Monday, December 29, 2008

A Little Of The Old In And Out

(image via daylife)

In: Ehud Barack. Whatever one thinks of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack, his performance in the present military campaign against Hamas strongholds in Gaza in retaliation for their recent barrage of rocket attacks will all but certainly determine his political future. Anything less than a victory will diminish Israel's reputation as the region's dominant power and finish the career of the former Prime Minister.

The Israel-Lebabon War looms large here. Fresh off a perceived loss -- or at the very least the failure of Israel to achieve its objective -- in Lebabnon in 2006 (with a peace finally brokered by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701), Defense Minister Barack, a tenacious politician, has almost no choice in the matter but to gain a decisive victory. On his right, Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu -- Ehud's nemesis -- stands to gain or lose in the upcoming elections six weeks from now for Prime Minister depending on how Barack prosecutes this war.

The timing is auspicious, because: a) the war was timed where the Western media was on holiday vacation, b) the Saturday news cycle is the weakest in the West on Friday, c) the low price of oil virtually guarantees that Iran will not be showering Hamas with petrodollars like they did Hezbollah in 2006, and d) we are in the midst of a US Presidential transition between Bush, a President who will OK virtually any Israeli military action, and Barack Obama, who, with regards to Israeli unilateralism is still an x-variable.

But Ehud Barack's objectives in the present war remain unclear. Perhaps there is a strategy to this. This weekend Ehud Barack told interviewers that his objective in the campaign is to "change the behavior" of Hamas. Does that entail the risky proposition of using ground troops? At what point can Ehud Barack declare that Hamas' behavior has been effectively changed? Will the conflict spread beyond the borders of Israel? Will Israel launch a risky ground attack against a Hamas force of 25,000 troops or press its technical advantage over Hamas by sticking to targeted weopons strikes? If Israel sticks to long range attacks that put Palestinian civilians at great risk can it truly claim the PR victory?

The world is watching, the world is waiting for answers.

Out: Mickey Rourke. Won't someone remove the loserdust from Mr. Rourke's lapels? Poor Mickey Rourke. His ticket, it appears, seems to be exploding. Imagine that you have squandered Hollywood stardom -- a one in a million proposition as it is -- and, by the grace of the Buddha, you get a second chance. You beat out Oscar-winner Nic Cage to land the role of a lifetime only to get beat by ... a dead man? Will the Heath Ledger Oscar sympathy-buzz smother the Mickey Rourke's LIVING buzz? Should it? Isn't an Oscar to be celebrated by the living? From DeadlineHollywoodDaily:

"Oscar ballots go out today from the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences to its 5,810 members and are due back on January 12th. Nominations will be announced January 22nd with the Academy Awards telecast held February 22nd. I know people love to endlessly speculate about who's going to get nominated, and who might win, but I must say this year's Oscars is shaping up as rather suspense-less. According to my AMPAS voter gurus who constantly talk to other Academy members, consensus already is forming around Fox Searchlight's Slumdog Millionaire for Best Picture. Also, I don't know why opinion is focusing on Cate Blanchett in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button over, say, Meryl Streep in Doubt for Best Actress. And Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight for Best Supporting Actor is considered a lock. I'm told by Academy members that David Fincher would have a better shot at Best Director for Benjamin Button if only he wasn't considered such a jerk (yes, that factors in unless a pic is the absolute frontrunner), so Slumdog's Danny Boyle is the favorite."

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