Monday, June 30, 2014

Mediabistro: Spike Lee's First Big Break

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

The uncertainty over a broken immigration system will persist, further frustrating U.S. businesses and taking a toll on the economy. Photographer: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
The uncertainty over a broken immigration system will persist, further frustrating U.S. businesses and taking a toll on the economy. Photographer: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

"Conservative Republicans think the immigration issue has turned to their benefit, removing even the slim prospects for any action this year. If they're right, it's only for the short term. Vocal Republicans blame the Barack Obama administration for creating a mini-crisis with the recent surge of children who have come across the southwestern border from Central America. It's the latest rationale of a determined bloc of House Republicans for killing a Senate-passed immigration reform bill -- led by Republican John McCain and Democrat Chuck Schumer -- which provided a lengthy pathway to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants. The longer-term situation is unchanged, and will only get worse. The uncertainty over a broken immigration system will persist, further frustrating U.S. businesses and taking a toll on the economy. Politically, this probably will strengthen the Democrats' hold on the fast-growing Hispanic and Asian-American populations. The last time Washington failed to act on immigration reform, in 2007, Democrats, including then Senator Obama, as well as Republicans, helped sabotage a measure advocated by President George W. Bush and Senators McCain and Edward M. Kennedy. This time, the opponents are Republicans. There are about 250 votes in the House to pass the Senate bill now, but most of those are Democrats, and Speaker John Boehner won't consider a measure opposed by the majority of his caucus.For much of the year, Republicans, trying to escape blame for scuttling a measure, have said passage would be impossible because of the Obama administration's lax border policies. In fact, the budget for border security has increased more than 50 percent the past five years and there are almost 4,000 more agents. These critics got new ammunition this year when a surge of unaccompanied kids, mainly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, began coming over illegally. Republicans attributed the influx to Obama's decision two years ago to provide work permits to the so-called Dreamers: immigrants who had come as children with their families before 2012 and had been living in the U.S. for at least five years, were enrolled in school and hadn't had any criminal violations. Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said that policy created 'a real magnet' for the latest surge of children, who thought they would be able to get citizenship if they made it across the border. The Dreamers measure doesn't affect citizenship. Other facts undercut Issa's case. The vast majority of these kids are from those three Central American countries where the murder rates are among the five highest in the world. It may be a human crisis when 90,000 of these kids try to get to the U.S. in 2014, but that number represents only a little more than 10 percent of the illegal crossings a decade ago." (Al Hunt/Bloomberg Views)

"The buyer, an Italian, was in town for a week, with a million or so dollars to spend. We met one Sunday morning at 20 Pine, a Financial District condo building. She wore a red scarf, jangly jewelry, and a pair of lime-green sunglasses perched atop her curly hair, and she told me she would prefer to remain anonymous. Working through a shell company, she was looking to anchor some of her wealth in an advantageous port: New York City. The building’s lobby, designed in leathery tones by Armani, swirled with polylingual property talk. As the Italian and I waited for her broker, an Asian man sitting on a couch next to us asked, 'You see the apartment?' But he didn’t wait for an answer, leaping up to join a handful of women speaking a foreign language heading toward the elevators.After a few minutes, a fashionably stubbled young man swung through 20 Pine’s revolving door: Santo Rosabianca, a broker with Wire International Realty. The firm, run by Rosabianca’s brother Luigi, an attorney, specializes in catering to overseas investors. A first-generation American, Santo greeted the buyer with kisses and briefed her in Italian. She was searching for a property that would generate substantial rental income. 'Wall Street is not my favorite place,' she told me. 'But he says it is very good for rent.' Like several other buildings she was being shown, 20 Pine was developed at the height of the real-estate bubble. After the crash of 2008, it became an emblematic disaster, with the developers selling units in bulk at desperation prices, until opportunistic foreigners swooped in with cash offers. The salvage deals are long gone, but 20 Pine retains its international appeal. The one-bedroom the Italian was looking at, on the 27th floor, had a view of the Woolworth Building, sleek finishes, a bachelor-size kitchen, and access to an exclusive terrace reserved for upper-floor residents. It was first purchased by an investment banker in early 2008 for $1.3 million, was resold in 2011 for $850,000, and was now back on the market for close to its prerecession price. Rosabianca told the Italian it would rent for more than $4,000 a month, enough to assure a healthy cash flow while its value appreciated. 'There’s really no safer way to get that kind of return,' he said, 'than in New York City real estate.'" (NYMag)

Nixon announcing the release of edited transcripts of the Watergate tapes, April 29, 1974.

"I’ve known many people who in their lifetimes have had close relationships with Presidents both political and social from Herbert Hoover on. Senator Hillary Clinton’s running for President reminded me of my own history of physical proximity to Presidential candidates over the years, although I personally have never known a sitting President. Nevertheless, like a lot of Americans I remain at least slightly in awe of the Man in the Office whoever he (or she) may be.The first time I ever saw a Presidential candidate up close was John F. Kennedy (a foot away) in Lewiston, Maine in October 1960. He was making a quick tour of New England (on his campaign plane, 'The Caroline' — I think it was a CV-240 — which belonged to his father. A bunch of us had driven down from Colby College in Waterville on that cold October night to catch a view. He was originally expected about 9 p.m., but arrived well after midnight. The long delay of his arrival only increased the excitement and anticipation.I was thisfar from him as he passed through the crowd clamoring to get a look at him. He looked repulsed and terrified by the almost crushing mass of humanity as it was cleared so that he could make his way to the platform for a speech. That was my first glimpse into the rigors of Presidential campaigning for any candidate.I never saw Richard Nixon, in or out of office. I’ve known quite a few people who knew him at different times, before and after he occupied the White House. Although he left office in disgrace, he is recalled by nearly everyone (both Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative) with a certain amount of affection, and as a paradoxically sympathetic character. I can understand that having witnessed (along with hundreds of millions) his farewell words, especially when he mentioned his mother Hannah Nixon. 'No one ever wrote a book about my mother…' he said, his eyes welling up.  (Someone had just published a biography of Rose Kennedy.) 'My mother was a saint,' he stated in bittersweet memory, tears brimming, hands grasping tightly the sides of the podium. I thought to myself, there’s the story -- just like many of the rest of us. Mother. Many of us watching cried right along with Mr. Nixon." (NYSD)

John Oliver Interviews Ugandan LGBT Activist Pepe Julian Onziema

Part the second:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Washington Week in Review

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Coming to a bookseller near you on
September 30th, 2014.

"Meanwhile, it was Wednesday and it was Michael’s, and it was busy. PR executive Jim Abernathy with Davidson Goldin, journalist Diane Clehane with TV producer Joan Gelman and tv political commentator and pr consultant Robert Zimmerman, Greg Lawrence, Sanford of the WSJ and Stein; the girls from New Jersey who come in and partake of the menu at the bar every month (you’ve read about them here), and people watch: Kira Semler with Vi Huse; Steven Stolman; Hollywood’s Bonnie Fuller with Penske Media Vice Chair Gerry Byrne holding their weekly round table of guests including: Dean Henley, Justin Fadgen, Sukanya Krishnan, Kimberly Berhardt, Smita Reddy, Jay Margolis, Elena Kim, Allyn Seidman, Abby Raphael; next door to them: Betsy Perry with Catherine Rosin; and next door to them: Tom Brokaw.Moving around the room:  Alexandre Chemia, Michael Claes with Fraser Seitel, Barry Frey with Adam Platzner; PR executive Elizabeth Harrison; Martha Kramer and Annabelle Begelman in from Los Angeles; Lisa Linden with Peter Neger, Jamie MacGuire; Alice Mayhew; Stanley Mohr with Frank Gifford; Nick Verbitsky; Joan Kron; Andrew Stein; Andrew Blauner; Roger Friedman celebrating Jill Brooke’s birthday (she turned 30, big day); Ron Insana; Jerery Inzerillo; Marc Rosen; William Lauder with his daughter Danielle; Bonnie Timmerman; Spencer Wang; Vaughn  Williams; Joyce Mishel, Stan Shuman. I was so busy talking to Simon & Schuster editor Tim Duggan, that that is all I remember.Last night I had dinner at Sette Mezzo with Margo Howard, in from Cambridge/Boston for a publicity and advertising luncheon at Le Bernardin for her new memoir 'at, Drink & Remarry; Confessions of a Serial Wife,'which is coming out in October. I’ll tell you more about it when you can buy it." (NYSD)

91-year-old Sumner Redstone caught in catfight

"Sumner Redstone’s live-in girlfriend, Sydney Holland, is a control freak who forced the staff at his LA mansion to take polygraph tests after her laptop went missing and then had most of them fired, according to court documents filed on Friday. Redstone, the majority owner of CBS and Viacom, is being dragged into a bitter court battle between Holland and his former protégée Heather Naylor. Holland, 43, is suing Naylor, 33, for $1 million — claiming the star of the short-lived MTV show 'The Electric Barbarellas'stole her laptop computer containing 'private and confidential'photographs. That usually means X-rated. aylor countersued, charging that Holland used her influence, as she took control of Redstone’s life, to get the show canceled. Redstone is 91 and worth $6.2 billion. Redstone reportedly pushed MTV execs to air the show — about a girl group described as a cross between the Pussycat Dolls and the Spice Girls, but raunchier — and gave Naylor $157,000 worth of Viacom stock." (RichardJohnson)

"I knew a handful of rich kids at college, but save for the obvious tells (BMWs, breaks spent in Gstaad, Clarins beauty products in the dorm shower), they were indistinguishable from the merely well-off. This job was my first hands-on experience with real wealth: the massive, beautiful home, the glorious food shops, the extra apartments for nannies, the home gym. Oh, and the high-end hoarding: I had to make sure there were 12 extra pairs of Wolford stockings, say, or 8 bottles of organic fat-free tomato sauce.I started carrying hundreds of dollars of (their) cash in my wallet; when I was pick-pocketed, my employers replaced the stolen money without a thought. I started to feel that I, too, was wealthy, and began to indulge in dinners and taxis and expensive haircuts and new hardcover books and stupid clothes, like a $150 Prada bra that offered zero support. I gave not a single thought to saving money.Once, I got to cook my employers and some business associates a regular, full-fat dinner: seared salmon with sun-dried tomatoes, cheesy potato gratins, little pound cakes with whipped cream. The looks on their faces when they tasted that food, made with oil and butter and sugar, after years of Snackwells and plain chicken, were heartbreaking.With my dad’s help, I took out a loan and did a 6-month professional course at the French Culinary Institute, while continuing to work part-time for the family for a few months. I soon learned that I was poorly-equipped to be restaurant cook. I’m rather lazy, I loathe noise, heat, and teamwork, bore easily, and crack under pressure. Months before starting school, I’d read that chefs could make up to $85,000 a year, but it became clear that I’d be lucky to make $25,000, working miserable 60-hour weeks. Having taken on a $24,000 debt (plus interest) on this professional training I suddenly didn’t want, while getting cash advances on my credit card to pay my rent, was stressful. I started breaking out in what I thought were hives, but later turned out to be bedbug bites.Maybe I’d become a food writer."TheAwl)

Illustration by James Ferguson of Clive Palmer

"It’s been a hectic week for one of Australia’s newest politicians. As well as juggling the responsibilities of the party he founded and named after himself, Palmer United Party (PUP), the 60-year-old mining tycoon has been fighting a legal battle with his Chinese business partners over royalties and has been engaged in a public slanging match with Rupert Murdoch’s powerful media empire. he hostilities with News Corp are over coverage of two of Palmer’s quirkier investments – the recently opened Palmersaurus dinosaur theme park in his home state of Queensland, and his plan to build Titanic II, a life-size replica of the doomed liner that would run transatlantic cruises for tourists. 'Clive Palmer’s ambitious Titanic II is about as likely to sail its maiden voyage on time as its namesake is to ever sail again,'opined the Murdoch-owned Courier-Mail. Palmer’s response to the journalist was curt. “I don’t talk to the Courier-Mail. I don’t like them. See you, bye.' After a quick dash across Canberra, Australia’s capital, I’m ushered through the cavernous halls of Parliament House – boomerang-shaped and said to be the world’s most expensive building when completed in 1988 – to a near-deserted dining room. There are fantastic views over the city but the atmosphere is sterile, more hospital café than upmarket restaurant. almer, a huge man with a mop of white hair, greets me with a wide smile and, when he hears I’m from Belfast, small talk about his own heritage (his great-grandmother comes from Ireland). He is also keen to put my mind at rest about the future of Titanic II.(FT)

Friday News Roundup - International

Friday News Roundup - International

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

James Dolan gets Weinstein-ed and dined

"James Dolan and Harvey Weinstein had a lot to talk about on Monday night as they dined together at Waverly Inn. The two had just attended a fund-raiser in the restaurant’s back room ('the conservatory') for Alison Grimes of Kentucky, the Democratic candidate hoping to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Anna Wintour was spotted making her exit and jumping into a limousine. Dolan, the Cablevision CEO, is partners with Weinstein in backing a new PR company that will be helmed by Weinstein’s publicist Leslie Sloane, who left BWR in April. (Clients Chris Rock, Blake Lively and Katie Holmes are reportedly going with her.) And Dolan is one of the backers of Weinstein’s upcoming Broadway show based on the movie 'Finding Neverland.' " (Richard Johnson)

Chen Guangbiao sings “We Are the World” at his bizarre lunch for homeless New Yorkers.

"Wednesday afternoon, I stood outside room 1607 in the Waldorf Astoria. I wanted to speak with Chen Guangbiao, a Chinese tycoon who has made millions in recycling and is famous for a failed attempt to invest in The New York Times. I’d just seen him at Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse, where he presided over a much-publicized lunch for a couple of hundred homeless New Yorkers. He’d left the event quickly and (in an odd move for a man who loves the press) took no questions. So, for want of anything better to do, I tagged along with a few Chinese volunteers who wanted an audience with Chen. They didn’t want money, they said, but simply a show of gratitude from the man for whom they’d worked so hard. I, on the other hand, wanted to know why he’d just promised publicly to give a thousand homeless people $300 each and then, abruptly, didn’t. The (expensive!) advertisement for the lunch, which ran in the Times and The Wall Street Journal, is not ambiguous. Above a photo of Chen, who is flanked by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, is the announcement of a 'charity luncheon for 1000 poor and destitute Americans,' where 'Each will receive 300 dollars.' Attendees to the event, which was to benefit, and was co-hosted by, the famed New York City Rescue Mission, were encouraged to R.S.V.P. to a Hotmail address. It was an exceedingly strange lunch. Chen regaled attendees with his own live version of 'We Are the World.' He does this frequently, apparently. There was also a short film that testified to Chen’s greatness (The narrator: 'He is benevolent and joyous. His name: Chen Guangbiao, the number one philanthropist in China.'). It was looped so I saw it at least a dozen times. The non-credentialed guests were fed tuna tartare and filet mignon. It looked delicious. The media, which turned out in numbers that appeared to equal the attendees they were there to cover, was (delightfully) given nothing.Everyone seemed to be having a nice time until just after the second course. Word got around that, contrary to the ad’s promise, the attendees would not get a dime. Instead, the equivalent, about $90,000, would be given directly to the Rescue Mission. This was received just as you’d expect. 'We are being abused,' an attendee told a bunch of reporters; he felt, he said, like a prop. (The planned $300 giveaway, noted New York, 'was quickly nixed by the city's homeless shelters, on the grounds that many of their residents have addictions and a sudden influx of cash would not be helpful to them.')" (VF)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

Will George Clooney run for office?

"George Clooney may be ready to take his interest in politics to the next level.
The Oscar winner, 53, is seriously contemplating running for the Governor of California, Us Weekly reports. 'George has been talking to politicians about running for years,' said an insider. The 'Monuments Men' star, who counts President Obama as a pal, would like to ultimately become a senator. 'George has said his ultimate goal is to become a U.S. senator, but he knows he would have to hold a position like governor first,' the source adds. A friend of Clooney’s predicts a 2018 run saying, 'He has good ideas that he wants to implement.' Clooney famously claimed he couldn’t run for office because of his past, saying, 'I’ve slept with too many women, I’ve done too many drugs and I’ve been to too many parties.'" (PageSix)

Jackie and Rod in 2013.

"This past Sunday, June 22nd June in far off Gloucestershire, UK, the Goldin Group Charity Polo Cup 2014 took place at the Beaufort Polo Club sponsored, by Goldin Group and its Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club. The Piaget and Royal Salute teams battled it out on the famous Beaufort Polo Club field in Tetbury. Piaget brought home a victory, with a close score of seven goals to five and a half. The event had two very special guests - HRH Prince Henry of Wales playing for Piaget, and HRH The Duke of Cambridge – otherwise known to Americans as Harry and William (or Wills) playing for Royal Salute ... Back in town. Yesterday morning many New Yorkers awoke to the very sad email message that Rodman (Rod) Drake had died the night before, in his sleep, surrounded by his family at his apartment on Park Avenue. Rod had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three and a half months before. He had undergone some treatment and been hospitalized recently. Although his friends all knew of his illness, yesterday was the day that he had planned to host a birthday party for his wife Jackie at their home. A graduate of Yale, Class of ’65, he received his B.A. in Latin American Studies, and later acquired an MBA at Harvard Business School. Investment advisor, consultant, investor, board member, a passionate collector of American illustration art and a Dog’s Best Friend (he’d served as a Director of the Animal Medical Center), in the following almost five decades from his graduation at Yale, Rod had served on many corporate boards, as well funds and investment groups. The father of two sons by his first wife, he was a friend to many (including  lifelong friendships with his suitemates from Yale. He and Jackie, author and biographer, the former Jacqueline Bograd Weld, married in December 1998 in a ceremony in Jackie’s apartment before 30 guests and Rod’s dog, Vasco de Gama. Their friend Susan Cheever who attended, described the couple to the New York Times, 'She’s like a parrot, and he’s like an owl. She’s very colorful and flamboyant, and he’s solid and sweet and wise. And he goes out a night, which she requires.' It was a good one. The marriage to Jackie also brought him a social life, which Cheever referred to." (NYSD)

"It was past midnight, Charlie Rangel had been speaking for a half hour, and he was just getting warmed up. The stage he was standing on in an East Harlem ballroom was buckling — didn’t matter. He kept going for nearly an hour altogether. 'The Teamsters are in the house!' Rangel rasped. 'My office is in the house! My wife is in the house! My girlfriend is in the house!' Whatever that last line meant, the bottom line was that Rangel was in the House, the House of Representatives — still. Last night he won his 23rd straight race — unofficially, until the Board of Elections opens the absentee ballots — by about 1,800 votes, in a bitter Democratic primary rematch with State Senator Adriano Espaillat. All the data and demographics mattered: the redrawing of district lines to include a section of the Bronx. The fact that black New Yorkers continue to vote more dependably than Latino New Yorkers, and that Latino New Yorkers are by no means politically monolithic. The money that Rangel has delivered for the district since he first took office in 1971. But there is also the highly unscientific, unquantifiable quality that kept Rangel talking last night: The man wanted it very badly. Voters, whatever their grasp of policy, respond intuitively to politicians who need them, who care so much it hurts. Two years ago, Rangel campaigned through scandal and a debilitating spinal infection. This spring, the sight of an 84-year-old man sweating it out on street corners, alternately grinning and raging, contrasted with the curiously lackluster effort of Espaillat." (Jonathan Chait)

Gus Wenner

"Jann Wenner promoted his son Gus to head of digital for all Wenner Media titles, which means that the 23-year-old is in charge of the websites for Rolling Stone, Us Weekly and Men’s Journal.'Under Gus’s direction, has reached new heights in terms of growing our audience and revenue and enriching the site with extraordinary feature content and design, and we are certain he will have continued success in expanding his focus to further the development of and,' the elder Wenner said in a statement. It seems like just yesterday that Gus Wenner was a starry-eyed Brown grad entrusted with managing But in fact, it was a little more than a year ago. So obviously, it’s time for a promotion." (Observer)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Howard Stern Interviews Sia

(via MediaReDEFined)

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"In recent weeks, some of the international system's unfinished business has revealed itself. We have seen that Ukraine's fate is not yet settled, and with that, neither is Russia's relationship with the European Peninsula. In Iraq we learned that the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the creation of a new Iraqi political system did not answer the question of how the three parts of Iraq can live together. Geopolitical situations rarely resolve themselves neatly or permanently. These events, in the end, pose a difficult question for the United States. For the past 13 years, the United States has been engaged in extensive, multidivisional warfare in two major theaters -- and several minor ones -- in the Islamic world. The United States is large and powerful enough to endure such extended conflicts, but given that neither conflict ended satisfactorily, the desire to raise the threshold for military involvement makes logical sense. U.S. President Barack Obama's speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point sought to raise the bar for military action ... Given events in Ukraine and Iraq, the president's definition of a 'nail' in relation to the U.S. military 'hammer' becomes important. Military operations that cannot succeed, or can succeed only with such exorbitant effort that they exhaust the combatant, are irrational. Therefore, the first measure of any current strategy in either Ukraine or Iraq is its sheer plausibility. In Ukraine, a pro-Russian president was replaced by a pro-Western one. The Russians took formal control of Crimea, where they had always had overwhelming military power by treaty with Ukraine. Pro-Russian groups, apparently supported by Russians, still fight for control in Ukraine's two easternmost provinces. On the surface, the Russians have suffered a reversal in Ukraine. Whether this is truly a reversal will depend on whether the authorities in Kiev are able to rule Ukraine, which means not only forming a coherent government but also enforcing its will. The Russian strategy is to use energy, finance and overt and covert relationships to undermine the Ukrainian government and usurp its power. It is in the interest of the United States that a pro-Western Ukraine emerges, but that interest is not overwhelming enough to warrant a U.S. military intervention. There is no alliance structure in place to support such an intervention, no military bases where forces have accumulated to carry this out, and no matter how weakened Russia is, the United States would be advancing into a vast country whose occupation and administration -- even if possible -- would be an overwhelming task. The Americans would be fighting far from home, but the Russians would be fighting in their backyard. Ukraine is not a nail to be hammered. First, its fate is not of fundamental American interest. Second, it cannot be driven into the board. The United States must adopt an indirect strategy." (STRATFOR)


"The return to preeminence of the Clintons was supposed to signify a renewed economic populism that would define the Democratic Party. It was, after all, Hillary Clinton who quaffed beers with white working-class Democrats in her 2008 campaign against the abstract, yuppified idealism of Barack Obama. And it was Bill Clinton who, in a 2012 Democratic National Convention speech, folksily explained the party’s economic philosophy more concretely than Obama himself had ever managed. And yet, in the wake of a stream of disclosures and clumsy statements, the class narrative has turned sharply against the Clintons. The Arkansas populists find themselves rendered as plutocrats. Democrats are fretting ('It’s going to be a massive issue for her,' an Obama adviser tells Phillip Rucker') and Republicans are gleefully hurling the sort of hurling the Romney-car-elevator abuse that they so miserably endured. How has Hillary Clinton been suddenly transformed into Marie Antoinette? The new narrative, like most political narrative, is an amorphous mix of fact, pseudo-fact, spin, and self-fulfilling prophecy ... Reporters have widely portrayed this as Clinton distinguishing her income from “people who are truly well off.' That isn’t quite right. Her comments, while slightly garbled, seemed to be defining 'the problem' not as high income but as special tax breaks enjoyed by the rich. She was separating herself from wealthy tax-dodgers, not the wealthy writ large. Likewise, the fact that the Clintons engaged in estate planning, which also led to a mini-wave of scandalized reporting and commentary, is not a scandal, either. Clinton favors the estate tax, which is not the same thing as believing people should individually pay more taxes than they owe the government." (Jonathan Chait)

Chris McDaniel, left, shakes a supporter's hand at a rally. | AP Photo

"Don’t breathe that sigh of relief just yet, Mississippi. As the tumultuous fight for Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat in Washington hurtles toward a close on Tuesday, this bitter reality has started to dawn on Republicans here: The larger battle for power within the Mississippi Republican coalition is only just beginning. In this deeply Republican, nearly one-party state, the race between Cochran and conservative challenger Chris McDaniel has torn open long-developing divisions within the GOP power structure. The six-term senator and his allies, led by former Gov. Haley Barbour and an army of entrenched figures in Washington and the state capital, have maintained a tight grip on political power in Mississippi since it became a Republican state in the first place. McDaniel’s campaign has challenged that edifice of party orthodoxy. A confrontational conservative who made a name for himself as a sharp-elbowed member of the Legislature, McDaniel has been surrounded in his race by a throng of ideological fellow travelers in the state Senate. They ride on his campaign bus and speak at his rallies. Like McDaniel, they have campaigned against the establishment in Jackson and enjoy support of the tea party — and they may set their sights on higher office as early as next year.Win or lose this week, conservatives here predict that Mississippi’s state elections in 2015 will bring another reckoning for the party. The reality that McDaniel has come so close to unseating Cochran may herald a larger-scale shift in culture for a state where seniority has long been king.The brimming activist rage over Cochran’s efforts to win Democratic crossover votes this week has added an extra shot of determination to the insurgents’ efforts. Feeling that they have been opposed at every turn by power brokers in Jackson, including every major sitting GOP official in the state, they are looking to the 2015 elections as the next chance to upend state politics." (Politico)


"If Chris McDaniel on Tuesday knocks off Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), national Democrats will have a rare offensive opportunity in the Deep South. The nasty, divisive primary fight comes to a close in tonight’s runoff election, but it’s unclear whether Mississippi Republicans can heal the wounds the primary has caused. If Cochran is ousted, as multiple polls predict, national Republicans will also be in a tough spot and forced to decide whether they’ll embrace a controversial nominee they’ve spent months trashing. Democrats are gleeful that those divisions could open the door for their nominee, centrist former Rep. Travis Childers, to woo disaffected Cochran supporters. That new math could complicate the GOP calculus for the six seats the party needs to flip Senate control.
But a McDaniel victory would also embolden national Tea Party groups who have spent heavily on his behalf. They say if the once-underdog state senator is successful in knocking off the 36-year incumbent, he could have a ripple effect for other long-shot conservative primary challengers. 'If Chris McDaniel is able to win, he will breathe life into several more primaries coming up,” said David Bossie, president of Citizens United. His group backed McDaniel, but now it’s eyeing upcoming Senate primaries in Tennessee and Kansas with a new hope against other longtime incumbents. Cochran’s team and the GOP establishment have taken aggressive — and at times unusual — steps to prevent that outcome. The senator revamped his message, emphasizing the benefits he’s brought to the state through his appropriations work that’s usually anathema to fiscal conservatives. Outside groups spent millions of dollars on behalf of both candidates — $3.3 million during the runoff alone, and $11.4 million total during the primary, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center. McDaniel benefitted from the bulk of that, with outside groups spending $3.1 million more overall on McDaniel than outside groups spent on Cochran. And after finishing behind McDaniel by around 1,400 votes three weeks ago, Cochran’s team is now reaching out to African-Americans and Democrats to expand his share of the vote in the runoff." (TheHill)

Miss Diana Ross, Giving it all to her fans. Photo: Bill Goulding.

"DIANA ROSS (and the Supremes) belted that one out about four decades ago. And today, the great star, Miss Ross is still belting out 'You Can’t Hurry Love' as well as a clutch of other hits from her 'Supreme' days. Ross, her backup-up singers, her half-dozen costumes, her glamorously unmanageable hair, and her opening act, daughter Rhonda, gave their all Saturday night at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. DIANA’S time onstage amounts to about 90 minutes, which is perfect. And she doesn’t waste a second. She has enough solo hits to satisfy and when she sings 'Don’t Explain,' from 'Lady Sings the Blues' time stands still. Her voice, inevitably huskier, with a bit less range, remains perfect for this Billie Holiday classic. Audience response was tremendous, especially on songs like 'Love Child' and 'I’m Coming Out.' The ovations were idolatrous. Over-the-top, some might say, and Ross encourages her audience to participate. The interaction is very exciting. Ross herself seemed blown away by her reception, humbled, even. (Under the imperious diva of legend, is a real woman with mortal frailties and insecurity.)" (NYSD)

"Thursday night, Susan Burke and Charlotte Ford hosted a cocktail reception in the back room at Swifty’s for Charles Masson and several of his paintings. I got there early because I had to go on to dinner. There were about 25 when I took the picture but more than 80 turned up to greet Charles, and 7 pictures were sold that night. This is how New York is a village, like any other. Charles has been a painter all his life. So was his father. And their mentor was Bernard Lamotte, who for years had a studio on the second floor of La Grenouille, the restaurant that Charles’ father and mother started and ran until death made changes. For the last almost two decades that Charles had been running the great restaurant, he kept a small studio for his painting off a small passage above the second floor (the building was built in 1871 as a stable for the mansion across the street).  Up until his sudden departure from the restaurant a few months ago, it was here where Charles continued to paint in the tradition of his father and of Bernard Lamotte.Charles’ sudden departure was a matter of distress to many of his friends and the restaurant’s very loyal and admiring clientele. Because the artist was the manager and created an atmosphere that was as sensitive and beautiful as his paintings. We ran a long piece on Charles in the restaurant last year. You can get a sense of it in that piece. Recently we learned that he’s going to be the general manager of a new French restaurant opening in the new Baccarat Hotel on West 53rd Street, just around the corner from his home restaurant.Susan Burke, when she heard the news, decided it was time to celebrate. She arranged through Robert Caravaggi at Swifty’s to exhibit some of Charles’ paintings and watercolors and to give this reception. The (Swifty) neighbors all came. Liz Smith had just written about Charles in her column on the NYSD that day, and she was there. It was also a little like old home week as  Swifty’s and La Grenouille were/are patronized by many of the same clientele." (NYSD)

"Politicians might generally be willing to bend over backwards to woo billionaire donors like Rupert Murdoch and Sheldon Adelson, but there’s at least one issue that these big-money contributors aren’t able to budge Republican lawmakers and candidates on: immigration.Both Murdoch and Adelson have publicly pushed for swift congressional action on immigration reform. Murdoch wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he urged Republicans not to take House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning primary loss as a referendum on immigration, and Adelson echoed the sentiments in a Politico piece. The donors—who obviously stand to benefit from a broader employee pool—wrote movingly of their own experiences as an immigrant (Murdoch) and first-generation American (Adelson). Both seem to favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (Adelson is explicit on this point). Unsurprisingly, they both also make an economic case for immigration reform: Murdoch cites a study that found 40 percent of American Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or first-generation Americans, and Adelson argues that it’s heartless to educate immigrants but not allow them to work here. They also pack a hefty punch between them—Adelson spent nearly $100 million on the 2012 election (more than any other donor) and has pledged to spend even more in 2016. Murdoch’s News Corps. funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians and spends millions lobbying each year. Convincing enough? Not for some prominent Republicans." (VF)

"Oleg Cassini’s widow Marianne Nestor has been removed as the executor of his estate, bringing hope to the fashion designer’s daughter that she might be able to collect her $1 million inheritance before she dies of cancer. Tina Cassini, the daughter of movie star Gene Tierney and herself a mother of four, hasn’t received a single penny since her father, who dressed Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly, died in 2006, leaving an estate worth about $60 million. On Friday, the Surrogate Court judge in Nassau County, where Cassini had a magnificent estate in Oyster Bay, put a public administrator in charge of Oleg’s estate. 'It’s a clear-cut case. Oleg left the money to his daughter, and this woman simply refuses to pay,' an anguished friend of Tina’s told me. No one knew Cassini was married to Nestor until he died and she produced a marriage certificate showing they wed in England in 1971. Oleg never mentioned her in his autobiography, and he introduced her to me, and to many others, as his secretary/assistant. When Maureen Orth wrote about the case for Vanity Fair in 2010, Nestor sued Orth and the magazine for libel. That suit was dismissed, but Tina’s case drags on. Tina is destitute and living in France. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009." (Richard Johnson)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Shark Absconds with Fisherman's Chum (Bag)

via gothamist

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"Syria’s entire chemical weapons stockpile has been removed, the international watchdog overseeing its destruction announced Monday. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon’s  (OPCW) director general, Ahmet Uzumcu, said the final eight percent of the 1,300-ton chemical arsenal was removed from Syria. 'A major landmark in this mission has been reached today,' Uzumcu said. 'The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura. The ship made its last call at the port of Latakia in what has been a long and patient campaign in support of this international endeavour.' Uzumcu noted that the entire operation took nine months. Syria agreed to relinquish its program after Russia proposed the deal, which alleviated the threat of a U.S. military strike in September. The chemical weapons will now be delivered to a facility on board the U.S. vessel Cape Ray where they will be destroyed. Other weapons will be sent to Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom and other facilities in the U.S. " (TheHill)

Rand Paul is pictured. | Getty
The Kentucky Republican is also pursuing drug sentencing reform in the Senate. | Getty

"Rand Paul is opening a new frontier for Republicans: Voting rights. The Kentucky senator is introducing this week a bill that restores voting rights to nonviolent felons in federal elections. Paul is also pursuing drug sentencing reform in the Senate and is mulling efforts aimed at easing nonviolent criminals back into the job market. He even wants to redefine some drug offenses currently classified as felonies to misdemeanors. Together, the moves add up to a concerted effort to get minorities, young people and civil libertarians excited about Republicans — groups that much of the party admits it needs. Paul argues he’s inspired by a sense of justice, but the expected 2016 contender won’t deny that his criminal justice portfolio is also motivated by politics. 'I believe in these issues. But I’m a politician, and we want more votes,' he conceded in an interview. 'Even if Republicans don’t get more votes, we feel like we’ve done the right thing.' Nearly 8 percent of the black population currently cannot vote, compared with 1.8 percent of the nonblack population, according to The Sentencing Project. And incarcerations for nonviolent offenses that lead to a loss of voting rights fall more heavily on African-Americans and Latinos than whites, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics." (Politico)

"As I write this post, I’m sitting in a café on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s ever-trendy Mission District. Outside, the summer sun is shining on wide, quiet streets and beautiful clean buildings. Around me sit healthy-looking people of every race and national origin, typing away on their laptops, but friendly and eager to talk to a stranger. You could forgive me for thinking I’m sitting in a paradise. But no actually, I’m sitting in Mordor. San Francisco, epicenter of the tech industry, is the land from which the new hosts of evil issue forth, under clouds of swirling darkness, to conquer the realms of men. Or so you’d think, from the press Silicon Valley has been receiving lately. The hosts of Mordor include venture capitalists who trick bright young people into throwing their lives away on hopeless startups; sexist 'brogrammers' who treat objects like women (or is it the other way around?); tech companies that are raising rents for normal folks; plutocrats who are going to replace us with robots and make Thomas Piketty’s nightmare scenarios a reality; age-ist corporations who throw away old workers like used Kleenex; sociopath entrepreneurs who want to profit by destroying the rule of law; and neo-monarchist wackaloons who are plotting to destroy democracy. The latest broadside against the tech industry started with an article by Jill Lepore in the New Yorker magazine. Lepore is upset about the widespread influence of business guru Clay Christensen’s idea of 'disruptive innovation.' Her article was immediately interpreted as a dagger aimed at the heart of the Silicon Valley elite. Paul Krugman wrote that the cult of disruption 'lets nerdy guys come across as bold heroes.' Nerdy guys as heroes?!" (Bloomberg)

"In the Hamptons one summer Anna and I lucked upon a spare house, don't ask! Sometimes merely by forcing our way through a hedge we found our way to parties. At these parties, invariably, Anna beguiled, while I mostly grazed at the buffet. From one such evening Anna wrangled herself a suitor. One Sunday the suitor came to pick up Anna for brunch. We watched from the living room bay window as he ...parked his maroon car. 'Is he driving a taxi?' Anna sounded horrified. We observed him bow over the passenger seat and gather up an armload of white flowers with long dark green stems. 'What is it?' Anna begged, with urgency. 'It’s an Infiniti,' I said, peering at the logo on the rear. The suitor exited his maroon car, and strode toward the house. Ignoring the ringing doorbell Anna said, 'What is an Infinity? Is it an expensive car?' 'Try not to be so superficial!' I exploded. 'What? Should I like him?' asked Anna with genuine consternation. I snorted at her and skipped off to welcome the man and his flowers. ' I'm here for Anna,' he announced, and for some reason he passed the sagging flora to me. With the flowers cradled in my arms I lolled on the front porch and I watched the suitor settle Anna into the passenger seat, carefully tucking all of her in. Anna pressed the button to lower her window and she grinned at me, and we winked at one another.I waited to wave off the improbably matched duo." (Christina Oxenberg)

"I will only interrupt my own tired rants about how much wilder and more fun New York City used to be in order to hear other people indulge in the same sort of ritualized kvetching. I feel it's imperative to support their grievances in order to keep the old-fogey genre alive. And they really outdid themselves last week at a presentation called New York Stories/'80s-'90s Edition. The invite itself was kvetchily irresistible: 'Remember when New York City was a wonderland of fabulous freaks and misfit toys? When there were hookers instead of the Highline and you couldn't swing a Fiorucci jumpsuit without hitting a hopped up hustler? It's still our fabulous home, but behind all the TD banks and Bugaboo baby strollers are legendary tales. Everyone has a great New York Story. Come hear some of the best.' The resulting event -- part of a series of retro bitchathons -- brought a packed house of survivors to Stonewall Inn, a place that could really tell some stories. It proved to be wonderfully bitter, varied, and rich, with lots of love for the pre-Chipotle days, though some speakers boldly suggested that the dangerous element back then made NYC less than consistently stellar. (There's mud in your rose-tinted glasses!) The host was wiry blonde comic Nora Burns, who remembered dancing at the legendary disco Studio 54, only to have musical oddity Tiny Tim pick her out of the crowd and decide that she should dance for him on his new tour. 'That tour,' she remembered, 'involved us going to three discos in strip malls in Long Island, where Tiny Tim sang and I danced behind him. Behind the scenes, he brought cans of beans with him wherever he went.' Still, the chance for a Lana-Turner-style opportunity, however small scale, seemed way more possible in old New York than today. 'Beans!' to those who disagree ... But some casualties were penalized in other ways, apparently. Wearing stylish shades, DJ Anita Sarko remembered a night at the Mudd Club -- the divey haven for rock hauteur in the then-wasteland of Tribeca -- when the overly festive Chrissie Hynde had to be held up by fellow rockers Johnny Thunders and Cheetah Chrome. Chrissie's publicist kept shrieking, 'Don't judge her! This isn't what she's like!' whereas Sarko remembers onlookers saying, 'We don't give a fuck about Chrissie. We're just in awe that Johnny Thunders and Cheetah Chrome are in an upright position.' Coat checker Keith Haring (at the time an up-and-coming artist) later told Sarko that, faced with a stairway, Johnny and Cheetah simply let go of Chrissie and she went tumbling down, which led to a blood curdling yell heard for miles around. Ah, the good old days." (Michael Musto)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Friday News Roundup - International

Friday News Roundup - International

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill

Idina Menzel's Handles A Wardrobe Malfunction With Swellegance

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"As everyone who has ever joined a club knows, Pugs is the world’s most exclusive one, its 19 members varying from German nobility and Greek and Danish royalty to the British upper classes, Indian nobility, and American and Greek aristocracy. Plus Sir Bob Geldof and Roger Taylor, of pop music royalty. Club rules forbid membership to exceed 21, hence a titanic struggle is taking place as I write to fill our last two spots.Last week in London the annual Pugs lunch took place and I flew over for it from New York despite running a temperature and suffering from the flu. Mind you, it was worth it. Everyone wore the sky blue and white striped necktie of the club, evoking a gentler time when men wore uniforms and marched in step.  At one head of the table sat Sir Christopher Lee, our oldest member, who at age 92 has two films and three recordings out this year alone. At the other end were Sir Bob Geldof and club commodore Tim Hoare. I sat between Count Leopold Bismarck and Prince Nikolaos of Greece, who had flown in from the birthplace of electrolysis especially for the meeting. His older brother, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, opened the proceedings by suggesting we leave the voting for new members part for last—the prince is a very nice man who does not like blackballing people—but his suggestion was unanimously rejected. Even before the first course, but after numerous bottles of wine had been consumed, we dealt with a plethora of proposals for membership, a most pleasant business. For starters, Charles Saatchi received 19 blackballs out of nineteen, which means his name can never come up again. Following was Edward St Aubyn, who received 22 blackballs, which according to club rules needed an open explanation. I was the one that had to stand and explain why there were more blackballs than members voting. The reason was that St Aubyn had blackened his father’s name by writing that his old man had buggered him silly, all in order to exorcize his demons and gain fame and fortune, and patricide is a real no-no among Pugs members. So there was a second vote on St Aubyn and this time he got twenty-five blackballs ... After that particularly nice interlude, lunch was served and then once again we had to vote, this time for the Pugs’ dream date. But before nominations were heard, Prince Heinrich von Furstenberg warned members that Arpad Busson’s dalliance with one of the Kardashian women could bring the club’s impeccable name and ranking into disrepute. Busson strenuously denied any contact, but the more he denied it, the less he was believed by his fellow Pugs. The dream girl we finally agreed on for 2014 was Kristin Scott Thomas, although in the secret ballot there was one vote for a Kardashian, the handwriting being rather familiar to me as that of Arpad Busson, with the same misspellings. (Mine vot ees fer …) But it could have been a jokester among us trying to blacken a poor Swiss boy’s chances with Kristin." (Taki)

1383209 10151618351062352 738381471 n 2 Jared Paul Stern in Exile

"ON WEEKENDS, THE WAYFARER CAFE IS THE SOCIAL hub of Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport, Maine. Locals wait for tables on the porch, while career waitresses shuttle plates of biscuits and sausage gravy across the floorboards. A vintage photograph of presidents 41 and 43 hangs as a nod to the nearby Bush family compound. One customer who doesn’t have to wait is Jared Paul Stern. In white Levi’s, a shawl-collar navy cardigan and narrow-brimmed Panama hat, he is the most dapper man in the place. Mr. Stern  consulted on the design of The Wayfarer, which recently renovated under new owners. He points out the wooden counter he suggested, the lighting, the card he designed; he even sourced the Bush picture. Until last summer, he operated an antiques store out of a barn in this tiny village, that is, between freelance writing and his steady job editing Urban Daddy’s auto blog, Driven. It’s a very different life from the one he had eight years ago, when Mr. Stern was picked up by the scruff of his neck and thrown out of New York City. Then a New York Post gossip writer, he was accused of trying to extort $220,000 out of billionaire Ron Burkle in exchange for favorable coverage in the Page Six column. Along with the Jayson Blair incident at The New York Times, it was the biggest New York newspaper scandal in decades. Although a freelancer, Mr. Stern was the top lieutenant of former Page Six boss Richard Johnson. His name would appear at the top of the column when Mr. Johnson was away.Mr. Stern was taken by surprise on the day in April 2006, when The Daily News called, seeking comment on the extortion allegations. Rattled, he left to meet with his lawyer just as Mr. Johnson was summoned by the Post’s editor in chief. The two haven’t seen each other since.It was the front-page story on The Daily News for days. The Times pushed the story forward, the Today show tried to book Mr. Stern, jokes about him made it into The New Yorker and the Post’s troubles became the subject of a David Letterman Top Ten list. The whole country—except for the Post—was laughing along.But he was never charged with a crime, and he maintains his innocence to this day. 'I definitely got drawn into talking about some shit with Burkle that I shouldn’t have,' Mr. Stern says. He admits he sought the money but insists it was a legitimate investment in his side project, a range of preppy, faux-edgy polo shirts and accessories called Skull & Bones." (Observer)

Illustration by James Ferguson of Zhang Lei©James Ferg

"It is a glorious spring Sunday, the day before commencement at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Among the many alumni returning to the campus is billionaire Chinese financier Zhang Lei, 41, who is a familiar figure here. In 2010 he announced a gift of the propitious amount of $8,888,888 to Yale School of Management, the largest donation made to the business school from one of its graduates. In the world beyond Yale, however, Zhang is little known. Yet he runs a $13bn fund in China, Hillhouse Capital, which has a focus on investing in Chinese internet entrepreneurs and start-ups. The fund is named after an avenue in New Haven that’s a block from where the Yale investment office used to be located. This office, which manages the university’s $20bn endowment, is where Zhang got his start in finance as a student intern.It is tempting to compare Zhang with the US financial entrepreneurs of the 1970s and 1980s who started the now-public buyout firms, such as KKR or Blackstone, although he rejects such parallels. Zhang built his investment firm by being among the first to back Chinese mainland internet entrepreneurs, among them Tencent’s founder and chief executive, Pony Ma. Tencent, along with Jack Ma’s Alibaba, is one of the most valuable internet companies in China. It is more accurate, perhaps, to liken him to Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists.We’ve arranged to meet at a table in the sun outside Nica’s Market, a grocery and deli a short walk from the campus – and one of the few places open for lunch on a Sunday. Zhang, in dark jeans and a dark polo shirt with long sleeves and black trim, blends in among the passing students.
As I sit down he tells me he will change into a tuxedo later to attend a reception honouring David Swensen, who has been chief investment officer for the Yale endowment since 1985. Swensen has been something of a mentor to Zhang since 1999, when Zhang took Swensen’s class at the Yale School of Management and won a coveted internship at the investment office. I am amazed and pleased that Zhang has agreed to meet me – I have been asking for a long time and this is his first major interview in English. I ask why he avoids the limelight. He replies by reciting a Taoist saying in Chinese about how fragrant 'peach and plum trees do not speak yet the world finds a path to them' by way of explanation – and writes the characters in my notebook." (FT)

Edward Lewis poses for a portrait at the 2014 ESSENCE Black Men In Hollywood Dinner at a private residence in Beverly Hills.
Photo Credit: Kwaku Alston

"It was a night to remember as socialites gathered last night at The Cecil Harlem to celebrate The Man From ESSENCE, a new business biography of how Edward Lewis and three other men successfully built America’s #1 magazine for Black women in 1969. 'Here we are 40 years later and Ed not only made things happen, but he’s the last man standing,” said Richard Parsons, former chairman and CEO of Time Warner. 'That’s a function of grit, perseverance, character, resilience, integrity, hardwork and a little bit of luck.' Ed Lewis not only served as CEO and publisher of ESSENCE Magazine, but he also spearheaded ESSENCE Festival that celebrates its 25th year next month." (Essence)

"Since it opened to the public in 1822, the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis has been one of those quiet gems, set in a 17th-century classical townhouse in the center of this patrician city and frequented by lovers of Dutch Golden Age painting. But when it closed for a renovation and expansion two years ago, and a selection from its collection went on tour, Mauritshuis gained an instant celebrity it had never had before. Wherever the paintings went, millions of people followed, enduring long lines to see two works in particular: Vermeer’s doe-eyed 'Girl With a Pearl Earring' (circa 1665), which has become one of the most famous paintings in Western art, and Carel Fabritius’s 'The Goldfinch' (1654), a mere slip of a work — about 13 inches by 9 inches — but a giant hit because of Donna Tartt’s best seller of the same title. Also in that show was a sampling of works by Rembrandt and Rubens, Hals and Steen, but they were just the icing on top." (NYT)

Bill Clinton on May 14 in Washington

"Every year companies make all kinds of promises at the Clinton Global Initiative—and every year Bill Clinton himself checks in with a few to see how they’re doing.So the former president spent a couple of hours on Friday at the Brooklyn headquarters of West Elm. The furniture company had pledged to spend $35 million on handcrafted goods over two years, assuring that the money would go directly to the artisans. It had purchased nearly that amount in just one year. Hence, the visit. Jim Brett, president of West Elm, led Clinton through a specially created showroom of some of the handcrafted products. 'Consciousness is important to our shareholders,' Brett said. 'We committed to ‘consciousness’ 17 quarters ago, and we’ve had record earnings for those 17 quarters.' West Elm, which is owned by Williams-Sonoma (WSM), has 58 stores and net revenue in 2013 of $531 million. Clinton was wearing a crisp suit and his made-in-Detroit Shinola watch. He was cheery and encouraging, and he really liked a yellow ceramic bird made by potters in the Philippines (available next month for $29). The item prompted the former president to remark that geothermal sources provide 24 percent of the electricity in the Philippines. After the devastating typhoon there, Clinton has been contemplating reliable energy distribution. 'I’ve thought a lot about what to do since there will be more climate interruptions,' he assured everyone. 'I have no answers, but I’m thinking about it.'Clinton spoke with some of the business owners who had come from India, Peru, Guatemala, and Haiti. He was very keen on prospects for Central America. 'The potential is phenomenal and almost untapped,' he said. 'Central America is waiting to explode. They could double their income.' The challenge there and elsewhere, Clinton said, was 'creating opportunities far away from the prosperity centers.' He was particularly intrigued by the display of fair trade rugs from India." (BusinessWeek)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Marina Abramovic

via TheAwl

The Roots: When The People Cheer

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

2014 Crystal Ball Outlook

"Analysts are noticing the Democrats’ efforts to meddle in Republican primaries. In a Wall Street Journal article from last month, Janet Hook writes 'Democrats increasingly are running ads against GOP candidates even before they win their party’s nomination. By attacking GOP candidates while they are still embroiled in a primary election campaign, some Democrats have seen an opportunity to promote the GOP candidate they think is easiest to beat, or to weaken the one they consider strongest.' Hook points to attempts by Democrats to swing the Republican nomination in North Carolina to candidates other than Thom Tillis, whom many viewed as the most electable Republican. Although Democrats failed to produce a potentially weaker Republican nominee in the Tar Heel State (Tillis won the GOP nomination), they have been more successful in other races. Perhaps most famously, Democrats devoted resources toward enhancing Rep. Todd Akin’s chances of winning the Republican nomination in the 2012 Republican Senate primary in Missouri. Shortly after winning the nomination, Akin made his infamous comments suggesting that a woman who was 'legitimate[ly]' raped could not become impregnated, mostly guaranteeing that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) would win reelection. In 2010, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) likewise helped to ensure that his opponent in the fall would be state Sen. Sharron Angle (R), rather than the (presumably) more formidable Sue Lowden (R). In truth, this is not a new technique. We could draw on many examples across time, but I thought that this would be a good time to tell a particular story, which is the earliest example of a politician attempting to interfere in an opposing party’s nomination contest of which I’m aware. To be clear up front, this story is not the result of my own research. What follows is largely drawn from a 1994 article by William G. Thiemann in Presidential Studies Quarterly. It is told in my own words and has my own interpretations, but the credit for unearthing this goes to Thiemann. The article is titled 'President Hoover’s Efforts on Behalf of FDR’s 1932 Nomination.' In what might be one of the most colossal miscalculations in presidential history, Hoover attempted to swing the 1932 presidential nomination to Franklin Roosevelt, believing him to be the easiest Democrat to defeat. Hoover and Roosevelt had long been seen as rising political stars. In Hoover’s case, he was seen as a star by both parties. At the time, the parties had geographic and demographic bases, rather than firm ideological bases. Both parties sported what we would today refer to as liberal wings." (SabatosCrystalBall)

Soon-to-be newlyweds Michael Shnayerson and Gayfryd Steinberg.

"Then of course, there’s the yachting set, also a growing demographic in these heady days of overnight billionaires, and the prime location remains the Mediterranean. Cruising around the coasts and the islands of the ancient lands surrounding, is not new at all. It is perhaps the greatest luxury in so many ways. What is new is the increasing numbers of Americans -- New Yorkers, Hamptonites --  who are spending a few weeks away from their villas on Gin Lane and Ox Pasture, away from those glad madding crowds, just dallying about the deep blue sea and surrounded by all those other yachts, and ports and islands, like Capri and Sardinia and Corsica and then on to St. Tropez. Who needs the Bathing Corporation or the Maidstone? Meanwhile back among those stalwart clubs by the blue Atlantic, the talk this season is about not divorce or real estate lottery tales, but instead, real Good News -- about a wedding. Invitations went out this week inviting the recipients to attend the marriage of Gayfryd Steinberg and Michael Shnayerson on Sunday, August 10th at the Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor. This is a real romance story, pure and simple. You almost can’t believe it. They’ve both been married more than once, raised children, made solid lives for themselves lasting, and now this. If you witness it, you’re watching something that reminds you of when you were young and naturally intensely passionate. And romantic under the most ideal circumstances. Well, this is it. I’m not kidding. A mutual friend told me she saw the bride-to-be the other day and commented on how this naturally beautiful woman looks more beautiful than ever. My friend recalled the moment in awe. 'It can only mean one thing,' she said: 'she’s very happy.' You’re going to be reading more about this event and its players because it’s a bright light and something for everyone of a certain age – middle and up -- to consider. All this and Michael’s too ... Yesterday was Wednesday. So ... Michael’s was full up but that clatter chatter that sometimes creates momentary deafness was not operating. A little more reserved. A lot of the regulars. In the bay, Table One, Diane Coffey was hosting a lunch in honor of her friend Bob Tierney of the Landmarks commission. This was a table of friends and political chums." (NYSD)

Oct. 24, 2012 - New York, New York, U.S. - BILL O'REILLY arrives for his appearance on 'The Late Show With David Letterman' held at the Ed Sullivan Theater. (Credit Image: © Nancy Kaszerman/
Photo: Nancy Kaszerman/

"Even on New York City’s Upper East Side, Bill O’Reilly can draw a packed house of true believers. When he took the stage at the 92nd Street Y on Wednesday night for a conversation with his fellow Fox News host Geraldo Rivera, O’Reilly was greeted rapturously by an almost entirely white, white-haired audience (the man in front of me used binoculars to see the stage 23 rows ahead) who whooped and chuckled at the mere mention of President Barack Obama and his potential Democratic successor in 2016. 'Hillary Clinton would envy Bill O’Reilly’s book sales,' said Rivera, by way of introduction, to spirited applause. His opening question was a sarcastic, 'Why are you so unremittingly hostile to President Obama?' The crowd hollered again. 'I’m an ombudsman for the folks,' O’Reilly replied, insisting he merely speaks truth to power. 'When they do bad things, I point them out.'  While Obama is currently the one doing those things, would the country have been better off with Hillary Clinton, Rivera wondered. “With Hillary you get Bill. And Bill knows what’s going on,” said O’Reilly. 'You may not like him but he knows what’s going on. Hillary doesn’t understand how the world works. She doesn’t. But you elect Hillary, he’s there. Whether his attention is diverted, I don’t know ... But he’s there.'  ('If you go after Mrs. Clinton, you’re going to be a bully and a woman-hater, misogynist and all of that,' he added later.) Still, 'She’s a weak candidate,' he said, moving on to 2016, although the Republicans don’t have much better. 'Jeb Bush can do it,' he offered. 'Unfortunately, he’s not a charismatic guy. And do we want another Bush in the White House?' Chris Christie? 'No, he’s done. Christie’s done. And it’s Christie’s own fault.' Rand Paul has 'a big problem in the foreign policy area,' although 'his libertarian values might resonate,' while Ted Cruz 'can’t defeat Hillary,' he said. 'The shutdown of the government was a big mistake for him.'” (NYMag)

"Hollywood’s obsession with James 'Whitey' Bulger, the Boston crime lord who was captured after 18 years on the run, continues. At the same time upcoming 'Black Mass' is in production starring Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch, a crowd including Clive Davis, Candice Bergen, Gay Talese, Jeffrey Toobin and former top cop Ray Kelly turned up Tuesday for a screening of a new documentary, 'Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger.'After the Joe Berlinger-directed film, guests dined at Rue 57." (P6)

Left, by George Karger/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, digital colorization by Lorna Clark; right, from Corbis.

"When Clare Boothe married Henry 'Harry' Luce, the 37-year-old founder of Time and Fortune, she was 32 and already well known, as a former managing editor of Vanity Fair. Born illegitimate to poor parents, Clare was a pretty enough child actress to understudy Mary Pickford on Broadway and to act in a silent movie. In her teens she had also briefly campaigned for equal rights with the National Woman’s Party. Then she allowed her socially ambitious mother to steer her into a loveless marriage to the Fifth Avenue millionaire George Brokaw, who was more than twice her age. Six years later, in 1929, now a well-off divorcée with a five-year-old daughter, Clare launched a lifelong series of male conquests, starting with the Wall Street speculator Bernard Baruch. Condé Nast, who was infatuated with her, employed her at Vogue and later Vanity Fair. An early writing assignment at the latter was a 1930 'Hall of Fame' profile of Luce, who in 1935 left his wife and two sons for her. The following year, Clare became even more celebrated as the writer of the all-female Broadway play The Women. She would eventually write eight plays, three books, and several movie scripts. For almost three decades, the Luces were indisputably America’s foremost power couple. Clare covered the early days of World War II in the Far East and Europe as a correspondent for Life, her husband’s picture magazine, then served in Congress as a two-term Republican representative from Connecticut. As the only female member of the House Military Affairs Committee, she twice toured the Italian and French battlefronts and had liaisons with at least two generals. The devastating death of her only child, Ann, in an auto accident at age 19, drove Clare to convert to Roman Catholicism (with the help of Reverend Fulton J. Sheen) and later to experiment with psychedelic drugs. As a formidable television campaigner, she helped Dwight D. Eisenhower win a landslide victory over Adlai E. Stevenson in the presidential election of 1952. Shortly afterward, a summons came for Clare to meet the president-elect at his transition headquarters in New York’s Commodore Hotel, a meeting she carefully recorded." (VanityFair)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My World Cup Anthem: Morrissey's "World Peace is None of Your Business"

I like to turn on the TV, crank up the AC, turn down the sound and put this on Spotify. This is my unofficial #FIFA anthem.

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"The recent passing of the sterling former State Sen. Roy Goodman is a sad reminder of a lost breed of politician: the Rockefeller Republican. As hard as it may be to imagine today in a borough without a single Republican elected official, when I was growing up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the ’80s and ’90s, Rockefeller Republicans made up a significant percentage of my elected officials: sensible and noble leaders like Goodman, Assemblyman John Ravitz, City Councilman Andrew Eristoff and Congressman Bill Green. Rockefeller Republicans are sometimes mistakenly characterized these days as having been socially liberal and fiscally conservative. In actuality, however, they were relatively liberal from an economic standpoint, too, particularly in comparison with the overwhelming majority of their party’s members now. Yes, they championed Wall Street and big business—like all but a handful of Democrats on the national level in 2014, including the President—but they understood the virtues of the New Deal, and embraced the social safety net, though they wanted its programs to be administered more responsibly and efficiently. They also pushed for balanced budgets; however, they were not philosophically opposed to raising taxes when necessary to achieve this aim, rather than gutting important services. Beyond their approach to fiscal matters, they were generally advocates for good government reform, and strong supporters of affordable public higher education and infrastructure improvement. In regard to foreign policy, they were typically in favor of using America’s military might to promote and protect the country’s strategic and financial interests abroad. While I myself am not a Republican, I mourn the decline of this wing of the party, because it offered a genuinely palatable alternative to the one-party rule New York City has now." (City&State)


"'Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,' writes Dick Cheney in the Wall Street Journal, suddenly atoning for the costly mistakes of the Bush administration he steered with Donald Rumsfeld and company. The op-ed, co-written by his daughter Liz, even laments the death of 'thousands of slaughtered Iraqis.' Oh? What’s that? Cheney’s speaking not about the ill-fated Iraq war he engineered, but of the more recent battles between the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (I.S.I.S.) and the Iraqi government? And the president he refers to is not George W. Bush, but Barack Obama? The gall.The Cheneys are not alone. Michael Calderone of the Huffington Post tallied up the many war boosters 'who were largely discredited when it comes to Iraq' and who have again taken up the battle cry. Seen recently on your TV: Paul Bremer, Bush’s U.S. envoy to Iraq who disbanded the Iraqi army upon his arrival to the country; former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol; former British prime minister Tony Blair; as well as Bush admin official Andrew Card. Even Judith Miller, the former New York Times writer who, as Calderone writes, 'has become synonymous with the media’s failure during the run-up to the war in 2002 and 2003,' put in an appearance on Fox News. The question of how America should respond to recent gains won, and atrocities committed, by insurgents in Iraq is a complicated one. The question of whether or not we should listen to the people who got it so horribly wrong a decade ago is not." (VF)

John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio are shown in this composite. | AP Photos
Given the vacuum from the libertarian wing, the hawks are driving the Iraq discussion. | AP Photos

"The GOP hawks are back. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio are dominating the congressional debate on how to respond to the growing crisis in Iraq, calling for airstrikes on insurgents and blistering the president’s policies on the Senate floor and in the media. Rubio is chastising President Barack Obama for rejecting the idea of putting boots on the ground while McCain is in such high demand among Senate Republicans that on Tuesday he briefed his colleagues — at their invitation — on his aggressive Iraq policy. As these Republican voices are rising in the Senate, there is less noise than usual from the party’s more libertarian wing, including possible 2016 presidential contenders Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Paul has said little about Iraq, except that airstrikes should be considered and that Obama should seek congressional approval for whatever course he considers. Cruz has said even less. Given the vacuum from the GOP’s libertarian wing, the hawks are driving the Iraq discussion." (Politico)

"Last night in New York: Christopher Buckley and Katy Close,George and Nanette Herrick, Calvin Tomkins and Dodie Kazanjian hosted a book signing reception for their friend, author Sylvia Jukes Morris whose second volume of her biography of Clare Boothe Luce has just been published. 'Price of Fame; the Honorable Clare Boothe Luce' (Random House) was preceded by 'Rage For Fame' – a phrase that she applied to herself in her youth. In other words, she wanted to be famous, big time.That animal (in rage for fame) is an endlessly curious creature to know, particularly when it is a woman, since she has more mountains to climb and battles to wage before acceptance. Clare Boothe was born in 1903 to the generation who were the children and grandchildren of the Suffragettes. This heritage provided the opportunity of taking advantage of the inroads her forebears created. She also had the wit and gumption to carry out her objectives. Her accomplishments on paper remain remarkable. Author, playwright, screenwriter, the first US woman ambassador, politician (Congress), and wife of two very rich men (never a small matter for an ambitious woman)." (NYSD)