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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"To understand how a billionaire private equity titan like Stephen Schwarzman can be so completely tone deaf—and policy ignorant—as to suggest that the idea of taxing Wall Street fat cats at the same rate as the rest of us is akin to the Nazi invasion of Poland, it’s instructive to follow him to lunch. I met the deal world’s top dog midway through my first meal at America’s power commissary, Manhattan’s Four Seasons restaurant, where $53 Dover sole is served in two soaring dining rooms (the “grill room” and the 'pool room') connected by Pablo Picasso tapestries and Frank Stella paintings. En route to my noontime table, in prime bubble era, late 2006, I passed media power (Mel Karmazin, Edgar Bronfman Jr.), political power (Vernon Jordan, Michael Bloomberg) and Wall Street power (AIG’s Hank Greenberg, Citi’s Sandy Weill). But it was Blackstone’s Schwarzman, a near-daily regular, who acted like he owned the place, bounding from table to table, including mine, crowing about his ill-fated $39 billion bid for Equity Office Properties. I had entered his clubhouse, and by the look on his over-tanned face, which stood out against his salt-and-pepper comb-over, he clearly reveled in it. People who bunker themselves solely among the like-minded, who forget what it’s like to eat a hot dog or a take a bus or answer their own phone, lose perspective. It happens in Washington and corporate boardrooms and Hollywood all the time. Yet one would think that the cataclysmic events of the past two years would have knocked some reality into the heads of Wall Street’s elite. Especially Steve Schwarzman, the poster child for greed in the decade I call The Zeroes." (TheDailyBeast)



"Florida Senate candidate Jeff Greene is taking heat from his association with boxing champion and former addict Mike Tyson. The unpleasantness stems from a trip Tyson took with Greene aboard Greene's yacht, the Summerwind, around Europe in 2005. Greene's opponent's team has dug up interviews in which Tyson talked about doing drugs in some of the stops the boat happened to have made on that trip. Today in a rare interview with Politico, who says Tyson was 'made available by the campaign,' Tyson insists that his drug use was limited to terra firma, and that the drugs were never on the boat." (NYMag)



"The high-profile Senate race in Washington state is official: Sen. Patty Murray (D) will face Dino Rossi (R) in her bid for a fourth term. With more than half of the expected mail-in votes counted in the primary Tuesday night, Murray advanced to the general election with 46 percent of the vote and Rossi with 34 percent. The race will remain among the most closely watched in the country, as control of the Senate could hinge on the outcome. Murray, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the Senate, is one of four Democratic incumbents in the West alone who are in danger of being unseated in November. In the state’s second-ever 'top two' federal election primary, 15 candidates were on the nonpartisan Senate primary ballot in which only the two best-performing candidates advance to the general election. Finishing closest to Murray and Rossi were Republicans Clint Didier, a former professional football player who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, and inventor Paul Akers. Didier took 12 percent and Akers 2 percent." (CQPolitics)



"Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney penned an op-ed in today's Boston Globe blasting President Obama's economic policies and, in so doing, provided yet more evidence of his laser-like focus on financial matters as he prepares to challenge the incumbent in 2012. 'His policies are anti-investment, anti-jobs, and anti-growth,' Romney wrote in the piece, which posted late last night on the Globe site. 'The policies of the President and Congressional Democrats are job killers.' Romney's solution? Extending the tax cuts approved during the Bush Administration, 'aggressively' pursuing trade deals to drive American exports and eliminating the tax on capital gains and investments for families with incomes $250,000 and below. 'It's time for a growth and jobs agenda to replace the special interest political agendas that we have endured over the past decades,' concludes Romney. 'So much is at stake -- a strong economy provides for the strong defense which preserves our liberty and promotes peace.' Romney's economic op-ed comes even as many of his potential rivals for the 2012 Republican nomination stake out increasingly aggressive stances on the issue du jour: the proposal to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center a few blocks from Ground Zero. Romney, for his part, has not spoken out on the mosque matter at all." (TheFix)



(image via NYSD)

"Last night I went to dine at Chin Chin with Philip and Joan Kingsley and Pax Quigley. The Kingsleys are semi-new friends. Joan and I were in Summer Stock together in Lake Placid back when we were almost minors (and minor actors, as it would turn out). Our friendship was renewed, however, only last year. Joan is now a therapist and has been practicing in London for quite a few years ... Interesting professions aside, the couple are very comme il faut, as one of my fancier (European) friends says to describe people whom she finds very comfortable company. With the Kingsleys there is never a lull in the conversation, and laughter often emerges just when it gets most serious. Pax and I are old friends from Los Angeles, although she moved her residence here a couple of years ago. We met over the phone through a mutual acquaintance about 1980. She was working at Playboy Magazine in their corporate public relations. Naturally she had stories about the Mansion (and this was when I was living out there). Everybody who has had a long relationship with Playboy has stories because Mr. Hefner actually lives that life that was originally marketed as the 'Playboy Philosophy.' And although it has lost its mojo over the years, Mr. Hefner has evidently not lost his." (NYSocialDiary)



"The former head of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund who hid alleged blood diamonds given to him by supermodel Naomi Campbell in a safe in his home for 13 years has resigned from the charity’s board. Jeremy Ractliffe, 74, said in his resignation letter that he recognised his failure to tell the charity about the diamonds - which Miss Campbell said she gave to him as a donation to the fund - was wrong. He admitted he had also left himself open to prosecution - the possession of uncut diamonds is illegal in South Africa - and if he had told the charity’s board, and its founder Nelson Mandela, they could have dealt with the gems in a 'better and lawful' way. 'Mr Ractliffe has apologised to the Chairperson, Chief Executive Officer, the board and the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF) for the anxiety and possible reputational risk his conduct may have caused,' a statement released by the fund read." (Telegraph)

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