Sunday, October 28, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Sandy, like many in an America with changing demographics, has overseas roots, hailing from the tropics. She rose to our attention in the south but ultimately, like so many others, she hit the big time in the northeast, and her political impact will extend well into the heartland of America, where this election will be decided. Like Joe Biden and Chris Christie, Sandy is an uncontrollable, wind-powered force of nature. Like many politicians, the first impression she may give the average voter is that she is all wet. But there is more to Sandy than meets her eye. Sandy is a game-changer. For those of you live far from the eastern shores of the United States, it is also worth noting that she is also a hurricane, a big one, currently cutting an 800-mile swath across one of the most heavily populated areas of the richest and most powerful nation on Earth. And in so doing, she is speaking volumes about subjects many U.S. politicians have avoided and, at the same time, she is having a major impact on America's process of electing a president. To begin with, Sandy will do more to draw attention to issues of climate change than all the candidates running for every office in the United States during this election cycle have done. While it's impossible to attribute her size or impact to man-made origins, it is also impossible not to wonder whether the recent frequency of large storms is related to the growing oceans of data about the reality of global warming. Sandy looks like what climate scientists have been warning about for years." (ForeignPolicy)

"Friday night Kathy Sloane gave a birthday dinner at La Grenouille for our friend Alice Mason the legendary private residential real estate broker here in New York. Grenouille is Alice’s favorite. It is, for many, without peer; and Friday night attested to that – it was full. Their Dover Sole is an especial favorite with the clientele. They say it’s the best in New York. The Mushroom Risotto is highly prized also. As is just about everything on the menu. But it is not just the menu; it is the room, the light, the flowers, the ambience, the vibe, all which come together to deliver the personal experience of elegance. Suddenly luxury is real because you are in its thrall, rather than like some lovely item purchased for a price. All of this is the mastery of its proprietor and host Charles Masson and his impeccable staff." (NYSocialDiary)

"In 2006, an Iraqi technocrat named Tariq Shafiq was charged with crafting an oil law. A Berkeley-trained engineer, he began his career in the 1950s, rising through the consortium of foreign firms that comprised the Iraq Petroleum Company -- until the Baathists nationalized the oil sector and sentenced him to death, in 1970, for conspiring with the imperialists. Luckily, Shafiq had been out of Iraq at the time, and he didn't return for decades. But now he would again find himself at the center of controversy. In a country that receives 95 percent of its revenue from oil, his oil law would not only shape the management and regulation of the national economy but also determine the extent to which power would be centralized in Baghdad. It was the centerpiece of Iraq's own version of the Federalist Debates. On the federalist side, Iraq's minority Kurds -- who had already gained significant political and military independence in their semi-autonomous northern region -- argued that dispersing state power could prevent the kind of oppression that had been fueled by Saddam Hussein's complete, unwavering control of oil revenuesIt would be a safeguard against tyranny. The centralists, on the other hand, argued that a Balkanization of the oil sector would lead to conflict, with local governments fighting over cross-border oil fields; moreover, they said, it would be a bad value for Iraq. If different parts of the country were bidding to partner with the same top companies, they would inevitably undercut one another. Shafiq had suffered at the hands of oppressors in Baghdad, but he still took the centralist view." (ForeignPolicy)

"PPP's newest Colorado poll finds Barack Obama's position improving slightly in the state after his debate victory this week. He now leads Mitt Romney 51-47, up from a 50-47 spread last week Colorado voters think Obama was the winner of Monday night's debate by a 51/38 margin, and it seems to be having a positive impact on his approval numbers. 51% of voters give him good marks to 47% who disapprove, up from a 49/49 spread last week. Romney's favorability numbers are unchanged from a week ago with 48% of voters rating him favorably and 49% unfavorably. Voters trust Obama more on both the economy (50/46) and Libya (53/44) than they do Romney. Obama has a 51/43 lead with independents. Beyond that his advantage is being driven by large margins with women (54/44), Hispanics (65/34), and young voters (60/35). Romney's main areas of support are with men (49/47), whites (52/46), and seniors (56/41)." (PPPolling)

"I’ve never visited Villa Erotica but was a regular visitor of Chez Lapin, a wonderful old brothel of a nightclub in old Piraeus, which came to mind reading about Patrick Leigh Fermor and the ‘louche and delinquent’ dockside tavernas' two weeks ago in the Spectator. What memories! Piraeus back in the early fifties was pure Middle East, a Levantine port of roast peanut smells, souvlaki stands, and troubadours strumming their guitars along the docks. The louchest and most dangerous club of all was the Kit Kat, where sailors fought nightly with knives over women of ill repute, the cops not even bothering to break it up. I discovered the Kit Kat in 1953, when at fifteen I was taken there by Mike Williamson, son of the American military attaché and brother of the beautiful Nancy, a girl that broke more hearts among Athenian swells than Zuleika managed to in Oxford. Mike was tall, tough, very good-looking, and drank like a true Texan. I was mad about Nancy but she was older than me and going out with my friend Karolos Fix. At the Kit Kat after some heavy drinking, Mike cooled some Russian sailor and his buddies stepped in. We fought them as best we could but eventually lost due to numbers. Mike had been knifed on both his arms and legs but had been so drunk he hardly noticed. I was spared because of my age and the fact I looked younger than my years. A black eye and a cut lip was a small price to pay for the honor of having fought all out at the Kit Kat. Sailors are good people, and knifing 15-year-olds is not their specialty. At least not back then." (Takimag)

"I arrive early at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, where I am due to meet Brad Grey, chairman of Paramount Pictures. Waiting at his usual table near the front of the restaurant, I nibble a breadstick, study the menu and listen to the pianist mangling pop favourites.
Looking towards the lobby, I expect to see Grey. Instead, Dolly Parton totters into the room in impossibly high-heeled shoes, her gravity-defying décolletage looming towards me. As Parton tries to locate her table, Grey arrives. 'Hi Dolly,' he says, after greeting me and sitting down. 'Hi Brad,' she replies in her southern lilt, flashing a smile and heading to the other side of the room.
Such is life at the Polo Lounge, which Edward Mady, hotel general manager, calls 'Hollywood’s commissary', since this is where the entertainment industry comes to do business, gossip, drink – and sometimes even to eat. The hotel, opened 100 years ago, is steeped in the glory and traditions of old Hollywood: Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin made films here, Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned here (more than once), Howard Hughes lived in one of its bungalows for many years, and Raquel Welch is said to have been 'discovered' here, while swimming in its pool." (FT)

"Fantasy Fest has come and gone. Since arriving here a year ago I have heard of this spectacle from the locals, but had yet to witness it myself. Fantasy Fest is the entire week before Halloween when the bulk of Key West participates in a carnival of craziness. Duval Street is blocked off for pedestrians, and each night is dedicated to a theme of dress, one night all red, another night togas, and so on, the madness building to a crescendo by Saturday night with a parade of floats. This annual freak-out is when fifty-thousand out-of-towners descend upon this tiny coral island and partake in the nuttiness. Naturally, I went to look and for the most part I was too astonished to remember to raise my camera. Mostly I walked about with my mouth agape, busting with spontaneous giggles at the outlandish sights. Such as the enormous naked muscular man wearing only work boots and a ‘hammock’ for his equipment and a black mask with a closed zipper at the mouth. Many costumes were impressively detailed, most were scant and provided a voyeur’s delight. Mostly what I saw were breasts, cleverly painted with a thick shellack and reconfigured to a lion’s face or draped fabric and so on as far as the imagination can go. Many women were completely nude with appliqué hearts pressed on at the coochy, presumably in a salute to modesty. " (Christina Oxenberg)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, 'my family was extremely poor,' the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year. But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show. The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister. Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion." (NYTimes)

"On Tuesday, October 23, precisely two weeks out from Election Day, ABC News and the Washington Post reported the second set of results from their homestretch tracking poll of 1,382 likely voters nationwide. The survey had Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama by 49 to 48 percent, a fashion-model-slender lead that, in fact, was even slimmer than those numbers suggested. (Pushing out two decimal places, the poll found Romney at 48.51 percent and Obama at 48.44.) And the ABC-WaPo tracker was no outlier. To the contrary. At this writing, on October 25, the RealClearPolitics national polling average gave Romney a 47.7 to 47.1 lead, and in all but one of the nine battleground states, the margin separating the two nominees was less than 3 percent. Drilling down on the numbers at this late stage, a few conclusions are unavoidable. First, despite claims to the contrary by the Romney campaign, there is no massive wave of momentum carrying Mittens either nationally or in the battleground states—but the bump he received after the first debate elevated him sufficiently that he stands a plausible chance of winning this thing. Second, buoyed by his strong performances in the second and third debates, Obama’s position has stabilized and he holds a small but significant advantage in terms of the electoral map—but his sub-50 percent support levels in all of the battleground states is a cause for real concern among Democrats. All of which is to say, third and finally, that next Tuesday night is likely gonna be the emotional equivalent of riding the Cyclone at Coney Island: a nerve-­jangling, empty-out-the-liquor-­cabinet-and-stash-box sort of affair. But here’s the thing: It could be even worse than that. At a moment when the bitter polarization that has poisoned our politics for so long has reached a new height (or depth) of vehemence and venom, there is a small but nontrivial possibility that come November 7, we will find ourselves facing an outcome that would trigger a national political meltdown, in which a large portion of each side decries the election result as illegitimate. Indeed, your columnist can imagine four such Armageddon scenarios. I present them in order, from the most to the least likely—and least to most horrific..." (John Heilmann)

"Last night. It was another one of those nights with a dozen do’s on in the charity/arts and culture circuit. I started out at Dennis Basso on 66th Street and Madison Avenue where Dennis was hosting a booksigning for Palm Beach landscape architect Mario Nievera. Big crowd when you put together the lists of those two. Mario. Many of those extraordinary landscapes behind the gates and the hedges down in Palm Beach are Mario’s exceptionally clean and lush creations. I’d gone in there just to get the picture so you could see the book. From Dennis Basso, I walked five blocks south down the avenue and over to the corner of 61st and Fifth, where Sirio Maccioni was presiding over the grand opening of his new restaurant in the Pierre, Sirio Ristorante. I’d seen the interior of this smart new venture the night before and run a picture of the bar area, fortunately because last night all you could see was the sea of humanity whom Sirio had invited. It’s right there on the corner of 61st and the Avenue in the Pierre, and right across the street from the Park. Last night. I’d estimate at least several hundred were partaking of the champagne and cocktails. " (NYSocialDiary)

"'I don’t actually go to newsstands anymore,' said Tina Brown, the editor in chief of Newsweek/The Daily Beast, a few days after she announced last week that Newsweek would become an all-digital publication and terminate its 79-year run in print by the end of 2012. But while Brown insists that she prefers reading on her Kindle when traveling and she sees “everybody reading screens,” there are still places in the world that thrive on stacks upon stacks of printed matter. One such is the corner of Eighth Avenue and 12th Street in Manhattan. 'I am sad,' said Mohammed Ahmed, the manager and part-owner of Casa Magazines, when I asked him how he felt about Newsweek’s imminent departure from his shelves. 'Everything is going digital.' But Ahmed, who is 55 and originally from Hyderabad, India, doesn’t seem to be the brooding type. Moments later, he was handing me the newer magazines (Frankie, OnEarth, Self Service and CR Fashion Book among them) that have now found their place in his store. Casa Magazines stocks around 2,000 titles — from fashion glossies to newspapers to hobby magazines to porn. Some titles, like the Indonesian fashion magazine DA MAN and the men’s lifestyle publication Made in Brazil are only available in New York through Ahmed. 'It’s the magazine Mecca,' said James Reginato, who was browsing in Ahmed’s store Tuesday, and who happens to write for Vanity Fair. Reginato called Ahmed 'the king of the Village.'" (NYTimes)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"(78 year old Effraim) Halevy is a man of the Mossad serving there for 40 years -- 33 of them in the Directorate, the initial designation for Mossad's intelligence collection unit. He headed Mossad under three prime ministers -- Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon -- and served as deputy director under two more, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin. He ran a variety of secret missions for Rabin, most notably as key negotiator and confidante of King Hussein during the period leading up to the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.  The Israeli spymaster has recently made headlines by calling for dialogue with Iran -- thereby joining the burgeoning ranks of former Israeli intelligence officials, notably former Mossad director Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, critical of the Netanyahu government's approach toward the Islamic Republic. He was in Washington last week speaking at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. I put 11 questions to him on the vital political issues of the day before he returned to Jerusalem. What follows are his answers:  Aaron Miller: Is a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat to Israel? Efraim Halevy: 'I object to the use of term [existential] for several reasons. First of all I'm convinced that Israel is here to stay. We're going to stay here for the next couple of thousand years at least, and after that we can meet and talk. It's not just a question of semi-religious or mythological belief -- I believe that Israel is a strong country. I think we have sufficient capabilities to deal with any threat of any kind. Now, I also object to the use of the term because I believe it is a fatal mistake to say publicly that there is existential threat. It means that if the Iranians by one way or another obtain such a capability, you begin to countdown to the end of the state of Israel, and I think that is unconscionable. And the third point is I think it is a terrible mistake to tell your enemy that it is in his power to destroy you. It is wrong tactically, it's wrong strategically, and it's wrong professionally. To come publicly to the Iranians and say, 'Look, you are existential threat to me' only pushes them into trying to prove that what you say about yourself is true. So from every point, I think it's a terrible mistake to use this." (ForeignPolicy)

"While there will be major shifts in the House delegations of many states on Election Day, and while more than a handful of incumbents appear likely to lose, the total change in each party’s net total of House seats will probably not be large. That means it’s good to be the Republicans, who already hold a big edge in the House — an edge that we project them to keep. The Crystal Ball can now project that the Republicans will retain their House majority, although we suspect it will be at least a bit smaller than their current 25-seat edge. While we have been saying the Republicans were heavy favorites in the House for months, this is the first time we’ve said definitively that they will keep the majority. Given the topsy-turvy presidential race, it appeared in mid-September that President Obama was building a lead that might actually, through his coattails, put the House in play. But after the presidential race returned to its achingly close state, it’s become clear that while individual races are fluctuating, there’s not a clear wave building for either side. We will continue to update our ratings until the Monday before Election Day, and it remains possible that Democrats will add a handful of seats to their total, or that Republicans will further limit Democratic gains. A net Republican gain is not impossible, nor is a significant Democratic gain in the double digits. Our modest projected gain for the Democrats is pretty similar to our first hard guess as to the net change in the House this cycle — on July 12, we said Democrats would pick up six seats; today, we’re saying Democrats plus five. If Democrats do in fact net five seats, that would make the House 237 Republican to 198 Democratic." (CenterforPolitics)

"Mitt Romney's standing in the presidential race has added more uncertainty to the roller-coaster ride Republicans have been on in their quest to control the Senate. The GOP began the cycle believing the Senate was within its grasp, given the 23 seats Democrats were defending, many of them in states where the GOP expects to thump President Obama. Hopes dimmed first with Sen. Olympia Snowe’s retirement, which put a safe GOP seat in play in Maine. They flickered again after Obama’s poll numbers rose following the Democratic convention.Then came a dominating performance by Romney in the first presidential debate, which left Republicans pumped that Mitt-momentum would carry Senate candidates down the ballot to victories. Yet polls across the country show Senate GOP candidates trailing or tied with their Democratic rivals in red-leaning states like North Dakota, Missouri and Arizona.And Republicans awoke Wednesday to worries that comments about pregnancy and rape by Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock had endangered that candidate’s hopes of holding a seemingly safe GOP seat. GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak acknowledged the fight for the Senate has been volatile, and that there have been mood swings for Republicans. But in the end, he said the top of the ticket will make the biggest difference in the race for the Senate. 'There was a time when Republicans felt really good about the Senate,' he told The Hill. 'There was a time Democrats felt a lot better, too. Ultimately, the fortunes for a lot of these candidates are going to be dictated by the top of the ticket.'" (TheHill)

"Let me explain why this is so revealing. Obama’s lead in the electoral college is persistent, but rests on very narrow advantages. If Romney could close small deficits in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa, while sweeping the states where he’s tied or narrowly ahead, like North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Colorado, he can win. But Nevada is almost certainly out of reach. Over the last few years, public polls have underestimated the Democratic vote in that state by large and growing margins. Even in the 2010 Republican landslide year, nearly all the polls showed Harry Reid losing his Senate race, only for him to prevail by six points. And the public polls, which have systematically erred on the GOP side, all show Obama ahead there anyway. Las Vegas reporter Jon Ralston has explained that the polls miss the impact both of Reid’s turnout operation and the strength of the Latino vote. (Most polls don’t ask questions in Spanish, and thus miss the Spanish-speaking vote, which is expanding in size.) About ten days ago, Ralston explained the dynamic in a column, and then, as the early vote has rolled in, has reported on the very sizable Democratic edge, which makes a Romney win in that state nearly impossible."(Jonathan Chait)

"This past Tuesday night at the grand ballroom of the Plaza, the World Monument Fund held its annual Hadrian Awards. This year the Hadrian was given to Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, for his longtime support of historic preservation worldwide. Henry Kissinger made the tribute. The Watch Award was presented by Caroline Kennedy to the Duke of Devonshire for the restoration of the magnificent Chatsworth House estate." (NYSocialDiary)

"Hotelier Jonathan Tisch is having trouble sleeping at night. Ever since it was announced in September that his Loews Regency hotel — the city’s reigning power breakfast spot since 1975 — would close in January for a yearlong renovation, he feels like a hunted man ... Tisch has a right to worry. Two short avenue blocks away, Sirio, the new restaurant at the Pierre Hotel run by power host Sirio Maccioni, is planning to open tomorrow — and he’ll be serving breakfast. With blueberry pancakes, eggs Benedict and frittata mozzarella, he hopes to lure Tisch’s regulars, including Al Sharpton, Andrew Cuomo and media honchos like CBS head Les Moonves, to his place for good. 'The Tisch family are dear friends, but business is business,' shrugs Sirio’s son Mario Maccioni. Meanwhile, 10 blocks south, the Four Seasons is also plotting to offer a morning meal. 'A couple of years ago we wanted to open for breakfast, and now I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do,' says Four Seasons co-owner Julian Niccolini. 'We have a tremendous chance to capture that audience.' Others are circling the carcass, waiting to pick off VIPs. Michael McCarty’s expertise handling a high-powered a.m. crowd is nothing to scoff at. He’s long played host to a cast of media titans at Michael’s, his art-filled restaurant on West 55th Street, where breakfast regulars include Isaac Mizrahi and Harrison Ford. 'I have some customers that have two breakfasts — one meeting after another,' says McCarty. 'People say they do more business over breakfast than in a full day at the office. And chance meetings can turn into deals — if you could see the crowd and watch the dynamic of the room, it’s astounding.'" (NYPost)  

"Reality TV host Donald Trump launched a new publicity stunt Wednesday in which he said he would give $5 million to a charity of President Obama’s choice, so long as the President releases his school and Passport records 'To Mr Trump’s satisfaction.' Trump appeared on CNN’s 'Piers Morgan Tonight' and FNC’s 'On the Record with Greta Van Susteren' to talk about his ridiculous offer. Obama himself responded on 'The Tonight Show' ...Morgan had to begin his interview with a disclaimer, noting that he considers Trump a friend and adding 'I’ve known Donald Trump since I won the first season of ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ and appear on the show sporadically.' He asked Trump if the offer was a publicity stunt. 'Don’t be ridiculous, this isn’t a publicity stunt, it is a very serious offer,' Trump replied. Well that settles that." (TVNewser)

"There's a good reason why nobody is paying attention to the election this year except the people who, one way or another, get paid to be interested: because for all that's at stake there is no coherent discussion about any of it. By 'at stake' I mean what we are going to do when the major systems we depend on for everyday life begin to wobble and fail. There is zero cognizance even among the paid kibitzers that we are near that point. Rather, a rapture of techno-narcissism holds in thrall even people who ought to know better, and a chatter-stream of infotainment propaganda spreads an hallucinatory fog of national self-esteem-boosting figments ranging from 'energy independence' to 'green jobs.' The truth of our situation is an implacable contraction of the turbo-corporate economy due to remorseless looming energy scarcity. That is, strange to relate, not altogether bad news (if we were psychologically disposed to process it, which we are not). It doesn't have to mean that everything in American life goes straight to shit -- though it might. It could well mean that some of the most destructive corporate actors go to shit (quickly and unexpectedly), making room for some really beneficial transformation." (Kunstler)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Video of the Day

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Monday night's presidential foreign policy debate probably won't change the opinion of many voters. Proponents of President Barack Obama are still convinced that Mitt Romney is a fool and a liar. Proponents of former Gov. Romney have the same view of the president. Of course, this is normal in any American presidential race. Along with the eternal conviction that the party in power is destroying the country, we have regarded Abraham Lincoln, during the 1860 election, as a simple-minded country bumpkin with a touch of larceny; Franklin Roosevelt as a rich dilettante and socialist; and Dwight Eisenhower as a bumbling fool who is lazy and incapable of understanding the complexity of the world -- this about the man who, during World War II, led the most complex military coalition on the planet to victory. We like to think that our politics have never been less civil than they are today. Given that Andrew Jackson's wife was accused of being a prostitute, Grover Cleveland was said to have illegitimate children and Lyndon Johnson faced the chant 'Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?' I will assert that the Obama-Romney campaign doesn't even register on the vilification scale. The founders wouldn't have minded this culture of contempt for politicians. In founding the republic, their fundamental fear was that the power of the state would usurp the freedoms of the states and individuals. They purposefully created a political regime so complex that it is, in its normal state, immobilized. They would not have objected if professional politicians were also held in contempt as an additional protection. Ironically, while the founders opposed both political parties and professional politicians, preferring to imagine that learned men take time from their daily lives to make the sacrifice of service, many became full-time politicians and vilified one another." (Stratfor)

"In May and then again two weeks ago, I met in the Obama Chicago campaign headquarters with senior officials from the President’s re-election for wide-ranging discussions of the state of the race. On both occasions, I was struck by the expression of near certainty that their candidate would be re-elected. On Tuesday, I was back meeting with many of the same top advisers and found a virtually identical level of definitive sureness about the outcome. As always, the Chicago group acknowledges the race will be close, but claim the president’s October stumbles and skids have not changed their fundamental, positive view. This confidence flouts the shifts in national and battleground polls that have occurred since the first presidential debate in Denver shook up the race, bringing to an apparent halt what many had seen as Obama’s inexorable march to re-election. The Obamans still insist they hold, to use their phrase, a small but stable and significant lead and express no doubt they will win. In both my background interviews and a separate on-the-record media briefing from Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and strategist David Axelrod earlier in the day, Obama officials laid out the reasons for their sustained confidence. Chicago is keying off of a daisy-chain of educated assumptions and analysis of existing data to inform their view of the race: the demographic groups that disproportionately back the President will make up a sufficient contribution to the total vote to provide the margin of victory; both new registrants and the early votes now banked are coming disproportionately from those same groups, many of whom are low propensity voters who might not otherwise cast ballots in traditional patterns; the make up of the small remaining undecided bloc is not starkly adverse to the incumbent; and five of the nine battleground states are near-locks for the President, enough to make it impossible for Romney to reach 270 electoral votes." (Mark Halpern)

"In that moment, Obama threw his momentum and his strategy in the trash and, in my view, has been flailing around ever since. He was meep meeped. Romney drew him in with the severe Screen shot 2012-10-23 at 6.39.25 PMconservative posture of the primaries, then etch-a-sketched as Moderate Mitt in the first debate so shamelessly, the entire campaign narrative was altered. And it was altered in Romney's structural favor. Yes, it's amazing that a human being can have so few scruples, such an effortless ease with lying, and literally junk his entire program overnight with nary even an explanation. It's amazing still that polarization in this country would allow evangelicals and Tea Partiers not to start worrying about this chameleon. But this is Romney. He aims to please. He markets 'himself' as a product to different demographics. And marketing works, if you are prepared to turn yourself into a soulless, content-free, power-seeking robot. In other words, Obama has allowed Romney to represent change in a country where the wrong track number is still 54 percent (see above), and the right track number is 40. In that climate, 'change' always beats 'more of the same'. Right now, Romney is 'change' and Obama is 'more of the same.' Advantage: Romney." (Andrew Sullivan)

"In an effort to catalog the underappreciated diversity of style in gentrified Williamsburg, a team of Brooklyn technologists has set up a camera outside their apartment that records the street stylings of passersby and posts the images online. But if passersbys don’t want to be recorded, they’re kind of out of luck. The site, called Styleblaster, aims to 'become a destination for New York City peacocks to traipse by and show off what makes the neighborhood hop.' Using a camera perched a block from the Bedford Ave. L train, the site captures and immediately uploads images of Brooklynites walking by in real time. Users can then click a tophat to signal whether or not the subject is 'stylin’. Click once through Styleblaster and you land on a picture of a moody girl with dark, blunt bangs trudging down the block in heavy black boots; click again and it’s a mom pushing a baby stroller; again, and it’s a dude with his hand down his pants. Styleblaster is a personal project of Jules Laplace, the technology director for OkFocus, the creative agency behind the Kanye West/Donda Media PR stunt. The team created, a domain lookup site that purported to be the first startup of rapper Kanye West but was eventually revealed to be a big hoax." (Observer)

"Up at the University Club Fred Krehbiel, Aileesh Carew and Kate and Robert Bartlett hosted a reception for Ballyfin Demense, the historic Regency house in Ballyfin, Ireland which is now a luxury hotel. I met Mr. Krehbiel several years ago on one of the American Friends of Versailles junkets. He is a passionate supporter of historic restoration and Ballyfin is a special prize. You can look it up in Relais & Chateau. I wasn’t there last night so I don’t know who was or what went on. In the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf they were holding the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala with Robin Meltzer, Gala Chair. It was my first stop last night, arriving for the cocktail hour. They get a big crowd every year and many enthusiastic returners." (NYSocialDiary)

"The social network's stock is way up today — more than 20 percent as of midday — putting Facebook on track to have its best ever day as a public company. The nominal reason for the gains is that yesterday's earnings report was better than analysts had expected, with a small loss attributable to all those stock options employees cashed in when their lock-ups ended. But the gains are really about one thing: mobile advertising. Facebook made $153 million from selling advertisements for its mobile apps last quarter, a figure that represents 14 percent of all its advertising revenue. And while those ads will clog your timeline, they represent a sign that Facebook is coming close to solving its biggest problem. Why is mobile advertising so important for Facebook? Because it's a no-brainer. Facebook has more mobile users than any other social network by a huge multiple (604 million at last count), but has been slow in advertising to those users." (NYMag)

"Naomi Campbell is throwing a lavish Indian 50th birthday party in Jaipur, Rajasthan, for her billionaire boyfriend Vladimir Doronin early next month, Page Six has exclusively learned. The four-day celebration, to be held at various locations including a historic palace, will start on Nov. 4, and Campbell has invited friends from around the world, including many from London, Moscow and New York. A source tells us, “Naomi is flying a lot of people out to India and paying for everything.” The supermodel has sent out e-mail invitations bearing a picture of Vlad underwater James Bond-style with a Seabob, a hand-held propulsion device. His birthday is on Nov. 7. Campbell is believed to have booked a luxury five-star resort for the celebrations and is being helped to organize the festivities by Paris-based travel expert Omar Cherif, who owns OC Travel. Another source told us, 'No expense has been spared. Naomi’s team is even helping their friends secure visas. It will be the party of the century.' Naomi and Vlad have been dating since 2008, and in 2010 he threw her a lavish 40th birthday party on the French Riviera, flying in the Black Eyed Peas and Grace Jones. The guest list featured Donatella Versace, Kate Moss, Giorgio Armani, Jennifer Lopez and Doronin’s fellow Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich." (PageSix)


From the clever Tumblr mash up blog Kanye Wes Anderson:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"After the first presidential debate, opinion polls showed what most 'analysts' were also saying: that Mitt Romney had done well, Barack Obama had done poorly, and what had seemed an insuperable Obama lead was shrinking by the day. Since the second debate, and especially in the past three days, Republican commentators have been saying what the polls are not showing: that Romney has 'momentum,' that he's on an unstoppable roll, that their side is getting ready for an inevitable win. Anyone who has watched Fox, been on Republican email lists, or followed even 'mainstream' 'savvy' commentary has seen this shift. Michael Tomasky talks about this tone taking over the press 'narrative' here. Meanwhile, this is what the most-frequently-cited poll-of-polls, from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, has shown during very same period. Obama's re-election probability is shown in blue. The big drop in Obama's probability-of-win, from a high of 86% to a low of 61% by Silver's calculation, came immediately after that first debate. But a week later, that decline stopped -- and then reversed, as it has through the subsequent ten days. (Similarly, see Eg, 'The reality in the states - regardless of how close the national polls may make the election seem - is that Obama is in the lead.')  They can't both be right: on the one side, the Republican partisans and political 'pros' who say that Romney is on the certain road to victory, and on the other the quants who say No he is not. Of course either side allows for uncertainty about the final outcome: there are still two weeks to go. But about the state and the trend of the race, at this moment, they are in fundamental disagreement. The 'pros' tell us that Romney is catching up, the quants say he is falling behind. In a way this is a perfect test case of the Michael Lewis Moneyball hypothesis. Apart from Silver's own background as a sports-stats analyst, we have an exceptionally clear case of people judging from their experience, their 'bones,' their personal instinct, etc that things are going one way (like veteran scouts saying that a prospect 'looks like a Big Leaguer'), while data (on-base efficiencies in one case, swing-state polls in another) point in the opposite direction." (James Fallows)

"If every modern president needs a creation myth, then Xi Jinping's begins on the dusty loess plateau of northwest China. It was here that Xi spent seven formative years, working among the peasants and living in a lice-infested cave dug into the silty clay that extends around the Yellow River. Gradually, the selfless peasants and the unforgiving 'Yellow Earth' -- a term for China's land that symbolizes relentless toil and noble sacrifice -- transformed this pale, skinny, and nervous-looking teenager into the man who in November will take control of the world's second-most powerful country. 'When I arrived at the Yellow Earth, at 15, I was anxious and confused,' wrote Xi in 1998, by which time he was working his way to the top of the Communist Party hierarchy in the prosperous coastal province of Fujian. 'When I left the Yellow Earth, at 22, my life goals were firm and I was filled with confidence.' When Xi describes himself as 'always a son of the Yellow Earth,' as he did in that rare biographical essay published in a book titled Old Pictures of Educated Youth, he was not only setting up his personal narrative as a leader who has toiled with the masses, in contrast with an increasingly corrupt governing elite. He was also alluding to the idealistic creation story of the Chinese Communist Party, in which his own father, former Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun, played a starring role in setting up the wartime bastion of Yanan, just down the road. Yanan, as the local museum puts it, "is the holy land of the Chinese revolution" and 'birthplace of New China.'" (ForeignPolicy)

"Ben Bernanke, disappointed Nats fan and Federal Reserve chairman, has reportedly told friends he is planning to step down from his post at the end of his next term even if President Obama wins reelection. This bit of news was tucked away in Andrew Ross Sorkin's New York Times column today about handicapping the next picks for Treasury secretary and Fed chairman ... Sorkin! You can't just drop that in the middle of your column and move along like nothing happened. Bernanke is our rock, our deliverance, our national happy place. That lily-white beard is our security blanket. QE3 is our economy's Xanax. Hell, his middle name is literally 'peace.' We're going to need some time to process this ... Still, we have to start mentally preparing for the possibility that Uncle Ben will leave us for a prettier, younger central bank or maybe just Princeton's economics department. Sorkin says that Larry Summers and Fed governor Janet Yellen are on top of his list of possible Bernanke replacements." (NYMag)

"Not many weddings feature Benny Medina as master of ceremonies, 'Gangnam Style' sensation Psy as the wedding singer and a trip down the aisle on a white unicorn. But the nuptials of 'Cougartown' producer Danny Rose and top Hollywood entertainment lawyer Aaron Rosenberg combined all three. The lavish bash at LA’s Paramount lot Saturday started with the happy couple arriving on a 'Jewish unicorn' — a white horse complete with a unicorn horn and a tallis — to Madonna’s 'Like a Virgin.' The ceremony and reception, produced by Rembrandt Flores and Brad Levine, included performances by John Legend, Ciara and Joss Stone. Jennifer Lopez sent a video tribute. Just before 1 a.m., Psy arrived and put on a surprise performance of 'Gangnam Style.' Guests included Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps and Scooter Braun, who manages Justin Bieber and Psy and is Rose’s TV producing partner. The first dance was a choreographed hip-hop number featuring backup dancers. One guest said, 'It was a really fun wedding.'" (PageSix)

"There were two weddings over the weekend of couples who make their homes (at least a good part of the time) in New York, but married in distance places. Tom Sachs, the highly successful New York contemporary artist who took the Warholian route and made something unique with his interest in the phenomenon of consumerism and branding, married Sarah Hoover in the bride’s hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. And that Southern belle who’s made New York her home for a number of years, Frances Schultz married Tom Dittmer, the legendary independent futures brokerage founder (Refco) at his Rancho La Zaca in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, California. The photo of the bridegroom was taken by one of their guests, Nina Griscom, who has the full report on her block" (NYSocialDiary)

"Last year I abused my buddy Carlos, a much overworked New Yorker with a mostly uninhabited upper east side penthouse, and a Swedish car in a garage. I commandeered his guest room for a few weeks, and helped myself to the Swedish vehicle, without permission, and got caught. So it was fitting that when he was invited to a conference in Palm Beach, he would rent a car and visit me here in groovy Key West, if only for revenge. He could not find my house so I met him in the parking lot of the Waffle House. Black hair, black sunglasses, dark red skin, sitting in a silver convertible. He was staring forward, smoking a cigarette. I walked up from behind him and saw, on the passenger seat, a styrofoam of half-devoured waffles and syrup and sausages dying under the hot sun. 'Welcome!' I said. 'Fuck, that’s a long drive,' Carlos said, 'I need a drink.' As he looked up at me, his broad back shuddered and he began to bellow with a cough like a braying donkey. One hand slammed against his open, retching mouth, catching phlegm and spume. I showed him around but after many hours driving in the blistering sunshine, and a solid evening of liquids, by midnight Carlos was sweating and slurring. And with his infernal cough still exploding like a fuming coal train I took him home and pushed him into the guest room. Warning: the following material may be offensive to frailer readers .." (Christina Oxenberg)

"After a long day, sometimes you need an action-packed thriller to get your juices flowing again. Thankfully, the Cinema Society and Grey Goose hosted a screening of Alex Cross at the Tribeca Grand Hotel giving us just the right dose of crime mystery on a Thursday night. The premiere brought out an A-list crowd, per usual: Tyler Perry, Cicely Tyson, Carmen Ejogo, novelist James Patterson, Meredith Ostrom, Alex Lundqvist, Thom Filicia, Mario Lopez, Nicole Ari Parker, Kelly Bensimon, Olivia PalermoMontego Glover, and Russell Simmons ... Before the screening, Perry enlightened The Daily with some on-the-job style secrets. 'As a detective, I wore things I would never wear. It took me back to many years ago when I couldn't afford nice things. I'm able to be more hip and chic. [On the red carpet] I always wear Tom Ford and I always pay full price for Tom Ford. He has not sent any clothes to me for of yet!' Noted." (Fashionweekdaily)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Shaw Vineyard Autumn Taste Extravaganza

Last week I attended the Shaw Vineyard Autumn Tasting Extravaganza downtown in Tribeca. Founded in 2002, Shaw Vineyard operates on the western shore of the seneca lake upstate and grows most of its own grapes and sources the remainder from the highest-quality Finger Lakes growers.

Among the participants in the tasting were Tia Walker, David Barish Adena Geiger as well as quite a few bloggers and chroniclers of nightlife and the scene. The rainy evening was offset by the complex, dry, yeasty -- in the best possible way -- 2008 Reisling, among the first wines that attendees tasted. The wines, it seemed to me, were presented in varying degrees of complexity by Mr. Shaw. The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, by contrast to the first wine, was crisp, velvety and sweet. But the Riesling made a stronger, actually the strongest impression upon me -- aren't Rieslings supposed to be sweet? -- but both were noteworthy. The 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir had, of course, a richer flavor, was almost Sherry-like (and that, to me, is good). The 2010 Pinot Grigio was on the sweeter side of the spectrum, with a floral, almost fruity bouquet. The 2011 Savignon Blanc was young and fun and a bit tawny.

Among the harder stuff, the Barbados Cockspur rum was standout, absolutely excellent -- absolutely pure sipping, molasses based. I have had a few excellent rums from Barbados, but nothing like this. Also standout among the harder liquors was the 25-year old Maison Comandon Cognac, complex, seductive and tasting of high seriousness. Diablito Mezcal, from Mexico, had the characteristic smoky notes offset by welcome suggestions of vanilla.

Thanks to the Shaw's for a great evening. And get thee to that fantastic 2008 Riesling -- shnell!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"'Welcome to the third and final presidential debate. Our topic tonight is foreign policy. First question to you, Mr. President. Your critics say that you have no clear strategy, that you just react to events. Is there an Obama Doctrine? If so, what is it?' 'I killed Osama bin Laden.' 'Thank you, Mr. President. Governor Romney, your turn: What's wrong with the Obama Doctrine?' 'Libya. Libya. Libya.'  'Well, I guess that wraps it up for tonight. Vote early and vote often, folks.'  That would be a merciful version of Monday, Oct. 22's upcoming debate on foreign policy. In fact, we should probably feel thankful that Candy Crowley, the moderator of the Oct. 16 town-hall debate earlier this week, did not, as expected, divide the questions equally between foreign and domestic policy. During the few minutes devoted to foreign affairs, both candidates postured shamelessly on getting tough on trade with China, after which Barack Obama won a round on Libya by catching Mitt Romney ('get the transcript…') in a semantic error. But that was fair, because Romney's objection to Obama's Libya policy was itself semantic: When did he say 'terrorist,' and what did he mean when he said it? Of course, Monday night's debate will give the candidates a chance to air their differences on Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Russia, and Syria -- as well as Libya and China all over again. And some of those differences are real, rather than simply rhetorical. In recent weeks, however, the foreign-policy debate between the two candidates has narrowed down to competing banalities." (James Traub)

"'The men there love me,' she says. 'I don't know why. Religiously speaking, it's forbidden. But culturally, it's among them.… When I walk in the street or in the mall, boys are all over me.' Although there is very little data regarding this phenomenon, activists and lawyers who work with transgender sex workers say that the thriving sex trade in the Middle East, especially in Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Bahrain, is attracting hundreds of transgender sex workers, mostly from South Asia and the Pacific Islands. All these Gulf countries abide by strict Islamic law, outlaw homosexuality, and forbid gay foreigners from entering the country. Transgender individuals in particular have a difficult time traveling and residing in Gulf countries -- if they are caught with documents identifying them as members of the opposite sex, they're immediately detained and deported. If they are arrested for sex work, they could be jailed for even longer periods before they are allowed to leave the country. This is one of the more extreme challenges faced by the Arab Gulf countries as they struggle to adapt to the changing cultural norms brought on by globalization. With the discovery of oil, these countries have been catapulted to the forefront of the world economy -- but massive wealth has brought huge social changes as well, as foreigners have brought their own cultures with them, sometimes shocking the deeply conservative populations. This is most evident in emirates such as Dubai, where migrants make up 90 percent of the population. These communities have long grappled with the sale of alcohol and foreigners' scanty clothing -- but the presence of transgender sex workers is dealt with not through compromise, but brute repression." (Foreignpolicy)

"Berlin does not feel like an imperial city. The new government buildings – the chancellor’s office, the Bundestag and the foreign ministry – have all been designed with plenty of glass and natural light, to emphasise transparency and democracy. The finance ministry is, admittedly, housed in the old headquarters of the Luftwaffe. But most of the grandest architecture – Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg gate – is a legacy of the Prussian kings. Modern Berlin presents a more welcoming face, and has become a magnet for tourists and teenagers. Yet while the German capital has deliberately eschewed the trappings of imperial power, the fact is that Berlin is increasingly the de facto capital of the EU. Of course the EU’s main institutions – the commission and the council – are still based in Brussels. But the key decisions are increasingly made in Berlin. Will Greece have to leave the euro? Ultimately, it will be Germany’s call. Will politicians support further bailouts for southern Europe? The vital debates will take place in the Bundestag in Berlin – not in the European parliament. Who does the International Monetary Fund call about the euro crisis? The most important conversations take place with the German government and the European Central Bank in Frankfurt – not the European Commission. This shift in power from Brussels to Berlin has been accelerated by the euro crisis. Naturally, the German chancellor Angela Merkel still has to go to summits in Brussels and strike deals. She was there only last week. But the euro crisis means that Ms Merkel is now incomparably the most important leader at the table." (FT)

"Last March, Goldman Sachs VP Greg Smith quit his job in spectacular fashion—with a New York Times op-ed decrying the erosion of the firm's moral culture into a 'toxic and destructive' state. Now, Greg Smith has a book coming out. He was on 60 Minutes last night. He has become, in mere months, the world's most famous insider critic of the go-go culture of Wall Street's biggest banks.If you understand how the American news cycle works, you know what is coming next: the (new) backlash against Greg Smith. The inevitable backlash will recast him from heroic whistleblower to self-serving hypocrite. So before that backlash is fully formed, allow us to offer a defense of Greg Smith, and others like him, who assert their moral outrage over bad situations that are ostensibly 'well known' even before they raise their voices in protest." (HamNo)

"The Fader and Converse joined forces to host 4 days worth of the Fader Fort's annual unofficial CMJ lineups, this year at their Rubber Tracks studio on Hope Street in Williamsburg. Saturday we got there in time to catch a diverse smattering of buzz bands including The Crystal Ark, Hunters, Kilo Kish, the Twerps (whom we couldn't help but notice wore every brand of sneaker except Converse) and Chairlift. We hear Britt Daniel's new band -- Divine Fits -- also played a surprise set later in the evening. Photos ...." (Papermag)

"Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education held its annual 'Fiesta 2012' gala at The Mandarin Oriental in New York City. This year’s honorees were Lilly Scarpetta de Pumarejo, Pierre Durand and Marina B. Kiera Chaplin collected a special gold medal on behalf of Marina B. Mario Buatta served as master of ceremonies and Christopher Mason was the program’s host. As has become the tradition, Jacqueline Weld Drake, Aileen Mehle, and Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia were the Dinner Chairmen. Kiera Chapin, Jacqueline Weld Drake, Fe Fendi, Lilly Scarpetta, and Enrica Arengi Bentivoglio were all adorned in Marina B. sparkling jewels. Cocktails began in the hotel’s lobby lounge and was followed by dinner and dancing in the ballroom. The benefit raised $528,800 dollars – the silent auction raised $32,900. This elegant back tie evening raises money for an intuition in one of the poorest neighborhoods of the Bronx, the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, which supports young people and their families through high quality social, cultural, and educational opportunities. Casita Maria was founded in 1934 by Claire and Elizabeth Sullivan, two schoolteachers in East Harlem. The event hosted over 370 guests..." (NYSocialDiary)

"A former CEO of Citigroup, Sanford Weill—not exactly an Errol Flynn lookalike—recently sold his Upper West Side apartment to a 22-year-old daughter of a Russian—libel laws prevent me from describing his profession accurately—for 88 million big ones. He purchased the Weill pad and parked his daughter inside while trying to keep his ill-gotten gains from her mother’s eager hands. When Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke were considered the two richest girls in the world back in the 1930s, they wouldn’t have dreamed of treating themselves with such over-the-top extravagance." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

"The latest cringe-worthy example: Bloomberg reported today on the highly-detailed specifications that Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries required for the flight crews on the company’s corporate jet. 'Clean-shaven males had to wear a uniform of Abercrombie polo shirts, boxer briefs, flip-flops and a ‘spritz’ of the retailer’s cologne,' according to a manual that has come to light through an age-discrimination lawsuit brought by a former pilot. (Abercrombie did not directly employ pilots for the corporate jet.) The 40-page set of 'Aircraft Standards' also prescribed the color of gloves attendants should use (black when putting out silverware, white when setting a table), detailed menus for Jeffries’ three dogs, and instructions on diction: the men should say 'no problem' instead of 'sure.' Jeffries is apparently a frequent flyer as well as a fastidious and exacting one. As Bloomberg reported: 'In 2010, the board agreed to pay him $4 million to limit [Jeffries’] personal use of the company jet to $200,000 annually beginning with the fiscal year ended Jan. 29, 2011.' All this at a company whose stock has fallen by half in the last 12 months. CEOs are very comfortable delegating the running of vast enterprises to others. But they often obsess over the smallest details surrounding private jets: what they look like, who gets to use them, how much they have to pay to fly. In fact, the private jet—a Gulfstream, a Hawker-Beechcraft—occupies a central role in American corporate culture. CEOs may not get too exorcised about a falling stock price or declining market share. But try to take away their plane, and they’ll scream bloody murder." (TheDailyBeast)

"A topless woman in psychedelic body paint distracted some guilty eyes at the Chelsea opening of artist Chuck Close’s latest show. 'Yup, she just showed up, painted,' exclaimed one gobsmacked guest at the Pace Gallery of the smiling lady who opened a raincoat to reveal she was only wearing underwear. Though, thankfully, fully clothed, Paul Simon also turned some heads, as did the singer’s portrait, hanging with never-before-seen paintings of Cindy Sherman and Philip Glass and a tapestry of Lou Reed. Close later held court at a chic Glasshouses dinner, where guests included Agnes Gund, Beth Rudin DeWoody, artists Ross Bleckner and Tara Donovan and Marc and Andrea Glimcher." (PageSix)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

via wrongthinking
Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Just two years ago, as part of its 'zero problems with neighbors' policy, Turkey removed visa requirements with several countries, including Syria, its neighbor to the south. Thousands of middle class Syrians flooded the 500-mile border, visiting the malls of Gaziantep or scouting for business partners amongst Turkey’s vibrant merchant class. It was a time of great enthusiasm about Turkey across the Middle East, the heyday of the Mavi Marmara affair, when the Eastern-looking Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be standing up to Israel, even the United States. Arabs embraced Turkish soap operas and named their baby boys Tayyip. Erdogan was best friend to everyone, and on especially good terms with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The two were photographed palling around in the sunny Aegean town of Bodrum. Erdogan called Assad 'brother.' Then the Arab Spring started." (TNR)

"The respected Marquette Law School Poll, which had Obama up 11 in Wisconsin before the debate, now shows the president ahead only 49%-48% in Badgerland. This squares with three other surveys conducted after the first debate (but before the second), all showing Obama with small leads inside the margin of error. So Wisconsin is now a toss-up. We also cannot ignore the polls showing tightening margins in both Pennsylvania’s presidential and Senate contest, so we’re moving both to leans Democratic, down from likely. Romney probably only wins Pennsylvania in a decisive national victory -- we’ll be stunned if it accounts for his 270th electoral vote -- and the challenger’s campaign is wise to downplay his chances both in the Keystone State and Michigan. Meanwhile, it appears that Sen. Bob Casey (D) is running a subpar campaign, and businessman Tom Smith (R) is hammering him with ads. Last month, we ran a list of potential Senate shockers -- but none of them would compare to a Casey loss.This makes the Electoral College count 267 for Obama, 235 for Romney and 36 toss-ups (Colorado, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin). We do not have the data to move Iowa, Nevada or Ohio onto the list of toss-ups. Keep in mind that as of this writing we have little indication as to what impact the second debate will have on this utterly wild race." (CenterforPolitics)

"More than 500 guests attended Tuesday night’s glamorous Pratt Institute’s 125th Anniversary celebration, which raised a record-breaking $1,070,000 through ticket sales at the Waldorf=Astoria. The Institute’s golden gala commemorated the alumni and faculty whose iconic works have shaped our world, and honored the Pratt Family, who have actively supported the Institute since its founding by Charles Pratt in 1887; Maximilian Josef Riedel, CEO of Riedel Crystal of North America; Julie Taymor, director of theater, opera, and film; and Kehinde Wiley, artist and contemporary portrait painter. Proceeds from the event benefit student scholarships ... In accepting his award Wiley said: 'We have a responsibility to take the riches in front of us and tell the truth about what is out there.' He also placed Pratt students in a special category of artists saying 'Artists at Pratt are a particularly rare breed. They are cooler than the students at the other schools.' Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons presented Wiley with the award." (NYSocialDiary)

"While you may not have heard of Rachel Libeskind, you most likely know her father, Daniel Libeskind, the architect behind the ever-rising Ground Zero site downtown. But Rachel, an ambitious, intense and feisty artist, is embarking on a career that looks like she'll be known in her own right. At her way-downtown studio near Trinity Church, where, incidentally, her father has a studio as well, we recently found her eyeball-deep in collage material, books, magazines, reclaimed junk and paint. She is excited. 'I like to think that my process is just experimentation,' she says. 'That's my favorite thing about art, is experimenting. It's like an adventure every day when you've decided to do something new, and like 99 percent of the time you fail but one percent of the time you make something really great.' Libeskind is a multimedia artist, who works on canvas and paper, as well as wood, found objects, moss, toothpaste and photos, all of which take up large amounts of space in her sun-filled workshop." (Papermag)