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

Running down the press:

Post: 'HOLY SOW! BAM'S LIPSTICK BUNGLE: TAKES A PIG AND A POKE AT PALIN'

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.

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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.


Post: 'RANGEL HAS A BAD CHAIR DAY'

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.


Post: 'DAVE AND MIKE PUT TAX HIKES ON TABLE'

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.

Post: 'BEATLE GAL PAL'S EX IN MAYOR RUN'

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.

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