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Monday, August 22, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"With the Libyan rebels now largely in control of Tripoli, and two of Muammar al-Qaddafi's sons in custody after a stunning final assault of the capital, the answer seems clear: absolutely. Many have criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's strategy of 'leading from behind' in Libya, but that strategy now seems utterly vindicated. It was Libyans themselves, with significant help from NATO, Qatar, and the UAE, who liberated their country from Qaddafi's grip -- a fact about which they are fiercely and justly proud. It required little from American taxpayers: As of Thursday, NATO operations had cost the United States around $1.1 billion, according to CFR's Micah Zenko -- a rounding error. Of course, there will be problems. Not only is Tripoli not yet fully secure, but two regime strongholds -- Sirte and Sabha -- appear to remain in regime hands. Libyan state TV is still, incredibly, on the air. The "brother leader" remains at large, as do his sons Muatassim and Khamis Qaddafi, as well as his intelligence chief and brother-in-law Abdullah al-Senussi. They may try, Saddam-style, to mount an insurgency (though the speed of Qaddafi's collapse in Tripoli suggest they will find few takers) ... But these problems seem manageable over time, and it is in any case hard to imagine any Libyan government worse than Qaddafi, whose rule was not only deeply repressive and arbitrary at home but also destabilizing abroad. I disagree strongly with those, like CFR's Richard Haass, who would like to see some kind of foreign stabilization force -- not only is it not going to happen, but it's best if Libyans handle their own affairs as much as possible. They will make mistakes, but these will be their own mistakes. It's now their country once again." (ForeignPolicy)
"Dozens of Wall Street executives who supported President Obama in 2008 have donated to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign this year. According to a review of fundraising data, 67 people who work in the financial sector and live in the New York City metro area gave to Obama in 2008 and the former Massachusetts governor in 2011. The reversals come in the wake of Obama's tough rhetoric on Wall Street, most notably last year when the president was pushing Congress to pass what became known as the Dodd-Frank law. The 67 individuals who live in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut donated at least once to Obama's 2008 campaign. They have since directed contributions amounting to more than $147,000 toward Romney's presidential campaign. The crossover donors are employed by a large number of banks, private equity firms and hedge-fund companies, including Credit Suisse, the Blackstone Group, the Stanwich Group and Goldman Sachs. One of the donors is Joshua Harris of Apollo Management, who recently bought the Philadelphia 76ers. Others include Oscar Schafer of OSS Capital Management, David Solomon of Goldman Sachs, Barry Sternlight with the Starwood Capital Group and David Blitzer of the Blackstone Group. One Wall Street executive who requested anonymity said he and some of his colleagues feel betrayed by Obama. 'Everybody I speak to is on the same boat -- disappointment,' said the source, who contributed to Obama three years ago and is now backing Romney." (TheHill)


"The widely bandied word on Perry before he got in was that he was a man who could uncork a speech, an assessment certainly borne out by his announcement oration. What was less understood by those outside of Texas was just how terrific a flesh-­pressing, glad-handing retail politician he is—and just how much better he performs on that level than any of his rivals. For all of Romney’s increased comfort in debates and on the stump, the former Massachusetts governor remains an awkward figure in dealing with actual human beings; Bachmann is being tagged (accurately) for swathing herself in what Politico calls a 'brittle, presidential-style cocoon ... a routine of late entries, unexplained absences, quick exits, sharp-­elbowed handlers ... and preselected questioners.' Suffice to say, in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, this contrast will serve Perry well. But a more problematic side of Perry’s persona also came through last week: a hotness that if left unchecked can easily turn self-scalding. No doubt in certain quarters of the Republican nominating electorate, suggesting that Barack Obama may not love his country and vaguely threatening Ben Bernanke are a cause for attaboys. Among GOP Establishmentarians, by contrast, they are seen not merely as the sort of typical mistakes made by rookie presidential aspirants but as potential indications of deeper and less remediable flaws." (John Heilmann)
"Soleil Moon Frye’s new book 'Happy Chaos' was toasted by her pals Demi Moore, Rebecca Gayheart, Sara Gilbert, Balthazar Getty, and Kellie Martin at Jane Buckingham’s house in LA Thursday. 'Punky Brewster' is grown up and now a mother of two, Jagger Joseph Blue Goldberg, 3, and Poet Sienna Rose Goldberg, 5. She writes about embracing the messy moments of raising children. She even reveals her crushes in the book. Luckily her husband, TV producer Jason Goldberg doesn’t seem to be the jealous type." (PageSix)
"As the title character in CBS’s genre-busting The Good Wife, Julianna Margulies’s Alicia Florrick has been put through the emotional ringer in the show’s second season. After she reunited with Peter (Chris Noth), her disgraced politico husband, recently reelected to state’s attorney, she discovered that he had previously slept with her best friend, legal snoop Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), and promptly kicked him out of their home. (In fact, she boxed up his belongings and leased him an apartment while he celebrated at his victory party.) ... The Daily Beast: Are you nervous at all about the show’s move from Tuesdays at 10 to Sundays this fall? Margulies: I’m really thrilled about it because I think first of all everyone’s home on Sunday night and second of all, 9 p.m. allows us a bigger variety of people to watch … I got to partake in, I think, one of the best shows ever on air, which was The Sopranos. It was such a coveted time slot, Sunday nights at 9 after you’ve had dinner, you’ve had a long weekend, and you can’t wait to watch your favorite shows and still get to bed on time to go to work in the morning. It’s the best spot I could imagine." (TheDailybeast)

"Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott recalls when Bob Dylan unexpectedly showed up to meet upstart punk Patti Smith in 1975 in an upcoming memoir. 'I was present when one of [Smith’s] cryptic idols paid a call,' Wolcott writes in 'Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York.' “And I wrote it up for [the Village Voice] as if witness to a superpower summit.' Wolcott says Dylan’s presence was 'unknown to many' in the audience. When Dylan went backstage to offer 'encouragement' to Smith, 'There was a sexual excitation in the room,' according to Wolcott. 'Dylan, the verdict was unanimous, is an intensely sexual provocateur.' The book also charts the rise of CBGB and habitues like Joey Ramone, Debbie Harry, Tom Verlaine and David Byrne. An acolyte of The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, Wolcott also writes that more than opinions were routinely passed around by Kael’s inner circle of movie mavens at the time. 'Some reviewers traded off girlfriends,' he writes." (PageSix)
"Last Wednesday night in Los Angeles, at his house way up at the top of Sunset Plaza Drive, overlooking the city, Alex Hitz gave a buffet dinner for about a hundred guests. Mr. Hitz is putting the finishing touches on his 'My Beverly Hills Kitchen: Uptown, Down Home Comfort Food for a Crowd.' Knopf is the publisher and Shelley Wanger is editor. Wednesday night’s guests were got a preview of some of the recipes in this former restaurateur’s treasure chest ...Among the guests: Bobby Harling, Beatrice Reed, Marin Hopper ...  Steve Tisch ... Nikki Haskell ... David Niven Jr .. Bettina Zilkha, Aileen Mehle" (NYSocialDiary)
"Most people in America don’t realize that Greece is a very new country—its independent-nation status was made official in 1830. Greece is as old as Belgium but far more poor. Even Dubya as president did not know our name. He called us Grecians, like the hair dye, instead of Greeks.
We Hellenes are among the oldest civilizations, having invented or perfected such bagatelles as philosophy, science, medicine, astronomy, tragedy, epic poetry and literature, the arts, and classical architecture. We also invented the greatest system of government—selective democracy—based on good citizenship, knowledge, and responsibility ... Greek intellectuals and historians have generally blamed the 400-year Turkish occupation for the nation’s ills. It is a fact that, where humiliation persists through several generations, the oppressed begin—in defense of their own dignity—to imitate their oppressors. The cruelty, vindictiveness, and harshness shown by warring political factions testify to this theory. But this is not a sufficient explanation. The volatility of the Greek character, probably the only remaining link with our glorious past of antiquity, is another. The highly individualistic Greek is too self-seeking to submit easily to others’ dictates. His unruliness has helped him survive through the centuries of oppression, as well as to rise above adversity. But it has also made him unaware of the advantages of a communal spirit and true democratic attitudes. This has created a climate where cheating is a way of life, where the highest and lowest of citizens do not hesitate to use dishonesty, especially in politics." (Taki Theodoracopulos)

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