blog advertising is good for you

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The U.S. government is incurring debt at a historically unprecedented and ultimately unsustainable rate. The Congressional Budget Office projects that within ten years, federal debt could reach 90 percent of GDP, and even this estimate is probably too optimistic given the low rates of economic growth that the United States is experiencing and likely to see for years to come. The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff paper comes closer to the mark by projecting that federal debt could equal total GDP as soon as 2015. These levels approximate the relative indebtedness of Greece and Italy today. Leaving aside the period during and immediately after World War II, the United States has not been so indebted since recordkeeping began, in 1792. Right now, with dollar interest rates low and the currency more or less steady, this fiscal slide is more a matter of conversation than concern. But this calm will not last. As the world's biggest borrower and the issuer of the world's reserve currency, the United States will not be allowed to spend ten years leveraging itself to these unprecedented levels. If U.S. leaders do not act to curb this debt addiction, then the global capital markets will do so for them, forcing a sharp and punitive adjustment in fiscal policy." (Altman/Haas)


"Astute observers of upper-class life commonly quote (or at least paraphrase) Balzac’s observation that behind every great fortune there’s a crime. The phrase endures because, independent of historical context, it seems to express a truth both unsettling and undeniable. All too frequently, reaching the very top of any decent society requires people to bend or break the law. Those careful enough to advance without arousing suspicion join the exclusive ranks of the establishment, but those unable to balance ambition with a reasonable level of caution typically wind up in jail, or worse." (Vanity Fair)


"Whatever you want to call it—hot, trendy, of the moment, the hot spot, the it place, in vogue, happening—there’s always a restaurant to fit the order. But rack up all the shimmering newbies and how many will be here 80 years from now, or even eight, or eight months? When the quest is firmament, a need to connect with New York, and the lore of great restaurants, plus some social cultural history, there’s only one place to go: the '21' Club. It's been a hot spot longer than hot was used to describe spots. For fans of the cable television hits 'Mad Men' on AMC and 'Boardwalk Empire' on HBO—both just nominated for Golden Globes—there’s no watering hole more au courant. Both shows, each rich with period texture, pulled from this restaurant that was a product of Prohibition and had a defining moment in the sexy, groovy 60s. 'Mad Men' sent production designers to study its details for recreation on the back lot in Los Angeles. The creators of 'Boardwalk Empire' wanted to learn more about the vibe of Prohibition. I was fortunate this week to be welcomed in before the luncheon service, which allowed me to look more closely at some of the details." (NYSocialDiary)

 
"When Christian Ekstrom, a local diver, finally got to explore a sunken two-masted schooner he had known about for years, he found bottles, lots of bottles, so he brought one to the surface. 'I said, Let’s taste some sea water,’  he said with a laugh, over coffee recently. 'So I tasted it straight from the bottle. It was then that I noticed, This is not sea water.'  Mr. Ekstrom, 31, a compact man with a shock of blond hair, brought the bottle to experts in this town of 11,000 on Aland Island, which lies midway between Finland and Sweden, then to others in Sweden and finally in France. Though the bottle had no label, burned into the cork were markings that made clear it was a bottle of Juglar, a premium French Champagne that ceased to be sold under that name after 1830, when it was renamed Jacquesson, for another of the winery’s owners. It remains one of the smaller but finer producers of French Champagnes. 'You could still see the bubbles, and see how clear it was,' Mr. Ekstrom said." (NYTimes)


"In the week and a half since Cote D'Ivoire President Laurent Gbagdo declared himself the winner of a national election that domestic and international observers say he lost, the West African nation has teetered on the edge of violence. As soldiers patrol the streets to quell the rising protests, and the United Nations withdraws hundreds of non-essential personnel for fear of their safety, both Gbagdo and his opponent are claiming to be the rightful leader of the country. Will international groups such as the African Union and European Union be able to resolve the stand-off, or could Cote D'Ivoire risk all-out violence?" (The Atlantic)


"Publishing heiress Lydia Hearst's relationship with 'Jurassic Park' star Jeff Goldblum, 58, continues to baffle her powerful family. The pair have been spotted out on dates in recent weeks in Los Angeles. A source told us, 'Lydia is only 26, so it's quite an age difference. She says that they are good friends, but the family desperately hopes it's just a phase.' Hearst, a model who has previously been linked to Jared Leto and Cisco Adler, has been spending more time on the West Coast as she pursues an acting career. She couldn't be reached for comment." (PageSix)


"Richard C. Holbrooke, the American diplomat who died on Monday, has been variously described as 'towering,' 'mercurial,' 'larger than life,' a 'force of nature,' a 'bully,' and the 'bulldozer.' This may all be true, but it misses something more crucial. Holbrooke was the last vestige of the East Coast Democratic Party establishment, who united the disparate worlds of New York and Washington. In this, he was partly a younger incarnation of the mid-20th century diplomat Averell Harriman. Because America's largest city is not the nation's capital, American elites have been divided to a degree that the British and French elites have not been. New York is the center of art and finance, the home turf of the liberal intellectual and journalistic classes; whereas Washington represents the heart of government and its attendant policy wonks. Holbrooke in his very person healed the divide, and thus brought us back to an older, less disjointed America, when an Establishment could rule because of the absence of partisan and cultural splits. There was definitely something classic about him. Holbrooke was comfortable not only with the operational mechanics of policy, but with the world of philosophical ideals. He respected both the moral component of foreign policy, beloved of intellectuals, but also the practical concerns of the human bean counters at the Pentagon. The ability to learn and empathize with both groups was at the root of his effectiveness. Coming up with uplifting ideas is one thing; operationalizing them within vast government bureaucracies quite another." (ForeignPolicy)

"The new Republican majority ensconced in the House is completely different. Over the past two years, Republicans opted to pay any price or bear any burden to stand in the way of the Obama Administration’s agenda. If doing so meant the abrogation of the laissez-faire principles to which conservatives have sworn fidelity, so be it. In March, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In an effort to control costs, the Obama plan included cuts in what the government would pay to Medicare Advantage plans, which, for an extra fee, allow private insurance companies to provide benefits not covered by basic Medicare. Although the cuts would be phased in, and even though seniors would obtain coverage for their medications through other sections of the bill, conservatives jumped in as defenders of exactly the kind of governmental program they had long opposed. The point was not to make better public policy; Republicans offered no serious ideas of their own during the entire debate. Nor was it to improve the party’s negotiating position; Republicans had nothing to negotiate about, preferring to vote against the final bill unanimously in both houses of Congress. The point instead was either to defeat the bill or, failing that, to blame Obama for any negative effects of its passage. On the issue of health-care reform, conservatives could have governed; to the surprise of many of his supporters, Obama offered them one chance after another to do so. But because they would not govern, conservatives put aside any convictions about the evils of big government to become unreconstructed supporters of the welfare state. Every indication we have suggests that in the wake of their midterm success, Republicans will continue on the same path of just saying no." (Alan Wolfe)


"What do Republicans stand for? As the first half of President Obama′s term comes to a close, three political realities are forcing Republicans to confront that question more directly, and producing interesting conflicts along the way. The first reality is the assumption of power by Republicans in the House next year. After two years of being a political minority in Congress, the party’s lawmakers are showing signs of the disagreement that comes with the responsibility to lead. The second reality is the presidential campaign that begins in earnest for Republicans as soon as Washington returns from the holidays next month. The search for a challenger to Mr. Obama is designed to highlight the differences among Republicans, and it’s already beginning to do so. Tea Party lawmakers are the third political reality. The arrival in Washington of a significant number of lawmakers borne out of that movement is already beginning to reshape the conversation in Congress and on the campaign trail as Republicans adapt their rhetoric to a new political power at the grass roots. All three have been on display as lawmakers have debated the tax compromise worked out by Mr. Obama and Congressional Republicans." (NYTimes)

No comments: