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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Finally, liberal democracy is almost universally associated with market economies, which tend to produce winners and losers and amplify what James Madison termed the 'different and unequal faculties of acquiring property.' This type of economic inequality is not in itself a bad thing, insofar as it stimulates innovation and growth and occurs under conditions of equal access to the economic system. It becomes highly problematic, however, when the economic winners seek to convert their wealth into unequal political influence. They can do so by bribing a legislator or a bureaucrat, that is, on a transactional basis, or, what is more damaging, by changing the institutional rules to favor themselves -- for example, by closing off competition in markets they already dominate, tilting the playing field ever more steeply in their favor. Political decay thus occurs when institutions fail to adapt to changing external circumstances, either out of intellectual rigidities or because of the power of incumbent elites to protect their positions and block change. Decay can afflict any type of political system, authoritarian or democratic. And while democratic political systems theoretically have self-correcting mechanisms that allow them to reform, they also open themselves up to decay by legitimating the activities of powerful interest groups that can block needed change. This is precisely what has been happening in the United States in recent decades, as many of its political institutions have become increasingly dysfunctional. A combination of intellectual rigidity and the power of entrenched political actors is preventing those institutions from being reformed. And there is no guarantee that the situation will change much without a major shock to the political order." (Francis Fukuyama)

"There are many ways to think about the Republican Party's electoral predicament — in racial terms, in sectional terms, in ideological terms. One clarifying way to conceive the problem is in generational terms — a geriatric trap. David Frum has an essay in Foreign Affairs laying out his view of how the Republican Party must change in order to regain parity at the national level. Frum’s core insight is that the Republican Party fell into a self-perpetuating cycle whereby its ideas attracted mainly old people, and old people in turn shaped its ideas, and so they wound up 'reinventing themselves as defenders of the fiscal status quo for older Americans — and only older Americans.' Even while fighting a desperate rear-guard campaign to prevent, and then to destroy, universal health insurance, Republicans exempted all Americans over the age of 55 from any budget cuts. As a Fox News ratings gambit, this works splendidly. As both a long-term Republican political strategy and as a governing doctrine, it is a catastrophe. If anything, Frum’s essay actually understates the party’s failure. It wasn’t merely that Republicans protected the elderly and near-elderly from the austerity of the Ryan budget. They savagely attacked the Medicare cuts enacted by the Obama administration. The hyperbolic version of this attack was 'rationing'; the insane version was 'death panels.' As Lamar Alexander memorably put it, while rising in opposition to universal health insurance, 'If you find savings by cutting waste, fraud and abuse in Grandma’s Medicare, spend those savings on Grandma.' They also repeatedly turned down opportunities to cut Social Security spending out of a combination of anti-tax absolutism and sheer partisan spite. The GOP’s old-person problem is on inadvertent display in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute. Biggs is professionally committed to cutting Social Security, and the column is devoted to the need to restore solvency to the Social Security Trust Fund, which certainly ought to be a conservative priority. Yet Biggs finds himself dancing awkwardly around the reality that Obama is the one who has proposed to do the thing he advocates, and Republicans are the ones who stopped him. His excruciating contortions highlight the impossible predicament faced by Republican entitlement hawks trying to defend the party line." (Jonathan Chait)

"There are 65 prominent people who might run for president in 2016. The Democratic and Republican fields contrast sharply. Hillary Clinton is the clear front-runner, while there is no front-runner on the Republican side. Twenty-three Democrats have been mentioned as a candidate or are eyeing a bid, according to an analysis by The Hill. The GOP side has 42. Most of the people on this list won’t run, and some have adamantly claimed that they’re not interested. But many politicians have changed their minds on seeking the White House. Before mounting his 2008 bid, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he wasn’t running. The following is The Hill’s list of 65 people who might run for president in 2016 ... Russ Feingold — The liberal darling mulled a 2008 bid before losing his reelection race in 2010 ... Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley — Uphill climb for O’Malley. How tough? Three members of the Maryland delegation (Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Reps. Steny Hoyer and John Delaney) have already said they would back Clinton in the Democratic primary ... Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — Will likely run for president at some point, but not in 2016. Sen. Bernie Sanders — The liberal Sanders, who is technically an independent, has said he would challenge Clinton if no one else from the left launches a bid. Brian Schweitzer — The former governor of Montana has had a rough summer. Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) — Warner stunned political observers, when he didn’t run for president in 2008. He instead ran for the Senate and is up for reelection against Ed Gillespie this fall. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) — Unlike Clinton, Warren has been busy on the campaign trail for Senate candidates." (TheHill)

"Iceland is bracing for a possible eruption at its Bardarbunga volcano for the first time since 1996, after about 800 earthquakes in its vicinity in the past few days prompted the nation's Met Office to raise its alert level for the mountain to 'orange,' signifying 'increased potential of eruption.' In April 2010, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull erupted, leading to more than than 100,000 flight cancellations over the North Atlantic and Europe amid concern lava-loaded ash might destroy aircraft engines. Among the hardest-hit by the flight ban were Kenyan exporters, left with no way to get $12 million of produce to the international market. Kenya is the world's largest exporter of black tea, and it's the nation's biggest foreign-currency earner. So the Trade of the Day is to settle down to a cup of Kenyan tea while stocks last. And, if you have a European flight planned for the next few weeks, you might check your travel insurance while you're sipping." (Bloomberg)

As well as events surrounding her family, Frazer's scrapbooks include published images of her friends

"In March 2011, New York Social Diary featured the first part of a series Philadelphia in Palm Beach: 1920-1931 adapted from Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway's voluminous biographical scrapbook of photographs. For this next chapter, I perused the more than 3,000 images Ellen Frazer compiled in a six-volume set recording her life from 1931 until Spring 1935, beginning with the family's top-of-the-world year abroad and ending at Palm Beach following the divorce that ended her fourteen year marriage to Persifor Frazer III. A prolific photographer, Frazer utilized small-format roll film to capture the everyday events of her family and friends as well as kept a record of her friends' milestones when they made headlines in newspapers and magazines.  Unlike the era's commercial images produced by celebrity photographers like Bert Morgan or the 'portrait of the good life' conveyed by Slim Aarons, these photographs are of a far more private nature. But, while the photographic quality of Morgan's and Aarons' images have been maintained, most often printed from the original negatives, because Frazer's images were developed utilizing the chemically-unstable machine processing of the 1930s they reflect a degradation of image quality. In general, I arranged the images in chronological order with some exceptions. I combined three consecutive summers into Watch Hill, 1932-1934. Likewise, I merged several winter seasons into Palm Beach, 1932-1935. The year the Frazers spent in Europe I have kept in its original order. I placed quotes around captions when I transcribed them as Ellen Frazer wrote them." (NYSD)

"Russia and Ukraine continue to confront each other along their border. Iraq has splintered, leading to unabated internal warfare. And the situation in Gaza remains dire. These events should be enough to constitute the sum total of our global crises, but they're not. On top of everything, the German economy contracted by 0.2 percent last quarter. Though many will dismiss this contraction outright, the fact that the world's fourth-largest economy (and Europe's largest) has shrunk, even by this small amount, is a matter of global significance. Europe has been mired in an economic crisis for half a decade now. Germany is the economic engine of Europe, and it is expected that it will at some point pull Europe out of its crisis. There have been constant predictions that Europe may finally be turning an economic corner, but if Germany's economy is contracting (Berlin claims it will rebound this year), it is difficult to believe that any corner is being turned. It is becoming increasingly reasonable to believe that rather than an interlude in European prosperity, what we now see is actually the new normal. The key point is not that Germany's economy has contracted by a trivial amount. The point is that it has come time to raise the possibility that it could be a very long time before Europe returns to its pre-2008 prosperity and to consider what this means. The German economy contracted despite indications that there would be zero economic growth. But the rest of Europe is faltering, too. France had zero growth. Italy declined by 0.2 percent. The only large European economy that grew was the United Kingdom, the country most skeptical of the value of EU membership. Excluding Ireland, which grew at a now-robust rate of 2.5 percent, no EU economy grew more than 1 percent. Together, the European Union scarcely grew at all. Obviously, growth rate is not the full measure of an economy, and statistics don't always paint the full picture. Growth doesn't measure social reality, and therefore it is important to look at unemployment. And though Europe is fairly stagnant, the unemployment situation is truly disturbing. Spain and Greece both have around 25 percent unemployment, the level the United States reached during the Great Depression. While that's stunning, 15 of the 28 EU members have unemployment rates of more than 10 percent; most have maintained that high rate now for several years. More alarming, these rates are not falling.Half of all EU residents live in four countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. The average growth rate for these countries is about 1.25 percent. Excluding the United Kingdom, their economies contracted by 0.1 percent. The unemployment rate in the four countries averages 8.5 percent. But if we drop the United Kingdom, the average is 9.2 percent. Removing Britain from the equation is not arbitrary: It is the only one of the four that is not part of the eurozone, and it is the country most likely to drop out of the European Union. The others aren't going anywhere. Perhaps the United Kingdom isn't either, but that remains to be seen. Germany, France and Italy, by population if nothing else, are the core of the European Union. They are not growing, and unemployment is high. Therefore, Europe as a whole is not growing at all, and unemployment is high. Five to six years after the global financial crisis, persistent and widespread numbers like this can no longer be considered cyclical, particularly because Germany is running out of gas. It is interesting to consider how Germany has arrived at this point." (STRATFOR)

The cocktail hour before the dinner at the ARF 40th anniversary benefit on Saturday night.

"Regular NYSD readers know how much animal rescue means to us here at NYSD. Both JH and I have adopted pets. One of JH’s adored pets was Oliver Dog adopted at age 3 at an annual ARF gala thirteen years ago. Oliver had had three homes before he met Jeff. He became a beloved member of the family, gracing them with his presence until he went to Dog Heaven two years ago, then mourned by all who ever knew him. This year was a special year not only because of the anniversary but because ARF’s staff has done an incredible job in caring for the animals and in increasing the numbers of adoption. In the past 40 years they have saved 20,000 animals (!). Last year, they adopted out 1134 dogs and cats. This year they have set a goal of 1300 adoptions and from the looks of things right now, they may exceed that number. They have so far adopted out 735 little beauties and lovebugs and kitty cats, an increase of 18% over last year at this time – 112 more lives saved!
More than 400 attended the gala which was held on the ARF grounds in a tent set up on their dirt parking lot – although you’d never have known it when you saw the finished product. David Monn and Alex Papachristidis decorated the tent and provided the white carpet and handsome dance floor. The white “balloons” you see rising to the top of the tent were lent by David, who also trucked the blue and white porcelain out from Manhattan. They used 1500 Sunflowers from local East End stands. Babinski Flower Stand and Lisa & Bill’s in Wainscott provided them at cost. A list of ARF Angels put the event together. There was an auction led by Benjamin Doller, Executive VP and Vice Chairman, America of Sotheby’s. He raised close to $132,000 for ARF, the majority already earmarked for 9 Puppy Mill rescues. Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes emceed. Steve and his wife Jennet Conant share their home, and have for years, with a dog from ARF. Leslie Stevens provided the PR, and Sean Driscoll’s Glorious Food catered the affair with an excellent summertime menu." (NYSD)

Hey, ladies — catcalls are flattering! Deal with it

"The Post has come out boldly in favor of catcalling ... The saddest thing about these unimaginatively provocative stories—the DON'T HATE ME FOR MY PRIVILEGE essays, the CALM DOWN, PEOPLE! rants—is that the best-case outcome is the education of one person: The writer-subject, who will become either permanently entrenched or emotionally broken as a result of the ensuing backlash. Otherwise, the ripples don't even make it to the edge of the pond. Some readers nod their heads and turn the page; others click, think 'oh [hell] no,' and generate some angry social media. It's first and foremost a human sacrifice intended to insert a small thrill into the paper: the private thrill of reading your horrible opinion expressed in public at no personal cost (there but for the grace of god!), or the more public thrill of identifying something utterly and completely wrong." (TheAwl)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Have you heard? The Clintons are rich.

"This weekend, yet another story about Hillary Clinton's outsize wealth ricocheted through the blogosphere, this one publicizing her contract for a $225,000 speech at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Foundation. Among her requests: travel on a $39 million Gulfstream jet, round-trip business class tickets for her advance team, a $500 cash stipend, lodging in a presidential suite plus five more rooms, and coverage for all meals and incidentals. The story, based on a public-records request, has the same sneering, how-dare-she quality that much of the coverage of Clinton’s money has taken on ...Wait, Hillary Clinton – the woman likely to be the next leader of the free world, a person as in-demand as Lady Gaga, Oprah and the Pope – doesn’t charge a modest speaking fee, make her own way and fade into the background? Cue the outrage! ... But what the pundit class sees as the real issue for Clinton is not the money so much as it is her awkward embrace of it – her Romney-like inability to take it as a given that she is very rich, and to stress that she empathizes with middle-class Americans rather than living their same struggles. She infamously described her family as 'dead broke' when leaving the White House. 'We struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education,' she added. 'You know, it was not easy.' Then she ham-handedly tried to explain that they are ordinary-rich, not rich-rich. 'We pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names,' she said. 'And we've done it through dint of hard work.' It's been enough to cement a narrative about Clinton being out of touch. What has been strange about Clinton’s responses to the questions about the many tens of millions she and her husband have pulled in of late is that there is an elegant and obvious rich-Democrat way to answer them. She simply has to say, 'Yes, we’re really lucky. And I know first-hand that we don’t need a tax break for our millions in earnings or our private jet.' It’s a well-worn response, too, given by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton among many others.But it is a response that Mitt Romney, whose economic policies would probably have slashed his own taxes while raising them for lower-income Americans, could never give." (NYMag)

Gregory got $4M to quietly leave NBC

"Ousted 'Meet the Press' anchor David Gregory was paid $4 million to leave NBC and signed a contract not to speak out against the network, sources told Page Six. Gregory, 43, who moderated the show for six years, was unceremoniously dumped from the political program on Thursday after dismal ratings and months of speculation about his departure. He has been replaced by NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd. A source said Gregory’s contract extended into next year, so NBC had to pay him for the rest of the term, plus an extra fee to ensure his silence. In return, he was asked to sign a nondisparagement clause, which explains — despite the drama behind the scenes — his saccharine message on Twitter to announce his departure." (P6)

"Everyone knows the US imprisons more people than any other country in the world. What they might not know is that, as an American citizen, you’re more likely to be jailed than if you were Chinese, Russian or North Korean; that, with 2.3 million inmates, there are currently the same amount of people imprisoned in the States as the combined populations of Estonia and Cyprus; and that once Americans are sent to jail, they tend to keep going back. According to a recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics—a US Department of Justice agency—within six months of release 28 percent of inmates get rearrested for a new crime. After three years, the figure rises to 68 percent. By the end of five years, it’s an alarming 77 percent. But terrible recidivism rates have been a constant in the Land of the Free. The Pew Research Center issued its own report on the problem in 2011; the conclusion was bleak. Too many criminal offenders emerge from prison ready to offend again, and more than four out of 10 adult offenders in America return to prison within three years of their release. For too many Americans, the prison door keeps revolving. How do we try to change whatever it was that brought someone into trouble with the law? And if that proves impossible, what is the best way that society can protect itself? I wanted to find out. I also wanted to see how much of what I knew—or thought I knew—about jail turned out to be true. So I wrote to corrections departments worldwide asking for access. Russia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Jamaica, Sweden, Norway, France, the UK and Britain’s own off-shore tax haven, the Isle of Man all refused because my personal safety 'could not be guaranteed.' The Zimbabwean prison service said that 'the request was considered,' but they turned me down eventually. I even sent an email to Guantanamo Bay but got no reply.  Just as I was about to give up, I discovered that I could go to jail in America as an 'undercover voluntary detainee.' With the right procedure I could gain admittance to 'holding facilities' in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska and North Dakota. My contacts in law enforcement helped cook up a plausible cover story: I was arrested for driving a stolen car on the wrong side of the road and found in possession of methamphetamine. The cover was funny because a) I cannot drive, and b) I had absolutely no idea what methamphetamine was." (Vice)

"1000 years ago as I was sorting through my first divorce, (second happiest day of my life), I had a rental house full of furniture and objects. It was easy enough to get rid of the rental, especially as it belonged to the ex-husband’s mother, and then I shoved all those ridiculous objects into storage and forgot about them. It had all seemed quite inexpensive at $100 month. A decade and $12,000 later and still all those objects were moldering in the storage unit. So when friends of mine decided to get married I figured what better present than the key to my storage unit. I told them everything in this unit is yours. All you have to do is clear it out so that I don’t have to keep paying for it. He took it very well and said thank you while she decided I must be making preparations to kill myself. She got quite concerned, she said it looked like I was getting all my affairs in order. I said fat chance, I said take this key and save me please from this financial hemorrhaging. So they did and they filled up their new house with all of my possessions and occasionally through the years I’ve been to visit and it’s always a bit of a shock to pick up a fork I bought or to sleep in a bed I picked out, or to look at the paintings on the walls, all mine! For one thing that first husband was a painter so I had a lot of his paintings, I was even in some of them. I heard of an excellent moment when my ex-husband visited that house and after a few beats realized he knew everything around him and got quite a surprise. Although this is not nearly as funny as the time the gun-toting guerrillas marched him off our hill in beautiful Colombia but that’s another story." (Christina Oxenberg)

Ellen Glendinning Frazer Ordway a year before her death in 1975.

"Warm and beautiful Summer weekend in East Hampton and Watch Hill where the NYSD staff  members were taking a weekend away. JH and his wife went to stay in Rhode Island, and DPC went to East Hampton to attend the 40th Anniversary celebration and benefit for ARF (Animal Rescue  Fund) in the Hamptons. (More about that on tomorrow’s NYSD) In the name of a summer break, we’re taking a Sort of few days away from our keyboards and professional obligations. So this week and next we are mainly re-running in chronological order, the Photo Archives of Ellen Glendinning Fraser Ordway — the Philadelphia-Palm Beach-Northeast Harbor socialite who was born at the beginning of the last century — began taking photos in the 19-teens and methodically posting them in her private photo albums through the first three-quarters of the 20th century. Ellen Ordway, as she was known for a good part of her adult life, was a serious amateur photographer.  It was not a career she pursued professionally but the tens of thousands of photos she took of her world and its denizens over almost seven decades are tribute to her commitment that rivals any professional. Mrs. Ordway was born in 1901 and died in 1976. Beginning in the twenties, she photographed her life and those who were part of it. It is a unique document of American society in the American 20th century by a woman who was at the center of it. All of work is presented as extemporaneously as the modern digital images captured through Instagram and Twitter. Her objective was simple: to photograph what and who she saw and socialized with. We see fascinating travels, great friendships, marriages, divorced and real people relaxing among the international leisure class with emphasis on Americans." (NYSD)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Washington week with Gwen Ifill

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Illustration by Darrow.

"It is time to roll up the red carpet, return it to the factory showroom, and let famous faces attached to famous bodies walk among us as free people, not as fashion perps and exotic pets—clickbait snack meats. 'More will mean worse,' the novelist Kingsley Amis prophetically grumbled, and the red-carpet procession—once such a stately ritual—has stretched into a forced march, an endless series of campaign stops for stars striking poses and beaming smiles unnatural for any normal being, putting a strain on their intergalactic alloys. When the red-carpet ceremony was limited to gala occasions—lavish premieres, the Academy Awards (its red carpet was introduced in 1961, but it wasn’t until the Oscars were telecast in color, in 1966, that it became synonymous with that night of nights), the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, a meet-and-greet with Queen Elizabeth and hubby Phil—it retained a sovereign glamour, a special hullabaloo. These days the red carpet has mechanized into a treadmill for a marathon awards season that stretches through the winter months, from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild Awards to the ACE Eddie Awards to the BAFTA Film Awards to the big finale, with the slack in the remainder of the year taken up by the Emmys; the Grammys; the Critics’ Choice Television Awards; the MTV Movie Awards; the Academy of Country Music Awards; the SXSW Music, Film, and Interactive Conference & Festival; Comic Con; the ESPYs; the AmFAR Inspiration Gala; the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award; the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner; the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards; the Kennedy Center Honors; the Indy 500 race; car-wash openings; papal visits; and random ribbon cuttings. It has altered our expectations of stardom, added a new imperative. It’s not enough for an actor to deliver the goods on-screen or onstage, or for a musician to scale heaven in the recording studio or the concert arena. They must now aspire to be runway-sophisticated: turned-out, fashion-savvy, smartly accessorized, majestically moussed, manicured, pedicured, hickory-smoked, poised, and good sports, discreetly chewing their Nicorette gum without chomping like camels. Not everyone plays along." (James Wolcott)

"Recently, Tavi Gevinson Рeditor-in-chief of Rookie magazine, budding Broadway star and possibly the most influential 18-year-old in America Рwent to her first and last high school rager. Earlier that day, she'd graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High in suburban Chicago, tromping around the football field in the blazing heat. In terms of doing the classic high school party thing, she thought, it was now or never. 'It was at this guy's house,' she says, 'and I was like, 'Oh, you know what makes social anxiety better is if you just keep drinking.'' Which she did until things got messy ('There was vomit'), though not too messy ('I didn't try to seduce anyone'), after which Gevinson made her way home, where her mom helped her into bed: 'In the morning she gave me a flower and explained why drinking is extremely dangerous and why not to mix stuff and to eat first and to not do it until I'm 21. Then my dad came in, and they both laughed at me.' If Gevinson has failed to indulge in such iconic teenage pastimes to date, that's thanks to her many pressing duties as our culture's Teenager Par Excellence. Gevinson's role as universal expert on all things teenage has, somewhat ironically, left her little time for iconic teenage experiences like this one. At 11, she started Style Rookie, a blog that garnered the attention of fashionistas the world over with its pictures of a tiny, unsmiling Gevinson, standing in a suburban backyard and wearing the most fantastical of garments. Soon she was flying to Paris for Fashion Week, meeting Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour. Sporting a dyed silver-blue bob, thick glasses and Iris Apfel-inspired outré-granny chic ('People talked about how when you're a woman of a certain age you stop caring about certain things, and I was like, 'If I can try that now I will be ahead of the curve'), she became a sort of high-fashion mascot, half prodigy, half pet.
And then, just like that, Gevinson decided to leave these childish things behind." (RollingStone)

Lauren Bacall, Liz, Carroll Petrie all making up to the very rich Milton Petrie, who is not amused. Circa 1980 at the Waldorf.

"TIMING is everything! — as the saying goes. Only this week I wrote of how I was going with my friend Robert Pounder over to the Dakota to see Lauren (Betty) Bacall before her coming September 16th  birthday when she’d have been 90.  (Miss Bacall didn’t particularly relish becoming 90 and removed herself from the race.)  So, my timing was bad and I didn’t get to see her one last time. But my memories of 'Miss Bacall' — as I usually  fancifully referred to her — are full to bursting. We had been through a lot of celebrity incidents  together ... back to when she didn’t speak to me, then she did, she couldn’t decide, then she did, and so forth. Actually, we became good friends just as I became friends with her son, Stephen Bogart. And she and I often got together with our pal Phyllis Newman. EVENTUALLY we became close and  she visited me in the Connecticut countryside when she went to see Katharine Hepburn at Fenwick.  (Her tenderness for the great Kate went way back to when she’d first been wed to Bogart and he and Kate were making 'The African Queen.' Betty’s hidden sentimentality was one of the nicest things about her.) She often talked to me about  how proud she was of her three children ... of her struggles with husband Jason Robards and his alcoholism ... of the tortured days when Bogey was dying of throat cancer ... of her disillusionment when Frank Sinatra took offense at a gossip item and called off their engagement. She was philosophical in 1997 when she didn’t win the Oscar for 'best supporting actress' costarring with Barbra Streisand in 'The Mirror Has Two Faces.' But I wasn’t philosophical. I thought she should have won. And isn't it interesting that after all Bacall's work with powerful male directors, it took a woman, Barbra Streisand, to, bring her an Oscar nomination." (NYSD)

"This is what the EU scum have done to us. Forced us to sell the few assets nature gave us instead of oil and gas, and the oily ones were the first to grab them. The ultimate touchy-feely accolade of our times—a big sloppy bear hug √† la Clinton or Blair—almost made me sick last week, as practiced by the Greek prime minister hugging the grotesque Jean-Claude Juncker. What is it with these phonies? Can’t anyone shake hands anymore? And while I’m on the subject, Antonis Samaras, the PM, I met only once, around 35 to 40 years ago. He had just returned from Amherst or Harvard and had entered the Greek nationals in tennis. I played him in the first round, saw that he could more or less hit the ball, and beat him 6-0, 6-0. There were no refs in the early rounds. While shaking hands he asked me if he could change the score to something more respectable. I said sure, I never liked giving anyone two bagels. But it shows the kind of shifty character that he is, and he’s known for having bitten every helping hand. While these two sons of bitches were hugging each other for a photo opportunity, the straitjacket of the euro continued to do its stuff. Unemployment is still at a record 27 percent, and for those under 25, around a staggering 55 percent. Our debt is about 170 percent of our GDP, a gap bigger than Italy’s and topped only by Japan’s, which goes to show we are good at something after all. At bullshitting the people, that’s for sure." (Taki)

‘Homophobic,’ ultra-rich Sultan of Brunei wants The Plaza hotel

"The Plaza’s Eloise may have to start wearing a burqa over her trademark red hair ribbon. The Sultan of Brunei — infamous for imposing sharia law, which calls for death by stoning of gays and adulterers — is first choice to buy the landmark Manhattan hotel. As part of an estimated $2.2 billion deal, the sultan would also purchase downtown’s Dream Hotel and London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, all currently on the selling block by owner Subrata Roy, a jailed Indian industrialist, according to the Times of London.Roy remains in a New Delhi jail on contempt of court charges and needs the money to cover his bail. The sultan would not have a say in the day-to-day operation of the hotels but would be the controlling owner in partnership with two investors who already have stakes in the properties, Hampshire Hotels and Saudi Prince Alwaleed, said Manhattan-based hotel analyst Sean Hennessey, CEO of Lodging Investment Advisors." (P6)


"It's a battle of Al vs. Al. According to a court filing unearthed by Bloomberg, Al Gore is suing Al Jazeera America for refusing to turn over millions of dollars it promised to pay following the acquisition of Current Media back in January 2013. Gore and his Current co-founder, Joel Hyatt, claim Al Jazeera America 'wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago.'" (NYMag)

Friday News Roundup - International

Friday News Roundup - International

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Embedded image permalink     

"Long before the killing of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, which have brought with them countless images of heavily armored local authorities pointing guns at and firing tear gas and other nonlethal weapons at unarmed protesters, some were disturbed by what Washington Post journalist Radley Balko calls “the rise of the warrior cop” — that is, the increasing tendency of some local police forces to rely on military-style gear and tactics, even in situations that appear devoid of any real threat to officers’ safety. The story of how this happened and the oftentimes tragic results has been well-told by Balko, the American Civil Liberties Union, and others — in short, there’s been a flood of drug-war and post-9/11 money that has helped outfit police departments, even those in towns where a single murder is an incredibly rare event, with gear that could help repel seasoned paramilitaries. What’s less clear is how this gear changes the psychological dynamics of policing and crowd control. Is it true, as many people are arguing online, that 'When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail' — that is, that simply having military gear will make police more likely to act in an aggressive manner toward civilians? How does this change the relationship between police and civilians?" (NYMag)

Robin Williams with "some friends."

"It was Wednesday; it was Michael’s. Like the weather, it was pleasant and mild and no doubt there were a lot of the heavy hitters now out-of-town for the duration – be it two weeks, a month, the day after Labor Day, which is what we’re looking toward now. But, it was busy. It wasn’t the regular Michael’s Wednesday celebrity-fest, or one of those parties at a star studded long table in the center of the front or back room that Peggy Siegal throws to promote a new film or director. On yesterday’s NYSD, Liz Smith ran a photograph of a lunch with Robin Williams that included President Clinton, Ann Richards, Diane Sawyer, Joe Armstrong, Billy Crystal and Angela Williams (Robin’s previous wife). And Liz. That was a pretty good table but not unusual in Michael’s and especially, for some reason, on Wednesday. It gets everybody looking and listening, or just plain ramped up by the atmosphere. It’s a distinctly New York phenomenon and the reason why so many of us living and working here come here in the first place. Life as entertainment (as well as the rest of the stuff). Steve Millington, Michael’s GM was telling me about the times that Robin Williams came in. One time, he decided he’d play “greeter” to all the guests coming in. A riot for everyone. What amazed Millington about Williams was how empathic and kind and sensitive he was with everyone, and how easily he endeared himself to everyone. Great regret shared all around." (NYSD)

"New economic data released by China's National Bureau of Statistics on Aug. 13 shows the supply of credit to the Chinese economy expanded by only $44.3 billion in July, the slowest pace in almost six years. To be precise, credit expanded at the slowest pace since October 2008, the month after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and the month before the Chinese government launched an economic stimulus program that sheltered China's economy from the worst effects of the global financial crisis. That program also locked China into a growth model grounded in the intimate bond between government-led credit expansion and housing and infrastructure construction -- one that the Chinese government is now struggling, against time and at the risk of crisis, to escape. The dramatic and widely unexpected drop in Chinese credit supply in July has raised concerns that the economic 'recovery' China seemed poised to make starting in June -- when aggregate financing in China hit a whopping $320 billion, which was more than seven times greater than July's figure -- has been nipped in the bud. There are also concerns that the coming months will bring even worse news from the world's second-largest economy. These concerns are aggravated by anecdotal reports repeated in mainstream news media saying July's decline is the result of the policy-driven credit tightening by the government and also reflects a drop in Chinese enterprises' demand for new loans. If the latter is the case, it raises important questions about the underlying health and trajectory of China's economy." (STRATFOR)

"Meanwhile, back in the swim, last night there were two receptions bringing out the friends and fans. Jeanne and Herb Siegel gave a book party for Ed Klein and his #1 New York Times Bestseller 'Blood Feud; The Clintons Vs. The Obamas' at the Four Seasons restaurant. A book reception at the Four Seasons, incidentally, is its own crowning literary moment in New York.Mr. Klein has garnered a great deal of editorial as well as critical coverage on this book, besides far outselling the recently published memoir of Hillary Clinton who is the hot topic with much of mainstream media these days, at least here in New York. The main subject continues to be 'will she run…?' It sure looks like she is seriously considering it, to put it mildly. Also according to an interview she gave to Jeffrey Goldberg on MSNBC,she lobbed a couple of political opinions into Mr. Obama’s sphere of interest (conducting a Presidency) which is being reported with some gravity and being read as part of the campaign to separate herself from the President’s current reputation in the polls. Although, Mr. Obama is so frequently attacked by so many different people in the know (or those who think they are) that by now, anything from anybody’s mouth must be for him, like the din of traffic on the freeways of Southern California – distant, inevitable, unending and one long dull roar. That last sentence, incidentally is not an opinion or judgment in favor of, for, or about either the President, the former Secretary of State or anybody else. Rather, it’s a realistic assessment of the situation in national and international politics. However, Mr. Klein’s suggestion -- of a 'feud' between the two couples – has now been made more credible, perhaps affirmed, by Mrs. Clinton ... Meanwhile, back in little ole Manhattan last night, at the same hour, up at the D&D Building 7 blocks north and 2 blocks east of the Four Seasons restaurant, in the Stark Carpets showroom, Stark and Iris Apfel held a 100th birthday party for their friend, her husband Carl Apfel, the man behind his wife, the contemporary fashion legend." (NYSD)

"The 2014 Senate elections are not shaping up to be particularly favorable for the Democrats. While there are still scenarios where they could walk away breaking even, or even gaining a seat or two, those scenarios are pretty far-fetched. Current predictions vary somewhat, but seem to center around Republicans picking up somewhere between five and seven seats, with the overall range of possibilities a bit wider. The nonpartisan explanations for this state of affairs have centered around three different factors: the president is unpopular, the president’s party always loses seats in midterm elections, and the Democrats overperformed in 2008, setting them up for a rough year in 2014 (you can see Bill Schneider making all three arguments here). In this article, I’ll briefly discuss all three explanations, and then add a fourth. Very little needs to be said about the first factor: The relationship between presidential approval and electoral outcomes has been thoroughly explored, and I have little to add. Likewise, the tendency of the president’s party to fare poorly in midterm elections is so well-known as to require only an asterisk here: While the president’s party has lost House seats in all but two post-World War II midterm elections (1998 and 2002), it has gained or broken even in Senate seats in five (1962, 1970, 1982, 1998, and 2002). That’s somewhere between a third and a quarter of the postwar midterms, so our rule here is not really as “real” as it is for House elections." (SabatosCrystalBall)

"'Skinemax' was struggling. In 2010, subscriber numbers at the US cable channel Cinemax, which earned that derisive nickname with its reputation for late-night soft-core pornography, were flat and starting to trend downward. The channel’s action movies and porn were still performing pretty well, but the brand was in dire need of reinvigoration. + That’s when Michael Lombardo, the head of programming at Cinemax’s parent company, HBO, went to the head of HBO’s miniseries division, Kary Antholis, to say that he was concerned for the long-term future of Cinemax. Lombardo and Antholis decided that the only way to put HBO’s sister channel on the map was to get into the original content game—as other channels had been doing in recent years. + Four years and four original shows later, Cinemax has shown that it can produce. The Aug. 8 premiere of Cinemax’s new and most ambitious series to date, The Knick, drew a modest but respectable 354,000 viewers. Starring Clive Owen as a drug-addicted experimental surgeon in 1900s New York, The Knick is by far the most hyped series Cinemax has had since it started making original shows." (Quartz)