Bloggers on the World Bank scandal.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 17 2007 6:07 PM

Lone Wolf

Bloggers prepare to say farewell to Paul Wolfowitz, see Melinda Doolittle off, and get geeked about Amazon's MP3 downloads.

Lone Wolf: The White House seems to have accepted Paul Wolfowitz's imminent ouster from the World Bank, and Wolfowitz is reportedly in the process of negotiating a resignation deal—demanding that misconduct charges be lessened or dropped as a condition of his exit. An announcement is expected "soon."

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Some Wolfowitz fans still protest the injustice. Mark Noonan at BlogsForBush writes, "[W]hile no one out there (other than kook leftists) is actually stating that some sort of crime took place, the word is coming out that Wolfowitz should step down because he is bringing dishonor to the World Bank. The truth is exactly opposite: … [I]t is the World Bank which has lived under an ethical cloud for decades, with Wolfowitz bringing the first hint of honor the World Bank had seen in ages."

The New Republic's Isaac Chotiner and liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias have been debating that very point—whether Wolfowitz's alleged improprieties add up to a real liability for the bank. Yglesias argues: "The Bank is in a position to try to use its financial clout to force developing world governments to alter their policies ... Wolfowitz's behavior, and the Bush administration's tolerance of it, makes it highly non-credible that his anti-corruption stance is motivated by sincere concern for good governance." Chotiner poo-poos this position at The Plank: "[I]f people in the developing world, to use Matt's phraseology, change their opinion about whether Wolfowitz's efforts at the Bank are rooted in concern for their 'well being' or instead 'some kind of imperialist scheme' because of this controversy, well, that's ridiculous."

At TheHuffington Post, NPR reporter Michael Goldfarb provides a British perspective on the scandal, claiming the stakes are bigger than Wolfowitz himself: "The Bush Administration and its enablers in the think-tanks and the press are so far gone in their inability to recognize that American power is wildly diminished that the orderly functioning of the world is now jeopardized. By forcing Wolfowitz's resignation the partners hope to rescue the Bank's reputation but also rescue Washington from itself. Not out of a sense of altruism, but because the international order cannot function so long as the most important country on earth is led by people blind to reality in the way drug addicts are blind to reality."

Steven C. Clemons at the Washington Note puzzles through Wolfowitz's poor handling of the situation, connecting his mismanagement of the scandal to his mismanagement of the bank: "[I]n this sad public battle over whether Wolfowitz acted appropriately or not …. the man with the ten year invasion plan for Iraq, who whether he got it right in the Iraq War or not, who is considered to be a strategist and mathematical wizard -- failed to offer any serious strategy when he came into the Bank and failed to deploy a rational strategy when being forced out."

Wolfowitz may soon be history, but what's next for the World Bank? Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly's Political Animal writes: "Good news: it looks like Wolfowitz is toast. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Bad news: Can you imagine who Bush is going to nominate as a 'screw you' replacement? Doug Feith? Rick Santorum? Monica Goodling?"

Read more about the Wolfowitz endgame. In Slate, Christopher Hitchens defends Wolfowitz and his girlfriend, and Bonnie Goldstein serves up Wolfowitz's own response to his critics.

Donelittle: Melinda Doolittle was voted offAmerican Idol Wednesay night, a turn that shocked viewers, critics, and bloggers.

Not even the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog could contain itself. Peter Lattman protested: "The only dismissal we're thinking about this morning is Melinda Doolittle's. We're sorry, but Blake is a one-trick beatboxing pony ... Melinda was far and away the best singer in the competition. She wuz robbed!" Jody Rosen writes in Slate's Idolatry: "I gasped, too, and felt vaguely sickened. And then elation set in. There's no question that Melinda's dismissal is the biggest shocker in Idol history ... But now, finally, an element of surprise has been introduced into American Idol's dullest season. It's definitely going to be one weird Idol finale."

By no means everyone agrees. Maureen Ryan moans in the Chicago Tribune's The Watcher: "For three hours next week, spread over two agonizing nights, we must endure a marathon karaoke contest between two pleasant, good-looking young people, while we ponder the fact that Melinda could have easily wiped the floor with either of them, vocally speaking."

Read more about Melinda Doolittle.

DRM-B-Gone: Amazon announced plans Wednesday to launch a music store selling MP3s sans copy protection "from more than 12,000 record labels," including the one biggie—EMI—that already allows non-digital-rights-managed downloads through iTunes. Bloggers cheer the news, but a shortage of specifics leaves them skeptical.

Adario Strange for Wired's Epicenter writes: "This announcement may be a watershed moment in music history. The only odd thing about the announcement is that Bezos only mentions EMI and not the 11,999 other record labels involved in the DRM-free move." Owen Thomas at Business 2.0's Beta hammers on the same issue: "Amazon touts the fact that it has signed up 12,000 labels - but then again, EMusic, an online music store which has long offered DRM-free music, has 13,000 labels, most of them tiny. It's not the number of labels that matters, but whether you have the songs people want."

And Engadget comments: "The MP3-only move is an obvious swipe at Apple, who is offering their DRM-free tracks in AAC … Of course, a real swipe at Apple would be to offer the tracks for 99 cents, undercutting them by roughly 25 percent, but no price or launch date was mentioned by Amazon."

Read more about Amazon.com's MP3 store.

Blake Wilson is a Slate contributor and former Slate editor.

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