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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The idea that Congress would openly side with a foreign leader against the president of the United States seems too far-fetched to believe. Remarkably, however, something not dissimilar happened in Washington Tuesday, May 24, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint meeting of Congress (a speech interrupted more than 25 times by a rapturous standing ovation). While these types of congressional addresses are rare, this particular event is even a bit more unusual: The speech's intention -- with the full assistance and backing of the Republican leadership in Congress and implicit support of Democrats -- was to give Netanyahu a public forum to offer a rebuttal to President Barack Obama's recent proposals for moving forward with the Arab-Israeli peace process. As the New York Times reported last week, the invitation was initially requested by Netanyahu of the GOP leadership before the president's Middle East speech plans had even been formalized: It was 'widely interpreted as an attempt to get out in front of Mr. Obama, by presenting an Israeli peace proposal that, while short of what the Palestinians want, would box in the president.' In turn, Obama's May 19 speech was scheduled purposely so that the president could get out ahead of Bibi's remarks. It's one thing for Republicans to oppose the president's position on Arab-Israeli peace. In the hours after Obama's Middle East speech, Republican presidential contenders like Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney did just that, arguing that the president had proverbially thrown Israel 'under the bus.' (Never mind that Obama simply reiterated long-standing U.S. policy toward the Arab-Israeli peace process.) They were joined -- in a bipartisan manner -- by prominent Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in offering pushback on the president's words. It is certainly appropriate for members of Congress to disagree with the president's foreign-policy agenda. But it's something else altogether to be appearing to work in concert with the leader of another country in trying to put the president on the defensive -- and seeking to score a partisan political advantage in the process. By openly siding with Netanyahu against Obama and making Arab-Israeli peace a partisan issue, Republicans in Congress are at serious risk of crossing a dangerous line and in the process undermining U.S. interests in the Middle East." (ForeignPolicy)


"The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case is headed toward a dismally predictable shipwreck, and I wonder what anyone is planning to do about this. The punctilious fair-mindedness of the trial may well turn out to be obvious to everyone who grants the possibility of such thing. The world nonetheless contains entire populations whose assumptions about American justice, despite years of Law & Order, tend to exclude the possibility, and we ought to ask ourselves how those people, the skeptics, are likely to respond to the coming series of events. Those people, the skeptics, are going to listen to Strauss-Kahn parry his prosecutors, and they are going to discover that Strauss-Kahn is eloquent. They will discover that his lawyers command abilities of their own, which will turn out to be no less devastating to the prosecution than were, say, O.J. Simpson’s lawyers. The skeptical populations will cock an ear to Strauss-Kahn’s champions in the French press. The champions will turn out to be some of the most talented writers alive. The talented writers will argue that American justice is brutal and peremptory (and, to be sure, this argument has already influenced the trial, and the French journalist who has accused Strauss-Kahn of attacking her in 2002 has announced, through her lawyer, that she will not testify in the New York trial because 'the presumption of innocence does not exist in the United States'). The writers will argue that American ideas about sex are too primitive to be taken seriously (and, to be sure, the American press is already full of long-winded parallels between actual violence, or what is said to be, at the Sofitel Hotel, and the former governor of California’s history of deceiving his wife). The skeptical populations will take note of the New York tabloids and their headlines, which may well be intended semi-humorously by the editors; but one man’s witticism is another man’s exercise in moronic xenophobia." (TNR)


 Several reporters have called me about Huguette Clark, the 104-year-old heiress who died at Mount Sinai Medical Center where she had lived 23 years. That seems odd that she would live in a hospital, but she was already 81 and ailing and without family, and all the money in the world to have what she wanted. Some people love hospitals. They probably think it’s going to keep them alive. Or so it would seem ... She was reclusive, we know. At least the staff and certain antique dealers knew something about her personality and therefore had a window into the woman.The only evidence that remains of her long and singular existence is her real estate and her family history. And even that’s cloudy. This was a family that never developed beyond the first generations. Huguette’s father, the Senator, and his first wife had five children, three of whom lived into the 1930s, all half-siblings of Huguette, who was the child of the second wife the senator acquired as a “ward” when she was a teenager, after his first wife died. They married when she was 23 and he was 62 in 1901. They had two daughters, Louise, who was born five years before Huguette, and who died at 17 of meningitis. Of the Senator’s seven children, four outlived him but by the end of the 1930s, Huguette was the only surviving child. The Clarks were never considered society in New York in the society that existed then. They certainly had the money but perhaps not the style for it." (NYSocialDiary)



"Jack McCain and media personality Julia Allison have called it quits. The 25-year-old son of former presidential candidate John McCain was set up with Allison, 30, by his older sister, Meghan, in November. They moved in together in early March but broke up this month after Jack, a military man like his father, learned he would be stationed in Guam for three years starting in September. 'This is an amicable heartbreak,' Allison said in her blog, NonSociety. 'As silly as it feels to write that out. We will stay friends, absolutely.' She declined to comment to Page Six." (PageSix)


"From its opening in April 1963 to its sudden (and perhaps temporary) shuttering a near half-century later on May 26, 2011, Elaine’s was a refuge for writers. The late Elaine Kaufman’s regulars were her family, and what a family they were—from Gay Talese, Norman Mailer, and George Plimpton to Woody Allen, Michael Caine, and the most legendary Saturday Night Live players. As A. E. Hotchner, a longtime patron, wrote in the July 2002 issue of Vanity Fair, Elaine’s 'has a menu that makes food critics blanch, d├ęcor that will never get into Architectural Digest, prices that rival those of the Four Seasons, waiters as frantic as traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and an autocratic reservation system based on whimsy and privilege.' And yet, it endured—the literary world’s most beloved scarlet saloon." (VanityFair)


"Speaking of slobs, Elaine’s, the legendary dive where writers and artists used to meet with cops and firemen, closed this week. After Elaine Kauffman died six months ago, the place filled up with slobs who thought being loud and obnoxious made one an artist or a writer. Elaine used to throw these types out. The grotesque woman to whom she bequeathed the place did not know the difference. I’m glad the place closed. Too many fond memories of drunken all-nighters. That was the heyday of Clay Felker, Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, George Plimpton—even the poor little Greek boy. I used to hold editorial meetings for Taki’s Top Drawer there every Sunday night. Like everywhere, New York has changed. People now speak of the city the way Londoners try to hide London’s brittleness." (Taki Theodoracopoulos)


"Les Chandelles is an upscale Paris swingers club—club privat or club exchangiste in the local parlance—that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is alleged to have frequented, according to local gossip and British tabloid reports. You would never find Les Chandelles if you didn’t know what you were looking for. It’s located in an unprepossessing building at 1 Rue Therese, inhabiting a boring, rather flat quartier of the First Arrondissement with obscure boutiques and undistinguished Japanese restaurants, near the Bourse, the Paris stock market, and the Palais-Royal, the former home of Cardinal Richelieu. Typically, you have to go to Les Chandelles after midnight, and you first need to get past the unsmiling doorman, like Cerberus at the gates of the underworld, who allegedly turns away as many people as he lets in. Singles are not allowed, except during special daylight hours: lunchtime specials, so to speak. But it’s not a pickup joint. If you and your partner are lucky enough to find an inviting hand on one of your arms, then you join in the fun. But no one forces you to do anything. You can stand and watch all night, or just sit at the bar and soak up the pheromones, watching the beautiful, rather spoilt-looking clientele at play. Or you can go in the back, with your partner, and join in. 'It’s not threesomes,' a French friend of mine explained. 'It’s x-somes. Meaning as many as you want.'" (Vanity Fair)


"Throughout Howard Stern's career, his radio contract often prevented him from saying anything nasty about his frequent boss Mel Karmazin. But the shock jock also had little to complain about: Karmazin helped make Stern a very, very rich man at Infinity Broadcasting, then CBS, then Viacom. After Karmazin became CEO of Sirius, he inherited Stern's original satellite radio deal. Then Sirius merged with arch-rival XM, and last December Stern opted to re-up. Once again, Howard publicly praised Mel, now CEO of Sirius XM. But behind the scenes relations between Howard and Mel were becoming seriously strained. And only 3 months after entering into that new 5-year pact, Stern and his longtime agent Don Buchwald sued Sirius XM, claiming that the company had failed to pay him performance-based stock awards which he's owed because he exceeded the subscriber targets set in his original agreement with Sirius. But even then, Howard refused to discuss the lawsuit at length or say anything negative about Mel or even Sirius XM. But that was then, and this is now. Today, Karmazin confirmed at the Sirius XM shareholder’s meeting that the company will file a motion for summary judgment in the Stern lawsuit yet also warned that judges rarely dismiss a case at this stage. But the real surprise, several of my sources with knowledge of the dispute tell me, is that Mel is the driving force behind Sirius XM’s position that Howard is owed no additional compensation. Even more of a shocker, they claim Karmazin was never happy with the original Stern/Sirius- $80 million a year in cash and $20 million in stock to program two channels starting in 2006 as well as bounties if Sirius’ subscriptions passed certain milestones -- negotiated before Mel arrived. And, here's the real stunner from my sources: allegations that Mel didn't take care of Howard financially as well as the world believes: 'Mel Karmazin does a much better job of taking care of Mel Karmazin than most other Sirius shareholders.' accuses one of my sources." (Deadline)

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