Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Little of the Old In and Out

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In: The Print Media. Who says the print media is dead? Yes, Knight-Ridder is potentially up for sale. And, sure, it's not a good time to be an editorial cartoonist. But print media still has a vast influence over our political and business spheres of society. To wit:

Yesterday's reveleation in the pages of The Old Gray Lady -- and the strong web reaction -- that the Bush Administration spied domestically on U.S. citizens led indirectly to the blockage of the renewal of the Patriot Act. Four Republicans -- including, curiously, Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel -- joined the nearly unanimous Democratic Party block.

Moderate Republican Senator Arlen Spector, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has arranged for hearings into the matter early next year. Curiously, the Times sat on the story, which leads Drudgie-poo to speculate that the filing of the story coincides remarkably with reporter James Risen's new book on the same subject.

Similarly, Steve Case strategically maneuvered Sunday's Washington Post via the Op-Ed page to affect the outcome of the AOL-Google deal. According to today's NYTimes:

"An executive involved in the talks said that as recently as two weeks ago, Mr. Parsons told Microsoft executives that he preferred their bid. Still, that executive said, Microsoft had the impression that executives in the AOL unit preferred to work with Google. Yesterday, several AOL executives said that was true. A source close to Mr. Parsons said his only goal was to do the best deal for AOL's future.

"But a turning point, in Microsoft's view, was an article that Stephen M. Case, AOL's co-founder and the architect of the deal with Time Warner, wrote in Sunday's Washington Post calling for the company to be split up, two executives involved with the negotiations who were familiar with Microsoft's views said.

"Mr. Case's argument was timed specifically to encourage a Google deal, said one person close to him. Mr. Case's longstanding animosity toward Microsoft played a part, this person said, but his main reasoning was that Google has proved itself far smarter about the Internet than Microsoft. That person said that Mr. Case thought that a deal with Google was the best of all the options other than spinning off AOL. Carl C. Icahn, the financier who, like Mr. Case, has been pressing Time Warner to split up the company, was not mollified by the Google deal."

So, we repeat: who says print media is dead?

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Out: Victoria Beckham. Victoria needs to eat some comfort food and chill the fuck out. According to Thisislondon:

"Victoria Beckham was involved in a screaming row with an aging Spanish actress who has been linked to her husband David.

"Posh Spice was spotted yelling at Ana Obregon, 50, in a Madrid gym, saying: 'Leave my husband alone' and calling her 'a piece of s**t.'

"Obregon moved into the same hotel as Beckham when he first joined Real Madrid in 2003.
Reports that the actress was romantically linked to Beckham caused a media frenzy, and the rumours have refused to die down."

Charmed, I'm sure. (The Corsair sips a Col Solare 2001 with hints of earth and caramel) While, yes, Victoria has every reason to worry about David Beckham's malleable fidelity, airing insecurities publicly over her husband's two year old fling with an older woman -- who, incidentally, aint all that -- is probably doing her more harm than hurt.


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In: Blunt Versus Boehner; Lott Versus McConnell. Oh, it's on; it's on like Gray Poupon! The bicameral houses of Congress are in the throes of smackdown. Technically, though, on the House side, everything is in stasis until the embattled Tom DeLay takes himself out of the running altogether for Majority Leader. According to the perfect Dickensian villain, Robert Novak (Who is leaving CNN for Fox):

" A decision on whether to hold new elections for House majority leader to replace Tom DeLay may not be made until the House Republican leadership meets at Cambridge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland following President Bush's State of the Union Address on Jan. 31.

"By then, it may be clear whether DeLay will be able to win acquittal from Texas criminal prosecution in time to obviate an election. Majority Whip Roy Blunt, who has been acting majority leader since DeLay's indictment, probably would be challenged for the job by Rep. John Boehner.

"DeLay has advised colleagues to keep Dec. 27 circled as the date when court decisions in Texas may provide a clearer outlook on what lies ahead."

And, in the United States Senate, Trent Lott is trying to rehabilitate himself (After years of apologies, and lots of pork-barrel legislation directed to African-American interests), according to Alexander Bolton of TheHill:

"Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said today that he plans to run for a leadership post next year, explaining that he has his sights set on the top job: majority leader.

"But Lott also said that he has not made a final decision about running for re-election next year and said that he is considering his finances after losing his permanent residence, which was appraised at between $650,000 and $750,000, because of Hurricane Katrina.

"'I'm looking at it seriously,' Lott said of his possible retirement. 'If I come back here, I'm going to run for a leadership position.'

"Lott said that he considers Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a friend, that he appreciates that McConnell stood by him when he was criticized for making controversial remarks at former Sen. Strom Thurmond's (R-S.C.) 100th birthday, and that he's not 'mad' at him for any reason. Nevertheless, Lott said he would consider vying against McConnell for the top Senate post, which is expected to become vacant at the end of next year when Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) retires.

"If Lott were to retain his old post, it would be regarded as one of the most dramatic political comebacks since Richard Nixon recovered from his loss in the California governor race in 1962."

Well, we're not sure about all that, Alexander Bolton, but it would indeed be big. The full story here.


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Out: Money Buying Influence in Politics. The whiff of sleaze that hangs about K-Street has never been more pungent. (Averted Gaze) Malodorous swamp gasses -- remember DC's historical beginnings -- in the form of special-interest monies carry over from the K-Street lobbyists and waft the halls of power. (For further instruction see the day's latest Abramoff entanglements) Senator John McCain is gaining momentum in his decades-long struggle to combat the influences of Mannon and get real campaign finance reform going in the House of Representatives.

Did you know, for example, that there are grumblings on the Hill about incoming Senator Menendez? You know the one, John Corzine's appointee? He's not kicking up his dues to the DNCC's. Damed cheek! According to TheHill:

"Thus far this cycle, Menendez has contributed just $57,000 in dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), according to the latest DCCC tallies. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have given $415,000 and $400,000, respectively, of their $600,000 commitment. DCCC dues vary between $100,000 and $600,000 for the 2006 election cycle, depending on committee assignments and leadership roles.

"'Bob Menendez's biggest talking point for why he should be appointed to the Senate was that he was a member of Democratic leadership,' said a senior Democratic aide. 'Every other member of the leadership has stepped up to the plate. If the DCCC doesn't see that money for some of their challengers, it's going to be remembered.'"

Nice. (Averted Gaze)


Euan and Lucy Sykes-Rellie. (image via fashionweekdaily via patrickmcmullen)

In: The Young Collector's Artists Ball. According to the Guggenheim site, "Funds raised from the event will be used to acquire works by emerging artists for the museum�s permanent collection and to support the museum�s progressive exhibitions program." As for the event itself, Jim Shi of Fashionweekdaily writes:

"Traipsing into the Guggenheim last night for the annual Young Collectors Artist�s Ball, each guest�motivated perhaps because this event signified the end of the winter social season�sought found meaning in their dresses by YSL, the evening�s sponsor. 'Is it over? Are we done yet?' Ines Rivero joked, as she checked her calendar on her Treo.

"Dr. Lisa Airan wore a ruffled number that mimicked the one Kristin Scott Thomas donned in Cannes; Lucy Sykes-Rellie wore a d�colletage-revealing gown that had been lent to Gwyneth Paltrow ('She didn�t wear it because she was pregnant at the time and her boobs were too big,' the designer added); and Amanda Cutter Brooks just wanted something demure. 'I feel like a priest,' she laughed.

"... Inside the museum, guests like Damien Loeb, Damon Dash, Rachel Roy, Lauren Davis, Rachel McAdams ... Usher .. and Celerie Kemble milled about, checking out the art, as seven moving mechanical bulls were erected high atop a lush velvet platform to illustrate the contrast between posh and raw animal energy."

The full list here (And, scroll down to Amanda Hearst's unintentionally hilarious take on the Guggenheim's architecture).

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