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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The man expected to be China's leader for the next 10 years, Xi Jinping, arrived in the United States on Monday, Feb. 13. This will be an excellent occasion for Americans to assess him and take stock of the relationship with the rising power of the 21st century. Needless to say, there are complex and polarizing reactions toward China in the United States: The racially tinged advertisement by Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra depicting a happy, young Chinese woman speaking broken English as she celebrates American decline is but the most recent example of an attempt to manipulate Americans' emotions rather than activate their brains. The American narrative about China sees a rising, highly disciplined nation under a dictatorial and directed leadership with a strategic vision of regional -- if not global -- dominance. This may sound dark, but it's actually an attractive narrative for some. For the U.S. military, China provides a mobilizing enemy to fuel military spending, strategic doctrine, and new weapons systems. For some corporations and labor leaders, the notion that America can't compete with a China that cheats is a pretext for protectionism and tax breaks. For those who lament the state of the U.S. economy and the dysfunctional U.S. political system, China's success provides a useful challenge, like Sputnik in the 1950s. To neoconservatives and foreign-policy hawks who see the international arena as a Hobbesian world in which America dominates or is dominated, China provides the obvious threat to U.S. preeminence. To democracy promoters and human rights campaigners, China is the embodiment of what most needs fixing in the world. And to believers in the inevitability of American decline, China represents the 800-pound gorilla that the United States needs to accommodate sooner rather than later by shrinking its regional presence, drawing back to its own shores, and reducing unproductive alliances. But let's take a deep breath and look at the real China that America faces." (ForeignPolicy)


"In January, 243,000 jobs were created. The number surprised investors and economists, but it was part of a stream of solid economic data: over the last few months, consumer confidence has gone up, Americans have spent more on big-ticket items like cars and there is even evidence that the housing market has begun to rebound. Before the job numbers came out, most economists were expecting around 2.5 percent G.D.P. growth this year. Those forecasts are liable to be revised upward now, perhaps to about 3 percent. Americans seem to have noticed the change. By early February, Obama’s approval rating had climbed to 49 percent in the Real Clear Politics average, a six-point improvement from three months earlier. Although it’s not a terrific approval rating, it may be enough to get Obama another term. In 2004, George W. Bush won a narrow victory with essentially identical metrics: G.D.P. growth of 2.9 percent and an approval rating of about 48 percent on Election Day. Still, Obama’s position isn’t solid enough for him to beat just anybody. Bush benefited from running against a middling opponent like John Kerry, against whom he was able to squeeze every ounce out of his approval rating." (NyTimes)


"In the wake of last Saturday’s Purple Magazine party, we were left with several questions: What is it about Fashion Week mag soirées that seems to whip everyone into a frenzy? What mysterious gravity does Olivier Zahm carry that sucks the clothing off of so many stunningly beautiful women? How is Lindsay Lohan even still alive? Our prospective evening began unfolding with an incoming text from Natalie White, former muse of photographer Peter Beard and current item of lust on Purple’s website: 'Will I be seeing you at Purple Magazine tonight?' Of course, we replied, 'but Natalie, how will we spot you?' Seconds ticked by, and came the response, 'I’ll be the one wearing a see-through dress, darling.' With that image firmly lodged in our mind, we began to wonder what kind of party were we getting ourselves into.We mulled the question as we hoofed it over to the Standard, a fittingly unglorified way to approach what would be a fittingly glorious event. Refinery29’s Kristian Laliberte—on full Fashion Week tilt—and his posse spotted us a block out. After a ritual passing of the flask, the group rolled over to the (suspiciously quiet) entrance." (Observer)


"Oscar de la Renta. A feminine collection and unlike Oscar in many ways. In a season where bright seems to be the norm (and a good norm), Oscar goes pale. Now some of his pales are very pretty, but a surprise. Oscar had many prints. One of the most interesting was his jewelry print. I was sitting near Kenneth Jay Lane and should have asked him what it meant. Now that we are talking about seating, let's just say in the front row was my boss (DPC) sitting next to me and taking the pictures. Next to him was Daphne Guinness (I love her look, and actually many of the black and white prints in the collection seem aimed at her). Kenneth Jay Lane was next to Ms. Guinness. Further down the row was Barbara Walters, who looks really well. She was wearing raspberry for Valentine's day. Facing us was my old gang from Saks Fifth Avenue. Actually they were my old gang and Saks was one of my very long term homes (15 years), but this gang all worked at Bergdorf Goodman with me before they went over to Saks." (NYSocialDiary)


"There was a lot of elbowing for space in the front row of the Diesel show yesterday. Vogue Japan editor-at-large Anna Dello Russo was forced to crouch down next to the first row at the Pier 57 event after she arrived so late that someone had already snagged her seat. Theophilus London and Angela Simmons jammed in next to Albanian model Angela Martini, forcing Harley Viera-Newton and Shenae Grimes to scoot down. The group had to shift again to make room for Gabe Saporta from Cobra Starship, who was seated at the last minute. Finally, Caitlin Moe and Mia Moretti were so late that staffers got them through security by saying the DJs were 'models.'" (PageSix)


"Rick Santorum may be leading in Michigan polls, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to Mitt Romney’s most prominent backers.Two weeks before the increasingly pivotal showdown in Romney’s native state, his leading Michigan supporters are exuding confidence that he’ll not only win, but win easily and halt Santorum’s momentum in the process. Romney’s national campaign isn’t leaving that to chance: It has deployed top operatives to the state and on Tuesday reserved nearly $1.3 million in airtime in the runup to the Feb. 28 primary, according to a media-buying source. The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future is also putting big bucks behind a new negative ad on Santorum that starts Wednesday. For Michigan politicos aligned with Romney, there’s a fundamental reason why Santorum looks like a long shot. To them, winning Michigan is less a challenge for Romney than it is his destiny — as the son of one of the state’s legendary governors and the scion of an auto family. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, one of the state’s most influential Republicans, put it this way: 'This is Mitt country — Mitt’s state.'" (Politico)


"Democrats as a whole have commended President Obama’s budget proposal for 2013, but in a few telling instances, members of the president’s party are seeking a bit of distance. Those Democrats tend to come from red states where the president’s poll numbers are underwater, and their critique of Obama’s plan — or their choice to stay silent — could foretell reelection races where Democrats will run away from the president in the fall. Obama on Monday unveiled a $3.8 trillion budget that Republicans claim is far too bloated. It calls for increased revenues but also targeted tax cuts, cutting spending in areas like defense while upping the dollars going to transportation and other projects. White House officials predict the annual deficit will fall from $1.33 trillion in 2012 to $901 billion in 2013, but Republicans — and some Democrats — argue that isn’t nearly enough. It is highly unlikely the budget will be implemented in anything like the form Obama presented, but the proposal symbolizes Obama’s economic priorities heading into the last year of his first term — and his bid for reelection." (TheHill)

"Fifteen years after starring in her last feature, The Preacher’s Wife, Whitney Houston was scheduled to return to the big screen this summer in the remake of Sparkle, the 1976 girl-group saga inspired by the Supremes. Now in post-production, the film showed signs of a career turnaround for Houston, who died unexpectedly on February 11 at age 48. In addition to playing the supportive single mother of three struggling singers (the most talented of which is portrayed by former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks), Houston is also attached to the project as a producer—her first feature producer credit since The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, in 2004. During an on-set interview in Detroit last fall, she explained the profound impact that the original film, which was set in the Motown era and starred Academy Award winner Irene Cara, had had on her growing up..." (VanityFair)


"Sen. John Kerry, dining with his wife, Teresa Heinz, at Café Boulud Saturday, obliged a nearby table by joining their conversation dissecting the Syrian crisis. Art dealer Edward Tyler Nahem, his UN diplomat son Joachim, 'Schott’s Miscellany' author Ben Schott and his wife, Fathom founder Pavia Rosati, were at a table with others in heated debate when Nahem invited the Massachusetts senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, eating quietly nearby, to elucidate his views. We’re told that even though they were not acquainted with the group, Kerry and his wife happily joined the table, giving analysis and answering questions before the senator admitted he was pleasantly surprised to join a highbrow discussion. Heinz reminisced with Joachim about when she worked at the UN during the 1965 blackout and was forced to descend 35 flights of stairs in the dark, then jumped on the back of a motorcycle driven by a kind stranger to get home." (PageSix)

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