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Monday, August 01, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"While the details of the debt-ceiling deal remain fuzzy, this much is clear: Barack Obama may be president, but the Tea Party is now running Washington. How did this happen? Simple: This is what American politics looks like when there’s no left-wing movement and no war. Let’s start with the first point. Liberals are furious that President Obama agreed to massive spending cuts, and the promise of more, without any increase in revenue. They should be: Given how much the Bush tax cuts have contributed to the deficit (and how little they’ve spurred economic growth), it’s mind-boggling that they’ve apparently escaped this deficit-reduction deal unscathed. But there’s a reason for that: Since the economy collapsed in 2008, only one grassroots movement has emerged in response, and it’s been a movement of the right. Compare that with what happened during the Depression. In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt assumed the presidency and launched the hodgepodge of domestic programs that historians call the first New Deal. By 1935, however, he was looking warily over his left shoulder at Huey Long, whose 'Share our Wealth' movement demanded that incomes be capped at $1 million and every family be guaranteed an income no less than one third the national average ... Obama, like FDR, had a reasonably successful first two years: a stimulus package that, while too small for the circumstances, was still large by historical standards,, and a health-care bill that while subpar in myriad ways, still far exceeded the efforts of other recent Democratic presidents. And then, unlike FDR, he ran into a grassroots movement of the right." (Peter Beinart)


"It’s now called the Doctrine of Restoration, diplomatic jargon for rebuilding America before China eats our lunch. After blowing a trillion dollars on the Iraq war over the last 10 years and establishing a 1,400-strong U.S. Embassy in Baghdad only to see Iran emerge with more influence in Iraq than the United States, it is time for Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny to burst on the national stage and ask, 'What's up, Doc?' We now discover the U.S. taxpayer is funding both sides in Afghanistan through U.S.-contracted trucking firms. Contracting waste dug up by Congress totals $34 billion. Before we blow another trillion on Afghanistan - it’s already close to half a trillion dollars since the original U.S. invasion Oct. 7, 2001 - and encourage European allies to waste more treasure in Libya, it’s time for a customized brain-fitness plan. We also need cognitive exercises tailored to our geopolitical goals and an estimate of our improvement potential. A tall order, but not too tall for a former director of policy planning at the State Department, and a good bet for future secretary of state ... Such a person may be Richard Haass, president of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations. Under the headline 'Bringing Our Foreign Policy Home, ' Mr. Haass writes in Time magazine that 'a doctrine of restoration can strengthen the U.S. position abroad by focusing on nation-building - our own.'" (Arnaud de Bochgrave)


"His grandfather JP Morgan Jr., always called Jack, built the Morgan Library and was a partner in JP Morgan. And Sonja’s ex-husband’s father Henry Sturgis Morgan (who had five sons), started Morgan Stanley with Mr. Stanley and some others, after the break-up of the banks and the investment banking houses back in the 1930s (repealed at the end of the 90s). Also his great-great-grandfather Joseph Morgan started Aetna Insurance. Sonja first met John Morgan back in the mid-90s when she was working as a hostess at San Pietro, the upscale Italian restaurant (excellent cuisine) on Madison Avenue and 54th Street. A famous meeting place for New York’s high powered businessmen to lunch, I ended up writing an article about Sonja (NYSD 10.5.09) and how she was working at San Pietro. Before Sonja, I didn’t know that women who called 'hostesses' at restaurants, could use an 'executive' quality to their work. Sonja did. And does. After the article was published, the owners fired her. There were those who claimed that Sonja’s executive qualities had an important erotic side to them. Sonja had come from upstate – Albany – having put herself through college – to get into business. It is the classic yen for the Big Time that draws a certain kind of man and a certain kind of woman to New York." (NYSocialDiary)


"AOL is following last week’s stunning ouster of ad chief Jeff Levick with something that has become as routine as personnel shakeups—site launches and a big-name editorial hire. But this batch goes to the core of what has to work at AOL in terms of wooing users and advertisers: two new women’s sites within its Huffington Post Media Group and the relaunch its Black Voices site this week—all with help from Christina Norman, the ousted CEO of Oprah Winfrey’s struggling OWN cable channel. Norman also will be managing video ... Bringing in Norman as executive editor of the reformed Black Voices reflects another part of AOL’s strategy: adding high-profile media names to demonstrate its seriousness as a content company. Huffington also explained Norman’s hire as a personal one that is intended to send a message about the new HuffPo Women’s values. Norman will kick off her new role with an essay about the circumstances of departing as CEO of OWN. 'It’s a great lesson for women, that when one door closes, another one opens,' Huffington said. 'There is enormous pressure on high-profile women to succeed, to constantly prove themselves. I met Christina in Los Angeles when she was the head of OWN. After she left, I asked her if she wanted to do something completely different.' In addition to setting the tone for the new Black Voices, Norman, who was president of MTV prior to OWN, Norman will be responsible for creating new video programming across AOL." (David Kaplan/PaidContent)


"Speculation over the plot of the rebooted Two and a Half Men is expected to go into overdrive next week when production on the upcoming ninth season begins. Co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre has been mum on the setup for Two and a Half Men 2.0 and the way new star Ashton Kutcher will be introduced to the series. In keeping with the secrecy, I hear the cast members of the show were supposed to get their scripts for the season opener on Friday night, only two days before the Monday table read. As for what is in the script, the few in the know are keeping details close to the vest, but I hear that the Malibu beachfront house where Charlie Sheen's character Charlie Harper lived with his brother (Jon Cryer) and nephew (Angus T. Jones) is put up for sale. Word is that a number of real-life Hollywood celebrities, including stars from other current and/or previous Lorre series, may tour the house, possibly joined by Kutcher. (It is unclear whether he will play a character or himself.) As for Charlie Harper, there has been speculation that Lorre won't be able to resists killing off the character after being verbally savaged (and sued) by the actor who played him." (Deadline)

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