Thursday, November 06, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"And the striking thing about it is that it’s hard to detect an issue or platform around which the GOP constructed a victory. I watched Kevin McCarthy on Fox last night attempt to describe what his party now wants to do with its majority in both House and Senate – and it was so pathetic even the Fox News crowd could barely hide their dismay. He said he wanted to kickstart the economy. No serious ideas as to how, except the same tired 1980s boilerplate. Tax reform? I’m all for it – but we shouldn’t kid ourselves it was an issue of even faint relevance in this campaign. Immigration? Again, it’s much much easier to say what they don’t want to do, rather than what they do. Foreign policy? It will be fascinating to see if the Republican party really wants to fight another Iraq War – and what would happen to its unity if it tried. On Iran, they simply want to scupper the only conceivable way forward absent another war. Obamacare? McConnell seems to be arguing against an attempt at repeal – merely a series of nitpicks to try and unravel it. If I could see any constructive policy agenda, I could have a serious opinion about it. But I don’t. I see pure negativity and bile against the president. And it seems to me that that is not a strategy to win over a majority for the presidency in 2016. National Review today actually urges the GOP majority to do nothing for the next two years but prep for 2016. I kid you not ... In some ways, this election also strikes me as a vote by the elderly almost entirely against the Obama coalition and what it represents for America, rather than for anything ... That’s a staggeringly high percentage of the vote for the over-60s. If anyone doubts the potency of Fox News’ relentless campaign to remind anyone over 50 that the world is coming undone and Obama is entirely the reason, then those numbers should be definitive. So what this represents is a backlash against a change that is coming anyway – a vote by the older generation against the America that the younger generation seems to represent and want. Or a rising up of white America against the browns and blacks. This is too crude, of course. But it captures something important about this moment of vacuous retrenchment." (TheDish)

"In the final days of the election, in talking to the aforementioned Democratic strategists, I found universal agreement that (Iowa Senate candidate) Braley was a world-beatingly bad candidate who fumbled at the very sight of a ball. One Democrat recalled to me that he was horrified to learn that Braley, not an avuncular candidate like Representative Dave Loebsack or Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, was the party's Iowa recruit. He described Braley with a slur that combines a feminine cleaning product with the waste receptacle one might use to dispose of it. And yet ... Braley's 'farmer' gaffe was leaked in March 2014. The 'towel service' gaffe occurred in October 2013. The 'hostile questioning' is a reference to Braley's badgering of conservative scholar Sally Pipes over whether she had 'advanced degrees' suitable for her testimony. That happened in 2009, but was re-run like a sitcom reunion episode several times throughout the cycle. Braley made no big gaffes, in real time, after the 'farmer' incident. It's just true that Republicans used 'these policies' to freshen up their message about Democrats voting with the president, and true that after farmer-gate, everything Braley did fit into a storyline about how arrogant he was. They're going to be remembered as even worse for Democrats because of the killer re-thinking of turnout and analytics that Republicans committed to after 2012. That, and the new GOP media infrastructure—oppo shops like America Rising, 'combat journalism' from the Washington Free Beacon—rattled Democrats who were not used to losing the media's story lines." (Bloomberg)

"For me, the most persuasive answer to the question was the botched roll-out of No one else can be blamed for this, and it hit the president’s ratings like a ten-ton truck, as well it might. October 2013 is when his disapproval rating first clearly topped the approval rating with some daylight and stayed there. And the fall of 2013 was also when he pivoted away from striking Syria – which brought a chorus of disapproval from the Washington bigwigs and, of course, the GOP.
These two events dented his image of competence. Both seemed amateurish to most people. And when an image is altered like that with clearly understandable and very public fuck-ups, it’s hard to regain momentum. Both also followed another nightmarish confrontation with the GOP over the debt limit and a very public failure to pass any gun control legislation even after Sandy Hook. But what this superficial version of events misses is what happened next. The truth is: the Obama team subsequently achieved a near-miraculous rescue of Obamacare, achieved real success in enrollment, and have seen core healthcare costs slow down in such a way that could yet shift our long-term fiscal liabilities for the better. Obamacare is almost certainly here to stay – surviving one pitched battle after the next. As for Syria, Obama turned that crisis into opportunity, by seizing a compromise brokered by Russia which managed to locate, transport and destroy all but a few traces of Assad’s chemical stockpile. This remains a huge, and hugely under-appreciated achievement – and if you think I’m exaggerating, imagine what the stakes would now be in that region (and the world) if ISIS had a chance to get its hands on that stuff. The same can be said of the economy. No other developed country has achieved the growth that the US has after the stimulus – including austerity-bound Germany. No other administration has presided over a steeper fall in the deficit. The brutal facts of the twenty-first century global economy has meant this has not been felt very much among the beleaguered middle class. But who is offering on either side a real solution to that by-product of globalization, trade and technology? Again, on the actual substance, Obama has a strong record – dented by the avalanche of hostility from the right and disgruntlement from everyone but the very rich.." (TheDish)

Michael’s restaurant celebrates 25th anniversary

"Six hundred guests — including power players, family, friends and staffers — came through Michael’s in Midtown on Wednesday night to celebrate the restaurant’s 25th anniversary. Spotted as the party started were CBS boss Les Moonves, Al Roker and Deborah Roberts, fashionista Fern Mallis, Rikki Klieman, Jerry Della Femina, Bryant Gumbel, Jamie Niven, Amy Fine Collins, Jay McInerney and Anne Hearst. Owner Michael McCarty was posted at the entrance where no one got by without a hug and a kiss. General manager Steve Millington, who began working at Michael’s in 1998, explained he’d received RSVPs from the 'new and old guard' regulars. 'It has historical value to people,' he said of the hot spot. 'People are coming by to pay their respects; they’re family,' he said.
One guest who couldn’t make it was actress Kathleen Turner, who left an apologetic voice mail, saying she’d just returned to town and was 'too whipped' to attend, but wished them the best." (NYPost)

Arriving at Michael's, I took this picture through the front window to give you an idea of the crowd.

"At Michael’s for the Wednesday lunch it was packed. I was having lunch with JH and Blair Sabol who came up from Philadelphia to check out the exhibitions, visit with friends and pay an homage with a visit to Kenny Lane’s shop. At the table next to us Michael McCarty’s mother and step-father Carol and Rhett Austell were in town from Maine for the big 25th anniversary party of Michael’s which was held last night at the restaurant.  Around the room. At Table One, Bonnie Fuller of and Gerry Byrne, the Vice Chair of Penske Media (owners of were hosting their Wednesday lunch with guests Joan Hamburg, Laura Holson of the NY Times, Adweek’s Michael Burgl, Maty Buss, Anne Chaisson, exec director of the Hamptons International Film Festival, Maxine Bedat, Victoria Varela and Dan Gardner, founder of Code & Theory. Next door to them was Henry Schleiff of Discovery Channel; and next to him: Judy Price and Nikki Haskell whose table when they left was taken by Joan Gelman and Robert Zimmerman. In the corner at Table 4: Pamela Gross and her husband Jimmy Finkelstein" ... The Main Event at Michael’s yesterday, however, was the 25th Anniversary party last night at the party. Five hundred fifty guests, two bars, with the staff passing hors d’oeuvres by the score. Michael was already a big success with his restaurant in Santa Monica when he first came to New York looking for a place. He first saw the West 55th Street address when it was a restaurant called The Italian Pavilion, owned by Bruno Caravaggi (father of Swifty’s co-owner Robert Caravaggi). Michael was attracted to the place because of the Garden room which somewhat resembled the Santa Monica place. But for some reason the room was unavailable. So when it came up for occupancy in 1989, he took it immediately. Coincidentally, the Italian Pavilion already had a clientele that included many people from the publishing world. In short time as the Michael’s New York, it was buzzing.  (NYSD)


"Paramount had organized a party for me. All of cinema was there, it was incredible. And then comes in Jayne Mansfield, the last one to come. For me, that was when it got amazing. . . . She came right for my table. She knew everyone was watching. She sat down. And now, she was barely . . . Listen. Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table." (VF)

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