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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Media-Whore D'oeuvres


"It’s right to view the Tea Party’s members and fellow travelers as fixated on domestic politics and policy. But it’s wrong to reckon that they will fail to have a serious and invariably disruptive impact on future foreign policy. Indeed, their power is likely to grow, despite their defeats in October over the federal budget and the debt ceiling. Their sway will mount because they still face little effective opposition from within the Republican Party in most parts of the nation. And there is little doubt about the damage they can and will inflict: They will threaten what remains of the Republican Party’s great tradition of internationalism and further strain the ability of any U.S. President to conduct diplomacy, to negotiate, and to compromise. To Tea Party members, these three staples of a successful foreign policy are akin to unilateral disarmament. Republican and Democratic internationalists should not console themselves because of the apparent divisions among Tea Partiers over foreign policy—the seeming divide between unashamed isolationists like Rand Paul and unabashed hawks such as Ted Cruz. It would be wrong to bet on those differences marginalizing the movement’s impact. More likely, the Tea Party’s varying messages will fuse into a reborn and more potent form of hawkish isolationism.  This fusion will be reminiscent of Barry Goldwater’s brief triumph over Nelson Rockefeller in the race for the 1964 GOP presidential nomination, during which Goldwater warned against foreign entanglements, but applauded General Curtis LeMay’s nuclear 'bombs away' prescription. After Goldwater, the traditional Republican thread reasserted itself for more than two decades, led by Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, George H.W. Bush, James Baker, George Shultz, and Brent Scowcroft. Their realist policies and shrewd agreements with adversaries defined Republicanism abroad. The new hawkish isolationism, however, will reassert itself in the 2014 congressional races and in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. The Tea Partiers proved their power in earlier elections when they toppled conservatives like Utah’s Bob Bennett and Indiana’s Richard Lugar. The latter represented Republican internationalist realism, and his defeat was devastating, symbolically and practically. The Tea Partiers are now gunning for others formerly considered conservative stalwarts, such as Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Lamar Alexander, and Thad Cochran, four senators rightly seen as at least semi-internationalists. The fight to retire those four is just the beginning. Heritage Action—the political arm of the Heritage Foundation run by former Republican Senator Jim DeMint—recently had its best-ever fundraising month. Sitting on that cash is not in the cards. And as increasing numbers of Republican officeholders face defeat because Tea Partiers deem them RINOs—'Republicans in Name Only'—it is probable that traditional conservatives under attack will seek a form of cheap grace. If they continue to oppose fiscal hostage-taking, they will likely attempt to 'get well' with the Tea Party by endorsing its opposition to free trade, immigration reform, and attempts to resolve disputes involving Iran, Syria, and China with diplomacy.Tea Party isolationism is just a somewhat new variant of the old Robert Taft position." (Democracy/Les Gelb & Michael Kramer)




"Mike Tyson's new memoir Undisputed Truth has been steadily climbing its way up the best-seller lists here and abroad the past couple of months. It's full of highs and lows, sex, drugs, celebrities, money, violence, jail, and pathos. But the man who shaped the raw material of Tyson's turbulent life and made it into a page-turner is Larry 'Ratso' Sloman. A legend in his own right both from his youthful days at National Lampoon and chronicling Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Tour for On the Road With Bob Dylan to his most recent fame as a collaborator on the best-selling autobiographies of Howard Stern and Anthony Kiedis, Sloman is more than a hired hand brought in to 'ghostwrite' a story ... DH: How did you come to work on this book with Mike Tyson? LS: I wrote him when he was in jail. I sent him a copy of Nietzsche's autobiography, Ecce Homo, and he read it. DH: Why that book? LS: I wrote him a letter [in 2004], and I said listen, you know, this book helped me get through a lot of tough times. I know you're going through a lot of shit. I don't believe you raped that girl, and if you ever want me to write your memoir let me know. Four years later I got on my agent to explore doing Tyson's autobiography because to me he's not only the most interesting sports figure of all time, but one of the most celebrated people of all time. The process of getting the book was hilarious. They interviewed about twenty people and they got it down to two. They flew me to California, and that's where I met Mike the first time, at the Four Seasons hotel. And I said, I don't know if you remember, but I sent you a book when you were in jail, Ecce Homo, Nietzsche's autobiography. He goes 'yeah I read that book, Nietzsche was an interesting character. He died in 1900, he was insane at the end of his life.' I described my process of working with writers, to get the best out of them, and the interview was over in about twenty five minutes. And  his manager said "anything else, Mike, any other questions?' and I'm about to leave and he goes, 'Hey Ratso, why did you sent me that Nietzsche book, did you think I was Superman?' ... DH: From the book, it seems like Tyson gave away money without abandon. LS: That was Cus again. You see, Cus was a socialist. He detested Reagan. Cus also had the same problem with money. But Cus saw money as a vehicle of social change. His idea of how to do that was the black churches. He said, 'Just think, Mike, when you make all this money as a heavyweight champ, you can give the money to black churches, they're gonna help the people.' Well, Mike went right to the source, after he was champion he'd go back to his neighborhood. He's the most beloved--you go to any ghetto in America, Mike Tyson is god. Because he'd go hang out -- every day he'd go with $200,000 in cash, and by the end of the day, he had given it all out to people on the street, or to a homeless guy he'd see. He goes back to his old neighborhood and looks for his mother's friends and would just 'break off' money. He called it 'breaking off.' DH: Can you estimate how much he gave away over the years? LS: I would say tens of millions." (David Hershkovits)


"Christmas for me, the individual, the son of, was always a wonderful time of the year, despite the day’s inevitable domestic drama. This day was full of excitement for the new, the changing, the seasons and the colored lights. Children have a special talent for absorbing this part of it naturally. All of those moments promise the best part of ourselves, and especially in the I don’t fault my mother and father, in retrospect, for I can see they were, like all of us, victims of themselves/ourselves. “Their own worst enemy” was, and remains, the operative phrase. Their legacy of domestic turmoil – especially heightened during the holiday season – comes with riches, however: I was determined to always enjoy this time of the year, no matter what. And so it has been. When I’ve lived in a house, I had a tree. A nice one, full and tall. In California with cathedral ceiling, the tree was 12 or 14 feet. In Connecticut, 8 or 9. In New York on East End Avenue, I don’t have a tree. I don’t especially miss it because it would only mean mischief for one of the quadripeds I live with – namely Madame; and I go to many houses and see many wonderful trees. However, I also love all the trees I see through the windows and in the stores and the lobbies. All that light suggests to the child in me the possibility that the world will really be At Peace even if for a millisecond. I’m not naïve but I said possibility. Even for a moment.The trees are the symbol of that for me. Now more than ever." (NYSocialDiary)


"Enchanté: I eventually made it to New York City and partook of a fine evening with the tycoon and the movie producer. At one point I found myself explaining my recent unseemly conduct. I plead my case, I had a reason, albeit flimsy, why I was so keen to attend that Palm Beach Thanksgiving party. I explained that I was curious to see a certain someone who shall remain nameless. I just had to see f...or myself. Crucial statistics for my Large Animal Research Station. I trust my motives were understood and I was pardoned. Sure enough I had gathered some raw figures for crunching, the coltran of data. I truly was the last guest to leave. I am a person of extremes. If I show up at all I tend to overstay my welcome. In truth, I did not want to exit the magnificent pile by the sea. Secretly, I was hoping to be offered a wing. I was there adorned in my orange shawl from Walgreens. I’ll bet nobody else that night sported anything from Walgreens. Not even their cosmetics. I was a parrot fish out of water on some deeply fundamental levels. Did anyone notice my ‘all wrong’ thing, I think probably. But all this was mere foreplay as it neatly trickled into the richly random resurrection of Rachel. Regarding the word she uttered I had to ask her as I drew a blank, but it was, “Enchanté.” Which was almost right, but not. Because she never told me her name. There was nothing yet to be ‘enchanté’ about, as there’d been no introduction. Hence the drawn out awkward silence, like a couple of gun slingers on a dusty noontime western Main Street. A full day later, when we reviewed this unplanned pregnant meeting, Rachel admitted she didn’t immediately reveal her name because she was considering her options." (Christina Oxenberg)


"Since the De Beers monopoly ended in 2001 the market has changed. Russia, Australia, and Canada have made significant diamond discoveries, and investment-grade diamonds will likely be available on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 2014. The diamond’s star would appear to be on the rise.
The Cullinan diamonds belong to the British Crown, though these days it’s not only the British royal family who own the big-name diamonds. Provenances change. New diamonds come into play. One is larger or more expensive than the next, from the Taylor-Burton and the Darya-ye Noor to the Hope and the Koh-i-Noor.Like celebrated thespians, diamonds compete for top billing. In the style of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, important men give important women important diamonds. Liz Taylor was a superstar with a diamond to match her degree of celebrity. Diamonds are badges in the hierarchy of monied kin and their spectacle of richesse. Some wear their bijou better than others. For some they represent a promise. Diamonds are bequeathed by countries to heads of state. They are worn by rappers, queens, and swaths of women on Park Avenue. They are worn like stardust: big diamonds, little diamonds, new diamonds, old diamonds—ornaments for all the important people.
Yet there seems to be more to a diamond than meets the eye. More than Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Color. More than its fiscal value. Something beyond the love or beauty it seeks to enhance. They say diamonds are forever. We know they are at least a billion years old, so perhaps they are indeed eternal. We must not forget that no two diamonds are alike, which makes each diamond special and unique." (Mandolyna Theodoracapoulos)


"At my Harlem office, the headquarters of the Clinton Foundation, several portraits that have particular meaning to me are clustered together on a prominent wall, next to a small conference table I use to meet with staff and guests, including a daguerreotype of Abraham Lincoln and a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis, on the last night of his life. There are also three photographs of Nelson Mandela, two taken during his presidency, and another, more pensive one taken after he left office. At home I have a picture of Mandela walking arm in arm with me outside his old jail cell on Robben Island. I treasure all of these photos because of what Mandela has meant to South Africa and the world. I’ve told this story about a thousand times, and I’ll keep telling it for the rest of my life, because it’s so unforgettable. In 1998, I made the first visit by an American president to South Africa. By then President Mandela and I had become friends. We had met during the Democratic convention in New York in 1992, and I had hosted him at the White House in my first term. After we toured Robben Island, I told Mandela that on the day he was released from prison, after 27 years, I had awakened Chelsea, who was then 9, so she could watch him walk to freedom. I told him I knew he was a great man to have overcome his anger enough to invite his jailers to his inauguration and put the leaders of previously pro-apartheid parties in his government. Then I asked, 'But when you were walking to freedom, didn’t you hate them again?' With wonderful candor he replied, 'Of course I felt old anger rising up again, and fear. After all, I had not been free in 27 years. But I knew that, when I drove away from the gate, if I continued to hate them, they would still have me. I wanted to be free, and so I let it go.' Whenever I feel anger and resentment rising inside myself, I try to think of what Mandela said, and follow his example. We’d all be a lot happier if we could do that." (Bill Clinton)



"Leaving the Gutfreunds, I walked over to 825 Madison at 69th Street where Dennis Basso was hosting a cocktail reception to celebrate the grand opening of his new flagship townhouse. Big crowd, as you can see." (NYSocialDiary)

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