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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"For weeks, Barack Obama’s campaign has had a mantra: 'Do the math.' The message here is that, however close the national polls are between the president and Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, surveys in battleground states still give the incumbent sufficient advantage to win the 270 electoral college votes needed to stay in the White House. That is all that counts, even if he loses the total national vote – which is, at least, a possibility. 'Obama is the clear favourite in a markedly close and competitive contest,' says Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think-tank. 'This is largely as a result of the steady lead he has enjoyed in swing states.' Tuesday will show if the math adds up. Barring the utterly un­expected, Mr Obama is assured of carrying the west coast and the eastern seaboard north of Virginia, with the possible exception of New Hampshire, site of one of Mr Romney’s several homes. The challenger is pretty much guaranteed the Deep South, Texas and swaths of the Midwestern heartland. That leaves the identity of the next president in the hands of just nine states. They are Nevada and Colorado in the Rocky Mountains; Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa in the mostly industrial Midwest; Florida, home to many pensioners and Hispanics; neighbouring southern states Virginia and North Carolina; and tiny northeastern New Hampshire. Everybody knows no Republican has become president without Ohio. But if there is a last-minute surge towards Mr Romney – like that which carried Ronald Reagan to a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980, after national polls showed them tied with a week to go – other states could be in play. The Romney camp claims these would include Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota, where the Republican’s campaign has embarked on a last-minute advertising blitz." (FT)


"Four years ago, in the fading light of a chilly December afternoon, Jesse Louis Jackson Jr. arrived at a Chicago office building for the most important meeting of his political life. As the eldest son of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Jesse Jr. was no stranger to high-powered summitry. When Jackson was an infant, Martin Luther King Jr. paid visits to his family’s tiny apartment; as a teenager, he accompanied his father to meet with presidents in the Oval Office; by the time he was a young man, and a key adviser to 'Reverend' (as he often addressed his father), he was traveling the globe for encounters with Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela. Now, as the representative for Illinois’s Second Congressional District, Jackson was a political player in his own right—someone whose time was in demand by any number of powerful people, including Barack Obama, who’d tapped Jackson as a co-chair for both his 2004 Senate bid and his just-concluded presidential campaign. The man with whom Jackson was meeting that afternoon was not a world-historical figure. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was under federal investigation for corruption, and a recent poll had put his approval rating at 13 percent. And yet, as far as Jackson was concerned, Blagojevich was a political titan. It was his job to appoint the person who would fill Obama’s Senate seat—an appointment Jackson desperately coveted. Although he was just 43 years old, he had already spent thirteen years in Congress and was itching to move on to bigger things. 'I grew up wanting to be just like Dad,' Jackson once said. “Dad wanted to be president.” He’d flirted with runs for U.S. senator and Chicago mayor as possible stepping-stones and was determined not to lose this opportunity. 'He’d watched all these people whom he had helped pass him by, especially Barack,' Delmarie Cobb, a Chicago political consultant and a former Jackson adviser, says. 'And he was like, ‘Wait a minute, I’ve got to do something!’' Blagojevich and Jackson had once been friends. When they served together in Congress in the late nineties, they were so close that a colleague referred to the pair as 'Salt and Pepper.' And when Blagojevich decided to run for governor in 2002, Jackson pledged his support. But then, according to people close to Jesse Jr., the Reverend Jackson intervened, urging his son to endorse a black candidate. 'Junior said, ‘Reverend told me that I needed to shore up my base,’ ' one Jackson confidant recalls. 'And he decided to take his dad’s advice.'" (NYMag)


"This is also one of the busiest times of the year in the social world of galas and fundraisers. These “socials” are no small matter because millions are raised, much of which goes to improving the quality of life and health for all of us. At this time of year, as you’ve read here before, there are often several every week night (Monday through Thursday). Last night was no exception although there was one cancellation which I noted in yesterday’s Diary: The Library Lions dinner was cancelled. In a letter to supporters yesterday morning, Anthony Marx, the President of the New York Public Library explained that the evening’s meal (for 600) would be donated to the citizens of Staten Island which had been hit catastrophically in some places ... I planned to start the evening at a cocktail reception Carolyne Roehm was hosting at her apartment for Nathan Turner and his new book 'Nathan Turner’s American Style; Classic Style & Effortless Entertaining.'  I didn’t get there. All best intentions, I figured I’d go from there over to the Metropolitan Club on 60th and Fifth where the Royal Oak Foundation was holding its annual Timeless Design Gala with the Timeless Award going to Julian Fellowes. Mr. Fellowes is the man behind 'Downton Abbey.' He wrote it and as you may know, he has a towering talent for keeping us intrigued with his characters. Several years ago, he wrote a novel about contemporary upper class British people called 'SNOBS' that was hilarious. You laugh out loud at their personalities and antics and rank superficiality. If you haven’t read it, get it. It will make you feel better about anything. So my intention was to go over there just to take a picture of Mr. Fellowes to show you who was in New York yesterday. I didn’t get there ... I did get over to the The Carter Burden Center for the Aging’s 41st Anniversary Gala at the Mandarin Oriental ... Last night they honored Joshua Harris, who is a financier and partner in Apollo Global Management. Mr. Harris also owns with some other investors, the Philadelphia ‘76ers, so the theme of the evening was 'The Magic of Sports.' This was a clever move. I think it’s the first time I’ve been to a major fundraising dinner where the 'entertainment' was Sports. I’m not a sports fan per se, but it was really fun. The special guest was 'Dr. J,' or Julius Erving, a Hall of Famer and former 76er." (NYSocialDiary)


"Pop singer, style icon, and vocal Obama supporter Beyoncé, whose husband Jay-Z played a show in Ohio to support the President’s re-election bid yesterday, has posted an image of herself posing with her absentee ballot. Apparently Beyoncé still votes in Harris County, Texas, the county of her childhood home Houston; no word on whether she voted Ted Cruz for Senate, as she blocks the ballot with her hand (showcasing a set of Bachmann-worthy manicured talons and a giant amber-colored ring–are we sure she’s not in the GOP?). Meanwhile, Lena Dunham of HBO’s Girls has spent Election Day encouraging her Twitter followers to send in their voting-day outfits: Ms. Dunham’s equipped with 'sunglasses and a patriotic peacoat.'" (Observer)


"Newly single Leonardo DiCaprio headed to Las Vegas over the weekend to celebrate billionaire businessman Jho Low’s birthday — and was spotted with his 'The Wolf of Wall Street' co-star Margot Robbie. DiCaprio, who just broke up with Victoria’s Secret supermodel Erin Heatherton, and stunning blonde Australian actress Robbie, who plays Leo’s love interest Naomi Lapaglia in the Martin Scorsese-directed movie, appeared close at the party at the Wynn Las Vegas on Saturday night.  One witness said, 'There looks to be some strong chemistry between Leo and his leading lady. They spent a lot of time at the party together' ...  Other guests at the lavish bash in a private marquee tent, thrown by friends including Swizz Beatz, to celebrate Low’s 31st birthday, included reunited couple Bradley Cooper and Zoë Saldana, Robert De Niro, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian — who was spotted hugging and dancing with her former frenemy Paris Hilton. We’re told that Swizz, who is releasing “Everyday Birthday” with Chris Brown and Ludacris, organized the bash as a record-launch party and a celebration for Low, who made a $250,000 donation to Sandy victims. Also there were Busta Rhymes, Korean rapper Psy and Jamie Foxx. Sources tell us Britney Spears was paid an estimated $200,000 to $300,000 to perform three songs, but instead sang 'Happy Birthday' and disappeared shortly afterward. Our spy said, 'Britney seemed very shy, she sang ‘Happy Birthday,’ then vanished 60 seconds later.'" (PageSix)


"This is it. In roughly 24 hours -- we hope -- the world will know whether Barack Obama will return for a second term, or Mitt Romney will oust him to become the 45th president of the United States. More than any other issue, this was an election about America’s struggling economy, a referendum on Obama’s handling of what he never fails to remind us was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But as Joe Biden might say, gird your loins: Regardless of who wins, the man occupying the Oval Office will confront a world of trouble, from a China determined to challenge U.S. primacy in the Pacific to an Iran that shows few signs of buckling in the face of international pressure to an Arab world still very much in the throes of upheaval and chaos. Come January, America’s adversaries will be looking to test the new president, or probe the old one for signs of weakness. And America’s friends and allies will be demanding leadership from a United States that has been consumed with its internal power struggle for the past 18 months. Foreign Policy asked 14 top analysts to peer beyond Wednesday’s headlines and examine the longer-term issues confronting the United States, from Europe’s debt morass to North Korea’s dangerous nuclear program, sagging U.S. competitiveness to worsening climate change. Whether American voters have opted for four more years for the incumbent or to give someone else a try, it’s a daunting list. Are these guys sure they want the job?" (ForeignPolicy)


"Teri Shields, the woman who launched Brooke Shields to stardom, has died at age 79. She passed away last week in Manhattan following a long illness related to dementia, a spokesperson for the actress said on Monday. The controversial 'momager' often faced criticism for her handling of Brooke's early career. It was Terri who guided her infant daughter to her first soap advertisement and later allowed her to play provocative roles in the 1978 film 'Pretty Baby' and in the R-rated film 'The Blue Lagoon' at 14. Brooke also ignited a media storm when she starred in a sexually provocative Calvin Klein jeans campaign, in which she famously said, 'Nothing comes between me and my Calvins' ... In 1995, Brooke dropped her hard-driving stage mother as her manager. Teri reportedly did not approve of her daughter’s romance with professional tennis player Andre Agassi, whom Brooke later married and divorced. 'We talk every day, but I have to draw a line,' Shields told Life magazine about her decision to drop her mom as manager. 'Or I get pulled back in' ... In 2009, Teri was diagnosed with dementia and Brooke moved her mother into a nursing home. Teri and Brooke reconciled in recent years as Brooke has been spotted visiting her mother’s nursing home. Theresa Anna Lillian Schmon was born on Aug. 11, 1933, in Newark. She worked as a hairstylist, a makeup artist for Lord & Taylor and a model, according to a statement from Brooke. She married Francis Alexander Shields in 1964, and Brooke was born the next year. " (PageSix)


"I have Brazilian sounds on the radio. I’ve been packing for days and I’m busy with the movers, taking my furniture to my next stop, a guest room like a Polynesian hut on the roof of a friend’s new house, still something of a construction site. You have to see it to believe it.  As I pack and tape and move the boxes around, some unopened since the last move from Long Island, I’m swaying about to the Samba and the Bossa Nova, enjoying myself and ready for the next adventure, ready for a change of scenery without crossing the border of the Conch Republic. I dance around saying good bye to the house and thank you for the shelter, but no offense I won’t miss you much, maybe the outdoor shower, and the garden and its sense of privacy, however false, after all, with my own eyes I saw the neighbor, quite still on a top step of the next door building, in his checked chef pants, observing me while I did yoga in the garden, and not only once. He was rather sexy, so I didn’t entirely mind, but still.  And once again Murphy’s Law doffs his hat. After a full year of bucking, the sliding screen door from the kitchen into the garden, well suddenly now, the instant before I’m moving out, it is gliding back and forth like an ice skater, easily grabbing a track it has been blind to, since the day I moved in. And now it moves like it’s been oiled, oiled by Murphy that dastardly clown. And another touch with a chair that is turned around, ready for the truck and now I see it was how it should have been all along, exactly perfectly out of the way yet with a commanding view of all, garden and sunset included. This is mildly annoying because all year I’ve swiveled this chair hither and yon in the search of the perfect position, and now, by accident I’ve found it. Touché Murphy, what can I say?" (Christina Oxenberg)

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