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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"This special committee, extraordinarily inappropriately named, was created by Congress in a last-ditch effort to resolve the deficits of the past years. And its creation was a recognition that the regular order, the normal congressional processes by which legislation is passed, was not working. The Supercommittee was at best an unorthodox and last ditch effort to reach consensus on fiscal issues. Unfortunately, the optimism of the summer has again turned to gridlock and deadlock, and the current paralysis which grips the Capitol continues to the present day. In my judgment, there are many reasons causing this paralysis. Failure of leadership at all levels of Government is apparent to almost anyone who examines our current political crisis. Democrats and Republicans are unable to confront the ideological extremism occurring in the political base of each of their parties to enable them to compromise on tax and spending decisions. Modern media and campaign spending make it difficult for members of Congress to do anything which involves political risk, as political extremes are likely to pounce quickly and aggressively on the actions of most congressman and senators who want to take responsible action which just might enrage the folks at home. And frankly, there is not a lot of political courage left in our system. Harry Truman once counseled his advisors that the art of political leadership is getting people to do what they know needs to be done but do not want to do; seems like Truman’s advice on courage and leadership are bygones of another era." (Dan Glickman/AspenInstitute)


"More than a month ago, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari declared victory over the United States and its European allies when China and Russia vetoed a Western-backed U.N.Security Council resolution condemning Damascus' bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.Today, Syria was back on the defensive. Fresh from defeat in the Arab League, where its membership was suspended, the Syrian government faced another bruising setback at the United Nations, where the General Assembly adopted a non-binding -- but politically potent -- resolution condemning Syria's action. You can read an early draft of the resolution, which doesn't include all of its cosponsors, here. Not a single Arab country voted against the resolution. Even Sudan backed it." (TurtleBay/ Foreignpolicy)

"Newt Gingrich did well, yes, but the winner of this debate was...Barack Obama. There were loads of shots at him, notably from Rick Perry and sometimes from Michele Bachmann, with a couple from Jon Hunstman, who has to distance himself from Obama for obvious reasons. But I counted roughly zero really serious criticisms of Obama that might resonate beyond the choir bench. Even Bachmann proved a voice of moderation. How's that for a sentence we never thought we'd see? But her response on Pakistan was entirely reasonable, and really not different at all from the current administration's policy. On the question of whether the United States should stand with or even help Israel if it were to bomb Iran to eliminate its nuclear capability, we saw the obligatory denunciations of the administration for weakness, etc., but when it came time to get specific, very few of the candidates really committed to a belligerent right-wing posture. Gingrich even basically said between the lines that he really thinks bombing Iran is a bad idea. And speaking of Gingrich, there was his soft line on immigration, which really might cost him." (Michael Tomasky)


"The night before last, Monday, I went to a dinner that Shirley Lord Rosenthal gave in honor of two good friends, Norman Sunshine and Alan Shayne who have written a double memoir, Double Life about their 53 years of their lives together. This was a New York dinner party at its very best, at least for me. There were 12 or 14 many of whom are writers and journalists. That means no dearth of conversation no matter what. And a great diverse variety of experience and interest ... Shirley’s late husband Abe Rosenthal was for years one of the important editors at the New York Times. Times staff is almost a society unto itself in New York. Its exponents eventually fan out all over publishing and media... Sunshine and Shayne, at the request of our hostess, each talked about writing their book and living their lives and their life together. Norman, who is now a full time professional artist, had a great career in advertising, copywriting, scriptwriting. Alan started out life as an actor and eventually became one of the most important television programming producers in the industry. So they both had satisfaction and success in their professions. They also talked frankly about the worlds they grew up in, in the 1940s and 1950s when male homosexual couples were almost always closeted for the obvious reason that it was 'frowned upon,' as practically criminal activity. In England they went to jail. It was always the secret that never was. Norman explained how they’d actually got married about seven years ago on Nantucket. They did this because after having been together for so long and having built a domestic life with assets (real estate, etc.) they realized that without a marital status, the state and federal governments ignored their economic reality totally if and when something happened to the other partner." (NYSocialDiary)


"First thing I check is Twitter. I scan it to see what I might have missed overnight and what is breaking in the morning. On the train into work I’ll catch up on articles I Instapaper’d and when I get into work I’ll scan our Reuters wire for news that’s starting to come in early. Muckrack is the best email newsletter I get, and it’s a good rundown of what’s happening early on in the day ... Aside from our own Reuters news, I’ll go and read The Atlantic which does a good job at gathering what I need to know from all over, I’ll scan the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and niche sites like Politico, SB Nation, Mets Blog, All Things Digital, and Gawker’s network of sites (in particular Gizmodo and the main Gawker). I have a RSS reader filled with these sites and more, but I tend to go directly to them. My RSS reader helps me find what I might have missed or a site I might forget to check." (Ant deRosa interviewed by News.Me)



"ELLE MACPHERSON was another victim of the News of the World phone-hackingscandal, it has emerged. The supermodel dismissed her former advisor, Mary-Ellen Field, after she suspected her of leaking personal details to the press. It later transpired that the information had been obtained byNews of the World through intercepting voicemail messages. 'The hacking of Elle's phone led to my life being ruined over the five years because I was wrongly punished and ostracised for being the source of the disclosures,' Field said in court yesterday. Field said that Macpherson attributed her alleged disclosures to alcoholism and as a consequence was sent to rehab to recover." (Vogue)


"After failing to reach a deal to reduce the deficit, the Senate will move next month to take up legislation that could add more than $400 billion to the deficit. All of the proposals, such as the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, are popular but come with no agreement on how to pay for them. Senate Democrats will go on offense next week by forcing Republicans to vote on extending and expanding the payroll tax cut, which accounts for $240 billion of the tab, according to Democratic and Republican aides. Lawmakers will take up the legislation after completing work on the Defense authorization bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has yet to announce an offset for the measure, but he has discussed matching it with a tax increase for millionaires. Such a vote would be intended to hammer home the message that Republicans are out to protect the rich, though it leaves Democrats vulnerable to arguments about class warfare. It is the opening maneuver in what will be a busy month that will likely keep lawmakers in Washington up until Christmas. Democrats are contemplating a separate vote on extending unemployment benefits, which they do not plan to offset. This would put Republicans in the tough position of blocking popular benefits at a time when the unemployment rate is 9 percent." (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)



"A conservation group claims that when it found water under its land it was conspired against by a 'large, powerful, unlawful, racketeering enterprise' that used political influence and violence to illegally grab its property 'under the guise of cattle ranching.' Lead plaintiff Desert Plants Conservancy claims in Federal Court that the defendants schemed 'to defraud and financially devastate plaintiffs and regain/gain valuable properties owned by plaintiffs' after they learned that the plaintiffs' property value had increased by 'tens of millions of dollars' because water was discovered there. The land is near Picacho Peak in Pinal County, a well-known landmark along Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix. Defendants include a long list of individuals and two law firms: The Keating Law Firm; and Mesch, Clark and Rothschild. The Conservancy says it bought the land from by the defendant Robert W. Walker family, and that a 2005 court ruling found that with the sale of the property, the defendants' use of the property to drive cattle was limited to an easement. After that ruling, the Conservancy says, the plaintiffs invested more than $3 million in developing the 1,100 acres 'as a sustainable farming, nursery, and other businesses operation to carry out several humanitarian service projects and start several commercial projects that were interrelated.' The plaintiffs also drilled three wells that "exposed a large water resource containing 16.3 billion of gallons of pumpable water available beneath the 1,100 acres in an underground lake locked in rock.' After the Walkers learned of the increased value of the property, the Conservancy says, the Walkers filed their first motion for judgment, and filed multiple 'groundless' complaints with state and county agencies, trying to "shut down or at least severely impact their [the plaintiffs'] operations, impede their ability to do business with contractors and/or employees, and cause their businesses and grant applications to fail, particularly given the previous threats by members and persons acting on their behalf that they would use any resources against Conservancy and that they controlled the county and judges.'" (CourthouseNews via Mimi Peirron)

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