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Friday, August 12, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"THE great Calvin Coolidge reputedly said that 'the business of America is business.' These days the business of America is carpet-chewing rage. American politicians are intent, not on improving their country’s competitiveness, but on gouging each other’s eyes out. Businesspeople still enjoy huge advantages from being in America. Business is part of its DNA in much the same way that la dolce vita is part of Italy’s. America has a disproportionate number of the world’s most innovative businesses, from greybeards such as 3M to toddlers such as Salesforce.com. And Americans are to management what Brazilians are to soccer. After studying 10,000 firms in 20 countries, Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and three other academics concluded that American firms are the world’s best managed, with German, Japanese and Swedish firms a short way behind and Chinese and Indian ones trailing badly. Yet America’s politicians are intent on squandering this painfully accumulated capital. As it revoked America’s triple-A credit rating on August 5th, Standard & Poor’s explained that the gulf between the political parties was becoming unbridgeable, and that policymaking was becoming unpredictable. Other sober institutions concur. The World Economic Forum has downgraded America from second place in 2009 to fourth place in 2010 in its annual global competitiveness rankings. By the forum’s reckoning, America comes a lowly 40th for the quality of its institutions, 54th for trust in its politicians, 68th for government waste and a dismal 87th for its macroeconomic environment. The World Bank sees a relentless decline in various indicators of American governance." (The Economist)

"Many of President Barack Obama’s friends on the left are disappointed with his performance during the debt-ceiling negotiations. In fact, they are starting to lose their enthusiasm for his re-election. To be blunt, liberals are becoming convinced that Obama is a wimp. The best evidence of his wimpiness is said to be his failure to use his presidential power under the 14th Amendment to override or simply ignore the debt-limit law. But about this particular matter, Obama’s liberal critics are wrong. Regarding the Constitution, this was Obama’s finest hour. The 14th Amendment has been around since 1868 and is probably the most heavily litigated provision in the Constitution. Debt-ceiling battles have been going on since at least World War II. Is it possible that, until a few months ago, this extraordinary presidential power to ignore a law passed by both houses of Congress and signed by himself or one of his predecessors just sat there, unnoticed? Yes, it’s possible. But is it likely? The precise words are: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” Clear meaning doesn’t exactly leap from that phrase. In the history of the Supreme Court, it has been cited exactly once, in 1935. Bill Clinton said at the peak of the recent debt debate that, as president, he had considered using the power of the 14th Amendment twice, but didn’t need to because the Republicans caved. He also apparently didn’t feel the need to mention it in public. Nor had anyone else involved in debt-ceiling politics (which got worse, but didn’t start, this year), until suspiciously recently. Obama, asked about asserting a 14th Amendment right to raise the debt limit unilaterally -- or at least threatening to do so -- said: 'I’ve talked to my lawyers. They are not persuaded that this is a winning argument.' And that was that." (BusinessWeek)


"The South finally has its standard-bearer in the 2012 presidential race.If, as seems certain, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) makes plain his intention to enter the contest with a speech in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday, he will fill the gaping void for a credible candidate from Dixie. Other prominent Southern politicians like Gov. Haley Barbour (Miss.) and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) took a hard look at the race but then stepped back. That left only rank outsider Herman Cain (Ga.), libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), who has spent decades in Washington, as the South’s representatives. Perry is a whole different barrel of crawfish. From his accent to his fondness for cowboy boots to his family heritage — the first words of the biography on his official website are 'A fifth generation Texan' — he is a Southern man through and through. And that matters, especially in a Republican primary." (TheHill)

"This past Wednesday, Sheila Nevins, Tina Brown, Katie Couri and Ann Curry hosted a luncheon at La Grenouille for Gloria Steinem and the new documentary 'Gloria: In Her Own Words.'" (NYSocialDiary)

"Feature executive Michael Ellenberg has joined HBO as SVP, HBO Entertainment. He will run the pay cable network's drama department, reporting to HBO Entertainment president Sue Naegle and working closely with Gina Balian, also a newly minted SVP, HBO Entertainment. Balian, who has been at HBO for 10 years, is one of several drama executives who have recently been promoted, along with Francesca Orsi and David Levine, both of them upped to VP. The reorganization of HBO's drama department was precipitated by the recent departure of VP Jocelyn Diaz. But instead of going for a direct replacement, HBO brass opted to bring in somebody senior to lead the drama department. As for going with a film vs. network executive, I hear the decision stemmed from HBO's positioning as being in between TV and film and the need to have someone on board who knows well the players in the feature world as so many filmmakers are doing series for HBO these days, including Boardwalk Empire's Martin Scorsese, Luck's Michael Mann and Game of Thrones' David Benioff. Additionally, HBO's development model is closer to features than to the traditional broadcast cycle." (Deadline)


"Several theories were floated yesterday about why AMC canned The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont, but Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter has laid out another possibility: AMC had to slash its budgets after Mad Men showrunner Matthew Weiner renegotiated his lucrative deal with the network. 'Why Darabont got fired -- Weiner,' tweeted Sutter. 'He held AMC hostage, broke their bank, budgets were slashed, shit rolled down hill onto [Breaking Bad creator Vince] Gilligan and Frank. No one else wants to fucking say it, but the greed of Mad Men is killing the other two best shows on TV -- Breaking Bad and Walking Dead.'" (NyMag)


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