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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Some benedictions bestow a bigger blessing than others, and Mitt Romney hit the jackpot by signing up Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., next week. The move is perhaps the clearest sign of a more aggressive push by Republicans to win over Roman Catholic voters this election cycle. Four years ago, Barack Obama won the votes of a majority of Catholics, assisted in part by his Catholic running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr.  But this time the Republicans sense an opportunity to cut into that advantage, at least with moderate and independent Catholics, because of two recent developments: President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage and the standoff between the Obama administration and Catholic bishops over the requirement that Catholic hospitals and schools must provide coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance plans ... Mr. Biden and the Republican challenger, Representative Paul D. Ryan, represent competing factions within their own church: Mr. Biden places a premium on the church’s social justice tradition of caring for the needy, while Mr. Ryan champions church teaching against abortion and same-sex marriage ... Catholics make up about a quarter of the electorate, but they hardly vote as a bloc any longer. The Catholic vote is instead a bellwether that mirrors the general electorate. Exit polls showed that in 2008 Mr. Obama prevailed among Catholic voters by nine percentage points. This time, Gallup’s daily tracking poll, taken from July 30 to Aug. 19, showed Mr. Romney with a slight edge among registered voters who are Catholic. 'Since 1972, the candidate who has won the Catholic vote has won the popular vote as well,' said Robert P. Jones, chief executive and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington. 'The Catholic vote does tend to be on the side of the winning candidate. It’s the quintessential religious swing group.'" (NYTimes)


"AL GORE lives alone now, in a 10,000-square-foot colonial in Nashville, where magnolia trees shade the house and geothermal wells, buried beneath the driveway, cool and heat its 20 rooms. Some weeks Mr. Gore heads to San Francisco, where he has a luxury apartment at the St. Regis tower, to work on venture capital projects or visit his new girlfriend. And some nights he checks into the Regency in New York, where three of his children live. At 64, even after accumulating more than $100 million in wealth, Mr. Gore races like a man making up for lost time: blog posts to write, business deals to close, a global climate to save. Tipper Gore lives alone now, too, and at a gentler pace — the pace she wanted when the Gores separated in June 2010.  She divides her time between their $9 million seaside villa near Santa Barbara, Calif., and her maternal family home in Arlington, Va., near her 89-year-old father. She, too, is in New York often and is also working (selling her photography through her Web site) and dating someone new. The couple reunites a few times a year, most recently in June, for summer family vacations and Christmases in the Gore family seat of Carthage, Tenn. They gather at the old farm and lake where Mr. Gore’s father, a congressman and senator, had once dreamed about his son becoming president. Back then the Gores had the makings of a political dynasty, and the paterfamilias, Albert Gore Sr., certainly held that ambition.        But hard times happen. Reckonings occur. And dynasties require both continuity and a next generation. The four Gore children, having been raised in the hothouse of Washington, want nothing to do with it." (NYTimes)
 
 
"The previous time novelist Ian McEwan was interviewed by a journalist from the FT for a profile, something unexpected happened. Reader, he married her. McEwan’s wife, writer and former literary editor Annalena McAfee, is, in fact, one of the reasons we are at Moro in central London. She used to be a regular at this chic but informal restaurant in Exmouth Market, known for its Moorish food. Also, McEwan recalls, fellow novelist Julian Barnes 'had a very nice birthday party here'. He apologetically pre-empts any marital hopes. 'I usually marry my FT interviewer but I can’t do it this time.' I had predicted that McEwan, known for his calculated, precise prose, would arrive on time. In fact, he is 10 minutes late. A slight man, who would not stand out in a crowd, he wears a grey Italian suit with a crumpled blue linen shirt, with oddly folded cuffs. He looks straight at me with an air of calm, engaged curiosity; at ease with intimate talk, he asks equally direct questions back. Within minutes we dart from marriage to Barack Obama and The West Wing, from solar power to predicting the fall of the Berlin wall in a novel. 'I was well ahead of the CIA,' he says." (FT)
 
 
"August is coming to a glamorous close on the French Riviera, with celebrities and fashion stars packing it in for the end of the summer season. Chanel icon Karl Lagerfeld was spotted driving through St. Tropez in a black Rolls Royce with a silver streak. Giorgio Armani, we’re told, was ensconced at his villa with friends and family. Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn and his blond wife, Andrea, were seen dining at Club 55, while Elton John and David Furnish were also there with a large group of good-looking friends. Meanwhile, ’60s sex symbol Brigitte Bardot was spotted leaving her house in St. Tropez to head to her villa 20 minutes away from the prying eyes of tourists." (PageSix)
 
 
" For years, the Japanese sushi chef who spent over a decade working for the Kim family in North Korea lived in dread of a knock on the door by an agent sent to kill him for returning to Japan and writing a tell-all book exposing the rulers’ extravagant lifestyle. That visit came in June, but instead of a gun, the agent who surprised him in a convenience store whipped out an invitation bound in red cloth from Kim Jong-un, the leader he last knew as a pudgy, precocious teenager he had called the Prince ...He said he was immediately embraced by Mr. Kim — unthinkable under Mr. Kim’s stern, standoffish father, Kim Jong-il, who ruled the North for 17 years until his death in December. 'The
 comrade general smiled and told me,‘Your betrayal is now forgotten,’'Mr. Fujimoto said in an interview. Mr. Fujimoto still declined to give his real name or his age, this time for fear that Japanese right-wing extremists might attack him for appearing friendly with a nation that abducted Japanese citizens in the 1970s and ’80s ... He said the most moving moment was his three-hour lunch with Mr. Kim the day after his arrival in Pyongyang. He said the young leader strode into the room wearing a black Mao suit, next to his wife, Ri Sol-ju, who was dressed in a stylish black blouse with red polka dots and a black skirt. They were followed by a retinue of family members and aides. Mr. Fujimoto said he was surprised that Ms. Ri took such a prominent role, because Mr. Kim’s father had rarely taken any of his three known wives to such functions. He said Mr. Kim seemed much more relaxed and cheerful than his aloof father ever was. He seemed clearly in charge, despite being accompanied by his middle-aged uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who some analysts have said may be acting as a regent to the young leader.  As they reminisced about old times, Mr. Fujimoto said, Mr. Kim poured him glasses of red wine from Bordeaux, the leader’s favorite type, and smoked French cigarettes." (NYTimes)
 
 
"Kilkare, the ocean-front home of Eleanora and Michael Kennedy, came to life in grand scale last Saturday evening, the 18th of August, as friends came together to celebrate the 135th anniversary of this iconic Hampton residence located in the Georgica Association of Wainscott, New York. The Kennedys have instilled a great deal of life in this family home and added to its history as they welcomed 130 guests. Among the close friends were philanthropists, artists, writers, industrialists, moguls from all arenas, board members of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Central Park Conservancy, and Georgica Association neighbors ... The clouds parted from rain that had pounded the eastern shore of Long Island earlier in the day and glorious sunlight showed through to a spectacular sunset as guests enjoyed the delicious hors d'oeuvres by well-known caterer Olivier Cheng along with his berry sparkle specialty drink and cocktails galore ... Guests who had homes in the Hamptons or were visiting from Europe, the west coast, Palm Beach and parts of the eastern seaboard included Susan and Tim Malloy (Quinnipiac University journalist in residence and Afghanistan War Correspondent), Jo Carol and Ronald Lauder, Christine and Steve Schwarzman ...Sony's Rob Wiesenthal" (NYSocialDiary)
 
"Mitt Romney's $250 million fortune is largely a black hole: Aside from the meager and vague disclosures he has filed under federal and Massachusetts laws, and the two years of partial tax returns (one filed and another provisional) he has released, there is almost no data on precisely what his vast holdings consist of, or what vehicles he has used to escape taxes on his income. Gawker has obtained a massive cache of confidential financial documents that shed a great deal of light on those finances, and on the tax-dodging tricks available to the hyper-rich that he has used to keep his effective tax rate at roughly 13% over the last decade. Today, we are publishing more than 950 pages of internal audits, financial statements, and private investor letters for 21 cryptically named entities in which Romney had invested—at minimum—more than $10 million as of 2011 (that number is based on the low end of ranges he has disclosed—the true number is almost certainly significantly higher). Almost all of them are affiliated with Bain Capital, the secretive private equity firm Romney co-founded in 1984 and ran until his departure in 1999 (or 2002, depending on whom you ask). Many of them are offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands. Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that benefit him, the unlikely (for a right-wing religious Mormon) places that his money has ended up, and the deeply hypocritical distance between his own criticisms of Obama's fiscal approach and his money managers' embrace of those same policies." (Gawker)

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