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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres




"I describe the period from 1991 to 2008 as an 'Age of Optimism' because all the world's major powers had reason to be satisfied with the way the globalized world system was working for them. India's reforms began in 1991 and led to an economic boom and a palpable surge in national confidence. The European Union more than doubled in size by incorporating the old Soviet bloc. Latin America had its debt crises, but by the end of the period, Brazil was being taken seriously as a global power for the first time in its history. For all their post-Soviet nostalgia, even the leaders of the new Russia were enthusiastic participants in a globalized world. Most importantly, 1991-2008 was an Age of Optimism for both China and the United States. During this period, China's economy grew so rapidly that it was doubling in size every eight years or so. Chinese people could see their country and their families becoming visibly more prosperous. Still, the United States was the sole superpower. The growth of Silicon Valley and the rise of Google, Apple, et al. reaffirmed American confidence in the unique creative powers of U.S. capitalism. American political and economic ideas set the terms of the global debate. Indeed, the terms 'globalization' and 'Americanization' almost seemed synonymous. This American confidence was very important to the world system. It allowed the United States to embrace a development that, in other circumstances, might have seemed threatening: the rise of China. In the Age of Optimism, successive U.S. presidents welcomed China's economic development. The argument they made was that capitalism would act as a Trojan horse, transforming the Chinese system from within. If China embraced economic freedom, political freedom would surely follow. But if China failed to embrace capitalism, it would fail economically.
In 2008, there was indeed a massive economic and financial crisis, but it came in the West, not in China. This unexpected development has accelerated a trend that was already in place: a shift in economic power from West to East and, within that, from the United States to China. Since then, it has become much harder to argue that globalization has created a win-win world." (ForeignPolicy)


"There’s not a lot of confidence in the direction of the country or what President Barack Obama’s done to help the economy — but he’s gaining in popularity nonetheless. And a slate of recent national and battleground state polls show the consequences: The president heads into his re-election campaign well ahead of where he was even a few months ago, but his improved position remains vulnerable, especially if the economy dips again. Despite 'some positives here for the president, so much depends on the trajectory of the economy over the next several months,' warned Carroll Doherty, associate director at Pew Research Center, which Monday showed Obama taking 52 percent of the vote and beating his closest competitor, Mitt Romney, by 8 percentage points. The uptick in the economy and the ongoing GOP presidential primary fight have helped Obama’s approval ratings climb to their highest levels in national and key state polls since the killing of Osama bin Laden. 'He’s back around 50 percent, traditionally an important benchmark for presidents,' Doherty said." (Politico)


"Had evangelical Christians had their way in 2006’s Pennsylvania Senate election, then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R) would have been reelected in a landslide: among the quarter of the electorate that identified themselves as such, Santorum won 59% to 41%. The trouble for Santorum was that, of the non-evangelical three-fourths of the electorate, Santorum lost to his opponent, Democrat Bob Casey, by two to one. Santorum was defeated in that race by about 17 points -- one of the worst drubbings in modern history for an incumbent senator (see chart at this link). If anything, looking at a year when Santorum did poorly makes it easy to identify his strength, which is with religious conservatives who are concerned about social issues. Of nine contests in this year’s Republican primary so far, only the first five -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada -- have exit polling. In all of those states Santorum did better among self-described 'very conservative' and 'evangelical/born-again Christians' than he did overall. (And, you’ll recall, he won just Iowa, very narrowly.) Additionally, Santorum scored well with voters who were most interested in conservative social issues. For instance, in South Carolina, where Santorum placed third with 17% of the vote, Santorum won just two groups of voters: 51% of those who listed abortion as their top issue and 42% who said their most important quality in a candidate was 'strong moral character.' Electorally, therefore, Santorum appears to have two things in his favor as he tries to build on his stunning rise over the past week and a half. First, religious conservatives, a key demographic in many forthcoming state contests, love him. Second, he is not Mitt Romney and has become the leading 'not-Romney' candidate, an odd title that has determined a large chunk of the nominating battle so far. There are 15 states, mainly Southern, where more than 30% of the population is part of the 'Evangelical/Protestant Tradition,' according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s U.S. Religious Landscape Study. Of these 15, which includes the entire old Confederacy save for Florida, only two have voted so far: South Carolina (45% evangelical) and Missouri (37%). As we know, Romney fared poorly in both states. Exit polling confirmed that close to two-thirds of the voters in the Palmetto State’s primary were evangelical/born-again voters, and while we don’t have any fresh exit polling from Missouri, the 2008 exit polling indicated that the electorate was 55% evangelical. Therefore, it will be a surprise if Romney runs strongly in many of the remaining, leading evangelical states." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"I started out the night at the UN Plaza apartment of FT US editor Gillian Tett who was hosting a cocktail reception for Rob Grimshaw, the new Managing Director of FT.com. Mr. Grimshaw who hails from London will be living in New York full time for the first time in his life.  There was a good crowd when I arrived just after 7. UN Plaza apartments have magnificent views of the UN, the East River as well as midtown Manhattan. I chatted briefly with the new man. The FT is my favorite newspaper in the world these days. The Weekend edition is, in my humble opinion, the most interesting weekend journal with wonderful writers and always an excellent interview (FT Lunch) with all kinds of people. They also seem to be staffed with gracious friendly journalists and executives. I’ve seen evidence of this again and again. I remark on it because it does seem an unusually pleasant and unique attitude for people who are acknowledged to be some of the best journalists in the business. From the UN Plaza I caught a cab to go up to Fifth Avenue in the 80s where Diahn and Tom McGrath were hosting a PEN Authors’ Evening dinner at their apartment with the honored guest being Dick Cavett." (NYSocialDiary)


"Beloved club and fashion maven Zelda Kaplan died after collapsing in the front row at Fashion Week yesterday at age 95. Kaplan, New York’s oldest and most beloved night owl and the woman who could famously 'out-party even Paris Hilton,' collapsed at the Joanna Mastroianni show at The Studio at Lincoln Center. Witnesses said the socialite 'slumped forward' as the second model came out on the runway, and she was carried out and given CPR by paramedics. An ambulance rushed her to the hospital, but she couldn’t be revived. Her death left attendees devastated. One told us, 'Zelda passed away, right there, in the front row. Security carried her out, but the show just carried on. Everybody is distraught.'  A statement released by her friends yesterday read, 'Zelda Kaplan passed away suddenly today at the age of 95 from natural causes . . . She will be deeply missed and always loved.' Zelda, famed for her African outfits, dramatic hats and large sunglasses, was a club fixture right up to her death. She was at the opening of new XL last month, where she was photographed with Lance Bass and designer/stylist Indashio. Her close friends include fashion exec Keri Ingvarsson, stylist Mia Morgan, artist Andres Serrano and Richie Rich. After moving here from New Jersey in the 1960s, Zelda became a party and fashion-world fixture, but also made regular visits to Africa to work on human rights issues." (PageSix)


"Some of you must be getting rather tired of this, but I simply can’t help it. I swear on the Bible I’m not doing it on purpose. I dropped in on the terribly nice village doctor although I knew it was a total waste of our time ...  The object of my affection is Jessica Raine, that graceful and shy nurse Jenny in the Sunday-night BBC soap Call the Midwife. This is the kind of coup de foudre I haven’t experienced in years. Cupid’s arrow pierced my breast three Sundays ago, and I haven’t had a peaceful night’s sleep ever since. I even had my daughter run a Google search on Jessica, and it turns out she grew up in a Welsh farm near Powis. 'She’s very pretty and nice,' the mother of my children reluctantly admitted. 'Cupid’s arrow pierced my breast three Sundays ago, and I haven’t had a peaceful night’s sleep ever since.' What attracts me is the role she plays. Her grace, shyness, and understatement, her intense and repressed character, are straight out of some Terence Rattigan play. And I love her rather plain beauty ... Nurse Jenny is my ideal woman. Her total lack of flamboyance and inability to be vulgar even if she tried has me loathing myself for having fallen for others in the past. Well, that’s all over with for good. Goodbye, assistant editor of the Spectator. So long, Keira. Au revoir pour toujours, Rebecca. You’re all through, washed-up, history, curtains, finished. From now on and until the day I die it’s only Jessica Raine/Nurse Jenny to whom my heart and soul belong." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

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