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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The colorful Chinese expression 'killing a chicken to scare the monkeys,' which means to warn a large group by harshly punishing one, has been Chinese government policy in recent years, especially in the case of Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to more than a decade in prison last December for his human-rights advocacy. On Friday, Beijing’s 'killing chickens' strategy failed when Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government has tried to block word of the award from state-run media and the Web, but look for the news to quickly jump the 'great firewall' on China’s Internet and reach many of the nearly 400 million Chinese online." (TheDailyBeast)


"With Barack Obama's administration sinking, there has been - and likely will continue to be - a lot of chatter on whether or not Hillary Clinton (above) will challenge the current President in 2012. While it's highly unlikely she'd divide the Democratic Party by pursuing the White House, she may find herself there via another route. This week the rumor mill was abuzz again after respected journalist Bob Woodward alleged that the idea of a Biden-Clinton swap is 'on the table.' He would take the secretary of state job, while she would take second billing on Obama's return ticket to the White House. While a switcheroo might not be in the cards, an Obama-Clinton is nevertheless a real possibility for Vice President. With Democrats in duress and the President's popularity plummeting, especially with white voters, Obama might have no choice but to add her to the ticket if he has any hopes for a second term. Because admitting to the above scenario would throw the current administration, and the Democratic Party, into chaos, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs naturally shot down chatter Obama might dump Joe Biden and run for re-election with Hillary Clinton as his running mate. But then he added, enigmatically: 'It's not anything that's being discussed.' It's something Obama's inner circle has probably thought about." (Andrea Tantaros)


"HBO has Al Pacino moving from Jack Kevorkian to playing Phil Spector in a film directed by David Mamet. I can tell you that Cameron Crowe tried for years to make a studio feature film about Mr. Wall Of Sound with Tom Cruise playing the gun-toting volatile record producer. But eventually they dropped it because at the time they felt there wasn't a third act. By the time it arrived, there was no way Crowe and Cruise would have been able to make an authorized film..." (Deadline)


"It was at the officers club in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi, a short drive from the capital of Islamabad. The one-star general, holding a glass of mango juice, asked for permission to speak to the three-star corps commander. They spoke in English, as Pakistani generals are prone to do when speaking among themselves. 'Sir,' began the one-star, 'I can't help but conclude that the 'major non-NATO ally' status conferred on Pakistan during [Pervez] Musharraf's presidency has become a bit of a joke, in very poor taste. We've lost three soldiers to U.S. helicopter fire in the tribal areas, and we have retaliated by closing down the NATO supply line into Afghanistan at the Torkham border post. Taliban insurgents then torched the NATO tanker trucks we had blocked. It's an open secret among our troops that our military relations with America are now governed by suspicion and hostility. The military assistance we are getting from Washington is the butt of jokes among junior officers, and the rank and file say we've been blinded by a phony friendship. Why would the Americans give us old Russian helicopters instead of their Black Hawk, which we read in their defense journals they have by the hundreds in their National Guard units?' The three-star, jaw muscles twitching, said impatiently, 'Come to the point, Ahmad.'" (Arnaud de Borchgrave)


"Leave it to a book like Stickers: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art (Rizzoli) to throw a real high-low evening of fun in honor of its release. Such was the vibe at the book's release party last night held at the Standard Hotel's tony lounge Le Bain, which features panoramic views of the city, as well as small indoor pool that many a scantily clad young model or two has splashed around in since the club opened a few months ago. Last night, however, it was occupied by a young bearded gentleman who later milled around the room in nothing but a towel chatting with similarly scruffy friends. Few seemed to notice, but maybe that's because PAPERMAG contributor Chinon Williams was decked out in an outfit that consisted of no more than a few strategically placed stickers, winning most of the evening's attention. Stickers authors  DB Burkeman and Monica LoCascio mingled, as did  contributor Carlo McCormick, Anthony Haden-Guest, Rizzoli's Anthony Petrillose, in a crowd that included many a skateboard-toting, baseball cap-wearing young gentleman. (Not that that's ever a bad thing)" (Papermag)


"Jim Jones was preparing to leave his job as national security advisor in early 2011, according to Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars. Ironically, controversy erupting from that very same book may have contributed to Jones speeding up that schedule by several months; President Obama will announce his departure today, and that his replacement will be his deputy, Tom Donilon. Immediate reaction within the administration to Jones's resignation was consistent with the long-held view that Jones was never able to be effective as national security advisor because he was outside of Obama's inner circle and was intellectually and sometimes physically cut out of major foreign policy discussions. 'Jones always carried an emeritus air about him and appeared removed and distant from the day-to-day operations,' one administration official told The Cable. 'In six months, you will be hard pressed to find anyone in the administration who notices that Jones is no longer there.' In fact, Jones's distance from key White House staff was reported as early as May 2009. But the Woodward book, which included several salacious quotes that allegedly came from Jones, vividly described his tenure as one that was rocky from the start and only continued to deteriorate as he became more and more frustrated with all of the White House staff he was supposed to be working with. Jones apparently didn't get along with most of the White House political advisors, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, senior advisor David Axelrod, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, and NSC staffers Denis McDonough and Mark Lippert." (ForeignPolicy)


"General Jim Jones will go down in history as the least successful national security advisor since Admiral John Poindexter was forced out of office during the Reagan administration. This fact alone illuminates just one of the many miscalculations that were made in hiring Jones. He was a military man went the conventional wisdom; military men do well in such jobs. After all, the most successful national security advisor in history was Gen. Brent Scowcroft. And Scowcroft was clearly the model President Barack Obama had in mind when he selected Jones. The problem was -- as Poindexter demonstrated -- that military experience is no guarantee of success in the job. Poindexter's predecessor Robert MacFarlane also had an extensive military background and he was another disaster. (And who was the free-lancing go-to guy in the Reagan NSC? Col. Oliver North. 'Nuff said.)  But Jones was no Scowcroft in so many ways. Scowcroft came into office with a deep, personal relationship with the president. Jones and Obama, aloofness squared, never got there." (Rothkopf)


"Forbes magazine has named Lady Gaga the seventh most powerful women on the planet, topping House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor. This is an outrage! Gaga should have been higher! Maybe even at number one, above their actual choice, Michelle Obama.  After all, Michelle married into her power, whereas Gaga earned it the hard way, through blood, sweat, and sequins." (Musto)


"If the newest Census Bureau estimates stay close to form, President Barack Obama’s reelection roadmap could look considerably different than the one that took him to the White House in 2008. Back then, he won 68 percent of the electoral vote — 365 electoral votes in all — powered by wins in eight of the nation’s 10 most populous states. But population growth and shifts of residents between states will impact the way electoral votes are reapportioned in advance of the 2012 elections, and it appears more votes are moving toward states that he lost and away from the ones he won the first time around. Between reapportionment and the erosion of support in certain states and regions where he had success two years ago, the 2012 path to victory could become more complicated. 'It's certainly hard to argue that the shift ... is anything but [a problem] for Obama,' said Tom Bonier of the liberal National Committee for an Effective Congress, which follows population trends and voting data closely. Nothing will be official, of course, until after December when the U.S. Census Bureau completes its tallies. That population data will determine how House seats are parceled out among the states as well as the allocation of electoral votes (the formula is a state’s total number of House seats, plus two)." (Politico)


"WHEN a visit to the United Nations was canceled abruptly last month, the European Union’s new president, Herman Van Rompuy, headed instead for somewhere he says he feels really at home: Affligem Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the countryside here, founded in 1062. Mr. Van Rompuy spent a day in a simple room, attending services and eating in a cavernous hall where monks listen to readings from a library of 70,000 books. And he also likes the beer, one of Belgium’s most famous, now brewed under license from the monks. At 62, Mr. Van Rompuy (pronounced ROM-poi) is suddenly a prominent man, the head of the council of 27 government leaders who make up the real spine of the European Union. It is a task requiring subtlety, manipulation and the ability to cajole everyone from big countries and small — with combustible personalities like President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and more stolid sorts like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, none of them with small egos — to agree on agendas and policies.  He got good marks for handling the leaders during Europe’s existential crisis this year over Greek debt and the crash of the euro. 'If the euro zone had fallen apart,' he said in a long interview in his office here, 'it would have been the end of the European Union.'" (The Saturday Profile)


"My meeting with Elle Macpherson begins with me showing her my knickers, and ends with Elle showing me hers. I have come to interview the supermodel, ­lingerie tycoon and television personality, bearing my favourite pair of pants as an exhibit. As I hand them to her I notice that the beige polka dots have fared less well in my washing machine than the label, which clearly says: Elle Macpherson Intimates ... That is to jump ahead. Fifteen minutes earlier I was sitting in a corridor in the basement of Purple PR on Savile Row. On the stroke of 10.30, down the stairs comes first a pair of Perspex heels, then legs clad in blood-red, skin-tight leather, then a demure dark jumper with three gold buttons on the ­shoulder and, finally, a face bearing no trace of make-up, half-obscured by a pair of sunglasses and topped with hair scrunched into a bunch. 'Hello gorgeous! Look at you!' says Elle, gazing straight past me at the PR girl standing behind me. 'No, look at you,' the girl replies. And I do look at Elle. It is hard to do anything else. She is like a thoroughbred racehorse. She must be 6ft 3in, muscular, beautiful and perhaps a little on edge." (FT)

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