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Friday, August 31, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"It's common to complain that presidential campaigns are heavy on style and light on substance. That may be a fair critique, but it's not a new one; just re-read the rather preposterous passage above, from a campaign book about William McKinley in 1896. The same sentiment that animated the pen of Murat Halstead to elevate McKinley to such Olympian heights is the same reason why, on the final night of Mitt Romney's coronation, Republicans rolled out a number of non-politicians -- including actual Olympians -- to confirm Mitt Romney's humanity. One testimonial, from an elderly couple whose terminally ill 14-year-old son Romney befriended in the months before he died, was particularly powerful. Romney worked with the boy on his will, where prized toys were passed along to friends, and he officiated at the young man's funeral. The parents had forgotten nothing, and their unfamiliarity with the convention hall's teleprompter made it all the more real. One of Romney's problems in this campaign is that he just doesn't seem to be all that well-liked by the American people. The ABC News/Washington Post poll pegs Romney's favorability at just 40%. That's the lowest the poll had found in its preconvention polling going back to 1984. (The second-worst was Walter Mondale at 47%.) Anecdotes such as the ones told by non-threatening regular folks from Romney's past should help soften his image. Imagine if the couple with the dying son had introduced Romney in network primetime. Dry eyes would have been few, in the convention hall or at home. Instead, it was campaign malpractice that the Romney managers sent out a dithering, clueless Clint Eastwood. The Romney campaign will be lucky if Eastwood's antics don't linger as a national punch line. Perhaps the person unhappiest with Eastwood is Sen. Marco Rubio, whose dazzling speech to his home state conclave might end up being as nationally invisible as the imaginary Barack Obama sitting in Clint's stage chair. Romney is what he is: A relatively uncharismatic candidate who turned in a workmanlike performance on Thursday night. He's no Rubio, but then again, he's no Eastwood either." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"Billionaire industrialist David Koch, who is helping steer millions of dollars to elect Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans, on Thursday told POLITICO he disagrees with the GOP’s stance on gay marriage and believes the U.S. needs to consider raising taxes to balance the budget. Koch, who is serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention from New York, spoke to POLITICO after delivering brief remarks at a reception held in his honor by Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group he chairs and has helped fund. The 1980 vice presidential nominee for the socially liberal — but fiscally conservative — Libertarian Party, Koch told POLITICO 'I believe in gay marriage' when asked about the GOP’s stance on gay rights. Romney opposes gay marriage, as do most Republicans, and when that was pointed out to Koch, he said 'Well, I disagree with that.' Koch said he thinks the U.S. military should withdraw from the Middle East and said the government should consider defense spending cuts, as well as possible tax increases to get its fiscal house in order — a stance anathema to many in the Republican Party. 'I think it’s essential to be able to achieve spending reductions and maybe it’s going to require some tax increases,' he said. 'We got to come close to balancing the budget; otherwise, we’re in a terrible deep problem.' As for whether military spending cuts should be on the table, Koch said, 'I think to balance the budget, probably every federal department has to take cuts in my opinion. We have to spread it around.'" (Politico)

"Now is the time of sultry August days and nights, with the gift of privacy an added bonus. In summer the village contains the die-hards, the locals, and a few tourists. Bucolic freedom, fresh air, and sunshine were once anathema—foul-smelling, airless dives such as New Jimmy’s were the real McCoy—but now the sound of bells on roaming cows means instant happiness. It’s called old age. I can now walk from my place to the next village and back, a trip of about one hour, before the pain becomes unbearable. The good news is that early next year I’m trying out a revolutionary treatment in Germany, one with a 70-percent success rate, especially among athletes. (Blood is extracted, jiggled with, then reintroduced, and presto, a new, improved Taki emerges and returns to competition pain-free. I hope.) Good old Fatherland. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, only a German can be counted on. Just ask Wellington. In the meantime, I’m hobbling along getting ready for the autumn judo and karate season. Alas, autumn—a depressing time—is upon us. Why is it that summers lasted so much longer when one was young?" (Taki)


"Southampton's much-loved antiquaire and designer Judy Hadlock teamed up with Scalamandre president Steven Stolman for a buoyant cocktail bash in honor of nothing more than their formidable friendship. Guests packed Judy's Old Town Crossing gallery to sip, schmooze and even shop. It was a fun, buzzy mix of design pros, clients, family and friends... the kind of party you just didn't want to leave." (NYSocialDiary)


"During Yemen's rainy season, which stretches from August to October, the Silah, the cobbled road that intersects the capital Sanaa's ancient Old City, often floods becoming, for a few brief hours, a fast-running river. Over the years, the road has been gradually deepened, with steps built up the side and bridges spanning its width so that the rest of the area does not overflow with water from the surrounding mountains. At such times it is hard for Sanaanis, the residents of the capital, to countenance the idea that their city is rapidly running out of water. But this may happen sooner rather than later: Sanaa province's water aquifers are being exhausted by rapid population growth, demand for the narcotic qat leaf, and the growing threat of climate change. Although the country is probably best known abroad for the uprising that unseated former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, and as a haven for al Qaeda, it could soon hold the distinction of being one of the hardest places in the world to get a glass of water. In 2011, it looked like social order in Sanaa was on the verge of collapsing. But regardless of politics, it could soon become a ghost town -- a tourist attraction centered around the Old City as the real estate developments that sprouted up around the city's borders before 2011 are left to rot. In a 2010 report commissioned by the Yemeni government, analysts at U.S. consultancy McKinsey forecast that if water use in the Sanaa basin was not controlled, the area could completely run out of water by about 2020." (ForeignPolicy)




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