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Monday, February 07, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"How on earth do we get saddled with such creepy clients as Karzai and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, over and over again? In large part, it's a vestige of the Cold War, when all the world was a potential theater in the struggle against communism. Afghanistan was certainly one; the Soviet departure created a vacuum, and the Taliban rushed in. The Kissingerian effort to transfer Egypt from the Soviet account to the American side in the 1970s, later perfected by Jimmy Carter, was certainly another. Our adventures in the world have been accompanied by a never-ending tug-of-war between U.S. foreign policy realists and idealists. Through much of the 20th century, the idealists tended to be liberals in the spirit of Woodrow Wilson, who wanted World War I to make the world 'safe for democracy.' Since Vietnam, however, liberals have been more pessimistic. They winced when Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an 'evil empire,' fearing a nuclear confrontation. They were infuriated by the naiveté and hubris of George W. Bush's 'Freedom Agenda,' which was promoted as a rationale for the invasion of Iraq after that country's weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a mirage. They are increasingly skeptical about the war in Afghanistan and appalled by the prospect of a pre-emptive war with Iran. Nowadays, the foreign policy idealists tend to be neoconservatives — and as Egypt erupted, they were crowing. 'Dictatorships are never truly stable,' Elliott Abrams, the former Reagan and Bush national-security expert, wrote in the Washington Post. "Regimes that make moderate politics impossible make extremism far more likely.' These were noble sentiments, celebrating Bush the Younger's agenda." (Joe Klein)



"The deal is also reminiscent of another Sunday night surprise from eleven years ago, when AOL announced it was buying Time Warner. In retrospect, said entrepreneur Seth Goldstein, that deal 'announced that new media was going to be bigger than old media. It also marked the final inflation of a bubble that popped painfully only a few months down the road.' Indeed, AOL, a growth company back in 2000, took nine years to untangle itself from that unfortunate merger. But the bubble déjà vu explains why Arianna is laughing all the way to the bank. Last December, Bloomberg valued her site at $300 million to $415 million, but that's no guarantee that it will be worth that much next year." (NYMag)



"Meanwhile, elsewhere, the Telegraph in London has printed a highly fascinating, funny, some people think bitchy obit of Princess Ghislaine de Polignac, who has just died at age 93. A long life and a lot of living, she had and did. The princess, as you will read, had many friends in New York and lived in adult life from the 1930s into the 21st century, and at the center of post-War international society right up through the Jet Set and the Nouvelle Society. This obituary, which was published this morning in the Daily Telegraph in London, is already all over the internet on a number of blogs. When you read it, you will understand why. And if you read Balzac or Zola or any number of French novelists of the 19th and early 20th century, you will understand it even better. This is a brilliant piece. It both savors and boldly articulates the society in its natural state of atrophy. The Telegraph doesn’t give a by-line to these often brilliant pieces. No doubt the main credit goes to its perspicacious editor who knows. I haven’t had the chance to ask him but I suspect this particular piece was written by our friend Hugo Vickers who has written for the NYSD. There are fingerprints here and there, as well as that clipped but juicy British wit which Hugo conveys (and writes about) so well.' (NYSocialDiary)


"Maybe it was the setting, an afternoon chat in the White House on Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe it was the fact that Barack Obama’s team had just helped free two injured Fox News correspondents from Egypt. But Bill O’Reilly didn’t put any points on the board. That’s not necessarily a criticism. For O’Reilly to have subjected the president to an enhanced interrogation would have struck precisely the wrong note. But strangely for the self-assured anchor, he raced through his questions as if the fourth quarter was running down and he was two touchdowns behind. Obama, relaxed and tieless, danced out of danger whenever O’Reilly tried to charge past the line of scrimmage. In the closing seconds, in fact, the Fox News host made a bid for presidential approval: 'I hope you think I’m fair to you.'" (TheDailyBeast)


"Last night, the vino was flowing as the the vanguard of fashion gathered for the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation soiree at the Bowery Hotel to celebrate a 'Decade of Style.' A posse of past recipients, including Erin Fetherston and Prabal Gurung, passed the torch to the seven winners of the 2011 award -- M. Patmos, Mandy Coon, The Lake & Stars, Bibhu Mohaptra, Pamela Love, Native Son and Study NY. A couple of the Fashion Foundation's heavyweight coterie of judges popped by, like Sally Singer, Kim Hastreiter and Ruth Finley, as Robert Verdi ran the show. Partygoers nursing Pinot Grigio wove through the mannequins donning fabulous frocks from past winners peppered the spacious, couch-lined space. 'I'm trying to think who I don't have a crush on,' Julie Gilhart said while mulling her favorite Fashion Foundation winner." (Fashionweekdaily)


"Arianna Huffington’s best-selling biographies of Maria Callas (1981) and Pablo Picasso (1988) both open with anecdotes intended to illuminate an essential truth about the subject’s fate. Were she to write her own life, Huffington said not long ago, she would begin in the spring of 1969. Huffington—then Stassinopoulos—and her mother, Elli, had moved from Athens to London, where they lived in a rented flat in Manchester Square, so that Arianna could take the entrance exams for Cambridge. (She had resolved to attend the university a couple of years earlier, after seeing a picture of it in a magazine. 'It was a perfect example of what we now call visualization,' she later wrote.) Finally, one afternoon, a telegram arrived: 'AWARDED. GIRTON. EXHIBITION.' Neither Arianna nor her mother understood the term 'exhibition,' so they called Arianna’s tutor, who explained that she had won a partial scholarship to Girton College. Huffington entered Cambridge that fall. She lived in a single room, with a heater she fed with shillings. Her Greek-inflected English was better suited to the classroom than to the class prejudices of her fellow-students. 'One day, I said something in a group like horseback riding,' she said recently, 'and I was literally laughed at, like, ‘What other kind of riding is there? Donkey riding?’" (NewYorker)

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