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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres






"The amount of oil production that has come online over the last four months is staggering. The United States has increased its production from 8.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in July to an estimated 9 million bpd. Libyan oil production has increased from about 200,000 bpd to more than 900,000 bpd. Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iraq have all increased production in recent months, and OPEC's production is at the highest level in two years. To put this into perspective, the International Energy Agency's projection for global oil demand growth for 2014 is only 700,000 bpd -- roughly half of the total production increase mentioned above. Looking to 2015, the growth prospects for energy production in North America continue to be positive. Even after production grew by about 1 million bpd in 2012, 2013 and again in 2014, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects U.S. oil production to increase by another 750,000 bpd in 2015. Moreover, the Energy Information Administration consistently has underestimated production growth from tight oil (oil extracted from formations that are not naturally very permeable). The only OPEC members with enough flexibility to reduce oil production voluntarily are the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. None of the other members are in a financial position to take oil production offline. Libya, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela all need maximum oil output and high prices to finance their budgets and social spending programs. Notably, Libya's OPEC governor called on the bloc to cut production by 500,000 bpd to buoy prices but made no mention that his country would take part in such a cut. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, seems to have taken the opposite position, prioritizing a greater market share over higher prices. Saudi Arabia's status as OPEC's swing producer has historically meant that Saudi Aramco will reduce production to create higher oil prices. But with U.S. production increasing so quickly and prices that are still relatively high, Riyadh has little interest to do so: A significant reduction in oil production might not increase the price of oil enough to make forgoing the additional exports worthwhile. Riyadh found itself in the same position in the 1980s when it cut production only to discover that its control over international oil prices was limited. The Saudis have been hesitant to play the same card ever since, instead exerting a small influence on prices while continuing to produce at high levels. More broadly, during the last four decades the Saudis -- as well as the Emiratis and Kuwaitis -- have amassed large wealth funds, enabling them to simply sit back and weather a period of low oil prices." (STRATFOR)





"Global oil prices have dropped to their lowest levels in years, plunging by more than 25 percent in the past five months. Slowing growth in Europe and China is drying up demand, all while production is soaring in the United States and Libya, creating a supply glut. With both of these trends unlikely to change in the coming months, analysts say that lower crude prices could last well into 2015.For many of the world’s major oil-producing nations, falling prices are an economic bust. Countries whose revenues come mostly from oil -- such as Venezuela, Iran and Nigeria -- are struggling to pay off foreign debts, balance and fund their public budgets and stabilize their currencies. Russia, Ecuador and Algeria all risk sliding into economic recession if oil prices continue to drop; Russia’s newfound geopolitical assertiveness could be reversed." (IBT)



Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty


"It's finally here: the 2014 midterms elections that most Americans couldn't bother to follow. Despite the general lack of public interest, there are some fascinating races coming to an end today, we swear. By Wednesday, the country may have a new party controlling the Senate, one less Republican 2016 presidential candidate, and a few more prospective swing states — not to mention a resolution to the 'Kissing Congressman' soap opera. Here's what you need to know to follow the best Election Night drama." (NYMag)


Counties to Watch in 5 Key Senate Races
Udall is seeking re-election in Colorado. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


"Control of the Senate comes down to just a few states, with Republicans in a position to pick up the necessary net six seats to win the majority. As the results pour in Tuesday evening, here are the counties to watch in five of the most contested Senate races: Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Kansas, and Georgia. Colorado: Arapahoe County and Jefferson County These two Denver suburbs have served as bellwethers for statewide results in recent years, and probably will again as Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, fights to fend off Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican. Jefferson County’s results in the past six cycles have mirrored the statewide results within a percentage point. Arapahoe is another strong indicator of the statewide results in past years, but it’s also a county where there’s often drop off in voters between presidential years and midterms. If the number of votes coming in from Arapahoe look similar to the vote total from 2012, it could be a good night for the Democrats.Political observers also say to watch Larimer County, home to Colorado State University, where campaigns have been making great efforts to turn out younger voters. Adams County is another one to watch, a Denver suburb that contains part of the 6th District, home to Colorado’s most competitive House race. Republicans say they don’t have to win there, but they can’t afford to lose it by a lot." (RollCall)



Photo: Rick Wilking/Reuters/Corbis


"'I don’t think it is ever enough for a governing majority to simply be opposed to things. We have to be for things,' Cory Gardner is saying. He is sitting in the backseat of a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by campaign staffer, which is lurching through downtown Denver traffic en route to tape a local public television show. He speaks quickly, leaning forward for emphasis, his seat belt stretching to accommodate his enthusiasm. It’s a Thursday afternoon in late October. In a few days, voters will decide whether Gardner — a barely 40-year-old from Colorado’s rural Eastern Plains — gets to be the next Senator of the Rocky Mountain state or a two-term congressman whose political ambition forced his own early retirement. 'It’s never enough to be no, it’s never enough to be opposition,' he says. He wears the expression of a guy who’s just walked into his own surprise party: eyebrows lifted, a bright perma-smile revealing the feats of modern orthodontia. 'You have to show that with a pivot to something that works for people.' This ebullience is a key quality of the Cory Gardner candidacy. It’s what’s propelled him from no-name congressman to one of the most recognizable — and controversial — political personalities in the state, practically overnight. It’s what allowed him to clear the primary field of challengers by charming them over dinner at Cracker Barrel or offering to help pay their campaign debt (that and his apparent ability to raise loads of cash from the Kochs and their ideological brethren). And it’s what’s allowed him to claim — to the infuriation of Democrats, who say that he’s lying through those pearly whites about his record as one of the most conservative members of a deeply conservative House of Representatives — the mantle of bipartisan nice guy in a year dominated by anti-Obama automatons. Before he announced he would run against Mark Udall, the Democratic Senator and son of a famous political family, Gardner would have been virtually unrecognizable in the Denver metro area, where most of the state’s population lives. Seven months and countless political advertisements later, it’s impossible not to have an image of him implanted in your brain: either as a black-and-white villain who is simply lying to voters or the full-color fresh face who offers Republicans one of their best chances at winning the Senate this year and charting a fresh course for 2016." (NYMag)





"Sometimes—but not often enough—actual Muslims enter the room. Iranian-American writer and academic Reza Aslan has made himself into the go-to guy for the Council on Foreign relations, MSNBC, Beast and other progressive outfits when they need to trot out a reasonable man.
Mr. Aslan, a looker, is the handsome exemplar of the 'religion of peace.' He’s palatable to faith-based Americans because he is a lifelong religioso, having converted to evangelical Christianity as a tender teen, then returning to the Muslim fold. Mr. Aslan believes—in a God. After the latest Maher/Harris versus Kristof/Affleck bout, Mr. Aslan found an atheist with whom to co-write a piece in The Guardian, headlined “Violent’ Muslims? ‘Amoral’ atheists? It’s time to stop shouting and start talking to each other.' The little essay outrageously attempted to equate savage Islamist attitudes toward women—sanctioned wife-beating, deprivation of basic rights including the right to divorce and drive cars and inherit wealth—with recent allegations in the atheist world that women have been harassed in elevators at atheist conferences. They also try to argue that atheists and Muslims are equally “underrepresented.” Utterly ludicrous when more than a billion people identify as Muslims and entire nations—Egypt, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iran and the Gulf monarchies—identify as Muslim. Where is the atheist nation, gentlemen? I’d like to get my passport. Reza Aslan and his ilk contort themselves to avoid the fact that muezzins the world over have raised the planetary threat level thanks to the Wahhabi takeover of Islam. When progressives like Mr. Aslan refuse to condemn what’s going on inside the mosques, they are as much a part of the problem as the men in the minarets, medieval termagants obsessed with maintaining power over sheeple’s minds and souls." (Nina Burleigh)





"Did you catch Michael Wolff‘s latest piece for USA Today? We here at Mediabistro sure did. Under the headline 'Media is Fat and Happy at Michael’s,' Wolff marked this week’s 25th anniversary of the 55th Street establishment with a look at how the restaurant has maintained an admirable hold as a favorite gathering place of 'top-tier, or would be top-tier television, book, magazine, advertising and PR people, associated celebrities, mogul-class types, anchormen and women, and prominent bylines.' Sound familiar? While there’s no hard and fast rule that suggests Wolff was obligated to include a mention of our 'Lunch' columnist Diane Clehane (pictured), the lack of professional courtesy in this particular case is especially puzzling. After all, when Wolff recently returned to Michael’s following a banishment some years prior, he was seated at Table 17 directly across from Clehane. 'I was curious why Mr. Wolff was keeping such a close eye on the comings and goings around my table on his return to Michael’s on a Wednesday a few weeks back,' Clehane, who took over our 'Lunch' beat in October 2006, tells FishbowlNY. 'I would have been only too happy to introduce him around if only he’d come over to say hello.'" (FishbowlNY)



Bill Dean, and friends, photographed in the living room of his home, the Dodge Mansion, in Georgetown.


"It was a week in which one notable Georgetowner, 93-year-old Ben Bradlee, was laid to rest and another notable Georgetowner, 49-year-old Bill Dean, held his annual Halloween party. It may elude the elders, but there's a connection between the two. Washington can't help itself but be pathologically nutty about showing up at only the "right" parties. There's a lot of silly snobbery and tut-tutting about Dean and his bacchanalian soirees, but seriously, among quite a chunk of the social realm the mold is getting musty. It's likely had Dean's parties happened in the '70s and '80s, Ben Bradlee would have dropped by and The Washington Post would have had colorful page 1 Style section coverage with Sally Quinn's byline attached. Why not the same today? Why would Ben Bradlee have cared? Because Dean owns a Virginia-based electrical-systems engineering company, M.C. Dean, that earns within hailing distance of a billion dollars a year and whose principal client is the federal government, including (and this is important) the national security and defense wings. He – and his 3,000 employees – provide services for the feds and private companies here in Washington, in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and in altogether some 40 countries. He takes his work seriously, which is why he doesn’t apologize for his partying or his yacht or other homes, including a lavish spread in Miami Beach. He’s a nice guy, and generous, but also an enigma. His parties are intriguing because they are so Hefneresque, and the host, like Hef, is a rich bachelor with a mansion and arms full of very young women, including, sometimes, actual Playboy playmates, and there’s so much gossip about him. That it all happens in Georgetown is incongruous and delightful. Yes, many of the women guests don’t appear to be members of the Sulgrave Club and their costumes fulfill male fantasies of naughty school girls, naughty cops, naughty nurses, naughty maids, naughty angels (you get the drift) and nice devils—and those are the ladies whose costumes aren't painted on their bare skin. The men, Dean's pals and colleagues, come to play. Neighbors are invited, too." (NYSD)

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