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Monday, September 22, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres








 



"ON A SULTRY EVENING IN 2002 I could hardly get a sunny word out of Tim Forbes, one of the heirs to the Forbes publishing empire and, among them, the most conscientious operator—the brother who effectively ran Forbes magazine. We were on the Highlander, the 150-foot family yacht, which was used often to wine and dine advertisers and media people; Tim’s older brother Steve, fresh off one of his presidential runs, was the official host. As we circled Manhattan, everything seemed the opposite of glum. At first I took Tim’s rejection of even polite optimism as an indication of his refreshingly unhyped outlook. The dotcom crash had happened, and it was proving to be a struggle to get revenues back to where they had been. But Tim’s funk—mind you, we were on a cruise to celebrate everything that was good about Forbes—was implacable. I was the one offering bromides about the magazine business and the resourcefulness of the industry; he, I realized, was at best trying to humor me. Tim, of course, had seen his company’s balance sheet, and if the ad slowdown was still hitting the normally fat Forbes, he could infer a continued downward trend everywhere in the industry. And yet the loyal Forbes audience—the madras-wearing CEOs at country clubs across America—would surely remain a plum advertising target, no? Perhaps the dynastic weight—his generation is the third to run the company, and the fourth is already in place—caused him some extra foreboding. Family publishing companies don’t last forever. Still, the Forbes family was, all in all, in it together, and Tim had the kind of meticulous business mind you’d want as the steward. Looking back, I am certain he knew. 'I am not optimistic,' he kept repeating that evening, as though foreseeing the next decade’s horrible economic events. 'Don’t bet on that,' I recall him saying, when I described turnaround scenarios. It was the first time I felt—and it would occur many times afterward—a graveyard cold about the business I worked in. I went home that evening and wrote a note to myself for an article I was thinking about: 'Tim Forbes visited by magazine angel of death.'" (TownandCountry)









"The Clinton Global Initiative, which gathers in New York this week for its 10th annual meeting, has always had a Hollywood feel to it, not least because there are invariably a few celebrities invited to mingle with the corporate suits and international development worthies. This year’s batch includes actor-activists Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Ashley Judd and Eva Longoria. The biggest celebrity, of course, is typically the former president himself, who provides participants with plenty of photo ops as he guides the conversation like a cross between an eminent professor and an ebullient Oscar host. But Mr. Clinton may find himself overshadowed a bit this year—and not by the West Coast A-listers. Amidst the serious talk about how best to battle Ebola and combat climate change, Mr. Clinton will no doubt repeatedly be asked to address the 'will she or won’t she' buzz, which only grew louder this week after he accompanied his wife to an Iowa steak fry. The 2016 question may be mere curiosity for the wealthy and well-meaning at the CGI gathering. But the political destiny of Hillary Clinton could have a profound effect on the initiative. And the CGI—awash as it is with big business and billionaires—could affect how candidate Hillary Clinton is perceived by the electorate and how President Hillary Clinton would deal with potential conflicts of interests arising from CGI’s work. The growing prominence of Hillary and daughter Chelsea on the CGI stage in recent years has been meat and drink for critics who see the event primarily as a promotional ad for the Clinton dynasty. The CGI has been careful to burnish its non-partisan credentials by giving the floor to some prominent Republicans: Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary under George W Bush, is speaking this year; Mitt Romney spoke ahead of the 2012 election. But an organization seeking commitments from influential people and organizations with such strong ties to a sitting president could easily be open to misinterpretation by anyone seeking indirect influence." (Politico)











"In cahoots with the Saudis and the Kuwaitis, the Qatari ruling family allowed various so-called private businessmen to raise money for Jihad. Saudi money funneled through Islamic charities had been funding terrorism since the Eighties. Ditto the Kuwaitis. These private fund-raisers are an obvious charade. It’s the Kuwaiti, Saudi, and Qatari ruling families’ money that ends up in terrorist hands. It’s called protection money. All three ruling 'monarchies' are basically illegitimate, and their power derives certainly not from the people but from their oil and gas wealth and their ability to bribe Uncle Sam and other Western powers to keep them as heads. The three desert satrapies had a falling-out after the military overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The Saudis stuck with Sisi, the Qataris and Kuwaitis stuck with the Brotherhood. Qatar has allowed the Taliban to open offices and recruitment centers, and openly finances the bloodthirsty Islamic State ... How have we come to this? Big oil had a lot to do with the First Gulf War" (Taki)





"In his new book, the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger argues that 'chaos threatens' the world order 'side by side with unprecedented interdependence' between nations. He's right on target. The globalization of the world economy has proceeded alongside a host of threats that transcend borders: "the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the disintegration of states, the impact of environmental depredations, the persistence of genocidal practices, and the spread of new technologies." But even as the world's prosperity and problems become more intertwined, geopolitical conflict between traditional nation-states is on the rise. The main driver for this growing volatility is a deteriorating US-led world order, what I call the 'G-Zero'--the notion that we are experiencing a widening global power vacuum that no nation or group of nations will fill for the foreseeable future. America is becoming less willing and able to influence outcomes, precisely at a time when international leadership is increasingly critical. America's exceptional ability to organize global institutions and the international agenda no longer holds--and there is no useful strategy to try and regain it. That underpins and links the geopolitical conflicts that feel ubiquitous today, from the South China Sea and Ukraine to Iraq and Syria. If we fail to address these challenges, what comes next in this disorderly world? Kissinger envisions what is essentially realpolitik, but on a regional instead of global level. It's a world of regions, where different countries have different spheres of influence, sometimes competing, sometimes not. This scenario is wholly plausible, and based on recent events, it looks like momentum is taking us in this direction. This will be a world of winners and losers, with some regions proving more successful at maintaining order and stability. The Western Hemisphere performs well in this world, given its insulation from geopolitical hotspots. Eurasia and the Middle East will be a fundamentally different story, destined for more conflict in a world without global referees and rules. Asia has the most uncertainty: the greatest potential, the gravest potential conflict." (Ian Bremmer)






















"The dirty old man whom New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says groped her while telling her, 'Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!' was apparently none other than Gillibrand's fellow Democrat, the highest-ranking Asian official in the U.S. ever, an army veteran, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 'according to people with knowledge of the incident,' the New York Times reports. He died in 2012 at age 88. As a senator, Inouye consistently voted in favor of women's issues. But, as the Times notes, the senator did have a black mark on his record: 1992 allegations that he forced his stylist to sleep with him (she said at the time that she did not consider it rape because she did not fight back). The woman claimed to know of nine others harassed by Inouye who did not want to come forward with charges. Gillibrand's office would not confirm or deny that Inouye uttered the comment." (NYMag)


Hermione in the Naval battle of Louisbourg, by Auguste-Louis de Rossel de Cercy.




"On another, higher, historical note for all patriots, lovers of history and fans of courage and ingenuity, I bring you the news that on Tuesday, October 14th, from 6:30 to 10:30 pm, the Friends of Hermione in the US are hosting their Inaugural NYC Gala with distinguished guests (honoring), Dr. Henry Kissinger, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Charlie Rose of CBS This Morning  and the Charlie Rose Show on PBS. The evening is Celebrating the Belief that Anything is Possible. History lesson. If you didn’t know, the Hermione is the 32-cannon 18th century French frigate that brought Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, known immortally by his title, Marquis de Lafayette, to America in 1780, age 22, to serve in General Washington’s army. This was Lafayette’s second trip to the Colonies. Three years before he came against the wishes of his superiors including Louis XVI, King of France. However, the very young marquis impressed Washington and he was commissioned a major general. The following year -- 1778 --  having been wounded, Lafayette returned to France where he actively and passionately lobbied the French and especially Louis and Marie Antoinette to support the American colonists in the war with the British. " (NYSD)


Click to order “Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History."


"Now that the social season is warming up, I’ll have less time to read. This is happening when some wonderful new books are presenting themselves. For example, the New York Review of Book’s latest issue features a review by Anka Muhlstein titled 'The Cut of Coco.' Coco Chanel. 'Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History' by Rhonda K. Garelick (Random House). I’ve read three or four biographies of the 20th century French designer who literally changed the way women dressed in a way that was so radical (after centuries) that it remains beyond compare. I still question what it is that draws me to try to grasp the person. The last one I read I wrote about on these pages – Paul Morand’s 'The Allure of Chanel' was modern Balzac. I later read that it was intended to be her memoir and a lot of it was made up. I cannot explain what the draw is for me, but she’s one of those characters who escapes explanation, a kind of sad, lone lioness.When I saw Mme. Muhlstein’s review and saw the length of the book (576 pages), I asked myself if I really wanted to get into a book of that length at this moment (of so little time). Oh, what the hell; who cares? So. In the first paragraph of her review  in the NYRB of, my vulgar curiosity returned instantly: 'I ... am an odious person,' Coco Chanel declared. Not many would have begged to differ. Chanel’s tongue was quite as sharp as her shears and she treated everyone who worked for her harshly, playing one against the other. No one escaped her malice, not even a trusted friend like the poet Jean Cocteau, whom she described to one interviewer as nothing but a “snobbish little pederast who did nothing all his life but steal from people.' She held her own customers in contempt and said: 'A woman equals envy plus vanity plus chatter plus a confused mind.' Mulhstein finished the paragraph with the bottom line of Chanel’s public existence: 'But no one ever built an empire by being nice, and Chanel, by simplifying, lightening, and eliminating the corset, invented a new way of dressing women.' Author Garelick’s new biography evidently covers much of the same for those of us who’ve read previous Chanel biographies, but with much more detail of this woman who actually changed the world in a very obvious yet continuingly subtle way. There was genius always running through her veins." (NYSD)

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