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Monday, November 28, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

"What does America’s disastrous bombing of Pakistani soldiers this week have to do with President Obama’s much-ballyhooed trip to East Asia last week? Between them, they suggest that the Obama administration may be, finally, edging toward a foreign-policy doctrine. First, Pakistan. The bombing was a mistake, but it comes after a series of very conscious decisions—most significantly the assassination of Osama bin Laden—in which Obama put killing al Qaeda terrorists ahead of America’s relationship with Pakistan ... As Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars made clear, Obama never considered the Taliban a real threat to American security. And after giving Gen. David Petraeus and company a chance to try counterinsurgency, Obama is increasingly pursuing the policy that Vice President Joe Biden proposed from the beginning: leave Afghanistan to the Afghans and keep al Qaeda off balance with Special Forces and attacks from the air. Indeed, as the U.S. withdraws its ground forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, the centerpiece of its military policy in the Muslim world is becoming drones to attack al Qaeda (the Washington Post recently reported that the Obama administration is building secret drone bases in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa) and military aid to contain Iran (last fall, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia agreed on the largest weapons sale in American history)." (Peter Beinart)
"Joseph Kabila, 40, Congo’s president for the last 10 years, is incredibly unpopular in many parts of the country, especially the innumerable slums that dominate Kinshasa, the capital. But all signs point to him trying to hold onto power, at all costs.  His soldiers have already killed several opposition supporters, including up to nine this weekend during an election-related fracas. United Nations officials and other election observers say Mr. Kabila’s men are stuffing ballot boxes, intimidating voters and bribing people to vote for the president.  Still, the vast majority of voters interviewed at polling places in Kinshasa said they had voted for Mr. Tshisekedi, a 78-year-old firebrand who briefly served as prime minister several times.  Mr. Tshisekedi has succeeded in channeling the deep discontent here — Congo was recently ranked as the world’s least developed country — and many analysts fear that whatever happens at the polls, both Mr. Kabila and Mr. Tshisekedi are going to declare themselves the winner, a recipe for disaster in a country already torn apart by recent wars." (NYTimes)


"The main attraction for all of last week was the Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade. The ritual of the event begins the night before on Central Park West in the 70s and low 80s. Our friend Paige Peterson has her annual Night Before Thanksgiving cocktail party on Central Park West. I don't go because getting there can take an hour versus the regular ten minutes. Again, streets closed off as well as the 79th Street transverse. However, Paige, as is her wont, took lots of pictures." (NYSocialDiary)


"There was a fascinating story in Sunday’s New York Times quarreling with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory (which was originated by a college professor in Florida, which Gladwell acknowledges.) These academics said you could not rule out IQ as part of the equation. They said the most successful people had high IQs. The rule isn’t rigid, as Bob Dylan so famously sang, 'Each of us has his own special gift, and you know that was meant to be true, and if you don’t underestimate me, I won’t underestimate you.', but it tends to hold true. And I bring this up to question how Woody Allen got so successful so quickly. The documentary didn’t delineate every minute of his life, but he seems to have blossomed like a supernova, and in any event, he did it when he was still in his teens, still in high school. Yes, Woody (Allen) started sending jokes to all the New York papers. And they ran them. And thus began his comedy career. Maybe you are born talented, if not great ... Woody was a terrible student. You can jump through all the hoops, get into an Ivy League school and get a gig at Goldman Sachs, but I’m doubtful you’ll ever be an innovator. You might make a ton of bread, but you’ve been conditioned to play the game. The greats think the game is b.s. and abandon it. Not only did Steve Jobs drop out of college, so did David Geffen and Irving Azoff. They don’t come any smarter than these three (which speaks to the point in #1 above!) And all three of them questioned the status quo and created new paradigms. Jobs’s achievements are legendary, but Geffen helped created DreamWorks SKG and Azoff rolled up all the management companies. If you’re not questioning authority, you’re a pawn in their game ... Not that Woody didn’t pay his dues. He spent years in the Poconos writing plays for summer theatre." (LefsetzLetter)

"I have never held nor aspired to high office, but I can tell you one thing: The end of an era is even worse than the end of a great love affair. In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, there was a picture of Coco Chanel surrounded by eight of her beautiful models. It was taken in 1959 and I knew all of them except for Mademoiselle Chanel—as they all called her—but two of them had been very grand love affairs. Mine were the two prettiest by far. The affairs took place four years apart, in 1959 and 1963. I was 23 and 27; they were 25 and 28. Both were married, and both marriages collapsed, but they were already cracked, as they used to say in Brooklyn. Both ladies were known as the most beautiful in the City of Light, which was renowned for its beauties. Both had that nonchalant grace for which American women are not known. Both were ethereal creatures who managed to retain their beauty to old age.(One is gone.) Seeing the picture brought a kind of pain only sensitive souls such as the poor little Greek boy can feel, but it also reminded me of the void left by the disappearance of 'heightened sensitivities and focused concerns.' I never met Chanel, although she advised both of her girls to marry me—she told them Greeks are good fathers and love their children." (Taki Theodoracopulos)



"Literary lion and ladies’ man Salman Rushdie has been spending quality time with Social Life Magazine editor-in-chief Devorah Rose. Spies spotted the pair dining this month at Indochine together. On Friday, Rose tweeted a picture of the two sharing a booth at the restaurant, and wrote, 'Great times w @SalmanRushdie. Come back to the states soon so that we can have a do-over:) :) :).' Sources say the duo have indeed already booked another dinner together upon Rushdie’s return to New York after spending Thanksgiving in London. What could have attracted him to Rose, whose Twitter feed features a racy photo of her in the buff with long blond hair in strategic places?" (PageSix)


"In September 30, the Wrap, a Hollywood blog that is the province of Sharon Waxman, announced that Michael Ovitz, the co-founder of CAA and the former president of the Walt Disney Company, had 'made a failed play to take over' International Management Group (known simply as IMG), the talent-and-entertainment colossus, and that 'it has backfired.' Waxman and Brent Lang wrote that Ovitz had been aided in his takeover attempt by fellow IMG board member Herb Siegel (who had sold his television group to News Corp. in 2001 for $5.3 billion) and that they were working with both Goldman Sachs and Greg O’Hara, the chief investment officer of the special-investments group at JPMorgan Chase. The Wrap also reported that board members Irving Azoff (chairman of Live Nation Entertainment) and Jerry Perenchio (former C.E.O. of the Spanish-language television conglomerate Univision) were leading the charge to remove Ovitz from the board as a result of the takeover attempt. (Insiders speculated that Azoff was behind the Wrap story. He declined to comment for this article.) Supposedly, Ovitz had been trying to create an 'executive committee' within the board to which IMG management would report, instead of to billionaire IMG chairman and C.E.O. Teddy Forstmann, who was fighting brain cancer, and his handpicked proxy and successor, Mike Dolan. In an update the next day, the Wrap claimed that the IMG board had voted seven to four to oust Ovitz, although it was unclear just how that could be accomplished, since Forstmann—who controlled the company through his stake in his storied buyout firm, Forstmann Little, which in turn owned IMG—was incapacitated." (VanityFair)

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