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Friday, November 11, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Since leaving office, Clinton has been surprisingly good in following the maxim about what you should do if you can’t say something nice. (He was even pretty good about it during the George W. Bush era.) Clinton does take a bit too much pleasure in reminding us that 'in my administration we had four surplus budgets” -- so much pleasure that he repeats the point in the book at least nine times, by my count. But who can blame him for that? About Obama, Clinton is tact itself, saying only that he disagrees with the incumbent’s policy on nuclear power. (Obama is for. Clinton is against.) Oh, and he thinks the administration’s mortgage refinancing policy could be simpler. Clinton’s book is called 'Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.' In it, he settles once and for all the question of which of our most recent Ivy-educated presidents is the biggest policy wonk. It’s George W. Only kidding. The prize clearly goes to Clinton, whose riveting discussion of the various options for repatriation of income earned by American companies in foreign countries (characteristically, he has a third-way solution that should appeal to reasonable people on both sides of this vexing issue) could drive millions to say, 'Where’s the remote? I wonder if President Obama is on Anderson Cooper.' ... Even the best-intentioned conservatives may smirk at Clinton’s weakness for a tax credit. Has he ever seen one he didn’t like? Immediately after a high-minded discussion of how'Democrats and Republicans should work together to amend the corporate tax laws ... by broadening the tax base through the elimination and tightening of credits and deductions,' Clinton writes: 'I think we should keep the research and development incentive and increase it.' Needless to say, 'It will more than pay for itself.' I incent. You deduct. He has loopholes. Post-presidency, Clinton may be spending too much time hanging with CEOs. That may explain his apparent fascination with the repatriation of foreign profits." (Michael Kinsley)


"The International Atomic Energy Agency's new reporton Iran's nuclear program asserts that Tehran 'has carried out ... activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device' and that the agency sees 'strong indicators of possible weapon development.' In other words, the IAEA has finally reached the same conclusions that Israel first reached in 1995. So should we really be worried about an Israeli strike now? Historically, there has been an inverse correlation between Israeli saber rattling and military action, but senior Obama administration officials consistently confirm in private meetings that they take 'very seriously' the prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites.Think of it like this: In one way -- and one way only -- the potential of an Israeli military strike on Iran is akin to a Herman Cain presidency. Its likelihood is slim, but the potential consequences are too dramatic to ignore. Although the precise strategy Israel would employ to carry out such an operation is debatable, its objective -- to avert a nuclear-armed Tehran -- is crystal clear. What's less clear is how Tehran would react and with what aim. Would the Iranian regime be strengthened or weakened internally? Would it respond with fury or restraint?  To probe these questions, the Brookings Institution in late 2009 assembled two dozen former senior U.S. government officials and Middle East specialists for adaylong simulation of the political and military consequences that would result from an Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear program." (ForeignPolicy)



"It was another wacky week on Wall Street as concerns surrounding European defaults dominated the financial mindset. To most Americans, the response to such fears is: 'So what? They’re on the other side of the pond!' The reality, however, is that it does matter — in a big way. In the first phase of the financial crisis in 2008, government lifeguards bailed out the banks. In this sovereign sequel, the question remains: Who is going to save the lifeguards? What’s more, the overseas situations aren’t isolated. While Greece is only the size of Massachusetts, much of its debt is owned by Portugal, whose debt is owned by Italy, whose debt is owned by France, whose debt is owned by Spain, whose debt is owned by Germany. This is similar to the first phase of the crisis, with Greece as Fannie Mae, Portugal as Freddie Mac, Italy as AIG, France as Wachovia Bank and Germany — which owns them all — assuming the role of Lehman Brothers. Thankfully, the rest of the script has yet to be written.If Greece defaults, the dominoes will topple throughout Europe, one after another, until the system resets. Further, the largest holders of sovereign debt are European institutions, and given our interconnected global economy, stateside banks are very much part of that financial food chain.
You will hear a lot of stories about political transitions that presumably pave the way for bailouts, almost as if the European Union is bribing nations to shift their leadership if they want to receive billions of dollars in aid." (Todd Harrison)


"It was another beautiful sunny day in New York. I went down to Michael’s with Nina Griscom to talk about her latest projects. One of them is very interesting. Something she is doing with Carolyne Roehm. I call it The Divestiture – and that’s a clue, although that’s because the word is so applicable to all that is practical and sensible these days ... Last Tuesday night I missed a cocktail party that Gillian Tett, the U.S. Editor of the FT gave at her East Side apartment for Vanessa Friedman and the launch of a new section of the FT called Luxury 360. I’m not really interested in promoting other media businesses although this particular one involves two of who I think are the smartest women in media today. And talented. Vanessa covers Fashion for the FT and she not only explains what lies before us visually, etc., but puts it in a historical context. Gillian is a young British woman, whose background was originally anthropology and is now one of the sharpest, most perceptive commentators on the financial situation today." (NYSocialDiary)


"CNN.com wants world domination. Meredith Artley, the CNN vice president and managing editor, the website, thinks big. She presided over the growth of the Los Angeles Time’s site immediately before joining CNN. Prior to that, she played a big part in the development of the well-regarded New York Times.com. 'We’re definitely shooting for much bigger fish than MSNBC and Fox,' Artley told me recently. (Fox, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp. I asked Artley what news site she was targeting, as she was already looking beyond the competitive threat of her traditional foes. 'It’s Yahoo -- they’re the only ones who get more [traffic] than we do on a regular basis,' Artley said, referring to news sites. Artley’s strategy for putting a scare into Yahoo centers on bolstering CNN.com’s appeal to users, based partly on creating timely new products. For instance, CNN.com is currently putting the finishing touches on rolling out blogs that Artley thinks will create a buzz." (MarketWatch)


"Coming soon to CBS: Charlie Rose, Gayle King and a complete makeover of 'The Early Show,' the network’s low-rated morning television show. The network is putting the finishing touches on a two-hour news show, expected to be announced in New York next Tuesday, that will defy the gauzy conventions of morning television. It will emphasize hard news and use a conversational approach like 'Morning Joe' on MSNBC and 'The View' on ABC.  Starting sometime early next year, Mr. Rose, Ms. King and other new hires will join two of the current co-hosts, Erica Hill and Jeff Glor, on a new set that is being built on the West Side. More than half a dozen CBS staff members described the plan on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss it publicly yet. CBS declined to comment on the record about the impending changes.  Privately, executives say that because the network has forever failed to beat NBC’s 'Today' and ABC’s 'Good Morning America' by imitating those shows, they are comfortable trying something wholly different. The plan already is the talk of the tight-knit, gossipy New York television news industry. But will it be talked about anywhere else? Neither Mr. Rose, who hosts the long-running interview series 'Charlie Rose' on PBS, nor Ms. King, who hosts a morning talk show on OWN, the cable channel of her best friend, Oprah Winfrey, are proven ratings draws." (NYTimes)


"How will Charlie Rose wake up for the 'Early Show?' TV insiders can’t comprehend how CBS plans to rouse the notorious night owl for its revamped 7 a.m. morning show, which sources say will premiere in January. We hear the PBS talk-show host will begin broadcasting at a more civilized 7:30 a.m. after a half-hour of news headlines from current anchors Jeff Glor and Erica Hill. Rose will host a major newsmaker for a longer sit-down interview from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Sources say Gayle King will take over with a 'View'-style roundtable from 8 to 9 a.m. A CBS rep said, 'CBS News declines to comment on rumor and speculation.'"  (PageSix)


"How stupendously stupid and over-the-top dumb are we, the so-called 'people'? How can human beings so lacking in brain function summon the ability to walk or talk, much less realize that we are being taken for the ride of our lives by the crooks in Brussels? These glassy-eyed ghouls knew all along what the Greek crooks were up to but kept shtum for political expedience. The great Greek economist Taki wrote about the problem in these here pages, warning that the politicians were lying and then some, but like Enoch’s prophecy, it went unheeded. In the meantime, two years have been wasted while Greek politicians have been zipping around on freebies looking awfully busy and doing f—- all. Take it from Taki: Because of all the denials, lies, and delays, Greece will need to write down 85 percent of her debt—50 percent is not even close. You have been warned ... Here you have ineradicable proof that the dealers are dealing from the bottom—the specter of democracy, as in a referendum—yet the dealers made it clear that people’s opinions were irrelevant to those who run Europe. Sarkozy and Merkel told Papandreou to fuggedaboutit, and he did. What about a vigorous assault on tax evasion and an end to rampant public-sector patronage? Again, fuggedaboutit. Not a single civil servant has been let go, and it’s been two years since the mess was first exposed. Greek newspapers are as guilty as the politicians whose patronage they seek." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

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