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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Can it really be true that Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama among women? This is what The New York Times (and CBS) said in their latest poll—Romney 46, Obama 44. The Obama team and liberal blogs immediately went to work crapping on the poll. The methodology was weird—they called back respondents from an earlier poll. But what if...? Obama can afford a lot of things to go wrong against Romney, but one thing he absolutely cannot afford is to have no gender gap. So pondering this situation has got me thinking for the first time semi-seriously about you-know-who. Joseph Curl of The Washington Times is the latest to speculate on the Hillary Clinton-Joe Biden switcheroo. Bring your machete so you can hack your way through the snark. But once you do, you’ll find a reasonably persuasive argument underneath it. Clinton’s positive numbers are off the charts. Biden’s are so-so—both approval and disapproval sit in the 40s. Biden’s putative asset, that he helps a bit with white working-class and Catholic voters, is even truer of Clinton, the famous drinker of shots in those proletarian Pennsylvania bars. And women—forget about it. An Obama-Clinton ticket would pulverize any Romney ticket on the distaff side (is that insulting? I’m just trying to avoid repeating the word 'women' too much). It wouldn’t matter if he put Carrie Underwood on his ticket. I know, I know. It’s silly. I can right now picture the friends reading this who will write me to say, 'Mike, that’s silly.' It probably is. But here are a few points for your consideration that aren’t silly at all." (Michael Tomasky)


"He cut out the generals. He cut out the secretary of defense. He cut out the secretary of state. And in the end, he produced a schizophrenic policy that will almost certainly go down as the greatest foreign-policy debacle of his administration. Afghanistan may not be Barack Obama's Vietnam, but that is only because it has failed to stir national tensions in the way the war in Southeast Asia did. He may therefore get away with his errors in judgment and his victimization by circumstance to a degree that Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon could not. But it is impossible to read accounts like David Sanger's in the New York Times this weekend without concluding that the primary drivers behind U.S. AfPak policy for the past three years have been politics, naivete, and intellectual dishonesty. It also clear that on this issue, the White House's self-imposed distance from the rest of the president's cabinet and the military may have kept the United States from making even more egregious errors and suffering even greater losses in this latest tragic round of the distant region's great game. The question remains whether, as it scuttles for the door in Afghanistan, the United States will intentionally or inadvertently usher in forces that could leave the region more dangerous." (David Rothkopf)


"Several Senate Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014 have raised less than half a million dollars for their campaign war chests despite being vulnerable to Republican challengers. Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) have spent relatively little time raising money during their first term. Begich represents a traditionally Republican state, while Shaheen and Udall hail from states where Republicans are often competitive. At the end of March, Begich reported $449,000 in his campaign account, Shaheen reported $148,000 and Udall reported $205,000. The modest fundraising hauls could be a troubling sign for Democrats, who are facing a daunting election map in 2014 regardless of whether they hold onto their majority in this year’s election." (TheHill)



"Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, ranked in the top 10 in gross domestic product per capita. It is one of the most isolated major countries in the world; it occupies an entire united continent, is difficult to invade and rarely is threatened. Normally, we would not expect a relatively well-off and isolated country to have been involved in many wars. This has not been the case for Australia and, more interesting, it has persistently not been the case, even under a variety of governments. Ideology does not explain the phenomenon in this instance. Since 1900, Australia has engaged in several wars and other military or security interventions (including the Boer War, World War I, World War II and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq) lasting about 40 years total. Put another way, Australia has been at war for more than one-third of the time since the Commonwealth of Australia was established in 1901. In only one of these wars, World War II, was its national security directly threatened, and even then a great deal of its fighting was done in places such as Greece and North Africa rather than in direct defense of Australia. This leaves us to wonder why a country as wealthy and seemingly secure as Australia would have participated in so many conflicts." (STRATFOR)



"Michael Mailer, son of Norman and a very close buddy, is producing a movie directed by James Toback and starring Alec Baldwin. It’s about a movie producer trying to finance a film during the Cannes Film Festival. That’s what Cannes is all about: Greedy Hollywood types deal, dicker, and haggle over future films and imaginary profits with the French Riviera’s azure waters as background. So this is a movie within a movie, and yours truly plays an Onassis-like figure languishing on his yacht trying to fend off Hollywood sharks looking for a mark. According to the script which I have yet to see, Alec (us Hollywood types only use first names) comes onboard Bushido, sees my young blonde girlfriend du jour, makes a pass at her, and we end up fighting. The only provision the director has made is that the fight should be for real. No faking and no taking dives, except that we both should end up in the sea fully dressed. This is the good news. The bad is that Alec Baldwin is not only a tough guy, he’s also no friend, having told Mailer that I’ve trashed him in print and he’s looking forward to getting revenge." (Taki Theodoracopoulos)


"Last night I went over to Jazz@Lincoln Center for the Literacy Partners gala evening – the 29th annual. Black tie. You’ve read about it here before. Liz Smith, Arnold Scaasi, Parker Ladd, and a group of founding supporters started this 39 years ago. It’s for reading. Teaching people to read. A simple matter that is not so simple anymore, in this complicated society of ours. Most people I know don’t read much. They get everything the old fashioned way: someone tells them – usually it’s the TV or the radio. We don’t think much about it because they can. Although – you know people who can’t read but they conceal it. In New York there are more than two million who cannot read above a Fifth Grade Level, and many can’t read at all. There are sophomores in college who can’t read. It’s not a new problem, obviously. Not being able to read, in certain parts of town, means a lot of other things too. Like poverty ... There are guest readers. Last night it was Bill Maher, Jeffrey Toobin and Sally Bedell Smith." (NYSocialDiary)


"President Obama’s reelection campaign is taking strategic advice from former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, whom one operative described as the 'Democratic Party’s Karl Rove.' Emanuel, a friend of both campaign manager Jim Messina and senior strategist and fellow Chicagoan David Axelrod, periodically weighs in 'very clearly' on what the campaign should be doing, a Democratic official said. The pugnacious Emanuel, who left the White House for a successful bid to become Chicago’s mayor, came to Obama’s defense last week when news reports surfaced that the Ricketts family — which owns the Chicago Cubs — was considering launching a $10 million campaign against Obama tied to his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Emanuel, who was said to be 'livid,' allegedly cut off ties, at least temporarily, with the family. 'The Ricketts have tried to contact the mayor, but he’s said that he does not want to talk with them today, tomorrow or anytime soon,' an aide told The Washington Post." (TheHill)


"He doesn’t call. He doesn’t write. He doesn’t drop by for a visit. That’s what some of the most senior Democrats in Congress are experiencing from President Barack Obama these days. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) is trying to cut a deal on the nation’s fiscal crisis, but he can’t recall the last time he talked to the president. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is in charge of one of Obama’s top priorities — preventing a rate increase on student loans — but he hasn’t talked to the president in months. And Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is the go-to guy on high gas prices, but the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hasn’t spoken to the president much since the previous Congress. 'I think the reality is the current Congress is not constituted in a way that makes it likely that we can do very much,' Bingaman said, 'and that’s reflected in what we wind up doing on the floor and understandably the president is not as engaged — at least with me.' Obama is certainly in regular touch with the top Democratic leaders on the Hill — Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — but when it comes to some key policymakers and chairmen in Democratic congressional politics, he’s far less engaged than earlier in his presidency. The lack of communication not only reflects a gridlocked Congress in an election year, but it speaks to the president’s personal style — he’s never been much of a schmoozing, back-slapping type in the spirit of Bill Clinton or Lyndon B. Johnson. And even though he came from the Senate, Obama wasn’t there long enough to develop deep, bonding friendships with some of the old bulls in Congress." (Politico)



"Howard (Stern) came back and said that Warren Littlefield used to run the whole NBC TV network ... Howard asked Warren if he was right about Conan in a way. He said that he had his trepidation about Conan and he didn't work at 11:30 and he was rejected. Warren said Conan had a great run at 12:30. Howard said he never beat Craig Ferguson. Warren said he was number one when he was at 12:30. Warren said that the question is if you throw the guy out who is at the top of the throne. Howard asked why he didn't write about Leno in his book at all. Warren said Bill Carter has done outstanding books about that. He said The Late Shift is out there and Bill's last book (The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy) about the battle in late night had all of that in it. Howard asked Warren about Johnny Carson retiring. Warren said it came as a surprise when Johnny announced he was doing his last year. He said that it was a big hit for them because they had no idea. Howard asked how close he came to using Letterman instead of Leno. Warren said it was an east coast / west coast split. He said that it should have been Dave's show. Warren said Mike Ovitz handled it like they had Johnny Carson. They made it very difficult. Warren said his job is to find other choices. Howard said it sounds like Mike Ovitz was a pain in the ass and he was busting balls about Letterman's contract. Warren said that's what happened. He said Letterman and Leno are very talented. He said they got to a GE conference in Boca Raton and they were all sitting aroudn the table talking about this. He said it became the final discussion about what to do. Howard said that has to be a lot of pressure." (Marksfriggin)


"Storms in Cannes wrought havoc with jet-set parties and screenings at the film festival over the weekend. But the weather cleared enough for billionaire Paul Allen’s annual blowout last night to proceed on his 303-foot yacht, Tatoosh. The party was 'Cuban-themed,' according to a guest, and Cyndi Lauper played live. DJ Zen Freeman tweeted a pic of the boat, saying, 'Records packed and heading out to sea on #Tatoosh.' Events that didn’t survive the storm a day before included two screenings canceled when a roof collapsed at one Cannes venue. A British Film Institute bash kept calm and carried on by moving to the safety of the Carlton Hotel from a rooftop. Despite the downpour, the cast of Harvey Weinstein’s festival acquisition 'The Sapphires' made the best of it by performing a set of Motown classics at an after-party for the movie Sunday." (PageSix)

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