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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bloomberg TV: Tim Cook, Apple CEO, Comes Out

Josh Tyrangiel on Bloomberg TV this morning discussing their scoop. Tyrangiel said, “(Apple CEO Tim Cook) was very clear on what he wanted. The backstory on it is pretty simple as well. He called and asked if I could come out. We had a conversation and he had something written. It was crisp and clear and frankly I hope he is available for more assignments going forward. He was very easy to work with on this. He knew what he wanted to say.”

Brian Stelter on Ebolamania

Eliza, Composed by Edward Johnson (1572-1601)

Composer: Edward Johnson (1572-1601)
Performed by: The Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The European Central Bank had two basic short-term goals for this year's stress tests. On one hand, it had to come up with a test that was tough enough to be credible after tests held in 2010 and 2011 were widely seen as too soft and lacking in credibility. On the other hand, the tests could not produce results dire enough to generate panic. The European Union is going through a phase of relative calm in financial markets, and the European Central Bank was not interested in creating a new wave of uncertainty over the future of Europe's banks. While the tests did attract some criticism, the central bank achieved both goals. Of the 130 banks involved in the tests, 25 had capital shortfalls, a finding slightly more severe than forecasts projected. Of those 25 banks, 13 must raise fresh capital and come up with 9.5 billion euros ($12.1 billion) in the next nine months. None of the failed tests came as a surprise, however. Italy's Monte dei Paschi, the worst performing bank in the tests, has been in trouble for a long time and had to receive assistance from the Italian government in 2012. Other failing banks are located in countries such as Slovenia and Greece, which have been severely affected by the financial crisis. And while the price of several banks' shares dropped during the Oct. 27 trading session, no collapses occurred. The tests were not perfect -- they used data from December 2013 and were mostly done by each participating state. The methodology and scenarios were also criticized. For example, the most extreme "adverse scenario" included in the tests considered a drop in inflation to 1 percent this year, although the rate has already fallen to around 0.3 percent. The decision to include only 130 "systemic" banks while turning a blind eye on smaller -- and probably weaker -- institutions also drew criticism. But overall, markets considered the tests legitimate, especially in comparison with the weak tests that have taken place since the beginning of the European crisis. The stress tests, however, are only the starting point in the much deeper and complex process of creating a banking union in Europe. The issue has traditionally been very controversial in the Continent. As Europe became more integrated, several policymakers proposed the creation of a banking union to complement the Continent's internal market and common currency. Nationalism and diverging political interests, however, made this quite difficult, and the idea was abandoned during the Maastricht Treaty negotiations in 1991 and again after it was reconsidered during deliberations for the Treaty of Nice in 2000." (STRAFOR)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. (Photo by Haim Zach / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. (Photo by Haim Zach / GPO)

"In his Atlantic article on the growing crisis between Jerusalem and Washington, Jeffrey Goldberg quoted American officials slamming Netanyahu, one now-famously called him 'chickenshit.' The substance of the criticism was that he lacks the 'guts' to strike Iran and is only interested in 'protecting himself from political defeat.' Beyond the damage Netanyahu and his government are causing Israel in the international community – hurting ties crucial for a small country with limited resources in a complicated region – I disagree with the American diagnosis. In Netanyahu’s case, preserving his rule without any apparent progress towards a clear goal is part and parcel of his plan to deepen the deeply-ingrained process of preventing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and splintering the Palestinian people. Even if Netanyahu did not start these steps, he is propelling them with pristine efficiency.Every day that Netanyahu tries to maintain his seat is another day of settlement construction in the West Bank, another day of Palestinian displacement, of destroying Palestinian assets and other grave human rights violations; another day in which Netanyahu’s strategic goals are being achieved. Unlike the objective of peace and ending occupation, Netanyahu’s objectives don’t have a big fan base in the international arena. He knows this all too well, and this is why he cunningly operates to maintain the status quo. Ostensibly this means doing nothing; in practice it means rapidly changing facts on the ground in the West Bank. His declaration of support for the two-state solution at Bar Ilan University and the negotiations led by Kerry were conducted in parallel to government actions on the ground – constituting an integral part of his strategy. Netanyahu surely must have taken the Americans’ criticism as a complement. They thought they were insulting him but in fact they were praising him. They revealed that they do not understand Netanyahu’s strategy – mistaking his effective methods for fear and lack of political vision. They also positioned him perfectly in his battle for right-wing voters. He is simultaneously standing tall in front of the Administration while winking to his benefactors and allies in the Republican Party ahead of Senate elections. At the same time, he is not “giving in” to Bennett, who perfectly fills the role of the settler youth who makes the prime minister appear like the experienced, rational centrist. A trip to the West Bank and a perusal of reports by human rights organizations, like the recent B’Tselem report on the Burqah village, can attest to these processes. While Netanyahu’s rhetoric focuses on Iran, ISIS, the war in Gaza and the high cost of living, the West Bank continues to undergo significant changes and the Palestinian people continued to be divided and conquered. Netanyahu is the victor in Goldberg’s Atlantic story." (972Mag)

2014 Crystal BallOutlook

*3 vacancies in House: 2 Safe D, 1 Safe R

"While many races remain close, it’s just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Ultimately, with just a few days to go before the election, the safe bet would be on Republicans eventually taking control of the upper chamber. We say eventually because there’s a decent chance we won’t know who wins the Senate on Election Night. Louisiana is guaranteed to go to a runoff, and Georgia seems likelier than not to do the same. The Georgia runoff would be Jan. 6, 2015, three days after the 114th Congress is scheduled to open. Vote-counting in some states, like Alaska, will take days, and other races are close enough to trigger a recount.Generally speaking, candidates who have leads of three points or more in polling averages are in solid shape to win, but in this election five states -- Republican-held Georgia and Kansas, and Democratic-held Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina -- feature a Senate race where both of the two major polling averages (RealClearPolitics and HuffPost Pollster) show the leading candidate with an edge of smaller than three points. What makes the Democrats’ situation so precarious is that Republicans have polling leads of more than three points in five other states, all of which are currently held by Democrats: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Two others, Democratic-held Alaska and Colorado, show Republicans leading in both averages, but by more than three points in just one. (These averages are as of Wednesday afternoon.) The wealth of GOP targets is a reflection of the structural advantages that have favored Republicans in this election, some of which don’t have anything to do with a specific campaign. Those are: Obama’s troubles: President Obama’s approval ratings are in the low 40s, and midterm elections are very often a vote against the party that occupies the White House, particularly if the occupant is unpopular. A great map: This Senate map is the most-Republican leaning of the three Senate classes up for election once every six years. These seats were last on the ballot in 2008, a big Democratic year. American politics is about surges and declines: In 2008 came the surge for Democrats, and in 2014 comes the decline. Partisan polarization: The increasing partisanship of American politics and the American people makes it harder and harder for Democrats to win in Republican states and districts, and vice-versa. Seven Democrats hold Senate seats contested this year in states that supported Mitt Romney in 2012. Six of those states are very Republican at the presidential level -- Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia -- and Republicans are probably at least slightly favored to win all six of their Senate races. The seventh, North Carolina, is gettable if the GOP has a big night. Republicans only have to defend one seat in an Obama state, Maine, and GOP Sen. Susan Collins has the race all but wrapped up." (SabatosCrystalBall)

In the window of the Chinese Porcelain Company last night.

"Meanwhile, among the din and the tumult of the Michael’s Wednesday lunch, amidst the cross-table conversations about everything except hair and trichotherapy, among those in the room keeping the energy erupting: Vicky Ward who is busy promoting her new book 'The Liar’s Ball' about the building of the former GM Building (where the Apple Cube occupies the plaza in front), and was lunching with Charlotte Morgan, Charlie Rose’s producer. We had a larger table yesterday to accommodate all of us. Cornelia Guest had my usual table and was lunching with Jim Fallon, WWD editor. We had the table usually occupied on Wednesdays by Duh Boyz, Della Femina, Greenfield, Imber, Kramer and Bergman. They were across the way at Joe Armstrong’s regular table sans Kramer and Bergman. On one side of them: Mickey Ateyeh with Ruth Shuman and her cousin Dana Bronfman. On the other side: Jimmy Finkelstein, and next to him Stan Shuman and guest. Moving along: Paul Wilmot and guest; Amy Fine Collins; Pat Mitchell, director of the Paley Center for Media; Julie Hayek (former Miss USA), of Corcoran Real Estate; Tracey Jackson and Glenn Horowitz with Roseanne Cash; Jolie Hunt; George Farias with Robert Zimmerman; Jack Kliger; Peter Brown with Gillian Tett of the FT; Mark Rosenthal with Doug McCormick; Keith Meister with Sean O’Keefe; Tom Goodman of Goodman Media with Diane Clehane; David Sanford of the WSJ with Lewis Stein; Jolie Hunt; Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates; Haspel heiress and owner of Haspel, Laurie Aronson with a party of 12; Todd Joyce of Break Media; Esther Newberg; Lynne White with Linda Stacy of NY1 and the Daily News; Patrick Murphy; Christine Taylor; Bob Towbin, Beverly Camhe; John Loeffler of Rave Music. To name just a few partaking of the fare.More Brits. Last night at the Chinese Porcelain Company on 58th and Park, Pierre Durand hosted a booksigning for his friend HRH Princess Michael of Kent and the American publication of her new book 'The Queen of Four Kingdoms' (Beaufort Books)." (NYSD)

"The Nikola Tesla museum is a creamy villa in Belgrade. I arrived in time for the short film which included a snapshot of my grandfather saying hello to Mr. Tesla. It was surreal to see my grandfather up there on the screen. I forget where I am sometimes. I never fail to recognize my grandfather and his beautiful serene face concealing who knows what thoughts. In the photos he is always perfectly composed and serious. Not at all like the warm funny man I remember from my child...hood.
After the film a tiny lady with a huge engineering brain lectured us, and showed us how the machines worked with light beams and conducting electricity through people and remote control operation which in its time was considered magic mind control. And despite my minimal grasp it was impressive. The museum lady was so fierce, although young and sporting a plump ass, no one dared ask a single question at any point of her talk. Instead we all just gaped in silence. When a couple of German tourists whispered to each other she admonished them, saying, 'Later is a better time for you to chat'. Next we were left alone to wander around and look at Tesla's personal effects, his top hat, his kid gloves, his eyeglasses, a silver flask. His art collection and letters from friends. And the final room with an urn shaped like a bowl atop a marble obelisk and here are Tesla's ashes. Before we were let loose the museum lady gave strict instructions not to photograph or video or in anyway be disrespectful to the ashes of the hero. There's no denying Tesla was way ahead of his time. He went to see his hero Edison in America and Edison turned on him. He conducted experiments in NYC and his laboratory was mysteriously burnt to the ground. He built a tower on Long Island and it was destroyed with TNT by the army claiming spurious reasons. When he went to Colorado Springs he was treated like a crazy man. And his great sponsor J.P. Morgan withdrew his sponsorship once he realized Tesla wanted to help the world not charge the world." (Christina Oxenberg)

Jack Murphy and Allan Kuhn photographed at Malibu Lagoon State Beach.

"They are old men now in their 70s, two robbers who were famous long ago and now sport white hair, Butch and Sundance in twilight. Five decades ago, Jack Murphy (a.k.a., 'Murf the Surf') and his partner Allan Kuhn were high-spirited beach boys who gave swimming lessons at Miami Beach hotels and had a lucrative second occupation—as jewel thieves. In 1964, bored with preying on wealthy divorcees and tourists, these athletic young men drove to Manhattan and pulled off the most audacious jewel heist of the last half-century. Climbing up the stone walls of the American Museum of Natural History on the evening of October 29, 1964, they broke in through a window and stole priceless gems from the J.P. Morgan jewel collection: the Star of India sapphire, the DeLong Star ruby, and fistfuls of diamonds and emeralds. Murphy, now garrulous and robust at age 77, explains, 'Just like mountain climbers and skiers, as a jewel thief, you go for the challenge. It’s dangerous, it’s glamorous, there’s an adrenalin rush. We couldn’t just keep doing Palm Beach.' Apprehended within 48 hours of the robbery, the two men, plus accomplice Roger Clark, became national folk heroes. With the jewels nowhere to be found, an ambitious 23-year-old Wellesley graduate, Nora Ephron, landed her first front-page story for the New York Post by sneaking into the hotel where the thieves had stayed. 'These guys had committed the perfect victimless crime,' Ephron recalled in an interview in the fall of 2010. 'It was delicious. No one had a clue what they had been up to, they just seemed like fabulous party boys.'" (VanityFair)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks to reporters after the Democratic party policy luncheon in the Capitol in Washington September 16, 2014.    REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

"Democrats’ path to holding their Senate majority has narrowed, with Republicans pulling ahead in critical states and on the cusp of upsets in several others. Even some within the party are starting to say their midterm prognosis isn’t good. 'Democrats are, as we’ve talked about before, going to have a bad Election Day, no matter how you slice it,' former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN on Tuesday evening. With wins in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana all but certain, the GOP feels increasingly optimistic about its chances of flipping Arkansas, Alaska and Louisiana, and nabbing at least one of the two most competitive swing states, Iowa and Colorado. Now, the party is eyeing tightening races in New Hampshire and North Carolina —races Republicans promised all along would be competitive in the end — as signs a GOP wave is building, giving it more options in its pursuit of Senate control. Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said while he’s still optimistic in North Carolina, Republicans appear to be surging overall. 'In North Carolina, I think the Republicans see the seat slipping away, but in other parts of the country I think they feel they have momentum on their side and they’re going in for the kill,' he told The Hill. Manley said he still thinks Democrats will be able to “eke it out” in the final week before the midterms. But he acknowledged that New Hampshire and North Carolina are must-wins for the party — and that their tightening is a concern. 'I’m not sure [Democrats] can' lose either one and still control the Senate, Manley said. Republicans say current polling mirrors 2006, a bad midterm cycle for their own party, when Democrats picked up six seats in the Senate. They note that every Republican incumbent polling below 48 percent support at this point in the cycle that year lost. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll out Tuesday underscores the GOP’s advantage nationally. Across nine states with competitive Senate races, voters prefer Republicans over Democrats in a generic House match-up, 57 to 39 percent." (TheHill)

Jesse and his beautiful wife Karen.

"JESSE KORNBLUTH’S novel, 'Married Sex' has been snapped up for the Hollywood treatment. Griffin Dunne will direct and Nick Wechsler will produce. (Wechsler’s credits include the classic indie 'Sex, Lies, and Videotape' and the more recent, classic for less esoteric reasons, 'Magic Mike.')Kornbluth, Griffin Dunne and Griffin’s dad, the late Dominick Dunne were old friends. Jesse felt some of the scenes in his book 'could have been written by Dominick.' So this past August, on the anniversary of the writer’s death, Kornbluth sent Griffin the book, 'an act of friendship — to complete the circle, as it were. The next thing we all knew, Griffin and Nick Weschsler and I were in business!'" (Liz Smith)

Paula Zahn talking about Mothers of the Year.

"Yesterday at the Plaza, the New York chapter of the American Cancer Society held its 19th annual Mothers of the Year luncheon. This year they honored mothers Deborah Norville  and Felice H. Schnoll-Sussman, MD.  You know who Deborah Norville is. Dr. Schnoll-Sussman is an Associate Professor of Clincal Medicine in the division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Diana Feldman, who is long a devoted and enthusiastic Volunteer Chairman of Special Events for the American Cancer Society, opened the luncheon and introduced Paula Zahn was emcee. Paula, incidentally, who is also a professional cellist, in telling me about her day told me that she was performing last night in a chamber music concert at Carnegie Hall. Paula put herself through Stevens College on a musical scholarship playing cello and has performed in chamber music concerts all over the world.Paula then introduced Muffie Potter Aston who was an honoree in 2011 talked about Motherhood and then introduced Deborah’s husband Karl Wellner (the perfect “Viking” according to Muffie who is an old friend of both). Karl spoke about their meeting -- on a blind date and then presented the Mother of the Year Award to his wife. Deborah who talked about her own experience growing up, including the experience her grandfather’s death of colon cancer,  and what motherhood has been like for her with her three children (two sons and a daughter, all of whom are now young adults). Both Deborah and Muffie celebrated hands-on motherhood with their talks." (NYSD)

David Gregory and CNN couldn’t reach salary deal

"Dumped 'Meet the Press' host David Gregory was close to landing at CNN, insiders say, but the network didn’t reach a deal to bring him onboard because of his big salary demands amid crushing company cost-cutting. Page Six exclusively revealed that Gregory had met with his onetime NBC champion Jeff Zucker at CNN in August, and the two were then spotted having lunch as Gregory’s embarrassing ouster at ratings-challenged 'Meet the Press' became imminent. 'Jeff was really considering hiring David,' a source familiar with the talks told us. 'But they could not come up with a number to get him there.' The source added that staff cuts of around 10 percent at CNN and its parent, Turner Broadcasting, made the deal impossible. 'They were meeting around the time of the crazy layoffs at CNN, and it would have looked really bad giving out a huge contract while people were being laid off.' Gregory earned up to $5 million a year and, according to sources, got $4 million to exit NBC before being replaced by Chuck Todd. His 'Meet the Press' predecessor Tim Russert reportedly made $5 million a year as host." (P6)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ali Mazrui, RIP

Just learned that Ali Mazrui died on October 12 via the NYT. Ali Mazrui drew strong opinions. As a child of Uganda's Ambassador to the UN my parents threw a lot of diplomatic parties. At these events, even as a child, I knew that when the name Mazrui was mentioned two things would happen: 1) the discussion would grow animated pro and con and 2) his name would be pronounced in hushed tones. As a kid I was fascinated by the name and the man who could make such formidable African intellectuals a little afraid.

Mazrui is often remembered for his own strong opinions. He should also be remembered for his context. As a professor at Makerrere in Kampala, he was the leader of the first wave of postcolonial intellectuals. His BBC -- then PBS -- special was, like Cosmos and I, Claudius, must-see-TV in our household in the 1970s. His thought must be viewed through the prism of young, fragile African countries coming out of the historical humiliation of colonialism. It is as easy for right wing hacks to find glowing praise for Qaddafi from Mazrui as it is to find glowing praise for Cuba's Fidel Castro from Nelson Mandela. It is not as easy to see that praise as coming from the perspective of someone who has not had good historical relations with the West. It is easy to find pro-communist statements from Mazrui -- he was not a capitalist -- but consider that almost every single postcolonial college graduate in Africa in the late sixties and early seventies was at least a Fabian socialist and probably had communist leanings.

The pendulum swings. Colonialism is a distant memory; startup founders are the new rock stars. Six of the ten fastest growing economies are from what was once called "the Dark Continent." What are we to make of Ali Mazrui now? The last two paragraphs of his NYT obit say it best:

"In editing 'The Africans' for American television, Professor Mazrui deleted his description of Karl Marx as 'the last of the great Jewish prophets' because producers feared it might be taken as anti-Semitic.
"In Britain, where the line was used, he had worried that Marxists might be offended by the reference to Marx as a prophet.
“'My life,' he once said, 'is one long debate.'"
It was indeed. Rest in peace, Ali Mazrui.

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"U.S. President Barack Obama has come under intense criticism for his foreign policy, along with many other things. This is not unprecedented. Former President George W. Bush was similarly attacked. Stratfor has always maintained that the behavior of nations has much to do with the impersonal forces driving it, and little to do with the leaders who are currently passing through office. To what extent should American presidents be held accountable for events in the world, and what should they be held accountable for? Expectations and Reality. I have always been amazed when presidents take credit for creating jobs or are blamed for high interest rates. Under our Constitution, and in practice, presidents have precious little influence on either. They cannot act without Congress or the Federal Reserve concurring, and both are outside presidential control. Nor can presidents overcome the realities of the market. They are prisoners of institutional constraints and the realities of the world. Nevertheless, we endow presidents with magical powers and impose extraordinary expectations. The president creates jobs, manages Ebola and solves the problems of the world -- or so he should. This particular president came into office with preposterous expectations from his supporters that he could not possibly fulfill. The normal campaign promises of a normal politician were taken to be prophecy. This told us more about his supporters than about him. Similarly, his enemies, at the extremes, have painted him as the devil incarnate, destroying the Republic for fiendish reasons. He is neither savior nor demon. He is a politician. As a politician, he governs not by what he wants, nor by what he promised in the election. He governs by the reality he was handed by history and his predecessor. Obama came into office with a financial crisis well underway, along with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His followers might have thought that he would take a magic wand and make them go away, and his enemies might think that he would use them to destroy the country, but in point of fact he did pretty much what Bush had been doing: He hung on for dear life and guessed at the right course. Bush came into office thinking of economic reforms and a foreign policy that would get away from nation-building. The last thing he expected was that he would invade Afghanistan during his first year in office. But it really wasn't up to him. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, and al Qaeda set his agenda. Had Clinton been more aggressive against al Qaeda, Bush might have had a different presidency. But al Qaeda did not seem to need that level of effort, and Clinton came into office as heir to the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so on back to George Washington." (STRATFOR)

Ben Bradlee: smart, charismatic, handsome, driven to publish the toughest stories.

"Many eloquent words have been written and said about Ben Bradlee this past week after his death at his Georgetown home at the age of 93. He’d likely agree that’s a nice long life, but for the rest of us the loss still hurts. Even with a long, full life, when someone is that smart, charismatic, and splendidly willful, not to mention so sincerely beloved, death feels too soon, too young. The most resonant eulogies came from the people who knew him, such as Robert Kaiser for The Washington Post, writing the paper’s lead obit. David Carr’s take in The New York Times was also shiny and bright, showing what it means to be a great editor. I repeat, a great editor, not just an editor. The mandate for great editors is fading in an ever more corporate journalism culture that favors partnership and compliance with the business side of things. Also, increasingly there are editors who make it about themselves rather the reporters they are shepherding. That’s the TV influence, of course, an influence Bradlee seemed pretty much able to take or leave. He understood it, but he didn’t seem to need it."  (NYSD)

A Broad Abroad: Singapore

Monday, October 27, 2014

Levar Burton's Filthy Children's Book Reading

Kuta Kinte, you are a profane man!

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

The Hadrian Award.

"There was so much going on last week that I finished up feeling like I’d left a lot out. For example, last Wednesday the World Monuments Fund (WMF) hosted their 27th annual Hadrian Gala at the Pierre, and honored artist Ellsworth Kelly and interior designer and philanthropist Mica Ertegun. The Hadrian Award has been presented annually by the WMF since 1988. The award honors international leaders whose patronage has greatly enriched the appreciation and conservation of art and architecture around the world. The award was inspired by the Roman Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 76–138), a brilliant commander and great patron of the arts, who demonstrated a concern for the survival of outstanding artistic treasures. The honorees, both patrons and supporters of the world of art and culture and longtime supporters of WMF, were recognized for their 'commitment to heritage preservation projects around the world notable for community engagement and training in both traditional skills and modern conservation techniques.' In a world that seems to be moving faster than ever, where the past is quickly lost from memory, it is easy to lose sight of heritage which speaks to us of the civilization whence we have come. The World Monuments Fund, since 1965 has been “racing against time in more than 90 countries, applying proven techniques to preserving important architectural and cultural heritage sites. They achieve this through partnerships in local communities, with funders, and with governments. The evening featured tributes to the honorees by Agnes Gund (for Ellsworth Kelly) and Father Alexander Karloutsos (for Mica Ertegun) and musical performances by Peter Duchin and Members of his Orchestra including my favorite songstress/ guitarist Roberta Fabiano." (NYSD)

10 Moments That Won or Lost Senate Control
Ernst, above, is running against Bruce Braley for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"The 2014 battle for the Senate has featured a few candidate bumbles and some colorful characters.
So far, it’s lacked any cycle-defining gaffes — 'Todd Akin moments' — but there is still a week to go until Election Day and potentially two runoffs extending things into early next year.
Every election cycle provides noteworthy events or moments in time that, in hindsight, proved to be pivot points in the outcome. Roll Call has identified 10 such instances that helped define this cycle’s Senate landscape. In 2012, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe’s, R-Maine, last-minute retirement began to alter the conventional wisdom that Republicans were likely headed for the majority. Months later, comments about rape by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock sealed the deal for Democrats.Now, once again, the majority is up for grabs: Republicans have pushed the fight into purple states, while Democrats are holding out hope the party can hang on. Here are 10 moments that helped get us here, in chronological order ..." (RollCall)

Where Has All the Talent Gone?

"(Brad) Pitt finally dies a hero, but as I watched him perform his celluloid heroics, the only image that came to mind was a real story, one that took place long ago with Brad begging Mike Tyson—who mistakenly thought pretty boy was coming on to his wife and was faking anger—'Please, dude, don’t, for God’s sake don’t …' Oh well, we can’t all be heroes in real life; some are only so on reel. What this movie needs is a bit of range, a bit of subtlety, a bit of talent, and a different director, different script, a different writer, and different actors. Was there violence in Rebecca? In Wuthering Heights? In Laura? Could anyone ever get bored in The Best Years of Our Lives? Or the best war film ever, Go Tell the Spartans, about early Vietnam, starring the great Burt Lancaster? And if you hate the Germans and the fascists, go see The Garden of The Finzi-Continis, written and directed by Vittorio de Sica, starring the best looking woman of her time, Dominique Sanda. I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. All I’d like to know is, where has all the talent gone? And as always I will answer my own question: Movies today reflect what the audience wants to see, and the audiences are imbeciles and uneducated fools, and that’s why Fury will be a hit, so help me God." (Taki)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Dinner in the West Gallery at the Frick Collection's annual Autumn dinner.

"This past Monday night at the Frick Collection, they hosted their annual Autumn dinner in the galleries. This dinner is like everything else at the Frick – a cut above – in terms of atmosphere, presentation and the pleasure of dining amidst the Turners, El Grecos, Vermeers, Goyas, Manets, David. I mean really, where else in the United States of America can you do this? In what used to be a man’s home – and still protects some of that feel. I’ve written this many times before so I’ll be quick, but the Frick always deserves a special word. It is a haven, a solace, and a refuge from the city’s horns and bells and honks and cellphone carriers. We know a lot about Mr. Frick, its founder, and his dealers and his daughter. It’s a story to tell with many sides and shades. But the main event was this house, the museum, this collection. Whatever the karma that went into its inception, its construction, its expansion and its reputation, the Fricks created a little bit of heavenliness on this mad planet of ours." (NYSD)