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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"On Wednesday, April 21, 2010, about two dozen Republican power brokers gathered at Karl Rove’s Federal-style town house on Weaver Terrace in northwest Washington, D.C., to strategize about the fall midterm elections. Rove, then 59, had host­ed this kind of event many times before. Six years earli­er, he’d held weekly breakfasts for high-level G.O.P. operatives to plan for the 2004 fall elections. Back then, as senior adviser to President George W. Bush, Rove oversaw Bush’s re-election campaign. More important, he was attempting to implement a master plan to build a permanent majority through which Republicans would maintain a stranglehold on all three branches of government for the foreseeable future. This was not simply about winning elections. It represented a far more grandiose vision—the forging of a historic re-alignment of America’s political landscape, the transformation of America into effectively a one-party state. But now Rove was no longer in the White House. He had been one of the most powerful unelected officials in the United States, but, to many Republicans, his greatest achievement—engineering the presidency of George W. Bush—had become an ugly stain on the party’s reputation. After the two biggest political scandals of the dec­ade, the Valerie Plame affair and the outcry following the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, Rove resigned in 2007 under a cloud of suspicion, barely escaping indictment. His longtime patron then left the White House with the lowest approval rating in the history of the presidency—22 percent. And in 2008 the Democrats had vaporized Rove’s dreams by winning the ultimate political trifecta—the House, the Senate, and the White House. Finally, on the right, there was the insurgent Tea Party, to which he personified the free-spending Bush era and the Republican Party’s Establishment past, not its future. But Rove had an incredibly powerful ally. It could be fairly said that no other political strategist in history was so deeply indebted to the United States Supreme Court." (VanityFair)


"Republicans dominate The Hill’s annual rankings of the 50 wealthiest lawmakers for the second year in a row, with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) retaining the crown as the richest member of Congress. This year’s wealthy list tilts decisively once again toward the right side of the aisle, with 31 of the 50 richest coming from the GOP. Thirty-one of the lawmakers on the list are from the House, with the remaining 19 coming from the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), at No. 37, is the only GOP leader to make the top 50. The Republican Party’s fastest-rising star, GOP vice-presidential candidate and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, comes nowhere near making the list, having a net worth of at least $2.2 million, a modest sum among members of Congress. McCaul reported a minimum net worth of $290.5 million for 2011, a more than $3 million jump from 2010 that kept him nearly $100 million ahead of his nearest challenger, Democratic Sen. John Kerry (Mass.). The Texas Republican’s wealth stems from several family trusts. His father-in-law, Lowry Mays, is the founder of the radio broadcasting giant Clear Channel Communications. Kerry, the runner-up, reported a net worth of at least $198.8 million for 2011, much of it coming from wife Theresa Heinz Kerry’s ties to the Heinz Ketchup fortune. The senator is the richest Democrat in Congress by a sizable margin, and topped The Hill’s Wealthiest lists in 2009 and 2010 before being dethroned by McCaul last year. The Massachusetts senator reclaimed the No. 2 spot on this year’s list from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who saw his minimum net worth fall by almost $80 million. Issa, a powerful House chairman who made his fortune in car security systems, had at least $140.6 million in 2011, placing him third on The Hill’s list." (TheHill)


"Discussion of national strategy normally begins with the question of national security. But a discussion of Mexico's strategy must begin with economics. This is because Mexico's neighbor is the United States, whose military power in North America denies Mexico military options that other nations might have. But proximity to the United States does not deny Mexico economic options. Indeed, while the United States overwhelms Mexico from a national security standpoint, it offers possibilities for economic growth. Mexico is now the world's 14th-largest economy, just above South Korea and just below Australia. Its gross domestic product was $1.16 trillion in 2011. It grew by 3.8 percent in 2011 and 5.5 percent in 2010. Before a major contraction of 6.9 percent in 2009 following the 2008 crisis, Mexico's GDP grew by an average of 3.3 percent in the five years between 2004 and 2008. When looked at in terms of purchasing power parity, a measure of GDP in terms of actual purchasing power, Mexico is the 11th-largest economy in the world, just behind France and Italy. It is also forecast to grow at just below 4 percent again this year, despite slowing global economic trends, thanks in part to rising U.S. consumption.Total economic size and growth is extremely important to total national power. But Mexico has a single profound economic problem: According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mexico has the second-highest level of inequality among member nations. More than 50 percent of Mexico's population lives in poverty, and some 14.9 percent of its people live in intense poverty, meaning they have difficulty securing the necessities of life. At the same time, Mexico is home to the richest man in the world, telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim." (STRATFOR)


"I would like to offer one small correction to the (Vanity Fair Laura) Jacobs article. She writes of Truman Capote’s best-dressed swans — Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, C.Z. Guest, saying that Truman 'dissed them all with La Cote Basque, 1965.' Truman did 'diss' them. But the truth is that C.Z. Guest is the one exception. She remained friendly with Truman ever after. She even begged the other fashionables to overlook what he’d written about them. She was surprised that her fellow best-dressed-pals were so mad at Truman. She said to me at the time: 'What do they think writers do? They all confided in Truman and gossiped with him. Didn’t they realize he’d use it in time?'" (Liz Smith/NYSocialDiary)


"Bill and Hillary Clinton lived it up like the locals in the Hamptons this weekend. On Friday, the former president and current secretary of state were spotted at Brooke and Daniel Neidich’s annual summer bash at their Wainscott compound, which also served double duty as the birthday party for their son John Neidich, who is a co-owner of hip NoHo restaurant Acme. Sources told us everyone let their hair down except Hillary, who wore her hair back in a scrunchie. The next day, the Clintons were spotted at dinner at 1770 House in East Hampton with daughter Chelsea and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky. We’re told Secret Service accompanied the Clintons and munched burgers at a table nearby. Bill — who celebrated his 66th birthday on Sunday — and Hillary are said to be renting a home for the month of August in East Hampton owned by real-estate honcho Elie Hirschfeld. Last summer, they rented the same home but only stayed for a week." (PageSix)




"My friend Beverley Jackson sent me this link to the web site of the Happy Endings Animal Sanctuary out in Santa Ynez. Beverley sent it because we and many others share the concern and love for animals in need as we do for people in need. There are also many animals lovers with whom the animals take preference over other people. That’s a frequently self-taught lesson based on personal experience. I get the point. Although the differences are not altered by the state of need ... Beverley Jackson also sent me the link because the founder of Happy Endings was an interesting woman who was once, as a young woman, very famous in America, known to all as Cobina Wright Jr. She was the daughter of a New York stockbroker and a highly ambitious mother, who stylized herself as Cobina Wright Sr. Senior had a little girl from a little town in Oregon who started out in life as Esther Ellen Cobb (in 1887 when it was still the Wild West). As a very young woman, she came to New York to pursue an operatic career, married Mr. Wright and morphed into Cobina Wright Sr. The Wrights had a daughter, Cobina Junior, born in 1921, who grew up to be a pretty young woman. In 1939, at age 18, Cobina Jr. made her debut in New York. With mother’s chutzpah and daughter’s willingness to please, Cobina Wright Jr. and Brenda Frazier became the most famous debutantes of the decade. Famous meant popular notoriety, not unlike the Kardashians or the Hiltons get today. Different, but only in terms of style, not in terms of context. Today it is an out-and-out business. Back then it was still masquerading as a Social Position. Besides the whole point of the debutante tradition was to make a match worthy of the Social Register or Burke’s Peerage and the Morgan Bank. Mother had her eye on that kind of marriage for her daughter. In the summer of 1938, she took Cobina Jr. to Venice where she met the handsome young Prince Philip of Greece at Harry’s Bar. The way Cobina Jr. recounted the story later in life, her mother 'practically pushed her into the arms of' Philip." (NYSocialDiary)



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