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Monday, July 08, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Now here’s a comeback that seems to make sense. Eliot Spitzer has spent a significant amount of time in political purgatory: Five years have passed since he was caught in a prostitution scandal and resigned as governor. He appears to have gotten his priorities in order: first trying to repair relations with his wife and daughters, then reemerging as a commentator, mostly on serious issues in which he has an expertise. Sure, Spitzer’s turns as a host on CNN and Current TV were ratings duds, but he mostly elevated the dialogue, and his time as a NY1 'Wiseguy' showed he’d become better at mixing in some humor. And his columns for Slate, especially about the financial crisis and the federal bailout, were smart and fiery plutocrat-populist reminders of what had made Spitzer so good as state attorney general. Those skills, in turn, match well with the office he suddenly wants to win: city comptroller. Yet actually winning, in a Democratic primary against current Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, is going to be difficult. The timing of his last-minute decision — six weeks after Anthony Weiner's success at launching a viable campaign — means that throughout the election season Spitzer’s sins will be measured against those of the disgraced former congressman. In legal terms, there’s no contest: Spitzer committed adultery and possibly broke interstate sex trafficking laws. Weiner tweeted photos of his penis and his bare chest — egregious violations of judgment, but probably not actionable. The moral and political trespasses, though, are significantly tougher to weigh, and the standards are highly subjective. The rough consensus is that Spitzer’s acts were (very slightly) more sane, Weiner’s more twisted; Spitzer’s transgressions more offensive, Weiner’s sillier. Yet the political damage, then and now, is clearly worse for Spitzer: He’d become a star as a prosecutor, and won a landslide victory in the 2006 race for governor, on his record and reputation for rectitude. He was going to clean up Albany, but instead antagonized allies and infuriated enemies before diving into his own cesspool, blowing a major chance to straighten out the state. Weiner was merely one of 435 in Congress — good at drawing attention to hot-button issues and to himself, but ineffective at passing legislation. Part of why voters seem willing to forgive Weiner is that he was playing for lower stakes." (NYMag)


"Years ago, when I was recently divorced, I met a sexy bass player with an overwhelming desire to be a rock star. Knowing nothing about the music industry, I said, 'No problem,' and transformed myself into his agent. I phoned everyone I knew with even the slightest connection to the production of sounds. Due to my surname I can get a meeting with anyone, once. I soon discovered there was little good that could be achieved by merely blathering on about some song. It was obvious what had to be done, so I produced a music video. Manhandling my friends I corralled one producer, one camera operator, one assistant to set up and hold the boom-box while we flitted about Central Park shooting my hot ass boyfriend and his bandmates crooning in various positions near the fountain, crossing the humped bridge, etc, and once we had our footage I even begged time (nights and bump-able) from a pal with a professional editing bay. A few days later, along with $500 and the trammeled goodwill of pals a music video was born. A miniature movie with the boyfriend’s music and handsome face featured. Something tangible at last to foist while pitching. It was a critical component and armed with copies of these marvels I marched into the offices of the late Ahmet Ertegun, the late Bill Paley, music critics, music makers, and anyone else I could reach. Inevitably one connection led to another and eventually someone said, 'You need to meet Nile Rodgers. Nile will know if your music is any good. I will call him and ask him to meet you.' I reported back to the boyfriend and he fainted when I announced I had a connection to some music dude named Nile Rodgers. I placed a call and explained my plight and Nile promptly invited me over to the Sound Factory studio. I hopped on the subway and found this Sound Factory in an unremarkable building in an industrial section of town. I pressed a button and was buzzed into a waiting room like an Incan vault of plush red with tall walls bespattered with framed LPs seemingly made of gold.  Before too long a door I had not noticed opened and out strode a man dressed in leather pants and shoulder length dreads. He smiled somewhat shyly as he approached me, 'I’m Nile,' he said, and offered a hand for me to shake.
I stood up and took the proffered hand. I liked him immediately. 'Sorry to keep you waiting,' he began. 'But I’ve got the B-52s in there,' and he swung his dreads in the direction of the door. 'We’re in the middle of recording, so I can’t stay too long. How I can help you?'" (Christina Oxenberg)


"On September 11, 2012, heavily armed Islamic militants attacked the compound of the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, and later a nearby C.I.A. Annex, leading to the death of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. This set off a firestorm here at home as Republicans scrambled to make political hay from Stevens's death, charging that Hillary Clinton's State Department had done little to protect him and the mission and that State and the White House had conspired to minimize the incident's election-year impact. Investigations were launched in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, by the F.B.I., and by the Obama administration—and still more investigations are being called for. For all the soul-searching and finger-pointing surrounding that night in Benghazi, the details of what actually happened have remained murky, at best.
In '40 Minutes in Benghazi,' beginning on page 90, Fred Burton, a former State Department deputy counterterrorism chief, and Middle East expert Samuel M. Katz tell the narrative of this American tragedy in heart-stopping, minute-by-minute detail. The authors, whose book on the raid, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, will be published in September, had unprecedented access to confidential sources within the diplomatic, intelligence, and military communities. They have used this trove of information to show not only how the system worked but also how Ambassador Stevens and the diplomatic-security agents assigned to protect him responded heroically as they were overwhelmed by extraordinary events. It is much more a tale of valor on the ground than a story about the overshadowing grandstanding we've witnessed from those in Washington's bleachers." (Graydon Carter)

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