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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres








Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images


"This weekend, the Supreme Court, by its customary 5-4 partisan split, issued an emergency ruling upholding Republican-authored voter-identification laws in Texas. The Texas law, like other legislation resembling it elsewhere, imposes disproportionate burdens on poor and nonwhite voters — or, as the Republicans hope, non-voters. Meanwhile, in what feels like unrelated news, Republicans continue to rack their brains for ideas to increase their share of the minority vote. Whatever could they do to convince these nonwhite Americans that the Grand Old Party has their best interests at heart? Rand Paul and Chris Christie, reports the Daily Beast, recently appeared at a Republican confab on Fifth Avenue, where they jostled to position themselves as the Party’s true hope for diversification. Earlier this spring, Paul tentatively questioned his party’s obsession with rooting out almost entirely imaginary voter fraud, but almost immediately retracted his heresy. ('I agree, there’s nothing wrong with [voter I.D. laws],' he told Sean Hannity. 'To see Eric Holder, you’ve got to show your drivers license to get in the building. So I don’t really object to having some rules for how we vote.') Christie has opposed measures to make voting easier, like early voting. They have a two-track approach to the minority vote: make it as hard as possible for them to vote, while simultaneously persuading those who do vote to vote for them. The Republican Party's strategy of making voting as difficult as possible is borne out of the correct observation that impediments to voting disproportionately ward off Democratic-leaning constituencies. It is true that anybody is legally entitled to obtain the identification needed to comply with Republican-mandated voting requirements. But poor voters are much less likely to have such identification in the first place, and voting restrictions create additional bureaucratic hassles that they are the least equipped to handle. A recent report by Richard Sobel, of Harvard’s Institute for Race & Justice, tallied the cost of obtaining the required voter identification — the costs include the direct fee in obtaining identification, plus transportation, plus time. The costs usually range from $75 to $175, an exorbitant expense for a low-income person in order to do an activity that carries no direct personal benefit. The report aptly presents voting restrictions as a modern form of the poll tax, which was outlawed in 1964. Indeed, the costs of contemporary voter I.D. requirements, even in inflation-adjusted terms, is many times the level of the poll taxes that existed before they were outlawed in 1964." (NYMag)



A medical officer in the I.D.F. Southern Command stands in a Hamas–built tunnel on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.


"Yossi Adoni, a village leader in Zarit, is worried. For years, residents in his small Israeli farming community, on the northern border with Lebanon, have heard drilling under their homes, late at night. His mother, Ruth, for one, says she has often been awakened by 'the trembling and noise from a jackhammer.' Her next-door neighbor, Shula Asayag, insists that the subterranean vibrations have become so intense that picture frames and TV sets have crashed to the floor. 'My children are afraid to come and visit me,' she explains. Adoni and other officials contend that they have heard similar stories from other towns along the border. Nearby, Shlomo Azulai tends an Israeli apple orchard. For months he watched in disbelief as clouds of dust appeared on the ridgeline below the Lebanese town of Marwahin and steadily moved in his direction. He observed earthmovers operating in, around, and then underneath an enormous greenhouse. 'After a while,' Azulai claims, 'the excavator was so far underground I could no longer see it.' When he alerted the Israeli Defense Forces (I.D.F.), he says, they dismissed the moving dust clouds as 'small fires'—nothing to worry about. But Azulai has reason to worry. In 2006, Hezbollah operatives positioned across the border fired a guided missile at his Toyota Hilux, driving shrapnel into his arms, torso, and lower abdomen.Now, eight years later, Azulai and his neighbors believe Hezbollah may have pulled off a far more provocative gambit: building a tunnel under Zarit, which the group could conceivably use to send forces into Israel to massacre civilians. What once may have sounded like rejected scenes from a remake of Poltergeist, now strike Israelis in the north as harbingers, especially after this summer’s Gaza war, which laid bare a complex of subterranean tunnels that had been dug under Israel’s southwestern border with the Gaza Strip—an area ruled by Hamas, a party whose credo calls for the destruction of the State of Israel." (VF)





"Despite being outraised by Democratic super PACs all year long, the top conservative groups played to a draw in September and are in a strong position to continue matching — and possibly surpassing — their rivals leading up to Election Day. Conservative megadonors worried the Democrats’ surprising advantage in super PAC spending could cost the Republicans the Senate poured a flood of million-dollar checks into GOP-allied groups last month. The three biggest-spending conservative super PACs — the Karl Rove-conceived American Crossroads, the Joe Ricketts-funded Ending Spending Action Fund and the Koch brothers-backed Freedom Partners Action Fund — raised $30.3 million in September, according to a POLITICO analysis of reports filed over the past few days with the Federal Election Commission. The top three Democrat-aligned super PACs — the Harry Reid-linked Senate Majority PAC, the Nancy Pelosi-backed House Majority PAC and the Tom Steyer-led NextGen Climate Action — raised $30.5 million last month.Still, for the 2014 cycle, the top three liberal groups are trouncing the conservatives in super PAC fundraising, $134 million to $58 million, and the left has by far the most generous donor of disclosed cash in Steyer, a retired San Francisco hedge fund billionaire. He has given $41.6 million to his group, including $15 million last month alone — accounting for all but $2 million of the fundraising for NextGen, which is motivated by environmental issues." (Politico)







"Sunday on the Sava. That my beloved Green Parrot is closed and under renovation is an excellent reason to exit Key West. Most importantly the dance floor is being rebuilt and I feel a little responsible for its extensive wear and tear. What a great time to be away, because to be there and not be allowed to go dance at the Green Parrot would be worse than hell. Equally hellish in my sainted little island life is the weather, it being the muggy season, where the atmosphere perspires and oxygen has vanished and it feels like one is gagging on mouthfuls of clouds. These days I am in the very ancient city of Belgrade, Serbia where I have rented an apartment short-term and I'm feeling like a native but behaving like a tourist, using methods like the tram tracks to find my way home. Employing hand gestures to communicate numbers, flashing fingers and wincing, until the person says, 'English?' And I grin pathetically and proffer colored papery notes, fanned out like a deck of cards, and let them pluck what they like. The city of Belgrade is hustle and bustle like New York City except of course with a European flair with ornate buildings while others are blocks of marble, still others bombed wreckage with shrubbery growing where once there were walls. Bustling coffee shops everywhere are filled with slouched lupine locals." (Christina Oxenberg)






The glam Ms. von Furstenberg and Mr. Diller, who first met in the mid-'70s.


"ANOTHER WOMAN of note has topped off an incredible career based simply on her own will, talents, and determination. In fact, as the memoir 'The Woman I Wanted To Be' comes out, Diane Von Furstenberg is at the top of a fashion and living success that is even greater than her first slap at fame — (when she invented the simple wrap dress of the '70s.) I have known a lot of legendary females in my time covering New York, Hollywood and places in between and I often cite Helen Gurley Brown and Gloria Steinem as the ones people most often ask me about. A little later I had to add Tina Brown and Nora Ephron to the list. But now I find Diane the super person that folks are most curious about. Well, in her book, Diane tells us in no uncertain terms what she is 'really' like — her first youthful 'open' marriage that gave her children and made her a princess, then about when she and the dynamic entrepreneur Barry Diller first met and became lovers, drifted not apart but separately, stayed connected, finally married and all the ups and downs of health, coping, fashion, making decisions, being frank, honest and truthful and together, raising a terrific set of children, grandchildren and 'friends' as well." (NYSD)

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