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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Most of the people closest to the president signed on with Obama before it became obvious he had a chance of becoming president. That core — David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffe, Pete Rouse, Dan Pfeiffer, Robert Gibbs — forms an inner citadel inside the Obama camp from which 'outsiders' are largely excluded. It’s an order of battle that proved highly effective in 2008. Whether it will prove quite so effective this time around is very much an open question. When deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, who straddles that insider-outsider line more precariously than anyone in Obama’s camp, began emerging as a major force in Obama’s Chicago headquarters, many of Obama’s original crew viewed her as an obstreperous upstart challenging Obama’s no-drama order. It probably didn’t help that Cutter can be brutally blunt and asserted her authority outside the 2008 hierarchy, people close to the situation said in interviews for a new e-book 'Obama’s Last Stand,' a joint venture between POLITICO and Random House. Cutter was brought into Obama’s inner circle by one of the founding fathers: Axelrod. She has tackled some of Obama’s toughest problems in the past four years, from Michelle Obama’s image to messaging on health care reform. But when she briefly clashed with Axelrod this spring, several insiders made clear in the interviews that they still regard Cutter as an outsider. When a crisis hits, Obama tends to pull the most trusted members of his inner group even closer to him. That’s why so many Obama insiders are coming back into the fold as the race wears on. Gibbs seemed to be on the outs over a much-hyped feud with Jarrett and a clash with the first lady revealed in Jodi Kantor’s book 'The Obamas' earlier this year. But the president himself never soured on his longtime spokesman, according to several people close to the situation. He was pleased when Gibbs increased his role as a surrogate and adviser this spring." (Politico)

"As Republicans prepared to renominate Richard Nixon for president, journalist Hunter S. Thompson had a moment of clarity inside his Miami Beach hotel room. 'This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves,' Thompson wrote in his classic Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. 'We are really just a nation of 220 million used-car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.' Now, 40 years later, the Republican National Convention is returning to Florida. On August 30, Mitt Romney will don a sleek suit and flash his Vaseline smile to a sea of pale-skinned delegates in Tampa. He will compliment the city on hosting the four-day, $123 million orgiastic event ... The RNC's return to the Sunshine State is no fluke. For Romney and the rest of the party, Florida is the future. Since Nixon's days, conservatives have transformed Florida into a hellish post-governmental wasteland. Here, Super PACs run wild through suburbs in foreclosure, people trust in only God or their Glocks, and the poor are left to literally cannibalize one another on the nightly news. But hey, there's no state income tax! As in '72, Florida is the template for a right-wing takeover in 2012. Pay attention, America, because this crazy, collapsed state could soon be yours, too ... Under the black lights of the Mons Venus strip club, Monica's eyes and teeth glow like St. Elmo's fire. Six-inch stilettos dangle from her toes as she sits at a waist-high table. Her folded arms prop up her bare, surgically enhanced breasts, nipples staring in opposite directions like a gunslinger's pistols. She smells like mint chewing gum and cigarettes. It's a Monday afternoon. On an octagonal stage, a thin Asian girl grinds her naked hips against a pole as a few customers gaze at the gyrating spectacle. 'It's going to be as big as the Super Bowl,' Monica says of the convention, over the heavy thumps of a hip-hop song. 'Why do you think they are having it here in Tampa? It's the Mons. People have got to see what it's all about, even Republicans.'" (VillageVoice)


"Whit Stillman takes his time. A renowned documenter of the well-educated and self-absorbed, the writer-director has made only four films in 22 years. His layered depictions of the 'urban haute bourgeoisie' are, though rare, singular in cinema, and unique in their dry humor and light irony. Of those four films, perhaps the most influential is Metropolitan, his sleeper-hit debut that premiered in 1990 to critical acclaim and an Oscar nod for best original screenplay. The film portrays a 'not so long ago' debutante scene in the upper-crust apartments of New York, where 20-somethings decked in tuxedoes and drinking champagne discuss Fourier, trip on mescaline, and repeatedly use the word 'tiresome.'  Stillman's script, chiseled to a subtle perfection, is a thing of beauty. Of those screenwriters who depict the lives of neurotic, privileged youth, he's the oft-overlooked link between Woody Allen and Lena Dunham. Metropolitan's entire narrative consists of conversations between outspoken, embittered students bound by a temporary camaraderie; the dialogues are crisp, biting, and imbued with a playful intelligence." (TheAwl)

"If we examine the record from 1964 to 2008 in the charts above, we can make several observations about the nature of post-convention poll bounces: •Bounces are normal but not universal. In all 12 cases, the GOP nominee got a bounce, and the same was true in nine of 12 conventions for the Democratic candidate. Why not all 12? Lyndon Johnson’s polling had already peaked in his landslide year of 1964, so it was hard for him to boost his soaring numbers. George McGovern’s disastrous convention in 1972, when internal disputes pushed his acceptance address into the wee hours on the East Coast, netted him a dead cat bounce. In 2004, John Kerry didn’t budge, at least in the Gallup Poll, from 47% — right around his proportion of the vote in November (48%). Kerry had a high floor, due to opposition to George W. Bush, and a low ceiling as well, owing to Bush’s strong base backing. •Excluding Bill Clinton’s 1992 bounce due to extenuating circumstances (see below), the average size of a bounce has been 5.1% — higher for Republicans (5.9%) than Democrats (4.3%)." (SabatosCrystalBall)


"For the launch of their third collection, Co partners Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern enlisted contemporary Greek artist and longtime fixture in the fashion world Konstantin Kakanias to create a cheeky animated tale bringing his longtime alter ego Mrs. Tependris to life. Tependris Rising (watch the video here) follows eccentric style icon Mrs. Tependris as she forges a fashion comeback on a Co runway with cartoon versions of Carine Roitfeld, Anna Wintour, and Olivier Zahm looking on. 'I fell in love with great fashion through character,' Danan explained, providing a background to the narrative shorts Co releases each season. A previous video starred √Člodie Bouchez, who was in the crowd alongside Rooney Mara and Dita Von Teese at the screening at L.A.'s Soho House last night. " (Style)


"John Bonifaz is a wiry, bespectacled man with graying temples and a hearty laugh that camouflages his seriousness. He’s fought many progressive fights over the years on issues ranging from voting rights (which won him a MacArthur 'genius grant') to Unocal’s liability for human rights abuses in Myanmar (on which we worked together to draft a lawsuit). We’ve been friends for nearly 30 years, ever since we were student activists at Brown University. These days, however, we find ourselves differing vociferously on what to do about Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of corporations to engage in political speech and campaign spending ... John and I recently debated Citizens United on television, and during our exchange he said something particularly revealing. In discussing some of the legal arguments in the case, he described shareholders as “owners.” In this respect, he agrees with the Court and conventional wisdom. Shareholders own companies and management speaks for them. The reality is different. Shareholders are not really owners, and they exercise little control over corporate political involvement. Employees, communities, consumers, and other stakeholders exercise even less. The reason why corporate political speech is so corrosive to democracy is that the benefits and prerogatives of the corporate form are marshaled to bolster the speech of a tiny sliver of the financial and managerial elite. The fact that corporations speak is not itself a problem; whom they speak for is. This essay urges progressives to cease their efforts to amend the constitution to weaken corporate 'personhood.' Instead, we need to focus on changing corporations themselves so that overturning Citizens United would be unnecessary. We should use this historical moment to nudge corporations closer to what the Supreme Court assumed they are in its Citizens United decision—'associations of citizens.' While the constitutional effort is defensive and palliative, a campaign to redesign the corporation itself would be affirmative and transformative. To cure Citizens United, we don’t have to amend the Constitution—we need to rethink corporations." (Democracy)





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