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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The Masters of the Universe can be identified by their socks. Their millions of dollars, their vast power over commerce, and their socks, which must protrude four inches below the cuff of their suit pants when seated. Any greater length of sock exposure would indicate that the wearer was sitting with his legs crossed. The Masters of the Universe sit with both feet on the floor. These are the alpha dogs. Yesterday, in the bright and airy Times Center in Midtown Manhattan, a select few of the Masters of the Universe assembled to be lightly grilled at The Dealbook Conference. This was not the old and cranky capitalism of the Wall Street Journal, or the hungry and predatory capitalism of Bloomberg, but rather the enlightened, idea-based capitalism of The New York Times, in which the market-moving capabilities of capitalism's titans are an outgrowth of their status as Men of Ideas, rather than vice versa. I was curious mostly just to lay eyes on these men, whose influence is so pervasive that you must mentally journey through all the earth's nations and all of our economy's functions just to catalog its reach. You can read a newspaper to find out a Wall Street CEO's thoughts on the fiscal cliff, but it's not every day you can close enough to them to really inspect the cut of their suit.Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, a global financial conglomerate whose various consumer and investment banking services and shepherd money from the time it exits the government's printing presses and throughout its life of financing business projects and all the way into the slot of your local ATM machine, wears an attractively tailored navy suit, with the perfect amount of sock shown, legs uncrossed. His friendly interrogator, NYT whiz kid Andrew Ross Sorkin, did cross his legs, in typical journalistic interrogator fashion. Dimon, despite the staggering power of his position, plays the gruff, no-bullshit, native New Yorker persona to great effect, tinged with just enough gentleness to avoid a reputation for being surly. He looks like a rougher-around-the-edges Richard Gere. His hair has gone grey but remains full and lustrous, as is central casting's preference for CEOs." (Gawker)



"We do not yet know the exact number of districts with split House/presidential results, but we know enough now to have a ballpark estimate. So far, Daily Kos Elections — a left-leaning web site that does an outstanding job of providing reliable information about presidential performance by congressional district — has tabulated these results in about two-thirds of all districts, and that combined with our own analysis suggests that there were about 20-30 districts with split House/presidential results (we’ll update with a final number when the results become clear). Even at the high end of the estimate, that’s only 7% of all districts. Such a level of polarization is not necessarily unprecedented, though — incomplete figures in Vital Statistics go back to the turn of the last century, where such polarization in congressional districts was common. For instance, Vital Statistics notes that of 310 districts where data were available in the 1904 election (out of 391 districts in that Congress), only five districts picked a different party in their House and presidential contests (only 1.6% of the districts measured). Given that the complete data from that election are not available, we cannot definitively say the number of split districts was lower than the number produced by this election, but the results from 1904 (a blowout victory for Theodore Roosevelt) still indicate a rather remarkable lack of ticket-splitting. More recently, in 2004 — which, like this presidential election, was relatively close in the national vote — only 59 of 435 districts (14% of them) divided their presidential and House votes between the two parties. In 2008, there were 83 such divided districts (or 19% of all seats). Because districts with split results are the most obvious targets for congressional strategists on both sides of the aisle — if your party’s presidential candidate can win a district, it would stand to reason that a good congressional candidate could too, even potentially against an incumbent — the small number of crossover districts would seem to suggest a rather limited House playing field in 2014. Of course, a House wave in one direction or the other could crack open the map and put some more seats in play. " (CenterforPolitics)


"The Queen Sofía Spanish Institute proudly honored four Gold Medal recipients at its 2012 Gala last Thursday evening at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Barbara Walters hosted the festivities as Mistress of Ceremonies and Board Chairman Oscar de la Renta led the awards presentation. This year’s outstanding honorees were Norman R. Foster, Baron of Thames Bank; Elena Ochoa, Lady Foster of Thames Bank, Luis A. Ubiñas, President of the Ford Foundation, and Gonzalo Ulloa, partner in the law firm Gomez, Acebo & Pombo. The Gold Medal Awards are given to outstanding individuals from Spain, the United States and Latin America who have played a significant role in strengthening the relationship between the Spanish-speaking world and the United States. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in attendance at the sold-out event as Ambassador Ramon Gil Casares (Ambassador of Spain to the United States) bestowed the prestigious medals on the honorees. The Mayor added his own congratulatory wishes to the recipients and joked about being promised a walk on the runway for Oscar de la Renta’s next show. Both the Mayor and Barbara Walters made a commitment to Oscar de la Renta that they would take Spanish lessons at the Institute after twisting the pronunciation of the names of several Spanish dignitaries. Mayor Bloomberg spoke admiringly of Barbara Walters, saying he was her 'Arm Candy' for the evening since long time Institute supporters Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas were not able to attend the dinner. Barbara Walters enthusiastically returned the compliment, reminding the audience that she had chosen Mayor Bloomberg as her 'Fantasy Husband' on a segment of her popular show The View." (NYSocialDiary)


"Sunny day, yesterday in New York; not warm and not so cold. It was about the traffic. Midtown was gridlock, mainly on the side streets where turning right or left is prohibited preventing all natural flow ...got to Michael’s late. I’m always late, or so it seems. Five, ten, fifteen minutes. This is not by intention but consistency would challenge that statement. I was having lunch with Jackie Weld Drake, a writer who is very patient and has written among other things, a fascinating biography of Peggy Guggenheim. Jackie is also a big supporter (and force) of Literacy Partners and Casita Maria. When I arrived she was talking to the table next to us: Anthony Shriver, his wife Alina, the great Latin American artist Romero Britto, and Richard Zieglasch who had been a long time supporter of Shriver’s 'Best Buddies' organization. If you didn’t know, Anthony Shriver started Best Buddies in 1989 to help people with intellectual disabilities, through friendship, jobs, and mentoring. Best Buddies now reach more than 700,000 people in 51 countries. Shriver’s father, the late Sargent Shriver, was the founding head of the Peace Corps, under President John F. Kennedy, the brother of Anthony’s mother, Eunice." ( NySocialDiary)


"When Lawrence O'Donnell made his first trip to Malawi to try to furnish a classroom with locally made desks, he was convinced he wouldn't be able to do it. Now, his K.I.N.D. project helps bring them to classrooms all over the country. The MSNBC host and Unicef have raised more than $4.5 million through Kids in Need of Desks. The nonprofit has donated more than 45,000 desks to schools where students previously had to sit on the floor (with another 37,830 soon to be delivered). This week, it launched a scholarship program for female students. Mr. O'Donnell made the lead gift of $25,000 toward the new project and has donated an estimated $20,000 to the first initiative. It was a friend who first mentioned Malawi to Mr. O'Donnell. She recently visited and talked to local teachers and principals. When she asked what they needed most, the answer was always chairs. 'They simply wanted chairs to get the kids up off the floor,' he said. 'It was beyond their wildest dreams to ask for desks. When I heard this, I found myself saying: 'We could get them chairs. I mean, I could get them chairs.' So he went to Malawi with a few thousand dollars in cash and spent the week looking for a place to supply the furniture. He connected with a Unicef employee who led him to a wood shop that had a prototype of a one-piece desk and chair for a student. They were able to hire local workers to help make 30 of them fast.  When the desks were delivered to the first school, Mr. O'Donnell said the delivery men were unnecessary; the students were so excited, they unloaded the truck themselves." (WSJ)


"The Manhattan apartment CNN’s Arwa Damon has been camping out in this past week is a disaster zone. Among the flock of pashminas and well-worn jeans are all the trappings of a Boy Scout: fingerless gloves; bottles of DEET; dry shampoo; a bandanna that, with a pen, can be jury-rigged into a tourniquet; LED headlamps; small black nylon hoods ('because here’s the deal: We’re using night-vision cameras with bright screens, and we don’t want to be seen,' she says); size 8 combat boots; three cell phones (­American, Libyan, Lebanese); a heap of dark clothing. 'I buy colors, but I don’t wear them,' says the diminutive blonde, her hair tucked into a paperboy cap. 'Black is easier.' She throws it all into a suitcase, forming a pile twice its height, and points to a backpack in the corner. 'When I’m on assignment, everything I need has to be carried on my back.' She climbs on top of the suitcase and zips it closed. In the weeks since Damon discovered the personal diary of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in the burned-out American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, this 35-year-old television reporter has been at the center of a developing story—never a comfortable position for someone whose job is to break the news, not create it." (Vogue)



"A few days in New York at a pal’s. From the second floor window, where puffs of overheated air insisted from the radiators, I watched bundled New Yorkers walking in the cold rain, hands jammed in pockets, hunched tight shoulders, heads cast down, staring at the cement sidewalks they marched across. Quick steps moving them along, they kept to themselves, never making eye contact, everyone isolated in his individual pod of pensées obscure. From my position I could see directly into the apartment across the street. I watched a man moving around, talking on his phone, with his free arm performing arabesques. He was smiling widely and occasionally bursting with laughter. I liked the ambiance of him. Then, in a burst, I realized I knew him. I could see the walls of his apartment were smothered with gorgeous paintings. It was artist Ron Ferri and he was gesticulating wildly, chatting on his telephone and obviously laughing. Mountains of time have passed since I’ve seen this old friend. Through the years, of all that which I have emotionally bonded with, and then lost, scattering, blown to bits, in the wind, people is all I miss. To call anything ‘mine’ is to suppose a sense of domination, yet things break, things get stolen, get lost, rot; people die. Ownership is sleight of hand, at best." (Christina Oxenberg)




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