Wolfowitz: Stop Betting Against Me!


Ken Rogoff, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, has poked some fun at Paul Wolfowitz’s teetering tenure as President of the World Bank.
Rogoff has spoof-written a Wolfowitz memo to his staff to not get caught betting on one of the on-line gambling sites which has contracts available on whether he will resign or not. It opens:

Dear Staff:
As long as I remain Bank President, I intend to continue enforcing my signature anti-corruption initiative at the world’s most important international development agency. My past life as Deputy Secretary of Defense under Donald Rumsfeld has taught me the importance of carrying out a plan with unwavering certainty.
In that regard, I am writing to you with a stern warning. It has come to my attention that many of you are turning your internet browsers to TradeSports.com, where there is an active market in “Paul Wolfowitz resignation” contracts for 2007. (For those of you who don’t know, this is a website where you can take bets on a variety of political events.)
I hope you understand that any attempt by World Bank Staff to buy or sell these contracts will be considered insider trading in clear violation of my anti-corruption guidelines. Your knowledge of normal World Bank personnel procedures gives you a clear information advantage in predicting whether I will be forced to resign. You must not abuse it. Please note: the Bank’s prohibition on insider trading applies not only to immediate family but also to significant others (e.g., girlfriends).
Some of you have already queried my office about whether it would still be insider trading if, when you buy “Paul Wolfowitz resignation” contracts (betting that I will leave before 2008), you also sell short “Alberto Gonzalez resignation” contracts. (This is a bet that my friend, the U.S. Attorney General, will hang on through end 2007.) My emphatic answer is no! Long Wolfowitz, short Gonzalez is only a “relative value play” that hedges out the value of loyalty to President Bush. You would still be guilty of insider trading on your Bank-specific knowledge. (And who says I don’t know enough about finance for this job!)

I was watching this gambling site for a while actually. I used to check the huge swings on the “John Bolton resignation” contracts long ago — and ever since Rogoff’s article got posted, the volume on Wolfowitz contracts has surged.
I have a friend who does well in the betting world, and he believes that we all ought to be better trained in mathematical probability theory. It would help get us out of the win-lose, binary choice on the Iraq War trap we are currently in, and help us to understand that probabilities are, well, probabilities.
And the probability that Wolfowitz is out is growing — but has no doubt grown even larger when someone of Ken Rogoff’s reputation and prestige as the former Chief Economist of the World Bank’s sister institution — jests at Wolfowitz’s increasingly dismal chances of surviving this mess.
— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “Wolfowitz: Stop Betting Against Me!

  1. pauline says:

    from Justin Raimondo today —
    “America’s Coming Dictatorship” 5/4/07
    “The legislative basis of the new autoritarianism — the “Patriot Act,” the Military Commissions Act, the growth of the national surveillance state — is underpinned by the Mansfieldian theory of presidential supremacy and the concept of the “unitary presidency” — in short, the Leader Principle, which is the foundation stone of the modern fascist edifice.
    Centered around imperialism and the push to expand its system over all or most of the earth, this “energetic” ideology employs the administrative and economic centralism that is the hallmark of modern American “liberalism,” and the militarism and imperialism that is the hallmark of the modern “conservative,” in a perfect synthesis of “left” and “right” that satisfies everyone and leaves the dissidents in the “far left” and “far right” margins. This is how our modern fascists can, with some justification, call themselves “centrists,” and even “moderates.”
    In the Bizarro World we seem to have fallen into, post-9/11 — when a rip in the space-time continuum, caused by the explosive power of the planes’ impact on the World Trade Center, caused us to slip into another dimension — who will dispute their self-characterization? After all, in Bizarro World, up is down, truth is a lie, and “democracy” means rule by a self-appointed elite. A Straussian is perfectly comfortable with this universal inversion: as for the rest of us, we’ll just have to get used to it.


  2. pauline says:

    Ron Paul, libertarian repub from Texas, will be one candidate at their debate tonight. He should make the rest of the factually challenged, neo-con lover, war slobs look at bad as they really are selling the public their fear tactics.
    Here’s from a House speech he gave back in 2003 and his truthful words are worth memorizing!
    “Neo-conservatism has been around for decades and, strangely, has connections to past generations as far back as Machiavelli. Modern-day neo-conservatism was introduced to us in the 1960s. It entails both a detailed strategy as well as a philosophy of government. The ideas of Teddy Roosevelt, and certainly Woodrow Wilson, were quite similar to many of the views of present-day neocons. Neocon spokesman Max Boot brags that what he advocates is “hard Wilsonianism.” In many ways, there’s nothing “neo” about their views, and certainly nothing conservative. Yet they have been able to co-opt the conservative movement by advertising themselves as a new or modern form of conservatism.
    More recently, the modern-day neocons have come from the far left, a group historically identified as former Trotskyites. Liberal, Christopher Hitchens, has recently officially joined the neocons, and it has been reported that he has already been to the White House as an ad hoc consultant. Many neocons now in positions of influence in Washington can trace their status back to Professor Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago. One of Strauss’ books was Thoughts on Machiavelli. This book was not a condemnation of Machiavelli’s philosophy. Paul Wolfowitz actually got his PhD under Strauss. Others closely associated with these views are Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. All are key players in designing our new strategy of preemptive war. Others include: Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute; former CIA Director James Woolsey; Bill Bennett of Book of Virtues fame; Frank Gaffney; Dick Cheney; and Donald Rumsfeld. There are just too many to mention who are philosophically or politically connected to the neocon philosophy in some varying degree.
    The godfather of modern-day neo-conservatism is considered to be Irving Kristol, father of Bill Kristol, who set the stage in 1983 with his publication Reflections of a Neoconservative. In this book, Kristol also defends the traditional liberal position on welfare.
    More important than the names of people affiliated with neo-conservatism are the views they adhere to. Here is a brief summary of the general understanding of what neocons believe:
    1. They agree with Trotsky on permanent revolution, violent as well as intellectual.
    2. They are for redrawing the map of the Middle East and are willing to use force to do so.
    3. They believe in preemptive war to achieve desired ends.
    4. They accept the notion that the ends justify the means�that hardball politics is a moral necessity.
    5. They express no opposition to the welfare state.
    6. They are not bashful about an American empire; instead they strongly endorse it.
    7. They believe lying is necessary for the state to survive.
    8. They believe a powerful federal government is a benefit.
    9. They believe pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by the elite and withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal with it.
    10. They believe neutrality in foreign affairs is ill advised.
    11. They hold Leo Strauss in high esteem.
    12. They believe imperialism, if progressive in nature, is appropriate.
    13. Using American might to force American ideals on others is acceptable. Force should not be limited to the defense of our country.
    14. 9-11 resulted from the lack of foreign entanglements, not from too many.
    15. They dislike and despise libertarians (therefore, the same applies to all strict constitutionalists.)
    16. They endorse attacks on civil liberties, such as those found in the Patriot Act, as being necessary.
    17. They unconditionally support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.
    Various organizations and publications over the last 30 years have played a significant role in the rise to power of the neoconservatives. It took plenty of money and commitment to produce the intellectual arguments needed to convince the many participants in the movement of its respectability.
    It is no secret, especially after the rash of research and articles written about the neocons since our invasion of Iraq, how they gained influence and what organizations were used to promote their cause. Although for decades, they agitated for their beliefs through publications like The National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Public Interest, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and the New York Post, their views only gained momentum in the 1990s following the first Persian Gulf War, which still has not ended even with removal of Saddam Hussein. They became convinced that a much more militant approach to resolving all the conflicts in the Middle East was an absolute necessity, and they were determined to implement that policy.”


  3. Sandy says:

    Wolfie, “a bleeding heart”….holes in his socks, “mischarac-terized”. How touching. Which PR firm was it he’s hired? Apparently worth their fee. Duh!
    How quickly some people forget…..(they hope).
    Someone here mention Abu Ghraib?
    Apparently every night, Rummie and Wolfie waited… sadistically….to read and take in what TORTURE had been (mission) “accomplished” that day:
    “Further indications of Rumsfeld’s close interest in ongoing events at Abu Ghraib emerged in subsequent court proceedings. In May 2006, Sergeant Santos Cardona, an army dog handler was court-martialed at Fort Meade, Maryland. In stipulated (i.e., accepted by defense and prosecution) testimony, Maj. Michael Thompson, who had been assigned to the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion in the relevant period and reported to Col. Tom Pappas, the battalion commander, stated that he was frequently told by Pappas’ executive assistant that “Mr. Donald Rumsfeld and Mr. Paul Wolfowitz” had called and were “waiting for reports”.
    Read — How Rumsfeld Micromanaged Torture
    By ANDREW COCKBURN, April 30, 2007
    The man is a WAR CRIMINAL. Remember?


  4. steambomb says:

    Sorry Wolfy. I like to bet on winners.


  5. muddypaws says:

    Steve, thanks for the intelligent posts on the World Bank donneybrook. They have helped ‘re-balance’ Wolfowitz’s odds in this situation, I believe.
    Your blog continues to be of high quality. It’s now a must-read for me. And HOPEFULLY!! it is starting to be a ‘player’ in several areas.
    PS As an example: You’re the only person I know with the patience and sufficiently strong suppress-laughter button to write about the current McCain jokesterism. (United Democracies What?)


  6. Robert Morrow says:

    http://www.intrade.com is the best place to go for political polls, better than Rasmussen whose latest poll shows Obama at 32% and Hillary at 30%.
    Actually it is comparing oranges to apples but you can get a lot of insight at http://www.intrade.com
    Hillary’s chance of being the Demo nominee is at 46%, Obama 31%.
    Hillary’s chance at being next POTUS is 26.5% vs. Obama’s 21.5%
    Doing the math (which I am not good) tells me if Hillary is the Demo nominee her chances of winning a general election are about 58%.
    Obama’s chances of winning a general are about 69% (stronger candidate, less polarizing, much less baggage).
    I think Hillary’s contracts at http://www.intrade.com are massively overpriced and a screaming SHORT here. I do not even think she will be the Demo nominee and if she is I think Hillary would do a great job of losing a general.
    Hillary’s abuse of women will be my number one issue to use against her with swing women voters and we will hammer that message home hard.


  7. Matthew says:

    Steve: Ken is also a fantastic chess player. He became an international grandmaster in 1978. As a fellow chess geek, it’s great to see him in such an important post.


  8. elizabeth says:

    I’d bet on Wolfowitz resigning as soon as the papers can be drafted, with his $400,000 bonus and no admission of wrongdoing. Today, AP reports that the chairman of the World Bank Ethics Committee denied that the committee was consulted or that it had approved the details of the Riza transfer, promotion and salary hikes. NPR carried the story. So, why am I obsessing about Wolfowitz, Riza and the World Bank? Probably because when the scandal broke two weeks ago, I was already feeling a little slimed, as a result of the puff Profile in April 9 issue of The NewYorker, by John Cassidy. Entitled “The Next Crusade,” and appearing just before Wolfowitz came under public scrutiny, the article quotes Wolfowitz aid Kevin Kellems denying that Wolfowitz had any involvement in Riza’s promotion or pay raises: “All arrangements concerning Shaha Ali Riza were made at the direction of the board of directors.” We now know differently, but you have to hand it to The New Yorker who got the PR version out early. Yes, before Andrew Young, there was The New Yorker. The article also quotes Christopher Hitchens: “the most surprising thing about Wolfowitz is that he’s a bleeding heart. His instincts are those of a liberal democrat, apart from on national security.” We also learn that he walks around with holes in his socks, doesn’t carry enough money in his pocket to buy bracelets for his daughters without borrowing from aides and, on Iraq, hopes one day to set the record straight on his role “because I’ve been mischaracterized fairly often.” Do I believe that his departure from the World Bank will save that institution? Not really. Read Naomi Klein in The Nation or on Common Dreams.org. That’s why I didn’t cancel my subscription to The New Yorker. Their cartoons are terrific and I need the laughs.


  9. Gadfly says:

    You are correct Punchy.
    Neither Bush, nor Cheney, nor Rice, nor Rove, nor Gonzales, nor Wolfie, nor the rest of their squalid gang of traitors care a damn about the viewpoints of the American people or the people of the world.
    All these sordid thugs and goons care about are:– Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, Unocal, Big OIL, the Military Industrial Complex (arms manufacturers, defense industry blood-suckers, mercenary security firms, etc.) and lobbyists such as AIPAC…
    The corrupt neo-con Bushies are responsible for more damage to our nation, fiscally, morally, structurally & vis-a-vis our reputation– as well as reducing Iraq to rubble and making it a bloody war-zone– that it will take generations to repair the results of their catastrophic foreign & domestic policies.
    With regards to the World Bank– all respectable officials have basically concluded that Wolfie is a bald-faced liar and crook. No surprise there:– just ask the people of Chad, who have seen the cynical exploitation by Wolfie of a fraudulent, phony ponzy scheme called “anti-corruption” which is the most corrupt neo-con scam to be perpetrated upon the poorest-of-the-poor whose oil is being stolen, whilst the poor get poorer… again no surprise there:– for that is the basic ideology behind the GOP [Greedy Obscene Plutocrats] neo-con platform instigated by the criminal elements:– Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Rove, Gonzales, Wolfie, Feith, Perle, et. al.
    Impeach them all and send them to the Hague– whereby they are better treated than they treat so-called “enemy combattants” at their Guantanamo Bay & Abu Ghraib Concentration Camps and their Nazi-style Retention Centers.
    Ain’t it ironic that when the neo-cons are in trouble, creeps like Wolfie are the first to scream for his “day in court” and his right to “counsel”– which this slime-ball wants denied to the human beings which they have arrested. Jeez!


  10. Punchy says:

    Who’s to say he can’t “Gonzo” this and just wait it out? Does Gonzo care if nobody likes/trusts/respects/obeys him in the DOJ? Nope, as long as he’s getting paid, f#ck his position/duty/responsibility/integrity/etc.
    I see Wolfie as being the exact same type of person.


  11. Gadfly says:

    Is it any wonder that the World Bank executive and staff, as well as the vast majority of the civilized world, have absolutely no respect for the hypocrite-cum-liar Wolfie?
    Wolfie’s so-called “anti-corruption” schemes are a scam– a neo-con scam like the one he & his obscene side-kick Dougie Feith used to dupe the American people into their disastrous blood-bath in Iraq.
    Ken Rogoff’s spoof/satire is cute– and perhaps the World Bank entourage all need some comic relief– but, he might want to spend some of his time exposing the fraudulent nature of Wolfie’s “anti-corruption” neo-con con-game…
    For example, refer to “World Bank OK With Blood For Oil” on http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2007/01/05/world_bank_ok_with_blood_for_oil.php
    …”… [Q]uietly, in a visit to N’Djamena in July, Wolfowitz and Deby came to a new agreement. This accord allowed for most of the oil revenue to be spent on Chad’s “administration” and “security,” and all money earmarked for a future generations fund to be eliminated. Essentially, this new agreement meant Deby could invest the entire revenue from Chad’s oil fields into bullets and guns. In the stroke of a pen, with no press to herald the change, all of the years of posturing by Bank officials and efforts by civil society groups for development proceeds from the oil revenue had been reduced to a cynical deal: give us the oil, and do with your revenue what you will.
    Some argued an exception should be made to the bank accord. Sudanese Janjaweed, on a killing spree in Darfur, were threatening Chad’s stability. Chad needed to protect itself. Perhaps. Or was it that Deby was simply solidifying his iron-fisted control over a country with little public support, while hiding behind the self-righteous banner of self-defense? Would this violence have ever erupted if the oil had not begun to flow in Chad? It may never be entirely clear. But, one year later, indisputable is the fact that World Bank money intended for poverty alleviation is instead being used to buy bullets and guns to fight in one of the most brutal battles being fought in the world today.
    It is also painfully clear, as the blood spills on both sides of the Chad border, that the consortium of international oil companies and their allies at the World Bank are being careful to make sure nothing stops a drop of oil from flowing to global markets…”…
    Wolfie is a liar- a hypocrite- and, a War Criminal. Let us hope that donor nations & contributors refuse any further funding to the World Bank until this nauseating little crook is gone for good. For Wolfie lacks the ethics & integrity, and is devoid of the wisdom & judgment to run any respectable institution.


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