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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"As leaders of the G-8 industrialized countries gather at Camp David later this week, there will be much talk of global leadership -- and of its importance for our crisis-prone world. In a world where so many challenges transcend borders -- threats to the stability of the global economy, climate change, cyberconflict, terrorism, and risks to reliable supplies of food and water, to name just a few -- the need for international cooperation has never been greater. Yet, cooperation depends on leadership. Only global leaders have the leverage to coordinate multinational responses to transnational problems, as well as the wealth and power to persuade other governments to take actions they would not otherwise take. They provide services no one else will pay for and resources that others cannot afford. On issue after issue, leaders set the agenda. Unfortunately, for the first time in seven decades, the world lacks leadership. In the United States, mounting federal debt, a feeble recovery from the Great Recession, and Washington's political paralysis have stoked fears that America can no longer afford its postwar leadership role. Across the Atlantic, a debt crisis has shaken confidence in Europe, its institutions, and its future. In Japan, reconstruction following 2011's triple disaster of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear fallout has proved much easier than recovery from two decades of political and economic malaise, a paralysis that has left Japan's government less willing and able to contribute to international projects where others do the heavy lifting. A generation ago, these were the world's powerhouses. With Canada, they made up the G-7 -- the group of free market democracies that powered the global economy forward. Today, they are struggling to find their footing.  Yet the world's most promising emerging states are not ready to fill this vacuum." (Ian Bremer)


"New political leaders do not invent new national strategies. Rather, they adapt enduring national strategies to the moment. On Tuesday, Francois Hollande will be inaugurated as France's president, and soon after taking the oath of office, he will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. At this moment, the talks are expected to be about austerity and the European Union, but the underlying issue remains constant: France's struggle for a dominant role in European affairs at a time of German ascendance. Two events shaped modern French strategy. The first, of course, was the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 and the emergence of Britain as the world's dominant naval power and Europe's leading imperial power. This did not eliminate French naval or imperial power, but it profoundly constrained it. France could not afford to challenge Britain any more and had to find a basis for accommodation, ending several centuries of hostility if not distrust. The second moment came in 1871 when the Prussians defeated France and presided over the unification of German states. After its defeat, France had to accept not only a loss of territory to Germany but also the presence of a substantial, united power on its eastern frontier. From that moment, France's strategic problem was the existence of a unified Germany. France had substantial military capabilities, perhaps matching and even exceeding that of Germany. However, France's strategy for dealing with Germany was to build a structure of alliances against Germany. First, it allied with Britain, less for its land capabilities than for the fact that Britain's navy could blockade Germany and therefore deter it from going to war. The second ally was Russia, the sheer size of which could threaten Germany with a two-front war if one began. Between its relationships with Britain and Russia, France felt it had dealt with its strategic problem. This was not altogether correct." (STRATFOR)


"Jamie Dimon was once the silver-haired hero of Wall Street, scooping up failing banks during the worst of the financial crisis and avoiding the kind of toxic mortgage bonds that sent competitors into bankruptcy and pushed the American economy to the brink. He was also one of President Barack Obama’s most prominent Wall Street friends, a rare high-profile Democrat in an industry dominated by low-tax, free-market Republicans. Dimon spent several years in Obama’s hometown of Chicago, where he ran Bank One after a nasty breakup with his one-time mentor. He got to know Rahm Emanuel. He hired Bill Daley as a top executive before Daley became Obama’s second chief of staff. He gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Democrats. Obama returned all the love, at least at first. Dimon made at least 16 trips to the White House and met at least three times with Obama — a bond that allowed the president to appear business-friendly. The New York Times in 2009 called Dimon Obama’s 'favorite banker.' But in the wake of a $2 billion trading loss, Dimon’s reputation as a blunder-free Master of the Universe is badly tarnished. And Dimon’s connection to the president, which the JPMorgan CEO now says was never all that strong, seems gone for good." (Politico)


""THE morning line on the presidential election: Pros estimate the same-sex marriage stance 'brings Obama another $20-$30 million. The gay community is affluent. Willing to spend money.' However, the race 'is too close to call. Romney’s language and campaign ads, focusing on America’s prosperity, stimulating jobs, not romance, are having impact.'" (Cindy Adams)


"'I HATE gay weddings. I’m thrilled about the equal rights thing ... but gay weddings are like the War on Terror—they go on forever .... Gay weddings are a lifetime commitment—for the guests. They start at seven and end in October. Why? Because stereotypes be damned, gays love parades.' That is Joan Rivers. With all the ponderous punditry on same-sex marriage—not to mention President Obama on the cover of Newsweek with a rainbow-colored halo, being called 'Our First Gay President'—I think we need some irreverence. Joan’s quote is from her coming book, titled Joan Rivers: I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me. And let me tell you, she is not kidding. This book is relentless. Often hilarious, often shocking, totally politically incorrect. She takes no prisoners. Or if she does, she tortures them before the coup de grace. Joan takes on everything—from 'black people who give their children ridiculous names' to 'people who like modern art' to 'old bodies.' She’s not too keen on the likes of Anne Frank, Gandhi or Stephen Hawking, either. Joan explains: 'Being with haters is much more entertaining than being with depressives, because haters are always willing to make a scene ... they don’t give a shit. Those are my kind of people.'" (Liz Smith/NYSocialDiary)

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