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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Quintus Fabius lives. And the third-century B.C. Roman dictator celebrated as Fabius 'the Delayer' seems to be advising Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on strategy at Scarborough Shoal, where Philippine and Chinese ships have faced off for more than a month. In early April, the Philippine Navy flagship Gregorio del Pilar discovered Chinese fishing boats at the shoal, a group of rocks enclosing a lagoon some 120 nautical miles west of the Philippine island of Luzon. Boarding parties found coral, giant clams, and live sharks on board the boats and prepared to arrest their crews for poaching in Philippine-claimed waters. Within 48 hours, ships from China Maritime Surveillance -- a nonmilitary agency entrusted with enforcing jurisdiction in Chinese-claimed waters -- arrived on the scene and interposed themselves between the Gregorio del Pilar and the alleged poachers. Manila quickly withdrew its frigate and replaced it with an unarmed Philippine Coast Guard search-and-rescue ship, evidently foreseeing a diplomatic debacle (imagine the political furor should photos emerge of a Philippine warship with civilian Chinese ships under its guns). Stalemate between nonmilitary ships ensued. Although neither government flinched from its claim to the atoll and surrounding waters, both disarmed their presence. To understand the military mismatch between China and the Philippines, look no further than the Gregorio del Pilar itself. The warship -- the pride of the Philippine Navy -- is a retired, 1960s-vintage U.S. Coast Guard cutter grandiosely rebranded as a frigate. The Philippines' previous flagship, an old U.S. Navy destroyer escort, fought in World War II. Juxtapose these relics against the increasingly modern Chinese Navy that keeps U.S. and allied naval commanders up nights ... But Beijing's victory is far from certain. Manila seems to be employing what could be called a Fabian strategy -- one premised on delay, diplomatic maneuver, and righting military imbalances. The Philippines stands no chance of winning in combat. It may win a peacetime confrontation." (ForeignPolicy)


"Mitt Romney delivered a speech today about the budget deficit. It’s hard to wrap your arms around Romney’s argument, because it’s an amalgamation of free-floating conservative rage and anxiety, completely untethered to any facts, as agreed upon by the relevant experts.In the real world, the following things are true: The budget deficit was projected to top $1 trillion even before President Obama took office, and that was when forecasters were still radically underestimating the depth of the 2008 crash. Obama did propose temporary deficit-increasing measures, an economic approach endorsed in its general contours, if not its particulars, by Romney’s economists. These measures contributed a relatively small proportion to the deficit, and their effect is short-lived. Obama instead focused on longer-term measures to reduce the deficit, including comprehensive health-care reform projected to reduce deficits by a trillion dollars in its second decade. Obama put forward a budget plan that would stabilize the debt as a percentage of the economy. Obama has hoped to achieve deeper long-term deficit reduction by striking bipartisan deals with Congress, and he has tried to achieve this goal by openly endorsing a bipartisan deficit plan in the Senate and privately agreeing to a more conservative plan with John Boehner, both of which were killed by Republican opposition to any higher revenue. The story told by Romney is one in which all of these things are either untrue or could not possibly be true. Romney elides some inconvenient facts — for instance, by asserting 'Then there was Obamacare. Even now nobody knows what it will actually cost,' which is literally true in the sense that precise cost estimates are always impossible, but sounds to his audience like a claim that the program will swell the deficit in vast, unknowable ways. But most of Romney’s speech doesn't even refer to the facts stated above. It's simply orthogonal to facts. It’s a story, one in which Obama increased the deficit because he loves big government and Europe and hates the private sector." (NYMag)


"After Whitney’s death, the singer Chaka Khan, a friend and fellow recovering addict, spoke out about the 'vampires' of the 'ugly ass' music business, lambasting all those who had allowed Houston, only nine months out of rehab, to arrive in the city of temptation a week before Davis’s party: 'Whoever flew her out to perform at that party should’ve provided someone to be there, to somehow keep the riffraff from out of the situation, to keep some of the dangerous people away.' In the weeks that followed, a portrait of Whitney’s sudden relapse began to emerge. She had been spotted drinking vodka in Hollywood nightclubs to celebrate the 31st birthday of her alleged boyfriend, the singer-actor Willie 'Ray J' Norwood, who was famous for being Kim Kardashian’s partner on an explicit 2007 sex tape. She had made a spectacle of herself in the hotel, complaining about watered-down drinks in the lobby bar. She had done handstands by the pool and erupted in the gift shop over a headline in the National Enquirer: whitney collapses! strung out & broke, it’s worse than anyone thought. Her friends and family chose to concentrate on the positive. Whitney was a multifaceted woman, they said, who always loved the Lord. In her final days, she prayed and partied, confident that she was on the brink of another comeback. The handstands by the pool, they said, were not the antics of an addict but proof of her newfound stamina, her dedication to daily exercise, and a vow to quit smoking. She had a new movie, new music, and a new man. Also, she had reportedly worked again with Warren Boyd, her drug counselor over the years. According to the producer Harvey Mason Jr., she was on time at the studio the Tuesday night before her death to record one side of a duet called 'Celebrate' with the American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, and she played a CD of the song for Clive Davis at the Beverly Hills Hotel. 'She was way more energetic than the young people, more excited to be in the studio, more passionate to make something outstanding,' said Mason. Everyone agreed that she was also clean and sober on the set of her upcoming movie, a remake of a 1976 film called Sparkle. In the Beverly Hilton on February 11, a Houston aide told a VH1 crew waiting for an interview, 'Whitney can’t make it. She’s dead.'" (VanityFair)
"President Obama raised $43.6 million for the Democratic Party and his re-election campaign in April. The total is down from $53 million in March, although May is lining up to be a strong fundraising month for the campaign, thanks in part to the president’s recent endorsement of gay marriage. Last week, Obama raked in $15 million at a fundraiser hosted by actor George Clooney, and in June, the president will return to Los Angeles for an LGBT gala and a separate fundraiser hosted by Ryan Murphy, co-creator of the show 'Glee,' and his fiancĂ© David Miller. Obama hopes to pull in another $10 million from the two events. Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina unveiled the April figures through a web video in the campaign’s continued effort to appeal to small and first time donors. Messina said there were 169,500 first time donors in April, bringing the campaign to nearly 2 million individual donors in this campaign cycle. He said 98 percent of the donors gave $250 or less, with the average donation coming in at just over $50. 'That makes our campaign different and it’s how we’re going to build a winning organization across the country,' Messina said. The Obama campaign is making a concerted effort to boost the number of small donations, as its affiliated super-PACs have not been able to compete with the big donations from wealthy individuals contributing to super-PAC’s affiliated with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney." (TheHill)

Sarah Hoover and Tom Sachs via NYSD

"Last night at the Park Avenue Armory, The PPA and Creative Time hosted the opening preview of the new Tom Sachs art installation: 'Tom Sachs Space Program Mars.'  Tom is a major contemporary artist in the world today, but the exhibition last night — according to Angela Westwater, who is one of his dealers — is 'the penultimate art installation.' Probably not so coincidentally, the Park Avenue Armory has also now established itself as the penultimate space for this kind of thing. We’ve seen other examples in theatre, performance art and even a 'carnival' at the Armory in the past three years. This is the result of the shared vision and achievement of two New Yorkers — Elihu Rose and the late Wade Thompson. Their mutual interest in urban environment and architecture is what eventually led to the transformation of this beautiful 19th century New York landmark into a munificent hall of culture. You walk in and this is what you see. There is a strong child-like innocence and fascination to the view. You know if you were a kid you’d want to own it. But it’s not a toy. It’s a piece of art. It’s a commentary running on several levels, and so you’re in the child’s state of wonder and fascination, but 'adult’s' Art Business. The Art Business is major in New York today (I know, all over the world.) It’s a scene, a sociological explanation of the culture and where it’s at and maybe where it’s going. It’s geniuses, mavens, connoisseurs, collectors, and hustlers and gloriosity, elusive or otherwise." (NySocialDiary)


"James Toback is shooting his latest movie, 'Seduced and Abandoned,' at the Cannes Film Festival. We hear the “Tyson” director’s got the go-ahead to film behind the scenes at some of the Riviera festival’s most exclusive fetes, including Jean Pigozzi’s annual Villa Dorane luncheon, Eva Longoria and Denise Rich’s charity dinner aboard yacht The Lady Joy and the star-studded amfAR AIDS research fund-raiser. Alec Baldwin is in France to star in the movie, and presumably hide from stalkers on the famed Croisette. Michael Mailer’s producing the picture — about the trials and tribulations of financing a film at the Cannes fest, which runs today through May 27. Stars with movies at the French festival this year include Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Bill Murray, who stars in Wes Anderson’s festival opener, 'Moonrise Kingdom.'" (PageSix)

"At last night's American Ballet Theatre gala, some guests went for the dancing, others for the outfits. 'I wish we could make ballerina gear everyday gear,' said the TV host Wendy Williams, who was clad in a custom red gown with a bustier top by the House of Execution. 'Everything good starts with crinoline.' Rachel Roy, walking the red carpet in a tea-length skirt with tulle underlining, was of a like mind. "My daughter Tallulah picked it out; it was her birthday today,' said the designer, holding the hand of her 4-year-old date-cum-stylist. 'I gave her a choice of what to do and she picked the gala, which was great because it was my ideal pick.' Honorary chair Michelle Obama was a no-show, but there was still ogling to be done. Taking the stage, Caroline Kennedy was joined by her son, who drew gasps for his fledgling resemblance to JFK Jr." (Style)

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