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Monday, November 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class. All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic. It is instructive to trace the evolution of a political strategy based on securing this coalition in the writings and comments, over time, of such Democratic analysts as Stanley Greenberg and Ruy Teixeira. Both men were initially determined to win back the white working-class majority, but both currently advocate a revised Democratic alliance in which whites without college degrees are effectively replaced by well-educated socially liberal whites in alliance with the growing ranks of less affluent minority voters, especially Hispanics ... Obama’s alternative path to victory, according to Teixeira and Halpin, would be to keep his losses among all white voters at the same level John Kerry did in 2004, when he lost them by 17 points, 58-41. This would be a step backwards for Obama, who lost among all whites in 2008 by only 12 points (55-43). Obama can afford to drop to Kerry’s white margins because, between 2008 and 2012, the pro-Democratic minority share of the electorate is expected to grow by two percentage points and the white share to decline by the same amount, reflecting the changing composition of the national electorate." (CampaignStops)


"Sandy Weill is a lucky man. When the financier who built Citigroup decided to sell his penthouse at 15 Central Park West, one of the most lavish and exclusive buildings in Manhattan, The Wall Street Journal wrote a story about how he was listing it for a record sum—and planned to give the proceeds to charity. There should be plenty to go around. Back before 15 opened for business, Weill and his wife paid $43.7 million for the four-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bathroom floor-through condominium. Lately, the recession notwithstanding, similar apartments in the building across from Central Park’s southwest corner have sold for more than $10,000 per square foot. The Weills are asking $88 million ... The falling economic tide of the past few years hasn’t lowered all boats. And 15 Central Park West is Exhibit A. It also offers compelling evidence of how financial types favor their friends. As the real-estate bubble was bursting, a group of bankers, insurance executives, and CEOs—many of them employed by the Wall Street brand names (Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, AIG, Goldman Sachs) that were the poster children of the financial meltdown—bet huge on the building’s success and have seen those wagers pay off bigger than a hedge fund in 2006. Apartments at 15 have done nothing but appreciate in value since it opened in 2007." (Michael Gross)


"If there's one vibe emanating from this shadowy zeitgeist it's a sense of the total exhaustion of culture, in particular the way the world does business. Everything looks tired, played out, and most of all false. Governments can't really pay for what they do. Banks have no real money. Many households surely have no money. The human construct of money itself has become a shape-shifting phantom. Will it vanish into the vortex of unpaid debt until nobody has any? Or will there be plenty of worthless money that people can spend into futility? Either way they will be broke. The looming fear whose name political leaders dare not speak is global depression, but that is not what we're in for. The term suggests a temporary sidetrack from the smooth operation of integrated advanced economies. We're heading into something quite different, a permanent departure from the standard conception of economic progress, the one in which there is always sure to be more comfort and convenience for everybody, the economy of automatic goodies." (James Howard Kunstler)



"On November 29, 1775, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, established the Committee of Secret Correspondence. The goal of this committee, comprised of an illustrious band of revolutionaries including Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, was to solicit aid from potential European allies for the nascent American war effort. Equipped with codes and ciphers, the committee became the forerunner of the U.S. State Department, and the habits of secrecy it initiated have over the centuries become the modus operandi for modern American diplomacy. It was also on November 29 of last year that the world’s newspapers announced the release of the WikiLeaks cables, the enormous and infamous cache of classified State Department cables that suddenly and unprecedentedly fell into the hands of the uncleared public. There is little doubt that the WikiLeaks breach caused serious and potentially long-term damage to U.S. diplomatic interests. The leaked cables included critical comments made by Saudi King Abdullah and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan about Pakistan’s civilian leaders, making it unlikely these leaders, or many others, will offer their candid assessments to American diplomats anytime soon. U.S. programs to reclaim enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor were also revealed, as were the details of how U.S. Special Forces have been providing support to Pakistan’s own military operations. Also swept up were some of America’s most talented diplomats, including Carlos Pascual, who stepped down from his post as U.S. ambassador to Mexico after his blunt assessment of Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s anti-drug efforts turned up in the document dump. In its wholesale violation of U.S. diplomatic secrecy, WikiLeaks’s actions have only intensified the prevailing tendency in Foggy Bottom and in the Administration to 'batten down the hatches.'" (Democracy)


"Rumer Willis, 23, tweeted a picture of herself in a daring silver gown which plunged down to her navel with her siblings Scout, 20, and 17-year-old Tallulah, who one of the debutantes at the ball in Paris ... Le Bal des Debutantes first launched in 1957 before being turned into a charity fundraising event 20 years ago. This year saw 23 young women - from actors' daughter to aristocrats - from 13 countries debut at the ball. Proceeds this year go to the Feed Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting malnutrition." (Telegraph)


"November 26 will go down in history for Leana Mallya, daughter of Vijay Mallya. Le Bal Crillon got in touch with Vijay two years back to get permission for Leana to participate in the Ball. Leana has been in Paris for the last few weeks for the shoot of a fashion glossy in Dior Couture. She walked the red carpet in a Christian Dior Haute Couture and was escorted by Lawrence Van Hagen. Vijay Mallya tweeted on Sunday saying, 'Very proud to waltz with my daughter Leana at the Le debutante ball in Paris. Kids grow up so quick but will always be babies in my heart.' Bal de Debutantes or Le Bal de Crillon as it is more popularly known happens every year at the Hotel De Crillon in Paris where daughters of the world’s rich and famous royalty, stars and industrialists are invited to make their debut in high society. These modern day debutantes get to wear a international designer dress and are escorted by eligible guys as their dates ... The other Indian this year who shared the limelight is Shaiyra Devi, granddaughter of the Maharaja of Kapurthala who wore a Hemant Sagar and Didier Lecoanet dress." (DeccanChronicle)

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