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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



(image via acus)

"The thing that people haven't figured out about President Obama's conduct of foreign policy is that it's the same as his conduct of domestic policy. Obama believes in the power of negotiation and public dialogue to split his adversaries--Republicans at home, Islamists abroad--and strengthen his own position. Obama's speech in Cairo to the Muslim world was simply the foreign analogue of his dealings with the GOP. Obama's method begins with attempts to find common ground, expressions of respect for the adversary's core beliefs, and profuse hope for cooperation. In his iconic 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention, Obama famously announced that Democrats, too, 'worship an awesome God.' In his Cairo speech, Obama pointed to the contributions and freedoms of American Muslims. In both speeches, Obama signaled cultural respect by adapting the other side's own rhetorical formulations--invoking 'a belief in things not seen' (2004) or calling the Middle East the region where Islam 'was first revealed' (Cairo). This rhetoric removes the locus of debate from the realm of tribal conflict-- red state versus blue state, Islam versus America--and puts it onto specific questions--Is the American health care system fair? Is terrorism justified?-- where Obama believes he can win support from soft adherents of the opposing camp." (TNR)



(image via timeinc)

"A NIGHT out with the boys may get Justin Timberlake in hot water with girlfriend Jessica Biel. According to an eyewitness, the singer was in party mode at Chelsea hot spot Avenue one recent night. 'Usually Justin is pretty in control, but he was acting pretty crazy,' our spy tells Page Six. 'He was drinking tequila all night. At one point, he cleared out a little space and started break dancing. He was bumping into people and spilling drinks. It was hilarious.' Our source also says that at one point, Lindsay Lohan, currently off with on-again, off-again girlfriend Samantha Ronson, tried to dance with Timberlake, but 'he shooed her away.'" (PageSix)



"Nicollette Sheridan: 'People say I'm a typical California blonde. That's funny. I'm from England and actually have some Hindu in me.'" (CindyAdams)



(image via nytimes)

"Whatever the criticisms, though, the central fact is that, so far, Obama's coalition is holding together. This is true in the country at large, where his approval ratings, though down several points from the very early days, are still more than high enough to provide him political capital. And it's true among Democrats of all stripes in Washington. I recently conducted eighteen interviews (most of them off the record or 'on background,' alas) with administration officials, members of Congress and staff, operatives, and insiders—this in addition to casual conversations with other such people that come naturally in my line of work. I heard quibbles, and sometimes more than quibbles, especially about the bank bailout, which was often described as a transfer of wealth from the middle class to Wall Street. By and large, though, I was struck by the sense of good feeling and optimism among these people. There was a broad understanding of the importance of the historical moment. In stark contrast to 1993 (Bill Clinton's first year as president), the factions within the Democratic Party are keeping their disagreements pretty quiet for now. People grasp that in this moment of high political capital, when they are up against a GOP that is becoming increasingly forceful in opposition, Democrats must prove this year that they can pass legislation that will fix the country's problems. And there was a confidence in their ability to do so that surprised me." (Michael Tomasky/NYRB)



"If anyone knows how to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, it’s Haley Barbour. Whether the 61-year-old Mississippi governor can successfully apply that know-how in 2012 — and whether he wants to — are questions that will begin to be answered this week as he launches what many political observers see as an exploratory venture into presidential primary proving grounds. Barbour helped Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell raise money on Monday. On Tuesday, he appeared in the Capitol for a health care press conference with House Republican leaders John Boehner of Ohio and Mike Pence of Indiana. But it is the Wednesday and Thursday legs of his trip — to state fundraising dinners in New Hampshire and Iowa — that have attracted the attention of party players." (CQPolitics)



"North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il is close to transferring power to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, a senior South Korean government official said. Circumstances suggest the elder Kim, 68, is grooming Jong Un to take control of the communist nation, said the official, who briefed reporters in Seoul on condition of anonymity. There’s no concrete evidence the son has support from the country’s elite, which could cause a power struggle, he said .. Little is known about Jong Un. He is either 25 or 26 years old, and attended an international school in Switzerland. He and older brother Kim Jong Chol were born to Kim Jong Il’s companion Ko Young Hee. The eldest son, Jong Nam, has a different mother. He was caught trying to enter Japan in 2001 on a fake passport, saying he wanted to visit Disneyland." (Bloomberg)



"Hour by hour, day by day, Bill Buckley was just an exciting person to be around, especially when he was exhilarated by his love of sailing. He could turn any event into an adventure, a joke, a showdown. He loved risk. I saw him time after time rush his boat toward a harbor, sails flying, only to swerve and drop sail at the last moment. For some on the pier, looking up to see this large yacht bearing down on them, it was a heart-stopping moment. To add to the excitement, Bill was often standing on the helmsman’s seat, his hands clutching the shrouds above his head, turning the wheel with his foot, in a swashbuckling pose. (He claimed he saw the berth better from up there.) .. Bill was often standing on the helmsman’s seat, his hands clutching the shrouds above his head, turning the wheel with his foot, in a swashbuckling pose. (He claimed he saw the berth better from up there.) I once saw the importance of his swift reflexes on the boat. We had set out for a night sail on the ocean, and Bill’s Yale friend Van Galbraith — later President Reagan’s ambassador to France—had got tipsy from repeated shots of Tia Maria in his coffee. He fell overboard while the boat was under full sail. In a flash, Bill threw overboard a life preserver with a bright light on it, and called for us to bring the boat about. We circled back toward Galbraith, found him in the darkness, and fished him out. It was a scary moment, one that only Bill’s cool rapidity kept from being a tragic one." (TheAtlantic)



"Columbia Pictures is in advanced talks with David Fincher to direct 'The Social Network,' the Aaron Sorkin-scripted film for Columbia Pictures about the formation of Facebook. The film will focus on the evolution of Facebook from its 2004 creation on the Harvard campus by sophomore Mark Zuckerberg to a juggernaut with more than 200 million members. Scott Rudin and Michael De Luca are producing with Trigger Street's Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti." (Variety)

"When the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a 'divine assessment,' he was using the key weapon of velayat-e faqih, divine sanction. Millions of Iranians didn't buy it, convinced that their votes—one of the key secular rights allowed them under Iran's religious system—had been stolen. Soon Khamenei was forced to accept the need for an inquiry into the election. The Guardian Council, Iran's supreme constitutional body, promised to investigate, meet with the candidates and recount some votes. Khamenei has realized that the regime's existence is at stake and has now hardened his position, but that cannot put things back together. It has become clear that in Iran today, legitimacy does not flow from divine authority but from popular will. For three decades, the Iranian regime has wielded its power through its religious standing, effectively excommunicating those who defied it. This no longer works—and the mullahs know it. For millions, perhaps the majority of Iranians, the regime has lost its legitimacy." (Fareed Zakaria/Newsweek)

"The ranks of the world’s super-rich have been shredded by the credit crunch, putting paid to the theory that the wealthy are better at holding on to their money. The global population of 'ultra high net worth individuals' – defined as those with at least $30m to invest – shrank by nearly 25 per cent in 2008, according to the latest World Wealth Report produced by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini. That leaves just 78,000 left worldwide after a year of bank crises, government bail-outs and stock market routs. High net worth individuals – worth a mere $1m, excluding their homes – fared poorly as well, seeing around $8,000bn shaved off their bank balances. The unprecedented declines wiped out two years of robust growth, reducing both the total number of rich people and their wealth to levels last seen in 2005." (FT.com)



"'Naomi [Watts] said she's going to kill me if I don't come home with a pair of Persols for her!' laughed Liev Schriber as he walked into the Whitney Museum of American Art on Tuesday night. The museum was celebrating the opening night of the famous sunglass brand's Incognito exhibition, and the hope for some swag shades was almost as much of a draw to the event as the night's headlining act: Lou Reed .. Reed hit the stage around 8:30, quieting the chatty crowds by bellowing: 'Do you want to talk, or do you want to hear us play? Why don't you shut the fuck up?'" (Fashionweekdaily)



"The Ross school held their Annual Starlight Ball honoring Martha Stewart with a namesake scholarship, the newly established Martha Stewart Scholarship Fund awarded to Ross student and 14-year old culinary prodigy, Gregory Grossman. Over 500 people attended the elegant affair in support of the school raising over $500,000. Writer and Ross School parent Jay McInerney, emceed the event with guests including Christie Brinkley, Elie and Rory Tahari, Whitney & James Fairchild, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, Ramona Singer, Jessica Hart & Nicholas Potts, and the cast of the upcoming film Trophy Kids. The festive evening was complete with musical performances by Ross School alum Alexa Ray Joel and James Ingram followed by SNL’s funny man Seth Meyers." (Guestofaguest)



"I went down to Swifty’s for lunch with an old friend I hadn’t seen in some time. The place was packed with the decibel level matched. The weather had lifted the mood. Early in the evening I went to two notable book parties which were coincidentally next door to each other on 93rd Street and Madison Avenue. The first was Gloria Vanderbilt’s book signing for her new novel, Obsession; An Erotic Tale, at The Corner Bookstore on 93rd Street and Madison; and the second was Geoffrey Bradfield’s reception at Carlton Hobbs Mansion, two doors in (to the east) from The Corner Bookstore on 93rd Street." (NYSocialDiary)

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