Thursday, October 30, 2014
Josh Tyrangiel on Bloomberg TV this morning discussing their scoop. Tyrangiel said, “(Apple CEO Tim Cook) was very clear on what he wanted. The backstory on it is pretty simple as well. He called and asked if I could come out. We had a conversation and he had something written. It was crisp and clear and frankly I hope he is available for more assignments going forward. He was very easy to work with on this. He knew what he wanted to say.”
"In his Atlantic article on the growing crisis between Jerusalem and Washington, Jeffrey Goldberg quoted American officials slamming Netanyahu, one now-famously called him 'chickenshit.' The substance of the criticism was that he lacks the 'guts' to strike Iran and is only interested in 'protecting himself from political defeat.' Beyond the damage Netanyahu and his government are causing Israel in the international community – hurting ties crucial for a small country with limited resources in a complicated region – I disagree with the American diagnosis. In Netanyahu’s case, preserving his rule without any apparent progress towards a clear goal is part and parcel of his plan to deepen the deeply-ingrained process of preventing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and splintering the Palestinian people. Even if Netanyahu did not start these steps, he is propelling them with pristine efficiency.Every day that Netanyahu tries to maintain his seat is another day of settlement construction in the West Bank, another day of Palestinian displacement, of destroying Palestinian assets and other grave human rights violations; another day in which Netanyahu’s strategic goals are being achieved. Unlike the objective of peace and ending occupation, Netanyahu’s objectives don’t have a big fan base in the international arena. He knows this all too well, and this is why he cunningly operates to maintain the status quo. Ostensibly this means doing nothing; in practice it means rapidly changing facts on the ground in the West Bank. His declaration of support for the two-state solution at Bar Ilan University and the negotiations led by Kerry were conducted in parallel to government actions on the ground – constituting an integral part of his strategy. Netanyahu surely must have taken the Americans’ criticism as a complement. They thought they were insulting him but in fact they were praising him. They revealed that they do not understand Netanyahu’s strategy – mistaking his effective methods for fear and lack of political vision. They also positioned him perfectly in his battle for right-wing voters. He is simultaneously standing tall in front of the Administration while winking to his benefactors and allies in the Republican Party ahead of Senate elections. At the same time, he is not “giving in” to Bennett, who perfectly fills the role of the settler youth who makes the prime minister appear like the experienced, rational centrist. A trip to the West Bank and a perusal of reports by human rights organizations, like the recent B’Tselem report on the Burqah village, can attest to these processes. While Netanyahu’s rhetoric focuses on Iran, ISIS, the war in Gaza and the high cost of living, the West Bank continues to undergo significant changes and the Palestinian people continued to be divided and conquered. Netanyahu is the victor in Goldberg’s Atlantic story." (972Mag)
2014 Crystal BallOutlook
"While many races remain close, it’s just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Ultimately, with just a few days to go before the election, the safe bet would be on Republicans eventually taking control of the upper chamber. We say eventually because there’s a decent chance we won’t know who wins the Senate on Election Night. Louisiana is guaranteed to go to a runoff, and Georgia seems likelier than not to do the same. The Georgia runoff would be Jan. 6, 2015, three days after the 114th Congress is scheduled to open. Vote-counting in some states, like Alaska, will take days, and other races are close enough to trigger a recount.Generally speaking, candidates who have leads of three points or more in polling averages are in solid shape to win, but in this election five states -- Republican-held Georgia and Kansas, and Democratic-held Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina -- feature a Senate race where both of the two major polling averages (RealClearPolitics and HuffPost Pollster) show the leading candidate with an edge of smaller than three points. What makes the Democrats’ situation so precarious is that Republicans have polling leads of more than three points in five other states, all of which are currently held by Democrats: Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Two others, Democratic-held Alaska and Colorado, show Republicans leading in both averages, but by more than three points in just one. (These averages are as of Wednesday afternoon.) The wealth of GOP targets is a reflection of the structural advantages that have favored Republicans in this election, some of which don’t have anything to do with a specific campaign. Those are: Obama’s troubles: President Obama’s approval ratings are in the low 40s, and midterm elections are very often a vote against the party that occupies the White House, particularly if the occupant is unpopular. A great map: This Senate map is the most-Republican leaning of the three Senate classes up for election once every six years. These seats were last on the ballot in 2008, a big Democratic year. American politics is about surges and declines: In 2008 came the surge for Democrats, and in 2014 comes the decline. Partisan polarization: The increasing partisanship of American politics and the American people makes it harder and harder for Democrats to win in Republican states and districts, and vice-versa. Seven Democrats hold Senate seats contested this year in states that supported Mitt Romney in 2012. Six of those states are very Republican at the presidential level -- Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia -- and Republicans are probably at least slightly favored to win all six of their Senate races. The seventh, North Carolina, is gettable if the GOP has a big night. Republicans only have to defend one seat in an Obama state, Maine, and GOP Sen. Susan Collins has the race all but wrapped up." (SabatosCrystalBall)
"Meanwhile, among the din and the tumult of the Michael’s Wednesday lunch, amidst the cross-table conversations about everything except hair and trichotherapy, among those in the room keeping the energy erupting: Vicky Ward who is busy promoting her new book 'The Liar’s Ball' about the building of the former GM Building (where the Apple Cube occupies the plaza in front), and was lunching with Charlotte Morgan, Charlie Rose’s producer. We had a larger table yesterday to accommodate all of us. Cornelia Guest had my usual table and was lunching with Jim Fallon, WWD editor. We had the table usually occupied on Wednesdays by Duh Boyz, Della Femina, Greenfield, Imber, Kramer and Bergman. They were across the way at Joe Armstrong’s regular table sans Kramer and Bergman. On one side of them: Mickey Ateyeh with Ruth Shuman and her cousin Dana Bronfman. On the other side: Jimmy Finkelstein, and next to him Stan Shuman and guest. Moving along: Paul Wilmot and guest; Amy Fine Collins; Pat Mitchell, director of the Paley Center for Media; Julie Hayek (former Miss USA), of Corcoran Real Estate; Tracey Jackson and Glenn Horowitz with Roseanne Cash; Jolie Hunt; George Farias with Robert Zimmerman; Jack Kliger; Peter Brown with Gillian Tett of the FT; Mark Rosenthal with Doug McCormick; Keith Meister with Sean O’Keefe; Tom Goodman of Goodman Media with Diane Clehane; David Sanford of the WSJ with Lewis Stein; Jolie Hunt; Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates; Haspel heiress and owner of Haspel, Laurie Aronson with a party of 12; Todd Joyce of Break Media; Esther Newberg; Lynne White with Linda Stacy of NY1 and the Daily News; Patrick Murphy; Christine Taylor; Bob Towbin, Beverly Camhe; John Loeffler of Rave Music. To name just a few partaking of the fare.More Brits. Last night at the Chinese Porcelain Company on 58th and Park, Pierre Durand hosted a booksigning for his friend HRH Princess Michael of Kent and the American publication of her new book 'The Queen of Four Kingdoms' (Beaufort Books)." (NYSD)
"The Nikola Tesla museum is a creamy villa in Belgrade. I arrived in time for the short film which included a snapshot of my grandfather saying hello to Mr. Tesla. It was surreal to see my grandfather up there on the screen. I forget where I am sometimes. I never fail to recognize my grandfather and his beautiful serene face concealing who knows what thoughts. In the photos he is always perfectly composed and serious. Not at all like the warm funny man I remember from my child...hood.
After the film a tiny lady with a huge engineering brain lectured us, and showed us how the machines worked with light beams and conducting electricity through people and remote control operation which in its time was considered magic mind control. And despite my minimal grasp it was impressive. The museum lady was so fierce, although young and sporting a plump ass, no one dared ask a single question at any point of her talk. Instead we all just gaped in silence. When a couple of German tourists whispered to each other she admonished them, saying, 'Later is a better time for you to chat'. Next we were left alone to wander around and look at Tesla's personal effects, his top hat, his kid gloves, his eyeglasses, a silver flask. His art collection and letters from friends. And the final room with an urn shaped like a bowl atop a marble obelisk and here are Tesla's ashes. Before we were let loose the museum lady gave strict instructions not to photograph or video or in anyway be disrespectful to the ashes of the hero. There's no denying Tesla was way ahead of his time. He went to see his hero Edison in America and Edison turned on him. He conducted experiments in NYC and his laboratory was mysteriously burnt to the ground. He built a tower on Long Island and it was destroyed with TNT by the army claiming spurious reasons. When he went to Colorado Springs he was treated like a crazy man. And his great sponsor J.P. Morgan withdrew his sponsorship once he realized Tesla wanted to help the world not charge the world." (Christina Oxenberg)
"They are old men now in their 70s, two robbers who were famous long ago and now sport white hair, Butch and Sundance in twilight. Five decades ago, Jack Murphy (a.k.a., 'Murf the Surf') and his partner Allan Kuhn were high-spirited beach boys who gave swimming lessons at Miami Beach hotels and had a lucrative second occupation—as jewel thieves. In 1964, bored with preying on wealthy divorcees and tourists, these athletic young men drove to Manhattan and pulled off the most audacious jewel heist of the last half-century. Climbing up the stone walls of the American Museum of Natural History on the evening of October 29, 1964, they broke in through a window and stole priceless gems from the J.P. Morgan jewel collection: the Star of India sapphire, the DeLong Star ruby, and fistfuls of diamonds and emeralds. Murphy, now garrulous and robust at age 77, explains, 'Just like mountain climbers and skiers, as a jewel thief, you go for the challenge. It’s dangerous, it’s glamorous, there’s an adrenalin rush. We couldn’t just keep doing Palm Beach.' Apprehended within 48 hours of the robbery, the two men, plus accomplice Roger Clark, became national folk heroes. With the jewels nowhere to be found, an ambitious 23-year-old Wellesley graduate, Nora Ephron, landed her first front-page story for the New York Post by sneaking into the hotel where the thieves had stayed. 'These guys had committed the perfect victimless crime,' Ephron recalled in an interview in the fall of 2010. 'It was delicious. No one had a clue what they had been up to, they just seemed like fabulous party boys.'" (VanityFair)
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
"Democrats’ path to holding their Senate majority has narrowed, with Republicans pulling ahead in critical states and on the cusp of upsets in several others. Even some within the party are starting to say their midterm prognosis isn’t good. 'Democrats are, as we’ve talked about before, going to have a bad Election Day, no matter how you slice it,' former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN on Tuesday evening. With wins in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana all but certain, the GOP feels increasingly optimistic about its chances of flipping Arkansas, Alaska and Louisiana, and nabbing at least one of the two most competitive swing states, Iowa and Colorado. Now, the party is eyeing tightening races in New Hampshire and North Carolina —races Republicans promised all along would be competitive in the end — as signs a GOP wave is building, giving it more options in its pursuit of Senate control. Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said while he’s still optimistic in North Carolina, Republicans appear to be surging overall. 'In North Carolina, I think the Republicans see the seat slipping away, but in other parts of the country I think they feel they have momentum on their side and they’re going in for the kill,' he told The Hill. Manley said he still thinks Democrats will be able to “eke it out” in the final week before the midterms. But he acknowledged that New Hampshire and North Carolina are must-wins for the party — and that their tightening is a concern. 'I’m not sure [Democrats] can' lose either one and still control the Senate, Manley said. Republicans say current polling mirrors 2006, a bad midterm cycle for their own party, when Democrats picked up six seats in the Senate. They note that every Republican incumbent polling below 48 percent support at this point in the cycle that year lost. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll out Tuesday underscores the GOP’s advantage nationally. Across nine states with competitive Senate races, voters prefer Republicans over Democrats in a generic House match-up, 57 to 39 percent." (TheHill)
|Jesse and his beautiful wife Karen.|
"JESSE KORNBLUTH’S novel, 'Married Sex' has been snapped up for the Hollywood treatment. Griffin Dunne will direct and Nick Wechsler will produce. (Wechsler’s credits include the classic indie 'Sex, Lies, and Videotape' and the more recent, classic for less esoteric reasons, 'Magic Mike.')Kornbluth, Griffin Dunne and Griffin’s dad, the late Dominick Dunne were old friends. Jesse felt some of the scenes in his book 'could have been written by Dominick.' So this past August, on the anniversary of the writer’s death, Kornbluth sent Griffin the book, 'an act of friendship — to complete the circle, as it were. The next thing we all knew, Griffin and Nick Weschsler and I were in business!'" (Liz Smith)
"Yesterday at the Plaza, the New York chapter of the American Cancer Society held its 19th annual Mothers of the Year luncheon. This year they honored mothers Deborah Norville and Felice H. Schnoll-Sussman, MD. You know who Deborah Norville is. Dr. Schnoll-Sussman is an Associate Professor of Clincal Medicine in the division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Director of the Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Diana Feldman, who is long a devoted and enthusiastic Volunteer Chairman of Special Events for the American Cancer Society, opened the luncheon and introduced Paula Zahn was emcee. Paula, incidentally, who is also a professional cellist, in telling me about her day told me that she was performing last night in a chamber music concert at Carnegie Hall. Paula put herself through Stevens College on a musical scholarship playing cello and has performed in chamber music concerts all over the world.Paula then introduced Muffie Potter Aston who was an honoree in 2011 talked about Motherhood and then introduced Deborah’s husband Karl Wellner (the perfect “Viking” according to Muffie who is an old friend of both). Karl spoke about their meeting -- on a blind date and then presented the Mother of the Year Award to his wife. Deborah who talked about her own experience growing up, including the experience her grandfather’s death of colon cancer, and what motherhood has been like for her with her three children (two sons and a daughter, all of whom are now young adults). Both Deborah and Muffie celebrated hands-on motherhood with their talks." (NYSD)
"Dumped 'Meet the Press' host David Gregory was close to landing at CNN, insiders say, but the network didn’t reach a deal to bring him onboard because of his big salary demands amid crushing company cost-cutting. Page Six exclusively revealed that Gregory had met with his onetime NBC champion Jeff Zucker at CNN in August, and the two were then spotted having lunch as Gregory’s embarrassing ouster at ratings-challenged 'Meet the Press' became imminent. 'Jeff was really considering hiring David,' a source familiar with the talks told us. 'But they could not come up with a number to get him there.' The source added that staff cuts of around 10 percent at CNN and its parent, Turner Broadcasting, made the deal impossible. 'They were meeting around the time of the crazy layoffs at CNN, and it would have looked really bad giving out a huge contract while people were being laid off.' Gregory earned up to $5 million a year and, according to sources, got $4 million to exit NBC before being replaced by Chuck Todd. His 'Meet the Press' predecessor Tim Russert reportedly made $5 million a year as host." (P6)
Posted by Ron Mwangaguhunga at Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Just learned that Ali Mazrui died on October 12 via the NYT. Ali Mazrui drew strong opinions. As a child of Uganda's Ambassador to the UN my parents threw a lot of diplomatic parties. At these events, even as a child, I knew that when the name Mazrui was mentioned two things would happen: 1) the discussion would grow animated pro and con and 2) his name would be pronounced in hushed tones. As a kid I was fascinated by the name and the man who could make such formidable African intellectuals a little afraid.
Mazrui is often remembered for his own strong opinions. He should also be remembered for his context. As a professor at Makerrere in Kampala, he was the leader of the first wave of postcolonial intellectuals. His BBC -- then PBS -- special was, like Cosmos and I, Claudius, must-see-TV in our household in the 1970s. His thought must be viewed through the prism of young, fragile African countries coming out of the historical humiliation of colonialism. It is as easy for right wing hacks to find glowing praise for Qaddafi from Mazrui as it is to find glowing praise for Cuba's Fidel Castro from Nelson Mandela. It is not as easy to see that praise as coming from the perspective of someone who has not had good historical relations with the West. It is easy to find pro-communist statements from Mazrui -- he was not a capitalist -- but consider that almost every single postcolonial college graduate in Africa in the late sixties and early seventies was at least a Fabian socialist and probably had communist leanings.
The pendulum swings. Colonialism is a distant memory; startup founders are the new rock stars. Six of the ten fastest growing economies are from what was once called "the Dark Continent." What are we to make of Ali Mazrui now? The last two paragraphs of his NYT obit say it best:
"In editing 'The Africans' for American television, Professor Mazrui deleted his description of Karl Marx as 'the last of the great Jewish prophets' because producers feared it might be taken as anti-Semitic.
"In Britain, where the line was used, he had worried that Marxists might be offended by the reference to Marx as a prophet.
“'My life,' he once said, 'is one long debate.'"It was indeed. Rest in peace, Ali Mazrui.
"U.S. President Barack Obama has come under intense criticism for his foreign policy, along with many other things. This is not unprecedented. Former President George W. Bush was similarly attacked. Stratfor has always maintained that the behavior of nations has much to do with the impersonal forces driving it, and little to do with the leaders who are currently passing through office. To what extent should American presidents be held accountable for events in the world, and what should they be held accountable for? Expectations and Reality. I have always been amazed when presidents take credit for creating jobs or are blamed for high interest rates. Under our Constitution, and in practice, presidents have precious little influence on either. They cannot act without Congress or the Federal Reserve concurring, and both are outside presidential control. Nor can presidents overcome the realities of the market. They are prisoners of institutional constraints and the realities of the world. Nevertheless, we endow presidents with magical powers and impose extraordinary expectations. The president creates jobs, manages Ebola and solves the problems of the world -- or so he should. This particular president came into office with preposterous expectations from his supporters that he could not possibly fulfill. The normal campaign promises of a normal politician were taken to be prophecy. This told us more about his supporters than about him. Similarly, his enemies, at the extremes, have painted him as the devil incarnate, destroying the Republic for fiendish reasons. He is neither savior nor demon. He is a politician. As a politician, he governs not by what he wants, nor by what he promised in the election. He governs by the reality he was handed by history and his predecessor. Obama came into office with a financial crisis well underway, along with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His followers might have thought that he would take a magic wand and make them go away, and his enemies might think that he would use them to destroy the country, but in point of fact he did pretty much what Bush had been doing: He hung on for dear life and guessed at the right course. Bush came into office thinking of economic reforms and a foreign policy that would get away from nation-building. The last thing he expected was that he would invade Afghanistan during his first year in office. But it really wasn't up to him. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, and al Qaeda set his agenda. Had Clinton been more aggressive against al Qaeda, Bush might have had a different presidency. But al Qaeda did not seem to need that level of effort, and Clinton came into office as heir to the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so on back to George Washington." (STRATFOR)
"Many eloquent words have been written and said about Ben Bradlee this past week after his death at his Georgetown home at the age of 93. He’d likely agree that’s a nice long life, but for the rest of us the loss still hurts. Even with a long, full life, when someone is that smart, charismatic, and splendidly willful, not to mention so sincerely beloved, death feels too soon, too young. The most resonant eulogies came from the people who knew him, such as Robert Kaiser for The Washington Post, writing the paper’s lead obit. David Carr’s take in The New York Times was also shiny and bright, showing what it means to be a great editor. I repeat, a great editor, not just an editor. The mandate for great editors is fading in an ever more corporate journalism culture that favors partnership and compliance with the business side of things. Also, increasingly there are editors who make it about themselves rather the reporters they are shepherding. That’s the TV influence, of course, an influence Bradlee seemed pretty much able to take or leave. He understood it, but he didn’t seem to need it." (NYSD)
Monday, October 27, 2014
|The Hadrian Award.|
"There was so much going on last week that I finished up feeling like I’d left a lot out. For example, last Wednesday the World Monuments Fund (WMF) hosted their 27th annual Hadrian Gala at the Pierre, and honored artist Ellsworth Kelly and interior designer and philanthropist Mica Ertegun. The Hadrian Award has been presented annually by the WMF since 1988. The award honors international leaders whose patronage has greatly enriched the appreciation and conservation of art and architecture around the world. The award was inspired by the Roman Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 76–138), a brilliant commander and great patron of the arts, who demonstrated a concern for the survival of outstanding artistic treasures. The honorees, both patrons and supporters of the world of art and culture and longtime supporters of WMF, were recognized for their 'commitment to heritage preservation projects around the world notable for community engagement and training in both traditional skills and modern conservation techniques.' In a world that seems to be moving faster than ever, where the past is quickly lost from memory, it is easy to lose sight of heritage which speaks to us of the civilization whence we have come. The World Monuments Fund, since 1965 has been “racing against time in more than 90 countries, applying proven techniques to preserving important architectural and cultural heritage sites. They achieve this through partnerships in local communities, with funders, and with governments. The evening featured tributes to the honorees by Agnes Gund (for Ellsworth Kelly) and Father Alexander Karloutsos (for Mica Ertegun) and musical performances by Peter Duchin and Members of his Orchestra including my favorite songstress/ guitarist Roberta Fabiano." (NYSD)
"The 2014 battle for the Senate has featured a few candidate bumbles and some colorful characters.
So far, it’s lacked any cycle-defining gaffes — 'Todd Akin moments' — but there is still a week to go until Election Day and potentially two runoffs extending things into early next year.
Every election cycle provides noteworthy events or moments in time that, in hindsight, proved to be pivot points in the outcome. Roll Call has identified 10 such instances that helped define this cycle’s Senate landscape. In 2012, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe’s, R-Maine, last-minute retirement began to alter the conventional wisdom that Republicans were likely headed for the majority. Months later, comments about rape by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock sealed the deal for Democrats.Now, once again, the majority is up for grabs: Republicans have pushed the fight into purple states, while Democrats are holding out hope the party can hang on. Here are 10 moments that helped get us here, in chronological order ..." (RollCall)
Brad Pitt in Fury"(Brad) Pitt finally dies a hero, but as I watched him perform his celluloid heroics, the only image that came to mind was a real story, one that took place long ago with Brad begging Mike Tyson—who mistakenly thought pretty boy was coming on to his wife and was faking anger—'Please, dude, don’t, for God’s sake don’t …' Oh well, we can’t all be heroes in real life; some are only so on reel. What this movie needs is a bit of range, a bit of subtlety, a bit of talent, and a different director, different script, a different writer, and different actors. Was there violence in Rebecca? In Wuthering Heights? In Laura? Could anyone ever get bored in The Best Years of Our Lives? Or the best war film ever, Go Tell the Spartans, about early Vietnam, starring the great Burt Lancaster? And if you hate the Germans and the fascists, go see The Garden of The Finzi-Continis, written and directed by Vittorio de Sica, starring the best looking woman of her time, Dominique Sanda. I could go on and on and on. But I won’t. All I’d like to know is, where has all the talent gone? And as always I will answer my own question: Movies today reflect what the audience wants to see, and the audiences are imbeciles and uneducated fools, and that’s why Fury will be a hit, so help me God." (Taki)
Thursday, October 23, 2014
"This past Monday night at the Frick Collection, they hosted their annual Autumn dinner in the galleries. This dinner is like everything else at the Frick – a cut above – in terms of atmosphere, presentation and the pleasure of dining amidst the Turners, El Grecos, Vermeers, Goyas, Manets, David. I mean really, where else in the United States of America can you do this? In what used to be a man’s home – and still protects some of that feel. I’ve written this many times before so I’ll be quick, but the Frick always deserves a special word. It is a haven, a solace, and a refuge from the city’s horns and bells and honks and cellphone carriers. We know a lot about Mr. Frick, its founder, and his dealers and his daughter. It’s a story to tell with many sides and shades. But the main event was this house, the museum, this collection. Whatever the karma that went into its inception, its construction, its expansion and its reputation, the Fricks created a little bit of heavenliness on this mad planet of ours." (NYSD)
Posted by Ron Mwangaguhunga at Thursday, October 23, 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
© Alexis Rodriguez-Duarte/Corbis.
"In all the rarefied rooms through which he moved with leonine grace in the prime of his life, Ben Bradlee benefited from a singular gift: everyone he encountered wanted to be like him or with him. He wore the honor as lightly as one of his trademark bold-striped shirts. Since Bradlee’s prime constituted (more or less) the last half of the 20th century—and a few good years of the 21st—his admirers amounted to an honor roll of his era. Not for nothing did he call his memoir A Good Life, a title that he suggested, with typical insouciance, was better than Personal History, the Pulitzer-winning memoir of his Washington Post patron, Katharine Graham. Bradlee’s self-confidence was the stuff of legend, and, as the saying goes, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. When he walked through the newsroom of the Post that he single-handedly had made (in Post editor Meg Greenfield’s words) 'dangerous to people in government,' he clanked between the waist and knees (as he would have himself confessed). Lesser men, and lesser journalists, would have given their 'left one' (as he also would have put it), to have a tenth of his talent, fame, or wealth. His pedigree was Brahmin and his blood was blue. His maternal great-uncle, Frank Crowninshield, was the founding editor of Vanity Fair. He spoke grammatically perfect French with an unyielding Boston accent. He survived naval service in the Pacific during World War II and made a splash as Newsweek’s man in Paris in the golden days of the postwar 1950s. But his greatest break came through a willful bit of luck, when he found himself the Georgetown neighbor of his fellow Harvard graduate, Senator John F. Kennedy, when they and the world were both still young. They shared parties and children and drinks and danger (nd, if Kennedy had had his way at the last birthday party of his life, they might have shared Bradlee’s second wife, Tony, too, for her book Grace and Power,—Bradlee) When Kennedy became president, Bradlee enjoyed access to the White House that was then extraordinary and that would be inconceivable today. Did he know of Kennedy’s sexual recklessness? To his last sentient day he insisted he did not, explaining that they had mostly been together in the company of their wives, where such exploits would have been unlikely conversational grist. A fair point, but a on history’s ledger all the same. " (vf)
"A friend once remarked that Ben Bradlee was 'a man's man,' to which my wife replied, 'he's also quite a woman's man.' Woman or man, it was hard to find anyone as engaging and fun to be around as Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, who died tonight at age 93. He was arguably the most significant newspaper editor of the 20th century, taking the Washington Post from a very good local paper to one of America's three great national newspapers. It was under Bradlee that the the Post broke, and owned, the Watergate story that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon; published the Pentagon papers over the fierce opposition of the government which took the case, unsuccessfully, all he way to the Supreme Court; and hired and developed some of the greatest journalists in the U.S. His charm was unsurpassed, his instincts almost unfailing and he had, as someone once said, the guts of a cat burglar. For 40 years, as presidents came and went, Ben Bradlee and his wife, Sally Quinn, were monuments of Washington. One of my few regrets in a long career in journalism is never having worked for Ben. Others can retell his extraordinary feats as the Post executive editor. I have personal story that only could be Ben Bradlee. There was a marvelous Newsweek reporter, John Lindsay; in the 1960s, Ben had been his bureau chief. John was as pure Boston Irish as Ben was Brahmin. Lindsay also was an insightful political reporter.
In the mid-1980s John was dying of cancer. Ben had a party to celebrate John while he still was active. You might think that could be maudlin. It wasn't one bit. It was gloriously fun, full of journalistic war stories, barbed witticisms and lots of high spirits. It probably was the only Georgetown party ever attended by West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd. Lindsay had covered Richard Nixon, and while he was no fan of the ex-president, they had formed an inexplicable bond of sorts. I called the former president's office to see if there was any way Nixon might call John that evening. When the aide asked where -- those were the days before mobile phones --I gulped and said at the home of Ben Bradlee, the editor who played such a critical role in bringing down Nixon.
In the middle of the party, John was summoned to take a call. There was the unmistakable voice on the other end. 'They said I would never go to China and I did,' Nixon declared. 'They said I would never call Ben Bradlee's house, and I just have.'" (Al Hunt)
"It seems nearly certain that Democrats will lose the Senate in two weeks, returning Congress to Republican control. The topic of conversation in Washington has now shifted to what the next two years might look like. And the short answer is, 'Not pretty.'Thankfully, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — who will likely become Senate majority leader — has not been shy about previewing the Republican strategy. 'We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy,' McConnell told Politico. 'That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guarantee it.' Speaking with a group of donors, he was even blunter: “In the House and Senate, we own the budget,” he said, according to a recording obtained by The Nation. 'So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board.'Let’s unpack what McConnell is saying. Republicans winning the Senate does not mean that they will be able to pass any legislation they like. For one, Democrats would be able to filibuster bills in the upper chamber. More important, President Obama would be able to veto any legislation that ended up on his desk — something he has seen need to do just twice thus far in his presidency. In other words, Democrats would be able to obstruct most Republican legislation, and will have to compromise if they want to construct any of their own. What could Republicans and Democrats come together on? There is a short list. Trade promotion authority — easing the way for the White House to pass two gigantic new pacts under negotiation — seems like a strong possibility, as does the passage of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Corporate tax reform is less likely, but potentially doable. Republicans also might pass a pared-down version of immigration reform, expanding visas for skilled immigrants and beefing up border security without touching the thorny question of what to do with the 12 million undocumented individuals already here. Democrats might not like it, but they might find such legislation hard to filibuster or to veto." (NYMag)
"Oscar de la Renta died this past Monday at age 82 (July 22) at his home in Kent, Connecticut. He had been ill and inconvenienced by cancer for the past several years. I use the word 'inconvenienced' because he continued to work and live almost as if it were nothing more than that.I didn’t know him but I was in his spheres of interest many times and had the opportunity to observe him. He was a very polished fellow publicly. Elegant, refined, and relaxed with it, right up until the end. The last time I saw him was at the Couture Council’s lunch at Lincoln Center at the beginning of Fashion Week in September. He looked noticeably gaunt for really the first time, although he was tanned, and bright eyed and smartly dressed in a greige suit and blue shirt. He had a sartorial style that was not just like, but reminiscent of, Fred Astaire. There was Technicolor to it, even with the greige. n the past couple of years there were a few times when word was going around sotto voce that Oscar was dying, with perhaps only days remaining. A few days later he would be out at an event, or showing his collections, or hosting a dinner for the Queen of Spain, or traveling to Lake Tahoe for his annual collection for some fundraising gala. I was told that even when he was having his chemo treatments, he went straight from the hospital to his office and his work. What more do we need to know about the essence of the man. He was ambitious and driven from the beginning. But he seemed to have worn it the way he wore those grey suits -- smartly and elegantly. In his work there were always the bright colored Latin frou-frou to his classic designs that gave them class and wit. He altered with the times but the personal sensibility was always his signature.The Couture Council of the Museum at FIT honored him a couple of years ago at their Fashion Week lunch. He was looking good, despite the sotto voce reports (which may very well have been accurate in terms of expectation). He had turned 80 that year and was still youthful in his comportment and appearance before his public." (NYSD)
Posted by Ron Mwangaguhunga at Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
"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)
"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)
"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)
Posted by Ron Mwangaguhunga at Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Monday, October 20, 2014
"In theory, the political equality of the polling place is supposed to be a counterweight to the inequality of wealth and power in the economy. According to the theory, anyone can vote, and anyone’s vote is worth as much as anyone else’s. But the Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, is bent on undermining the promise of American democracy. The Roberts court began to do this in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC by allowing the wealthy inordinate influence over campaign outcomes through contributions, which need not even be disclosed. The latest salvo is the court’s decision last week to allow Texas’ restrictions on voting to go into effect in spite of a district court’s ruling that they were unconstitutional. Texas’s laws, like those in other Republican-dominated states, have an ostensible political purpose, but their effect is to reinstitute barriers to voting that two centuries of fierce conflict had finally removed. Texas’ Republican legislature began almost a decade ago to promote a law that would require special identification at the polling place.They finally passed a bill, which Governor Rick Perry jubilantly signed, in May 2011. In 2012, the Justice Department blocked implementation of the law under the Voting Rights Act. But a year later, the Supreme Court threw out the provision of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the Justice Department to deny the approval of voting rules in Texas and other states that had been guilty of violating minority rights. Texas’s Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now running for governor, immediately declared the law in effect for the 2014 elections.n theory, the political equality of the polling place is supposed to be a counterweight to the inequality of wealth and power in the economy. According to the theory, anyone can vote, and anyone’s vote is worth as much as anyone else’s. But the Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, is bent on undermining the promise of American democracy. The Roberts court began to do this in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC by allowing the wealthy inordinate influence over campaign outcomes through contributions, which need not even be disclosed. The latest salvo is the court’s decision last week to allow Texas’ restrictions on voting to go into effect in spite of a district court’s ruling that they were unconstitutional. Texas’s laws, like those in other Republican-dominated states, have an ostensible political purpose, but their effect is to reinstitute barriers to voting that two centuries of fierce conflict had finally removed. Texas’ Republican legislature began almost a decade ago to promote a law that would require special identification at the polling place. They finally passed a bill, which Governor Rick Perry jubilantly signed, in May 2011. In 2012, the Justice Department blocked implementation of the law under the Voting Rights Act. But a year later, the Supreme Court threw out the provision of the Voting Rights Act that allowed the Justice Department to deny the approval of voting rules in Texas and other states that had been guilty of violating minority rights. Texas’s Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now running for governor, immediately declared the law in effect for the 2014 elections." (John Judis/TNR)
"The agreement to return Hong Kong to China was signed by U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in 1984. During a tense 1982 trip to China, Mrs. Thatcher tripped and stumbled on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. It proved to be an omen for Mrs. Thatcher, who had started out as an optimist about the Hong Kong negotiations but soon realized that China had the upper hand. By 1983, after several rounds of increasingly testy talks, she abandoned her hopes of 'turning Hong Kong into a self-governing territory,' according to her memoirs, and accepted China’s claim of sovereignty. 'We did the best we could with quite a weak hand because we were dealing with a lease that ran out in 1997,' said Anthony Galsworthy, a former British ambassador to China. While China had ceded Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula to Britain in perpetuity, the U.K. held the lion’s share of Hong Kong’s territory under a 99-year lease.
Still, Mrs. Thatcher, who died last year, remained hopeful. The 1984 agreement and subsequent pacts guaranteed that Hong Kong wouldn’t be quickly absorbed into China, stipulating that it would have 'a high degree of autonomy' and that top officials would come from Hong Kong. The negotiations provided only loose guidance, however, on the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive—today’s big sticking point." (WSJ)
Photograph by Jonathan Becker
"Standing six feet and five inches tall, John George Vanderbilt Henry Spencer-Churchill was every inch a duke. He was born in 1926, at Blenheim Palace, the spectacular 187-room baroque behemoth that was part of the 2,000-acre estate in Oxfordshire that Queen Anne gifted in 1705 'on behalf of a grateful nation' to Spencer-Churchill’s forbear, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, after his pivotal victory against the French army. Blenheim (the only non-royal, non-ecclesiastical residence in Britain styled a palace) has awed all visitors ever since. 'We have nothing to equal this,' King George III said to Queen Charlotte in 1786, upon his first visit. With the death of his father, in 1972, Spencer-Churchill became the 11th Duke of Marlborough and inherited the vast property—as well as the headaches all his ancestors had suffered trying to maintain the place. (Cousin Winston Churchill, born at Blenheim in 1874, was the presumptive heir to the dukedom until Spencer-Churchill’s grandparents produced a son.) 'My famous ancestor won the Battle of Blenheim in one day—but his descendants have been fighting it ever since,' His Grace the Duke said in 2011, when he and the Duchess of Marlborough allowed me to interview them for Vanity Fair and posed for photographer Jonathan Becker. " (VF)
"One exuberant guest got so caught up in the moment at Martha Stewart Weddings’ 20-year anniversary party at the Pierre Monday, he proposed to his girlfriend. 'She said yes,' said a witness.
The event was hosted by the mag’s staff, including editorial director Darcy Miller and Martha Stewart. The Living Omnimedia title will reportedly be handed off to Meredith Corp. in a licensing deal that was announced this week. Also at the bash, where guests could get manicures and makeovers, were designers Carolina Herrera and Erin Fetherston, as well as event planners Preston Bailey and Bronson van Wyck." (P6)
|"Then on Sunday afternoon Beth DeWoody gave a booksigning party at her Gracie Square apartment for our mutual friend and neighbor Charlie Scheips and his new book “Elsie DeWolfe’s Paris; Frivolity Before the Storm” (Abrams Publishers). The “storm” being Nazi Germany. This is an extraordinary book for social history as well as a chronicle of a time and a world that has passed. It bears the curiosity along the lines of the great social document Augustus Mayhew put together for us with Ellen Glendinning Ordway’s photo diary of 50 years of the 20th century. Mrs. Ordway, as firstly Mrs. Frazer, on her honeymoon coincidentally happens to make an appearance in the book. But more about all that on Tuesday’s Diary when I will write about the book, the author and the subject." (NYSD)|
|"For models, Fashion Week starts the week before the shows, with castings all over the city. You show up, walk for designers and casting directors, and hope to get picked. Sometimes you don’t find out if you’ve been booked for a show until the day before. Two years ago, I started taking a camera with me to castings and shows to document what I was seeing. This season, castings began on a lonely Labor Day weekend. While most of my friends were out of town, I shuttled around to different offices and shot a look book for a Korean designer. I went to SoulCycle classes and, at night, put on face masks. These things just get me in the game — there’s really nothing you can do to prepare for the runway other than just feel good about yourself. |
Lately, casting directors seem to be looking for either brand-new faces or for big-name veterans, like Naomi Campbell or Gisele, who both made surprise appearances on the runway this season. It’s tough to carve out a career in between all that, when you’ve been around a few seasons but you’re not a household name. Still, this season I walked for Opening Ceremony and J. Mendel in New York, and then I went straight to Paris, where I was booked by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent. Every designer asks that you walk down the runway a different way: Sometimes it’s graceful and feminine; other times it’s tough, like at Saint Laurent, where you just feel cool about yourself. I walked in the Chanel show, too, where Karl Lagerfeld staged a 'feminist' rally and asked us to come out holding picket signs and shouting slogans. I chose DIVORCE POUR TOUS because it felt less awkward to scream something in French than it would in English. Being a model today is about so much more than what you do on the runway. You have to promote yourself on Instagram and in street style and build your personal brand. Part of the reason I document my life is to turn the camera around — to photograph the world that photographs me." (NYMag)
"The dubious Dawa (medicine) man of Carnivore restaurant - the ultimate tourist trap in Johannesburg which is like the Epcot Center of South Africa (providing you and all its guests with a real, live South African experience!) ... promises his drink will soothe all your pans and ills and make you happy. Which it may. If you aren't AA or an angry drunk. Where: Carnivore Restaurant, Johannesburg Why go: You’ve seen animals like zebra, elan, springbok and crocodiles from a Jeep, now why not experience them on your plate? Just like a real African! Carnivore, which prides itself on giving tourists the ultimate realness in African experiences, is the meat eaters ultimate Epcot center. Adding to the Epcot-ness is, at least three times a night, the servers and other staff with beat drums and sing and dance across the dining area (which, in keeping with the theme, has zebra patterned nylon seats). Take Note: Crocodile oddly takes like fish. We’re talking fishy fish. And Zebra? Stick some slices on rye, with a little bit of horseradish mayo and that would make a mighty fine sandwich." (Paula Froelich/Yahoo! Travel)