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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Surprisingly, an eight-vote victory is not the most closely contested presidential nominating contest in recent memory -- Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton by a mere seven votes in the Guam caucuses in 2008. And there have been many other close calls over the years. There are three big winners from the Iowa caucuses. The first, and most important, is Mitt Romney, who was lucky enough to get two finalists he is very likely to beat. The second big winner is Rick Santorum, who could have easily been left for dead in the cornfields of Iowa but instead has at least a few more weeks of life. The third and most durable winner is the Iowa caucus, an institution that might have expired had Ron Paul gotten a few thousand more votes. A Paul victory would have given future Republican candidates an automatic pass to skip Iowa. Looking forward, there is almost no one who believes Paul will be the GOP nominee for president, and his continuing candidacy helps to drain a sizable percentage of votes that might otherwise go to an anti-Romney candidate. Santorum has little money and few troops, as well as little structure to campaign in the other 49 states. Maybe he can raise some money and attract more troops because of his showing in Iowa, but so far this year candidates who have attempted an instant presidential campaign (i.e., Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Herman Cain) have all imploded. Advantage: Romney. You can tell that Romney knows he’s in an enviable position because he is beginning to pivot to a general election campaign in which he attacks Barack Obama and not his Republican rivals -- leaving the latter task mainly to his Super PAC." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"In an exclusive report from three of Vanity Fair’s premier business writers—contributing editors Bryan Burrough, William D. Cohan, and Bethany McLean—the February issue delivers a sprawling account of the personal and professional battles of Jon Corzine, the former Goldman Sachs C.E.O. and ex-politician whose helming of MF Global resulted in a notorious $41 billion filing for bankruptcy and a $1 billion loss in firm equity. According to the piece, for the fiscal year that ended in March 2011, MF Global recorded day-one gains of $85 million on the former New Jersey governor’s risky trades on European sovereign debt and other assets, thanks to an accounting ploy. Because there were barely any expenses associated with such trades, the gains were almost pure profit. 'Corzine would later tell investors that he made a $6.3 billion bet on sovereign debt, but the company’s filings made it look like he had a much bigger long position at the end of June 2011—$11.4 billion, offset by ‘short’ positions of almost $5 billion,' Vanity Fair reports. One analyst says: “If those trades had not been there, MF Global would have been forced to sell or go out of business.' As federal authorities searched for the brokerage house’s more than $1 billion in missing customer money, friends and former associates of Corzine weighed in on the ways his personal quirks informed his management style. 'On this, Jon became a zealot,' one person says of Corzine’s European-debt trades. 'He managed the process soup to nuts,' says a former employee. 'He knew every number back and forth. He’d talk to the accountants and the board. He’s not a detail-oriented guy, but on this he knew every detail.'" (VanityFair)


"That there’s a cultural decay in a declining West is hardly worth debating. A powerless and increasingly cretinized citizenry has been brainwashed into a state of domesticated conformity, with unelected technocrats totally controlling their lives. Even the super-rich are basically slaves. Bernie Ecclestone may be a billionaire four times over, but he’s a small man in many respects, chained to his BlackBerry as he drives himself around Gstaad oblivious to the fact he might get lost in a snowdrift. Another neighbor just bought his wife a $45-million Gulfstream V to go along with her latest plastic surgery. A Saudi has carved his family tree outside his chalet—thank God the tree is short and so ugly, even dogs won’t pee on it. And the poor little Greek boy has wasted three months of hard training by going on a weeklong Karamazovian binge. But rumors of Roman Abramovich having bought in Gstaad are untrue, and thank God he remains with his entourage far away in St Barts. (Further good news is that the onetime plastic-duck salesman’s hard-earned stolen moolah is not helping his football team much.) Gstaad’s locals can’t seem to be bothered either way. The disgustingly glitzy nouveaux riche’s motto around these parts seems to be, 'What—me worry?' What everyone’s talking about here is—surprise, surprise—the euro." (Taki Theodoracopulos)


"Morocco was full for the holidays. The Royal Standard of the King, the red flag with the green star in the center was flying everywhere in the Marrakech streets, indicating that the King Mohammed VI (crowned in 1999) and his wife Princess Lalla Salma and their two children Crown Prince Moulay Hassan and Lalla Khadija, were in the Royal Palace. Lots of people – the government, Palace staff, friends of ministers of Morocco and the King’s personal staff had arrived for New Year’s Eve. Mohammed VI built the new palace soon after he became king, the old palace now being used for the country and its people ... Marella Agnelli lives in a magnificent villa in the Palmiere, near the King’s mother. Also living in Marrakech, Xavier Hermes, Ande Azoulay, who was the closest advisor to the late King Hassan II and is now a close advisor to Mohammed VI; Michele Schwab formerly from California and Roberto Tempo from Venice (they owned the Restaurant La Rotunda in the Kasbah and also had a restaurant in Delray Beach); Jim Mitchell from New York who has been part of Moroccan life for the past since the early 90s; Noelle Gillet, Silvia Innocenti, Mustapha Agbani, Mohammed Bouskari, the famous guide in Marrakech who has shown the city to several American Presidents including Nixon, Reagan and Clinton as well as some of the most famous people in the world. These are some of the people who make up the dazzling world of Marrakech." (NYSocialDiary)


"There used to be just two Stephen Colberts, and they were hard enough to distinguish. The main difference was that one thought the other was an idiot. The idiot Colbert was the one who made a nice paycheck by appearing four times a week on 'The Colbert Report' (pronounced in the French fashion, with both t’s silent), the extremely popular fake news show on Comedy Central. The other Colbert, the non-idiot, was the 47-year-old South Carolinian, a practicing Catholic, who lives with his wife and three children in suburban Montclair, N.J., where, according to one of his neighbors, he is 'extremely normal.' One of the pleasures of attending a live taping of 'The Colbert Report' is watching this Colbert transform himself into a Republican superhero. Suburban Colbert comes out dressed in the other Colbert’s guise — dark two-button suit, tasteful Brooks Brothersy tie, rimless Rumsfeldian glasses — and answers questions from the audience for a few minutes. (The questions are usually about things like Colbert’s favorite sport or favorite character from 'The Lord of the Rings,' but on one memorable occasion a young black boy asked him, 'Are you my father?' Colbert hesitated a moment and then said, 'Kareem?') Then he steps onstage, gets a last dab of makeup while someone sprays his hair into an unmussable Romney-like helmet, and turns himself into his alter ego. His body straightens, as if jolted by a shock. A self-satisfied smile creeps across his mouth, and a manically fatuous gleam steals into his eyes.Lately, though, there has emerged a third Colbert. This one is a version of the TV-show Colbert, except he doesn’t exist just on screen anymore. He exists in the real world and has begun to meddle in it." (NYTimes)             


"MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry has been given her own weekend program, network president Phil Griffin announced today. The show debuts February 4th, in the 10 a.m. to noon spot.
Ms. Perry frequently appears on Reverend Al Sharpton’s show and sometimes hosts Rachel Maddow.The announcement means weekend anchor Alex Witt will bookend the new 8 a.m.- noon weekend block of Up with Chris Hayes and Ms. Harris-Perry’s yet-unnamed show, filling the 7-8 a.m. and noon-2p.m. spots ... Ms. Harris-Perry also writes the 'Sister Citizen' column for The Nation, an apparent talent pool for the home of 'Lean Forward.' Before launching Up, Mr. Hayes was The Nation‘s Washington D.C. editor and remains an editor-at-large." (Observer)


"Kate Moss serenaded her pals on New Year’s Eve in Jamaica with a karaoke rendition of Blondie’s 1980 hit 'Rapture.' The song was a fitting shout-out to one of her fellow revelers, Fab 5 Freddy, who’s name-checked in its lyrics. Partying with Moss and Freddy at Chris Blackwell’s GoldenEye estate were Moss’ rocker hubby, Jamie Hince, Grace Jones and fashion photographer Terry Richardson." (PageSix)

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