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Friday, April 06, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

 
"'April is the cruellest month' was T. S. Eliot’s contention, and soon enough it may prove that rare assertion on which Rick Santorum and Lawrence O’Donnell would agree. This Tuesday, if the public polls hold, Mitt Romney will defeat Santorum in the Republican primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland, and D.C. Three weeks later, ­Romney is likely to do the same in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island; and there is a decent and rising chance that he’ll complete a clean sweep by knocking off Santorum in his home state of Pennsylvania. Should all that occur, the GOP nomination contest will effectively be over. Santorum will be crushed, his presidential dream reduced to dust. And so will O’Donnell, who has most forthrightly (and avidly, and loudly) given voice to the collective yearning of the punditocracy to keep this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction race alive as long as possible. But fear not, professional bloviators and amateur political obsessives. For if we will soon have ourselves a nominee, that nominee will soon need to secure himself a running mate. Yes, that’s right, glory be: The 2012 veepstakes are at hand! ... 'Here’s his problem,' e-mails John Weaver, strategist for McCain in 2000 and 2008 and Jon Huntsman in 2012. “(1) The base doesn’t trust him or like him. (2) To fix that, he’s done everything possible on position-­altering to attract them. (3) #2 hasn’t worked. (4) While attempting #2, he has alienated key general election constituencies—Hispanics, women, working-class whites. (5) So he’s in a box. Does he try to fix #2 with his pick, or pick someone who can help with one of the constituencies in #4, or someone who won’t offend the base but might deliver or help deliver a state? I personally would bet on the base’s intense antipathy (smoldering hate, actually) toward the president and try to get someone who can help in a battleground state or fix a constituency problem.' Romney’s people seem to agree with this conclusion, which is one reason that Rick Santorum is about as likely to be asked to join the board of Planned Parenthood as to be the bottom half of Romney’s ticket." (John Heilmann)


"It would be hard to overstate the mess that's been made out of Mali over the last fortnight. A surprise coup, an accelerating rebellion that has split the country in two, and an economic embargo by the landlocked country's neighbors have battered what had been, until recently, a West African success story. Add to that a looming food crisis in the northeast, and you have quite a fine mess. But the world can't turn away: Mali is too important to write off the country's 20-year old democracy as a failed experiment. The coup was not accidental, as some have argued, but it was definitely improvisational. On March 22, a mutiny in the country's main garrison turned into a coup d'état as soldiers and junior officers chased President Amadou Toumani Touré from his palace. The coup leaders, angered by a lack of military material and political will to suppress a rebellion in the country's vast Saharan region in the north, dubbed the junta a "National Committee for the Re-establishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State" (CNRDRE). Its name aside, the junta aims to destroy, not to establish, democratic rule -- the coup took place little more than a month before a scheduled presidential election, in which Touré was not a candidate. Since then, Mali's political parties, trade unions, and civil society organizations have with near unanimity formed a common front with one goal -- to reject the junta and demand a return to civilian rule. Internationally, the regional group ECOWAS slapped harsh sanctions on the junta and threatened military intervention if the constitutional regime is not restored. The junta now has its back to the wall, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the coup leader, Cpt. Amadou Sanogo, has no real plan to extricate himself from this disaster." (ForeignPolicy)

"If he wins the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick will ultimately come down to two basic choices: whether he wants a running mate who helps him govern or one who helps him politically.Which imperative reigns won’t be clear until at least the summer, as the GOP convention approaches, and after the fall landscape solidifies. Given Romney’s background and personality, there is little question about the kind of No. 2 he would prefer — someone with whom he could form a strong governing partnership and with whom he would personally be compatible. Right now, the name on the lips of most GOP strategists is Ohio senator and former George W. Bush administration official Rob Portman. Yet Romney is also facing some daunting political realities — a quantifiable gender gap, a loss of support among Hispanics amid a hard-right tack on immigration during the Republican primary, concerns about whether he’ll stick by his nods to conservatism and his own lack of sizzle on the stump." (Politico)

"LILLIAN HELLMAN had never believed ... that communism constituted a threat to American freedom. To be sure, she had once thought that social justice would be best served by following the Soviet example, and into the 1960s she still hoped that the Soviet Union would reform itself. 'But she had long ago abandoned any commitment to Stalinist Communism. She was an American patriot, convinced that the route to a nonracist and more egalitarian America lay in defending freedom of thought, the capacity to dissent, and curbs on the power of money.' That is author Alice Kessler-Harris, summing up one aspect of the tumultuous public life of playwright Lillian Hellman. This is in the new book, A Difficult Woman. (Hellman would not 'name names' when called upon to testify before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. Although she emerged from the ordeal as a heroine, her ties to Communism would inevitably color reaction to her, and her work.) Kessler-Harris does not present, as she notes in the brilliant introduction, a 'cradle to grave' biography. Rather, A Difficult Woman is a series of essays on each part of Hellman’s life—as a playwright ... as a woman ... as a woman considered both ugly and sexy ... as a Jew ... as a sometimes naïve and overly idealistic political firebrand ... and on her generosity and her fabled penny-pinching. And Kessler-Harris places all of her qualities, both fine and infuriating, in the context of the century in which she lived — the momentous changes wrought in an astonishingly short amount of time. This book is not a defense, an apologia. Rather, it is an un-retouched, balanced look at cause and effect. Hellman’s reputation suffered in her final years, when she propelled herself into a lawsuit against writer Mary McCarthy, who had infamously remarked on The Dick Cavett Show, 'Every word she writes is a lie. Including ‘and’ and ‘the.’'" (NYSocialDiary)
"As has been rumored for a few weeks now, Matt Lauer has officially signed a new contract with NBC, one that will be keeping him at the helm of 'Today' for the 'long-term.' Lauer is expected to make the news official tomorrow morning on the program. Newsday reported last month that Lauer was closing in on a new contract in the $25 million a year range. Terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but according to the New York Times the $25 million figure was 'complete silliness.' After Meredith Vieira announced that she would be leaving, rumors swirled around Lauer’s future at the program. Ryan Seacrest came up as a potential replacement, spurring on a funny interview earlier this week. Seacrest announced that he would be contributing to NBC’s Olympics coverage, not mentioning any sort of role on 'Today.'" (TVNewser)


"As expected, former Current TV host Keith Olbermann filed suit against his former employer, and he minces no words in the complaint, calling the executives at the channel 'dilettantes' and going into detail about the technical problems that are known to have plagues his program. The lawsuit took aim squarely at Current’s CEO Joel Hyatt, who it painted as unprofessional and unprepared.
The lawsuit also alleges that Current promised Olbermann editorial control over his program’s website, but that shortly after hiring him signed a new distribution deal with an MSO that restricted the amount of material Current could put online ... In a statement responding to the lawsuit, Current was equally harsh, saying that the facts are on its side, and ending by saying 'We hope Mr. Olbermann understands that when it comes to the legal process, he is actually required to show up.'" (TVNewser)

"Everyone with a television seems to have caught Game of Thrones fever, so to everyone who's new to the hottest show on TV right now, PAPERMAG has asked comedian Shannon O'Neill to compile a list of what you need to know to catch up on all the Game of Thrones action.  If you're too lazy to watch Season 1 of Game of Thrones, here are some quick facts to catch you up on all the action ...  There are four families battling for power. The Starks, the Baratheons, the Lannisters and the Targaryens. You want the Starks to win; you feel bad for the Targaryens, especially since they have three baby-dragon mouths to feed; you'd settle for the Baratheons; but the Lannisters are THE WORST. Fuck that family. You thought you hated the Kardashians? Get ready to find the Kardashians tolerable next to these incestuous buttheads. Speaking of incest...Queen Cersei Baratheon (formerly Lannister) 100 percent loves doing it with her brother Jaime Lannister. King Joffrey is their son, yet King Joffrey has no idea that his uncle is also his father." (Papermag)



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