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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


Russia–NATO Close Encounters in the Baltic and North Seas. Red=High Risk; Yellow=Serious; Blue=Near Routine.

RUSSIA–NATO CLOSE ENCOUNTERS IN THE BALTIC AND NORTH SEAS. RED=HIGH RISK; YELLOW=SERIOUS; BLUE=NEAR ROUTINE.
SOURCE: EUROPEAN LEADERSHIP NETWORK.

"No less an authority than Mikhail Gorbachev is worried that, a quarter century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War will return. It is hard to disagree: With confirmation that heavy convoys moving through Eastern Ukraine in recent days crossed from Russia, the fighting there looks set to restart in earnest. The post-1989 goal of building a Europe 'whole and free,' including Russia, is not lost. It's just not imminent. So, for now, welcome to the Cool War. Unlike during the Cold War, the threat is regional, not global, and the chance remains for reconciliation, however remote that may seem at the moment. To deal with this reality, U.S. and European leaders should consider reviving some of the Cold War-era mechanisms that once kept regional confrontations -- and there were many in the decades when the U.S. and the Soviet Union faced off as the world's two superpowers -- from escalating. Ukraine is not the only potential flashpoint today: They exist across the former Soviet Union. A recent report by the European Leadership Network also details 40 'near miss' incidents between Russian and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces over the past eight months, from a Russian plane that nearly hit an airliner taking off from the Copenhagen airport to a jet buzzing a Canadian frigate so closely, the ship locked its radar on the plane. Three of the incidents involved a 'high probability of causing casualties or a direct military confrontation.' On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said he planned to extend long-range bomber patrols as far as the Gulf of Mexico." (Bloomberg View)



"  From 1996 to 2004, 31 Republican incumbents and 14 Democratic incumbents lost for a total of 45 incumbent losers.
  • Of those 31 Republicans, 18 lost in the 1996 correction after the 1994 tsunami when a number of Republicans won seats they had no business holding.
  • Comparatively, from 2006-2014, 59 Republican and at least 73 Democratic incumbents lost for a minimum of 131 incumbent losers. (I use “at least” because several Democratic incumbents are still imperiled in some districts that are not 100% counted.)
  • That’s nearly three times as many incumbent losers in the last five elections than in the previous five.
  • The other big difference in the wave series is the net shift in House seats. From 1996-2004, there was a total of just 24 seat shifts in November (thus not including special elections).
  • From 2006-2014 however, there have been swings totaling 128 seats — more than five times as many as the previous five elections." (Sabato)


"Billionaires seems to have been sparked by West’s belief that rich people, newly empowered to use their money in politics, are now more likely than usual to determine political outcomes. This may be true, but so far the evidenceand evidence here is really just a handful of anecdotessuggests that rich people, when they seek to influence political outcomes, often are wasting their money. Michael Bloomberg was able to use his billions to make himself mayor of New York City (which seems to have worked out pretty well for New York City), but Meg Whitman piled $144 million of her own money in the streets of California and set it on fire in her failed attempt to become governor. Mitt Romney might actually have been a stronger candidate if he had less money, or at least had been less completely defined by his money. For all the angst caused by the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson and their efforts to unseat Barack Obama, they only demonstrated how much money could be spent on a political campaign while exerting no meaningful effect upon it. As West points out, many rich people are more interested in having their way with specific issues than with candidates, but even here their record is spotty. Perhaps they are having their way in arguments about raising federal estate tax; but the states with the most billionaires in them, California and New York, have among the highest tax rates on income and capital gains. If these billionaires are seeking, as a class, to minimize the sums they return to society, they are not doing a very good job of it. But of course they aren’t seeking anything, as a class: it’s not even clear they can agree on what their collective interests are. The second richest American billionaire, Warren Buffett, has been quite vocal about his desire for higher tax rates on the rich. The single biggest donor to political campaigns just now is Tom Steyer, a Democrat with a passion for climate change. And for every rich person who sets off on a jag to carve California into seven states, or to defeat Barack Obama, there are many more who have no interest in politics at all except perhaps, in a general way, to prevent them from touching their lives. Rich people, in my experience, don’t want to change the world. The world as it is suits them nicely. One trouble for a writer who wants to see the concentration of wealth at the very top chiefly as a political problem is that the politics of the very rich are not all that predictable or consistent. Obviously billionaires are not perfect reflections of the societies they inhabit, but it’s not insane to consider that their quirks and proclivities might be politically self-canceling, like the irrationalities of consumers in models in classical economics, and so might be assumed away. Even on the most obvious political issues, on which you might think all billionaires could agree, they are often at war with each other. In the end, West more or less concludes that even if money cannot directly rig the democracy, and buy political outcomes, the public’s perception that it can will lead to public cynicism, and corrode the democracy. That may be true. But it tells you something when someone sets out to write a book about the effects of rich people on politics and can’t do any better than that. And it raises a bigger question: just how influential are the very rich?" (TNR)
Among those lunching at Michael’s Wednesday, November 12, 2014.
• Montel Williams with 
• Mark Newhouse
• Lucy Danziger
• Jack Kliger
• Marshall Brickman
• Brooke Hayward, 
Alex Hitz & DPC 
• Lynn Tesoro
• John Sykes
• Stan Shuman
• Andrew Stein
• Wednesday Martin 
• Henry Schleiff
• Mica Ertegun
 Gerry Imber, Della Femina, Michael Kramer
 Kate Johnson
• Patricia Kluge with Christopher Mason
• Maryam Banikarim
• David Corvo
• Tom Goodman
• Steve Mosko
• David Zaslav
• Dan Lufkin
• Chris Pierce
• David Sanford
 Matt Blank
 Mickey Ateyeh, Angela Cummings
 Vin Dibona with Diane Clehane
 Lauren Dillard
 Ronald Dozoretz

"Me, I was where I was over at Michael’s for the Wednesday lunch with Brooke Hayward who’d made her monthly trip in from Litchfield County, and Alex Hitz who is bi-coastal and has just returned from L.A. to stay through the holiday season. Michael’s was full-house. You can get a look from the sidebar of kinda who was there. I didn’t catch all the lunch guests of those reserving, and you may not recognize many if any of the names but nevertheless this is a list of doers, movers, shakers, media-folk, media-promoters, bankers, writers, influence peddlers and those operating out of the Zeitgeist.  It is a microcosm of New York moving in the universe. And I’m not kidding.The New York Post did a big story last week on Michael’s 25th Anniversary. They ran three pages of “who” goes to Michael’s. It was a poorly done job because they posted names and pictures of a variety of celebrities as if to give the impression that Michael’s is the place it is because celebrities lunch there. Wrong. Celebrities lunch there because Michael's is the center for those who make the celebrities celebrities, but also many other business and creative activities." (NYSD)

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"We’re still recovering from Michael’s 25th anniversary party last week, but this being Wednesday we had to make our rounds at 55th and Fifth and found there were plenty of moguls on the menu (David ZaslavMatt Blank) and the usual suspects were present and accounted for. There must be something in the air with anniversaries because my lunch companion, prolific producer Vin Di Bona, was in town celebrating the silver anniversary of his signature creation, America’s Funniest Home Videos (AFV).he dapper and affable Vin agreed to meet early for lunch today because this afternoon he was the keynote speaker at the NYC Television Week Next TV Summit at the Affinia Manhattan hotel. Tonight, he’s appearing on Bloomberg TV. With no time to waste, we got right down to it. In 2007, AFV became the longest-running primetime entertainment show on ABC. In 2012, AFV celebrated a milestone 500th episode, an accomplishment previously achieved by only three other primetime entertainment shows: LassieGunsmoke and The Simpsons. How, I asked, do he and his team keep the show fresh after 25 years?'It’s the base of our audience. It’s a family audience. Ninety-three percent of our audience watch the show live.' No small accomplishment in this era of on-demand programming, I noted, to which Vin added: 'Our show is a family event. People love to come together to watch it with their families.'" (Diane Clehane)

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