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Friday, September 21, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Mitt Romney’s appearance on Spanish-language news channel Univision yesterday demonstrated a peril of modern politics as old as televised campaigns: men's makeup. Ever since Richard Nixon refused professional makeup in favor of drugstore stubble-coverup for the first-ever televised debate against the youthfully radiant John F. Kennedy in 1960 — a choice many say cost him the debate — male politicians have been forced to perform a cosmetic balancing act traditionally reserved for women and actors. Underdo it, and risk subconsciously turning off voters with the pallor, dark under-eye circles, and beads of sweat drawn out by hot on-set lights. But go a shade too dark and risk losing the day’s narrative to blog posts like'Mitt Dons Brownface For Forum with Mexicans.' 'Mitt’s Mexican tan?' asked makeup artist Michele Probst when reached by phone yesterday. 'That was very curious.'" (NYMag)


"Mitt Romney was expected to use a billionaire-fueled fundraising juggernaut to crush President Barack Obama’s once vaunted small-donor army. But things haven’t gone according to plan.
Headed into the home stretch of the 2012 presidential race, it is Obama who looks to have an edge, thanks to an awakening donor base, aggressive summer spending on ads and ground game, and a Romney hoarding strategy that left him with plenty of cash in the bank, but not much to show for it.Through the end of August, Romney’s campaign and the party committees and super PAC supporting it had raised $736 million, compared to $774 million raised by Obama’s campaign and its party and super PAC allies, according to a POLITICO analysis of voluntary disclosures and Federal Election Commission reports filed Thursday. While Romney’s side boasted a nearly $50 million edge in cash on hand — $175 million to $126 million — headed into the final two months, it also had $10 million more in debt, as Romney’s campaign took out a $20 million loan to address cash flow issues. Team Obama has the momentum at the right time. Big Democratic donors are rallying to the Priorities USA Action super PAC, which is devoted to helping him and raised $10.1 million last month — its best month ever. And overall, for the first time in months, Obama’s campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the joint DNC-Obama Victory Fund outraised Romney’s campaign, the Republican National Committee and Romney Victory — $114 million to $111.6 million." (Politico)


"In October of last year, I set sail from Dubai on an aging 160-meter cargo ship laden with supplies for Somalia. For me, as publisher of Somalia Report, it was a chance to experience pirate waters up close. I had met pirates on land and in prison, and had counted their captured ships neatly lined up from the air -- but I had never visited them at their 3.2 million-square-mile workplace.  For the multinational crew, it was yet another nerve-wracking voyage for minimal pay. The Indian shipowner was forced to pay an additional $20,000 insurance premium for the short transit, even though he intended to sell the vessel for scrap after the journey to Bosaso, Puntland. It was a hefty fee. But, to put it in perspective, the owner's dirty ship -- which reeked of fish sauce and grease -- was making $40,000 a day for the duration of its journey -- even the time in port. He was making money even as the loading crews muscled cargo into the hold and massive cranes methodically slammed each container into place." (ForeignPolicy)



"Tomorrow is the first day of autumn. Yesterday felt like an early autumn day with temperatures in the low 60s, and thick grey clouds rolling in and moving on, as if maybe we’d get a little rain. It was a perfect day for New Yorkers – time for a jacket maybe, a sweater, at least for the little ones. It’s that time of year when you’re ready for a change, ready to put on something warm. I went down to Michael’s to have a long planned lunch with Alexandra Wolfe whom I met several years ago when she interviewed me for an article she was writing in the Observer. I can’t remember what the article was about but we became friends immediately (she laughed at all my wisecrdacks). These days she has, among other projects, a column in Departures. She loves her editor Richard David Story. Everybody who knows him loves him. Yesterday Alexandra, who turned 32 on August 30, told me she worries that she’s getting old." (NYSocialDiary)


"Flying at 47,000 feet at close to 500 knots per hour on a G550 is as close to perfection in traveling as it gets. The G550 is the Mozart / Beethoven / Schubert / Schumann / Edward Hopper / Degas / William Holden / Burt Lancaster / John Wayne / Papa Hemingway / F. Scott Fitzgerald / Lew Hoad / Roy Emerson / Robert E. Lee / Hasso von Manteuffel of airplanes ... My good mood ended as soon as I settled down with a large vodka and ice to watch a baseball game, now at season’s end getting down and dirty. The Yankees are in a dead heat with Baltimore, a team with less than half the Yankee payroll but one that has managed to match them with guile, pluck, intelligence on the field, and lack of arrogance off it. There is nothing like a baseball game in the closing days of the season in wonderful autumn weather between two teams that are dead even after 142 games—at least not for me, who can rattle off the lineup of the great 1949 Yankee team, and a friend of the greatest Yankee ever, Mickey Mantle, now batting up at that great diamond in the sky." (Taki)

"Attention, anyone who has $20,000 earmarked for 'lunch with a celebrity': George Clooney is auctioning off a Los Angeles–area lunch date to benefit GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, an organization that works to make schools safe for LGBT youth. The 'intimate' date comes with a number of stipulations, however, including that the get-together may take up to a year to schedule, it may be procured only by someone over 18, and Clooney and the winning bidder must be accompanied by a (probably very nice) third wheel, entertainment journalist and 'official red carpet greeter at the Oscars' Dave Karger. As far as A-list auctioned meals go, the date’s estimated price—$20,000—appears to be market value. A recent dinner with Charlize Theron cost someone a reported $20,000, and the shame of being called 'creepy' when the Oscar winner recounted the evening on national television. In 2001, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and Hong Kong businessman David Tang paid a reported $41,000 for a three-way date with Scarlett Johansson benefitting the U.K. charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer." (VanityFair)



"'His first show was stiff,' Mr. Griffin told the crowd at the PoliticsNation party. 'There was no Rev.'
Over the course of his first year on air, though, Mr. Sharpton has managed to uncork those cable-friendly 'Rev' qualities—his undisguised political advocacy, for instance, and a compelling style of oratory that finds him punching rhetorical questions with a furious solemnity that lends the daily news churn an unusual hint of gravitas. Still, his reputation notwithstanding, Mr. Sharpton is far from the angriest man in prime time. 'He’s controversial,' Mr. Griffin told The Observer. 'But a lot of people only know him from a few things. You don’t understand that he’s a good person. He’s fair. You don’t want to be judged for just a few things in your life, do you?' We noted that his missteps had been particularly public and might color potential viewers’ impressions before they even tuned in. 'It’s the civil rights movement! He has to do things that he’s misunderstood for. Maybe he’s made a mistake or two—but his heart is in the right place.' He’s even happy to give airtime to his ideological foes. 'I fought with Newt Gingrich,' Mr. Sharpton reminded The Observer at his party. He was puffing on a cigar, his only vice after he adopted a vegetarian diet that brought his weight down to a svelte 150 pounds. (He’d lost weight during his 2001 arrest on the island of Vieques, then gained much of it back while running for president—'room service when you get back to the hotel, South Carolina, fried chicken three times a day'—and lost it, once more, before he even knew he’d be on television each day.) He was looking good." (Observer)



"There's a fascinating and worrisome confrontation playing out in the East China Sea, over a group of uninhabited islands called the Senkakus (Chinese name: Diaoyu). Here's where they are, and here's what they look like. Short version: Japan seized control of the islands following a war with China in 1895. The United States administered them from 1945 to the early 1970s. Japan regained control in 1972, when ownership was reacquired by a private family. Nobody lives there. Earlier this year, the right-wing mayor of Tokyo said the city government was going to buy the islands to ensure that they remained in Japanese hands. (Had he gone ahead and done so, they would have become the most distant metropolitan suburb in the history of the world). To forestall this step, the Japanese national government bought the islands instead, a step that has provoked some ugly demonstrations in China and raised the possibility of a military confrontation. This issue is a tricky problem for the United States, because we'll be expected to support our Japanese ally if the dispute escalates. The U.S. position on the whole issue isn't clear, however, and is further complicated by the fact that Taiwan agrees with the PRC and regards the islands (the largest of which is only some 4 square kilometers and is home to moles, birds, and sheep), as part of its territory too. This whole business got me thinking. In a bygone era, sovereigns used to sell each other territory when it was in their interest to do so, normally when one of them needed cash. Remember the Louisiana Purchase, or the acquisition of Alaska from Russia? If the Japanese government can pay roughly $2 billion to buy the islands from a private family, why can't China pay the same amount (or whatever the market will bear) to obtain them from Japan? After all, the PRC is pretty flush with cash these days, and Japan could use some extra money (although ~$2 billion isn't really that much). Still, why not just view this as a simple matter of business?" (ForeignPolicy)



"Fashion's "last emperor," Valentino Garavani, has mostly stepped back from design, but an invitation from the New York City Ballet proved too good to let pass. It had been a dream to work with the company and his friend, NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins, Garavani said at the Ballet's annual gala last night, even if designing nearly 25 costumes for the one-night-only performance was something of a learning curve, even after so many years in fashion.'I learned that when you do something for the ballet, you have to see what the dancers need,' Garavani said. 'I know ballet very well, and you must create and be able to leave the opportunity to the dancer to move well and jump well. I've worked for many years and I'm used to designing beautiful things, but this was a new experience.' It was a successful one, to judge from the reaction of the friends and fellow designers who came out for the performance and post-show dinner. Carolina Herrera called it 'haute couture ballet,' and Cynthia Rowley opined that "it was the perfect marriage of Valentino and he New York City Ballet." (Style)

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