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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"U.S. troops are in the process of completing their withdrawal from Iraq by the end-of-2011 deadline. We are now moving toward a reckoning with the consequences. The reckoning concerns the potential for a massive shift in the balance of power in the region, with Iran moving from a fairly marginal power to potentially a dominant power. As the process unfolds, the United States and Israel are making countermoves. We have discussed all of this extensively. Questions remain whether these countermoves will stabilize the region and whether or how far Iran will go in its response.Iran has been preparing for the U.S. withdrawal. While it is unreasonable simply to say that Iran will dominate Iraq, it is fair to say Tehran will have tremendous influence in Baghdad to the point of being able to block Iraqi initiatives Iran opposes. This influence will increase as the U.S. withdrawal concludes and it becomes clear there will be no sudden reversal in the withdrawal policy. Iraqi politicians’ calculus must account for the nearness of Iranian power and the increasing distance and irrelevance of American power. Resisting Iran under these conditions likely would prove ineffective and dangerous. Some, like the Kurds, believe they have guarantees from the Americans and that substantial investment in Kurdish oil by American companies means those commitments will be honored. A look at the map, however, shows how difficult it would be for the United States to do so." (STRATFOR)



"Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, flip a coin. There are differences between the two to be sure. But in the end, the net dissimilarity between these two establishment politicians is going to end up being considerably less than campaign rhetoric will suggest -- or than you might hope for.
Neither is anything like a transformational figure. Both are responsible, cautious men. Both, like most presidential candidates, are flawed by their ambition. There may be differences in emphasis, of course. One is too cool, a bit of a weathervane, beholden to Wall Street, not well loved within his own party establishment, not trusted by his party's base and the other is ... well, I guess that proves my point. From foreign policy to domestic programs, you can be pretty sure the efforts they lead will look surprisingly similar. Presidential candidates run to the middle (and winners hail from the mainstream) because the deciding votes are cast in the middle. Usually-- and there are periodic exceptions -- that is what accounts for the fact that most presidents have more in common with the men who preceded or followed them in office than they would care to acknowledge. This is one of the reasons that there is regular refrain for third party presidential candidates. It is also one of the reasons that such undertakings are typically doomed to failure and counterproductive.If you want to produce real change in the way the government of the United States functions, the way to do it is to focus on the Congress. And boy, does the Congress ever need changing.The failure of the stuporcommittee (which as of this writing seems all but certain) to even seriously grapple with the issue of the deficit is one of the grossest examples of dereliction of duty in the U.S. government since, well, since the Congress approved the Bush tax cuts." (David Rothkopf)


"President John F. Kennedy was murdered on this day forty-eight years ago while riding in the Presidential limousine through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. He was forty-six years and six months old. It was a Friday afternoon in America when people first heard the news on their radios and televisions. It was midday in New York. I was sitting in the barber’s chair of Paul Molé’s shop in Lexington Avenue and 74th Street ... I was once told a story about a moment in (Jackie Kennedy's) life, a number of years later, by which time she had become Mrs. Onassis and was working as an editor in book publishing. She and an associate went out to Beverly Hills to meet with Barbra Streisand to discuss the possibility of the singer writing her autobiography. During the meeting Jackie asked Streisand about her very successful Central Park concert in the summer of 1967, and why she hadn’t done more of them. Streisand began her explanation by recounting the heavy security that had been stationed on the rooftops of the buildings surrounding the park before the concert because there had been rumors of a planned PLO hit on her during the performance. Evidently this information had been kept from her until just before she went out before the crowd of 40,000 people, and it (probably) terrified her -- although she made a triumphal performance. During the conversation recounting this with Jackie and her associate, she realized she was talking about an ordeal that Jackie had actually personally experienced, and she stopped herself and said something like 'Oh, I’m sorry ...' Jackie said nothing but smiled acknowledgement." (NYSocialDiary)



"The comments on this Dealbook piece about how Wall Street has reconstituted the notion of employment as bottom-line cyclical churn are 100% mean, as you'd expect. ('I can't help but wonder if any of these laid-off wunderkinds ever ask themselves whether they contributed to the current economic situation,' for example. And: 'My God these people are pathetic. Even when they're laid off and collecting unemployment, they still sound like insufferable snobs.') But the sheer numbers involved in the way financial firms chew up and spit out young people are pretty bad. These are the very kids who were the children of the subjects of New York magazine parenting articles: we cared about them when we worried they were probably autistic, and then when their young parents were striving to get them into the best preschools, and then again when the kids spent the next sixteen years trying to beat each other on the SATs and the GPAs and the extracurriculars, so why shouldn't we care about them now that they've entered a workforce where they regularly get kicked to the curb because some dickface in management has to sack a quota of analysts to make his now-regular layoff goal? When you're laid off twice by 28, that's rough! And that's tens and tens of thousands of young people who were sold a dream and an expectation about merit, performance and success, and now they're figuring out one by one that it was literally all a lie." (Choire Sicha)


"The supercommittee’s deadlock gives leaders in both parties plenty of ammunition for the 2012 campaign. For months, Democratic and Republican leaders said they wanted a deal, but in the end they did not push their representatives on the panel hard enough to make it happen.  The panel’s demise will be debated over the next year amid an intensifying message war on which party should be trusted to tackle the nation’s deficit and fix the ailing economy. The supercommittee’s failure plays well into the emerging campaign themes of President Obama and the front-runners for the 2012 presidential nomination, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Obama has said he relishes the prospect of debating the GOP nominee next year on taxes, confident he can portray his opponent as appeasing millionaires and billionaires. During a press conference at the White House on Monday, Obama bashed Republicans for not listening to the 'voices of reason.'" (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)


"John was his mother’s favorite. He got away with the highest of crimes with her. Instead of punishments she fawned over him, stroked his blonde curls, and softly said, 'I won’t let your father find out.' To this day John will tell you he blames his mother for teaching him how to lie. “That bitch!' he liked to say, 'She showed me woman is weak when faced with man.' In time he would be beastly to his wives, and his mistresses. John was born handsome which made his mother adore him more and his father care for him less. In hopes of gaining his father’s approval John pursued a career as an athlete. He represented his hometown in the national sporting competition. Several years in a row, while in his twenties, he placed second in the high jump and the javelin, winning silver plates with his name engraved. John would bloat with pride and rush to show his father the trophies, and each time his glee was demolished when his father would scowl, and growl, 'If you were a girl I could understand!' Before grabbing the prizes, and sneeringly examining them as if they were soiled undergarments, 'Men take gold!' and with a flick of the wrist he would slice them over the balcony, where he took his afternoon constitution, and watch them plant, like setting suns, into the grass. Once, by accident one supposes, a trophy struck a peacock, took its head right off. Father and son stared as the headless body, with full plumage spread, slumped, twitching. The head bumped along the lawn, rolling like a snowball, with the trophy spinning alongside. Amazingly, the head stopped on the upturned silver plate, as if ready to be served." (Christina Oxenberg)



"For many years until 1959, London bohemians went all-out for an annual bash called the Chelsea Arts Ball, where papier-mâché floats and drunken fracases were par for the course. That was the inspiration for Creative Time's fall gala on Thursday, entitled Flaming Youth and held at the not-yet-open downtown club W.I.P. Animal masks and plastic Coke-bottle glasses were there for the taking, and a face-painting station was doing brisk business—it was art world a-go-go, with Marilyn Minter scanning the room in a Groucho Marx schnoz and bifocals and Amy Phelan commanding the dance floor in a pink corset, fur sleeves, and sparkly makeup. 'I didn't have an inspiration—I just pulled a bunch of things out of my closet and tried to look crazy,' she said. The next night, the artist Will Cotton unveiled his latest work at the Flatiron District's Prince George Ballroom: Cockaigne, a live-action piece for the Performa biennial devoted to cotton candy and whipped cream. Against matching painted backdrops, ballerinas costumed to resemble both confections danced to original music by John Zorn and Caleb Burhans ... Things weren't quite as short or sweet at the New Museum's Next Generation party, which lasted well into the night and included a pause for re-enactments from the eighties drag documentary Paris Is Burning. Fabiola Beracasa and Alek Wek were keeping Salem's Jack Donoghue entertained at one end of the museum's top-floor Sky Room, while Monique Péan was clinking a glass with (and wearing a dress by) Suno's Erin Beatty at the other." (Style)



"For Huffington, who, on the one hand, serves as a glittery Earth Mother and, on the other, is the world’s best bullshit artist, with stagehands and pulleys at work in conversation (although, oddly, she remains intensely enjoyable to be around), AOL is in some respects a ­'magical land.' The company has allowed her access to ­corporate funding for the Huffington Post website, and she seems to believe her new perch will recast her from a protean self-­reinventionist—at various times a Greek immigrant, New York socialite, New Age proponent, political wife, California gubernatorial candidate, and on and on—into something more solid: the Rupert Murdoch of the digital age, helming the world’s most influential 'Internet newspaper,' as the Huffington Post is called. The domination of news is clearly her goal, even news as defined as a mix of aggregation, original content, and unapologetic linkbait (stories like 'What Time Does the Super Bowl Start?' or 'Sex With Animals Can Lead to Penis Cancer: Study'), but in a way journalism is a cover for her larger gifts, which are as a cultural magician. Would Rupert Murdoch lock eyes with a reporter and say that, in addition to sleep, 'I think that the next big thing is going to be disconnecting,' as Huffington does? 'We need to create a ‘GPS for the soul’ app, one that will let us know when we’re off course,' she says. 'This will be a bigger and bigger part of our lives in the future, I think.'" (NYMag)

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