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Monday, June 20, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The Obama administration exaggerates the impact of its rhetoric [on the Arab revolutions] but does not have a clear sense of the kind of world they'd like to see and how they want to make it come about ... Usually, the impetus of revolution is a relatively small group with positive goals but also a larger collection of people with resentments. The next challenge is to organize a new set of obligations, and that cannot be deduced from the proclamations of the originators of the revolution. The American Revolution was a rare exception, as it was an attempt to vindicate an existing set of institutions ... Some of [these Arab revolutions] may take undesirable directions. I don't have any specific nightmares, but I could imagine a growing irrelevancy of the United States in the region ... In 1848, almost all of the revolutions failed in the end. In France, democratic forms led to the rise of an emperor, so the particular aspirations of governance were not realized. Then, later in the century, the idea of universal suffrage developed under conservative governments and was later realized under liberal leaderships. So it's not clear which way [the Arab revolutions] will go .." (Kissinger)


"After David Mamet trumpeted his switch to Republican Party politics in 2008, there were some who claimed that he'd been a conservative all along. Shelby Steele, an author of right-wing books on race and a fellow at the Hoover Institution who talked with the playwright frequently during his 'conversion,' said he detected early conservative leanings in Mamet's previous works. 'I think he has the same values today that he did before,” Steele told a reporter. “He’s said to me he thinks he might have always been conservative without knowing it. All that happened was, he finally found a politics that suited his values.' Steele doesn't appear to have looked at Mamet’s plays and scripts. Reading them inspires just the opposite conclusion: Mamet’s writing has generally been strongly characterized by its hostility to capitalism, skepticism about traditional American institutions such as the court system and the presidency, and its general countercultural ideas. Mamet’s career doesn't suggest a traditional conservative mindset devoted to business, patriotism and the family, but it doesn’t suggest a liberal worldview oriented towards social justice, either. Rather, looking at the many plays and screenplays that comprise the Mamet catalog points to a perspective that is merely anti-establishment, categorized by an individual-against-the-system viewpoint reflective of the '60s New Left. Mamet abandoned the left for one reason above all—its increasing disenchantment with Israel. But in his writings about his political conversion, which culminate with his new book The Secret Knowledge, he makes clear that he never really embraced or even understood mainstream American liberalism. Indeed, he mistakes ideas and themes common to the New Left as politics central to the Democratic Party, a conflation that is dead wrong." (TheAwl)

"In 1992, Bill Clinton campaigned with the motto 'It’s the economy, stupid,' promising to bring the country out of a recession. He delivered, and presided over years of growth. Now the 42nd president has some ideas about how to bring America out of its current slump. They range from the large-scale (giving tax credits to manufacturing startups, getting U.S. corporations to invest in a second stimulus) to the small (retrofitting buildings to be more energy-efficient and painting rooftops white). Next week, Clinton’s organization, the Clinton Global Initiative, will turn its attention to the U.S. for the first time, unveiling a blueprint for job creation. In this week’s Newsweek are 14 of his ideas." (TheDailyBeast via Newsweek)

"This past Saturday in Beverly Hills at the Paley Center for the Media, the first of the auction sales of Debbie Reynolds's 3500 piece collection of costumes from the movies. 500 items, at the final tally grossed more than $18 million and more than a third of that came from the sale of costumes of Marilyn Monroe, including $4.6 million for the white dress from the 'Seven Year Itch' and $1.2 million for the red sequin dress she wore in a musical number with Jane Russell in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.'  Debbie paid $200 for that white dress and people thought she was crazy to pay that much for it at the time. In 1971 when 20th Century-Fox was dumping most if not all of its costume and props departments (50 years of accumulated stock), de-accessioning was the corporate by-word. It was the tail end of a studio system that made Debbie Reynolds, like many others, a Movie Star. Those studio sales were the last hurrah for a business when it was at its most creative, most brilliant, which actually defined the culture of the American century. The classic story too: Creative genius disposed of by accountants. Debbie bought up as much as she could afford in those days, protecting these items destined for history so they wouldn’t be destroyed like so many other things from that seminal moment. I doubt she ever thought for a moment that they would be worth millions." (NYSocialDiary)

"The race for the 2012 GOP nomination is looking a little less like a Mitt Romney cakewalk this week: Not only will Jon Huntsman officially throw his hat in the ring this week for what some observers think could be a very serious run at the nomination, but Texas governor Rick Perry gave a speech at the Republican Leadership Conference this weekend that looked a whole lot like a stump speech — and one that would appeal to social conservatives, a group that doesn't have a clear, strong candidate to back among Republicans currently running. After lines like 'We need to stop apologizing for celebrating life,' Perry walked offstage to cries of 'Run, Rick, run,' and was reportedly even more of a conference darling than Michele Bachmann. According to The Wall Street Journal, the governor will only declare a candidacy if he thinks the investment of time and energy would actually pay off in a nomination: He's tasked aides with figuring out whether there's enough time left to raise the amount of cash a serious run would require and has tested the waters a bit in Iowa. Unlike Sarah Palin's prolonged fan dance, Perry's careful consideration mirrors the fiscal prudence which, along with his successful record of job creation as governor (which John Heilemann examines in the magazine this week), would be one of his chief selling points as a candidate. His speech also didn't just nod to social conservatives, it also showed him to be fluent in tea party-ese." (NYMag)

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