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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Even by the hot-money standards of China's economy, defense is an exceptionally lucrative growth industry. The country's 11.2 percent defense budget increase announced March 4, which gives the People's Liberation Army (PLA) $106 billion to spend in 2012, is merely the latest in a long succession of generous budget hikes that have doubled China's military resources every six or seven years since the early 1990s. This bonanza has produced many winners within China, from the average soldier to domestic defense contractors to ordinary citizens who feel China's sense of pride being restored. Even President Hu Jintao will feel a little more secure in his command of the military after signing off this year's $11 billion PLA pay raise. Yet some beneficiaries of Beijing's military largesse can be found far beyond China's shores. Some are allies and suppliers that stand to gain directly from the trickle-down of PLA procurement and overseas operations. Others represent the counterbalance of governments wary of China's military ascent. Here are just eight of the unintended passengers on Beijing's defense budget escalator." (ForeignPolicy)
"Over the last half century of presidential primaries, there has been an almost inviolable rule of thumb: The candidate that wraps up his party’s nomination first goes on to win the general election.
There is a certain logic to that. Candidates that can eliminate their primary rivals most quickly have more time to unify their party and prepare for the fall campaign. And in the process, they usually show themselves to be potent vote-getters with broad appeal, particularly to the various elements within their own party.That is basically how it has worked from 1964 until now, with the conspicuous exception of 2008. Then, the negative effect of a lengthy primary campaign was thrown into question. Democrat Barack Obama took three months longer to nail down his party’s nomination than Republican John McCain. Yet Obama won the race handily in November.The long Democratic battle with Hillary Clinton is credited with providing Obama with a host of assets. It forced him to improve his performance as a candidate and to organize not just the early states but the entire country. And the high energy Obama-Clinton struggle enabled the Democrats to dominate the national debate at a time the 2008 campaign was taking shape. Now, with the Republicans facing the prospect of a long, delegate-counting campaign of their own, the question becomes: was 2008 an aberration in the long-term undesirability of lengthy nominating races? Or was it the new reality of American politics, where a long primary contest can actually be a virtue rather than a vice?" (Rhodes Cook)
"If it’s Wednesday, it must be Michael’s: Katie Couric was at the table next to mine and I don’t know what her latest news is but maybe she’d just been made the first female Cardinal because half the people in the room came over to say hello (or get her blessing), and the other half couldn’t get through the crowd.  Michael’s was jammed. I know you hear that sort of thing from me frequently, and Wednesday is the day that all the Peepul come out to play/work/lunch. Yesterday, however, seemed like the next thing to pandemonium. Table One in the bay, Bonnie Fuller was hosting her Wednesday lunch with her boss PMC vice chairman Gerry Byrne with a guestlist of Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed), Ann Lawlor, Meryl Poster, Fern Mallis, Mark Patricof (Mesa Global), Jill Martin, Lisa Granstein (AdWeek) and Carlos Lamadrid (HollywoodLife.com). Katie Couric was right in front of them (receiving) with Cindi Berger. Nearby Jason Hodes with Donnie Deutsch. Next to them: the Mayor of Michael’s Joe Armstrong who was walking with a cane after some harsh bronco busting down Texas way. Next to him: Liz Smith and Joni Evans, those Wowowow.com girls." (NYSocialDiary)


"Madeleine Albright, the former U.N. ambassador, was thrust into the top ranks of American diplomacy after a tart, off-color rebuke in 1996 of a Cuban MIG-29 pilot who shot down two unarmed planes manned by Cuban exiles while boasting 'cojones!' 'Frankly, this is not cojones, this is cowardice,' Albright toldreporters at a U.N. press conference that provided a backdrop for what I like to call her "cojones moment," a pivot point that marked her break from the relative backwaters of U.N. diplomacy to the national political stage.  President Bill Clinton said it was "probably the most effective one liner in the whole administration's foreign policy." And it helped accelerate Albright's political ascent from an obscure university professor turned U.N. envoy to the country's first female secretary of state.Albright paved the way for Condoleezza Riceand Hillary Clinton, but is a future fourth making some rhetorical waves of her own? On Monday, Susan Rice, speaking to hundreds of rabbis at a luncheon hosted by the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), returned to the related theme of Cuban unmentionables, recalling a 1961 speech by Adlai Stevenson defending the Kennedy administration's botched Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and attacking Fidel Castro for his hostility towards the Catholic Church. 'I have already told you about Castro's crimes against man. But now let me tell you about Castro's crimes against God,' Rice recalled Stevenson telling the U.N. General Assembly, while an Israeli diplomat and his Irish counterpart listened together attentively. 'Castro has circumcisedthe freedoms of the Catholics of Cuba.' 'At that,' Rice said, "the Israeli diplomat looked over at his Irish friend and said, ‘I always knew that, somehow, wewould be blamed for this.'It was a good joke, but there was something more behind it. The remarks were not only likely to strike a chord with a voting bloc, the anti-Castro Cuban Americans, who once exercised outside influence on American foreign policy on the island nation." (ForeignPolicy)


"Actress and Democratic fund-raiser Patricia Duff got stuck in an elevator with President Obama’s Secret Service detail on the way to a private New York benefit for the commander in chief.
While John Legend, Tory Burch, Mariska Hargitay, Harvey Weinstein and Michael Kors made it up to the event at the swanky Upper East Side penthouse owned by White House interior designer Michael Smith and HBO vice president James Costos for a $10,000-a-head fund-raiser for Obama last Thursday, Duff wasn’t so lucky.  Duff, according to a source, was “stuck in the prewar co-op’s tiny elevator with a strapping Secret Service man for a half-hour. Finally, the elevator got fixed, and Duff, who had to jump out, made it just in time for Obama’s arrival. The organizers played it safe and brought the president up in the freight elevator." (PageSix)


"Barry Yoko and Johnny Smoke stood in the corner of a first–floor room in a $75 million mansion owned by Aby Rosen. It was about an hour into the party at the house, formerly the disgraced Salander-O’Reilly gallery, last night and Mr. Smoke was still wearing his corduroy fedora. Mr. Yoko, for his part, sported a pair of Mickey Mouse ears. Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, son of former French Vogue editor Carine, had filled the house with wall-sized paintings and sculptures by the artist Nicolas Pol for the party, which coincided with the ADAA’s Art Show champagne gala at the Park Avenue Armory just a few blocks away. Mr. Smoke said he liked the art. Mr. Yoko wasn’t sure.
“I love the art actually, but not the sculptures,' Mr. Yoko said. 'I’m not going to lie to you, they look a little creepy and a little, I don’t know, surreal. Like an exploded body with organs hanging out.'
'Did you notice all the voodoo signs in the paintings?' asked Mr. Smoke, who works with the estates of William Burroughs and Bryon Gysin to carry out their vision of a Dream Machine." (GalleristNY)


"Kanye West had a warmer — but still tepid — welcome to his eponymous clothing line during his second-ever runway presentation Tuesday night at Paris fashion week. Former flame Kim Kardashian, dressed in head-to-toe West, sat in the front row, flashing the $6,000 white sandals he designed for Giuseppe Zanotti. She sat near Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Rosario Dawson and Riccardo Tisci as fashion’s elite came out to see West’s leather and fur looks. After the show, in which Carmen Kass, Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls walked, Azealia Banks, Big Sean, Waka Flocka Flame, Common and Mos Def performed for the crowd at the Belvedere-sponsored after-party. West’s first line took a drubbing in October. Reviews for his second show were mixed .." (PageSix)
"In November 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan released its seminal debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). At the time, the show 'Full House,' then in its seventh season, was still dominant in the ratings. What similarities could possible exist between the '90s most saccharine sitcom and its most respected group of gangsta rappers? More than you might expect. Despite their superficial differences, these are essentially two makeshift families struggling to make do in America; two casts of eccentrics that inexplicably gel to form a cohesive unit. Let's further explore the complexities that link the West Coast Tanners and the East Coast Wu, revealing them as two sides of the same early 90s coin. DANNY (BOB SAGET)—GZA Just as Danny is the patriarch of the Tanners, GZA is very much a father figure within the Wu-Tang Clan. GZA is the oldest banger in the Clan (he’s already 45), had the only major-label release prior to Wu’s formation (1991’s Words from the Genius), and goes by the moniker of 'Genius.' Just as the Tanner family would quickly disintegrate from in-fighting and other dangers without Danny, the GZA is the glue that holds the Clan together. As Method Man explains at the end of “Can It All Be So Simple,' 'We form like Voltron and GZA happen to be the head.' Most of the time, Danny appeared to be the only character on “Full House” with any modicum of common sense. While the Wu are much more grounded and reasonable than the Tanner family, GZA always struck me as its most pragmatic member." (Awl)

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