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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres








"The legislative dynamics in Washington are very simple. Gridlock exists because Obama and House Republicans cannot agree on legislation. If Obama and the House could agree on legislation, their deal would be approved by a Democratic-controlled Senate or by a Republican-controlled Senate. There are no plausible circumstances in which the Senate would block a deal struck between the House and Obama, because, whichever party controls the Senate, its ideological center will sit comfortably inside in the enormous space between Obama and the House Republicans. Ergo, the party that controls the Senate has no impact on legislative outcomes. It is possible, though highly unlikely, that some bills will pass in the next Congress. But that would be because something has happened to change the House Republicans’ mind. (Like, say, the approach of the 2016 elections persuades them to try to neutralize immigration as an issue.) There have been numerous attempts to argue around this simple dynamic, and they all get very hand-wavy. The bipartisan version is that Senatorial debate will somehow lead to an era of good feelings. The partisan version is that the Senate will join the House to pass laws unacceptable to Obama — like undermining Obamacare — that he will somehow be forced to sign anyway. But that scenario assumes that Republicans could use the threat of a government shutdown, which is their own leverage to make the president sign a bill he opposes, to make Obama knuckle under. And that is an obviously false assumption. Both sides understand fully well that a shutdown will turn the public against Congress. It is anti-leverage. The federal elections are curiously boring this year. (There are tons of fascinating and important state-level elections.) The 2014 midterms are the first national elections in more than 16 years in which no important legislative changes are at stake. A presidential election always creates the possibility of creating a new legislative coalition, or destroying an old one. Previous midterm elections imposed important changes to the possibility for passing laws. The 2010 election killed Obama’s legislative majority. The 2006 midterms killed George W. Bush’s. The 2002 midterms gave Bush the Senate majority he used to revitalize his domestic agenda and pass a swath of Republican legislation. You have to go back to 1998, when Republican control of the House was not seriously contested, to find an election that had no serious effect on Washington’s ability to pass laws. The race to control the Senate is not about legislation, because the pivotal negotiations on any legislation involve Obama and the House. Appointments are a different story, because the House has no power over appointments. The Senate has power over appointments. And this is the power that lies on the razor’s edge." (Jonathan Chait)













"Autumn in New York, they even wrote a song about it that was a great hit sixty years ago. Last weekend the sky was awash in blue, Manhattan at its best, with Central Park gleaming in green and only the crowds marring the views. New York has changed dramatically these last fifty years, but what city has not? The place has gotten richer, but not better as far as the quality of life is concerned. That ghastly Bloomberg midget sold the place to the highest bidders, so developers are singing his praises, not unlike bootleggers paying homage to Al Capone. Manhattan was always chic in the upper east and west sides, but bohemian and gritty and artistic downtown. No longer ... Well, all that loneliness has gone the way of high button shoes, with bakeries and curved windows and dark bricks that loom in the background all disappearing, all tumbling down to make room for glass office towers and ritzy condos. Thank God the great Hopper is not here to see the destruction. They say that the longer one has lived in Manhattan, the more one loves the vanished city, and no one loved the city more than Hopper or yours truly. And, of course, the great E.B. White, who wrote about the great gift New York bestows, 'that of loneliness.' Luncheonettes, newsstand advertisements for 5-cent cigars, automats, and bakeries aside, what I miss more than all of them put together are the places I used to escape to when school and a foreign language called English got too much: The movie palaces that resembled ocean liners from the outside, with immense pillars triumphantly reaching skywards, and smooth curves like a giant woman’s hips. They have all been torn down and replaced by shopping blocks and superstores selling those machines people look at 24/7. Today’s dreary multiplexes have replaced these wonderful over the top palaces, as today’s ghastly films have replaced those dreams one got excited about as the spectacular interiors went dark." (Taki Theodoracopoulos)






The packed Grille Room of the Four Seasons for the book party.


"I was on my way to a book party for Jon Huntsman Sr. who is in town promoting his memoir about a boy from Blackfoot, Idaho who grew up to become a billionaire philanthropist. Mr. Huntsman built the Huntsman Chemical Corporation, the largest manufacturer of polystyrene in the United States. Those 'clamshell' containers that held those billions and billions of Big Macs were his invention, among others. With his good fortune, Mr. Huntsman became an active philanthropist. He and his wife Karen were second on a list by the Chronicle of Philanthropy of the largest American donors in 2007. Over the decades their philanthropy has exceeded $1.2 billion, focusing mainly on cancer research and programs at various universities, and aid to Armenia after their devastating earthquake.He also built the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. The Huntsmans brought up a family of seven children. As of today, there are 56 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Many who are not familiar with him know of his son Jon Huntsman Jr. who ran from the Republican Party Presidential nomination in the Presidential Primary of 2012. Mr. Huntsman Sr. has also published several books with titles that tell you a lot about the man including: “Winners Never Cheat: Even In Difficult Times,' 'Graciousness is Next to Godliness: Treat Competitors, Colleagues, Employees, and Customers with Respect,' and 'The 3 R’s of Leadership: Risk, Responsibility, and Reliability.' His new book 'Barefoot to Billionaire: Reflections on a Life’s Work and a Promise to Cure Cancer' is the story of his journey. They also give you a clear picture of the man. There was already a good crowd gathering at the Four Seasons restaurant. I was there only briefly so I didn’t see them all, but I was given a list by Sandi Mendelson who is the publicist on the book which included:  Lord and Lady Evelyn de Rothschild, Carolina and John Josephson, Nahlah Al-Jubeir, Joe Armstrong, Bob Arnot, John Avlon, Ben Barnes, Monie Begley, Phyllis Berman, Zoe Bibb, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin, Talal bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, HH Princess Sora bint Saud, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Bleier, Tracy Carns, David Checketts, Susan Cheever, Richard Cohen, Nancy Collins, Richard Conway, Sherry Cooper, Katie Couric" (NYSD)





"For four decades, give or take, Diane von Furstenberg, the one-time princess turned designer entrepreneur, has offered an approachable, distinctively American take on luxury fashion through her eponymous label. This week, she further broadens her unique brand of accessibility. She’s written a memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be, published by Simon & Schuster on Tuesday. Rizzoli released a monograph on the 40th anniversary of her signature wrap dress design earlier this month. On Sunday, E! will air the first episode of House of DVF, a reality contest that stands to bring many millions of viewers into von Furstenberg’s glass-roofed design studio in the Meatpacking District as the company searches for a young woman to work as its 'brand ambassador.' VF Daily spoke with von Furstenberg this week about why she’s going reality 40 years into her career .... VF: t’s an interesting look for you and your company to be opening the doors like this. DvF: Well, but why not? People love to know what happens, and it’s informative. One of the great things about, for example, Project Runway is Tim Gunn was a real teacher. He was the dean of the fashion department [at Parsons] and there was honesty from it. How the editors cut it sometimes made it a little harsh. But since I’m my own producer, I could control that. VF: I was impressed with how forgiving you were with a few of the girls, even the ones that you sent home. You were authoritative without being mean . . .  DvF: But darling, I’m not mean. VF: But sometimes these shows can exaggerate that. DvF: Yes, well, that’s not who I am. That’s why I wanted to show that. It’s important to show that you don’t have to be a bitch to win. VF: Would you have been a contestant on this show had it existed when you were 19 or 21? DvF: That’s a verrrry interesting question. Yeah . . . I would actually. I would have loved to. VF: You sound like you’re convincing yourself a little." (VF)

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