Betting the French credit rating drops next

It was only a matter of time. Paddy Power, which calls itself “Ireland’s largest bookmaker,” is out with a betting line on which country will be next to have its credit rating downgraded by Standard & Poor’s.

The bookies say France is the “early favorite” to get whacked, offering 2-1 odds Thursday that the rating agency will drop France down to AA+ from AAA. Paddy Power put the French in the top spot apparently after President Nicolas Sarkozy came out and insisted that no downgrade was imminent. (A fine vote of confidence in Sarkozy.)

“Early betting trends suggest that France could be next in the firing line,” the bookmaker said, “but the USA downgrade shows that no country is safe.”

Although France is a clear favorite, Paddy Power is putting Canada and Britain — which has been battling some nasty street riots — next on the list, with 7-2 odds of a downgrade.

The betting line finds Austria at 7-1 and offers odds on other countries, including: Denmark and Australia at 10-1; Sweden and Finland at 25-1; Germany and Hong Kong at 33-1; and Switzerland at 40-1.

“The long shots in the race are European microstate Liechtenstein and United Kingdom tax havens the Isle of Man and Guernsey” at 100-1, the bookmaker says.

The bookies are giving 4-7 odds that the United States will be downgraded by Moody’s or Fitch rating services before the 2012 presidential election.

Mmm. That doesn’t sound good at all.

Sticky situation

It’s hardly a secret that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev can’t stand Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. In a recent Russian TV interview, Medvedev accused him — and Washington — of provoking the 2008 Russian invasion in which Georgia lost two ethnic enclaves to the Russians.

Medvedev said he wanted to see Saakashvili tried for war crimes and missed “no opportunity to denigrate” him, the New York Times reported last week. The Georgian was “a person I will never shake hands with,” Medvedev said, and “a difficult man to avoid, because he is gluey; if he wants to adhere to you, he will do a good job of it.”

“Gluey?” Is that an insult in Russian? Something really awful? An attack on his mom, manhood or family ? Hardly seems on a par with former KGB thug and now Russian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Putin’s colorful language when he talked about the Chechens, calling them all manner of lowlifes, threatening to wipe them out in an outhouse.

We checked with Natasha Simes, who coordinates the Russian language program at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins. Simes advised that the Russian word is “lipki” — an adjective from the verb “lipnut’ ” — and that “a better translation would be ‘clinging.’ ”

Well, Medvedev comes from a family of professors, so his less piquant language may reflect that. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did a bit better Monday, calling Saakashvili “pathological.”

Filling partisan benches

The partisan battle over the debt ceiling was chaotic and confusing. Constantly shifting budget scenarios flying around, the Congressional Budget Office continually scoring this and that.

In contrast, bitter political wars over presidential judicial appointees, increasingly the norm in recent administrations, are wonderfully straightforward.

The more appointees President Obama has on the federal bench, the more liberal the decisions will be. The more appointees that Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry would have, the more conservative. (Forget that old-fashioned blather about how you just never know how they’ll vote on the bench. A little due diligence is all you need.)

Take, for example, a 2-1 decision this week by the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which said that U.S. citizens who say they were tortured by the military have a right to sue in federal court.

The opinion was written by Judge David Hamilton, an Obama pick who replaced a Ronald Reagan appointee. The liberal Alliance for Justice hailed the ruling, saying it “makes clear” that Obama’s judges are “having an important impact.”

Well, maybe so. It’s also a reason why disaffected liberals have been upset that the White House and Senate Democrats haven’t sent up more nominees to fill judicial vacancies. Republicans felt the same way about the Bush White House in ’07.

Fox hunt

A Post political reporter got a call recently from a Fox News flack suggesting a profile of new Fox News star Ed Henry, formerly a senior White House reporter for CNN.

His profile is rising at Fox, she said, because he’s “not afraid to ask the tough questions no matter where he works.” Well, that’s true.

She offered to arrange an interview with Henry, promising lots of “fun anecdotes” about “his travels with the president.”

Think we’ll take a pass. But we’ll check with David Remnick at the New Yorker to see whether they have any interest.

Writer wrong

Former vice president Dick Cheney’s forthcoming book, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” won’t be out until Aug. 30, but it already has an overall Amazon ranking of 1,427 and is No. 6 in political biographies and memoirs.

We looked to see what the Amazon blurb said about Cheney under the “About the author” section. It said the author has “numerous theater credits,” which “include Mrs. Warren’s Profession, (Tony Award) The Philadelphia Story,” and more. “His films include Intolerable Cruelty” — which does not mean torture — “and The Purple Rose of Cairo.”

How did we miss those shows? Oh, wait, those credits are for actor Edward Herrman, a star of “Gilmore Girls.” So he wrote it? No, turns out he is the reader for the audiobook. Have to wait for the updated version.

Follow In the Loop on Twitter: @AlKamenWP.

 
Read what others are saying