Saturday, February 27, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The senior executives at Lehman Brothers, the storied Manhattan financial firm that was founded in 1850 and went bankrupt in 2008, were expected to have wives. And, if possible, they were supposed to be happy with them. If they were not happy, they were expected to pretend. In later years no one at the firm would ever forget what had happened to the late Chris Pettit, the longtime deputy to C.E.O. Richard 'Dick' Fuld. Pettit, good-looking, six feet two inches, a decorated Vietnam War hero, had been adored by the Lehman rank and file. Seen almost as a god, he was their real captain, instead of the more taciturn and less charismatic Fuld. But in the early 1990s, Pettit, a devout Roman Catholic, embarked on an affair with a woman at the firm. This did not sit well with Lehmanites, especially as Pettit liked to emphasize moral values. He was the man who had banned Playboy magazine from the trading floor, and at a dinner for the senior executives in the 1980s he had said, 'Now, look at this! Every single person here is with their original spouse. That is why we are successful. Because our word is our honor. We succeed in business because people can trust us.'" (VanityFair)

"Once again Washington has proved it is a tough town for a woman unless she is a whore, a bitch or a heat-seeking wife of. Score on any one of those counts, or all three, and the men here respect you, because they fear you, and that equals power. Obvious ambition, and the attitude that goes with it, sinks a woman here, unless she possesses the heart and soul of a dominatrix. If Sports Illustrated did a Washington issue, instead of posing in bikinis the models would brandish carbide ball cutters. Maureen Dowd would be the cover, offering up a sultry 'I’ll kill you and then I’ll eat you' glance, right down to her bare toes. Washington’s teen boys might not take it to the bathroom, but their Dads would. This past week we witnessed the executions of two women, and I must say they walked to the gallows wearing game faces. Both accepted their fate, but neither conceded defeat, or they covered it with the accepted rosy spin." (Carol Joynt/WashingtonSocialDiary)

"WHICH members of Congress make regular, secret visits to Cuba as guests of Fidel Castro, flying in from nearby islands? Their passports aren't stamped, so no one's the wiser." (PageSix)

"The Obama team has faced no shortage of crises to argue about: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, China, and the Middle East, and yet nothing has approached the boiling point, save one moment on troop increases for Afghanistan. One key reason for the internal peace has been the love fest between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pentagon chief Robert Gates. Basically, Hillary hugs the Pentagon, the generals, and Gates himself. She’s comfortable with their hard-edged, centrist-to-conservative line. That was essentially her stance during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, as well as during her Senate years. At times, Hillary’s subordinates chafe over her approach to the Pentagon, but it’s all within bounds. The same is true for the White House staff and General Jones’s NSC staffers. They complain, as did NSC staffs in the past, about 'poor' State Department work, but the objections are 'departmental,' not personal. Some in the White House blanched at Gates’ giving too much running room to General Stanley McChrystal over Afghan policy, but otherwise appreciate the cover Gates gives them with the ever-shrinking realist school within the Republican Party. There is unhappiness about how Gen. Jones does his job, but few policy disputes with him." (Les Gelb/TheDailyBeast)

(Gillis and Zarela via NYSD)

"Adult veteran performer Jamie Gillis passed away last Friday after losing his battle with cancer. He was 66 years of age. Gillis was a mainstay in the New York ‘70’s porn scene having worked with nearly every top performer including John Leslie, Sharon Mitchell, Ron Jeremy and many more. His 'do anything' performances later led to darker films that contributed to him being best known for his work in classic BDSM roles. A statement from close Gillis friends Ashley and April Spicer forwarded from veteran director Wesley Emerson states: 'It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Jamie Gillis, who died today in New York at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer. 'A wonderful and charismatic man and most treasured friend, he will be greatly missed by his partner Zarela, his family, his many friends, and countless fans around the world.' Gillis will be cremated at a private ceremony. In lieu of flowers, Jamie requested that contributions be made to the NYC Police Athletic League, an organization that helped Jamie as a boy and continues to assist children in New York City. 'Despite the immense grief we feel for the loss of our friend, we are comforted by a quotation from Albert Camus that Jamie often quoted to us: Happiness, too, is inevitable’.” (XBizNewswire)

"It’s the weekend before Cameron Douglas, 31-year-old D.J. and aspiring actor, will plead guilty to trafficking huge amounts of crystal meth and cocaine, facing at least 10 years behind bars. His father, Michael, still fit and urbane at 65, is somber. The specter of the situation hangs over every topic of conversation. 'The history of second-generation actors isn’t great in our industry,' he says, his voice quiet, yet crisp and controlled, as he cuts neatly into his steak at a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. 'It’s kind of a tragic road, actually.' As it happens, Michael is talking about himself. He is, of course, the son of the great Kirk Douglas, star of such movies as Champion, Lonely Are the Brave, Paths of Glory, and Spartacus, and, for many years, a distant, volatile father to his young sons. At the peak of his career, Michael succumbed to alcohol addiction and saw his family fall apart. He might well have ended up like his half-brother Eric, Kirk’s other actor son, who died of a drug overdose in 2004. But instead Michael got a second chance to do it right—soberly, with a new wife and new kids. Though he is here to promote Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Solitary Man, about a has-been car dealer coping with his lost virility, his main goal in life these days is not selling movies; it’s doing what he can for the son in crisis and protecting his new family, so that the cycle of tragedies can end." (VanityFair)

"Don’t cry for Desiree even though she’s gotten the hook. Let’s face it, she was never right for the job. Traditional White House social secretaries are behind the scenes, detail-oriented worker bees who toil from dawn to dusk polishing guest lists, overseeing menus, and delicately smoothing over last-minute catastrophes. The highly visible and glamorous former corporate executive could never play that role. With her trendy designer clothes and penchant for publicity she was determined to be a star, and simply too high-profile and too in your face ..A social secretary’s job is to help the first family put their own social mark on the White House, and it’s not about them, it’s about the family, about the first lady and the president. If it becomes about them, then there’s a problem,' observes Nancy Reagan's former press secretary Sheila Tate. 'There’s a difference between staff and principles. Sometimes people who have been important in their private career can’t make that adjustment.' 'I don’t understand why she took the job, and I think she was quickly bored with it,' says a long-time acquaintance of Rogers'. 'Arranging flowers and picking out tablecloths is definitely not her bag.' The same person also dismisses Rogers' claim that her goal was to turn the executive mansion into 'the people's house. Chic people are what she cares about,' she says. 'They don’t have to be rich—just chic!'" (TheDailyBeast)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Will Julianna Smoot Replace Desiree Regers?

ABC's Jake Tapper just Tweeted: "New WH Social Secretary likely to be Dem fundraiser/US Trade Rep chief of staff Julianna Smoot." Smoot was national finance director for 2008 presidential campaign of then-Sen. Barack Obama, raising millions. From WashPo:

"On a frigid day in early January, Barack Obama rode the three blocks from the Capitol to a nondescript, four-story, white-brick building where he had rented a spartan office suite.

Obama pulled out a folding chair and sat down with Julianna Smoot, the veteran Democratic fundraiser he had hired to raise the millions of dollars he would need for a presidential bid. Smoot thumbed through a thin list of potential donors that Obama had gathered during his 2004 Senate bid in Illinois and as he helped other politicians raise money for elections in 2006. She frowned.

"It wasn't much to work with," Smoot recalled. "But that was how we started. He asked me what he should do, and I said, 'Start calling. And don't forget to ask for their credit card numbers.' "

The WH Social Secretary is sort of the arbiter elegantiae of the White House. It is a job that comes with perks, like a high social profile, attendance at all state dinners and a large role in the shaping of the legacy of the White House. Letetia Baldridge was the Social Secretarty in the Kennedy White House.
The Secret World of Haute Culture In 30 Seconds

IN A WAKING DREAM from V Magazine on Vimeo.

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"For the last several decades, the Turkish military was untouchable; no one dared to criticize the military or its top generals, lest they risk getting burned. The Turkish Armed Forces were the ultimate protectors of founding father Kemal Ataturk's secular legacy, and no other force in the country could seriously threaten its supremacy. Not anymore." (ForeignPolicy)

"Grace Jones will perform at this year's Elton John AIDS Foundation's annual Oscar viewing party on March 7 at the Pacific Design Center in LA. Details are still under wraps, but as with recent shows at Hammerstein Ballroom and the Hollywood Bowl, the 61-year-old singer's act will include a lengthy wait to take the stage and multiple, dramatic costume changes. In past years, Elton booked such artists as Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and the Scissor Sisters." (PageSix)

"Sally Quinn, whose first novel was titled 'Regrets Only,' doesn’t have any second thoughts about the writing of her 'dysfunctional family' drama in The Washington Post last week. 'I have absolutely no regrets at all,' Quinn told POLITICO. While Quinn isn’t sorry about writing it, others — from family members to online critics to the paper’s top editor — are. Quinn said Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli told her that if he’d seen it first, he wouldn’t have run the column explaining the “dueling weddings” of her son and stepson’s daughter and squabbles among family members. And now Brauchli has decided 'The Party' — her irregularly appearing print column launched in November — is over. But Quinn says she’s glad, because it was never intended to be a permanent column but, rather, to focus on holiday entertaining and 'generosity of spirit' — the sort of spiritually inspired get-together that would also work in 'On Faith,' the site she co-moderates with Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham. 'As soon as the holidays were over, it wasn’t working for me,” Quinn said." (Politico)

"So leaving the pretty village of Gstaad on a sunny Tuesday morning, I set out for St. Moritz to attend the annual general meeting of Pugs Club and to participate in the first Pugs uphill ski race ... By the time we arrived at Chantal Hanover’s house on the outskirts of St. Moritz, the meeting was in full session, my fever had gone up, so there was only one thing to do: drown it. Club matters were discussed, eight applicants were unanimously blackballed, and Prince Nikolaos of Greece was elected, also unanimously. We are now 17 and the membership will close at 20. (Incidentally, Sir Christopher Lee wore his striped blue and white Pugs tie when he knelt before the Queen and was knighted). After that Prince Heinrich von Furstenberg decreed the 2010 sailing regatta to be held off St. Tropez on May 20th, with Tim Hoare assuring us that last year’s winner will not be using the same tactics. (I am not one to make excuses but I did miss the starting line with the ensuing penalty as I was blinded by the black smoke Roger Taylor’s engine was pouring out). The hangover next morning was nothing compared to the lousy ski conditions. A blinding snowstorm brought the visibility down to zero but Gimlet insisted the race must go on. Once on the slopes, I discovered the genius I employ back in Gstaad had not packed my skis, but those of my son when he was a baby. It was as good an excuse for not taking part as I can think of, yet Gimlet would not lay off the cheap jokes, jokes to do with Sparta, Thermopylae, and the Italian performance on the battlefield in 1940. I gave in. But first we all had lunch at the Corviglia Club, where Gimlet proceeded to grab a table reserved for others and where he ordered a magnum of champagne and two bottles of claret, despite the fact he does not drink. He then stuck the president of the Corviglia, Prince Augusto Ruffo di Calabria, and Count Bismarck with the bill, both of whom were seated far away trying to avoid him." (Takimag)

"Here’s one sign of how fast things are changing in the news business: It was only a couple of years ago that it was not only possible but downright fashionable to argue about whether bloggers are journalists. That was the wrong question, of course; a blog is just a vessel, and journalism the content that may or may not fill that vessel. Yet the whole tiresome debate seems more than a little quaint now that the likes of Hendrik Hertzberg, Nicholas Kristof and James Fallows are blogging—and, in plenty of cases, Facebooking and tweeting, too. In 2010, thank God, it’s a given that you don’t need the imprimatur of a huge news organization to be taken seriously as a journalist. Hell, you don’t even need a blog, or, for that matter, a name—just a cell phone. I refer here to the anonymous Iranian upon whom, last week, was bestowed a George Polk Award, one of journalism’s top honors, for the video he or she captured of a female protester as she died from a sniper’s bullet during last year’s Green Revolution. The woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, instantly became a national martyr and international cause célèbre. The identity of the individual who immortalized her death—described in the citation as 'a brave bystander with a cell-phone camera'—is still unknown, but there’s no reason to think he/she was anything other than a civilian." (Jeff Bercovici/Observer)

"Last night I went down to the Hotel Indigo, on 127 West 28th Street because a woman named Farah Moinian (whose husband owns the new hotel) was giving a book signing reception for Anne Ford and her third book (with John-Richard Thompson), A Special Mother, with Foreward by Judy Woodruff. Anne’s subject is learning disabilities. This came about because her daughter Allegra was born with learning disabilities. When Anne was made aware of them she was confronted with something she didn’t even want to look at. Her personal experience of facing her realities, however, gave her the opportunity to learn more about herself and to gain strength from it. For a long time she was actively involved in the National Center for Learning Disabilities, and, along with Carrie Rozelle and a few others, built it into an influential organization that has made enormous strides in teaching us what learning disabilities are, and how common they are among us. A century ago people with serious learning disabilities were often locked away in institutions. Today people with serious learning disabilities lead independent, constructive lives." (NYSocialDiary)

"Milan fashion week is struggling to maintain its immaculate image as its catwalk shows are hit by a 'perfect storm' of distinctly unglamorous problems. Disappointing sales figures, an apparent snub by American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, the resurfacing of scandal around the troubled Versace family, and even a clash over traffic policy have combined to cast the rhinestones and perma-tans into the shade ... Milan's problems were reflected and compounded when the hugely influential Wintour let it be known she did not plan on spending more than four days in Milan this season. With all the major designers insisting on catwalk slots during Wintour's stay, Milan's seven-day schedule was cut almost by half. Wintour has attempted to play down the row, telling reporters from her front-row seat at the London fashion shows last week that she was looking forward to her trip to Italy. But Franca Sozzani, Wintour's counterpart in Milan as the editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue, described the situation as 'embarrassing' in the Corriere della Sera newspaper this week." (TheGuardian)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Writers Guild of America East Launches Digital Media Education Program

Over 200 Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) members and friends jammed the Paley Center for Media last night for the launch of its new digital media education program’s inaugural seminar, “The Economics of Digital Media.” Economics of Digital Media” is the first in the WGAE’s recently announced Writers Guild 2.0 initiative. "The fundamental goal of the Writers Guild 2.0 initiative is to ensure that creators are at the table as decisions are made about these basic issues," WGA East exec director Lowell Patterson told Variety last month. "The enormous potential of digital media won't mean much if writers and other creators can't make a living, or if they must cede creative control."

Last night's event comes on the heels of ABC's demoralizing move to cut 300 staffers. ABC News, which employs about 1500 people, is offering voluntary buyouts to non-union staff over the next few weeks, working with unions, including WGA East.

The evening's presenters were Anita Ondine, CEO of Seize the Media, Mo Koyfman, principal at Spark Capital, a venture capital firm focused on the media, entertainment and tech industries, and Mark Lukasiewicz, vice president of NBC News specials and digital media.

"Americans are consuming more video content than ever before, on more devices, in more places, and it's never been more clear that quality counts … It's a mistake to think all the rules of the game have changed," NBC's Mark Lukasiewicz told the audience. "Facts still matter. Sharp analysis still matters. Strong narratives and compelling characters still matter. Almost all of the things that made great TV journalism a generation ago still make great video storytelling today."
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"...(S)eated in one of the elegant, colonial-era reception rooms at the presidential residence in Pretoria as he prepares for a state visit to the UK next week, Mr Zuma is very much at ease. In ebullient form, he insists that Bafana Bafana ('the Boys, the Boys'), the underperforming national side, will surprise everyone when the sports contest starts. When the conversation turns to South Africa’s social and economic challenges he is equally confident, frequently tossing his head back to chuckle at ironies in the political complications ahead. Sixteen years after Nelson Mandela was elected to head South Africa’s first post-apartheid government, these difficulties are considerable. South Africa is still a deeply divided society with high unemployment, educational underachievement and poverty continuing to plague the majority black population. But the current uncertainties raise fresh questions about the ability of Africa’s largest economy and most sophisticated democracy to rise to the challenge." (FT)

"Jesus Luz had a bad night in Rio on Sunday. Madonna's boy toy was deejaying at a party for the best samba schools that participated in Carnival when a guest came up and threw beer in his face, saying, 'Get out of here, I don't wanna see your face here anymore!' As reported by iG Gente magazine, Luz 'went to a corner and started to cry.'" (PageSix)

(image via JH/NYSD)

"Lisa Falcone is a New York woman in the prime of her life who has made something of a name for herself in the community, or rather her community – that being the young very rich New Yorkers. She is married to a very rich hedge fund owner/investor named Philip Falcone. He is listed on the Forbes 400. It is said they have five residences including a large mansion here in New York that once belonged to Bob Guccione, the man who invented Penthouse magazine. She caught everyone’s attention last summer when at a benefit for the HighLine with an audience populated by the high mucky mucks of community philanthropy, she suddenly took the podium – seemingly out of the blue -- and pledged $10 million to the project. In New York, a ten million dollar pledge can get you angel wings in some people’s eyes." (NYSocialDiary)

"Inside a secret detention center in an industrial pocket of the Pakistani capital called I/9, teams of Pakistani and American spies have kept a watchful eye on a senior Taliban leader captured last month. With the other eye, they watch each other. The C.I.A. and its Pakistani counterpart, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, have a long and often tormented relationship. And even now, they are moving warily toward conflicting goals, with each maneuvering to protect its influence after the shooting stops in Afghanistan. Yet interviews in recent days show how they are working together on tactical operations, and how far the C.I.A. has extended its extraordinary secret war beyond the mountainous tribal belt and deep into Pakistan’s sprawling cities. Beyond the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, C.I.A. operatives working with the ISI have carried out dozens of raids throughout Pakistan over the past year, working from bases in the cities of Quetta, Peshawar and elsewhere, according to Pakistani security officials." (MARK MAZZETTI and JANE PERLEZ/NYTimes)

"The Love Ball, a fundraiser for Natalia Vodianova's Naked Heart Foundation, which builds playgrounds in underprivileged parts of Russia, debuted in London on Tuesday. And in a way that neither the supermodel nor her co-host, British Harper's Bazaar editor in chief Lucy Yeomans, could quite have anticipated, it was a night that no one will likely forget. Moments after all the VIPs arrived—perhaps that should be VVIPs, as in the likes of Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, and Kate Moss—the fire alarm went off due to an overactive smoke machine. That sent everyone (yes, even you, DVF) outside to the parking lot. 'Grab that bottle of vodka,' Hilary Alexander announced to her table, not entirely in jest. About half an hour later—and for some, after a drink across the street—everyone made it back to their seats, and the program could begin." (Style)

"Howard Stern may finally get to tell Americans without Sirius how he feels about Jay Leno. Stern, who said he turned down an opportunity to appear on the last week of Conan O'Brien's 'Tonight Show' because of a fear of flying, told his satellite radio listeners on Wednesday that he has agreed to appear on CBS' 'Early Show' next week, where he will voice his opinions on NBC's late night. 'I am the only ---hole that's willing to talk about Jay Leno,' Stern said. "Everyone else is so afraid.' Letterman, he added, is 'still his guy.' Stern said the interview will be broadcast simultaneously on his radio show." (Dylan Stableford/ TheWrap)

"If you were in Latvia's capital earlier this month, you would have noticed the snow, waist-deep in some places. For days, even big streets in Riga remained unplowed -- impossible for anything other than an SUV to navigate. Still, parking inspectors walked through the city, coldly ticketing cars stuck at expired meters. Riga has had mild, rainy winters of late, and the snow caught the city by surprise. But the real reason for the wintry mess is that the city government has slashed its road maintenance budget by a third. Although the world is watching Greece, Latvia's economy is the most imperiled in Europe -- the country is in the midst of a collapse as bad, by some metrics, as the United States' during the Great Depression. At the peak of the "Baltic Tiger" boom in 2006, Latvia was the fastest-growing economy in Europe, having transformed, seemingly overnight, from a sleepy former Soviet state to a flashy eastern Copenhagen. New condos and tech start-ups sprouted all over Riga; German luxury cars patrolled the streets. The skyline changed, with 10 of the country's 20 tallest buildings constructed in the last six years. Personal income doubled to 60 percent of the European Union average, introducing many Latvians to full-fledged Western consumerism for the first time. Then, in 2007, the Baltic real estate bubble burst." (ForeignPolicy)

"As mentioned previously, earlier this month, local adult publication XBIZ held their eighth annual XBIZ Awards at Avalon in Hollywood. While the AVN Awards may be considered the Oscars of the adult industry, the XBIZ Awards should not be considered the equivalent of the Daytime Emmys as TMZ joked, but rather the Golden Globes, and as a result are still highly-coveted. Hosted by Teagan Presley and Sunny Leone, the show awarded prizes in 67 categories spanning five fields (Web & Tech, Movies & Production, Novelty & Retail, People's Choice, and Special Recognition), with Adam & Eve's The 8th Day winning Feature Movie of the Year and X-Play/Hustler Video's Not the Bradys XXX: Marcia, Marcia winning Parody Release of the Year." (LAist)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jon Stewart Does ChatRoulette

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Little Known Facts About Evan Bayh

Is Evan Bayh really a Centrist? True Centrists, to be sure, are politically quite wise and philosophically quite principled. They eschew the fringes and value compromise.

Does that describe Senator Evan Bayh? Or is he -- as many think -- a son of a politician (Not unlike Al Gore during his unremarkable Senate career but not so much now) who grew up acutely aware of the wedge issues that caused their fathers' campaign defeat? Is he seeking, above all else, to avoid take a stand on a politically fraught issue? In other words, is Evan Bayh's centrism deterministic, a masterful navigation of a second-generation pol seeking to never get caught on the controversial side of any issue on the example of his father?

Opinions, of course, vary widely. Evan Bayh seems like a mild mannered, God fearing Hoosier. He has been remarkably scandal-free. He retires without being scalded by any sexual or financial improprieties (no small feat in this day and age). Sure, listening to Bayh speak is less exciting than watching plants produce oxygen. It doesn't make him a bad person.

But how much do we really know about the Senator from Indiana soon to join the ranks of the underemployed? The Corsair has compiled a list of things that every voter needs to know about the man:

Little Known Fact: Evan Bayh's hair is not the enemy. The terrorists are. Just putting that out there.

Little Known Fact: Evan Bayh does not want to be buried in a pet semetary.

Little Known Fact: Those who have not known a good night's sleep have never attended Senator Bayh's Office Hours.

Little Known Fact: Nothing is certain but death and taxes and the fact that Evan Bayh will be on the "short list" as a possible running mate for the next Democrat nominee for President.

Little Known Fact: If Evan Bayh smoked, his brand would most certainly be Benson & Hedges. And it would be done in moderation.

Little Known Fact: If ever Evan Bayh wants to start a third party, you can be damn well sure it will be the most boring. Party. Ever.

Little Known Fact: "Evan Bayh Pulling Out" is the sexiest thing ever said about the Senator.

Little Known Fact: Evan Bayh makes everything quiet and not fun, but in an engagingly sincere manner.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"For the past week, the U.S. and allies' offensive in Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley has put war back on the front pages of America’s newspapers. Even after eight years of fighting, though, and an additional seven years of combat in Iraq, the U.S. public and its military still struggle to understand the dynamics of war as it is being fought. These political fights in Iraq and Afghanistan do not resemble the large-scale industrial wars of the 20th century. No matter what happens in the Helmand Valley over the next few weeks and months, there will never be an 'Armistice Day' or 'Victory Day' the likes of which signaled the ends of the First and Second World Wars, respectively. The United States and its allies had defeated the Nazi regime mere months after landing in Normandy, yet in Afghanistan the NATO alliance seemingly labors without end." (TheDailyBeast)

"Remember when the Internet was supposed to kill off television? That hasn’t been the case lately, judging by the record television ratings for big-ticket events. The Vancouver Olympics are shaping up to be the most-watched foreign Winter Games since 1994. This year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched program in United States history, beating out the final episode of 'M*A*S*H' in 1983. Awards shows like the Grammys are attracting their biggest audiences in years. Many television executives are crediting the Internet, in part, for the revival. Blogs and social Web sites like Facebook and Twitter enable an online water-cooler conversation, encouraging people to split their time between the computer screen and the big-screen TV. The Nielsen Company, which measures television viewership and Web traffic, noticed this month that one in seven people who were watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics opening ceremony were surfing the Web at the same time. 'The Internet is our friend, not our enemy,' said Leslie Moonves, chief executive of the CBS Corporation, which broadcast both the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards this year. 'People want to be attached to each other.'" (Brian Stelter/NYTimes)

(image via JH/NYSD)

"Last night at the Café Carlyle, Lord Charles Spencer-Churchill invited me to the opening of John Standing performing Noel Coward. I am a Noel Coward aficionado although with the exception of the late Bobby Short who had his own musical signature, I’ve never really been impressed by those who’ve followed in Coward's tracks singing his songs that always sounded not quite the 'right' Noel without him. Until last night. Better even maybe than Noel Coward, is this Noel. There were many people in the room who already knew that about him, including some who’ve been following Standing for years – including Sarah, Duchess of York who came out of the dark and took the stage right after the lights cameup, urging everyone to come back again and again to hear this very funny man with his 'sly biological urge' sing the highly witty, funny Coward songs." (NYSocialDiary)

"Alan P. Gross of Maryland recently had the rare experience of being thrown in jail for doing his job. Cuban authorities arrested the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor at Havana's José Martí International Airport. President Raúl Castro has said that Gross was providing 'sophisticated satellite communications equipment' to groups working for 'the enemy' -- that is, the Americans. Cuban prosecutors have yet to file formal charges, but he could be accused of entering the country on a tourist visa while actually working for a foreign government to foment regime change. Gross remains in a maximum-security prison in Havana, and U.S. diplomats are working assiduously for his release. The case is the latest bone of contention between the United States and Cuba. And it is pushing President Barack Obama's administration to make a decision it neglected in its first year: whether to continue former President George W. Bush's policies toward Cuba, or forge its own ones." (ForeignPolicy)

"Stylist/costume designer Amanda Ross is now the global fashion director of W Hotels Worldwide, consulting for the chain of hotels and creating partnerships between the W and designers. To celebrate, Daniel Benedict toasted Ross with a small, chic cocktail party at the W Lounge in Bryant Park with Euan and Lucy Rellie, Carlos Souza, Richie Rich, Tinsley Mortimer, Miguel Fabregas, Milly de Cabrol, Kelly Cutrone, Fern Mallis and other chicsters raising flutes of champagne .. She leaves this March for the grand opening of the W Barcelona." (Papermag)

"The UK general election is widely predicted for May, and the Conservative party is currently narrowly ahead of the incumbent Labour government in the polls. But who would hold the power in a Tory administration, and who are the most influential advisers?" (FT)

"After luring investor Jim Rogers, actor Jet Li, Filipino maids and Bangladeshi construction workers with one of Asia’s most open immigration policies, Singapore is becoming a little less welcoming to foreigners. Singapore almost doubled the rate it grants citizenship and permanent residence in the past five years to counter a falling birth rate, and let firms bring in thousands to work at hotels, shipyards and restaurants. The move saw foreigners make up one in every three people. The government plans to slow the inflow to avoid being 'overwhelmed,' and unveiled higher levies for overseas laborers, cooks and janitors in its Feb. 22 budget. The effort is part of a shift in economic policies designed to ease discontent in the aftermath of the deepest recession since independence in 1965 and to shore up public support before elections that must be held by February 2012." (Bloomberg)
Stephen Colbert Interviews Ujjal Dosanjh

genius ..

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a Riding - Vancouver's South - Ujjal Dosanjh
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Picture Pages, Picture Pages ...

Was it good for you? (image via thecobrasnake)

I've got a better idea, slugger: why don't you just keep that cobrasnake in the wicker basket. (image via thecobrasnake)

I don't have a medical degree, but offhand I'd prescribe a regime of desiccated beef liver tablets and a robust multivitamin. (image via the cobrasnake)

"I think I could fall madly in bed with you." (image via thecobrasnake)

Skeevy Nicks. (image via thecobrasnake)

Russell Off-brand. (image via thecobrasnake)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Although I have refrained from responding to gratuitous and incorrect analyses of my foreign policy, I feel compelled to comment on Walter Russell Mead's cover story ('The Carter Syndrome,' January/February 2010), which the editors apparently accepted without checking the author's facts or giving me a chance to comment. I won't criticize or correct his cute and erroneous oversimplistic distortions of presidential biographies and history except when he refers specifically to me. I resent Mead's use of such phrases as 'in the worst scenario, turn him [Obama] into a new Jimmy Carter,' 'weakness and indecision,' and 'incoherence and reversals' to describe my service. An especially aggravating error is his claiming, 'by the end of his tenure he was supporting the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, increasing the defense budget, and laying the groundwork for an expanded U.S. presence in the Middle East.' None of these were late decisions based on a tardy realization of my earlier errors and misjudgments." (Jimmy Carter/ ForeignPolicy)

"Walter Russell Mead's appraisal of President Barack Obama's foreign policy was gratuitously titled 'The Carter Syndrome' even though it contained no analysis of President Jimmy Carter's foreign policy. Nonetheless, its message was that in 'the worst scenario" Obama could turn out to be like Carter, whose presidency Mead associates with "weakness and indecision.' Since Mead provides no examples, here are a few geopolitical accomplishments of Carter's four years .." (Zbigniew Brzezinski /ForeignPolicy)

"It's an honor that President Jimmy Carter chose to respond to my article with an impassioned and eloquent defense of his presidential stewardship. I cast my first presidential ballot for Carter's re-election in 1980 and continue to regard him with great respect. I am also a great admirer of Zbigniew Brzezinski; reviewing one of his recent books, I wrote that 'no statesman of his generation is in his league' when it comes to the study of U.S. foreign policy against the background of the deeper movements of world history. That said, my recent Foreign Policy article was not really about Carter or his administration. It was about the current U.S. president and the intellectual, cultural, and political challenges he faces, so the treatment of past presidents was necessarily less detailed and nuanced. In that context, I referred to some of the difficulties that Carter encountered in managing the U.S. relationship with the Soviet Union. I have attended meetings at which high-ranking officials from both the Soviet Union and the Carter administration have clearly stated that Carter's support for human rights was seen from the Soviet side as a repudiation of détente and a return to Cold War hostility -- and that, especially in the beginning, Carter did not fully grasp the tension between his two goals of détente with the Soviets and the promotion of human rights." (Walter Russell Meade/ForeignPolicy)

"Jersey Shore is already so incredibly obvious that the jokes about it are just too easy and often unfunny. How does the porn movie based on the show measure up? It is both terrible and amazing." (Gawker)

"Like many Americans, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been forced to work two jobs to get through tough times. Emanuel’s main job is serving as President Barack Obama’s not-so-mild-mannered point man on the renewed, possibly quixotic final push for health care reform. But in his spare time, the White House chief of staff and his allies have sought to defend Emanuel against a growing chorus of critics who blame him for nearly everything that has gone wrong in Obama’s first year. One of the more surprising details to emerge from this back and forth is that Emanuel’s allies are letting it be known around town that he never wanted to make it the administration’s top priority for Year One. That may come as a surprise to Democrats on the Hill who’ve been lobbied relentlessly by Emanuel to get a bill done — and fast." (Politico)

"Latin American and Caribbean nations backed Argentina's claim of sovereignty to the Falkland Islands on Monday in a growing dispute with Britain over plans to drill for oil off the islands in the Atlantic. At the Rio Group summit of 32 countries hosted by Mexico, Argentina presented a statement quoting Mexican President Felipe Calderon as saying that 'the heads of state represented here reaffirm their support for the legitimate rights of the republic of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute with Great Britain.' Calderon did not speak directly about the matter. Britain and Argentina have long disputed sovereignty of the Falkland Islands -- known as Las Malvinas in Latin America -- and fought a war over them in 1982. The issue had been relatively calm until a British oil exploration company recently announced drilling plans there." (BusinessWeek)

"'Keeping Up with the Kardashians' has smashed another ratings record at E! Despite airing opposite the Olympics, the fourth season finale of the reality soap opera drew 4.8 million viewers Sunday at 10 p.m., making it the most-watched telecast in the network’s history, according to Nielsen. It also broke network records for biggest telecast in a number of key demographics, including adults 18-34 and 18-49. Overall, the 10-episode fourth season of 'Kardashians' now stands as the most-watched series in E! history. (Sorry, 'The Anna Nicole Show.') It averaged 3.7 million viewers this season, more than doubling its season three numbers." (TheWrap)

(image via Jill Krementz via NYSD)

"...(Y)esterday in New York was the day that parents learned whether or not their four and five year old sons and daughters were accepted in the private kindergarten of their choice. This is no small matter in the lives of the rich. Their children’s schools are badges of not only their prosperity, but their successes. Furthermore, these kindergartens are highly selective besides being highly expensive ($15,000 - $25,000 annually). And of course there is a pecking order as to which is the best and which is the ... least ... best school. A kid – a toddler, even – can start off on the wrong foot in life when he doesn’t get accepted at Episcopal. Where a child is accepted or not accepted is a mark for or against the parents’ standing in the community. Something money can’t buy. As in: Not Too Big to Fail. I wondered, reading Mr. Sorkin’s list of players in Too Big To Fail, whether or not some of those names were mamas and papas of a little one who did or didn’t make the grade (cut the mustard) yesterday." (NYSocialDiary)

"Being the president’s wife apparently has its perks. Sources confirm to me exclusively that First Lady Michelle Obama has invited the cast of Glee to perform at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, April 5 — and, barring any last-minute glitches, they’re gonna do it! Rumor has it Mrs. O and her daughters are big fans of the show." (Michael Ausiello/PopWatch)

"Kehinde Wiley's homoerotic portraiture generally romanticizes the unknown: street-cast African American kids honorably putting in their time as a menacing other. But for a PUMA commission celebrating the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Wiley depicts athletes at the height of visibility (and homophilia): soccer stars Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, John Mensah of Ghana and Emmanuel Eboué of Ivory Coast. Legends of Unity—a series featuring group and individual portraits of the three players, and a documentary—stopped at Deitch Projects' Wooster Street space last weekend. The New York showing is part of a multi-country tour of the exhibition, which kicked off in Berlin earlier this month and will end in South Africa in June. 'So much of what I wanted to do with this project was get away from the televisual notions of disease, war, famine that we are sort of constantly bombarded with in regards to looking at Africa,' said Wiley in an interview Friday afternoon at Deitch. "And here is a chance to provide not just some sort of cheesy political correcting, but rather something that is, I think, more indicative of a type of honest engagement with the process of what I had been doing for years in America and having that transposed to Africa.'" (Interviewmagazine)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Will Bloomberg Run as an Independent in 2012?

Will Michael Bloomberg finally make that run for President? It seems that we have been perpetually asking that question since the 2008 race where he politically flirted with former Oklahoma Governor David Boren as a running mate. Bloomberg is, according to Forbes, the richest New Yorker and 8th richest American. Politico's John Harris told Chris Matthews on Sunday that Howard Wolfson is pushing Bloomberg 2012. It would probably be an Independent run (Bloomberg's ally, Mort Zuckerman, is also mulling an indie run against Senator Gillibrand). Wolfson, we cannot fail to note, worked for Hillary Clinton during her fiery campaign for President in 2008. The New York Times wrote of Wolfson's high profile switch from one New York political powerhouse to another:

"Mr. Wolfson’s conversion has become a source of fascination and dismay among New York Democrats, who are now on the other end of the cutting brand of politics he perfected as a chief strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the city, he is credited in political circles with pressuring Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Democrat, to quit the mayor’s race. The switch has been cited as an example of how the billionaire mayor, who is prepared to spend as much as $100 million of his own money to win a third term, can buy the silence of even his most ardent critics — an assertion summarily dismissed by Mr. Wolfson, whose consulting firm is earning $40,000 a month from the campaign.

“The risk for someone like Howard is that he is surrendering his credibility,” said Joel Benenson, a senior political adviser to President Obama who was Mr. Weiner’s campaign pollster. “He made countless statements to the press during the presidential primaries that were wrong, and now he’s saying things that completely contradict what he said four years ago.”

For Mr. Wolfson, who in a 2005 profile boasted of never having dated a Republican, the transition has brought its share of personal and professional difficulties. Most nights this spring, he could be found in a room alone at the W hotel in Union Square — or any other hotel, he said, that he could find on Travelocity for under $300 a night — while his wife, Terri McCullough, chief of staff to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and two children, one an infant, remained in Washington. (Ms. McCullough is on maternity leave, and the family is spending the summer together in an Upper West Side sublet).

And after years in the upper echelons of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, he remains something of an outsider in the efficient corporate culture of the Bloomberg camp, where he was initially viewed with suspicion by some veterans."

It looks as if this might happen. There is so much buzz about a third party, a "safe and sane Ross Perot," that Michael Bloomberg -- who has always had the ambition and the bank -- might be willing to ride the zeitgeist. There are even beltway whisperings of a Bloomberg-Bayh "independent party" ticket in 2012. Bayh, for his part, has professed loyalty to the President if frustration at the way Washington works. But Sundays Op-Ed page of the NYTimes looked almost like a full page ad for such a run by Bayh. Lincoln Chaffee, who is running as an Independent for Governor of Rhode Island, had an op-ed piece literally in the middle of an op-ed piece by Senator Evan Bayh (hmm) about why he is leaving the Senate.

The New York Daily News is reporting that Minnesota Independence Party Chair Jack Uldrich wants New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president in 2012. "The two-party system has catastrophically failed America," Uldrich told Elizabeth Benjamin. "America needs a serious, credible independent to right our sinking ship and get it back on track to a prosperous future. There is no one better positioned than Mayor Bloomberg to accept the mantle of this immense challenge."

Bloomberg, for sure, has an independent streak. Also, an opportunistic streak. Fault lines recently opened up between the Bloomberg and Obama administrations over the KSM trials. Bloomberg, previously the most prominent backer of the Obama administration's plan to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks in Lower Manhattan, did an about face on his previous position that the trials should be held in New York City. Vice President Biden, Obama's surrogate (particularly on suburban and white collar white voter issues), went on the offensive to question Bloomberg's math. Since then, there has been a bit of a chill between New York and Washington.

Being Mayor of the media capital of the world (with billions in his deep pockets) gives Michael Bloomberg a leg up automatically. Kevin Sheekey fed the media beast a constant stream of raw meat about Bloomberg in 2008. During that 2008 race Bloomberg told people privately that he'd be willing to spend $500 million or more to finance an independent, third-party presidential campaign. Is that time now? There is even a "RunMikeRun" site.
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Yet there is one extremely consequential area where Obama has done just about everything a liberal could ask for--but done it so quietly that almost no one, including most liberals, has noticed. Obama’s three Republican predecessors were all committed to weakening or even destroying the country’s regulatory apparatus: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the other agencies that are supposed to protect workers and consumers by regulating business practices. Now Obama is seeking to rebuild these battered institutions. In doing so, he isn’t simply improving the effectiveness of various government offices or making scattered progress on a few issues; he is resuscitating an entire philosophy of government with roots in the Progressive era of the early twentieth century. Taken as a whole, Obama’s revival of these agencies is arguably the most significant accomplishment of his first year in office." (John Judis/TNR)

(image via NYSD)

"Not for the first time and not for the last, the most talked about person in Washington is Sally Quinn, who is married to Ben Bradlee, with whom she has a son, Quinn Bradlee, who is engaged to be married to Pary Williamson who, as it happens, is pregnant. The Washington wedding, which was supposed to be in the autumn, recently got moved by Sally up to April 10, which is the same day Ben’s granddaughter, Greta Bradlee, long-ago set the date for her wedding in California. According to Sally, the same date mess was a mere scheduling mistake and mostly Ben’s fault and they weren’t planning to attend the California wedding, anyway. The only one of those excuses believed by Bradlee intimates is that Sally never planned to go to California. I’m not revealing Bradlee secrets; they were published last week in what sometimes seems like Sally Quinn’s personal newsletter, The Washington Post, where Ben once reigned as the nation’s fiercest and most famous editor." (WashingtonSocialDiary)

"So now we have Vladimir Nabokov’s posthumous opus, The Original of Laura, with two subtitles, '(Dying Is Fun)' and 'A novel in fragments,' neither chosen by the author. It is the book Nabokov was working on, some of it in the hospital, during his last time on earth. As was his habit, he wrote on 3 x 5 inch index cards, reaching 138, and corresponding to, as has been estimated, forty-five pages of print. Otherwise put, nowhere near a finished novel." (John Simon/TheNewCriterion)

"Traffic had slowed to a crawl in Baghdad's Azamiyah district as drivers stopped to ogle the president. It was April 2003, and Saddam Hussein cheerily greeted his subjects as a few bodyguards tried to keep the crowd at bay. Someone handed Saddam a bewildered baby, which he hoisted up in the air a few times and handed back. When he reached a white sedan, Saddam climbed onto the hood to survey the sea of loyalists. Not long after—possibly that same day, just a few miles away from where Saddam went on his celebratory walk—U.S. Marines in Baghdad tore down a 40-foot-tall bronze statue of the Iraqi dictator. At the time, American intelligence officers didn't know whether Saddam had survived a hailstorm of 2,000-pound bombs and Tomahawk missiles fired at the beginning of the war. When grainy footage of the Butcher of Baghdad's last promenade surfaced 10 days later, most analysts were preoccupied with determining whether it was authentic. Nobody was particularly worried about the guy next to the dictator, a heavyset man in a brown striped shirt and sunglasses. He wasn't anyone on the deck of playing cards depicting the regime's 55 most-wanted members, and the coalition troops had much bigger priorities than hunting down bodyguards. It would be months before anyone realized that this man was the key to capturing Saddam Hussein. His identity was classified, but those on his trail would take to calling him 'Fat Man.'" (Slate)

"'There’s a joke they used to tell in Franco’s Spain: two guys in bar. First guy says to the other, “What do you think of Generalissimo Franco?' Second guy looks around nervously to see if anyone is listening, then says to the guy, 'Follow me.' They leave the bar, walk down a deserted alley. The second guy finally stops, looks around again to see if they were followed, then whispers to the first guy: 'I like him.' I thought of it Saturday while listening to—brace yourselves—Glenn Beck, giving the keynote at the Conservative Political Action Conference. I’ve not been a fan of Beck’s. (Rather the opposite, in fact, while conceding that he is at least a very talented demagogue.) But there was something refreshing in his fundamental message, to wit, We have seen the enemy, and it is us. Or at least, Not just us. Using a personal trope—Beck is recovering alcoholic—he likened the Republican Party’s big-spending habit to the appetite of a drinker who can’t stop himself." (Chris Buckley/TheDailyBeast)

"The focus on Harvey Weinstein recently has been his heavy-handed Oscar lobbying for Inglourious Basterds and his uphill battle to reclaim the Miramax name and film library. But the behind-the-scenes restructuring effort continues for The Weinstein Co, and I've learned it has finalized a new DVD distribution deal with Sony’s Worldwide Acquisitions unit. TWC and Dimension releases will release through Sony’s DVD distribution pipeline. The structure is somewhat similar to the Summit DVD distribution deal with Universal, or Lionsgate’s deal with Fox, except those two companies handle their own DVD marketing campaigns." (NikkiFinke/Deadline)