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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"We have had, in the modern era, just one truly unlikable president. Dick Nixon, of course. And it turns out that there are points of similarity between Romney’s and Nixon’s campaigns that aren’t instantly apparent but are worth fleshing out. The campaigns resemble each other in that both are built far more around negative than positive selling points. With Nixon, the argument went that you needed to elect him to preserve law and order, which he said was at risk of very survival if Humphrey won; to keep the blacks and the hippies and the pinkos at bay; and because he had a secret plan for quick victory with honor in Vietnam, which turned out to be so secret that he continued the war, even expanding it into Cambodia, for another seven years before we finally lost it. Romney’s arguments just need a fresh coat of paint to keep up with the changed times, but they’re roughly the same. Our free-enterprise system, our very way of life, is at risk if Obama is reelected; he and Paul Ryan are needed to keep society’s freeloaders and moochers at bay. There is no precise analog for Vietnam, I suppose, but it is certainly fair to say that Romney’s foreign-policy offerings, delusional though they are, are once again more about Obamian perfidy (apologizing for America, etc.) than any vision of his own ... And yet, different as they are, their campaigns, their appeals, are undeniably similar: Nixon led, and Romney is now leading, a vengeance campaign against an Other America, an America their supporters despise. Romney’s is a campaign that seeks to win, that can only win, by dividing the country into an 'us' and a 'them.' I confess that I’ve been genuinely shocked by the baldness of Romney’s lies about welfare and Medicare and about the way he’s racialized this campaign. I guess that’s precisely because, whatever he seemed, he did not seem sinister like Nixon. And he may not be. But he is clearly a man who will do and say anything to be president. And when he accepts his party’s nomination this week, and all those general-election dollars are unlocked and converted into negative ads in swing states, we’re going to find ourselves in uncharted waters—a candidate and his affiliate groups with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend, virtually all of it attacking the other guy." (Mike Tomasky)

"That was the big news I learned yesterday morning, as the Republican National Convention was about to get under way here in Tampa, Florida. (Karl) Rove was the guest of honor at a breakfast hosted by Mike Allen’s Politico Playbook in downtown Tampa near the convention center, and, as Tropical Storm Isaac taunted the Republican convention with sporadic torrents of rain and huge gusts of wind, Rove, clad in a blue blazer, a bright-orange tie, and Mercury dime cufflinks he proudly displayed, was his usual dazzling self when it came to wooing the assembled press corps. Herewith are some of his pearls of wisdom: ...•On Joe Biden giving an average of $369 a year to charity: 'I think [Biden] is getting his tips on charitable contributions from Hillary pre-1992. Mark up the underwear and give it away to Goodwill.' •On Obama’s prospects for re-election: 'I think Obama is going to lose. . . . [but if he wins,] it will be an utter disaster for the country.' •On the perilous economic state of the media: 'I’m watching with glee' as it self-destructs. •On the growing importance of the Hispanic vote: 'We can’t be like we are with African-Americans' and allow Hispanics to become 'a Democratic voting bloc.'" (VanityFair)

"This past Saturday in Bridgehampton, equestrienne Stephanie Riggio hosted an evening at her home for horse and animal lovers. The objective: to familiarize people with the HSUS Equine leadership council's efforts to preserve and protect America's horses. New Yorkers already know about this issue which is before us in the presence of the carriage horses used for visiting tourists in Central Park." (NYSocialDiary)

"'The Newsroom' closed out its first season this past Sunday the way it began, with an episode -- 'The Greater Fool' -- that brought back series premiere director Greg Mottola and showed off the precise mix of fiery idealism, incontestible santimoniousness and maddening writing of female characters that have come to define Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama. 'The Greater Fool' was an episode that showcased what Sorkin does best -- tout idealism (come, let us tilt at windmills!) and slam the bad guys (take that, Tea Party!) -- while also demonstrating how frankly juvenile many of the personal dramas have become. 'The Newsroom' has taken a lot of flack from critics and other journalists over its 10-episode run -- to the degree that some have felt the need to point out that people don't have to watch the show, and others have noted it's just such a great series to hate-watch. I fall somewhere in the middle of the watch/hate-watch spectrum, liking the cast and having found the newsroom process segments and sanctimonious increasingly irresistible (really, TV needs more angry liberals) while getting all the more exasperated with the love quadrangles and flat attempts at a screwball comedy vibe. But it's a show I've stuck with and have wanted to stick with, and one that's slated to return for a second season. Here's a wish list of things I'd love to see happen when the show's back next summer." (Allison Willmore)
"Polish national strategy pivots around a single, existential issue: how to preserve its national identity and independence. Located on the oft-invaded North European Plain, Poland's existence is heavily susceptible to the moves of major Eurasian powers. Therefore, Polish history has been erratic, with Poland moving from independence -- even regional dominance -- to simply disappearing from the map, surviving only in language and memory before emerging once again.  For some countries, geopolitics is a marginal issue. Win or lose, life goes on. But for Poland, geopolitics is an existential issue; losing begets national catastrophe. Therefore, Poland's national strategy inevitably is designed with an underlying sense of fear and desperation. Nothing in Polish history would indicate that disaster is impossible. To begin thinking about Poland's strategy, we must consider that in the 17th century, Poland, aligned with Lithuania, was one of the major European powers. It stretched from the Baltic Sea almost to the Black Sea, from western Ukraine into the Germanic regions. By 1795, it had ceased to exist as an independent country, divided among three emerging powers: Prussia, Russia and Austria." (STRATFOR)

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