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Friday, October 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The response to the crisis among those in the pro-market camp is much on the lines of the 1930s. On one side are those who blame what has gone wrong entirely on government. The Tea Party, in the US, has taken that position, with some success. In the UK, this strand is weaker. But there, too, some argue that the crisis is the result of Gordon Brown’s fiscal incontinence, over-regulated markets or incompetent central banks. In this, they follow the Austrian economists, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, in the 1930s. Against them are those who, following John Maynard Keynes, argue for a managed capitalism. Once again, much of this debate is over use of macroeconomic policy tools: should one tighten or loosen fiscal policy in a recession? Are unconventional monetary policies a path to hyperinflation or effective policies in extreme circumstances? Again, just as radical Keynesians emerged in the 1930s and afterwards, proponents of more intervention in markets are now emerging.This is a debate we need. In my view, both perspectives are useful. The Tea Party is wrong on the future of government. Even the US is not going back to the 19th-century state." (Martin Wolf/FT)



"For all its social snootiness, Wall Street has suffered far more from the meddling of members of its own class than from intrusions by those outside it. It was Franklin D. Roosevelt, an aristocrat, who held the lords of finance responsible for the Great Depression—securing legislation to establish the Securities and Exchange Commission, asserting federal authority over the stock exchange, and appointing a wealthy stock trader, Joseph Kennedy Sr., to ride herd. Not much better, from Wall Street’s perspective, was FDR’s Cousin Teddy, who as President prosecuted trusts as illegal monopolies. Or Louis Brandeis, a Harvard-trained corporate attorney turned crusader against the concentration of wealth and power. These men changed the system from within, as have the ablest regulators in recent times. Arthur Levitt Jr., a vigorous SEC chairman under President Bill Clinton, was first the president of Shearson Hayden Stone. (Levitt is a member of the board of Bloomberg L.P., owner of Bloomberg Businessweek.) Paul A. Volcker cut his teeth at Chase Manhattan before running the Federal Reserve and becoming the gruff animating voice behind the Volcker Rule, which bans commercial banks from engaging in proprietary trading. It’s hard to imagine any of these 'opponents' of Wall Street mounting a barricade. They didn’t need to storm the castle to know where the secrets were hidden. In its very amateurism, Occupy Wall Street represents something new. Although it’s attracted some celebrities and well-heeled supporters, participants come chiefly from outside Wall Street. Many are unemployed or poorly employed. These are not bankers or reform-minded professors; these are also-rans in the capitalist race, upset with the system itself. Their chief weapon is neither eloquence nor argument, but their physical presence." (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)



"This week, Israelis and Americans were greeted by the happy sight of another citizen freed from a foreign prison. Ilan Grapel, a dual American-Israeli citizen was reunited with his mother in Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on Oct. 27, in return for 25 Egyptians held in Israel for non-security related crimes. This is the second prisoner swap in as many weeks consummated by Egypt and Israel; the ruling military council in Cairo served as the primary mediator for the deal between Israel and Hamas in which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released from Gaza in return for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Such calculated cooperation may not stir any visions of the warm handshake between the countries' leaders on the White House lawn in 1979 -- but it does prove that they are still able to seize opportunities to work together in the post-Mubarak era. Despite the public frostiness -- driven by the current turmoil in Egypt and dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks -- Egypt has shown no signs of transforming the "cold peace" into open war. Of course, there are challenges: The riot and storming of Israel's embassy in Cairo could have -- if not for President Barack Obama's intervention -- irreversibly harmed the peace, and the rise of Islamist politicians in the coming election will represent another major hurdle. But tearing up the 1979 peace treaty would greatly harm Egypt's relationship with the United States, which is Cairo's primary arms supplier and provides it with $1.5 billion in aid annually -- one of the many risks that will likely convince Egypt to find ways to keep the relationship with Israel alive for reasons of national interest." (ForeignPolicy)


"It's not only Israeli analysts who fear that even the cold peace between their country and Egypt may be in danger as Islamic forces rise in the wake of Egypt's revolution. Jordan's King Abdullah II on Wednesday told the Washington Post that there is a 'very strong possibility' that following upcoming elections, Egypt's new rulers will revoke the Camp David Accords.  That is especially true if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power. The group is contesting over 50 percent of the parliament seats in the next election, and is currently the only major political party active in the country. Abdullah said that Jordan will soon be "the last man standing" in terms of nations in the region that have friendly relations with Israel. There are many who disagree with Abdullah's conclusions, and even the Post tried to qualify his statements by noting that so-called experts (presumably the same who failed to see the 'Arab Spring' coming in the first place) find talk of Egypt ending its peace treaty with Israel wildly speculative. Those experts insist that Egypt wants to maintain its flow of American financial aid and military equipment, and won't do anything to jeopardize that. However, the Muslim Brotherhood and the many Egyptians who back the group have repeatedly stated throughout the revolution that they have no interest in continuing their nation's reliance on American backing, and that they view adherence to their radical Islamic ideals as far more important than Western money. 'The peace between Israel and Egypt is no longer holy,' declared Egyptian diplomat and Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi at a recent rally. 'It [peace with Israel] cannot be considered equal to the holy Koran.' Al-Arabi was only echoing what the Egyptian public had been saying for months. (Israel Today)


"It’s also true, as Schwartz writes, that (Pauline) Kael’s retirement, in 1991 at age 71, was a national news story. But her death, at 82 in 2001, was not. The culture of the new century was rapidly moving on. Now yet another decade has passed, and Kael may be little read outside of cineaste circles and film-studies academia (a milieu she detested). Most of her books are out of print. Ask moviegoers under 40 who she is, and you may draw a blank. Then again, what serious film critics of any era, including our own, are household names these days? We no longer live in the age of movies, and ambitious professional arts criticism is an increasingly arcane calling in a digital world where the old maxim, everyone’s a critic, is literally true. While much of Kael may be out of print, today it’s an anomaly when the output of any critic is collected in a book in the first place (let alone Kael’s 11 anthologies of full-length reviews). Few movies can muscle their way onto center stage in our reality-TV-saturated media universe. The individualistic filmmaking that sustained Kael and her peers now must fight to find financing or theatrical distribution outside New York. Even the once unassailable Oscars are suffering an identity crisis and struggling to hold on to their annual ­spotlight.  It’s hard to believe there was a time, not that long ago, when movie zealots would race to the newsstand on the days The New Yorker and The Village Voice were hot off the press to see Kael square off against her principal critical antagonist, the essential Andrew Sarris, on whatever was new in theaters that week. Though there are still some fine film critics at work, few readers wait for their verdicts on the new Almodóvar or Scor­sese the way so many once waited for Kael’s. Print movie critics declined in influence with the rise of Siskel and ­Ebert’s thumbs up-thumbs down appraisals on television. Now film criticism on television has largely vanished, too, succeeded by depersonalized aggregation sites like ­Rotten Tomatoes." (Frank Rich)


"In an inexplicably timed critique of Gawker published on Slate today, Katie Roiphe airs this musty bit of media gossip: Emily Gould’s editor asked Ms. Roiphe to blurb her book, And the Heart Says Whatever. This, despite the fact that Ms. Gould had called Ms. Roiphe 'a big immature baby' during her tenure at Gawker. 'Admittedly I did not find this piece very wounding, but some old-fashioned part of me still found it strange that she would send me her book for a blurb,' Ms. Roiphe wrote. 'I thought if I had written ‘Joan Didion Is Big Immature Baby,’ I would probably not send a book to her for a blurb.' (Does Ms. Didion even blurb? And is she saying that she is to Joan Didion what Emily Gould is to her?) Glossing over the most recent, rather clever take down in free verse by Hamilton Nolan, Ms. Roiphe uses Ms. Gould’s 2007 post as a point of entry to critique Gawker’s rhetorical laziness.'What the Gawker ethos (i.e., the sneer) comes down to is this: Everyone is a phony, except presumably those writers at Gawker who labor tirelessly to point out this phoniness,' she writes.
She later adds that Gawker assumes the pose of the 'fashionably slothful outsider,' 'brilliant and talented but too cool or sublimely untainted by anything as sordid and uninteresting as the ambition to try to do anything.' Sounds accurate, if outdated, to us. In fact, the passage agrees perfectly with how Ms. Gould herself describes the Gawker ethos in her 2008 New York Times Magazine mea culpa, Blog Post Confidential' (Kat Stoeffel/The Observer)



"PBS’ Judy Woodruff was the mistress of ceremony at an awards luncheon of the of International Women’s Media Foundation today at the Waldorf-Astoria. Four women journalists were honored for their work confronting danger while doing their jobs. Among them: Adela Navarro Bello, general director and columnist for Zeta news magazine in Mexico, Reuters Iran bureau chief Parisa Hafezi and Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director and webmaster of the Prachatai online newspaper in Thailand. Kate Adie, a BBC anchor, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Spotted in the crowd, CBS News’s Lesley Stahl, NBC’s Kate Snow and from ABC News, president Ben Sherwood, 'Nightline' co-anchor Cynthia McFadden, 'This Week' host Christiane Amanpour, correspondents Martha Raddatz and Juju Chang, and GMA co-anchor George Stephanopoulos." (TVNewser)


"Viacom, parent of MTV Networks, bought a majority stake in Bellator Fighting Championships and will start airing the promotion's bouts on Spike in 2013, the companies told USA TODAY this week. They've had ongoing talks for about a year as they finished up various deals, and over the past month finally reached the point where they could announce the news, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said. Selling to Viacom's entertainment conglomerate guarantees a stable future for Bellator, said Rebney, who will remain in charge of the MMA organization. 'It puts all of those cornerstones of ownership in place for us,' he said. 'Which is something that's been so seriously lacking in the MMA space with so many different companies, including Strikeforce and the IFL and Affliction and all the different failures that have occurred. … It alleviates those issues.' Bellator is the No. 2 promotion in mixed martial arts behind market leader Zuffa, owner of UFC and Strikeforce." (USA Today via Iwantmedia)



"NYSD House: What else is different between a New York dinner party and a dinner party in Paris? designer Penny True Baird:The amount of wine for example that’s used at a French dinner party is four times the amount of wine that’s used here. And there is no end time to the party. On a Monday night you could sit in someone’s house until two o’clock in the morning and no one ever says anything about having to get up. And they all have to get up. They all have kids, they all have jobs. That was the most shocking thing to me. NYSD House: So there seems to be a certain lack of anxiety, is there? designer Penny True Baird: Yes! You’re saying it better than I am. I had a dinner party here a good ten years ago for the Beaujolais Nouveau, but it was honoring my best Parisian friend. I made this beautiful dinner for them—everything was so done. I had the little wine tags that you use in a wine cellar as the place cards and in France after dinner you go in the living room and have orange juice—so I had the orange juice and everything perfect. And all the people stayed until midnight. And I thought, Thursday night! New York city! Midnight! This is like a total success! And after they left my friend says to me, 'Everyone left! How rude!'" (NYSocialDiary House)


" The stars aligned—or gathered, anyways—for a powerhouse pairing of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Ralph Lauren again, at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall last night. The conversation, which benefitted Lincoln Center and the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention ... A bit of Hollywood turned out, thanks to a beautiful flock including Jessica Alba, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, and Kerry Washington, as well as Steve Buscemi, Jerry Seinfeld, Alba’s husband Cash Warren as did all the requisite fashion editorial ilk—Anna Wintour, Glenda Bailey, Stefano Tonchi, Robbie Myers, Joanna Coles, et al. Adding to the black tie-clad beauty quotient of the evening were the leggy likes of Lily Aldridge, Chanel Iman, and Veronica Webb. And, of course, the sizeable, ethereal fleet of models featured in the redux of Lauren’s Spring ’12 show that occurred after Lauren and Winfrey finished chatting. Fellow designers in attendance for Ralph’s second, live moment under the Oprah microscope included Diane von Furstenberg avec Barry Diller, Dennis Basso, Tory Burch, and Lisa Perry ... The elder Lauren opened up about moments of near-failure—“I almost lost my company twice because I moved too fast or had the wrong team, or didn’t have the right leadership' " (Fashionweekdaily)



New outside groups that can raise unlimited cash are encroaching on the money, functions and talent of the Big Six — creating a shadow party system of super PACs and linked nonprofit groups unrestrained by the political sensitivities and fundraising limits that moderate the parties’ activities.'It used to be that the party committees were the dominant force, and now that influence has been diminished by the super PACs,' said Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and Democratic National Committee chairman. The outside groups, Rendell said, are 'taking part of the responsibilities away from the parties and thereby diminishing the parties’ impact.' Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who helped run the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee, said the anatomy of the new groups — which mirrors that of the Big Six — is fueling the power shift.'There’s no question that with the way we structure these super PACs, it will enormously diminish the role the committees play,' Cole said. 'There’s a recognition that we don’t have the clout that we once had.' The new groups emerged after two federal court rulings last year: One case called Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission cleared corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums in politics and another case led to the creation of the rapidly proliferating breed of political action committee known as super PACs." (Politico)

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