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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"Subtle shifts in the balance of power are difficult to detect yet of foremost importance to peace and stability. And even if detected in a timely fashion, policymakers can be slow to react. But maintaining a balance of power favorable to one's interests is one of a president's key tasks. On that score, our leaders have been negligent for over a decade. Occasionally, presidents detect shifts in the military balance when it is too late and then compound the problem by responding with questionable policy choices. For example, President Eisenhower's policy of massive retaliation was, in part, a response to what seemed to be a loss of the U.S nuclear monopoly and Soviet conventional supremacy in continental Europe. (Eisenhower also wanted to maintain U.S superiority on the cheap -- by cutting Truman's conventional defense build-up). A policy of responding with a nuclear attack to Soviet aggression anywhere did not seem very prudent to many at the time, but at least the president took the perceived shift in the balance of power seriously. Some of President Nixon and Carter's questionable arms control ideas were a response to a shift in the strategic balance in favor of the Soviets. Unfortunately, most of the time, policymakers do not react to an adversary's growing capabilities until met with disaster (e.g. Pearl Harbor, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 9/11). Today the balance of power in Asia is shifting. Since the end of World War II, Washington has kept the peace in Asia through its forward presence of military forces and its uncontested ability to project force into the region. Take an example from just 14 years ago. Realizing how destabilizing were China's missile tests conducted in the waters around Taiwan, President Clinton sent carrier battle groups near the Taiwan Strait. The missile tests stopped, Taiwan held its elections, and conflict was avoided. Today, any president would think twice about doing the same." (ForeignPolicy)



"In the summer of 1985, I was living in Los Angeles when a friend mine, a Viennese woman by the name of Marlene MacDonald sublet her apartment for a couple of months to Kitty Kelley, who was researching a biography she was writing about Frank Sinatra. Although I didn’t personally know Sinatra, I knew several who knew him well and had known him for a long time. Marlene knew that and suggested Kitty call me to interview. Which she did. At that moment, in the world that was Hollywood, Sinatra was king. There were bigger stars, directors and producers, bigger corporate film executives, richer, and currently more famous, but Sinatra possessed an eminence gris, however you want to look at it. He was without peer. This status, which appeared to be lifelong to his public, was something he consciously acquired over the years, after his great comeback in the mid-1950s, cultivating the friendship of the social lions and lionesses of the film colony as it existed then. Despite the fact that Sinatra was well known to be a no-bullshit person, he was a sophisticated man in many ways. He liked the company of the rich, the chic and the shameless wherever he traveled, particularly if they came with the provenance of power, be it industry, celebrity, or political." (NYSocialDiary)



"CNBC Closing Bell host Maria Bartiromo is teaching a class at New York University's Stern School of Business this fall, according to Bess Levin. The class is called 'Global Markets and Normative Frameworks,' and she's co-teaching with Ripplewood Holdings CEO Tim Collins. Ms. Bartiromo grew up in Brooklyn and studied at N.Y.U. herself. In those days she worked as a teller at an Off-Track Betting location. 'It’s probably subconscious,' Ms. Bartiromo told Vanity Fair's John Helpiern in an interview for the this month's issue, 'but the O.T.B.’s urgent pace and dealing with money all day could have planted the seed for wanting to report from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.' Working at O.T.B. probably also prepared Ms. Bartiromo to handle N.Y.U. business students who don't know how to take a B+ on the chin." (Observer)



"At 3 in the afternoon, we slid into a booth at Tony Roma’s restaurant in Lexington. I told (William) Shatner I was exhausted from chasing him all over in the rain. 'I was just trying to torment you,' he said. The waiter appeared. I said I wanted a salad for an appetizer, and Shatner interrupted: 'No! He’ll have the ribs appetizer.' I said I didn’t want the ribs. 'You’re having the ribs,' he said. 'They’re delicious.' Liz said, 'But honey, he doesn’t want the ribs.' Shatner said: 'He’s. Having. The. Ribs.' Then, sharply, he added: 'This is the man’s table. Go sit over there at the woman’s table.' Liz ignored him and began talking about the equestrian games. Shatner shrugged, as if defeated. When the ribs arrived, we all picked at them. 'These are good,' I said. 'I think I’ll have them as a main course, too.' But Shatner said: 'No. Have something else.' I said, 'But I want the ribs!' Shatner said: 'Some. Thing. Else.' I ordered a sandwich. The waiter asked if I wanted coleslaw or fries. Shatner answered, 'He’ll have the fries.' I said I wanted the coleslaw. Shatner said: 'I. Want. The. Fries.' I pointed out that he was having a baked potato. He said: 'All right. I’ll let you have some of my potato.'" (NYTimesmag)



"What fortuitous timing for Natalie Portman's tour de force in Black Swan to be unveiled on the festival circuit! The Oscar buzz for her performance certainly helped Portman get the offer for the female lead in the Alfonso Cuaron-directed 3D thrill ride Gravity. When Deadline described Warner Bros' dilemma last week as it tried to find an actress who could carry nearly the entire $80 million film on her shoulders following Angelina Jolie's decision to pass for a second time, we reported that the studio was focusing on Portman and Sandra Bullock. The movie belongs to the actress and not co-star Robert Downey Jr., who'll spend only about three weeks filming. Portman, who is more age-appropriate for the role as Cuaron and his son Jonas wrote it, is an intriguing choice here and it seemed just a matter of time until she found her breakout vehicle." (Deadline)



"This book should be required reading for everybody who wants a career in rock and roll. How do you make it? You take one good-looking performer with focus and an unyielding desire to make it. You connect said person with a manager willing to bend every corner, lie, cheat and steal in order to see his charge succeed so he can take his twenty percent. And you get your songs written by Desmond Child. Desmond is the unsung hero of the Bon Jovi story. Reading this book, you realize that without him, Bon Jovi is just a band of big-haired wannabes with a minor radio hit featuring the piano playing of a member of the E Street Band. Oh, where to begin. This book was written by Rich Bozzett, Bon Jovi's original tour manager." (LefsetsLetter)



"In the middle of the explosive U.N. report on human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that was leaked to the French press last week, the reader finds a map of that vast country with red arrows branching from east to west. The arrows trace the twisting path taken by tens of thousands of starving Hutu refugees across the immense, trackless jungle as they fled before Rwandan troops and their local surrogates, who kept catching up to them and killing as many as possible. The idea of a relentless campaign of murder carried out by Rwanda's Tutsi government, which came to power in the aftermath of the 1994 Hutu-led genocide, is both sickening and shocking. But the report, whose formal publication Rwanda has succeeded in postponing until Oct. 1, is unequivocal: 'The massacres in Mbandaka and Wendji, committed on 13 May 1997 in Équateur Province, over 2,000 kilometres west of Rwanda, were the final stage in the hunt for Hutu refugees that had begun in eastern Zaire, in North and South Kivu, in October 1996.' 'Hunt' is a terrible word when applied to humans. Whether or not that seven-month killing spree constitutes genocide will, as the authors note, be a matter for competent courts to decide -- though they present a plausible case that it does. Even if some future tribunal concludes that the dreadful acts amount "only" to crimes against humanity, this meticulous document offers a powerful rebuke both to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who has adroitly and cynically used his country's suffering as a shield behind which to advance its regional interests, and to his backers in Washington and London, who have unquestioningly accepted the country's unique victim status." (ForeignPolicy)



"ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer has the first television interview with author and journalist Bob Woodward, who is promoting his upcoming book Obama's Wars. The book is due to be released September 27, and Sawyer's interview will air that day. Excerpts will also run on Good Morning America and Nightline. Woodward, of course, is one-half of the team that brought down President Richard Nixon during Watergate. His previous book, The War Within, focused on the Bush Administration's internal dialogue and debate about the Iraq war." (TVNewser)

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