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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The rumoured bid of Donald Trump as a Republican candidate for US president may seem more implausible than most candidates coming out of the business world, but follows in a line of political bids by private sector executives. These include H. Ross Perot, who received almost 19 per cent of the vote in the 1992 presidential election, and, more recently, Meg Whitman of Ebay and Carly Fiorina of HP for governor and senator from California, respectively. These individuals can, of course, make runs at office because they are independently wealthy. But they are also admired by many Americans for their entrepreneurial energy, toughness and bottom-line focus. Executives running multibillion-dollar companies do many of the same things a president does: set strategy, make budgets and manage large bureaucracies. But the successful business executives seem to do so with a ruthless efficiency that is rarely achieved in the public sector ... But while this yearning for businesslike efficiency is understandable, it betrays a failure to understand the nature of the American presidency, and how completely different the skills required for the latter position are from those of a corporate executive. An American chief executive exercises authoritarian powers of which a politician could only dream ... An American president, by contrast, occupies an office which is weak by design, limited by the framers of the constitution by checks and balances that prevent the exercise of strong power. The president shares powers with Congress, which is often in the hands of the other party." (Francis Fukuyama)


"President Obama will meet with Eva Longoria and other 'influential Hispanics' Thursday to discuss immigration reform. The White House said Obama would meet with 'influential Hispanics from across the country to discuss the importance of fixing the broken immigration system.' It said the discussion would focus on fostering 'a constructive national conversation on this important issue as we work to build a bipartisan consensus in Congress.' Besides Longoria, the star of 'Desperate Housewives,' others invited to the gathering include actresses Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera, Univision hosts Don Francisco and Maria Elena Salinas and Telemundo anchors Vanessa Hauc and Jose Diaz-Balart. Los Angeles-based Spanish-language radio host Eddie 'Piolin' Sotelo will also be attending. Sotelo, who had a contentious interview with Obama last year, is staunchly in favor of immigration reform. Obama senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe will also attend the meeting along with Melody Barnes, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Cecilia Munoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs. The president is looking to revive immigration reform as a salient political issue as he launches his bid for reelection, despite the fact Congress is unlikely to pass a plan before the 2012 contest." (TheHill)


"I had lunch down at Michael’s with Judy Price and Beth DeWoody. We were celebrating Beth’s birthday (which was last Saturday) ... The Michael’s Lunch. Wednesday. Michael Douglas strolled in to lunch with Dennis Miller, looking great and looking like the movie star that he is. Gil Schwartz of CBS was celebrating the publication of a new book on Table 1 in the bay with Matt Hitzig and David Hershey. Next door table was occupied by Peter Brown and then Steven Rubenstein. Next door to him Aryeh Bourkoff was lunching with Harvey Weinstein. And next to them Charles Grodin, whose signature baseball cap has the same incognito effect that dark glasses have. Even moreso: you don’t recognize him. Until of course you begin to recognize him by his cap. Moving on: Stan Shuman and guest at the next table; across the way John Sykes with Andrew Fisher and Dennis Crowley ...After lunch Beth and I walked a few blocks up Fifth Avenue. President Obama was in town and there were extra policemen everywhere as well as metal sidewalk barriers being set up along the avenue. Evidently he was making a speech somewhere, or meeting with somebody. But before that he was going up to Barbara Walters’ apartment on Fifth Avenue. I don’t know the occasion, although Walters is a woman who knows everybody who is anybody." (NYSocialDiary)


"President Obama is in town today, bulking up his war chest with a fund-raising party at the Waldorf Astoria and a private reception for wealthy donors. The reception — which will be held at the Fifth Avenue apartment of the wife of former New Jersey governor (and ex–Goldman Sachs CEO) Jon Corzine — will be attended by about 70 thick-walleted supporters, each of whom will cough up $38,500 for the honor of kicking Obama’s reelection efforts into gear. President Obama's Manhattan schedule has been taken by some as a sign that his once-testy relationship with New York's financial elite is on the mend. A source told the Post that the reception on Fifth is 'a real indication that there's a lot more support on Wall Street and in New York for Obama this time around.' But is it really? A front-page article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal said exactly the opposite: Hedge-fund managers — the orca of the finance food chain — have been staging a slow exodus from Obama's inner circle and giving their millions to Republican candidates who will, presumably, treat them more kindly. Obama may be able to get reelected without Wall Street's support, but his fund-raising schedule indicates that he'd rather not have to. Here, we draw a rough list of the finance types he can hit up for money, the ones he can't, and the ones who should probably be on the receiving end of a presidential muffin basket pretty soon, if you get our drift ..." (NYMag)


"The end of zoning has eliminated an important elite tool for managing Nigeria's myriad divisions. Under zoning, the PDP alternated its presidential candidate every eight years between the north and south. If the presidential candidate was a Muslim, then the vice-presidential candidate would be a Christian. In addition to zoning, the Nigerian political system ensured that the PDP presidential candidates were always placed in office. Nigeria's current crisis was precipitated by former President Umaru Yar'Adua's prolonged absence. Throughout most of his presidency between 2007 and 2010, Yar'Adua was ill, and in November 2009 he went to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. While Yar'Adua was out of the country, he had no contact with his government, which all but ceased to function. In February 2010, the National Assembly extraconstitutionally designated (Goodluck) Jonathan, then vice president, as acting president, perhaps to forestall military intervention. Jonathan became the fully constitutional president only in May, when Yar'Adua died. Zoning was damaged, but not yet dead. Early on, Jonathan insinuated that he would honor the zoning agreement and return the presidency to a Muslim from the north in 2011. But when it came time to select the PDP presidential candidate, he used the power of incumbency to defeat his northern Muslim challenger, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, for the party's nomination. (It is credibly alleged that Jonathan paid 'expenses' of $7,000 per person to party delegates, while Abubakar reportedly offered only $5,000 each.) By ending the alternating arrangement, Jonathan's nomination as the PDP presidential candidate effectively killed zoning. This worried many Nigerians, particularly those in the north." (Foreign Affairs)



"For all the media hoopla surrounding the upcoming nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton—which, if you haven’t already been told a zillion times already, happens tomorrow, April 29, at Westminster Abbey—few people have bothered to ask the really interesting questions. We’ve heard ad nauseum about the wedding dress and the celebrity guest list and how much the bloated ceremony will probably end up costing (thanks again, British taxpayers). But do you honestly give a shit? I’d rather find out if any of the guests will be drunkenly doing the Electric Slide during the reception, or if the court jester will be invited to sit at the head table, or if the royal family even employs a court jester anymore. I called India Hicks, the model and occasional host of Bravo’s Top Design, to get the lowdown on the details that matter. Hicks is something of an authority on Royal Weddings, having been a bridesmaid in the weddings of the Duke of Westminster, Lady Joanna Knatchbull, and most famously the 1981 wedding of Charles and Diana. She’s also technically royalty, both a second cousin and goddaughter to the Prince of Wales. Depending on which Google result you believe, she’s either 495th or 521st in the line of succession to the British throne." (Vanity Fair)


"With heavy rain expected in London on Friday, the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton could be a meteorological disaster. Rain or shine, it could also be a political catastrophe for the Arab royal families attending as guests. The affair will feature a total of eight Arab royals. By comparison, when the groom's father, Prince Charles, married his long-time 'close friend,' Camilla, in 2005, there were only four Arab royal guests. When Charles married Diana in 1991, there were just two.  With an estimated 2 billion people watching on television across the world, and another 400 million on the Internet, the royal wedding also promises to be a bold statement of defiance against the Arab Spring -- and clear proof of how much the Arab royals are out of touch. So far, the anti-autocratic trend sweeping the Middle East has only overturned the leadership of republics -- Egypt and Tunisia. The governments next in line to fall are similarly non-monarchies -- Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Ignoring the fact that this could be a distinction without a difference, apologists for Arab royals have discretely argued that kings and emirs 'know' how to rule, and that traditional methods of the open-court 'majlis' have made royals aware of public discontent before it boils over. Of course, the fact that they enjoy access to massive revenues from their energy deposits has also ensured that this process remains well-oiled, so to speak." (ForeignPolicy)


"Longevity is not a word often associated with fashion models. These days most of them are the living breathing equivalent of the seasonal 'it bag'. Walking the catwalk and grabbing the big ticket advertizing contracts for a season, ok maybe two seasons, and then they fad away like a beautiful dream that you can’t quite remember. But there are a handful of models that, just like some dreams, return over and over again. They have become familiar friends that you begin to rely on for continuity and comfort. Stunning signposts that subtly mark the passage of time as they elegantly age on the cover of magazines or crop up as the 'new' face for a beauty productWhat makes these particular models timeless? What do Kate Moss, Naomi Cambell, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, and Amber Valletta or Kristen McMenamy and Stella Tennant, for that matter, have that thousands of other super model hopefuls don’t? Looking at their divergent careers there is not one facial feature or fashion moment that secured their place in the pantheon of style. Their success has more to do with the woman behind the model mask than a picture perfect pose, new hair color or toned physique. These women are unforgettable because they are able to convey to the world the life they have lived via their entrancing eyes at every photo shoot, catwalk show and product launch. Of all these women Kate Moss and Naomi Cambell are the one that have truly seared their images into the fashion psyche partly by never leaving its spotlight." (Jessica Michault)
 

"(Howard Stern) said he has been reading Annie Liebovitz's book (A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005) and he likes that. He said she's a brilliant woman. He said anyone can run around taking pictures but she's different. Howard said Annie was there when Nixon resigned. He said a bunch of people took pictures but she hung around and waited when everyone else left. He said she took a shot of the three marines that rolled up the red carpet that Nixon walked on. Howard said that's a very interesting picture to him. She had some cool pictures of Hunter S. Thompson too. Howard said they're not necessarily great pictures but they capture a mood. He said she's able to do what a reporter does with just a picture. Robin said they tell a story with a picture ... Howard said Annie was working at Rolling Stone and Mick Jagger told her to come work for them while they were on tour. Howard said Annie thought about that and said she had to go do it even though she might not have a job if she wanted to go back to Rolling Stone. Howard said he admired that she went off with them. He said she had access to the Stones like you wouldn't believe. She was part of the scene. She got some great pictures but her favorite one was one after Mick Jagger would get off stage and he'd be wrapped up in towels after sweating on stage. Howard said she took a picture of him in an elevator and she thought it was the best one. Howard said he's looking at the picture and it is captivating. He said it's Mick Jagger and it's how you've never really seen him. Howard said Annie got some great pictures of the band in concert but she wasn't even into that stuff. She talked about how dangerous it was to be in the crowd back then. They would surge forward and people would crush you. She didn't think it was very innovative for her photography either. Howard said she didn't think that all of her pictures were that meaningful but the stuff back stage is what she liked." (Marksfriggin)

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