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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: India, Rising. Historians of the future may look back on George Walker Bush's 43rd American Presidency and find that only two initiatives survive the ages: Dubya's humane Africa policy and his US-India nuclear bill. Strategically, India is the perfect foil -- and ally -- in the coming soft wars with China (China and India are natural rivals and rising superpowers in Asia) and the rise of the sultans in Iran. But in the interregnum between Bush's transition to Obama, there was a lull in diplomatic relations. And in the chasm foreign affairs hands wondered: would the Obama Presidency follow Bush's outstretched hand to New Delhi? The answer, in the form of Secretary Clinton, is Yes. From AFP:

"The United States struck deals here Monday to pave the way for billions of dollars in exports of civilian nuclear reactors and military hardware to India, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

At a news conference with her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna, Clinton also pledged to deepen US efforts with India to fight global climate change, check the cross-border spread of nuclear weapons and boost international trade.

"We believe cooperation between our two countries will be a driver of progress in the 21st century,' Clinton said during a five-day visit in which she hailed India's emergence as a significant player on the world stage.

"The chief US diplomat said she had reassured her Indian hosts that President Barack Obama would not only maintain, but deepen a 'strategic partnership' launched under his predecessor George W. Bush.

"Clinton said the new administration was first of all committed to a landmark but controversial agreement on civil nuclear cooperation sealed last year under Bush.

"Both the Obama and Bush administrations argued the agreement carries appropriate safeguards even though India, which has nuclear weapons, has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty."

This was Secretary Hillary Clinton's first diplomatic triumph. Further, India's claims that the Mumbai attacks were launched in Pakistan were strengthened by the Mumbai bomber's confession and gives them the righteous upper hand in any negotiations with their neighbor.

Ironically, Obama and Clinton tangled in the Presidential primary over her relationship with India. But that is all behind them. Still, we cannot fail to note that it is interesting that Clinton's first diplomatic primary was a point of contention during the primaries.

Out: Gwynnie. Leaving aside the quixotic "On the Road Again" on PBS -- will someone please explain that one to us? -- Paltrow is not particularly hot. Sure, she's got that 1950s faux Brit movie star accent going as well as the frosty Spence School veneer and the whole lifestyle guru thing (, anyone?). But the vibe on Paltrow has run the gamut from eccentric to inane. From PageSix:

"THAT Gwyneth Paltrow was left off the cover of Entertainment Weekly featuring her 'Iron Man 2' co-stars Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke because, rightly or wrongly, the editors feel any cover with Paltrow is newsstand suicide."

Seriously: can someone explain to this blogger why Gwyneth expected us to watch her traipsing across Spain and eating fucking prosciutto with Mario "Fanta Pants" Batali? On motherfuckin' PBS no less! Perhaps the most willfully self-indulgent program in the history of show business (with the possible exception of Kevin Spacey's execrable Bobby Darin biopic).

(image via sun-sentinel)

In: The Blue Dog Democrats. The President's health care plan will probably depend on the Blue Dog Democrats, all 51 of them in the coalition. The President met with them this afternoon in heavy courtin' mode. From Politico:

"Following their meeting with POTUS, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Blue Dog Coalition spoke with reporters.

"Said Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.): 'The president expressed to us his great, strong commitment' that a health care bill be 'deficit neutral.'

"Blue Dog Mike Ross (D-Ark.) said the group had a very productive meeting with POTUS. He said POTUS laid out the four priorities he has reform, the first being deficit neutrality. Cost cutting was the chief topic of discussion.

"We talked about ways to bend the cost curve," Ross said, adding that the meeting lasted over an hour."

Blue dogs are, of course, moderate-to-conservative Democrats from places like Arkansas, North Carolina, Indiana, Nevada -- places that make them vulnerable to challengers (despite how nearly unbeatable incumbents have become). They are fiscally more conservative than liberal and have been getting an earfull from their constituents about this administrations spending. A loss on the health care bill -- which may or may not get out of Congress before August recess -- would significantly restrict the amount of political capital Obama has for the rest of his Presidency (Bill Clinton, suffering a similar loss on health care, became a Triangulator).

(image via slashfilm)

Out: Atlas, Shrugged. If an Atlas shrugs in a post-ultracapitalist economy does anyone hear? Does Ayn Rand even really matter anymore? Is there an expiration date on melodramatic adolescent prose? This film would have KILLED in the go-go 80s, or even at the turn of the millennium. But now? From Variety:

"The 37-year effort to bring 'Atlas Shrugged' to the screen is finally gaining momentum.

"Sort of.

"Oscar winner Charlize Theron has been meeting during the past several months with Lionsgate and producers Howard and Karen Baldwin, who are developing the project's latest iteration, about starring as main character Dagny Taggart.

"Theron has been eager to play the role but has been concerned that a feature would lose many of the nuances of the monster-sized novel. So the Rand adaptation would, under a plan she and producers discussed, be turned into a miniseries for Epix, the pay-cable network Lionsgate is forming with MGM and Viacom/Paramount.

"The project, according to this plan, would be to make the mini one of the fledgling network’s programming linchpins. While insiders are not ruling out the possibility of releasing a condensed version to theaters, the main thrust would be the network, where the mini could be used to lure the book’s legion of fans to subscribe."

Clearly there will be Randians there, with their disturbed gazes and unnerving lack of human compassion. *The Corsair shudders*

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