter, for example, or the former Giant blowhard Jeremy Shockey or the guarded-beyond-all-reason, high-paid choker Alex Rodriguez. Favre sez:

“I didn’t throw the ball very well this morning, underthrew some throws. No pain, but I’m 38 years old. It’s got to be fatigued a little bit. . . . I felt 38 today, I’m not going to lie to you.”

In his case, he probably won’t. A rare celebrity.


Times: ‘In a Generation, Minorities May Be the U.S. Majority’

Warning to whitey: Your reign as The Man will end sooner than predicted. Sam Roberts reports:

The census calculates that by 2042, Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Four years ago, officials had projected the shift would come in 2050.

The British press doesn’t whitewash this news with P.C. tentativeness. The BBC’s lede, for example:

White people of European descent will no longer make up a majority of the US population by the year 2042 – eight years sooner than previous estimates.

The big change is among Hispanics and Asians whose share of the population is set to double to 30% and 9%.

The Times more subtly emits a red-alert tone:

“No other country has experienced such rapid racial and ethnic change,” said Mark Mather, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a research organization in Washington.

Unless you’re talking about the Cherokee Nation. In that previous monumental conflict in Georgia (even before Sherman’s march), Andrew Jackson ethnically cleansed the Cherokees, herding them to the Ozarks along the Trail of Tears and replacing them with slaves and ballcap-wearing, NASCAR-loving rednecks.

Anyway, the Times just loves trend stories, and here’s a trend in the Times itself: Just last week (as I noted on August 7), the paper blared “‘Minorities Often a Majority of the Population Under 20’ “

Next topic for the Times: How do we protect the Upper West Side from these Visigoths?


Human Rights Watch: ‘High Toll from Attacks on Populated Areas’

Yes, NYC-based Human Rights Watch has an open bias as a Goody Two-Shoes, but also does some great reporting — unlike its better-known but stodgy fellow NGO Amnesty International — so why not include it in “the press”?

Mainstream international papers, like the Guardian (U.K.), have no problem giving HRW full credit when it breaks news stories. This morning the Guardian‘s Mark Tran notes:

Human Rights Watch provides the first independent confirmation that Georgian villages in South Ossetia have been looted and burned.

HRW is somewhat schizoid as a news source, because it always follows its great nuggets of news with predictable appeals to officials to stop the madness. For example, today it reports:

Forces on both sides in the conflict between Georgia and Russia appear to have killed and injured civilians through indiscriminate attacks, respectively, on the towns of Gori and Tskhinvali, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed its deep concern over the apparently indiscriminate nature of the attacks that have taken such a toll on civilians.

Memo to HRW: Lose the second sentence, please, because your news reporting speaks for itself and you’re clouding the impact of that reporting with that squishy, predictable statement of “deep concern.” (I guess HRW feels it has to do that, but I ignore such statements of concern — who could disagree with such sentiments? — and take its reporting seriously. Keep reading this item and you’ll see why.)

U.S. papers refuse to include HRW and like groups in their press club, but the Internet dissolves that separation because HRW’s reports are as freely and directly available as news from other sources.

You may have forgotten — and the mainstream press has done nothing to help you remember — that HRW broke one of the most grim and explosive stories (so far) from the Iraq War.

Back in September 2005, HRW revealed that U.S. troops at Camp Mercury, outside Fallujah, proudly called themselves “Murderous Maniacs” as they tortured and beat up hapless Iraqi prisoners merely for sport — and in a highly sexualized way that was worse than at Abu Ghraib. As I wrote back then:

In a shocking new report, soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne reveal that they or their fellow soldiers routinely beat, tortured, stripped, humiliated, and starved Iraqi prisoners in 2003 and 2004 at a base near Fallujah, often breaking bones, either at the request of superiors or just to let off steam.

HRW wasn’t guessing, nor was it chiding from its Fifth Avenue offices. It waded right in and talked to U.S. troops about it. From its own report, “Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division”:

The accounts here suggest that the mistreatment of prisoners by the U.S. military is even more widespread than has been acknowledged to date, including among troops belonging to some of the best trained, most decorated, and highly respected units in the U.S. Army. They describe in vivid terms abusive interrogation techniques ordered by Military Intelligence personnel and known to superior officers. . . .

The torture of detainees reportedly was so widespread and accepted that it became a means of stress relief for soldiers.

Soldiers said they felt welcome to come to the PUC [Prisoner Under Control] tent on their off-hours to “Fuck a PUC” or “Smoke a PUC.” “Fucking a PUC” referred to beating a detainee, while “Smoking a PUC” referred to forced physical exertion sometimes to the point of unconsciousness.

Three years later, HRW has made its own march into Georgia. So keep tabs on its reporting. For that matter, keep checking the Guardian‘s Georgia page.


NY Observer: ‘Penguin Group Wins Rights to Steinbeck Novels’

Minor note on a major author, especially compared with Tony Ortega‘s unique yarn about Steinbeck and Mexican-American farmworkers in today’s Voice: “John Steinbeck’s Ghosts.”


Times: ‘Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software’

John Markoff‘s piece about a court ruling in favor of open-source software is a little confusing, but the upshot is that a major pothole has been patched on our major transportation artery, the information highway.


Times: ‘Conflict Narrows Oil Options for West’

In other transportation news: Good piece by Jad Mouawad about our latest loss in the centuries-old Great Game in Central Asia, and bad news for us SUV owners:

[E]nergy experts say that the hostilities between Russia and Georgia could threaten American plans to gain access to more of Central Asia’s energy resources at a time when booming demand in Asia and tight supplies helped push the price of oil to record highs.

Times: ‘Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future’

Yet another transportation story.

Unfortunately, the Times blows this story by just briefly noting that cities and even small towns across the country had functioning streetcar lines until the mid 1950s, and not mentioning at all that it was the automobile lobby that killed them as it pressured pols to build the Interstate Highway System.

I don’t blanch at this new development because when I was a kid in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, I depended on the kindness of streetcars. Public transit is a blessing, no matter how much my fellow straphangers grouse about the MTA and Long Island Rail Road.


Post: ‘BIZMAN HAD A “LOT” OF NERVE’

Carolyn Salazar‘s lede is right to the point:

An enterprising squatter transformed a vacant Brooklyn lot into a thriving million-dollar business — an illegal parking lot and chop shop, prosecutors said yesterday.

Whereas powerful pol Shelly Silver is squatting like Jabba the Hutt on a vacant lot on the Lower East Side, as the Voice‘s Tom Robbins reports.


Daily News: ‘Gloomy Gotti trip to Sunshine State’

The latest installment of news about the fading Italian-American Gangster Era. John Marzulli reports:

Junior is on the move.

John A. (Junior) Gotti, aka Bureau of Prisons inmate 00632-748, began his journey to Tampa Wednesday to be arraigned on racketeering and murder charges.

Who gives a shit?


Daily News: ‘Elizabeth Edwards stayed with cheating husband John for children’s sake’

A perfect example of how the Daily News almost always lags behind the Post in tabloidian terms. The lede:

An anguished Elizabeth Edwards decided to stay with her cheating husband because she is dying and worried about their two young children, her closest friend says.

Only five tabloidian buzzers: “anguished,” “cheating,” “dying, “worried,” and “closest friend.” Yesterday, I noted eight in a Post Edwards lede.

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Daily Flog: Edwards, faux Rockefeller both screwed; Olympic preening; a gated NYC; Bush’s pardons list; defense of high gas prices

Running down the press:

Post: ‘ROCKE-FAUX-LER WED JUST TO GET GREEN CARD’

We’ve entered the rococo phase of headline-writing about Clark Rockefeller. More importantly, this guy is really in Deutsch now. Waste your time on the Post story if you want, but for details of the creepy murder case that may involve this weak-chinned schnook, go back to yesterday afternoon’s Post or to this morning’s mundane AP story: “LA authorities: ‘Rockefeller’ is wanted German.”

Better still, see this morning’s BBC story, “Child-snatch suspect is ‘wanted.’ “


Daily News: ‘Enquire-ing minds want to know who fed Edwards tips’

Along with “Who’s the daddy?” one big unanswered question in the John Edwards affair is: Who ratted him out to the National Enquirer?

Rielle Hunter‘s younger sister, Melissa, could not be reached Monday, but she earlier told ABC News that Hunter is “a good and honest person” who had nothing to do with tipping reporters to her secret Beverly Hills rendezvous with Edwards.

A non-story about a semi-non-story. Let yourself go, if you want. It’s slightly less unhealthy than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.


Daily News: ‘Fiends armed with badge of shame’

Good story from cops reporter Alison Gendar:

It’s the dis-honor roll.

Accused murderer Darryl Littlejohn. Gunpoint robber Israel Suarez. Molester Darryl Rich.

Those are just some of the criminals who graduated from a bounty hunter school accused of aiding and abetting felons by putting fake NYPD and federal badges in their hands.

Students of U.S. Recovery Bureau schools paid $860 to learn how to wield a baton and subdue “fugitives” with pepper spray and cuffs.


Los Angeles Times: ‘Michael Phelps’ victory dance is innate, scientists say’

The best Olympics piece so far:

Chimps do it. Gorillas do it. Michael Phelps does it too.”Chimps do it. Gorillas do it. Michael Phelps does it too.

The exuberant dance of victory — arms thrust toward the sky and chest puffed out at a defeated opponent — turns out to be an instinctive trait of all primates — humans included, according to research released Monday. . . .

This display of human pride and exuberance — witnessed by millions when swimmer Phelps and teammates won the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay for the U.S. on Sunday — closely resembles the dominance displays of chimps and monkeys, which also feature outstretched arms and exaggerated postures, researchers said.

The animal world is filled with inflated displays of superiority, noted Daniel M.T. Fessler, a UCLA anthropologist not involved in the research.


Newsday: ‘A reminder of New York’s GOP convention 4 years ago’

Weak headline, good story that actually applies historical context to a current event. More of a reminder than a scoop. Apparently unafraid to piss off those big bad NYPD officials, Rocco Parascandola plucks this one back from the memory hole:

The now infamous video footage that recently captured an NYPD rookie cop shoulder-checking a bicyclist to the ground during a Critical Mass bike rally recalls the prominence played by video footage at the Republican National Convention four years ago.

Largely because of videos that surfaced that sometimes differed with police accounts during those protests, the police department has paid out more than $1.6 million in damages won by those who sued the city.

At that rate, with 576 more suits pending, it could pay out $12 million more.

It’s been four summers since the convention, four summers since Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called it the NYPD’s “finest hour.” Most of the 1,806 people arrested probably would disagree, and 1,555 of them have had their cases dismissed or adjourned to be dismissed later as long as they stayed out of trouble.


Times: ‘Police Want Tight Security Zone at Ground Zero’

Via Charles V. Bagli‘s story:

Planners seeking to rebuild the World Trade Center have always envisioned that the 16-acre site would have a vibrant streetscape with distinctive buildings, shops and cultural institutions lining a newly restored street grid. From the destruction of Sept. 11, 2001, a new neighborhood teeming with life would be born.

But now, the Police Department’s latest security proposal entails heavy restrictions.

According to a 36-page presentation given by top-ranking police officials in recent months, the entire area would be placed within a security zone, in which only specially screened taxis, limousines and cars would be allowed through “sally ports,” or barriers staffed by police officers, constructed at each of five entry points.

Disheartening, but is anybody really surprised by this?

Even if there had never been a 9/11, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who purchased the mayoral job, would support making this gloriously disordered city a gated community. And the NYPD, the most massive and powerful police bureaucracy in the country, loves the idea of hiring more troops for these security zones.

Everybody’s happy.

By the way, Bloomberg adds, put out that cigarette.


New Yorker: ‘Changing Lanes’

Elizabeth Kolbert‘s piece blasts McCain for swerving away from integrity. That’s not such a big deal for any candidate, but her story’s intriguing because it defends high gas prices. An excerpt:

If the hard truth is that the federal government can’t do much to lower gas prices, the really hard truth is that it shouldn’t try to. With just five per cent of the world’s population, America accounts for twenty-five per cent of its oil use. This disproportionate consumption is one of the main reasons that the United States—until this year, when China overtook it—was the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. (Every barrel of oil burned adds roughly a thousand pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.) No matter how many warnings about the consequences were issued—by NASA, by the United Nations, by Al Gore, by the Pope—Americans seemed unfazed. Even as the Arctic ice cap visibly melted away, they bought bigger and bigger cars and drove them more and more miles.

The impact of rising fuel prices, by contrast, has been swift and appreciable. According to the latest figures from the Federal Highway Administration, during the first five months of this year Americans drove thirty billion fewer miles than they did during the same period last year. This marks the first time in a generation that vehicle miles in this country have edged downward.


Slate: ‘The Afterlife for Scientologists: What will happen to Isaac Hayes’ legendary soul?’

Nina Shen Rastogi‘s “Explainer” confirms that, according to Scientology officials, Chef‘s soul will be “born again into the flesh of another body.”

Dibs!


NY Observer: ‘What’s Doctoroff Saying to City? It’s a Secret’

Nice dig by Eliot Brown on his attempted dig for info:

Ever since he left the city for Bloomberg LP in January, there’s a fair bit of chatter among government and real estate types about former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff‘s continued role in the Bloomberg administration — just how much does he say to current city officials, and what is he saying?

The answer to those questions, it turns out, is not public information.


NY Observer: ‘Rangel on Immigration, Bad Guys’

Azi Paybarah points out a Charlie Rangel video performance in which the vet congressman does some shrewd truth-telling:

Rangel references the law enforcement agents and officials who arrest undocumented workers, saying that those sheriffs and mayors are “bad guys” who work in “little towns around the country.”

“All they want to do is arrest somebody and get on TV,” Rangel said, adding that the local economies rely heavily on the immigrants.

“They’re working against their interests,” he said. “It’s almost like a slaveholder saying, ‘Get rid of the slave, but we want them to work.”


Times: ‘Cost-Cutting in New York and London, a Boom in India’

Heather Timmons‘s story notes:

Wall Street’s losses are fast becoming India’s gain. After outsourcing much of their back-office work to India, banks are now exporting data-intensive jobs from higher up the food chain to cities that cost less than New York, London and Hong Kong, either at their own offices or to third parties.

Yeah, it’s a “food chain.” Ridiculously overused metaphor, but interesting story for what it accidentally reveals about corporate jargon and, more importantly, what passes for “entry-level” jobs on Wall Street:

Bank executives call this shift “knowledge process outsourcing,” “off-shoring” or “high-value outsourcing.” . . .

The jobs most affected so far are those with grueling hours, traditionally done by fresh-faced business school graduates — research associates and junior bankers on deal-making teams — paid in the low to mid six figures.

Cost-cutting in New York and London has already been brutal thus far this year, and there is more to come in the next few months. New York City financial firms expect to hand out some $18 billion less in pay and benefits this year than 2007, the largest one-year drop ever. Over all, United States banks will cut 200,000 employees by 2009, the banking consultancy Celent said in April.

B-school grads stepping into six-figure jobs. You don’t have to be a radical to note with grim humor the astounding inequity of wages on Wall Street for bullshit money-moving jobs vs. wages for the rest of us around the country who do more vital work (myself not included).

If Wall Street is smart (and recent events don’t support that), it will start pouring more money into the McCain campaign, because there’s no doubt that Barack Obama is less sympathetic to those six-figure B-school grads and more in tune with the rest of us.

Whether Obama would actually do anything about this inequity is another matter altogether, but there would be zero chance of such change under McCain.


Los Angeles Times: ‘Kuwait royal family member sentenced to death’

The story about royal drug trafficker Talal Nasser al Sabah, now sentenced to death, notes:

Now everyone is watching to see whether the authorities will follow through on the ruling by the independent-minded judiciary or grant Talal the immunity considered a right by royal families throughout the gulf region.

“The people of Kuwait are impressed with the independence of the judiciary and trust, in general, its rulings,” said Naser Sane, a Kuwaiti lawmaker. “In other Arab gulf nations, you don’t see a court sentencing in this way a member of a ruling family.”

In other words, if he’s executed, it will be a step toward democracy. Only in the Middle East — and the U.S.

Actually, the best move for this guy would be to flee to the U.S. Yes, we have the death penalty, but George W. Bush could add him to his list of pardons for the end of his term.

You can be sure that this president, despite his having been the hangingest governor in U.S. history, will have an extremely interesting list of pardons. That list probably includes convicted spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard and a host of financiopathological miscreants.


Wall Street Journal: ‘McCain Bristles Over Russia’s “Aggression” ‘

Careful, old guy, don’t get yourself aggravated. The Journal — worth the piddling online-subscription money for its superior news stories and analyses — recognizes that McCain’s bluster, which it calls “an increasingly hard line against Russia over its military operations in Georgia,” is a ploy to separate himself from Obama by focusing on foreign policy.

But it also points out that McCain has always been a hardliner:

Sen. McCain’s comments were consistent with his long-held, stance against Russia, including his calls to have the country ejected from the G8, the Group of Seven leading nations plus Russia. The senator has taken a relatively hard line on many foreign policy issues, including supporting further sanctions on — and possible military action against — Iran and a no-negotiating policy toward North Korea.

Monday’s tough rhetoric reflects a strategy by the McCain campaign to keep Georgia and foreign policy, which is seen as the senator’s strength, at the forefront of the debate.

Shrewd strategy. This provides an out for white voters in thrall to the Mandingo Complex but unwilling to say it aloud: They can tell themselves that it’s not a racial thing, that they really do prefer McCain because of his foreign-policy stances — ignoring his bellicose stance on the Iraq Debacle, with which they don’t agree.

They can tell themselves that McCain has much more foreign policy experience, even though most of his experience was as a prisoner of war.

White voters can’t say it’s race — that would be impolite or it would be speaking ill of themselves. (For more on that, see what I pointed out yesterday: New York magazine’s package on the color-coded campaign.)

Some of this internal thought process is conscious; some of it takes place in the subconscious. Whatever the case, this presidential race is about race. Bear with me while I remind you of this about a thousand more times before November.