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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"The president then stepped before cameras to tell the world that next month the United States and Russia would sign a 'new Start' treaty paring back their still formidable nuclear arsenals, cutting the legal limits on deployed strategic warheads by 30 percent and on launchers by half. Just as important, it will establish an inspection regime to replace one that expired in December. The announcement culminated a negotiation that sprawled across time and space in ways that Mr. Obama hardly expected when he kicked it off, a process that dragged on four months past its deadline and leapt from London to Moscow to Geneva to Singapore to Copenhagen to Washington. For a new president, the effort became a crucible of diplomacy and a tutorial in the complexities of international security. This account of how Mr. Obama reached agreement is based on interviews with American officials and Russian insiders, many of whom requested anonymity to discuss confidential negotiations. It is a story with twists and turns that included 10 rounds of talks by full-time negotiators in Geneva but ultimately kept coming around to intense personal negotiations between Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev, who met or talked by telephone 14 times to hash through disputes. 'When President Obama’s domestic positions were weakened in recent months and he was completely consumed in his crusade for health care reform, making all other issues irrelevant, it is surprising how much attention he kept on Start,' said Sergei M. Rogov, director of the Institute for U.S. and Canada Studies in Moscow, referring to the treaty. 'Even being 24-hours-a-day busy on health reform, he had a 25th hour for Start.' And a 26th and maybe a 27th. 'It’s been much harder than we anticipated,' said a senior Obama administration official involved in the process. 'We thought it would be relatively easy.' It was not." (NYTimes)



"Bob Geldof's wild daughter, Peaches, is furious over naked pictures of her posted on the Internet by a man who alleges they had a heroin-fueled one-night stand. Peaches -- who lost her mother, Paula Yates, to a heroin overdose in 2000 -- strongly denied taking drugs after photos of her appearing 'high' in bed with a mystery man were posted online. The writer, who calls himself thatcoolguyben, claimed he spent the early hours of last Thanksgiving morning taking drugs and having sex with Peaches -- who's now dating 'Inglourious Basterds' star Eli Roth -- before waking and 'throwing up' in a detox room at LA's Scientology Center. Gawker.com last night identified him as a loft-dwelling resident of Williamsburg." (PageSix)



"In the spring of 1831 the young French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville came to New York City on the first leg of his journey across America to examine prison conditions. He was invited to endless dinner parties and balls by ambassadors, judges, politicians and the richest bankers, but despite the social whirl, Tocqueville found himself stranded in a sexual desert. Young women flirted shamelessly but then laughed and flitted away, while married women seemed puritanically chaste. 'Would you believe,' he wrote to his brother, Edouard, 'Since our arrival in America we have been practicing the most austere virtue? Not the slightest lapse. Monks could do no more.' Stunned by the sharp contrast to France, where marriage was still a dynastic affair and sex more freely available, Tocqueville pondered how wedlock might play out differently in a commercially-obsessed and more egalitarian society. It became one theme of his prescient and still-influential book, Democracy in America." (Lewis Lapham/Bloomberg)



"(Emma) Watson was in town for just one night on her way home to the U.K. from Brown University for a week of spring break. 'I can be fairly anonymous in Providence,' she told us. Not a chance of that on Houston and the Bowery outside of Pulino's, where fans who had gotten wind of the star's appearance there waited with camera phones in hand to meet her. Inside Keith McNally's new pizzeria, the flashbulbs kept on popping, as Watson, who wore a dress by Christopher Kane, posed with Vogue's Anna Wintour and Sarah Mower, and models like Constance Jablonski, Taryn Davidson, and Ajak Deng lined up beside their designer dates." (Style)



"Before last week, no one believed that Barack Obama had enough LBJ in him to pass his health-care bill. A couple months ago, in fact, when passage seemed like a distant dream, an old, possibly apocryphal LBJ story went around Capitol Hill—mainly as a wistful point of contrast, a way of asking aloud why Obama couldn’t trade his velvet oratory for a wooden club. In it, Democratic Idaho senator Frank Church was confronted by Johnson for his increasingly vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. Church explained he’d come around to the view of Walter Lippmann, the newspaper columnist. 'Frank,' said LBJ, 'the next time you want a dam in Idaho, just go to Walter Lippmann for it.' Obama, however, was considered too aloof to flatter or bully; one look at the iconic photographs of Johnson, looming like a golem over his targets, told you all you needed to know about the intensity this president lacked. Yet during the final week of the health-care debate, Obama phoned or met with 92 congressmen, suggesting he wasn’t quite so remote. The difference was how he did it. 'There was no bartering, no threats,' says Congressman Brian Baird, a thoughtful psychologist from Washington State who, like many moderate Democrats, had reservations about the cost and complexity of the legislation. 'It was: Let me start by laying out my position, and then I want to hear yours.' From there, the two men talked for twenty or so minutes in the Oval Office, purely about the substance of the legislation—a marked contrast, Baird notes, from the emotional entreaties he got from both supporters and haters of the bill." (NYMag)



"Howard (Stern)came back and said that Ben Stiller is coming in and he has a new movie coming out called 'Greenberg.' He said it sounds good to him too. Ben came in and Howard told him about what he was reading about the movie. Ben explained what the movie was about. Ben said that it was about this guy who is 41 and he's never made much of his life so he's house sitting for his brother. He had just spent some time in a psychiatric hospital. He had a band in his past and it didn't really go anywhere. Ben said that the guy didn't have anything happening for him. He said the movie is a comedy but it's like a real people kind of movie ...Howard asked Ben why he went to Africa. Ben said he went last year too. He said that he went to Uganda ... they do have some questionable laws about homosexuality down there though. Ben said he went down for a Save the Children charity .. Howard asked if there were a lot of black people in Africa. Ben said that there are and you feel extremely white down there. Ben said that you're like an oddity when you go to a place like Lagos, Nigeria. Ben said he's been to a lot of interesting places and you see how people are and it changes your perspective on life." (Marksfriggin)



"No one likes a quitter, Megan Mullally! In true Jeremy Piven form, our favorite butter imitation spokesperson has reportedly pulled out of her latest Broadway commitment, Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart and not because she has more trans-fats to fight. Mullally has supposedly walked away from the show because she felt that after two weeks of rehearsal, her co-star, comedian and late-night show regular Patton Oswalt, was not experienced enough. She apparently told director and long-time Roundabout and McNally collaborator Joe Mantello her concerns, but Mantello felt Oswalt would come into his own after more time. Mullally was under contract so I wonder if Roundabout will end up taking legal action similar to what Piven went through after he dropped out of the 2008 revival of Speed the Plow claiming to have mercury poisoning." (Papermag)



"Every day, the U.S. military spends $1.75 billion, much of it on big ships, big guns, and big battalions that are not only not needed to win the wars of the present, but are sure to be the wrong approach to waging the wars of the future. In this, the ninth year of the first great conflict between nations and networks, America's armed forces have failed, as militaries so often do, to adapt sufficiently to changed conditions, finding out the hard way that their enemies often remain a step ahead. The U.S. military floundered for years in Iraq, then proved itself unable to grasp the point, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that old-school surges of ground troops do not offer enduring solutions to new-style conflicts with networked adversaries. So it has almost always been." (ForeignPolicy)



"Hollywood tentpole title 'Robin Hood,' by British director Ridley Scott will open the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on May 12th. The film will be presented out of competition. The film is the second consecutive big budget Hollywood opener for Cannes following last year’s Pixar/Disney 3-D animated film, 'Up.' The festival opened with Fernando Meirelles’ 'Blindness' in 2008 and Wong Kar-wai’s 'My Blueberry Nights' opened the venerable event in 2007. Back in ‘06, the event opened with 'The Da Vinci Code.'" (IndieWIRE)



"Jeff Garlin’s visit to HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher last night began with, of all things, a discussion of Jesse James’ alleged cheating on Sandra Bullock. 'This is straight out of Curb Your Enthusiasm,' Garlin chortled regarding certain sordid gossip-reported tales involving a possible neo-Nazi connection. 'The only person I know who could think of this is Larry David!'" (Popwatch)



"It’s not just that Rupert Murdoch doesn’t like Arthur Sulzberger, or doesn’t think he’s a serious newspaper publisher. It’s that he think he’s weak—girly. Sulzberger—'young Arthur'—was a frequent subject during the many hours I talked to Murdoch when I was writing his biography. Sulzberger was always, for Murdoch, a punch line. Murdoch even mimicked him in a way to suggest … well … a certain lack of manhood. It is a joke that is shared by Murdoch and Robert Thomson, the former Australian-rules football player who is now the editor of Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal: Arthur is a sort of poofter. Well, on the front page of the Journal’s Weekend section this morning is a feature on how women from healthier populations prefer feminine-looking men. The piece is illustrated with a grid showing facial features of such feminine-looking men.. There is, in the bottom image of the lower quadrant of a male face, an unmistakable—if you pay attention to such things—dimple and odd right ear. Without a doubt, the Wall Street Journal has selected Arthur Sulzberger as a prime example of its idea of a feminine-looking man. Pure coincidence?" (VanityFair)

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