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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"As sequestration begins, Republicans have been overtaken with something close to giddiness, and Democrats seized with gloom. It appeared as recently as a few months ago that the threat of across-the-board cuts, disproportionately hurting defense, would force Republicans to negotiate a long-term debt reduction agreement. But Republicans are happily announcing their willingness — and, in many cases, outright eagerness — to absorb a hit to spending of any kind whatsoever, and their total resistance to higher revenue in any form. And so the GOP is already celebrating its victory, even speaking of their great triumph in the past tense, as a done deal ('This was a necessary win for Republicans,' exults a GOP aide) while liberals are already bemoaning Obama’s miscalculation.The great Republican budget victory may yet arrive. It certainly hasn’t happened yet, and it’s far from certain if it ever will. The first question is whether House Republicans can sustain their refusal to consider their no-revenue, no-negotiation stance. Public opinion may not be the thing that stops them. Americans oppose government spending in general and favor it in particular. An ABC poll today finds strong public support for an across-the-board cut in federal spending. That is the result you’d expect from a poll that only asks about 'federal spending.' The same ABC poll found that the defense cuts, the only specific program it named, poll badly. This isn’t because military spending is especially popular — Americans are more willing to cut it than most programs — but that almost every actual spending program is popular. When Pew surveyed Americans about nineteen specific categories of actual federal spending, it found overwhelming opposition to cuts in any of them except 'aid to the world’s needy,' the scale of which Americans consistently overestimate by an order of magnitude. And so, as is often the case, the political fight will center on Republican efforts to define the subject merely as 'spending' against Democratic efforts to define specific elements of that spending." (Jonathan Chait)


"I have a confession to 
make: I'm a big fan of John Boehner. One of his very few, it turns out. The White House complains that Boehner's near-total ignorance of policy makes him impossible to negotiate with, and that it's pointless to deal with him anyway, since he exerts zero control over his members. Pundits deride him as strategically inept, constantly backing himself into corners from which there's no obvious escape. Even conservatives have lost their patience at times: Washington Examiner columnist Byron York recently called Boehner's message on sequestration—the $85 billion in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that kicked in Friday—'astonishingly bad.' To which I say: Yes! Boehner is goofy, poorly informed, and frequently incoherent. He often sows confusion among the very people he's supposed to be leading. But despite this—or perhaps because of it—he has been remarkably effective at saving the Republican Party from complete self-destruction. Through heroic improvisation, he's avoided the global economic apocalypse House Republicans are so intent on provoking. Under the circumstances, Boehner has, in fact, been a raging success. I hesitate to call him 'sophisticated' because that would imply a level of self-awareness and reflection I'm not sure he's capable of. But the man's instincts are damn-near impeccable. Here is the soul-crushing reality that Boehner wakes up to every morning, before he lights up a Camel 99 and knots his power tie: The Democratic Party is much more popular than the GOP, and Barack Obama has far higher approval ratings than Republican leaders in Washington. When it comes to the budget—the key battleground in the partisan skirmishing of the last two years—the American people overwhelmingly favor Obama's approach (paring the deficit through a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts) over the Republicans' (cutting spending only). And the president's bully pulpit gives him a virtually limitless ability to highlight the programs that Republican cuts would endanger. Oh, and there's one other hitch for Boehner: Many of his 232 House Republicans refuse to acknowledge almost any of this, believing the only plausible explanation for the failure to enact their agenda is a lack of courage on the part of their leaders, of whom they are chronically suspicious. How, then, has Boehner managed to keep his job? You could spend months reading political science journals and come up with no better answer than this: The man gets crazy people." (TNR)


"In mid-January 2012, Roger Ailes skipped out on his duties at Fox News to attend a basketball game. The contest featured his 12-year-old son, Zac, who plays for his Upper East Side Catholic boys’ school. Ailes, in a folding chair along the sideline, was dressed in his work clothes: black suit, starched white shirt, gold tie clip, and matching cuff links. His hair was slicked back and a pair of bifocals perched on his nose. The overall effect was that of a formal, somewhat forbidding small-town banker in a Frank Capra movie. Ailes is past 70 and looks it, especially when he tries to walk on his bum leg. The other parents were young enough to be his children. But Zac is his only child, and perhaps the only person who could lure Ailes away from his office on a Wednesday afternoon. This was the third game of the season, and he had been there every time. As we waited for the tip-off, Ailes ran down the roster. 'Our guys,' he called them. Zac was easily the tallest kid on the team, and when the action commenced, his father encouraged him to take advantage of it. 'Don’t get boxed out,' he shouted. 'Use your height. Hands up on defense!' Zac hit the first shot of the game, and Ailes clapped loudly and shouted his approval. But Zac’s team, wearing red, was no match for the other school’s. As they fell behind, Ailes grew tense, barking instructions at his son and the rest of the team, but the advice wasn’t helping. During a time-out he extracted his BlackBerry for a quick peek at the standings. 'Let’s see if Fox News is still on the air,' he said." (VanityFair)


"Last night was the gala opening night Preview of The Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory. The evening benefitted the Henry Street Settlement. This is the 25th year of the collaboration of the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) and Henry Street on this event. I’m neither a dealer, a critic or a collector -- although I love looking and even occasionally seeing something that I would acquire (if I had the price). I entered this show early last evening with the plan to take some shots of what I saw. I soon found that I wanted to get a photo of everything because there is so much wonderful art on exhibition and for sale. There are 72 exhibitors and if you even like looking at art in the marketplace, this show deserves a few hours visit. It runs today through Sunday, March 10." (NYSocialDiary)



"Fashion publicist Lynn Tesoro has now settled her $1 million lawsuit against Marie-José Susskind-Jalou and her daughters Jennifer Eymere and Vanessa Bellugeon of Jalouse and L’Officiel magazines after the women allegedly assaulted Tesoro during a Zac Posen fashion show in September. The suit claimed Susskind-Jalou slapped Tesoro in the face while Tesoro looked for a seat for the French journalists after 60 chairs had been removed by the fire marshal. Eymere later bragged to Women’s Wear Daily about the incident, 'Now you know you don’t [bleep] with French people.' WWD reported the suit was settled yesterday. Terms weren’t disclosed, but sources say Tesoro received an apology from the women, which she accepted." (PageSix)

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