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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"U.S. federal agents moved to seize the $30 million Malibu mansion of Teodoro 'Teodorin' Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Equatorial Guinea's strongman president this week, which happened to contain a host of luxury goods -- not least a $1.1 million collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including the King of Pop's 'white crystal covered 'Bad Tour' glove' and his MTV Music Awards 'moon man' trophy. Whether it's tacky erotic art, fast cars, or fancy weapons, autocrats have often displayed something of a penchant for collecting ... In one of Saddam's mansions, U.S. forces uncovered what's been described as a '1960s-style love nest -- a mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, and fantasy-art paintings featuring scantily-clad, bodacious women and buff warriors.' The Guardian's art critic, Jonathan Jones, was withering in his assessment: 'They are from the universal cultural gutter. They look spraypainted, in a rampant hyperbolic style where all men are muscular, all women have giant breasts and missiles are metal cocks. These are art for the barely literate, or the barely sentient, dredged from some red-lit back alley of the brain.' Jones described the paintings as evidence of a man "who seems on this evidence to have lived according to aestheticised, eroticised violence for which no one has yet come up with a better word than 'fascism'." (ForeignPolicy)

"President Barack Obama’s political machine is increasingly making common cause with Texas Gov. Rick Perry against a shared enemy: Mitt Romney. Romney is the opponent Democrats most fear, and whom Obama strategists view as the near-certain Republican nominee. Yet even among strategists who assume Romney will be Obama’s opponent, Perry’s newly feisty performance on the campaign trail has raised hopes that he may drag out the primary fight and bloody Romney ahead of the main event. Obama supporters aren’t exactly coordinating attacks with Perry. But the Texas governor and national Democrats are reinforcing and amplifying a single, sharply negative message that benefits them both: that Romney is a soulless political opportunist who doesn’t deserve the presidency. It’s a familiar attack that could resonate with voters in both the primary and general elections — and that strategists say can be delivered from the left and right with almost equal effect. 'It will be hard for Romney to beat Obama if he can’t get out from under the flip-flop narrative,' said former Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney. 'It plays into concerns the primary voters have that he can’t be trusted [and it’s] equally important in a general election against an incumbent president people like and trust." (Politico)


"Obama’s White House approved 613 federal rules during the first 33 months of his term, 4.7 percent fewer than the 643 cleared by President George W. Bush’s administration in the same time frame, according to an Office of Management and Budget statistical database reviewed by Bloomberg. The number of significant federal rules, defined as those costing more than $100 million, has gone up under Obama, with 129 approved so far, compared with 90 for Bush, 115 for President Bill Clinton and 127 for the first President Bush over the same period in their first terms. In part that’s because $100 million in past years was worth more than it is now due to inflation, Livermore said. In the last 12 months through the end of September, the cost range of new regulations is estimated to be $8 billion to $9 billion, a decrease from 2010, according to non-partisan Government Accountability Office reports analyzed by Bloomberg. That total put the average annual cost of regulations under Obama at about $7 billion to $11 billion, compared with the $6.9 billion average from 1981 through 2008 in current dollars, according to the OMB data." (Bloomberg)

"The crowd turned on director Brett Ratner when he fired some searing shots at Russell Simmons Tuesday night at a 'Tower Heist' party at the Dream Hotel. Ratner joined Simmons and producer Brian Grazer on a panel to discuss the film. When Simmons called Ratner 'a little bit of a [bleep]kisser,' the director retaliated by later saying, 'The real story is when I was 16 years old, I met Russell Simmons and he tried to have sex with me, no, I’m kidding.' As the crowd began to jeer, Ratner threw in a few good words about how Simmons became his 'best friend,' before firing off more shots at the hip-hop mogul and vegan political activist. 'When I met [Simmons] back then, he ate pork, he ate fried chicken he smoked weed, he drank like crazy, he smoked angel dust he did all kinds of [bleep],' Ratner said, while Simmons mumbled under his breath and the crowd booed. 'He did not know who the president of the United States was ... He knew nothing about politics! Now Russell is a changed man.' Grazer finally tapped Ratner on the leg, reminding him to talk about his movie. A Universal Studios rep said Ratner’s remarks were 'friendly retaliation' for Simmons’ Friars Club speech last week where Ratner accepted an award. Simmons said through his rep: 'Brett is one of the funniest people I know ... I was making funny faces, like what he was saying hurt, but it didn’t. I expected it. That’s just Brett. I love him.'" (PageSix)


"WHAT: Fashion house Roger Vivier celebrated its new fall/winter line with an 'Uptown-Downtown' fete, combining the party kids of below 14th Street with the more refined, but equally chic, uptown set. The evening also benefited the Music Unites Youth Choir. WHEN: Tuesday, October 25th WHERE: The Roger Vivier boutique, New York WHO: Leighton Meester, Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Hamish Bowles, Alexandra Richardson, Chantal Stafford and Hanne Gaby." (Papermag)

      
"Beginning with the Wednesday lunch at Michael’s madhouse du jour. Jampacked with conversation, (surely not without controversy here and there). At Table One in the bay (I got this from a little birdie Tweet-Tweet): Bonnie Fuller, Gerry Byrne, Nicole Miller, Aly Racer, Ashleigh Banfield, Noreen Dodge, Dari Marder, Evernolia Gillespie, Maryse Thomas, Diane Clehane, and Heather Thomson ... Also among those present who just can’t stay away, Barry Diller, Roger Ailes, Liz Smith, Julie Cohen, Larry Kudlow, Dave Zinczenko, Joe Armstrong, Freddie Gershon, Stan Shuman, Joe Kernan, Wayne Kabak, Paula Wagner, Mickey Ateyeh, Henry Schleiff, Carol Stern, Leslie Stevens, Cindy Lewis, Kathie Lee, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Chris Meigher, James Cohen, David Sanford, Lewis Stein, Catherine Saxton, Fern Mallis, Steven Stolman, Jack Bochonok, Rob Weisbach, Deb Shriver, Jonelle Procope, Barbare Guggenheim, Tom Goodman, Mark Rosenthal, Kathy Lacey. American media all in one room under one little roof." (NYSocialDiary)

"President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill are increasingly referring to the Congress as 'Republican' even though their party controls one-half of the unpopular institution. Obama and his allies have started to deploy the phrase 'Republican Congress' in what some experts see as a clear attempt to gain a political advantage ... Is it a harmless slip of the tongue, or a subtle messaging strategy? Political experts believe it’s the latter. 'I think it’s to convey a message and I think it’s great they’re doing it. There’s so much dissatisfaction in Washington. It’s very important for Democrats to label that dissatisfaction. It’s important to say who’s being the obstructionist and who has real plans,' said Democratic pollster Celinda LakeDarrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said, 'Democrats are trying to give ownership of Congress to Republicans because the institution is dysfunctional and not addressing the jobs problem, and this is a way to tie blame to the GOP.' Political scientists have said that Obama is using a game plan similar to that used by Presidents Truman and Clinton. Both won their reelection by railing about Congress. The difference, however, is that both chambers in 1948 and 1996 were controlled by Republicans." (TheHill)

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