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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"As we discussed last week, the Democratic Party’s presidential field in 2016 hinges greatly on the decision of one person: Hillary Clinton. The Republican Party’s early primary picture is much more complicated, and the top-tier contenders are grouped much closer together at the starting gate.
To us, though, there is one name that stands out just a little bit more than the rest, even though he isn’t currently as public because he’s not appearing on seven Sunday TV chat shows almost simultaneously or running a landslide 2013 reelection race in his state. That person is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker’s rise reminds us of the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi telling Darth Vader in the original Star Wars that, 'If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.' In Walker’s case, Democrats tried — and failed — to strike him down in a recall election last year. The recall was precipitated by the actions of Walker and his Republican allies in the Badger State legislature to weaken public sector unions. Not only did Walker survive, but this unscheduled political war elevated him to stardom amongst conservatives across the country. If Walker were to become the Republican presidential nominee, Democrats will have helped it happen.
The former Milwaukee County executive saw one of his potential liabilities disappear last month when a long “John Doe” investigation into some criminal activities in his county office concluded. While some aides close to Walker were convicted, he was not accused of any wrongdoing. Granted, the investigation will get a full airing in the national press if Walker runs, but it appears as though he has escaped without real damage and his road to reelection in 2014 looks fairly clear at the moment. For more on Walker, we suggest this excellent, recent summation of his national ambitions from Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Of course, it is possible that Walker is the second coming of Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor and 2012 washout who was always more fascinating to the chattering classes than the voters. Yet Walker is already better known among national conservative activists, and he has both the combat medals awarded by the conservative elite and substantial right-leaning policy achievements as well. Republicans might want to consider a Midwestern candidate in 2016 because if current demographic trends continue, the Midwest could be the must-win area for Republican presidential candidates. It’s whiter than the nation as a whole. This matters because Republicans may not be able to do much better than their current 20% of the votes of non-white voters (all racial groups combined), and non-whites will probably make up about 30% of the presidential electorate next time. Therefore, the GOP nominee will need to squeeze even more votes out of the nation’s white presidential electorate, which will make up the other 70% or so of 2016’s voters. (Keep in mind that Romney won whites with a landslide 59% on his way to a losing 47% of the total vote.)" (Larry Sabato)



"Curry had spent 22 years, a majority of her professional life, in the hallways of the NBC headquarters. She knew 30 Rock’s shortcuts: the side door out of Studio 1A that allowed her to dart across 49th Street and avoid the tourists; and the exit that ensured she would bump into autograph seekers in the concourse ...  Many people dismiss morning television as fluff, but the morning hours are where the money is. While the Internet has upended the nightly news, and on-demand services like Netflix continue to disrupt prime time, the morning shows remain one place in the TV industry where the business model still really works, at least for now. Thanks to its five million daily viewers and four hours of irrepressible cheer, 'Today' earns NBC $500 million in annual revenue. By 2011, the year the network was acquired by Comcast, the show was effectively subsidizing the rest of the news division, including 'NBC Nightly News' and 'Meet the Press.' It was also propping up NBC’s sagging prime-time lineup by providing free promotional time for 'The Voice' or whatever crime drama the network was trying at 10 p.m. that week. 'Today' was able to do all this for a very specific reason: it was winning the ratings game. Being No. 1 in the morning matters not just in the amount that sales representatives can extract from advertisers — though 'Today' made an estimated $150 million more than its second-place rival, 'Good Morning America,' in 2011 — but also in reputation, in pride and in sheer television-industry pull. 'Today' had the upper hand in booking A-list celebrities. It had the clout to insist that a politician talk to Lauer before anyone else. NBC recruiters dangled face time on 'Today' when trying to hire a correspondent away from a rival network." (Brian Stelter)


"Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair’s editor and grand poobah presiding over VF’s Tuesday Tribeca Film Festival bash, joked about his role for the evening. 'I’ll be taking care of Bob [De Niro],' he explained as the party began. 'I’ll basically serve as his valet. I’ll fetch his drinks . . . make sure his bowl is filled and just stand behind him.' Fran Lebowitz arrived in a near-identical blazer to Carter’s and quipped, 'We should call each other because we have the same tailor . . . but his jacket is brighter.' Whoopi Goldberg, meanwhile, seemed genuinely unconcerned with who’ll take over for Joy Behar and Barbara Walters on 'The View' — as long as her paychecks clear. 'I’m not paying attention,' Goldberg insisted at the swank soiree on the State Supreme Court steps. 'It’s not my job to know, or suggest. They have people who do that. What I do is do my job, and that’s all I really give a [bleep] about . . . I just want to make sure my check doesn’t bounce.' Literary lothario Salman Rushdie, who’s been moving into film and TV, told us he doesn’t do Netflix: 'I’m a movie addict, but I like seeing films in a cinema . . . I’m very old-school. I have all the new toys, but I don’t use them.' Also among the moguls, movie stars and fashionistas: Christopher Walken, Ron Perelman, Les Moonves, Howard Stringer, Vivi Nevo, Tory Burch and Sienna Miller." (PageSix)


"Me, I was down at Michael’s once again to meet up with our No Holds Barred columnist Blair Sabol who drove up from Philadelphia for the day on business (and our lunch). The place was jumping and the light and the flowers and the great Michael’s art collection gave the day a lift. In the crowd, Media and PR abounding: Catherine Saxton was hosting Jamie Figg, Yue Sai Kan, David Hryck; in town from Shanghai (her other home); Scott Currie with Lynn Tesoro; Hollywood.com’s Bonnie Fuller, Carlos Lamadrid and Gerry Byrne presided over the big Table One with several guests; Veranda’s Dara Caponigro; Bizbash.com’s David Adler; WSJ’s David Sanford and Lewis Stein; Alexander Chemia; Jimmy Finkelstein with Randy Falco; Andrew Stein with James Toback and Bill Siegel; Rob Wiesenthal with Sir Howard Stringer; Quest’s Chris Meigher; author/journalist (columnist for the Guardian) Michael Wolff with Dave Calloway of USA Today; Leslie Stahl; Patrick Murphy; Eva Lorenzotti; John McEnroe with tv producer Jim Bell; Boaty Boatright with Jay Kantor; Jack Kliger; Peter Brown; David Kohl; Sharon Bush with Judy Cox; Steven Stolman; Jill Zarin (New York Houeswives); the FT’s fashion reporter/ columnist Vanessa Friedman – the very best in the business in my opinion; Hollywood mogul Ron Meyer; Tom Goodman; Barry Frey; Howard Berk, Jason Bernstein; and scores more just like ‘em." (NYSocialDiary)


"Since the late 1980s demise of the Guadalajara cartel, which controlled drug trade routes into the United States through most of Mexico, Mexican cartels have followed a trend of fracturing into more geographically compact, regional crime networks. This trend, which we are referring to as 'Balkanization,' has continued for more than two decades and has impacted all of the major cartel groups in Mexico. Indeed the Sinaloa Federation lost significant assets when the organizations run by Beltran Leyva and Ignacio Coronel split away from it. Los Zetas, currently the other most powerful cartel in Mexico, was formed when it split off from the Gulf cartel in 2010. Still these two organizations have fought hard to resist the trend of fracturing and have been able to grow despite being affected by it. This led to the polarized dynamic observed in 2011 when these two dominant Mexican cartels effectively split Mexican organized crime in two, with one group composed of Los Zetas and its allies and the other composed of the Sinaloa Federation and its allies.
This trend toward polarization has since been reversed, however, as Balkanization has led to rising regional challenges to both organizations since 2012. Most notable among these is the split between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Sinaloa Federation. The Sinaloa Federation continues to struggle with regional crime groups for control in western Chihuahua state, northern Sinaloa state, Jalisco state and northern Sonora state. Similarly, Los Zetas saw several regional challengers in 2012. Two regional groups saw sharp increases in their operational capabilities during 2012 and through the first quarter of 2013. These were the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar.
The Beltran Leyva Organization provides another example of the regionalization of Mexican organized crime. It has become an umbrella of autonomous, and in some cases conflicting, groups. Many of the groups that emerged from it control specific geographic areas and fight among each other largely in isolation from the conflict between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation. Many of these successor crime groups, such as the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos are currently fighting for their own geographic niches. As its name implies, the Independent Cartel of Acapulco mostly acts in Acapulco, while Los Rojos and Guerreros Unidos mostly act in Morelos state. The ongoing fragmentation of Mexican cartels is not likely to reverse, at least not in the next few years." (STRATFOR)



"Last night while seated in the La Maestranza bullring of Seville to watch the great matador José Marí Manzanares dance with and dispatch six bulls, I was reminded why I became so fascinated by the spectacle we Anglo-Saxons incorrectly call bullfighting. (It is not a fight, it is a highly structured drama centering on a ritual sacrifice. Nor is it a sport. It is conceived as an art form, unique in having a risk of death for the practitioner, but reviewed between the ballet and theater in the newspapers and spoken of in terms of its aesthetics rather than its athletics.) My girlfriend, a recent convert but still possessed of strong doubts about the activity, asked what it was among the gold and gore that draws me back to the plaza de toros time and time again. I replied that it was the absolute reality of the corrida. As an art form, it represents man’s struggle with death and how it should be best faced, which is with a striking and elegant defiance. It represents a man standing alone on the sand with an animal intent on killing him. My first instructor in how to torear, the matador Juan José Padilla, almost joined their ranks two years ago when a bull removed his eye and a chunk of his skull. He was back in the ring five months later, sans depth perception, a triumphant return that I covered for GQ magazine." (Alexander Fiske-Harrison)


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