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Monday, August 23, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Many Muslim governments therefore engage in a two-level diplomacy: first, publicly condemning Israel and granting public support for the Palestinians as if it were a major issue and, second, quietly ignoring the issue and focusing on other matters of greater direct interest, which often actually involves collaborating with the Israelis. This accounts for the massive difference between the public stance of many governments and their private actions, which can range from indifference to hostility toward Palestinian interests. Countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are all prepared to cooperate deeply with the United States but face hostility from their populations over the matter. The public pressure on governments is real, and the United States needs to deal with it. The last thing the United States wants to see is relatively cooperative Muslim governments in the region fall due to anti-Israeli or anti-American public sentiment. The issue of Israel and the United States also creates stickiness in the smooth functioning of relations with these countries. The United States wants to minimize this problem. It should be understood that many Muslim governments would be appalled if the United States broke with Israel and Israel fell. For example, Egypt and Jordan, facing demographic and security issues of their own, are deeply hostile to at least some Palestinian factions. The vast majority of Jordan’s population is actually Palestinian. Egypt struggles with an Islamist movement called the Muslim Brotherhood, which has collaborated with like-minded Islamists among the Palestinians for decades. The countries of the Arabian Peninsula are infinitely more interested in the threat from Iran than in the existence of Israel and, indeed, see Israel as one of the buttresses against Iran." (STRATFOR)



"When 'Mad Men' actress January Jones came to Capitol Hill last year to ask Members of Congress to save the sharks, she created quite the splash. Jones lobbied Members as a celebrity advocate for environmental group Oceana, urging Members to pass legislation to make shark finning illegal in U.S. waters. Although her visit was exciting for fans of her T.V. show, the fact Jones came to the Hill wasn't particularly noteworthy. What made her visit special is that she wound up landing a boyfriend: The actress met a staffer for Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and ended up dating him for several months. Not all celeb visits to Washington end up with such a tabloid ending. But ever since President Barack Obama took office, it seems more famous folk than ever have made an appearance in the nation's capital.(Jones, for example, wasn't even the only celeb advocating for ocean life the day of her visit — Oscar winner Sigourney Weaver also met with Members on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council.) There are a number of reasons for celebs to visit Washington. Like Jones and Weaver, some make appearances to promote noteworthy causes. Others come for big events such as the White House Correspondents Dinner. And of course, some visit to promote themselves." (Congress.org)



"The new Quest is out and this month it contains its annual Quest 400 list. As editor of the magazine, I’m obligated to write an editor’s letter each month. For some reason this is always the most difficult assignment of anything I have to do. That’s partly because I think editor’s letters generally are just a faceless page between the table of contents and the well of the book, and generally unnecessary. The only exception I can think of is Graydon Carter’s letters in Vanity Fair, and that’s because he uses the space to reflect on the times more than the edit in his magazine. That said, this month’s editor’s letter in Quest at first presented a specific problem: how do you write something new about a subject that’s occurred more than a dozen times in the same magazine – namely the List. Solution: I looked in the table of contents and found something almost entirely unrelated. Coincidentally, it fit perfectly with the photograph JH took today from the terrace of the Frick Library .." (NYSocialDiary)



"If you ask loyal members of America’s patrician class to name their favorite month of summer vacation, they invariably will choose September. Right about this time of year, when most of the professional world is focused on returning to business, aristocratic men and women are beginning to get excited about the additional four weeks of leisure that lie just ahead on the horizon. As September rolls in and the seasonal crowds suddenly disappear from fashionable resort towns, the owners of grand estates finally settle in for a period of ultra-exclusive summer bliss. The weather is still perfect, great restaurants never have a long wait, traffic clears from all the scenic roads, and even the wind cooperates by blowing with a measured consistency that makes for perfect sailing. It’s an irresistibly appealing set of circumstances for those lucky enough to take full advantage of the lifestyle. I remember first learning about this special extended vacation maneuver when I was visiting a friend’s sprawling oceanfront farm in Martha’s Vineyard. It was late August, and I was feeling especially self-congratulatory for having garnered an invitation to such a fine home during what I thought was the absolute highpoint of the season. For my hosts to offer me a guestroom, I told myself, I must certainly rank close to the top of their list of distinguished holiday visitors. What I soon realized, however, was that all of the family’s truly honored guests were invited for weekends in September. It was a sobering discovery, and one that came to me by way of the property’s long-time caretaker." (VanityFair)

"In June 1993, Jacques Delors made a special presentation to the leaders of the nations of the European Community, meeting in Copenhagen, on the growing problem of European unemployment. Economists who study the European situation were curious to see what Delors, president of the EC Commission, would say. Most of them share more or less the same diagnosis of the European problem: the taxes and regulations imposed by Europe's elaborate welfare states have made employers reluctant to create new jobs, while the relatively generous level of unemployment benefits has made workers unwilling to accept the kinds of low-wage jobs that help keep unemployment comparatively low in the United States. The monetary difficulties associated with preserving the European Monetary System in the face of the costs of German reunification have reinforced this structural problem. It is a persuasive diagnosis, but a politically explosive one, and everyone wanted to see how Delors would handle it. Would he dare tell European leaders that their efforts to pursue economic justice have produced unemployment as an unintended by-product? Would he admit that the EMS could be sustained only at the cost of a recession and face the implications of that admission for European monetary union? Guess what? Delors didn't confront the problems of either the welfare state or the EMS." (ForeignAffairs)

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