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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Well, there are two types of decline. The first is relative economic decline, and I think this should be uncontroversial. Funnily enough, it isn't yet fully uncontroversial, but it should be: namely, that America's share of the global economy is diluting. In 2000, America had about 31 percent of the global economy, so just under a third. And by 2010 it was down to 23.5 percent, just under a quarter. That is a remarkable shift. So relative economic decline shouldn't be something we debate too much because it's happening and it's going to continue to happen. And I think the U.S. share would be likely to fall to a little more than a sixth in the next decade or so, unless there are dramatic changes in the pattern and distribution of global growth. One of the reasons why I emphasize this is because there's one very accomplished author whom I generally admire, Bob Kagan. His book, The Myth of American Decline, makes the point that America's share has been unchanged for 40 years and unchanged between the turn of the century and now. The facts are wrong. And I picked that up because the president picked it up and essentially cited the core pieces of Kagan's argument in the State of the Union [address]. While it's understandable President Obama wants to refute the idea that he's America's declinist-in-chief -- and it is a line of attack from Mitt Romney -- I do think it means that we're going to have a 2012 election where on both sides, both candidates will start on a false premise: that relative economic decline is simply to be ignored or dismissed. And I'd describe that as a kind of intellectual ostrich position." (ED Luce)


"For one thing, the Republican party has been desperate to break the hammerlock the Democrats maintain on Jewish voters. For another, he can only shore up support among those evangelicals who believe a whole Israel is necessary to complete the dispensationalist fantasia of rapture, murder and Churchill Downs raining from the skies. But most importantly, it's not certain whether those two conditions matter, because Romney couldn't even one-up Eric Cantor. In November, 2010, Cantor, the House GOP Whip, spoke to Netanyahu before his meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He pledged that the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives could be relied upon to serve as a check against the Obama presidency. Cantor told Bibi that congress would protect the interests of a foreign power and act as a block against the branch of government actually intended to handle diplomacy. In Eric Cantor's high school civics class, evidently government was divided into executive, judicial, and Israel. And even then, God knows if that matters, since Bibi has basically been campaigning against Obama since 2009 anyway. In April, 2009, former intifada prison MP and current Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg sock-puppeted Bibi's pronouncement that either the U.S. or Israel would eliminate Iran's nuclear development. It was a clear ultimatum that admitted neither discussion of Iran's ambitions vis-a-vis nuclear energy nor the means of response. Three years later, nothing has changed. This story never changes. In case you're feeling any more exercised by the above, ask, too, if it matters. Because one of the strongest thrusts of Netanyahu's three-year public relations campaign against the Obama administration has been against the latter's predictably polite, impotent tutting about illegal Israeli settlements. (For all the whining about Democrats, the last American president to tell Israel to go stuff it was George H.W. Bush." (Gawker)


"Mitt Romney has solidified support within his party for the presidential nomination after Rick Santorum’s exit from the race, but is locked in a tight race with President Obama as attention turns to the general election phase of the campaign, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll finds.Registered voters are evenly split between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama. The poll finds 46 percent support Mr. Obama, while as many prefer Mr. Romney. Last month’s Times/CBS News poll also showed a close race, with 47 percent supporting Mr. Obama and 44 percent Mr. Romney.A majority of Republican primary voters – 54 percent – now say they would like to see Mr. Romney nominated, including a plurality of evangelical Christians, a group that had formed Mr. Santorum’s base of support. Newt Gingrich is backed by 20 percent of Republican voters, while Ron Paul draws 12 percent support. But the poll continues to show a lack of strong enthusiasm among many Republican voters for Mr. Romney’s candidacy. One in three say they would enthusiastically support him in November. That’s hardly a resounding endorsement from the party faithful. Perhaps reflecting the prolonged nature of the Republican nominating contest, more Republican primary voters, 4 in 10, say they will support him but with reservations, while another 18 percent say they will support him only because he is the Republican nominee, and 8 percent say they will not support him. Evangelical Christians are far more likely than others to say they have reservations about him. But at the same time, a broad majority of Republican primary voters – 63 percent – say Mr. Santorum did the right thing in suspending his campaign last week, including most evangelical Christians. Still, about 4 in 10 evangelical Christians say he should have stayed in the race, compared with just over 2 in 10 among others." (NYTimes)


"(Hugette) Clark died a year ago this coming May 24th. She was two weeks from her 105th birthday. She was very rich and until a reporter uncovered her long forgotten identity, she was totally unknown to the world, including her neighbors. She wasn’t totally unknown and forgotten in the end because of the money. Many many millions, undetermined at the time, but riches in real estate, jewels, cash and securities all the legacy of her father William A. Clark, one time Senator from Montana and a multimillionaire whose fortune originated with copper mining stocks and claims. Senator Clark died in 1925. In his lifetime he had had two wives and two families. Huguette was a member of the second family and the youngest of his children ... Alas poor Huguette. Her jewels were sold at auction yesterday at Christie’s. The original estimate for the 17 items in the sale was $6 to $12 million. However, a large, rare pink 9 carat diamond alone brought $15 million. It had been acquired from Dreicer & Company of Paris in 1910, probably for Anna Clark, as had most of the other items which were in turn inherited by Huguette. The total sale was more than $20 million with commissions, the second largest estate jewelry sale this year (after Elizabeth Taylor’s estate auction). Most of the jewels had been kept in a vault since the 1940s when Huguette was still a young woman in her 30s. It may be that she rarely saw and just as rarely wore them, if at all. Like so many other worldly goods she possessed, Huguette had no interest in or use for them." (NYSocialDiary)

"How much money do you make a month selling weed? Drug Dealer: There’s weeks I make $600 profit. But I’d say, on average, it’s about $1200 a month. $1200 is a good, rough figure. And that’s after expenses? That’s profit? Drug Dealer: That’s profit. But you also have a job. You work for tips. Drug Dealer: Yeah, I work for tips. So how much do you make on tips? Drug Dealer: I’d say about $600, $700 a week. That’s more than you make selling drugs! Drug Dealer:Well, I’m working a hell of a lot more than I am I’m when I’m selling. I’m spending far more time working than I am selling weed. I mean I spend probably about a quarter of the time selling weed. [Giggling] A quarter of the time …Drug Dealer: [Pause. An weary groan] A quarter of the time … Why not just sell more drugs? Drug Dealer: Because there has to be a demand for it and part of my philosophy in selling drugs is that I’m not going to actively seek it out. By actively seeking it out, you expose yourself to a greater risk of getting caught. If there’s ever a point I get enough business that I don’t have to work a [makes air-quotes] legitimate job, I will absolutely take that opportunity. The second I’m making $1000 a week just selling weed and not doing anything else but selling weed, I’m going to take that up. How long have you been selling? Drug Dealer: I started in 2006 and, like most other dealers, started by being a heavy user of the product. I realized that if I bought in bulk and sold some of it, then I could essentially smoke for free. I wasn’t making any money at first. It actually took up to this past year for me to begin seeing any kind of profit off of it. And it wasn’t until I curbed my own habit that I started to see that. Drug Dealer: Is this like those rules you mentioned the other day? Drug Dealer: That’s the Ten Crack Commandments, by Notorious BIG — 'Don’t get high on your own supply.'" (TheBillfold)
"For the city’s Democratic donor class, it can be a dreary procession. Night after night, candidates for high office from around the country make their way to Manhattan to rattle the tip cup. The same hors d’oeuvres, the same bromides, the same canned answers to the same audience of well-heeled party types who can cough up the couple-grand entrance fee. But this year, local Democrats say, a new figure has emerged on the scene, someone who has sparked interest and enthusiasm in the city not seen since Barack Obama’s presidential run, or perhaps even Hillary Clinton’s first Senate run, a slight woman from the Oklahoma Plains, by way of Harvard Yard, named Elizabeth Warren. Her fund-raising appearances here seem part revival meeting, part think-tank policy session. At an appearance at the Rockefeller Center-area law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf, Ms. Warren surprised the overflow crowd of 50 or so by going around the room and asking each person who they were and what brought them there, lending the proceedings the air of summer camp reunion, a feeling only enhanced when a dozen or so of the people in attendance said that they were in fact students of Ms. Warren’s from her two decades on the faculty of Harvard Law School. 'That was personally to me, very, I don’t want to say moving—that is a little bit of an exaggeration—but it was telling,' said Marc Weiss, the president of Digital Innovations Group, a nonprofit think thank that supports innovation on the web and a regular contributor to Democratic candidates. 'Former students standing up and saying how she had impacted the decisions they made about what kind of law they practice. How many college professors can you say that about?'" (Observer)

"'I have ridden a lot of bulls in my day,' said filmmaker Casey Neistat as he arrived at the Art Production Fund's annual hoedown last night. But at the event, honoring artist Kiki Smith, art dealer and adviser Mark Fletcher, and Sotheby's auctioneer Tobias Meyer, the bull was mechanical—a no-go for Neistat. 'If it's not going to put me in danger,' he said, adjusting the brim of his cowboy hat, 'I don't want to ride it.' Though it was lacking live animals, Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen's bash had all the other makings of a genuine country hoedown, with hay on the ground, a family-style BBQ spread for dinner, and a room full of cowboys and -girls (Steven Klein, Tara Subkoff, Erin Wasson, Michael Stipe, and Lake Bell among them). Not everyone received the chaps-and-boots memo. While Michelle Harper admired Giovanna Battaglia and Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld's all-in getups, she said, 'I am party-hopping tonight, so I had to go more classic. Personally, I am over wearing themed outfits—I feel like chic always wins. Can you imagine if I tried to ride the bull in this?]'" (Style)
"The congressional candidates former President Clinton is supporting in 2012 have something in common: They all backed his wife’s presidential bid four years ago. Sources close to Clinton said he wants to help those who put themselves on the line to support the former first lady’s campaign for the White House. But with Hillary Clinton serving in the Obama administration and Chelsea Clinton working for NBC News, Bill Clinton is the only member of the family in a position to hit the campaign trail. Clinton announced on Tuesday that he will travel to Texas in April to endorse Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), who faces serious primary opposition. Reyes not only endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2008, he served as her campaign co-chairman in charge of the Southwest region. Earlier this month Clinton picked sides in an intraparty fight when he backed Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.) over Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.). Altmire didn’t endorse in the 2008 primary, but Critz was a top staffer for former Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a stalwart Clinton ally. Critz, who is squaring off with Altmire in a redistricting-induced primary on April 24, has aired television ads in Pennsylvania promoting the endorsement from the popular former president. Clinton’s move to endorse in the Altmire-Critz race prompted speculation about what he might do in another Democratic primary — this one in New Jersey, where Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman are battling it out ahead of a June primary. The loyalties from 2008 were clear: Pascrell backed Hillary Clinton; Rothman backed then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)." (TheHill)

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