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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"When I interviewed The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart two years ago for a documentary I co-directed, The Muslims Are Coming!, one of the questions I posed to the talk show host was: Do you think your show has had an impact on issues? Surprisingly, Stewart responded 'no.'  At first, my co-director, Negin Farsad, and I thought Stewart was being unduly modest. But he was actually being sincere. Stewart went on to list issues he had railed against for years—such as media sensationalism—and noted that nothing tangible had changed despite his best efforts. But if that question were put to Stewart today, honesty would compel him to answer that his efforts have changed the way many who follow him now view one issue: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Specifically, Stewart has raised awareness about the human toll that this conflict has inflicted upon Palestinian civilians.
I first noticed Stewart’s efforts in January 2009 during the 22-day battle between Hamas and the Israeli military. That episode resulted in approximately 1,400 Palestinians being killed, of which human rights groups say 700 were civilians. Stewart’s coverage included the segment 'Gaza Strip Maul.' (The title summed up his POV.) In it, Stewart comically noted that the only thing Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is supporting Israeli’s bombing of Gaza, likening it to a Mobius Strip, which is an object with only one side to it. Stewart, of course, did express sympathy for the people of Israel suffering from Hamas missiles. But clearly he was moved by the massive Palestinian civilian casualties, calling it a 'civilian carnage Toyotathon.'" (TheDailyBeast)

"Potential Democratic presidential candidates have a must-stop this campaign season: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s backyard. At Reid’s request, Vice President Joe Biden helped fill the coffers last week of a Nevada Democratic congressional candidate and his state party’s political apparatus, a central cog in the Senate majority leader’s political machine.  A couple of months earlier, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley reached out to Reid’s team to let the majority leader know he would be the main speaker at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner in Las Vegas for the Clark County Democratic Party. O’Malley followed up with a donation to Reid’s preferred candidate in the lieutenant governor’s race. In September, Hillary Clinton will deliver the keynote address at Reid’s annual clean energy summit at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, after Reid asked her to speak at his prized seven-year-old event. And there are ongoing discussions about adding another Clinton event to the calendar: a fundraiser for the state party this fall, several sources said this week.  The decision to swing through Nevada two years before campaign season speaks to the state’s position as the first in the West during the presidential nominating contest in 2016. But it also highlights an indisputable fact: No matter how unpopular Reid is with Republicans, leading Democrats are eager to woo the powerful majority leader with a long memory and reputation for loyalty. His backing could be an important factor in a contested primary and even more crucial if he continues to lead Senate Democrats into the next administration, regardless of whether the party keeps its grip on the majority. And there is no better way to win over Reid than to raise cash and help his team win elections. " (Politico)

"Being there and seeing a painting of my grandmother I had never seen before from when she was in her 20s and knowing that she and my grandfather had walked on those marble flagstones at a time when the future was not known to them and yet strains of unease must already have been palpable. While today there is a leak in the skylight that illumines the grand entranceway, and water puddles on the floor. It was all profoundly moving, I’ve been crying ever since I got back to Key West. I keep wanting to say I’m home but I notice I only say I’m back. I think Serbia is my home. I’m more torn than ever. Towards the end of my grandmother’s life when a little bit of confusion began muddling her thoughts we flew from Paris to London together. When it was time to get off the plane, this being the 80s when the stewardesses would line up at the front as one exited, they still do, but it used to be more formal. The formality confused my grandmother and took her back to a time when long lines of uniformed servants would wait outside fancy dwellings to greet or bid farewell, and it was her habit to stop and shake everybody’s hand and speak a word to each. So she stopped at every stewardess and shook their hand and said something sweet and special to each one. I could have shuffled her on, I could have explained it wasn’t what she thought, but I let her do her thing. I remember one summer house, called Pratolino outside of Florence, and I remember arriving and departing and seeing the composed army of staff in a long line leading to the front door. This was a world and a life my grandmother was familiar with, the only one she knew growing up. Years later after settling in Paris and after the death of her husband she learned to get around town on buses." (Christina Oxenberg)

"I went down to Michael’s for lunch. I was about ten minutes late because of the traffic going across down (and the fact that one of the blocks on East 63rd was closed suddenly)(typical of New York traffic now). I was relieved that my guest had not yet arrived. No problem; I don’t mind waiting for people since so many have waited for me. I talked to Michael, to Steve Millington the restaurant’s GM, to Mickey Ateyeh, the jewelry and accessories executive (Angela Cummings, Tiffany, etc.) and Betsy Perry, the writer, who was lunching with her. Then I took my seat. It was 1:25.  I was beginning to get the feeling maybe she wouldn’t show. This is also not a problem for me. I hadn’t been to Michael’s in several days and because it’s one of the ways I get out of the house on weekdays, I was glad to be there, to see everybody and to view the room. At 1:30, I decided to order just in case. I tried calling my lunch date and couldn’t reach her. No problem. Hoping everything was all right on her end. 1:40, I knew I was going solo. Steve brought me a couple magazines to look at:  The Hollywood Reporter and Hamptons. The latter, mainly real estate ads for large houses selling for what used to be considered a great personal fortune and is now considered a shrug. The former (HR) full of items about entertainment executives. Zzzzzz. You had to be there ... There were agents and publishing people, bankers and PR. Authors – Diane Clehane of was lunching with Diana Gabaldon, the best selling novelist. Joni Evans (literary agent) was lunching with Suzanne Gluck (literary agent) and Tracy Fisher. Bonnie Fuller and Gerry Byrne were in the bay at Table 1 with Wednesday guests; Roger Friedman, Broadway and Hollywood columnist, blogger, journalist; Alice Mayhew, editor at Simon & Schuster; Andrew Stein; Jerry Inzerillo of Forbes Travel; Dennis Basso at Table 2, next door to me; Harry Benson was lunching with another Forbes editor, Joseph DeAcetis; PR guru Lisa Linden with Christopher Heywood of NYC & Company;  Neil Lasher of EMI; Peggy Siegal; Thomas Moore; Andy Sandow  of Sandow Media; Michael Appelbaum; Nancy Murray of Louis Vuitton; Steven Stolman with Tom Shea; Vogue’s  Susan Plagemann; Kim Bryant of WABCPatricia Malone; Noble Smith; Roxan Cason; Karen Tarteof Sparks  Global Brand Agency; Karen Katzman of Badgely Mischka; David Stern, former head of the NBA; Antonio Weiss; Dini von Mueffling, and dozens more just like ‘em." (NYSD)

Woody Allen CREDIT: Emily Assiran/New York Observer
(Photos by Emily Assiran/New York Observer)

"Would it kill you to know that Woody Allen is just like us? He’s got two teenage girls who listen to pop music on their iPhones. He’s always worried that something bad will happen to them. He exercises every morning but struggles to keep his weight up. (Okay. He’s not totally like us.)
He’s also 78 years old, has won four Academy Awards, has directed actors to six more wins (18 nominations), and has never missed a year releasing a film since 1977. This past weekend came No. 44, a comedy called Magic in the Moonlight. Whether it’s a hit or not doesn’t matter to him particularly, because it’s done, and there’s nothing he can do about it. He’s busy finishing No. 45 and thinking about No. 46. But so far, so good: in 17 theaters, Magic took in a very healthy $426,000.
His frequent collaborator, Marshall Brickman, co-author of such classic Allen films as Annie Hall and Manhattan Murder Mystery, tells me: 'He secretes movies like honey. It’s an astonishing record. I don’t think anyone’s come close to it.'  Mr. Allen’s had some problems, but we all know about them. That’s not what this is about. Mr. Allen’s had a life since 1992, when he left Mia Farrow and subsequently married her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. It’s been 22 years. There must be something else to talk about. There is: he’s still thinking about life and death, the end of the world, and why we’re all here. All the years with Ms. Farrow, Mr. Allen lived alone on the East Side of Central Park. He wasn’t domiciled until he married Soon-Yi and they started a family. When I meet him at his shambling, low-profile production office off of Fifth Avenue, it’s one of the first things to come up: are the big questions easier now? 'No, it only becomes more tragic,' Mr. Allen says. He’s dressed like, well, Woody Allen, compactly and neat in a button down shirt and chinos. His feathery gray hair is always a jolt because the Mr. Allen you have in your mind is Alvy Singer. But he’s really, pleasantly, the same as ever." (Observer)

"In the glory days, no man ever went to Yale to learn anything. God gave us Columbia and Harvard for that. OK, there’s Harold Bloom, but otherwise, Yale was intended for unadulterated gentlemanly pleasure and sport. As Wilde said, 'If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough.' Is there anyone around who remembers when Yale was the most splendid, elegant, and gentlemanly of Ivy League colleges; when Andover and St. Paul’s sent their best and brightest to New Haven; when, as Fitzgerald wrote, 'Taft and Hotchkiss…prepared the wealth of the Middle West for social success at Yale'? Where are the Yale men who had their soft tweed jackets and their Oxford-gray flannel trousers made at J. Press and Arthur M. Rosenberg; who trod the Memorial Quadrangle shod in the Raywood-model, full brogue, slip-on Peal shoe and the Oxford-cloth, rolling, button-down-collar Brooks Brothers shirt? And what’s happened to the tables down at Mory’s, which the 21 Club wished it looked like? And whither the Fence Club ...? Ralph Lauren would have made a mess of himself had he seen such authentic WASP class and décor: stuffed leather chairs, polished mahogany tables, Turkish carpets, and framed pictures of Y-sweatered Eli captains sitting on the Yale Fence. O, where is the Yale of Skull and Bones, when it was the world’s most prestigious college underground secret society? Admittedly, it always had a meritocratic, hence slightly middle-class, tinge. The fifteen senior “knights” might include such campus big shots as a team captain and the editor of the Yale Daily News, but its graduate patriarchs became presidents, ambassadors, and, most important of all, partners in Brown Brothers Harriman. And where are the modern equivalents of Donald Ogden Stewart, Gerald Murphy, and Brendan Gill, who represented the lefty, artistic wing of the brotherhood—yet gentlemen all? O, where is the Yale of Bones’ chief rival, Scroll and Key, whose brothers deferentially referred to themselves publicly as second in fame to Bones, knowing full well privately that they were, in fact, the snottiest of senior societies? Like the Order of the Garter, which Lord Melbourne coveted 'because there was no damn merit in it,' Scroll and Key preferred aristocratic and moneyed birth over brash achievement. O, where are the likes of Jock Whitney and Paul Mellon, both cringingly shy, and Scroll and Key visions of the beau ideal? And who remembers when Scroll and Key’s idea of an arty-farty brother was the composer of 'Eli Yale! Bulldog! Bulldog!' the über-sophisticate, Cole Porter?" (Bunky Mortimer)

Juliet Nicolson, author of The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm.

"The social scene in New York is practically non-existent as far as NYSD’s coverage of interest. It’s been moved west to 'The Hamptons' --  Southampton, East Hampton, and everything in between and north (Sag Harbor). For me there’s more time for reading, and for my birthday a friend of mine gave me a book with the message, 'It all happened before ...' obviously referring to the state of our world today.  The message aroused my curiosity so that I opened just to look, and I’ve been swimming through it with great pleasure – and more than few laughs -- for the past two days. It is called “The Perfect Summer; England 1911 Just Before the Storm” by Juliet Nicolson. Ms. Nicolson is the daughter of the late Nigel Nicolson, the British writer/publisher and politician who died ten years ago at age 87. Ms. Nicolson is also the granddaughter of two now legendary characters who came of age in the era of the Edwardians – Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West. Their son Nigel (there was another son Ben) published a famous book about forty years ago about his parents’ marriage called 'Portrait of a Marriage.' In it we learn that both man and wife – who individually led very productive professional lives as writers (and he also a diplomat) – were gay. They also had to varying degrees, active sex lives with their gay partners. Vita – a most fascinating character (captured beautifully in a biography by Victoria Glendenning, published in the late 1960s, called 'Vita') – was a novelist, an essayist and a horticulturalist." (NYSD)

"Today the Crystal Ball is switching its gubernatorial race ratings in five states: Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, and Wisconsin. All five contests are competitive and close, and our new ratings will not be our last in these states. But as of mid-summer, we believe the following about each race:
Arkansas: In a battle of two former members of the U.S. House, Asa Hutchinson (R) has built a small lead in the polls against Mike Ross (D) in the Natural State’s open-seat contest. Should Hutchinson win, it would mark a turnover from the Democrats as incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe (D) is term-limited. Arkansas has moved very sharply toward Republicans in recent years at the federal level, though Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is trying to buck this trend in the state’s Senate race this cycle. But the GOP has also made significant gains at the state level, taking full control of the state legislature in 2012 for the first time since Reconstruction. With Hutchinson’s polling lead and the increasingly Republican proclivities of Arkansans, we’re moving it from Toss-up to Leans Republican.Hawaii: Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) is so personally unpopular that he will be lucky to survive the Democratic primary against state Sen. David Ige. In fact, Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling recently found Ige leading Abercrombie 49%-39%, though any survey in the notoriously-difficult-to-poll Aloha State must be treated with caution. That said, we’re hearing that the public polls in Hawaii might not be far off the mark, and that Abercrombie is in real trouble heading into the Saturday, Aug. 9 primary. Even if Abercrombie wins renomination, he may well falter in the general election matchup against his 2010 general election opponent, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R). Moreover, the independent candidacy of former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann, an ex-Democrat, will further complicate things. This race shifts from Leans Democratic to Toss-up, and the primary is a Toss-up, too. We still favor Sen. Brian Schatz (D) in his primary against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D): Abercrombie’s appointment of Schatz to deceased former Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D) Senate seat, against the deathbed wishes of the Hawaii legend, is contributing to Abercrombie’s troubles with his own party, but perhaps isn’t hurting Schatz in the same way. (What was Schatz supposed to do — turn down the appointment?) Schatz also lacks Abercrombie’s grating style. Both primaries will be very much worth watching. Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn (D), barely elected to his first full term in 2010 and hampered by a poor state economy and budget problems, appears to be losing so far to a wealthy Republican, Bruce Rauner. Quinn’s narrow win in 2010 happened in part because his opponent was very conservative, too much so for Illinois even in the midst of a gigantic Republican wave that cycle. However, this time Quinn faces an “outsider” opponent in Rauner, who is promising to clean up the mess in Springfield and who can also self-fund his campaign to a large degree. While this race could well shift again this cycle, we’re now moving it from Toss-up to Leans Republican. We’ve heard a lot of pessimism from Democrats about Quinn’s odds, though they hold out hope that he can pull the rabbit out of a hat once again. He might, but he’s down right now — and facing a better candidate, Rauner, than he did last time. According to Politico’s Kyle Cheney, Quinn would be the first governor from the president’s home state (and of the president’s party) to lose reelection since 1892." (Sabato)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas' rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel's Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis. The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently found it necessary, despite knowing it would have no definitive military outcome. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers followed by the incineration of a Palestinian boy triggered this conflict. An argument of infinite regression always rages as to the original sin: Who committed the first crime? For the Palestinians, the original crime was the migration into the Palestinian mandate by Jews, the creation of the State of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from that state. For Israel, the original sin came after the 1967 war, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. At that moment, the Israelis were prepared to discuss a deal, but the Arabs announced their famous "three nos" at a meeting in Khartoum: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace. That locked the Israelis into an increasingly rigid stance. Attempts at negotiations have followed the Khartoum declaration, all of which failed, and the 'no recognition' and 'no peace' agreement is largely intact. Cease-fires are the best that anyone can hope for.For Hamas, at least -- and I suspect for many Palestinians in the West Bank -- the only solution is Israel's elimination. For many Israelis, the only solution is to continue to occupy all captured territories until the Palestinians commit to peace and recognition. Since the same Israelis do not believe that day will ever come, the occupation would become permanent. Under these circumstances, the Gaza war is in some sense a matter of housekeeping. For Hamas, the point of the operation is demonstrating it can fire rockets at Israel. These rockets are inaccurate, but the important thing is that they were smuggled into Gaza at all, since this suggests more dangerous weapons eventually will be smuggled in to the Palestinian territory. At the same time, Hamas is demonstrating that it remains able to incur casualties while continuing to fight. For the Israelis, the point of the operation is that they are willing to carry it out at all. The Israelis undoubtedly intend to punish Gaza, but they do not believe they can impose their will on Gaza and compel the Palestinians to reach a political accommodation with Israel. War's purpose is to impose your political will on your enemy. But unless the Israelis surprise us immensely, nothing decisive will come out of this conflict. Even if Israel somehow destroyed Hamas, another organization would emerge to fill its space in the Palestinian ecosystem. Israel can't go far enough to break the Palestinian will to resist; it is dependent on a major third-party state to help meet Israeli security needs. This creates an inherent contradiction whereby Israel receives enough American support to guarantee its existence but because of humanitarian concerns is not allowed to take the kind of decisive action that might solve its security problem. We thus see periodic violence of various types, none of which will be intended or expected to achieve any significant political outcome. Wars here have become a series of bloodstained gestures." (STRATFOR)

"The Kerry proposal also stated a commitment would be made to 'transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries of public employees.' Israeli and U.S. officials said the understanding was that money would be given to Hamas by the government of Qatar. A senior U.S. official said that the American government doesn’t like Qatar providing money to Hamas, which is still officially designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department. But Kerry was trying to reach Hamas and he believes this was the best way to influence them. 'The fact is, [the Qataris] are [funding Hamas] and as a result of that they have some influence,' the senior U.S. official said.
Hamas leaders have long been furious that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank would not make funds available to Hamas for the salaries as part of the unity agreement they agreed to this spring. Qatar has funded Hamas in Gaza since 2006, but the United States has nonetheless asked the Qataris to reverse their policy. Through the years, however, Qatar continued to support Hamas. In December 2012, Qatar’s emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited Gaza and pledged $400 million for the small strip of land. Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat who is the third-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said a peace deal that acknowledged and certified Qatar’s funding of Hamas 'would be significant.' 'Qatar styles itself as an ally of the United States and then sends money to Hamas. It’s a very peculiar ally of the United States and it’s something we’ve asked it not to do for years,' he said. 'I am not going to say it’s a concession we would never make.' Matthew Levitt, a former senior Treasury Department official in the George W. Bush administration and a senior scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, 'The bottom line is you will have some people say if the cost of disarming Hamas is allowing payments to their civil servants from Qatar, so be it. But we’ve had a long-standing policy of proactively combatting the financing of Hamas and the U.S. government has done a lot in this regard.'The potential of Qatar sending more money to Hamas, which was also not part of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, contributed to an eruption of anger and retaliation against Kerry that spilled over into the press." (DailyBeast)

"Summer birthdays. Mine was this past Saturday.  I’m not sentimental about birthdays although I remember when I was six or seven asking my mother if I could have a birthday party. I don’t know where I got the idea; birthday parties were not numerous in the neighborhood or the family. Mother acquiesced and somehow members of the family with cousins gathered for the meal (must have been a lunch) and then the tour de force – the cake with candles, wishes and PRESENTS! Somewhere in a photo album – most likely in one of my eldest sister’s photo albums, I’ve seen a picture of little David deadly serious surveying the table. I know it was the presents, and the ice cream and cake that I was checking. Back in those days, cake and ice cream were like Beluga and Cristal to the boy grown up. Now I’m not so sure about the Beluga (although I probably couldn’t resist).After that I gave a birthday party for myself when I was thirty-five, and invited about thirty friends. I still don’t know what I was thinking because I’m not a 'party' person (ironically, considering my business), but I staged it – also on a weekend – on the terrace of my house in Connecticut. Friends came up from the City and even from Boston. It was 1976 (the year JH was born) and I recall after the meal – the cake and ice cream (and there must have been champagne) – we talked about the Bicentennial of the United States of America, which was being celebrated all over the nation ... This past Saturday night I invited only old friends to join me, along with JH and his wife Danielle. Philip Carlson and I met in the mid-60s when I was briefly pursuing an acting career in New York and we were in an off-Off-Broadway show together. We became good friends instantly. A year later I realized this 'career' was not a good idea – I sorely lacked the dedication that is required. Philip, however, had landed the lead in an off-Broadway show called 'Until the Monkey Comes,' which was a hit. Universal signed him to a contract and he and his new wife moved to Hollywood. The year after that he introduced me and my then-wife Sheila to Barbara Preminger and her then husband Erik Preminger and another friendship sprang for us, which has lasted ever since. That same year another friend introduced me and my wife to Marianne and Steve Harrison who coincidentally lived around the corner from us on East 89th Street. We too became immediate friends and have remained very close ever since. A decade later, I was then in Los Angeles at the very beginning of a new career as a writer when in 1980, another friend who worked with Pax Quigley at Playboy introduced us. The meeting was a phone call. She called me one midafternoon in summer and we talked for about an hour and became instant friends. These friendships have remained strong ever since – despite all the changes and moves in our individual lives. So everyone at table Saturday night, has known each other for as long also. JH and I met when he came to work as my assistant when I was editor-in-chief for Judy Price, founder and publisher of Avenue Magazine, in 1998." (NYSD)

Rand Paul Courts African-American Voters

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Rand Paul Should Come To New York

“Nobody can give you equality or justice. If you’re a man, you take it.” Rand Paul, quoting Malcolm X, at, strangely enough, the National Urban League Conference.

Rand Paul's studious courting of African-American voters is getting the chattering classes talking. And why should it not? It is not every day that a senior member in good standing of the Grand Old Party -- a party that increasingly over the last few Presidential cycles has appealed to older, whiter voters -- extends the olive branch to a demographic that is so entrenched within the Democrat party. "After Mitt Romney received just 6 percent of the black vote in 2012, the Republican Party said that it could no longer afford to ignore African-Americans," writes Jeremy Peters in the paper of record. “'We are never going to win over voters who are not asked for their support,' (GOP leaders) wrote in a candid election post-mortem." A part of Paul's courting of voters of color is his venture outside of the comfort zone, his base, into the National Urban League Conference. Further, Paul takes immigration seriously and is trying to use his influence among the paleoconservatives to end the stalemate. It has yet to be established if Paul has the standing or the seniority and political skill to convince enough of the hard right to go along with him.

Senator Paul, clearly, has Presidential ambitions, like his father. Also, not unlike like his father, a lot of those ambitions are tied to furthering the Libertarian agenda. Libertarianism is a family affair for the Pauls; the concerns of the Republican party, it seems, run a close second. The Pauls, arguably the first family of American Libertarianism, have political principles that are curiously in synch with young people -- pro-drug legalization, pro LBGT, very live-and-let-live -- as well as being attractive to people of color in very, very blue New York City. Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky, would probably be a welcome presence among the brown majority in NYC right about now, if only for his lengthy record of battling the lengthening shadow of police state on all fronts. "Paul has been talking for a while about how his conception of tyranny extends to long, draconian prison sentences for mostly poor and black offenders," writes Emily Brazelon in Slate. "Now he is introducing a bill that would restore voting rights to nonviolent ex-felons in federal elections."

Quite interesting.

New York City: The Great Laboratory

Rand Paul would find NYC The Great Laboratory in terms of the diversity of voters, income and political receptiveness to his independent, somewhat unorthodox ideas. New York has the largest percentage of Asian populations in any US City; the Puerto Rican population is the largest outside of Puerto Rico proper; New York is the largest home of Jewish people outside of Israel. 36% of the population is foreign born -- so any attempts to solve the immigration problem would be received with more than a smattering of applause in this city. The median age in NYC is 34, well within the libertarian purview. Further, NYC is 25% African-American, 27% Latino, roughly 12% Asian and 44% white, according to the most recent Census. A would-be President would do well to practice speaking in front of such a culturally diverse crowd. It is, after a fashion, one of the best stages to capture the imagination of different voting blocks, voting blocks alien to the GOP of late. Why is this important?

Mitt Romney Agonistes

Mitt Romney aimed for and got an incredible amount of the white vote. He got 59%, one percentage point smaller than his target of 60%. In previous elections this would have been enough but Romney, temperamentally quite conservative, did not intuit the shifting demographic trends of these United States. The electorate is no longer as white as it was when Reagan or even Bush the Younger were President. The problem was that Romney was demographically out-data'd by the Obamaites, who ran away with all the other demographics. "Obama won the Latino vote, 71 to 27," wrote Tom Scocca in Slate as a postmortem. "He also won the Asian vote, 73 to 26. Those voters all look the same to the losers. That's why they're the losers."

And elections in the foreseeable future are only going to get browner and browner ... Rand Paul, and to a degree Paul Ryan (in his new language on the subject of poverty) and even Chris Christie see this as the key to appealing to a larger audience in the general election.

Principles Above Party

Why would Rand Paul actively push in the United States Senate for laws that would put the Republican Party at a disadvantage (re: voting rights and criminal sentences for people of color)? African-Americans -- and, more broadly, people of color -- break wildly for the Democrats, obviously. "'Even if Republicans don’t get more votes, we feel like we’ve done the right thing,' Paul told Politico. This sounds like Paul’s (qualified) support for immigration reform: He’s behind it even though in the short term, it’s probably a loser for Republicans," writes Brazelon.

Ron Paul, like him or loathe him, stands up for principles that extend far beyond the often provincial conservatism of his party, or at the very least the party that Romney in 2012 and the tea party in subsequent elections represents. Libertarianism, a philosophy, is not just entrenched positions about wealth and the race of the aging white electorate that has essentially sunk the Republican Party in the most recent Presidential elections. Libertarianism -- in its critique of big government, the lengthening shadow of the police state, a healthy skepticism over national security issues, a live-and-let live with regards to drugs, sexuality and the consensual behavior of adults is perhaps the perfect blueprint for a dying party.

The Demographic Reality

If the Republican Party wants to be the party of older white conservative voters with a high school diploma, that is their prerogative. However, in the last two Presidential elections that been a losing strategy, it should be noted.  Further, in 2012, eligible African-American voters outvoted, percentagewise, white voters. 2012 was also a landmark year for all voters of color. " The highest turnout of blacks, in addition to the growing number of Hispanics and Asians, could also explain Obama's success in defeating Romney, wrote at the time. "According to CNN exit polls, 93% of African-Americans, 71% of Hispanics and 73% of Asians supported Obama over Romney."

Rand Paul knows this. New York knows this. And now, as the issue of police brutality rises with the barometer, is the perfect time for Rand Paul to give a speech, in the city, tying his concerns about national security and the national security state and police overreach (quite literally in the form of illegal chokeholds). I believe that Senator Rand Paul, for a Republican from Kentucky, would find an alarmingly receptive audience of color in this city if he chose to make that much needed speech.

Bill Maher to Neil deGrasse Tyson: " Republicans hate you for being black and smarter than them "

Washington Week with Gwen Ifill

Media-Whore D'oeuvres

"Like almost all conflicts that have occurred in Israel, this latest war in Gaza has provoked a furious debate. Was Israel’s ground and air assault on the Gaza Strip justified by Hamas’s rocket attacks? Or were Hamas’s rocket attacks a justifiable response to Israel’s arrest of hundreds of Hamas supporters and officials? I am not going to defend Hamas’s charter, which describes Israel and the occupied territories as an 'Islamic Waqf,' nor its strategy of hurling rockets at Israel, but I am also not going to defend Israel’s response. What matters to me, and what is often ignored, is the overall moral and political context in which this and past conflicts have occurred. Israel is one of the world’s last colonial powers, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are its unruly subjects. Like many past anti-colonial movements, Hamas and Fatah are deeply flawed and have sometimes poorly represented their peoples, and sometimes unnecessarily provoked the Israelis and used tactics that violate the rules of war. But the Israeli government has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to rule harshly over its subjects, while maintaining a ruinous blockade on Gaza. That’s the historical backdrop to the events now taking place." (John L. Judis)

illustration of Niall FitzGerald by James Ferguson

"Montpeliano, in Knightsbridge, is just as proper Italian restaurants used to be: framed monochrome photos of silver-era movie stars; a terrace with vines; widely spaced tables; a sense of quiet. Regular place, regular table. And when it comes to the food, it’s clear that looking at the menu is a mere formality for him, as both he and the waiter know perfectly well what his choice will be: mozzarella di bufala and tomato salad, followed by risotto primavera. I decide on the same starter and a steamed sea bass. A glass of white wine to accompany the main course. Minimal fuss. This description may give completely the wrong impression of Niall FitzGerald, whose range of interests and activities is anything but circumscribed. Yes, his business career showed a consistency that is becoming unusual these days: he joined Unilever in Ireland as an accountant in 1968 and spent more than 30 years with the multinational, culminating in an eight-year stint as chairman and chief executive. This was followed, in 2004, by three years as chairman of Reuters, then three more as deputy chairman of Thomson Reuters. But the rest would take some time to list.
Anyway, we are here to talk about these other interests – even if business and culture intersect significantly in his life. FitzGerald (I would call him Sir Niall if, as an Irish citizen, he could use the knighthood conferred on him in 2002 in a more than an honorary capacity) stepped down earlier this month from the chairmanship of the trustees of the British Museum after an eight-year term." (FT)

"The summer box office downward spiral continues, with another big drop. The Top Ten grossed $130 million compared to $174 million last year; 2014 is down 6% from 2013. What gives? More new films of uneven strength are lagging behind comparable efforts amid a plethora of sequels and a lack of top-draw films. A few tentpoles worthy of the name are in fact holding up the overall box office. Long-term word of mouth successes include '22 Jump Street' (down 28%), at $180 million the biggest live-action comedy since 'Ted' (and within $40 million of its total), and in its eighth weekend in the Top Ten, 'Maleficent' (down only 22%), at a total $228 million. Even films that had mixed initial reactions are holding on due to the weakness of the newer films. The below-average percentage drops for holdovers has been a positive development this summer. Of the holdovers in the Top Ten, only the disappointing 50% drop for 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' in its second week seems more than expected. " (IndieWire)

"The youngest generation of the Stroh family — whose brewery empire was once valued at $9 billion — has almost no money left to fight over, so now they are bickering over the family‘s reputation. The Stroh heirs are furious with fifth-generation family member Frances Stroh, of San Francisco, for cooperating with a Forbes magazine story headlined, 'How To Blow $9 Billion: The Fallen Stroh Family.' In the July 21 issue, Frances talks about snorting cocaine while the family was having Christmas dinner and said, 'My life with my father felt like being inside a gilded bubble.' One Stroh recently told a friend, 'My family is now the laughingstock of the entire American family trust community.'  Frances’ father Eric quit the company — which owned the Schaefer, Schlitz and Old Milwaukee brands, as well as Stroh’s — after a fight with his brother in 1985. After taking on debt to expand into the nation’s third-largest brewer, the company collapsed and was sold in 1999. The heirs received their last checks in 2008. A friend of the family told me, 'Frances fed the story to Forbes because she is preparing a legal battle. She is alienating her mother from the rest of the family, and trying to get her mother to disinherit her two brothers.'" (Richard Johnson)

Liz with Mr. Meigher.

"I HAD lunch this week at the one and only Michael's with a group of Time, Inc. veterans, including myself (counting my 1960s days writing for Sports Illustrated.) Chris Meigher, the guy who now runs Quest Media, hosted and we were Life magazine's former head Charles Whittingham and Fortune's acclaimed Carol Loomis, who retired recently at age 85 after winning praise from the New York Times' Business front page. We were pleased and honored to have Marian Heiskell with us. She is the widow of Andrew Heiskell, a Time, Inc. famous name from the good old days! (Together, Marian and Andrew became "Living Landmarks” of NYC's Conservancy. They are credited with cleaning up 42nd Street, saving Bryant Park and helping the New York Public Library.)
ANYWAY, we were all long-timers and when PR experts Peggy Siegal and Leslee Dart and publishing's Boaty Boatwright tried to join our center window table, we waved them off as "too old" for our crowd." (Liz Smith)

Friday News Roundup - International

Friday News Roundup - International

Friday, July 25, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"In a statement on Wednesday, Brazil condemned what it said was a  'disproportionate use of force' by Israel in its Gaza Strip offensive by pulling out its ambassador from Tel Aviv for 'consultation.' The country is the second country to recall its ambassador from Israel; Ecuador did so earlier in the week. At first, the official reaction from Israel appeared sanguine. "Brazil is a friend, but we think its position is not balanced," Israel's general consul in São Paulo, Yoel Barnea, said according to the Wall Street Journal, adding that Israel should have a right to defend itself from the thousands of missiles being fired at it by Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Things soon took a turn for the worse. “This is an unfortunate demonstration of why Brazil, an economic and cultural giant, remains a diplomatic dwarf,” Israeili Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Thursday, the Jerusalem Post reports. “The moral relativism behind this move makes Brazil an irrelevant diplomatic partner, one who creates problems rather than contributes to solutions.' That insult wasn't the worst that Israel had reserved for Brazil, however. In an interview with the Brazilian media, Palmor brought up the most humiliating moment in recent Brazilian history – this summer's stunning World Cup semifinal loss to Germany. 'Israel's response is perfectly proportioned in accordance with international law,' Palmor said in an interview with the Jornal Nacional TV show late Thursday. 'This is not football. In football, when a game ends in a draw, you think it is proportional, but when it finishes 7-1 it's disproportionate. Sorry to say, but not so in real life and under international law.'" (WashPo)

British-American writer, reporter, cartoonist, art critic, poet, and socialite Anthony Haden-Guest.

"Anthony Haden-Guest, born 2 February 1937, is a British-American writer, reporter, cartoonist, art critic, poet, and socialite. He is a frequent contributor to major magazines and has had several books published.This is how Anthony is described in the short Wikipedia biography of him. It’s pretty much on the money despite the more interesting inferences. For example, Wikipedia includes a blurb, written by his half-brother Christopher Guest, the actor/director/writer, for Anthony’s book 'The Chronicles of Now, a book of Anthony’s cartoons: 'Boring, pompous and a complete and utter waste of time. I don’t know what my brother was thinking.' That quote cracked me up, and it would you, if you knew  the man Anthony. I couldn’t help wondering if indeed Anthony had written it himself, because he is very good at the occasional poke at the self. If you don’t know about him, he’s like a character out of a book. In fact Tom Wolfe’s best-selling 'Bonfire at the Vanities' has a character in it named Peter Fallow, who is said to be modeled on Anthony. In some ways, the portrait-ish characterization rings true of aspects of the man’s personality. But in other ways, it's Wolfe's portrait of an idea for a character possibly inspired or enhanced by Anthony’s wild ways. We’ve known each other for a couple of decades. Not well, but knowing Anthony for any length of time is to know him. He’s one of those people who lives his life as he pleases and openly, is endlessly curious, brilliantly witty in a way that only the English can be, and potentially eccentric, or maybe not even potentially. When I used to see him back in the 90s – we’ve seen much less of each other in the past decade -- he was often in black tie and could be found at Mortimer’s late nights after the parties, imbibing and conversing with pleasure and sharing such with with whomever he was conversing. He’s very very smart and deeply sensitive despite the devil-may-care adventurous bent of his life." (NYSD)

"The new film based on John le Carré’s novel A Most Wanted Man features the last significant Philip Seymour Hoffman performance (there are still two Hunger Games movies in the pipeline), and part of me wishes I could report that he was at low ebb, at the end of his talent as well as his tether: It would make his loss easier to bear from an artistic (if not a human) standpoint. But what’s on display here is a great actor at his absolute peak — damn it all. Hoffman plays German spymaster Gunther Bachmann — a post–Cold War, post–9/11 George Smiley figure who understands espionage more deeply than his superiors or the hovering CIA agents. The setting is Hamburg, where an escaped Turkish prisoner named Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) — the devout Muslim son of a corrupt Russian general and a Chechen woman — arrives to secure a vast inheritance from a German bank for purposes unknown. Most everyone is in a hurry to whisk Issa off to some black site for interrogation, but Bachmann, a self-described 'cave-dweller' who smokes and drinks heavily and spends hours staring into monitors, has a deeper grasp of human complexity. He’s not sure Issa is a bad guy, and he suspects there are shades of gray in the probable recipient of Issa’s money, the moderate Muslim academic Dr. Faisal Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who might be giving a small part of what he collects for charity to terrorist organizations. Unlike his counterparts, Bachmann isn’t a hasty blunderer. He understands — like Smiley — that the better agent plays the long game." (NYMag)