Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Jon Huntsman is betting his campaign on the proposition that old-fashioned retail politicking still matters. He’s made 111 campaign appearances in New Hampshire, more than any other candidate this year, including a 90-minute stop at the American Legion post here Sunday night. During five town halls last weekend, he answered 51 questions — an unheard of number by the tightly scripted standards of the 2012 GOP primary.  He’s hustling harder than any of his rivals to win the first-in-the-nation primary, gambling that voters will ultimately reward him for his accessibility, and yet he’s still stalled in single digits." (Politico)

"In what could be a devastating blow to Herman Cain’s Republican presidential bid, Atlanta businesswoman Ginger White gave an interview to 'Good Morning America' on Wednesday in which she divulged new details of her alleged 13-year-long affair with the candidate and panned Cain's suitability to be president. 'I can’t make this up,' White said. 'And frankly speaking, I wouldn’t want to make this up.' White said that Cain took her to a Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield boxing match in the late 1990s, and said that the former president of the National Restaurant Association had given her money for 'the last two and a half years consistently,' but that the money was 'not sex for cash.'" (TheHill)

"It was a busy one on the city’s social calendar ...Traffic and the weather got in the way. My cabbie decided it was faster to take Park Avenue down to 64th Street (and the Horowitz gallery) but by the time we got there I was getting anxious about my following stop: 583 Park Avenue where the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute was hosting its annual Gold Medal Gala. The invitation called for 7:30 arrivals (and it was already past that). I had been told by one of the public relations staff that the Queen would be arriving between 7 and 7:15. Knowing how the Spanish time schedule runs much later than the typical American, I doubted that, but skipped Michael’s book party just in case. At 7:45, guests were just arriving at 583 Park. The reception was being held on the lower level. There were a few dozen people milling about and no sign of Her Royal Highness. Fifteen minutes or so later, the royal retinue arrived with Oscar de la Renta who is chairman of the board of the Institute, along with the honorees, Mario Testino, Ken Chenault, Ferran Adrià, and Javier Bardem. Then came the flurry of photographers including Bill Cunningham of the Times and Mary Hilliard, who often shoots these parties for Vogue, as well as several other photographers. Everyone, with the exception of this photographing non-photographer had major equipment to work with, some large enough to push people (as in, other photographers) out of the way. Fortunately I was taller than everyone else and so, holding my digital above my head, I could work over them rather than around them." (NYSocialDiary)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Vulture Fund FG Hemisphere run by American financier Peter Grossman is trying to collect on a $100m debt from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The current debt is based on an initial $30 million loan he purchased from Bosnia's former Prime Minister Nedzad Brankovic for only $3 million. Grossman has tried to seize the DRC's Washington Embassy as down payment on the debt, but this was blocked by US authorities. His company tried to claim the debt once more in the US, and again in Hong Kong, before attempting in Jersey, an island that is a British Crown dependency. The country is one of the poorest in the world, ranking last at 187 on the United Nations 2011 Human Development Index. Peter Grossman's Vulture Fund is attempting to deny the impoverished people of the Congo of their right to basic human needs. When questioned whether he thought that his collection of the debt was fair, Grossman replied, 'Yeah, I do, actually.' Adding, 'I am not doing anything wrong. I am collecting a legitimate debt.'" (FriendsoftheCongo)

"The women who get things done in New York. Last Thursday night in Paris, my friend Judy Price was decorated as a Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur for her contributions to French culture in a ceremony at the Musée Carnavalet. The museum on the rue de Sevigne is dedicated to the history of the city of Paris. Judy was welcomed to the museum by its director Jean-Marc Léri. Mme. Price, who loves France – and especially Paris – was beside herself with excitement. She later told me was as exciting as when she got married (to same husband she has today).  She was presented with her award by the famous French antiquaire Jacques Perrin who also announced that Judy’s next exhibition, based on her new book Lest We Forget; Masterpieces of Patriotic Jewelry and Military Decorations, will be staged in Paris. Judy (who once upon a time was my boss when I was editor of Avenue magazine and she was the publisher and founder) and her husband Peter are committed francophiles to the point where they, like several other New Yorkers I know, keep an apartment in Paris and visit frequently. After the ceremony, about 100 guests -- mainly French -- were invited to a dinner in her honor hosted by AXA Art at its magnificent world headquarters in the Hotel de La Vaupaliere, an 16th century hotel particulier built in 1868." (NYSocialDiary)

"'We love you in American Horror Story,' we gushed to recently-outed actor Zachary Quinto last night. We were at the Andaz Hotel, where directors, producers, and actors (along with alcohol sponsors) gathered to toast the winners of Gotham Independent Film Awards, held earlier that evening at Cipriani’s. We had cornered Mr. Quinto, whose movie Margin Call was nominated for Best Ensemble Performance (though it lost out to Beginners). 'I’m only going to be on one more episode,' the ethereally attractive actor told us. 'But you’re already dead! They can’t kill you off!' (It’s true…Ryan Murphy‘s dead characters have more screen time then the living.) Mr. Quinto mulled it over while scanning the room for a quick exit strategy. 'Sure…I guess dying on that show is more like job security.'" (Observer)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class. All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic. It is instructive to trace the evolution of a political strategy based on securing this coalition in the writings and comments, over time, of such Democratic analysts as Stanley Greenberg and Ruy Teixeira. Both men were initially determined to win back the white working-class majority, but both currently advocate a revised Democratic alliance in which whites without college degrees are effectively replaced by well-educated socially liberal whites in alliance with the growing ranks of less affluent minority voters, especially Hispanics ... Obama’s alternative path to victory, according to Teixeira and Halpin, would be to keep his losses among all white voters at the same level John Kerry did in 2004, when he lost them by 17 points, 58-41. This would be a step backwards for Obama, who lost among all whites in 2008 by only 12 points (55-43). Obama can afford to drop to Kerry’s white margins because, between 2008 and 2012, the pro-Democratic minority share of the electorate is expected to grow by two percentage points and the white share to decline by the same amount, reflecting the changing composition of the national electorate." (CampaignStops)

"Sandy Weill is a lucky man. When the financier who built Citigroup decided to sell his penthouse at 15 Central Park West, one of the most lavish and exclusive buildings in Manhattan, The Wall Street Journal wrote a story about how he was listing it for a record sum—and planned to give the proceeds to charity. There should be plenty to go around. Back before 15 opened for business, Weill and his wife paid $43.7 million for the four-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bathroom floor-through condominium. Lately, the recession notwithstanding, similar apartments in the building across from Central Park’s southwest corner have sold for more than $10,000 per square foot. The Weills are asking $88 million ... The falling economic tide of the past few years hasn’t lowered all boats. And 15 Central Park West is Exhibit A. It also offers compelling evidence of how financial types favor their friends. As the real-estate bubble was bursting, a group of bankers, insurance executives, and CEOs—many of them employed by the Wall Street brand names (Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, AIG, Goldman Sachs) that were the poster children of the financial meltdown—bet huge on the building’s success and have seen those wagers pay off bigger than a hedge fund in 2006. Apartments at 15 have done nothing but appreciate in value since it opened in 2007." (Michael Gross)

"If there's one vibe emanating from this shadowy zeitgeist it's a sense of the total exhaustion of culture, in particular the way the world does business. Everything looks tired, played out, and most of all false. Governments can't really pay for what they do. Banks have no real money. Many households surely have no money. The human construct of money itself has become a shape-shifting phantom. Will it vanish into the vortex of unpaid debt until nobody has any? Or will there be plenty of worthless money that people can spend into futility? Either way they will be broke. The looming fear whose name political leaders dare not speak is global depression, but that is not what we're in for. The term suggests a temporary sidetrack from the smooth operation of integrated advanced economies. We're heading into something quite different, a permanent departure from the standard conception of economic progress, the one in which there is always sure to be more comfort and convenience for everybody, the economy of automatic goodies." (James Howard Kunstler)

"On November 29, 1775, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, established the Committee of Secret Correspondence. The goal of this committee, comprised of an illustrious band of revolutionaries including Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, was to solicit aid from potential European allies for the nascent American war effort. Equipped with codes and ciphers, the committee became the forerunner of the U.S. State Department, and the habits of secrecy it initiated have over the centuries become the modus operandi for modern American diplomacy. It was also on November 29 of last year that the world’s newspapers announced the release of the WikiLeaks cables, the enormous and infamous cache of classified State Department cables that suddenly and unprecedentedly fell into the hands of the uncleared public. There is little doubt that the WikiLeaks breach caused serious and potentially long-term damage to U.S. diplomatic interests. The leaked cables included critical comments made by Saudi King Abdullah and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan about Pakistan’s civilian leaders, making it unlikely these leaders, or many others, will offer their candid assessments to American diplomats anytime soon. U.S. programs to reclaim enriched uranium from a Pakistani research reactor were also revealed, as were the details of how U.S. Special Forces have been providing support to Pakistan’s own military operations. Also swept up were some of America’s most talented diplomats, including Carlos Pascual, who stepped down from his post as U.S. ambassador to Mexico after his blunt assessment of Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s anti-drug efforts turned up in the document dump. In its wholesale violation of U.S. diplomatic secrecy, WikiLeaks’s actions have only intensified the prevailing tendency in Foggy Bottom and in the Administration to 'batten down the hatches.'" (Democracy)

"Rumer Willis, 23, tweeted a picture of herself in a daring silver gown which plunged down to her navel with her siblings Scout, 20, and 17-year-old Tallulah, who one of the debutantes at the ball in Paris ... Le Bal des Debutantes first launched in 1957 before being turned into a charity fundraising event 20 years ago. This year saw 23 young women - from actors' daughter to aristocrats - from 13 countries debut at the ball. Proceeds this year go to the Feed Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting malnutrition." (Telegraph)

"November 26 will go down in history for Leana Mallya, daughter of Vijay Mallya. Le Bal Crillon got in touch with Vijay two years back to get permission for Leana to participate in the Ball. Leana has been in Paris for the last few weeks for the shoot of a fashion glossy in Dior Couture. She walked the red carpet in a Christian Dior Haute Couture and was escorted by Lawrence Van Hagen. Vijay Mallya tweeted on Sunday saying, 'Very proud to waltz with my daughter Leana at the Le debutante ball in Paris. Kids grow up so quick but will always be babies in my heart.' Bal de Debutantes or Le Bal de Crillon as it is more popularly known happens every year at the Hotel De Crillon in Paris where daughters of the world’s rich and famous royalty, stars and industrialists are invited to make their debut in high society. These modern day debutantes get to wear a international designer dress and are escorted by eligible guys as their dates ... The other Indian this year who shared the limelight is Shaiyra Devi, granddaughter of the Maharaja of Kapurthala who wore a Hemant Sagar and Didier Lecoanet dress." (DeccanChronicle)
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"What does America’s disastrous bombing of Pakistani soldiers this week have to do with President Obama’s much-ballyhooed trip to East Asia last week? Between them, they suggest that the Obama administration may be, finally, edging toward a foreign-policy doctrine. First, Pakistan. The bombing was a mistake, but it comes after a series of very conscious decisions—most significantly the assassination of Osama bin Laden—in which Obama put killing al Qaeda terrorists ahead of America’s relationship with Pakistan ... As Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars made clear, Obama never considered the Taliban a real threat to American security. And after giving Gen. David Petraeus and company a chance to try counterinsurgency, Obama is increasingly pursuing the policy that Vice President Joe Biden proposed from the beginning: leave Afghanistan to the Afghans and keep al Qaeda off balance with Special Forces and attacks from the air. Indeed, as the U.S. withdraws its ground forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, the centerpiece of its military policy in the Muslim world is becoming drones to attack al Qaeda (the Washington Post recently reported that the Obama administration is building secret drone bases in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa) and military aid to contain Iran (last fall, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia agreed on the largest weapons sale in American history)." (Peter Beinart)
"Joseph Kabila, 40, Congo’s president for the last 10 years, is incredibly unpopular in many parts of the country, especially the innumerable slums that dominate Kinshasa, the capital. But all signs point to him trying to hold onto power, at all costs.  His soldiers have already killed several opposition supporters, including up to nine this weekend during an election-related fracas. United Nations officials and other election observers say Mr. Kabila’s men are stuffing ballot boxes, intimidating voters and bribing people to vote for the president.  Still, the vast majority of voters interviewed at polling places in Kinshasa said they had voted for Mr. Tshisekedi, a 78-year-old firebrand who briefly served as prime minister several times.  Mr. Tshisekedi has succeeded in channeling the deep discontent here — Congo was recently ranked as the world’s least developed country — and many analysts fear that whatever happens at the polls, both Mr. Kabila and Mr. Tshisekedi are going to declare themselves the winner, a recipe for disaster in a country already torn apart by recent wars." (NYTimes)

"The main attraction for all of last week was the Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade. The ritual of the event begins the night before on Central Park West in the 70s and low 80s. Our friend Paige Peterson has her annual Night Before Thanksgiving cocktail party on Central Park West. I don't go because getting there can take an hour versus the regular ten minutes. Again, streets closed off as well as the 79th Street transverse. However, Paige, as is her wont, took lots of pictures." (NYSocialDiary)

"There was a fascinating story in Sunday’s New York Times quarreling with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory (which was originated by a college professor in Florida, which Gladwell acknowledges.) These academics said you could not rule out IQ as part of the equation. They said the most successful people had high IQs. The rule isn’t rigid, as Bob Dylan so famously sang, 'Each of us has his own special gift, and you know that was meant to be true, and if you don’t underestimate me, I won’t underestimate you.', but it tends to hold true. And I bring this up to question how Woody Allen got so successful so quickly. The documentary didn’t delineate every minute of his life, but he seems to have blossomed like a supernova, and in any event, he did it when he was still in his teens, still in high school. Yes, Woody (Allen) started sending jokes to all the New York papers. And they ran them. And thus began his comedy career. Maybe you are born talented, if not great ... Woody was a terrible student. You can jump through all the hoops, get into an Ivy League school and get a gig at Goldman Sachs, but I’m doubtful you’ll ever be an innovator. You might make a ton of bread, but you’ve been conditioned to play the game. The greats think the game is b.s. and abandon it. Not only did Steve Jobs drop out of college, so did David Geffen and Irving Azoff. They don’t come any smarter than these three (which speaks to the point in #1 above!) And all three of them questioned the status quo and created new paradigms. Jobs’s achievements are legendary, but Geffen helped created DreamWorks SKG and Azoff rolled up all the management companies. If you’re not questioning authority, you’re a pawn in their game ... Not that Woody didn’t pay his dues. He spent years in the Poconos writing plays for summer theatre." (LefsetzLetter)

"I have never held nor aspired to high office, but I can tell you one thing: The end of an era is even worse than the end of a great love affair. In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, there was a picture of Coco Chanel surrounded by eight of her beautiful models. It was taken in 1959 and I knew all of them except for Mademoiselle Chanel—as they all called her—but two of them had been very grand love affairs. Mine were the two prettiest by far. The affairs took place four years apart, in 1959 and 1963. I was 23 and 27; they were 25 and 28. Both were married, and both marriages collapsed, but they were already cracked, as they used to say in Brooklyn. Both ladies were known as the most beautiful in the City of Light, which was renowned for its beauties. Both had that nonchalant grace for which American women are not known. Both were ethereal creatures who managed to retain their beauty to old age.(One is gone.) Seeing the picture brought a kind of pain only sensitive souls such as the poor little Greek boy can feel, but it also reminded me of the void left by the disappearance of 'heightened sensitivities and focused concerns.' I never met Chanel, although she advised both of her girls to marry me—she told them Greeks are good fathers and love their children." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

"Literary lion and ladies’ man Salman Rushdie has been spending quality time with Social Life Magazine editor-in-chief Devorah Rose. Spies spotted the pair dining this month at Indochine together. On Friday, Rose tweeted a picture of the two sharing a booth at the restaurant, and wrote, 'Great times w @SalmanRushdie. Come back to the states soon so that we can have a do-over:) :) :).' Sources say the duo have indeed already booked another dinner together upon Rushdie’s return to New York after spending Thanksgiving in London. What could have attracted him to Rose, whose Twitter feed features a racy photo of her in the buff with long blond hair in strategic places?" (PageSix)

"In September 30, the Wrap, a Hollywood blog that is the province of Sharon Waxman, announced that Michael Ovitz, the co-founder of CAA and the former president of the Walt Disney Company, had 'made a failed play to take over' International Management Group (known simply as IMG), the talent-and-entertainment colossus, and that 'it has backfired.' Waxman and Brent Lang wrote that Ovitz had been aided in his takeover attempt by fellow IMG board member Herb Siegel (who had sold his television group to News Corp. in 2001 for $5.3 billion) and that they were working with both Goldman Sachs and Greg O’Hara, the chief investment officer of the special-investments group at JPMorgan Chase. The Wrap also reported that board members Irving Azoff (chairman of Live Nation Entertainment) and Jerry Perenchio (former C.E.O. of the Spanish-language television conglomerate Univision) were leading the charge to remove Ovitz from the board as a result of the takeover attempt. (Insiders speculated that Azoff was behind the Wrap story. He declined to comment for this article.) Supposedly, Ovitz had been trying to create an 'executive committee' within the board to which IMG management would report, instead of to billionaire IMG chairman and C.E.O. Teddy Forstmann, who was fighting brain cancer, and his handpicked proxy and successor, Mike Dolan. In an update the next day, the Wrap claimed that the IMG board had voted seven to four to oust Ovitz, although it was unclear just how that could be accomplished, since Forstmann—who controlled the company through his stake in his storied buyout firm, Forstmann Little, which in turn owned IMG—was incapacitated." (VanityFair)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

No post tommorrow through Sunday. Be back Monday. Happy thanksgiving,

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"This special committee, extraordinarily inappropriately named, was created by Congress in a last-ditch effort to resolve the deficits of the past years. And its creation was a recognition that the regular order, the normal congressional processes by which legislation is passed, was not working. The Supercommittee was at best an unorthodox and last ditch effort to reach consensus on fiscal issues. Unfortunately, the optimism of the summer has again turned to gridlock and deadlock, and the current paralysis which grips the Capitol continues to the present day. In my judgment, there are many reasons causing this paralysis. Failure of leadership at all levels of Government is apparent to almost anyone who examines our current political crisis. Democrats and Republicans are unable to confront the ideological extremism occurring in the political base of each of their parties to enable them to compromise on tax and spending decisions. Modern media and campaign spending make it difficult for members of Congress to do anything which involves political risk, as political extremes are likely to pounce quickly and aggressively on the actions of most congressman and senators who want to take responsible action which just might enrage the folks at home. And frankly, there is not a lot of political courage left in our system. Harry Truman once counseled his advisors that the art of political leadership is getting people to do what they know needs to be done but do not want to do; seems like Truman’s advice on courage and leadership are bygones of another era." (Dan Glickman/AspenInstitute)

"More than a month ago, Syria's ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari declared victory over the United States and its European allies when China and Russia vetoed a Western-backed U.N.Security Council resolution condemning Damascus' bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.Today, Syria was back on the defensive. Fresh from defeat in the Arab League, where its membership was suspended, the Syrian government faced another bruising setback at the United Nations, where the General Assembly adopted a non-binding -- but politically potent -- resolution condemning Syria's action. You can read an early draft of the resolution, which doesn't include all of its cosponsors, here. Not a single Arab country voted against the resolution. Even Sudan backed it." (TurtleBay/ Foreignpolicy)

"Newt Gingrich did well, yes, but the winner of this debate was...Barack Obama. There were loads of shots at him, notably from Rick Perry and sometimes from Michele Bachmann, with a couple from Jon Hunstman, who has to distance himself from Obama for obvious reasons. But I counted roughly zero really serious criticisms of Obama that might resonate beyond the choir bench. Even Bachmann proved a voice of moderation. How's that for a sentence we never thought we'd see? But her response on Pakistan was entirely reasonable, and really not different at all from the current administration's policy. On the question of whether the United States should stand with or even help Israel if it were to bomb Iran to eliminate its nuclear capability, we saw the obligatory denunciations of the administration for weakness, etc., but when it came time to get specific, very few of the candidates really committed to a belligerent right-wing posture. Gingrich even basically said between the lines that he really thinks bombing Iran is a bad idea. And speaking of Gingrich, there was his soft line on immigration, which really might cost him." (Michael Tomasky)

"The night before last, Monday, I went to a dinner that Shirley Lord Rosenthal gave in honor of two good friends, Norman Sunshine and Alan Shayne who have written a double memoir, Double Life about their 53 years of their lives together. This was a New York dinner party at its very best, at least for me. There were 12 or 14 many of whom are writers and journalists. That means no dearth of conversation no matter what. And a great diverse variety of experience and interest ... Shirley’s late husband Abe Rosenthal was for years one of the important editors at the New York Times. Times staff is almost a society unto itself in New York. Its exponents eventually fan out all over publishing and media... Sunshine and Shayne, at the request of our hostess, each talked about writing their book and living their lives and their life together. Norman, who is now a full time professional artist, had a great career in advertising, copywriting, scriptwriting. Alan started out life as an actor and eventually became one of the most important television programming producers in the industry. So they both had satisfaction and success in their professions. They also talked frankly about the worlds they grew up in, in the 1940s and 1950s when male homosexual couples were almost always closeted for the obvious reason that it was 'frowned upon,' as practically criminal activity. In England they went to jail. It was always the secret that never was. Norman explained how they’d actually got married about seven years ago on Nantucket. They did this because after having been together for so long and having built a domestic life with assets (real estate, etc.) they realized that without a marital status, the state and federal governments ignored their economic reality totally if and when something happened to the other partner." (NYSocialDiary)

"First thing I check is Twitter. I scan it to see what I might have missed overnight and what is breaking in the morning. On the train into work I’ll catch up on articles I Instapaper’d and when I get into work I’ll scan our Reuters wire for news that’s starting to come in early. Muckrack is the best email newsletter I get, and it’s a good rundown of what’s happening early on in the day ... Aside from our own Reuters news, I’ll go and read The Atlantic which does a good job at gathering what I need to know from all over, I’ll scan the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, Al-Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and niche sites like Politico, SB Nation, Mets Blog, All Things Digital, and Gawker’s network of sites (in particular Gizmodo and the main Gawker). I have a RSS reader filled with these sites and more, but I tend to go directly to them. My RSS reader helps me find what I might have missed or a site I might forget to check." (Ant deRosa interviewed by News.Me)

"ELLE MACPHERSON was another victim of the News of the World phone-hackingscandal, it has emerged. The supermodel dismissed her former advisor, Mary-Ellen Field, after she suspected her of leaking personal details to the press. It later transpired that the information had been obtained byNews of the World through intercepting voicemail messages. 'The hacking of Elle's phone led to my life being ruined over the five years because I was wrongly punished and ostracised for being the source of the disclosures,' Field said in court yesterday. Field said that Macpherson attributed her alleged disclosures to alcoholism and as a consequence was sent to rehab to recover." (Vogue)

"After failing to reach a deal to reduce the deficit, the Senate will move next month to take up legislation that could add more than $400 billion to the deficit. All of the proposals, such as the extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, are popular but come with no agreement on how to pay for them. Senate Democrats will go on offense next week by forcing Republicans to vote on extending and expanding the payroll tax cut, which accounts for $240 billion of the tab, according to Democratic and Republican aides. Lawmakers will take up the legislation after completing work on the Defense authorization bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has yet to announce an offset for the measure, but he has discussed matching it with a tax increase for millionaires. Such a vote would be intended to hammer home the message that Republicans are out to protect the rich, though it leaves Democrats vulnerable to arguments about class warfare. It is the opening maneuver in what will be a busy month that will likely keep lawmakers in Washington up until Christmas. Democrats are contemplating a separate vote on extending unemployment benefits, which they do not plan to offset. This would put Republicans in the tough position of blocking popular benefits at a time when the unemployment rate is 9 percent." (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)

"A conservation group claims that when it found water under its land it was conspired against by a 'large, powerful, unlawful, racketeering enterprise' that used political influence and violence to illegally grab its property 'under the guise of cattle ranching.' Lead plaintiff Desert Plants Conservancy claims in Federal Court that the defendants schemed 'to defraud and financially devastate plaintiffs and regain/gain valuable properties owned by plaintiffs' after they learned that the plaintiffs' property value had increased by 'tens of millions of dollars' because water was discovered there. The land is near Picacho Peak in Pinal County, a well-known landmark along Interstate 10 between Tucson and Phoenix. Defendants include a long list of individuals and two law firms: The Keating Law Firm; and Mesch, Clark and Rothschild. The Conservancy says it bought the land from by the defendant Robert W. Walker family, and that a 2005 court ruling found that with the sale of the property, the defendants' use of the property to drive cattle was limited to an easement. After that ruling, the Conservancy says, the plaintiffs invested more than $3 million in developing the 1,100 acres 'as a sustainable farming, nursery, and other businesses operation to carry out several humanitarian service projects and start several commercial projects that were interrelated.' The plaintiffs also drilled three wells that "exposed a large water resource containing 16.3 billion of gallons of pumpable water available beneath the 1,100 acres in an underground lake locked in rock.' After the Walkers learned of the increased value of the property, the Conservancy says, the Walkers filed their first motion for judgment, and filed multiple 'groundless' complaints with state and county agencies, trying to "shut down or at least severely impact their [the plaintiffs'] operations, impede their ability to do business with contractors and/or employees, and cause their businesses and grant applications to fail, particularly given the previous threats by members and persons acting on their behalf that they would use any resources against Conservancy and that they controlled the county and judges.'" (CourthouseNews via Mimi Peirron)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"U.S. troops are in the process of completing their withdrawal from Iraq by the end-of-2011 deadline. We are now moving toward a reckoning with the consequences. The reckoning concerns the potential for a massive shift in the balance of power in the region, with Iran moving from a fairly marginal power to potentially a dominant power. As the process unfolds, the United States and Israel are making countermoves. We have discussed all of this extensively. Questions remain whether these countermoves will stabilize the region and whether or how far Iran will go in its response.Iran has been preparing for the U.S. withdrawal. While it is unreasonable simply to say that Iran will dominate Iraq, it is fair to say Tehran will have tremendous influence in Baghdad to the point of being able to block Iraqi initiatives Iran opposes. This influence will increase as the U.S. withdrawal concludes and it becomes clear there will be no sudden reversal in the withdrawal policy. Iraqi politicians’ calculus must account for the nearness of Iranian power and the increasing distance and irrelevance of American power. Resisting Iran under these conditions likely would prove ineffective and dangerous. Some, like the Kurds, believe they have guarantees from the Americans and that substantial investment in Kurdish oil by American companies means those commitments will be honored. A look at the map, however, shows how difficult it would be for the United States to do so." (STRATFOR)

"Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, flip a coin. There are differences between the two to be sure. But in the end, the net dissimilarity between these two establishment politicians is going to end up being considerably less than campaign rhetoric will suggest -- or than you might hope for.
Neither is anything like a transformational figure. Both are responsible, cautious men. Both, like most presidential candidates, are flawed by their ambition. There may be differences in emphasis, of course. One is too cool, a bit of a weathervane, beholden to Wall Street, not well loved within his own party establishment, not trusted by his party's base and the other is ... well, I guess that proves my point. From foreign policy to domestic programs, you can be pretty sure the efforts they lead will look surprisingly similar. Presidential candidates run to the middle (and winners hail from the mainstream) because the deciding votes are cast in the middle. Usually-- and there are periodic exceptions -- that is what accounts for the fact that most presidents have more in common with the men who preceded or followed them in office than they would care to acknowledge. This is one of the reasons that there is regular refrain for third party presidential candidates. It is also one of the reasons that such undertakings are typically doomed to failure and counterproductive.If you want to produce real change in the way the government of the United States functions, the way to do it is to focus on the Congress. And boy, does the Congress ever need changing.The failure of the stuporcommittee (which as of this writing seems all but certain) to even seriously grapple with the issue of the deficit is one of the grossest examples of dereliction of duty in the U.S. government since, well, since the Congress approved the Bush tax cuts." (David Rothkopf)

"President John F. Kennedy was murdered on this day forty-eight years ago while riding in the Presidential limousine through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. He was forty-six years and six months old. It was a Friday afternoon in America when people first heard the news on their radios and televisions. It was midday in New York. I was sitting in the barber’s chair of Paul Molé’s shop in Lexington Avenue and 74th Street ... I was once told a story about a moment in (Jackie Kennedy's) life, a number of years later, by which time she had become Mrs. Onassis and was working as an editor in book publishing. She and an associate went out to Beverly Hills to meet with Barbra Streisand to discuss the possibility of the singer writing her autobiography. During the meeting Jackie asked Streisand about her very successful Central Park concert in the summer of 1967, and why she hadn’t done more of them. Streisand began her explanation by recounting the heavy security that had been stationed on the rooftops of the buildings surrounding the park before the concert because there had been rumors of a planned PLO hit on her during the performance. Evidently this information had been kept from her until just before she went out before the crowd of 40,000 people, and it (probably) terrified her -- although she made a triumphal performance. During the conversation recounting this with Jackie and her associate, she realized she was talking about an ordeal that Jackie had actually personally experienced, and she stopped herself and said something like 'Oh, I’m sorry ...' Jackie said nothing but smiled acknowledgement." (NYSocialDiary)

"The comments on this Dealbook piece about how Wall Street has reconstituted the notion of employment as bottom-line cyclical churn are 100% mean, as you'd expect. ('I can't help but wonder if any of these laid-off wunderkinds ever ask themselves whether they contributed to the current economic situation,' for example. And: 'My God these people are pathetic. Even when they're laid off and collecting unemployment, they still sound like insufferable snobs.') But the sheer numbers involved in the way financial firms chew up and spit out young people are pretty bad. These are the very kids who were the children of the subjects of New York magazine parenting articles: we cared about them when we worried they were probably autistic, and then when their young parents were striving to get them into the best preschools, and then again when the kids spent the next sixteen years trying to beat each other on the SATs and the GPAs and the extracurriculars, so why shouldn't we care about them now that they've entered a workforce where they regularly get kicked to the curb because some dickface in management has to sack a quota of analysts to make his now-regular layoff goal? When you're laid off twice by 28, that's rough! And that's tens and tens of thousands of young people who were sold a dream and an expectation about merit, performance and success, and now they're figuring out one by one that it was literally all a lie." (Choire Sicha)

"The supercommittee’s deadlock gives leaders in both parties plenty of ammunition for the 2012 campaign. For months, Democratic and Republican leaders said they wanted a deal, but in the end they did not push their representatives on the panel hard enough to make it happen.  The panel’s demise will be debated over the next year amid an intensifying message war on which party should be trusted to tackle the nation’s deficit and fix the ailing economy. The supercommittee’s failure plays well into the emerging campaign themes of President Obama and the front-runners for the 2012 presidential nomination, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Obama has said he relishes the prospect of debating the GOP nominee next year on taxes, confident he can portray his opponent as appeasing millionaires and billionaires. During a press conference at the White House on Monday, Obama bashed Republicans for not listening to the 'voices of reason.'" (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)

"John was his mother’s favorite. He got away with the highest of crimes with her. Instead of punishments she fawned over him, stroked his blonde curls, and softly said, 'I won’t let your father find out.' To this day John will tell you he blames his mother for teaching him how to lie. “That bitch!' he liked to say, 'She showed me woman is weak when faced with man.' In time he would be beastly to his wives, and his mistresses. John was born handsome which made his mother adore him more and his father care for him less. In hopes of gaining his father’s approval John pursued a career as an athlete. He represented his hometown in the national sporting competition. Several years in a row, while in his twenties, he placed second in the high jump and the javelin, winning silver plates with his name engraved. John would bloat with pride and rush to show his father the trophies, and each time his glee was demolished when his father would scowl, and growl, 'If you were a girl I could understand!' Before grabbing the prizes, and sneeringly examining them as if they were soiled undergarments, 'Men take gold!' and with a flick of the wrist he would slice them over the balcony, where he took his afternoon constitution, and watch them plant, like setting suns, into the grass. Once, by accident one supposes, a trophy struck a peacock, took its head right off. Father and son stared as the headless body, with full plumage spread, slumped, twitching. The head bumped along the lawn, rolling like a snowball, with the trophy spinning alongside. Amazingly, the head stopped on the upturned silver plate, as if ready to be served." (Christina Oxenberg)

"For many years until 1959, London bohemians went all-out for an annual bash called the Chelsea Arts Ball, where papier-mâché floats and drunken fracases were par for the course. That was the inspiration for Creative Time's fall gala on Thursday, entitled Flaming Youth and held at the not-yet-open downtown club W.I.P. Animal masks and plastic Coke-bottle glasses were there for the taking, and a face-painting station was doing brisk business—it was art world a-go-go, with Marilyn Minter scanning the room in a Groucho Marx schnoz and bifocals and Amy Phelan commanding the dance floor in a pink corset, fur sleeves, and sparkly makeup. 'I didn't have an inspiration—I just pulled a bunch of things out of my closet and tried to look crazy,' she said. The next night, the artist Will Cotton unveiled his latest work at the Flatiron District's Prince George Ballroom: Cockaigne, a live-action piece for the Performa biennial devoted to cotton candy and whipped cream. Against matching painted backdrops, ballerinas costumed to resemble both confections danced to original music by John Zorn and Caleb Burhans ... Things weren't quite as short or sweet at the New Museum's Next Generation party, which lasted well into the night and included a pause for re-enactments from the eighties drag documentary Paris Is Burning. Fabiola Beracasa and Alek Wek were keeping Salem's Jack Donoghue entertained at one end of the museum's top-floor Sky Room, while Monique Péan was clinking a glass with (and wearing a dress by) Suno's Erin Beatty at the other." (Style)

"For Huffington, who, on the one hand, serves as a glittery Earth Mother and, on the other, is the world’s best bullshit artist, with stagehands and pulleys at work in conversation (although, oddly, she remains intensely enjoyable to be around), AOL is in some respects a ­'magical land.' The company has allowed her access to ­corporate funding for the Huffington Post website, and she seems to believe her new perch will recast her from a protean self-­reinventionist—at various times a Greek immigrant, New York socialite, New Age proponent, political wife, California gubernatorial candidate, and on and on—into something more solid: the Rupert Murdoch of the digital age, helming the world’s most influential 'Internet newspaper,' as the Huffington Post is called. The domination of news is clearly her goal, even news as defined as a mix of aggregation, original content, and unapologetic linkbait (stories like 'What Time Does the Super Bowl Start?' or 'Sex With Animals Can Lead to Penis Cancer: Study'), but in a way journalism is a cover for her larger gifts, which are as a cultural magician. Would Rupert Murdoch lock eyes with a reporter and say that, in addition to sleep, 'I think that the next big thing is going to be disconnecting,' as Huffington does? 'We need to create a ‘GPS for the soul’ app, one that will let us know when we’re off course,' she says. 'This will be a bigger and bigger part of our lives in the future, I think.'" (NYMag)

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Favorite of the Pepper Spray Cop Meme

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Just one day before the congressional supercommittee's drop-dead deadline to come up with a plan to cut trillions of dollars from the national debt, and days after the country racked up its 15 trillionth dollar of borrowed money, panel members fanned out across Washington Sunday morning—not to negotiate a last-minute deal, but to blame the other guys for messing everything up. In Washington, there is a group of folks that will not cut a dollar unless we also raise taxes,' Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, a Republican committee member, complained on NBC's Meet the Press.  'The only real breakthrough here was the Republican offer to actually increase the amount of revenue through the tax code."No sooner had Kyl finished speaking than John Kerry appeared on the same show, essentially calling Kyl a liar. 'What Jon just said is patently not true. We just cut $917 billion without one dime of new revenue. He knows it, we just did it...this is just nonsense,' Kerry said.  'If this weren't so serious I might laugh.' But nobody was laughing on Capitol Hill as it became increasingly clear that the latest supergroup of bipartisan dealmakers was about to go down in flames despite the high hopes in August, when Congress gave them the power to re-jigger the entire federal budget and President Obama vowed he would 'stay on it until we get the job done.'  But four months later, they haven't gotten the job done. And according to aides, they were never even close." (TheDailyBeast)

"On Saturday I crossed the Park (and the island) and went over to Zabar's. Before entering the store, as is my habit I stopped to peruse the bookseller’s tables in front by the curb. It often has new books at a discounted price. Up until this past Saturday, I didn’t know whom it belonged to because there is always more than one man overseeing the two or three long tables. They usually have a radio going too, always playing opera, or symphonic music (but mainly live opera performances). There are always people stopping to look ... This past Saturday, I happened to run into JH who also lives in the neighborhood. He was looking over my shoulder as I was looking at the books, until I turned to see who that guy behind me was who kept kind of crowding me as I moved along. Then he pulled out his digital and took these pictures. It started with the leaves on the books. I’m always amazed at how he suddenly finds a perfect shot. I’m looking at the same thing but he’s seeing a photograph. At the same time I picked out a book to buy: Niall Ferguson’s 'Civilization.' As I handed the money for it to the guy on the other side of the table, he said to me: “Do you ever wonder how many Niall Fergusons there are out there; writing so many books?'" (NYSocialDiary)

"I've been combing through the GOP debates and candidate speeches looking for the word 'ally.' There's a lot about adversaries -- Iranians, Chinese, Russians, Islamists, jihadists, even Venezuelans -- but not a lot on the other side of the ledger. Much of it takes the following form: 'Israel is our greatest ally' -- Michele Bachmann. Or: 'You don't allow an inch of space to exist between you and your friends and allies.' This from Mitt Romney, who went on to accuse President Barack Obama of -- surprise! -- throwing Israel "under the bus" by publicly criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Romney also accuses Obama of betraying U.S. allies Poland and Colombia. Is it a coincidence that the Republican candidates identify as allies the very few countries whose citizens just might vote for one of them if given the chance? Did I mention that Rick Perry has accused the Obama administration of selling Taiwan down the river? If only Newt Gingrich could come to the defense of plucky, supercapitalist Georgia, the candidates could assemble a complete list of right-leaning nations. It's as if they map America's own ideological divisions onto the world, dividing the globe into red and blue countries -- six or seven on the good side and the other 185 or so on the bad. Perhaps this also explains Romney's strange allergy to Western Europe." (ForeignPolicy)

"The more belongings, the more burdens. Small house, small burden. Big house, big burden. Many houses, many burdens. Material luxury can be measured. Your average rich person seems to live well. Their burden appears manageable. They have a house and a nice car or two, bills, payments, and responsibilities. In the extreme, the filthy stinking rich live in monumental splendor. They have many houses, many cars, boats, planes, and thousands of toys. Their burden is gigantic, and they make it so by acquiring all they have with no apparent end. Money doesn’t buy them happiness, it buys one elephantine encumbrance. One wonders what life is like for those who experience material luxury in the 0.1%. It is easy to assume they are happier because they don’t have to fly on packed planes and can go on holiday whenever and wherever they want. How nice for them to be able to simply buy their way out of a jam. The problem is that very rich people usually get into bigger jams, and the cost of getting out of them is proportionally higher. Prince Jefri of Brunei comes to mind. It is easy to envy the grandeur and the beauty a virtually unlimited bank account can afford. But such wealth is dangerous—as it should be.If you prefer materialism over happiness, you can stress yourself into oblivion by doing some retail therapy. Perhaps this is why, during these “austere” times, the luxury market is doing better than ever. Not everyone with this kind of cash spends it all. Not everyone who can afford a boat built by Philippe Starck has one, though most do. Possessing so much wealth requires a tremendous amount of management. And management means people. People means secretaries, maids, cooks, chauffeurs, accountants, mechanics, and masseurs. Rich people need people, and these are only the ones they pay for."(Mandolyna Theodoracopoulos)

"Like many people, I haven’t thought much about Newsweek recently—aside from being both amused and, if I’m honest, admiring of the magazine’s ridiculous cover from late June, featuring a ghoulishly Photoshopped 50-year-old Princess Diana strolling with her daughter-in-law. It takes nerve and vision to be so baldly and desperately cheesy, so hats off to editor Tina Brown. And anything that sells magazines, or at least draws a little attention to the medium, is a good thing in my eyes—so long as I am paid a salary by a magazine. But there’s been a run of bad news for Newsweek this week, what with two key editors resigning, the publisher getting canned, and the magazine abandoning its quadrennial post-election special issue in which catty presidential campaign workers spill backstage dramas. The New York Times revealed that the magazine’s staff has been 'straining under Tina Brown’s high-pressure management style…. People who work there, who did not want to publicly criticize their bosses, say morale in the newsroom has sunk as Ms. Brown has had more frequent outbursts in front of her employees. ‘It’s all hell, it’s agony,’ she has been overheard telling staff members about the quality of their work, according to one of them.' Is it all hell and agony?" (Bruce Handy)

"Many Democrats seem confident President Obama will face former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in November 2012 — and they are happy enough about that. Former White House aides, left-leaning strategists and Democratic pollsters alike seem almost of one mind on the issue.
Yes, they say, it would have been nice if one of the other Republican candidates had been able to make a stronger case against Romney. But, in their view, the missteps of the potential alternatives have been too severe, the holes in their credibility too gaping.'The others may not quite be toast,' Democratic strategist Chris Lehane told The Hill. 'But they’re certainly in the toaster, the dial is turned up to nine, and there is smoke coming out.' 'Oh, Democrats would love to get Michele Bachmann, of course!' said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who is also a columnist for The Hill. 'I’m sure there are lots of Democrats who would like to run against Herman Cain. But all of them, including Romney, have fundamental weaknesses.' The pro-Obama forces have already focused their crosshairs on the former Massachusetts governor, whom they think has weaknesses they can exploit in the fall." (TheHill)

"The professional left and the professional right are delusional in their own special way, according to two essays in this week's New York magazine, which can be summed up as 'Why can't you people be happy?' vs. 'Why are you people happy with this?' Liberal columnist Jonathan Chait argues that the psychology of liberals means they were destined to be depressed by the fruitless compromising of President Obama, just as they were dismayed by the fruitless compromising of his Democratic predecessors, whom they not hold up as pure-hearted heroes. David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, says his party has been taken over by a 'political movement that never took governing seriously' that is now being 'exploited by a succession of political entrepreneurs uninterested in governing—but all too interested in merchandising.' Chait explains that liberals are constantly comparing Obama unfavorably to Democratic presidents of yore -- saying the old guys who have stood up to House Republicans and pushed all kinds of liberal legislation through Congress. Bill Clinton, for example, was smart enough to use the slogan, 'It's the economy, stupid.' But if you go back and look at the record, liberals weren't so pleased by Clinton in the 1990s." (AtlanticWire)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"IN THE past fortnight, Bashar Assad’s regime has become both lonelier and bloodier. As the isolation of the president and his country have become more stark, you would think that he would become keener to negotiate his way out of his murderous impasse. Yet he seems to be doing the precise opposite. After the Arab League’s offer to mediate, his security forces have sharply increased their rate of killing. Rather than engage seriously with the democratic opposition, Mr Assad seems ever more determined to crush it. As a result, the league took the dramatic step, on November 12th, of suspending Syria from membership. Unless Mr Assad changes course, he risks ending up like Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Yet even at this late hour it is still worth trying to make him see sense (see article). As peaceful protests against Mr Assad’s regime gathered steam, he had reckoned that Syria’s pivotal place in the Arab world would dissuade his fellow Arabs, as well as Turks and Persians, from turning against him. Instead the pace at which he is running out of friends seems to be quickening. Turkey, his biggest neighbour to the north, and the region’s emerging power, has abandoned hope that he can reform his country or save his regime. Turkey now plays host to Syria’s political opposition. The king of Jordan, to the south, hitherto cautiously neutral, has bluntly told Mr Assad to go. Most of Mr Assad’s counterparts in the Gulf, after initially hedging their bets, are now spurning him. Iraq’s Shia-led government, which used to fear the prospect of a Sunni regime displacing Mr Assad and his Alawites, has become chillier. Even Iran, his strongest local backer, betrays doubts over whether to stick with him for ever." (TheEconomist)

"We are on the 56th floor, with breathtaking views of the harbour. Lunch has taken months to set up because the two men are rarely in the same place at the same time. (Henry) Kravis lives in New York, and (George) Roberts on the US west coast. When they are together they dine out, accompanied by their wives. They like to be incognito, exploring local, sometimes fairly downmarket, restaurants. (I had run into both couples two days before our lunch. All four were casually dressed and on their way to a low-key Sichuanese restaurant.) Kravis says he has chosen our food, telling me that he and his wife love India and its cuisine. 'Marie-Josée and I like to go to India for Christmas but this time I will be there on January 6 for my birthday. We go to temples even Indians have never heard of.' Kravis and Roberts founded KKR in 1976. Their co-founder was an older man, Jerome Kohlberg, whose name has stuck but who left Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1987, the year before the audacious $25bn RJR Nabisco buy-out deal that made the company famous. It’s a tale told in the bestselling – and still thrilling – 1990 book, Barbarians at the Gate (extract below). It captures the cut-throat world of 1980s Wall Street, a time when anything could, and did, happen as the traditional way of doing business was turned on its head by upstarts such as KKR. Both Kravis and Roberts had originally worked for Kohlberg at the scrappy, aggressive investment group Bear Stearns in New York, Kravis joining to replace his cousin who had gone back to live in California. At KKR, the three men set up leveraged buy-outs of the kind they had pioneered at Bear Stearns. The separation from Kohlberg in 1987 was – and remains – painful. It was caused, in part, by differences between the hard-driving business style of the young cousins and the quieter approach of their former mentor; and partly by disagreements over money." (LunchwiththeFT)

"Oh sure, you’re too cool (or too male) for the Twilight Saga global phenom. But Summit Entertainment’s Breaking Dawn Part 1 is shattering the four-month-old North American box office slump today and shooting the overall moviegoing weekend up +11% from last year’s total. Hollywood should be grateful to females young and old for keeping the business buoyed this weekend. (Seriously, give thanks early.) Sources are giving me this Top 10 rundown. Full analysis later: 1. Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit) NEW [4,061 Theaters]Friday $73.5M (including $30.2M midnights), Estimated Weekend $139MYowza! Summit Entertainment is cautiously optimistic now that this fourth Twilight Saga installment Breaking Dawn Part 1 will match or beat the biggest one-day and Friday opening in the franchise’s history. It’s also looking like the #2 best-ever Single day opening, behind only Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2‘s $91M." (NikkiFinke)

"In the spirit of looking at what the media is, we talked about positions held by reporters who've been arrested around the country at Occupy Wall Street. I started doing this because I had a suspicion that some media trends were probably evident: were they all interns? Were they all unpaid? Freelancers? All men? Who were they? The most notable things (to me) that we found were that a majority were non-staff reporters, they were from a wide cross-section of outfits (independent outlets, news wires, student papers) and that one staff reporter had already been laid off since his on-the-job arrest. I tried to be pretty careful that this wasn't to suggest that any of them weren't "real reporters." (One of those arrested in New York (who informed police he was a reporter), Jared Malsin, working for The Local East Village, was even deported from Israel last year for his reporting there.) Then last night the mayor's spokesman sent out a memo, citing our little exploration, and going further—cross-referencing the arrested reporters with holders of NYPD press passes. He was doing this to assert that the NYPD wasn't arresting reporters. He wrote: "We found that only five of the 26 arrested reporters actually have valid NYPD-issued press credentials." Which, well, is basically an admission of arresting five NYPD-credentialed reporters? Or he was doing this to assert that they weren't arresting real reporters. Well, we're pretty much all real reporters now. I don't think the NYPD are monsters; I also don't think Bloomberg's office is evil. Nor are either of these organizations uniform in their thinking about Occupy Wall Street. I even think they're in a tricky position—I don't know how I'd deal with a large protest movement gathering in the City over the course of two months, especially one that's trying to keep a permanent encampment in a park. But I do think the City itself and even Bloomberg—despite some of his excellent qualities!—brought Occupy Wall Street on themselves. Throughout his unnecessarily extended tenure, he's always been quick to give up income to benefit the banks. He's done nothing truly effective about job creation, despite his small programs for helping startups and entrepreneurs, and the small creation of affordable housing. For example, everyone knew that Goldman Sachs' 'threat' to move to midtown was a bluff; they would never pay those rates, and that the state and the City went nuts on concessions for their new headquarters is still a crime. (Particularly when Goldman spit in their faces at the same time, moving more of their headcount to New Jersey anyway.)  The banks and New York City have always been intimately entwined throughout their history—probably, in the past, in far more unseemly ways than they are now." (ChoireSicha)

"Over its first weeks, (Elizabeth) Warren’s campaign raised an impressive $3.15 million, about 70 percent of which came from out of state and 96 percent from donors giving $100 or less. That last metric is crucial, because a consumer advocate who recently said, 'The people on Wall Street broke this country,' is not likely to enjoy big-ticket backing from the financial sector. By late October, three of her biggest primary challengers had dropped out. Even though she’s running for the Senate and not for the presidency, the early devotion to Warren recalls the ardor once felt by many for Obama. On its face, this is odd: Warren is not a world-class orator, she is not young or shiny or new, she doesn’t fizz with the promise of American possibility that made the Obama campaign pop. Instead, she’s a mild-mannered Harvard bankruptcy-law professor and a grandmother of three, a member of the older-white-lady demographic (she’s 62) that was written off in 2008 as being the antimatter of hope and change. And yet, on a deeper level, her popularity makes perfect sense. Embracing Warren as the next 'one' is, in part, a way of getting over Obama; she provides an optimistic distraction from the fact that under our current president, too little has changed, for reasons having to do both with the limitations of the political system and the limitations of the man. She makes people forget that estimations of him were too overheated, trust in his powers too fervid. As the feminist philanthropist Barbara Lee told me of Warren, 'This moment of disillusion is why people find her so compelling, because she brings forth the best in people and she brings back that excitement.'” (NYTimes)

"To many the American hipster represents more than ironic graphic T's and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. 'I like to believe there's something smarter lurking within our romance with hip ... an idea of enlightenment and awareness," says John Leland, a New York Times reporter and author of the 2004 book Hip: The History. America does have a long love affair with being hip — not only up to date and au courant, but ahead of the curve. The Urban Dictionary defines hipsters as 'a subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s who value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.' The greatest concentrations of hipsters, the hiptionary definition continues, 'can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively.'  Sure enough, just a couple of years ago everyone was writing about discrete hipster enclaves. A 2009 essay in Time magazine focused on the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, noting that because of a lagging economy and neighborhood gentrification, 'Hipsterdom's largest natural habitat, it seems, is under threat.'" (NPR)

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) are ready to tango once again on spending cuts and taxes but this time the balance of power favors Reid.Democrats say Boehner and his GOP colleagues lack the leverage they had earlier this year, when congressional inaction would have resulted in a government shutdown or default. Reid’s party is more willing to accept the consequences of a deadlock this time than Republicans, several of whom have already vowed to attempt to repeal $500 billion in automatic cuts to the defense department. 'Sequestration is worse for Republicans, you don’t see Democrats talking about trying to reverse it,' said a senior Democratic aide. 'The Republicans don’t have a gun to our head like they did earlier this year.'A senior GOP aide scoffed at the notion of a Reid advantage as 'untethered from reality,' but a shift can be observed in Reid’s rhetoric. When circumstances gave Boehner more leverage earlier this year, Reid buttered up his negotiating partner in public." (TheHill)

"The storied Frank Gehry-designed Condé cafeteria officially has some culinary competition, and it isn’t Hearst’s lunchtime spread or a local 4 Times Square EIC haunt (Lambs Club, we’re looking at you). Last night, Bon Appetit’s EIC Adam Rapoport got cooking with a little help from his famous friends to christen the BA Kitchen. The crack team of consultants for the project? From some of the city’s finest kitchens, Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio, and Marcus Samuelsson emerged to offer their sage insights for the handsome AvroKO-designed space. The latter two were on hand for the evening’s delicious festivities, as were Solange Knowles, Olivia Munn, Wyatt Cenac, Zoe Kravitz, plus a duo of dashing blokes in off-duty chapeaux—Ryan Phillippe (baseball cap) and Penn Bagdley (newsboy number). Now, onto the food and bevs, of course! The Roots’ Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson provided more than just rhythmic accouterments for the evening, less than 48 hours after he sent ripples through the Twittersphere by breaking news of Monday night's police raid at Zuccotti Park, earning the moniker of 'Paul Revere for the Occupy Wall Street movement.' He also devised the 'Love’s Drumstick' for the BA Kitchen's debut: poultry battered in buttermilk, doused in Creole seasoning, and adorned with a flourish of freshly-made crimson origami. What a week for The Roots’ renaissance man!" (Fashionweekdaily)