Jay-Z is in a movie, and there was a really long and complicated story in the New York Times Magazine about oil and Venezuela. We worried about the future of newspapers, and the future of capitalism, and the future of foreign policy, and hated on Thomas Friedman and Maria Bartiromo and Jessica Seinfeld before realizing we had to stop the hate and focus on figuring out just what it was that WE had been put on the universe to do. Um, though not really. A super spaced out Morning digest of the morning's important news stories after the jump.
JEZEBELMOE: So the first story that comes to mind is the 7.5% circulation drop in the Sunday New York Times. Are you a subscriber?
HOTELLOBBYIST: hell, no
i don't get up early enough. plus, i just read it online
and i don't want to be pretentious like the people in their commercials
JEZEBELMOE: Exactly. I would rather read it on paper, but I have to say that it's not generally worth the anxiety of throwing away all that paper I feel guilty about wasting stuffed with stories I feel guilty about not reading.
Let them sell web advertising, I say.
HOTELLOBBYIST: no, exactly. my last roommate and i shared a WaPo subscription and we never read it and she was too OCD to throw it away
JEZEBELMOE: I like the Washington Post because it's smaller and has less lifestyle fetish crap.
HOTELLOBBYIST: we ended up with stacks of newspapers everywhere to the point it was a serious fire hazard, and then she cried when i took them to the recycling bin
well, they did start the Sunday Source section. That shit sucks.
JEZEBELMOE: And they could have made it so good, too..
Do they still do "Life Is Short: Autobiography As Haiku"?
HOTELLOBBYIST: i just feel like it's written for people with ADD, which doesn't make sense with the rest of the paper
Yes, but that's in the Style section. The Sunday Source is like a 2nd style section for people with no attention span
More pictures! less annoying words!
But I love the Autobiography As Haiku things.
JEZEBELMOE: No, I know. And if felt like such abandonment when the Style section had introduced me to Givhan, Gene Weingarten, Hank Stuever, Linton Weeks, David Segal, Teresa Wiltz, William Booth....I mean, writers I totally worship.
And then.... How to have a 4th of July barbecue!
HOTELLOBBYIST: It's so jarring!
Here's some shoes you should want!
JEZEBELMOE: It sucked. ANYWAY, so you read that entire story about what Hugo Chavez's nationalization of the Venezuelan oil industry means for the world (Hint: nothing particularly straightforward) online?
10:09 AM HOTELLOBBYIST: I did, actually. I did like that they took the time to stress in 15 different ways how the real problem is not that oil comps are private, but that most of them are national and owned by governments we don't necessarily like. I mean, would we rather our destinies be controlled by rich CEO's or by super-rich plutocrats in other countries?
JEZEBELMOE: Right, and she never really did decide, did she? I mean, basically she laid it out: Large oil reserves, rather paradoxically but similarly to other natural resources, tend to keep nations impoverished with tiny oligarchies running everything, which is bad, while stifling the rest of the economy because they keep the exchange rate artificially high. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has SORTA flipped this dynamic by nationalizing oil and distributing the petrodollars to the poor who will continue to vote for him until he repeals their right to vote, but now the system is super-inefficient and the currency is still overvalued, meaning that the rest of the economy is shit because you can't export anything when your currency's inflated. And when oil prices do eventually tank (heh) they will be fucked.
I'm saying this like I know even though I totally skimmed.
HOTELLOBBYIST: no, you're totally right. The paradox is equally that those countries are swimming in money but that their citizens score lower on every poverty index (child mortality, life span, etc.) than countries without while the influx of capital to the petro sector and the oil-determined exchange rate causes other nascent industries to wither on the vine. I would've liked to see a leetle more on the lavish lifestyles for the petro country rulers (who enjoy the company of Hollywood celebs, in Chavez's case) that those oil dollars fund as their people slave away in never-ending poverty in an economy propped up by oil and corruption, but that's just me. You know, Chavez is, like, totes better than oil company CEOs because he hates Bush, you know.
JEZEBELMOE: Right but he likes Naomi Campbell, which creeps me out a little bit. I mean, that's totally his iron fist dictatorial side, for reals....
HOTELLOBBYIST: please, i'd say that's his whole "iron-fisted dictator on the street, some bitch's submissive slave in the bedroom" side.
JEZEBELMOE: OMG you could be right! So elsewhere in the news, and there is a LOT going on, Citigroup did what Merrill did last week, only almost bigger, and said it had eight billion dollars in writeoffs or something, and its CEO Chuck Prince is out of there, and no one is quite sure what the fuck to make of it, but what I love about the media is that the New York Times is all like, hey! But it's been a really good year for the Money Honey!
HOTELLOBBYIST: And they totally gave her inches to be all like, my personal life was just a pawn in these men's games!
JEZEBELMOE: Apparently all those rumors she and Chuck Prince's old enemy Todd Mahal were up in the mile-high club might have been... well, true but somehow not as salacious as they seemed?
HOTELLOBBYIST: Frankly, I think it's less likely that she shagged him because she didn't talk smack about him after. I'd bet he tried, though.
JEZEBELMOE: It's so confusing, you know? Because I used to totally worship Maria, but then I saw that Celebrity Jeopardy performance where she CAN'T THINK OF THE NAME OF CHINA'S CAPITAL. The one, you know, that she left in that Citigroup plane alone with Todd, not that that's not shady. That said, if you were a reporter with a source and the source was like, "how about I abandon all my underlings and we fly back to New York alone," I would be like "hell to the yeah." And then they orchestrated a rivalry between her and Erin Burnett. I'm feeling like a bad feminist for believing all this shit on one hand, but on the other hand I still dislike Maria because she totally fellates big business at every opportunity and it's a little sick
HOTELLOBBYIST: Well, the question is whether the fellating is metaphorical or not.
The problem would be fending off the advances for the 15 hour flight
JEZEBELMOE: Well she had also joined him previously in, like, Park City or something.
HOTELLOBBYIST: Then the boning becomes more likely.
JEZEBELMOE: And she took big speaking fees from Citi.
10:33 AM HOTELLOBBYIST: Well, Bob Rubin ain't gonna be a fan of that shit
He's already dealt with the philanders messing shit up, can't imagine he'd play that as CEO
JEZEBELMOE: Yeah I mean, it's sort of like that Jessica Seinfeld piece. I thought for a moment about maybe reconsidering whether I truly hated her or whether I was just believing the media bile, and then the coffee kicked in and I was like, "No, I actually dislike this woman, and not because she is pretty and rich."
10:34 AM Ha! So true. It's pretty amazing that they're calling in Rubin too, right?
HOTELLOBBYIST: Yeah, please, skinny bitch, spare me the poor little rich girl story
JEZEBELMOE: Will Merrill tap Greenspan next?
On a related note, I love how today has been all about global economics!
HOTELLOBBYIST: that would be totally awesome!
see, when I get enough caffeine, I don't even think about Brit!
but, if they can hold off for another 14 months, someone will get Paulson for sures. I would assume Sachs
JEZEBELMOE: Moving on to foreign policy, a story about how Obama's "narrative" has made him the favorite among foreign policy wonks does not appear to have made the "Most E-Mailed List!" That says something sad, albeit predictable, about Obama and foreign policy wonks, and how much anyone listens to either of them, but I did not actually read the entire article. Did you?
HOTELLOBBYIST: not enough pretty pictures of Obama, so, no. Also, we learned in foreign policy wonk school that foreign policy rarely wins an election. War policy, maybe, but that's not the same
Well, Obama's not talking about the war, he's talking about relations with Iran and nuclear disarmament and diplomacy and our image in the world. The people that want us out of Iraq aren't really taking about Iraq, per se, because every knows the country will probably be more fucked when we leave. It's "Bush lied, people died," and Exxon and American troops getting killed
those are kinda local issues, wrapped in a foreign-ish shell for flavor. Like most "Chinese" food
JEZEBELMOE: Right! Like Tom Friedman's column today
Please, India and China, do not start driving cars. That's the type of shit people can get behind.
HOTELLOBBYIST: Oh, God, I hate him and all his books...
JEZEBELMOE: The World's Policeman becomes the World's Highway Patrolman!
And that's how you make it to the Most E-Mailed List.
HOTELLOBBYIST: I find him stiff and pompous and he makes me want to shake him.
JEZEBELMOE: By championing the fruits of globalization and the market economy....then cursing them!
HOTELLOBBYIST: Well, by championing those things writ large for those of us who have them, and writ smal for those of them who don't yet
JEZEBELMOE: Speaking of which, today's lead story in the Wall Street Journal about the dearth of talent with which to staff these CEO spots everyone is being run out of
HOTELLOBBYIST: Because they're all idiots, big surprise
JEZEBELMOE: Is so totally right-on when it says "The dearth of CEO material owes much to the Wall Street culture in which executives are pushed to maximize profits and quickly get axed if they fail to deliver." Delivery = stock go up NOW or you out motherfucker!
If SOMEHOW, they made a market economy capable of rewarding long-term success, it would totally be such a good idea!
HOTELLOBBYIST: wait, our goal is supposed to be long-term success? I thought that was just a load of crap they feed you when you're setting up your 401K?
JEZEBELMOE: Hahahahaha oh yeah, my "401K" .... speaking of which.
Another thing that really bothers me, and this is a little off-topic, is media outlets that run stories about companies by people who have absolutely no fucking clue how companies work. Case in point, this story about Trader Joe's, a company that, while aiming to grow profitably, actually contributes 16% of its full-time employees' yearly salaries to their 401(K)s.
HOTELLOBBYIST: wow, that's fucking awesome. i never got more than 5%
JEZEBELMOE: Now, Trader Joe's is not public and has not, at least to my knowledge, expressed a desire to control the planet Starbucks-style. However! It is the sort of company that is doing things differently, and better, and profitably at the same time. But some kid wants to write about how hard it is to work there, and suddenly that's like, valid. Ugh. Anyhoozle.
HOTELLOBBYIST: Yeah, bagging groceries is haaaard. Douchebag. Trying working in a factory and you'll run screaming back to your cashiers stand.
JEZEBELMOE: Yeah, and like, working at Starbucks was my favorite job. I'm not a born hustler like Jay-Z. I just wanna be taken care of, is that so wrong?
That said, I can relate to his struggle
This equivocation — a rapper inspired by a movie about a gangster, trying simultaneously to distance himself from rappers, actors and the gangster in question — sums up the album's greatest strength and greatest weakness. Jay-Z is too discerning to ignore the contradictions in his music, even when he's trying to play the role of a coldblooded killer.
HOTELLOBBYIST: I think it's only wrong if you pretend to be the workaday type to snag the husband and then quit because that's all you ever wanted.
JEZEBELMOE: Hahaha, yeah the MRS degree!
HOTELLOBBYIST: Ow, you just made my head hurt.
JEZEBELMOE: No that was Kalefa Sanneh making your head hurt
and I totally spelled that wrong.
But I think the struggle applies to Chavez, and Trader Joe's, and Friedman, and Obama vs. Clinton
HOTELLOBBYIST: Well, everyone spells my name wrong, too, so I'm sure he's used to it.
JEZEBELMOE: Yeah EXACTLY.
HOTELLOBBYIST: Well, think Kalefa Sanneh smokes a lot of weed while he's writing. Like I drink.
JEZEBELMOE: Anyway, in conclusion, we are all a little-hustler, a little mama's boy, a little Chavez protectionist socialist paternalist, a little Maria Bartiromo get outta my plane; a little Citigroup, a little Trader Joe's.
A little subprime credit, a little subprime ethics. A little union, a little management. A little Zen, a little kaizen!
HOTELLOBBYIST: A little Irish in my coffee?
JEZEBELMOE: EXACTLY. zero sum, yin yang muchachas!!!
And with that I am posting this mother.