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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Most accounts of the long roller-coaster ride of the idea of universal national service see William James as the father of the idea. After delivering an influential address at Stanford University in 1906, the popular philosopher elaborated his proposal in 1910 in a long, widely read essay titled 'The Moral Equivalent of War.' 'This is my idea,' James wrote. 'Instead of military conscription, a conscription of the whole youthful population to form for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted against Nature.' Through such service, he asserted, 'injustice would tend to be evened out' and 'numerous other goods to the commonwealth' would result. 'Our gilded youths' would “get the childishness knocked out of them' and 'come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas.' He predicted: 'It is only a question of blowing on the spark until the whole population gets incandescent.' In the decades since, there has been a continuing discussion over James’s idea—whether it should be mandatory or voluntary, and, if voluntary, whether it could become as common an expectation as finishing high school is now. There have been high and low points for national service. The question today remains: Can blowing on the spark succeed in making enough Americans incandescent about the idea so that it becomes an accepted part of our culture?" (Harris Wofford)

Illustration by Kristian Hammerstad  

“'Even billionaires have feelings,' Alexandra Cohen had taken to saying. Her husband, Steve Cohen, is the billionaire in question. He’s one of the most successful hedge-fund managers in history—'the Michael Jordan of trading,' in the words of one Wall Street observer. He’d built SAC Capital Advisors into one of the most profitable hedge funds in the world while amassing a net worth estimated at $11 billion. Cohen was never known for his attention to feelings. He had a reputation for brusque, money-talks-bullshit-walks office interactions. He was the opposite of a ­sentimentalist—if one of his traders missed his numbers, he was gone.But that was before U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, suspecting him and his firm of insider trading, began pursuing Cohen as if he were a crime boss. Federal agents bugged his home phone and raided the offices of former employees who’d started their own hedge funds. They subpoenaed millions of pages of SAC documents while working their way up the chain of command, flipping one former employee after another. They even had one past portfolio manager attempt to infiltrate Cohen’s company by getting himself rehired, though Cohen didn’t take the bait.As Bharara’s web closed around him, Cohen complained to associates that his success had made him a target. 'I’m not doing anything different than a hundred other people have done,' he said to a colleague. 'It’s not who I am, it’s what I am.' He called Wall Street peers, trolling for sympathy: 'I feel like I’m watching a bad movie and I’m the star,' he’d say. On vacation one year, he ran into a fellow hedge-fund manager: 'It’s not fair,' he complained. 'Why me?'" (NYMag)

Illustration by Matt Wuerker/POLITICO


"Outside groups poured a staggering $2.5 billion into the 2012 election — far more than the $1.6 billion spent by party committees — as power migrated from party honchos to a handful of billionaires and political consultants, according to a book released Tuesday by POLITICO Chief Investigative Reporter Kenneth P. Vogel. In 'Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp – on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics,' published by PublicAffairs, Vogel details the explosion of cash in politics and the efforts of conservative and liberal millionaires whose costly forays into politics are not dissimilar from those of rich sports junkies who spend millions to buy a professional team. There’s even some overlap between big donors and team owners. For example, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is a leading GOP donor, and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a major Democratic donor.Among the highlights of 'Big Money':* Liberal megadonors discussed funding a primary challenger to President Barack Obama in 2012 – perhaps then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – and attempted to commission a poll from a top Democratic pollster to see how she would do in the general election.* Karl Rove, before leaving the White House, quietly advised a group called Freedom’s Watch, which raised $56 million ahead of the 2008 race, primarily from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and set the stage for Rove’s Crossroads groups.* Even after the disappointing 2012 election, the Koch brothers political operation raised far more money at its first donor seminar of the 2014 cycle — $70 million — than it raised at the first seminar of the 2012 cycle: $49 million.* Koch operatives conducted background checks on hotel waitstaff and collected smartphones, iPads and other electronics before many sessions at the first 2014 seminar, in Indian Wells, California.* Obama, at a secret 2012 meeting with rich liberals, pledged to use his political capital in his second term to pursue a constitutional amendment to blunt the impacts of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision— a promise he has not pursued." (Politico)



by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images


"Today’s surprise news that 76-year-old King Juan Carlos would be abdicating his throne, handing it down to his son, Prince Felipe, means that Felipe’s wife, Princess Letizia, will soon be known as The Artist Formerly Known as Princess Letizia—or, more commonly probably, as Queen Letizia.
So, what should you know about Letizia? Let’s take a look. — She was a somewhat 'controversial' partner for Felipe. Letizia, 41, was born a 'commoner'—coming from a “professional middle-class family,” per People—which is taboo enough for someone marrying into a royal family—but, in addition to that biographical detail, she was also a . . . divorcee (cue loud gasp, followed by fancy-china-crashing-on-a-marble-floor sound effect) when she started dating Felipe. (She was married to her first husband, Alonso Guerrero Perez, a writer and high-school literature teacher, for about a year.) — She has a journalism background. Letizia’s father and grandmother were both journalists, and she got into the family business herself, becoming a “well-known TV presenter and reporter” in Spain, working for networks like CNN and the Spanish equivalent of Bloomberg. And if it weren’t for her journalism career, she never would have met Felipe, as her meet-cute with Felipe, as it were, occurred at a colleague’s dinner party (which took place shortly after she had won the prize for best Spanish journalist under the age of 30)." (VF)


Carl Schurz Park dog run.

"Regular NYSD readers are familiar with our frequent park shots
. Our choices have to do with proximity. JH lives near  Riverside Park, and also keeps his camera handy when he crosses town. He is naturally drawn to Central Park which was “his” park growing up in New York as he did. He remembers the Park as a kid when it could be a dangerous place for a kid to play, and is well aware of the great differences that have resulted from the Central Park Conservancy’s work.I’ve been familiar with Carl Schurz Park all my adult life. In my twenties, I lived nearby, and then since I came back to New York from California in the early 90s.  Being a 'dog person,' and since it has been on my doorstep, I’ve been walking through the park almost everyday – often year-round – for more than twenty years." (NYSD)

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