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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The planning for the fund-raisers seemed to underline this estrangement. Obama’s first event was a 6 P.M. dinner at the Four Seasons. About forty contributors, many of them from Wall Street, had paid thirty thousand dollars each to dine with him. Some of the invitees were disgruntled supporters who felt unfairly blamed for the country’s economic problems, and they wanted to vent about what they considered Obama’s anti-business tone. But the President did not have enough time to hear them out—or even share a meal—because after only an hour he was scheduled to leave for the second fund-raiser, at the downtown home of Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue. At the Four Seasons, the President could spend about seven minutes per table, each of which accommodated eight donors. This was fund-raising as speed-dating. The President’s staff knew that Obama wouldn’t have a moment to eat properly that day, and that it would be hard for him to do so while being the focus of attention at the fund-raisers. So time was set aside at the Four Seasons for Obama to grab a bite, in a 'ready room,' with Reggie Love, his personal aide, and Valerie Jarrett, his close friend, senior adviser, and liaison to the business community. This arrangement, however, inadvertently left the impression that Obama preferred his staff’s company to that of the paying guests. 'Obama is very meticulous—they have clockwork timing,' one of the attendees says. 'After a few minutes at each table, a staffer would come and tap him on the shoulder, and he’d get up. But when people pay thirty thousand they want to talk to you, and take a picture with you. He was trying to be fair, and that’s great, but every time he started to have a real conversation he got tapped.' The attendee appreciates that such events must get tiresome for Obama. 'Each person, at each table, says to the President, ‘Here’s what you have to do . . .’ At the next table, it’s the same.” Even so, he noted that Bill Clinton—who set the gold standard for the art form known as 'donor maintenance'—would have presided over the same event with more enthusiasm: 'He would have stayed an extra hour.' After that Four Seasons dinner, the attendee adds, “people were a little mad.' Top Obama donors began grumbling on the first day of the Administration. 'The swearing-in was the beginning of pissing off the donors,' a longtime Washington fund-raiser says." (Jane Mayer)

"The most important facts about Iran go unstated because they are so obvious. Any glance at a map would tell us what they are. And these facts explain how regime change or evolution in Tehran -- when, not if, it comes -- will dramatically alter geopolitics from the Mediterranean to the Indian subcontinent and beyond. Virtually all of the Greater Middle East's oil and natural gas lies either in the Persian Gulf or the Caspian Sea regions. Just as shipping lanes radiate from the Persian Gulf, pipelines will increasingly radiate from the Caspian region to the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, China and the Indian Ocean. The only country that straddles both energy-producing areas is Iran, stretching as it does from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf. In a raw materials' sense, Iran is the Greater Middle East's universal joint. The Persian Gulf possesses by some accounts 55 percent of the world's crude oil reserves, and Iran dominates the whole Gulf, from the Shatt al-Arab on the Iraqi border to the Strait of Hormuz 990 kilometers (615 miles) away. Because of its bays, inlets, coves and islands -- excellent places for hiding suicide, tanker-ramming speed boats -- Iran's coastline inside the Strait of Hormuz is 1,356 nautical miles; the next longest, that of the United Arab Emirates, is only 733 nautical miles. Iran also has 480 kilometers of Arabian Sea frontage, including the port of Chabahar near the Pakistani border. This makes Iran vital to providing warm water, Indian Ocean access to the landlocked Central Asian countries of the former Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the Iranian coast of the Caspian in the far north, wreathed by thickly forested mountains, stretches for nearly 650 kilometers from Astara in the west, on the border with former Soviet Azerbaijan, around to Bandar-e Torkaman in the east, by the border with natural gas-rich Turkmenistan." (Stratfor)


"Party Pictures are no longer an instrument of satire or parody (to most of us). They serve many purposes, as noted above. They please the reader, the event planners, the charities, the hosts, the individuals. Or almost. The issue of 'privacy' has emerged in the last couple of years, with many who have had their pictures taken at parties and events, and continue to have their pictures taken at parties and events, yet who later make requests to have their pictures removed after they’ve been published. Sometimes five years after. Even ten. Why? A million reasons like: 'I’ve had plastic surgery and I don’t look like that anymore,' or 'I’m not going out with her anymore,' or 'I’m starting a new job and my boss doesn’t want my picture on the web,' or 'I’m being stalked and I’ve been advised by lawyers to remove my pictures from the internet” (she doesn’t want the person 'stalking' her to be able to 'identify' her?), or 'my husband hates that picture,' or 'I’ve lost weight and don’t want to be reminded,' or 'we’ve broken up,' or 'my girlfriend doesn’t like it' or 'remove immediately and call to confirm.' Many requests are made by people whose images are all over the internet, including of course, on Google, and even more frequently on the various outlets of social media. Some just want to be removed from the digital world entirely and, one presumes, to return to 'privacy.' It’s too late. " (NYSocialDiary)


"Before their secret rush wedding in June, Rosie O’Donnell subjected her new bride Michelle Rounds to eight months of grueling prenuptial negotiations — and she’ll get nothing if she cheats, Page Six can exclusively reveal. Sources say O’Donnell, 50, was so tough in the talks that they didn’t get the prenup signed until hours before the intimate June 9 wedding, which was held in front of just a few people at O’Donnell’s home in Nyack.  While comedienne and talk-show host O’Donnell has been 'extremely generous to Michelle in the prenup,' sources say, her 40-year-old bride 'gets nothing if she cheats.'  Lawyers for the pair had been in talks over the agreement since they were engaged last December." (PageSix)


"After a romantic weekend of wedding-infiltration in Hyannis Port, Taylor Swift was ripped away from her barely legal beau Conor Kennedy to promote her new single, 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,' back in Nashville. However, according to family sources, Swift was longing for her Kennedy arm-candy so badly that she sent a plane to fetch him a few days later. 'He’s been with her ever since, and his family doesn’t know when he will be back,' the anonymous source told Page Six. 'Things have become so serious between them so fast that no one in Hyannis Port would be surprised if they eloped.' Eloping may complicate the education pursuits of Kennedy, an 18-year-old junior at Deerfield Academy, a prominent New England boarding school. To better understand how the potential newlyweds might make it work, we turn to Vanity Fair’s editorial business associate Alex Polkinghorn, our in-house boarding-school expert ... Do private academies such as Deerfield require permission slips for events such as wisdom tooth removals or spontaneous weddings? O.O.T.s (Out of Towns) are required in order to leave the campus overnight. However, one’s parents do have carte blanche. So should the Kennedys decide they would like Conor to marry, they could take him out for the day. Much more than that and he would likely fall too far behind in his sports practices to be allowed to participate in the Saturday afternoon games ... If Swift were to visit aforementioned games, would she be required to register on the campus as an adult visitor?Taylor could roam the campus as she pleases, much like Natalie Portman used to do at Phillips Exeter when she was at Harvard and her boyfriend was still in prep school. However, should she visit his room during nightly visitation hours—also known as 'Vs'—which take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., she will have to check in with his dorm faculty, leave the door ajar at a 45-degree angle, and the two of them must have at least three feet on the floor at all times. Lights on." (VanityFair)

"As you may have heard, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan will deliver the closing prayer after Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech in Tampa next week. Dolan, as you may also have heard, heads up the male hierarchy’s drive to portray Obamacare as an attack on freedom of religion and is a leading enforcer in the Vatican-ordered crackdown on women religious who regard ministering to the poor and the sick as more urgent and more admirable than railing against contraception and homosexuality. James Carville says that in response to Dolan’s extraordinary eagerness to mount the Republican podium (he elbowed the local bishop aside to get there), the Democrats should invite Sister Simone Campbell to close out their ceremonies in Charlotte. Sister Simone is the leader of the 'Nuns on the Bus' campaign, which toured the country to bear witness against Paul Ryan’s draconian budget plan and to ask Congress for 'a moral budget serves all, not just the wealthy.' Carville attributes the suggestion to his daughter, a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans." (Hendrik Hertzberg)


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