Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Oldest Sub-Saharan Shipwreck Ever Discovered?

As a self-described literary "Corsair," we have had an abiding interest in maritime law and shipwrecks for as long as we have been alive. And being originally from sub-Saharan Africa, this story about a 500 year-old shipwreck leapt out. From Bloomberg:

"De Beers, the world's biggest undersea diamond miner, said its geologists in Namibia found the wreckage of an ancient sailing ship still laden with treasure, including six bronze cannons, thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold coins and more than 50 elephant tusks.

"The wreckage was discovered in the area behind a sea wall used to push back the Atlantic Ocean in order to search for diamonds in Namibia's Sperrgebiet or 'Forbidden Zone.'

"'If the experts' assessments are correct, the shipwreck could date back to the late 1400s or early 1500s, making it a discovery of global significance,' Namdeb Diamond Corp., a joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government, said in an e-mailed statement from the capital, Windhoek, today."

Now comes the maddening part. Spain and Portugal will probably claim ownership, because they are powerful nations and they just might get a taste with enough strongarming. DeBeers will also, probably, declare ownership. But that contradicts Namibian law, which says that any such discoveries off their coast belong to the nation. DeBeers, although the discoverers, have too much money tied in with Namibia, and could probably be pressured to drop the claim altogether in the interests of future relations. But if there were a collectively agreed upon and enforced Law of the Sea -- something The Corsair's father fought for on the UN Law of the Sea Commission in the late 1970s -- this would not be the problem it is probably about to become. We will keep you informed ...
Towards A Nonpolar Future

Yesterday, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria declared with a touch of twilight finality on NPR, "the Age of American Unipolarity is over." Zakaria compared America to an exhausted post-Boer War Britain, the most analagous historical global superpower, noting, "the end of exceptionalism (is) because the gap between us and the world is no longer that large." The gap to which Zakaria refers involves military commitments, a sagging economy and education. The mood evoked echoes Davos in January. This recession and the change election presently alighting the Eastern seaboard only highlights the heavy feeling in the atmosphere of American decline.

Actions, to be sure, have consequences, particularly on the global stage. The hyper-idealistic neoconservatives who counseled The President towards unilateral war against Iraq –- “you are either with us or against us” -- have brought about the inevitable international push-back in the form of nonpolarity.

Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, argues in the May/June 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs that “the principal characteristic of twenty-first-century international relations is turning out to be nonpolarity: a world dominated not by one or two or even several states but rather by dozens of actors possessing and exercising various kinds of power.”

The hallmark of the modern era involved the Nation-state as the primary political unit. Nationalism, however, in its extreme form led to the Great War and the end of Western European global dominance. The latter half of the twentieth century, post-World War II, evolved into a bipolar situation with smaller powers aligning themselves -- in the United Nations, NATO and the Soviet Bloc -- on either the Soviet or the American side of the global equation. De Tocqueville’s bold prediction of a Russo-American global destiny became the dominant reality until the fall of the Soviet Union. There was, as the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed in On The Law of Nations, a certain geopolitical symmetry to that bipolarity, despite the tensions in the heart of twilight Europe, and the now archaic bomb shelters presently tenantless in the American heartland.

In a unipolar cosmos, by contrast, the anxiety is more acute as there is no Great Power alternative. A nation really is, in a sense, for or against the unilateral Great Power once such a statement is uttered in the international arena. And each unilateral adventure or gesture of aggression lengthens the shadow of American influence.

The pendulum swings. From Foreign Affairs (via The Atlantic’s Daily Dish):

“A nonpolar world not only involves more actors but also lacks the more predictable fixed structures and relationships that tend to define worlds of unipolarity, bipolarity, or multipolarity. Alliances, in particular, will lose much of their importance, if only because alliances require predictable threats, outlooks, and obligations, all of which are likely to be in short supply in a nonpolar world. Relationships will instead become more selective and situational. It will become harder to classify other countries as either allies or adversaries; they will cooperate on some issues and resist on others. There will be a premium on consultation and coalition building and on a diplomacy that encourages cooperation when possible and shields such cooperation from the fallout of inevitable disagreements.”

And so Diplomacy, not fiat, will be how things get done, according to Haass. What tends to be forgotten in all the turgid rhetoric against the United Nations and the very idea of international law – Justice Antonin Scalia’s perorations comes to mind -- is that UN charter was written by British and American international lawyers steeped in American constitutional law. The Pope’s well-timed visit to address the General Assembly perhaps underscores this new international order.

Generations of religious leaders and theological scholars have supported an institutional embodiment of the law of nations. It is not inconceivable that a nonpolar world might be a precursor to a planet in which the growing importance of international cooperative agreements and a greater reliance on international law might be the outcome. And that would be a good thing.
Obama To Do Full Hour Of "Meet The Press"

Tim Russert, according to who you're listening to, either is or isn't blocking Arianna Huffington's access to NBC and MSNBC because of "Russert Watch." But he will be hosting Senator Barack Obama for the full hour, no doubt hitting the Senator from Illinois with hard questions about the Wright controversy. If it works it might move some of those superdelegates that, since the National Press Club spectacle, have frozen.

Huffington, BTW, is going to be on Charlie Rose tonight.
Media-Whore D'Oevres

"Parsons The New School's 60th annual benefit and fashion show Monday night drew gobs of fashion execs, designers galore and a borderline overload of affection ... After opening remarks by New School president Bob Kerrey, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper presented Diane von Furstenberg with the evening's second accolade. 'My mom Gloria [Vanderbilt] called and said, Tell them how freeing that wrap dress was for all us women! ... First time attendee Natalie Massenet of Net-a-porter hosted a table, inviting Anna Wintour, Eliza and Alex Bolen, Amanda and Christopher Brooks, André Leon Talley, and past honoree Oscar de la Renta (who was on hand with Sidney Kimmel). " (Fashionweekdaily)

"But while this crisis simmers, the larger problem of Sudan's survival as a state is becoming increasingly urgent. Trends more ominous than even the carnage in Darfur could bring the country far more bloodshed soon. Long-standing tensions between the Arabs who populate the Nile River valley and have held power for a century and marginalized groups on the country's periphery are mutating into a national crisis once again. The tenuous 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war between the Arabs in the north and the Christians and the animists in the south is in danger; new strains in these groups' relations nearly broke out into a full-scale war late last year. Now, neither this situation nor the conflict in Darfur can be resolved without reference to the other. More crises loom as well. The Nubian people of the Nile River valley nearly rebelled last year over a dam project that threatened to destroy their homeland, and a 2006 peace agreement between the government and the Beja and Rashaida peoples in eastern Sudan is near breakdown.: (Foreign Affairs)

"With far fewer new shows available to tout, the upfront presentations themselves -- once three-hour or more affairs -- have been slashed down, as the nets forgo the pomp and circumstance. Nets may announce fall lineups but forgo midseason announcements. With fewer cutdowns to show than usual, the network presentations are expected to be short and sweet this year. What's more, most nets have canceled their post-presentation parties (with the exception of Fox)." (Variety)

"A shot of Miley Cyrus posing with father Billy Ray irked Howard Stern, who couldn't hold back on his satellite radio show Monday. 'The picture disturbs me. It looks like his daughter is his girlfriend. He's trying to be hot,' Stern said. 'He's got to be incredibly grateful but angry about her success,' he continued 'Here's a guy who had one hit. And then the cat disappeared. I don't think he had much going on. Then he has this kid and turns her into a showbiz kid. So then the kid goes into show business and becomes a megastar and he's like oh F---. He sort of the guy who hangs on.' 'That daughter of his is the only thing between him and going on The Surreal Life,' chimed in Stern sidekick Artie Lange." (SoHood)

"The superdelegate count since March 5 - Obama 38, Clinton 8. (Not counting today - wink, wink.) Sleeper story: They don't seem to be moving." (Politico)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

Beware light lager's served at suspiciously "organic" temperatures. (image via thecobrasnake)

They call him "Prick James." (image via thecobrasnake)

"Wigga-Please! Pellegrino be up in this biotch." (image via thecobrasnake)

Dance with your ass, baby, not on your ass. (image via thecobrasnake)

A little Xstasy-pill mnemonic phonic: If your jaw don't grind, you've been robbed blind. (image via thecobrasnake)

We endeavor to make the argument, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that Excessive "guyliner" is -- at the very least -- a social misdemeanor. (image via thecobrasnake)
A Little Of The Old In And Out

(image via abcnews)

In: Grand Theft Auto IV. Unfortunately, Grand Theft Auto IV is probably going to be the "news" story of the day. And we can thank the decline of journalism and the rise of unmitigated gossip and fluff for that. Leftish amoral types and people in or proximate to the gaming industry like to portray those of us -- centrists -- who loathe Grand Theft Auto IV and its ilk as hacky moral scolds or, worse, hypocrites blind to the excesses of violent or sexy films out of Hollywood. A clever distraction. Senator Hillary Clinton has been quite smart on the issue of the effects of violent video games on the dangerously short attention spans of the Extreme Generation. It might be interesting to do an informal survey as to how many violent criminals made violent video games a central part of their waking experience? How many gangs enjoy violent video games in their down time? And --ultimately -- what are the psychological effects of prolonged violent video gaming on the will of someone with a short attention span?

Whachagunnado when the Hulkamaniacs sausage fingers run wild .. on you? (image via hollywoodheadache)

Out: "Dadagers." At the risk of exhausting you, dear readers, The Corsair will vent once more. We don't know quite what the business-parental relationship is with Hulk Hogan and his daughter Brooke (above, Eew), or with Billy Ray AcheyBreakey and his daughter, Miley, but there is something very creepy about the way it is coming across in the media bubble. Yo, "Dadagers," you don't acquit yourself well smoothing unguent onto your teen daughter's tushy. And, Billy, it doesn't augur well for you when you are posing with your 15-year old moments before Annie Liebovitz gets her to pose sexually provocative, no? Shape up!
Help Roger Waters Find His Inflatable Pig

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, who headlined at Coachella in Indio on Day 3, lost his inflatable pig. From BrooklynVegan:

"Roger Waters' pig got loose at Coachella on Sunday - it just zig zagged away, never to be seen again. Although it sounds like a practical joke, I'm pretty sure this press release I just got is real....


COACHELLA organizers are offering $10,000 and four (4) festival tickets for life in exchange for the safe return of the two-story inflatable pig that broke loose during Roger Waters' set on the final night (Sunday, April 27) of the 2008 COACHELLA VALLEY MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL. The pig escaped and floated into the desert sky just prior to the intermission between Roger Waters' back-to-back sets--marking the only back-to-back COACHELLA sets by one artist in the critically acclaimed festival's history.

Anyone with information on the lost pig, should email
Race To Witch Mountain!

As someone who loved as a child "Escape to Witch Mountain" and "Return to Witch Mountain" -- those films, along with "The Bad News Bears" and "The Black Stallion" are significant cultural artifacts of a proper 70s childhood -- we greet the idea of a re-imagining starring the originals as kind of chic. From TheHollywoodReporter:

"Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann, the original kid stars of Disney's 1970s 'Witch Mountain' movies, are coming back for 'Race to Witch Mountain,' the studio's re-imagining of the adventure tales that will star Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.

"Tom Everett Scott, Chris Marquette, Billy Brown and Cheech Marin also are joining the production, which is filming under director Andy Fickman. Andrew Gunn is producing.

"In a nod to the original movies, Eisenmann plays a sheriff and Richards plays a waitress at a roadhouse called Ray's in a town called Stony Creek. They help a cabbie (Johnson) and his two paranormal-powered passengers (AnnaSophiacq Robb and Alexander Ludwig)."
The Unbearable Sexiness Of Padma Lakshmi

Padma -- rowr -- at the White House Correspondents Dinner via Fashionweekdaily.

Cunning linguistics be damned, We are officially smitten. Padma is our Kryptonite. It's Lakshmi's world, The Corsair just operates at the margins. Goddam, we love us some Padma Lakshmi. She lights strong fires in our bloodstream, subverting the trajectory of our thoughts. And try as we might we cannot shake the magnetic attraction to her sexy charms. Damn her and her Persian beauty. Padma -- sotto vocce-- call me? From Fashionweekdaily:

"As over 2,500 guests, including Colin Firth, Colin Powell, Celerie Kemble and Boykin Curry, and GQ editor Jim Nelson--who enjoyed a drink at the Palomar Hotel bar before meeting up with Eric Dane--filed into the hotel's ballroom for dinner, Padma Lakshmi's eyes lit up. 'Serving dinner tonight would have made an excellent quickfire challenge,' the Top Chef judge laughed as she took her seat with Glamour magazine."

If only we could light up Padma's eyes like a skillfully-crafted and well-executed Quickfire Challenge. If only we could bedazzle her as Hung's steak-and-eggs combo did last season. No real news here, to be sure, just a self-indulgent excuse to wax fantastic about Our Padma.
Cher: I Was Crazy About Tom Cruise

Cher, who boasted in her memoir about bedding Warren Beatty at the age of 16, now is a bit more forthcoming about her "romance" with Tom Cruise. Incidentally, the priapic Beatty once also offered to take Carrie Fisher's virginity on the set of Shampoo (she was 17). But back to Cher. From Thisislondon:

"Cher has spoken frankly about how she was once 'crazy' for Tom Cruise.

"The singer had a brief relationship with the actor, 16 years her junior, at the start of his career.

"Only now, as she publicises an upcoming run of shows in Las Vegas, has her version of events emerged.

"Reflecting on their affair, she said it could have been a 'great big romance' if they hadn't been forced apart by their filming schedules.

"They are thought to have met at a White House fund-raising event in the mid- eighties when he was basking in the success of his hit film Risky Business.

"Cher, 39 at the time, is said to have been smitten almost immediately with the 23-year-old.

"While Cruise's career was very much in its ascendancy, she had by that time been a star for almost two decades.

"Cher, 61, told Oprah Winfrey: 'I was crazy about him.'"
Media-Whore D'Oevres

(image via laapush)

"The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Monday to uphold a strict Indiana law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, handing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) a serious setback days before a pivotal primary battle. The decision earned strong rebuke from Democratic leaders in Congress as well as civil rights advocates who argued the voter ID law would disproportionately affect African-Americans and 18- to 34-year-old voters, two important constituencies for Obama." (TheHill)

"If Ashlee Simpson, Katie Couric, and CIA director Michael Hayden are sharing a red carpet, then it must be the White House Correspondents' Association dinner ... 'Two weeks from tonight is Jenna's wedding, so I'm a little wistful.' (The President) likened the appearance of Pamela Anderson and Mitt Romney in the same room to the coming of the apocalypse (Anderson later admitted she was in the bathroom during the remark) ... And while Washington politicos aren't known for their high-fashion splendor, it was a visiting Londoner that committed the evening's fashion faux pas. Jemima Khan arrived at the Bloomberg pre-party clad in the same RM by Roland Mouret dress and Alexander McQueen belt she wore to Malin Johansson and Tim Jeffries' wedding the weekend before. 'I was hoping no one would notice,' she laughed, before quickly darting out of the camera's eye.'" (Fashionweekdaily)

"(Stella) Rotaru, who is twenty-six, works for the International Organization for Migration, a group connected to the United Nations, in Chisinau, Moldova. She is a repatriation specialist. Her main task is bringing lost Moldovans home. Nearly all her clients are victims of human trafficking, most of them women sold into prostitution abroad, and their stories pour across her desk in stark vignettes and muddled sagas of desperation, violence, betrayal, and sorrow." (NewYorker)

(Tina Brown via JK/NYSD)

"I was up at the American Museum of Natural History where the PEN American Center was holding its annual PEN Literary Gala. This is a highly attended benefit, a glamorous one as literary events go, drawing scores of famous authors and media names, at least one of which grace each table ...Authors authors everywhere. Michael Roberts, Executive Director of PEN American Center greeted the guests who were barely paying attention (the larger the room and attendance, the more inattentive people are). Tina Brown who was gala co-chair, followed with an official greeting and got more attention ... This was followed by Christiane Amamnpour, who was emcee. She introduced Toni Morrison who was given the PEN/Borders Literary Service Award, presented by George Jones, President of Borders." (NYSocialDiary)

"At the show's lavish opening-night party at the Hilton—the wedding you don't get in the show—I became family with Kathie Lee Gifford, who turns out to be even more fun than Meryl Streep. I totally ate crow—along with the buffet—while talking theater with Kathie Lee as if we were long-lost BFFs. Turns out we both liked Grey Gardens a little more than Spring Awakening, about which she said, 'Not every kid is that miserable!' And we agreed that Patti LuPone is astounding in Gypsy. ('Polish the Tony right now,' advised Kathie Lee.) But the revival I'm really panting for, I told her, is Equus with Daniel Radcliffe. 'Why?' wondered Kathie Lee. 'Well, what's the show about?' I prodded. 'Oh!' she exclaimed, getting it and laughing. 'So you're saying he's hung like a horse!' Uh-huh. Significant pause. 'I don't need to know that Harry Potter is hung like a horse!'" (Musto)
Obama's "Negro Eruption"

(image via cnews)

Former President Bill Clinton had "Bimbo" eruptions, Senator Barack Obama has "Negro" eruptions. What else are we to make of a man who says he is convinced that the federal government manufactured AIDS to kill black people. Granted, this nation was founded in what can only be properly construed as a paranoid assessment of the necessary evil of government, but come on. Come ohhhhhhnn. Negro, please! That's really grape-soda drinking ghetto logic right there. Hence: the so-called "Negro" eruption.

The over-emotional tone of Reverend Wright's invocations of God's damnation on these amber waves of grain underscored the fundamental imbalance of Reverend Wright's overly proud -- and therefore anti-Christian psyche. Imagine if Wright actually capsized Obama's candidacy at this critical moment because of his pride, and attribute his Master, Jesus, counselled against. Would he then be "proud" in having destroyed the chances of the first viable African-American Presidential candidate in our history? Would this so-called "Man-of-God" take responsibility for costing this divided country a chance at national healing at a moment of historical exigency? We rather think not. A psyche so fragile as to be driven to this level of robust buffoonery because of a wounded pride suggests that it was never moored in the Eternal, but rather, as his present rhetoric reveals, in the very angry here-and-now. From Bob Herbert of The New York Times:

"The Rev. Jeremiah Wright went to Washington on Monday not to praise Barack Obama, but to bury him.

"Smiling, cracking corny jokes, mugging it up for the big-time news media — this reverend is never going away. He’s found himself a national platform, and he’s loving it."

More here.
Why Senator Jim Webb MUST Be Obama's Running Mate

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York SHOULD be Senator Obama's running mate for President of the United States in 2008. That said, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia MUST be the Senator from Illinois' running mate. Ironically, Clinton's carefully embroidered labor-Reagan Democrat coalition has made Webb's paleoconish bona fides all the more invaluable to Obama even as her chances of snagging enough superdelegates evaporates altogether.

Obama has a problem with white working class Reagan-Democrat males. And labor. What he wrought in Wisconsin and Virginia has been coopted almost entirely by the scrappy Clinton in Pennsylvania. But an Obama-Webb ticket could solidify a Progressive-Paleocon alliance that has a strong possibility of becoming the American foreign policy paradigm for a generation. And for the past generation or so (with the possible exception of Reagan, occasionally, rhetorically), Jacksonian Democrats of the Jim Webb variety have been all but marginal figures in the conversation of international relations. A conversation between the Liberal Internationalists, as exemplified by Obama, and the Jacksonian Democrat wing, as exemplified by Webb, would be a welcome change in an almost entirely "Realist" domination of American foreign policy. It was, in part, that realism that invoked the neoconservative counterreaction post-911, after the attack on the twin towers revealed the inherent moral poverty of Realpolitik.

Finally, Webb would bolster the perceived ethereality of Barack Obama, so attractive to idealistic intellectuals, but so exposed by Senator Clinton in Ohio and Pennsylvania. "Whoever wins the Reagan Democrats," intoned the Archie Bunkerish Pat Buchanan, founder of The American Conservative, on The McLaughlin Group, "wins this election." He's correct. Are there yawning chasms of difference between the brie-eating, Volvo-driving, Upper-West-Side-of-Manhattan Lib Internationalists and the steak-and-potatoes munching, non-ironic Budweiser slurping, Jacksonians? Sure. But both sides speak with one voice when it came to opposing this goddam stupid Iraq War, and both sides are unified on the subject of taking a hard line on restructuring trade deficits and talking tough on human rights with the Mandarins of Beijing.
Corsair Classic

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Best Of The Corsair

More of the best from the past 4 years of blogging:

Dear Lindsay Lohan: Please Wear Underwear

Brad Pitt and Angie Jolie's Kenyan Sex Tour

How The Gotti Boys Got Their Asses Beat

Will Candy Spelling Ever Make Love In This Town Again?

The Trouble With BET
Where's LaBeouf?

With due apologies to the late, great Clara Peller. From JustJared:

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: Prince. Every sex months or so Prince pops up from under the radar and reminds us once again why is probably the coolest musician on the American cultural scene today. From the Los Angeles Times:

"'He thinks he's Jesus!' uttered a stunned young observer as Prince -- who did look rather divine in a gold-sequined white tunic and pants -- offered up a particularly rapturous guitar solo early on in his headlining appearance Saturday at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This fan was obviously a new member of the Minneapolis master's flock."

(image via

Out: Visual Provocation. Oh! "Trangressive Art!" How "controversial. How -- sotto voce -- trite (Averted Gaze).

The bourgeoisie need neither spanking nor shocking, they need, rather, artists willing to put their talents and their ideas on the line. Annie Leibovitz need not apply.

In: The Oprie-Cruise Interview, Part Deux. Part Two of the Oprah Winfrey-Tom Cruise interview is coming, and as someone who has followed the whole sordid semi-destruction of Cruise's career his last couch-jumping caused, this is, like, Blogger heaven. Fer reals. From, of all places, E!Online:

"I can exclusively report that Ms. Winfrey’s upcoming interview with Cruise includes questions about Scientology, his verbal smackdown with Matt Lauer on the Today show and, yes, the infamous couch-jumping incident.

"Winfrey actually revealed these details herself during this weekend's Las Vegas taping of her joint interview with Tina Turner and Cher.

"And that isn't all Winfrey shared.

"The first of the two-part Cruise one-on-one has already taken place at his estate in Telluride, Colo., Winfrey said. 'Oprah said Tom gave her a ride on a snowmobile,' one Vegas audience member told me. 'She also said Katie and Suri were there for the interview, too.'"

Hello, freakshow! So totally goddam there are we.

Out: Bill Clinton. Don't know about you guys, but The Corsair is so over Bill Clinton. Ryan Lizza's article in The New Yorker finally metastasized what has been gradually congealing intellectually for about a year in The Corsair's noggin. Historians of the future will probably memorialize William Jefferson Clinton as having done something swell and lovely for his wife, Senator Clinton, sacrificing his political capital and all. But we have come around to the sad fact that his Republican critics were, in the main, right about the former President's colossal selfishness, his messiness and his sheer boorishness. This is a democracy, not a hereditary monarchy, and we'd really rather Clinton got the fuck off the national stage and gave someone else a shot.
John McCain Goes In For The Disgusting

By heaven inspired. (image via politico)

There was once a time when this blog actually admired Senator John McCain. How's that for an embarrassing revelation (The Corsair pops open a bottle of the fizzy)? It began with John McCain's principled 2000 campaign in which he was so thoroughly routed by Karl Rove's racist, disgusting end-run in South Carolina which, we cannot fail to note, smarmily reminded the non-ironic Bud drinkers in that electorate about the Senator's brown-skinned adopted daughter. McCain then, off and on afterwards, stood athwart the excesses of the Bush administration: as the founding member of the Gang of 14, on the subject of torture, and on the Bush tax cuts during two major wars.

But the proximity to Power did something to McCain. It ate at his already ravaged soul. It rattled his already shaken noggin. The change began, swiftly, when the Senator from Arizona embraced Bush in 2004 (see above), chucking his principles to the wind after a marginal -- if that -- President (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Securing the nomination entailed that smarmy sell-out. And it is a slippery slope, selling one's Ass out like that. Insincerity accumulates; soulfulness ossifies.

Recently, McCain, who secured his party's nomination, is quite simply sinking into the primordial ooze with his crypto-fascist campaign, appealing -- just as Rove did seven years ago -- to the lowest of the low on the subject of race. From Time's Joe Klein:

"So Barack Obama graciously says that Reverend Wright's comments are a legitimate political issue and this is John McCain's response? If this be an honorable campaign, I wonder what McCain would consider the gutter to be.

"A reminder: This is Obama's former minister. Obama has repudiated Wright's wrongs in no uncertain terms. What McCain is doing--on top of his assertion that Obama was the 'Hamas candidate' over the weekend--is, not to put too fine a point on it, putrid."

So true.
Media-Whore D'Oevres

(image via eitb)

"Joel and Ethan Coen's 'Burn After Reading' will open the 65th Venice Film Festival, Variety is reporting. The film, which stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. Focus Features is releasing the film domestically on September 12, 2008. Venice runs August 27-September 6." (Indiewire)

"Most of the paparazzi press were swarming and hovering around Bruce Willis and Demi Moore’s starlet daughter Rumer Willis on Friday night, but those photographers in the loop and covering the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Lake House were in for a major treat!" (Papermag)
Angela Bassett Joins ER

(image via soundoffcolumn)

Good news for fans of sexy Angela Bassett. From TheHollywoodReporter:

"'ER' is adding star power for its final season.

"Angela Bassett will join the cast of the Emmy-winning medical drama as a regular next season.

"In her first full-time series gig, Bassett will play a tough attending with a troubled past who's coming back to Chicago after a few years in Indonesia doing tsunami relief. Her arrival in the second episode next season promises to shake County General's ER to the core.

"'Angela is a wonderfully talented actress whom I've long hoped to work with,' said 'ER' exec producer John Wells."

Also: Original cast member Noah Wylie has signed on for "at least four of the show's planned 19 episodes."

Full story here.
Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

... Let's start with a robust multivitamin. (image via thecobrasnake)

Original Intentist Justice Antonin Scalia asks the Methuselan Ben Bradlee about what the Founding Fathers were really like, personally. On the real. (image via NySocialDiary)

Once you go pink ... (image via thecobrasnake)

We all marvel at the majesty of God's botanical works in our own particular ways ... (image via thecobrasnake)

The Untitled Quentin Tarantino Project, Take 78. (image via nysocialdiary)

Keppin' it Assy. (image via thecobrasnake)
Annie Liebowitz, Epater le Bourgeoisie

(image via theobserver)

Legendary photographer Annie Liebovitz -- if indeed photography even has the ability to confer legendary status -- has once again stumbled into the culture wars, fully aware of the consequences. Photography is, in a sense, the perfect battleground for this next stage of the stale 60's Boomers-versus-Conservatives rhetorical field of play. In other words, this is the same kind of Spoiled-Brat-versus-Intractable-Father gamesmanship that Obama is trying to exorcise from the culture. For one, photography is all about (oftentimes) thimble-deep surfaces. Also, minimal creativity -- compared to, say, such visual mediums as film and painting -- is needed to produce a ... "work." Last but not least (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment), shallow pseudoBuddhist celebrities like Richard Gere adore it and extol the virtues. The great Ansel Adams notwithstanding, we could never quite got into the whole "Photography-as-Great-Art" argument. Then again, with regards to aesthetics, we are more philosophically oriented towards things Ancient.

And in the corner to our Right, we have the Conservatives. Instead of making the obvious intellectual argument that most "Photography-as-Art" is really pretty shitty, relying mostly on shock (!), or other surfacy postmodern aesthetic strategies (as opposed to Methods, Techniques or Schools), shoot themselves in the foot by playing the morals police. Why-can't-they-do-Art-like Rockwell-anymore, type arguments. Giuliani's aesthetically illiterate defense of the "Cow Parade" as superlative form of civic art show the poverty of his button-down mind.

Enter: Miley Cyrus. The 15-year old singer, who plays strongly to an innocent demographic, and who posed for some Vanity Fair pics for Liebovitz.

From The AP:

"Miley Cyrus is taking issue with a photo of herself that's going around, and it's not another amateur, truth-or-dare Internet snapshot — it's the handiwork of Annie Leibovitz.

'''I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,' Cyrus said Sunday in a statement through her publicist. 'I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.'

The photos, appearing in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, were taken by Leibovitz, a renowned celebrity photographer whose edgy, silver-toned portraits have included subjects such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and a naked, pregnant Demi Moore."

A pregnant Demi Moore! Naked! We are shocked -- shocked! -- that that modern Picasso, that modern Sofanisba Anguissola would resort to such cheap theatrics.

Seriously, though: Of course Liebovitz resorted to cheap, cheap shock. That's all the photographer has. No game whatsoever. For further reference: see Liebovitz' dumb-ass photo spread of LeBron James, also relying on her favorite and only trick up the sleeve.

Vanity Fair, of course, psyched at the attention and online conversation, stands by their Annie. Charmed, I'm sure (Averted Gaze). Somewhere Ansel Adams is shedding photogenic tears.

Hmmm ... Gawker seems to have penned a similar post-rant, hours after we posted this one. Hmm.
The Corsair List

(image via

Roger Ebert
Robert DeNiro
MC Serch
Bill Maher
Craig Kilborn
Simon Cowell
Media-Whore D'Oevres

"In interviews with several associates and aides, Mr. Obama was described as bored with the campaign against Mrs. Clinton and eager to move into the general election against Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee. So the Obama campaign is undertaking modifications in his approach intended to inject an air of freshness into his style. In strategy sessions last week, advisers concluded that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, needed to do a better job reminding voters of his biography, including his modest upbringing by a single mother and one of his first jobs as a community organizer helping displaced steel mill workers. He also has to sharpen his economic message, they said, to improve his appeal and connection with voters in hope of capitalizing on the sensibilities that served him well in Midwestern states." (NYTimes)

"At the Newsweek/Washington Post party we were greeted at the entrance by Lally Weymouth in a fire engine red long dress and Newsweek’s editor Jon Meachem. This was said to be one of the more prestigious collections of media/politico humanity. Henry Kissinger was chatting it up with Brent Scowcroft and greeting old friends a well-wishers. Felicia Taylor was taking it all in. A lot of us were just looking around for familiar faces (or the bar). The mood was as it was everywhere else – anticipatory." (NYSocialDiary)

"Kate Moss hit the town Wednesday, but this time it wasn't for a fashion show or nightclub opening. Rather, the supermodel was on hand at the James Hyman Gallery to join friend Stella McCartney at the opening of the first major UK photography exhibition of the designer's late mother, Linda McCartney. 'I'm here to support Stella and remember her mum,' Moss said, deflecting further questions. Joining Sir Paul McCartney was a star-studded crowd, including George Michael, Ringo Starr, Sam Taylor-Wood, Tracy Emin, and Twiggy." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Carly Fiorina, the millionaire former head of Hewlett-Packard Co., traversed crumbling and shuttered pockets of the country last week with Sen. John McCain, following the likely Republican presidential candidate's every cue. She rode a ferry in rural Alabama, waved politely to crowds in Youngstown, Ohio, and even sang a duet with the senator on a bus ride in Appalachia. Ms. Fiorina, 53 years old, is the Republican National Committee's 'Victory' chairwoman, a role that includes fund raising and get-out-the-vote activities. She's one of a trio of tech giants who support Sen. McCain, joined by John Chambers, head of Cisco Systems Inc. and Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay Inc." (WSJ)

"On the stump, the former President dispensed idiosyncratic political analysis. 'One of the reasons that she won Ohio that nobody wrote about,' he said, without explanation, 'is that Ohio has a plant that produces the largest number of solar reflectors in America.' He offered commentary about his wife’s earlier limitations as a candidate: 'I think Hillary’s become a much better speaker.' But, most of all, Bill Clinton talked about Bill Clinton." (TheNewYorker)

"For decades, since the modern primary process began taking shape in the 1970s, Democratic leaders have refused to play the role (Howard) Dean has this year, and the result has been a primary season that has begun earlier and earlier—Iowa and New Hampshire actually flirted with scheduling theirs for December—with states tripping over each other to move their dates up and loudly carping about being deprived the kind of attention that little New Hamphire and Iowa receive every four years. Dean actually showed considerable leadership and foresight when, nearly two years ago, he pieced together a compromise calendar that sought to expand the number of influential early states to include more diverse Nevada and South Carolina. Those two states, plus New Hampshire and Iowa, would host the first four contests in a two-week period in late January 2008. No other state could hold a contest before February 5. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an improvement from the past and a sound basis for further tinkering in future cycles. It was also agreed to by every single state. The chairman, it seemed, had warded off what could have been a major distraction." (Observer)

"The newly elected Pakistani government is seeking to change its lobbying ties in Washington. With the party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto now in power, several lobbying contracts signed under President Pervez Musharraf’s government will be terminated. One of Washington’s top lobbying firms, Van Scoyoc Associates , will see its contract with the Pakistani Embassy end on May 22. Public relations giant Ogilvy will also see its contract canceled in coming weeks." (TheHill)

"When we headed over to the main stage for the Breeders set I spotted Rosanna Arquette. She was wearing a big orange dress and a sun hat and had a TV crew in tow. I hoped silently to myself at that moment that she was not doing a reality TV show." (RollingStone via BrooklynVegan)

"The other change is the after parties. Credit here goes to Graydon Carter and Vanity Fair, who did for the after-party what Mike Kelly did for the guest list. The VF party started as a small after-party at the apartment of Christopher Hitchens and his wife, Carol Blue. In the mid-90s Carter moved it to an imposing mansion a mere one block walk from the Hilton. It was, as all VF parties tend to be, a glamorous soiree, certainly way ahead of the curve for Washington." (WashingtonSocialDiary)

"Barack Obama's supporters are giving him more than just record amounts of cash. They also are providing personal information that may make his donor list the most powerful tool in U.S. politics. Even if the Democratic presidential candidate doesn't succeed in his White House bid, this data will make Obama a power broker in the party for years to come. For the interest groups or Democratic candidates he chooses to sell it to, it would provide a gold mine of information and access to potential donors." (Bloomberg)

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Corsair List

Kevin Spacey
Harvey Forbes Fierstein
Vladimir Putin
George Michaels
Ricky Martin
Congressman David Dreier
Who Will John Edwards Endorse?

(image via needlenose)

Yes, we have heard the reports from ABC and Time's Richard Stengel that John Edwards will probably endorse Senator Hillary Clinton, and probably soon so as to influence North carolina and the middle class vote in Indiana. Also, Elizabeth Edwards' complimentary attitude towards Senator Clinton's health care plan also seems to suggest a natural -- though we didn't see it on the campaign trail -- alliance between the two prominent political families. Still, however strong an Edwards endorsement would be to Hillary, cementing the white, blue collar male vote, it also goes against the trending of his supporters, which can not be entirely forgotten in his calculations for a political future. from theHill:

"Donors, activists and members of Congress who backed former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) are flocking to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

This and the fact that Obama is likely to win the North Carolina primary could prompt Edwards to endorse Obama — a move that could burnish the front-runner’s credentials with blue-collar, white voters, who are part of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) base.

"Since Edwards dropped out of the presidential race, Obama’s campaign has received contributions of $200 or more from 1,089 donors who had supported Edwards, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

"Only 393 Edwards donors have given to Clinton since the primary became a two-candidate race."

Edwards is often mentioned as part of The Quartet -- Edwards, Gore, Pelosi, Dean -- that has the clout and raw power to put an end to this endless campaign.
Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

Wigga, please. (image via thecobrasnake)

Lightweight! (image via thecobrasnake)

Accomplished social climber Bob Colacello stops along the ever-upwards ascent to give his various wagging chins a rest. (image via nysocialdiary)

He had us at the hairy cleavage ... (image via thecobrasnake)
Guillermo del Toro To Direct the Hobbit

The Hobbit Teaser Trailer

The sad, lonely decline of New Line Cinema -- it was folded into Warner Brothers and co-chairs Mr. Shaye and Mr. Lynne were asked to depart -- is perhaps a logical result of Bob Shaye's colossal executive arrogance in failing to come to a deal with his creative charge, Peter Jackson. The pathetic "The Last Mimzy," Shaye's attempt at doing what Peter Jackson does so much better, was a straight-to-cable affair, was only the proximate cause. Finally, a resolution. From Variety:

"In a major step forward on 'The Hobbit,' Guillermo del Toro has signed on to direct the New Line-MGM tentpole and its sequel.

"The widely expected announcement -- which had been rumored for several weeks -- came Thursday afternoon jointly from exec producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, New Line president Toby Emmerich, and Mary Parent, newly named chief of MGM’s Worldwide Motion Picture Group.

"Del Toro’s moving to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson and his Wingnut and Weta production teams. He’ll direct the two films back to back, with the sequel dealing with the 60-year period between 'The Hobbit' and 'The Fellowship of the Ring,' the first of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

"...The official signing of Del Toro comes four months after New Line settled a lawsuit with Jackson over 'The Lord of the Rings' and announced that it had agreed with MGM to turn J.R.R. Tolkien’s 'Hobbit' into two live-action films. Sam Raimi had been preceived as the initial front-runner as director but Del Toro had emerged in recent months as the likely candidate."

Let's hope Del Toro -- who did a brilliant turn in the eerie Pan's Labyrinth -- puts a little flavor in the film, because, seriously, the LOTR was about the whitest. Movie. Ever.
Media-Whore D'Oevres

"He proved he would eat anything when he chewed on opponent Evander Holyfield's ear in the ring 11 years ago. But it appears boxer Mike Tyson, once known as the 'Baddest Man on the Planet' because of his formidable fighting skills, has been enjoying rather finer foods of late." (Thisislondon)

"'Scurrilous' and 'disingenuous' were among the words a top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives used on Thursday to describe Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics in her bid to defeat Barack Obama for their party’s presidential nomination. House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, of South Carolina and the highest ranking black in Congress, also said he has heard speculation that Clinton is staying in the race only to try to derail Obama and pave the way for her to make another White House run in 2012." (Reuters via Drudgereport)

"The Clinton campaign, which is losing the pledged delegate race, is now talking up a different metric: the cumulative popular vote. 'I'm very proud that as of today, I have received more votes by the people who have voted than anyone else,' Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, a day after she won the Pennsylvania primary by more than 200,000 votes. Her characterization is true only in a highly technical way: If you count the votes she received in Michigan (where hers was the only name on the ballot) and Florida (where an outlaw primary was held in January), and if you ignore a series of caucus states where hundreds of thousands of Democrats participated but no official popular vote tally was kept, then yes, she has received more votes than Barack Obama." (Observer)

"Peter Brant may have scooted in and out of Rachel Feinstein's new exhibition of sculptures Thursday night, but the Brant Publications owner had seen plenty to interest him ... Feinstein was quickly surrounded by friends, so husband John Currin was relegated to babysitting duty for sons Hollis and Francis. 'Hey fancy boy, let's go see mommy's sculpture!' he said. While Anna Wintour previewed it earlier in the day, Alexandra Kerry, Fran Drescher, Derek and Michelle Sanders (the latter whose Rick Owens dress drew many envious glances), Marina Rust Connor, Hamish Bowles, Jessica Joffe, and a tan Narciso Rodriguez, just back from Brazil, downed Sapporo beers as they examined the six oversized pieces." (Fashionweekdaily)

"Do you think Jackie Chan generally plays a chop-socky stereotype of a wisecracking, karate-chopping macho weirdo? Well, the good news is that's nothing new! Movies have long stereotyped Asians, generally pegging them as either inscrutable, evil, or stoic, and as villains, detectives, or whores. Arthur Dong's documentary Hollywood Chinese—opening here in May—beautifully captures the range of Hollywood's reflection of Asians, from Charlie Chan, who talked in fortune cookie aphorisms, to Susie Wong, the exotic prostie you ordered, with egg drop soup, from column B. Dong has assembled a top bunch of talking heads like Ang Lee, Nancy Kwan, and Amy Tan, who speak more with wry bemusement than with anger about Hollywood's cultural limitations." (Musto)

"Barack Obama’s real opponent now is not Hillary Rodham Clinton. It is a pair of punctuation marks. The first is a question. The second is an asterisk. Both threaten to hover over Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination without confronting and defeating the doubts Clinton has raised about his political strength beyond his electoral base of African-Americans and upscale whites. This is the significance of Indiana. Obama can and probably will win the Democratic nomination no matter what happens in the May 6 primary. But a victory in the Hoosier state is critical to Obama gaining at least some of the political and psychic momentum that ordinarily flow to a nomination winner. A loss—on top of a succession of losses in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other big states—would mean the nominee would enter the general election defined to an unusual degree by his vulnerabilities." (Politico)

"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said a sharp rise in food prices has developed into a global crisis. Ban said the U.N. and all members of the international community are very concerned, and immediate action is needed. He spoke to reporters Friday at U.N. offices in Austria. He was meeting with the nation's top leaders for talks on how the United Nations and European Union can forge closer ties." (Time)

"China appeared to bend to international pressure on Friday as the government announced it would meet with envoys of the Dalai Lama, an unexpected shift that comes as Tibetan unrest in western China has threatened to cast a pall over the Beijing Olympics in August.China’s announcement, made through the country’s official news agency, provided few details about the shape or substance of the talks but said the new discussions would commence 'in the coming days.'" (NYTimes)

"The Palestinian Islamic Resistance in Gaza (Hamas) has built up a military force of 20,000 combatants equipped with standard rockets, mortars, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and anti-aircraft guns, according to an Israeli study. According to a study published by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, Hamas has been able to smuggle more than 80 tonnes of explosives into the Gaza Strip, despite the international blockade. A powerful demonstration of the organisations improved military capabilities was given on 19 April when Hamas launched its most sophisticated attack so far on the Kerem-Shalom border crossing with Israel." (Janes)

"So what will President George W. Bush do for his final White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday? Rumors are flying and speculation is growing as the president's last chance to get back at the White House press corps nears. White House Spokesman Tony Fratto offered few hints about the Bush farewell appearance, noting, 'I can't say; state secret.' But, he added, 'it's not like the State of the Union' ... Among the big names expected for this year's dinner are Ben Affleck, Pamela Anderson, Ken Burns, John Cusack, Katie Couric, Jesse Jackson, Rob Lowe, Salman Rushdie, Tim Daly, and for the tween set, The Jonas Brothers. Sen. John McCain is slated to attend with both his wife, Cindy, and 96-year-old mother, Roberta. Former Congressman Charlie Wilson, of 'Charlie Wilson's War' fame, is also on the list." (EditorandPublisher)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bonfire Of The MonkeyFixers!

(image via newsweek)

(image via dragonballyee)

The closer we get to a brokered convention in the Mile High City, the closer we get to the dawn of the Monkeyfixers, starring people with Dickensian names like Harold M. Ickes (Exaggerated cough suggesting feigned detachment). Earlier this week the gritty Governor Ed Rendell -- a well-etched comic caricature of an old tyme party machine boss pol -- was playing all the angles, presenting himself as the Go-To guy who might fix this thing of ours in the case of Senator Clinton's loss. That didn't happen. As in Nevada and in Texas, Senator Obama was unable to close the deal. So Rendell, instead of in the role as party healer and unifier, played the scotch-drinking, cigar-puffing victor.

Enter: Congressman Rahm Emmanuel. One wonders what foodstuffs and incendiary reading material was being imbibed at the Emmanuel household -- his brother, Ari, is the inspiration for Entourage's thumotic Ari Gold -- in order that two such talented American originals eventually ensued. Last Night Rahm appeared on The Charlie Rose Show touting his bons fides as a Clinton ally who is allso pals with Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod. Emmanuel, is not endorsing either (his role in the second Clinton administration is offset by his desire to have a future in Illinois politics and not going against the hometown hero). This puts him in a unique position as the de facto Go-To guy, when this whole thing wraps.

Emmanuel, expert at staying on-message (something he learned spinning from his Clinton days), gave away little. He did say, however, that he did not want this thing to get as messy as the bruising Carter-Ted Kennedy episode at the 1980 Democratic convention. Also, Emmanuel delivered the Clintonian message that people should chill out, that this race -- including the Osama ad in Philly, and the Clinton ghettoization in South Carolina -- is not as rough as races in, say, his native "tough guy" Chicago district.

Will Hillary become Obama's running mate, as this blog is promoting? Who knows, but if it does happen, Emmanuel will be the man that puts it together.
Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. (image via thecobrasnake)

Rusty pipes? (image via thecobrasnake)

The bigger the hair, the closer to stratospheric ozone depletion. (image via nysocialdiary)

He'll have the mug of bedazzler with a shot of gay on the side. (image via thecobrasnake)

The Closing Of The American Mind. (image via thecobrasnake)