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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"An important disconnect over the discussion of the future of the European Union exists, one that divides into three parts. First, there is the question of whether the various plans put forward in Europe plausibly could result in success given the premises they are based on. Second, there is the question of whether the premises are realistic. And third, assuming they are realistic and the plans are in fact implemented, there is the question of whether they can save the European Union as it currently exists  ... Part of that tale is about two dubious assumptions at the foundation of the crisis. The first is the assumption that interested parties are genuinely aware of the size of the financial problems, and to the extent they are aware of it, that they are being honest about it. Ever since 2008, the singular truth of the financial community globally has been that they were either unaware of the extent of the financial problems on the whole or unaware of the realities of their own institutions. An alternative explanation is, of course, willful ignorance. This translates as the leaders being fully aware of the magnitude of the problem but understating it to buy time or to position themselves personally for better outcomes. It could also simply be a case of their being engaged in helpless hopefulness — that is, they knew there was nothing they could do but remained hopeful that someone else would find a solution. In sum, it combined incompetence, willful deception and willful delusion. Consider the charge that the Greeks falsified financial data. While undoubtedly true, it misses the point. The job of bankers is to analyze data from loan applicants and to uncover falsehoods. The charge against the Greeks can thus be extended to bankers. How could they not have discovered the Greek deception? There are two answers. The first is that they didn’t want to." (STRATFOR)


"President Obama’s relations with Senate Democratic leaders are deteriorating along with his poll numbers. With Obama’s approval ratings at record lows and the 2012 electoral map favoring Senate Republicans, the president and Senate Democrats are, in many ways, on divergent paths. Vulnerable Democrats from red states see Obama as impeding their chances of winning reelection, while the president often seems aloof to their concerns.  Obama, focused on winning a second term, has distanced himself from Congress altogether, at times not making the distinction between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. There have been recent flare-ups between the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his deputies, 13 months before the 2012 elections, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The proximate causes of friction can seem slight, such as a recent breach of protocol, which left Senate Democratic leaders grumbling. Obama left his party’s top senators, who had assembled for a conference call, hanging on the phone for nearly 20 minutes before National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling came on the line with a seemingly vague notion of what the call was supposed to be about, Democratic sources said. The White House and Reid’s office did not comment for this article." (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)


"Today Grantland began selling Grantland Quarterly, a print anthology of the best reads from the sports and culture site so far. It is edited by Bill Simmons and Dan Fierman. ESPN and Grantland have contracted McSweeney’s to handle the production and distribution (which, in retrospect, explains why Dave Eggers is a Grantland contributing editor). As such, the basketball leather-bound books will harbor twee custom moving parts, like posters, a pull-out section, 'old-school baseball cards' and mini-booklets. The first volume is available through the McSweeney’s store; individual issues cost $19.95 and a year-long subscription (four issues) is $48. In addition to some of the more memorable Grantland features (Malcolm Gladwell on the NBA lockout and Colson Whitehead on the World Series of Poker, for example), the first volume includes an original column by Mr. Simmons and new fiction from Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of Poets. Grantland Quarterly has always been a part of the ESPN-sponsored website’s business plan, according to Mr. Fierman." (Observer)

"Roger Webster died yesterday morning at 6. He had been ill with cancer for several months although he’d kept it from most of us and just lived his life, did his work, saw his friends. His illness which for quite awhile seemed to be in remission, got to the point where he had to be hospitalized. That was several weeks ago. At first we thought he would be home soon. Then the news changed ... Somewhere midlife, he met Couri Hay and got involved in the public relations business and New York. It fit him well. You’ve seen his picture on these pages many times. In the past few years, after he left Couri, he went out on his own. With the assistance of his friend Jason Grant, he handled a lot of active accounts including Doubles, The Central Park Conservancy, the American Cancer Society and many others. But all of that seems incidental whenever I think of Roger. I first met him about eighteen years ago when he was working for Couri Hay. He was a cut-above most because he was always gentleman in his behavior toward everybody, and it wasn’t a businesslike act; that’s who he was." (NYSocialDiary)

"It looks like The Simpsons—20th Century Fox Television’s multibillion-dollar cash cow, the anchor of the Fox network’s Sunday prime-time schedule, and the longest-running sitcom in the history of broadcasting—might stop production after the current 23rd season ends next spring.The reason is a negotiating impasse between the studio and the six principal actors who voice the beloved characters on the animated series that hilariously satirizes middle-class Midwestern angst. Difficult bargaining is nothing new for the show, which was created by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening. Fox studio execs have occasionally threatened to replace uncooperative cast members with sound-alike actors. But for the first time in nearly a quarter century of haggling, the executives have insisted that if the cast doesn’t accept a draconian 45 percent pay cut, The Simpsons will die an abrupt death as a first-run series. A Fox Television spokesman had no comment by late Monday night." (Lloyd Grove)



"Mitt Romney has finally found a groove on the right. But he could find himself stuck there if he wins the GOP nomination. With Romney’s recent move to wield the immigration issue as a club against Rick Perry — painting him as 'soft' on a topic that resonates with the Republican primary electorate — the former Massachusetts governor is taking advantage of a rare opportunity to outflank Perry on the right among conservatives. After the Texas governor wounded himself with his remarks in the last debate, Romney seized on the issue of illegal immigration, trying to paint Perry as an open-border softy who is giving out freebies to people who enter the country illegally. But the tactic is not without risk, and some strategists — and even some Romney supporters — are beginning to worry that he could damage himself as a general election candidate with the fastest-growing population of voters who are up for grabs: Hispanics. 'Mitt Romney has definitely adopted [a hostile] tone, and needlessly,' said Ana Navarro, the national Hispanic chairperson of Jon Huntsman’s campaign who served the same role on John McCain’s 2008 campaign." (Politico)

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