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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"If it were an easy decision, someone who wasn’t the president would have made it by now. But even by the standards of a tough call, President Obama’s military intervention in Libya is complicated by an unusually large number of cross-pressures. Many are international; some are domestic; some are institutional; others come from the internal script he’s written for his presidency. Two days after the airstrikes began, the president is being pulled in multiple different directions -- including the gravity of the course he’s laid out already. We’ll call them the 'Status Quo' option, the 'Withdraw/Admit Mistake option,' and the 'Third Way option.'" (Mark Ambinder)


"Forces from the United States and some European countries have intervened in Libya. Under U.N. authorization, they have imposed a no-fly zone in Libya, meaning they will shoot down any Libyan aircraft that attempts to fly within Libya. In addition, they have conducted attacks against aircraft on the ground, airfields, air defenses and the command, control and communication systems of the Libyan government, and French and U.S. aircraft have struck against Libyan armor and ground forces. There also are reports of European and Egyptian special operations forces deploying in eastern Libya, where the opposition to the government is centered, particularly around the city of Benghazi. In effect, the intervention of this alliance has been against the government of Moammar Gadhafi, and by extension, in favor of his opponents in the east. The alliance’s full intention is not clear, nor is it clear that the allies are of one mind. The U.N. Security Council resolution clearly authorizes the imposition of a no-fly zone. By extension, this logically authorizes strikes against airfields and related targets. Very broadly, it also defines the mission of the intervention as protecting civilian lives. As such, it does not specifically prohibit the presence of ground forces, though it does clearly state that no 'foreign occupation force' shall be permitted on Libyan soil. It can be assumed they intended that forces could intervene in Libya but could not remain in Libya after the intervention. What this means in practice is less than clear. There is no question that the intervention is designed to protect Gadhafi’s enemies from his forces. Gadhafi had threatened to attack 'without mercy' and had mounted a sustained eastward assault that the rebels proved incapable of slowing. Before the intervention, the vanguard of his forces was on the doorstep of Benghazi. The protection of the eastern rebels from Gadhafi’s vengeance coupled with attacks on facilities under Gadhafi’s control logically leads to the conclusion that the alliance wants regime change, that it wants to replace the Gadhafi government with one led by the rebels." (STRATFOR)

"Last Wednesday I spoke at an event at Hofstra University, on the subject of 'Barack Obama's Foreign Policy.' The other panelists were former DNC chair and 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean and longtime Republican campaign guru Ed Rollins. The organizers at Hofstra were efficient and friendly, the audience asked good questions, and I thought both Dean and Rollins were gracious and insightful in their comments. All in all, it was a very successful session. During the Q & A, I talked about the narrowness of foreign policy debate in Washington and the close political kinship between the liberal interventionists of the Democratic Party and the neoconservatives that dominate the GOP. At one point, I said that 'liberal inteventionists are just ‘kinder, gentler' neocons, and neocons are just liberal interventionsts on steroids.' Dean challenged me rather forcefully on this point, declaring that there was simply no similarity whatsoever between a smart and sensible person like U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and a 'crazy guy' like Paul Wolfowitz. (I didn't write down Dean's exact words, but I am certain that he portrayed Wolfowitz in more-or-less those terms). I responded by listing all the similarites between the two schools of thought, and the discussion went on from there. I mention this anecdote because I wonder what Dean would say now." (ForeignPolicy


"It’s Asia Week New York, (March 18th through March 26th). Last night, the Asia Society kicked off the great Arts and Cultural event with a festive (3rd annual) gala benefit, Celebration of Asia Week New York – a dinner dance at 583 Park Avenue, with Valerie Romanoff’s Starlight Orchestra providing the music to make you dance. The evening’s Chairs were Stephanie and John Foster and Lulu and Anthony Wang. The Fosters and the Wangs were consummate hosts. The magnificent Delano and Aldrich sanctuary with its all white interior and its magnificent, massive crystal chandelier hanging from its skylight rotunda, was bathed in reds and pinks. Honorary Chairs were the beautiful star of the Metropolitan Opera, Renée Fleming and the great fashion designer Naeem Khan." (NYSocialDiary)


"For 'Mad Men' fans, there's good news and bad news.The good news is, by multiple accounts, AMC, Lionsgate TV and series creator Matt Weiner are close to a deal that would carry the show through its sixth season. The bad news is, the show is not likely to make its usual mid-summer premiere berth for its upcoming fifth season because production is likely to start as much as six weeks later than it has in recent years. Negotiations among the key players have been on and off for months. With Weiner's deal to serve as exec producer and showrunner up at the end of last season, Lionsgate sought to make a new deal with AMC that would take the show through season six so it could then make a two-year pact with Weiner. Lionsgate's existing deal with AMC extends through season five." (Variety)


"After lavishing Kate Winslet with praise and noting how adorably 'edible' his tiniest cast member is, director Todd Haynes got emotional. 'This is a movie... about a mother,' Haynes said while introducing his new miniseries, Mildred Pierce (to debut on HBO March 27) at the Ziegfeld Theatre, 'and tonight isn't quite the same for me because my mom can't be here tonight.' Haynes' mother died unexpectedly during the production of the miniseries, which is based on the mother of all mother-daughter tales-the 1941 novel of the same title, featuring a pathetically self-sacrificing mother (Ms. Winslet) and her monstrously conceited bad-seed daughter, Veda (Evan Rachel Wood). Winslet elected herself a sort of hen-mother throughout the shoot-but no drama for her! 'You all want to enjoy your work and do the best job that you can and when the leading actor is being effervescent or positive I think it makes a big difference to the atmosphere.' Especially when the cast must endure Mildred's specialty: chicken and waffles. Ms. Wood was a fan: 'Hell, yeah! Roscoe's, absolutely!'" (Observer)

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