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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"There are wars in pursuit of interest. In these wars, nations pursue economic or strategic ends to protect the nation or expand its power. There are also wars of ideology, designed to spread some idea of 'the good,' whether this good is religious or secular. The two obviously can be intertwined, such that a war designed to spread an ideology also strengthens the interests of the nation spreading the ideology. Since World War II, a new class of war has emerged that we might call humanitarian wars — wars in which the combatants claim to be fighting neither for their national interest nor to impose any ideology, but rather to prevent inordinate human suffering. In Kosovo and now in Libya, this has been defined as stopping a government from committing mass murder." (STRATFOR)


"As I predicted when he was made Chairman of President Obama's Economic Advisory Board, General Electric Chairman and Cheif Executive Officer Jeff Immelt is becoming an embarrassment for the Obama administration because he's finding it hard to be a real American. First the Wall Street Journal reported on March 18 that he took a $4 million cash bonus for 2010 when GE workers were scrimping. Then last week the New York Times reported that despite a profit of $15 billion, GE paid no U.S. income taxes. It's not so much that GE paid no income tax to Uncle Sam. I mean, the rest of us all try very hard to take all the deductions and deferments the rules will allow us. So, in that respect, GE was acting just like virtually all its other fellow U.S. citizens. Rather, it's that GE has a privilege and a power that 99.9 percent of U.S. citizens don't have with regard to taxes. It spends hundreds of millions of dollars on political donations and lobbying efforts aimed at rewriting and reinterpreting the tax laws to favor special GE interests. The usual argument used to justify this behavior is that the CEO of a company like GE has a fiduciary responsibility to his/her shareholders and that their mission is not to produce for the United States, but to produce for their shareholders. That might be a convincing argument if GE didn't take advantage of Uncle Sam's largess and if it treated all the other countries in which it operates in the same way it treats the United States. But, of course, it does take advantage of Uncle Sam's largess to the maximum possible extent and it does not treat all other countries as it treats the United States. GE arguably wouldn't be alive today had its vast financial arm, GE Credit, not been bailed out along with many of the nation's other major banks by Washington during the recent financial crisis. Nor does GE hesitate to take advantage of the U.S. Export/Import Bank's favorable financing terms for its exports." (ForeignPolicy)


"Mutassim Gaddafi used to party with Uday Hussein in Benghazi with Russian hookers and was known for his drug intake. 'Could the Allies in the closing days of World War II make a deal with Hitler’s son - if he had one?' Now he pretends to have come up with a plan to stop the fighting in alliance with his brother Saif. I know the latter and consider myself soiled for life because I once shook hands with him. (I thought he was a drug dealer because he looked so much like one.) ... As I said, the seven brothers and their sister have more blood on their hands than the Saddam brothers and then some." (Taki Theodocrapoulos)


"Michael’s was jammed and noisy. Jeff Zucker and Ronald Lauder were lunching with Aryeh Bourkoff, the UBS investment banker. A Swiss banker, a world class art collector, a former network head man. What was that conversation? Then Mr. Lauder’s brother, Leonard, was two tables beyond lunching with Elihu Rose, the man who is transforming the Park Avenue Armory into a world class cultural center. Next door was Jean Doumanian and Jackie Safra. In between, Somers Farkas was hosting a lunch for Karen LeFrak, which included Jamee Gregory, Pamela Gross (who’s now working for CNN and Piers), Dana Hammond and Kathy Hilton, who is in town because of something to do with Paris’ new show. A couple of tables over, producer/casting director Bonnie Timmerman was lunching with movie director Max Winkler, all-grown-up son of 'The Fonz.' If you don’t know whom I’m referring to, it’s just retro-culture. Euan Rellie was lunching with John Gapper who is one of my favorite writers on the FT. He did an FT Lunch Interview with Sean Parker about a month ago that was a perfect celebrity interview ...those international verygoodfriends, Daphne Guinness and Bernard-Henri Levy aka BHL. Mrs. Guinness is one of the few women around who knows how to make an entrance. And boy, does she. She often wears black (or white), has a waist the size of Scarlett O’Hara’s, always in platforms that are just this side of a ballerina’s toe shoes and add about ten inches to her height. And she’s a beauty." (NYSocialDiary)


"John Richardson: Although he was quite short, he had amazing charisma. Above all, he had what Spaniards call the mirada fuerte, the strong gaze, which, as Picasso said, enables a man to have a girl with his eyes. Picasso had fantastic eyes: enormous eyes that could indicate interest, rage, love, desire, impatience—whatever. I used to watch Picasso working a room. At dinner in the studio, he would get each person—male or female, old or young, friend or acquaintance—with those hypnotic eyes.  Vanity Fair: When you say he would 'get' someone, what does that mean? John Richardson: He was a bit of a vampire. You’d have a great time with him—you’d go to the beach or eat waffles on the promenade at Cannes—but at the end of the day you’d wonder why you felt utterly, utterly exhausted! What Picasso did was to take each person’s energy and love for him and fascination with him, and then he’d go off and work all night on the energy of his guests and his second wife, Jacqueline." (VanityFair)

"Which Hollywood power duo should keep iPhones out of the bedroom when they're swinging? The fit couple, who already have a reputation for inviting others into their sex life, were recently the subject of a camera-phone photo shoot that's being passed around at swanky New York dinner parties. Hopefully for them their compromising pictures aren't coming soon to a computer near you . . . WHICH singer's team is desperately trying to cover up the fact that a recent nose job has totally altered the voice?" (PageSix)


"A series of impending departures is setting off a string of title changes in the defense and intelligence sector. Current CIA director Leon Panetta is seen as the most likely candidate to replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates when he steps down later this year. Now NPR reports General David Petraeus is being 'seriously considered' for Panetta's role as CIA director when Petraeus steps down as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan this fall. Government officials say Petraeus is likely to take the job if offered, perhaps because there are few high-profile military jobs left for him to consider. Petraeus supporters, who describe him as 'the best general of his generation,' were surprised he wasn't in the running for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Instead, that's expected to go to the Pentagon's current No. 2, Marine General James 'Hoss' Cartwright, when Admiral Mike Mullen leaves in September. In Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward called Cartwright the president's 'favorite general.' Petraeus's detractors aren't surprised he was passed up considering 'King David' has a reputation among peers for being overly political and ambitious. In fact, it's not guaranteed that Petraeus, once considered a potential 2012 Republican nominee, will get any new job in the administration." (NYMag)

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