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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"I think I've mentioned that I can't find a good operational history of the Afghan war so far that covers it from 2001 to the present. (I actually recently sat on the floor of a military library and basically went through everything in its stacks about Afghanistan that I hadn't yet read.)
Here are some of the questions I would like to see answered: --What was American force posture each year of the war? How and why did it change? --Likewise, how did strategy change? What was the goal after al Qaeda was more or less pushed in Pakistan in 2001-02?  --Were some of the top American commanders more effective than others? Why? --We did we have 10 of those top commanders in 10 years? That doesn't make sense to me.   --What was the effect of the war in Iraq on the conduct of the war in Afghanistan? --What was the significance of the Pech Valley battles? Were they key or just an interesting sidelight? --More broadly, what is the history of the fight in the east? How has it gone? What the most significant points in the campaign there? --Likewise, why did we focus on the Helmand Valley so much? Wouldn't it have been better to focus on Kandahar and then cutting off and isolating Oruzgan and troublesome parts of the Helmand area?" (Tom Ricks)


"A new poll shows President Obama with a strong edge over likely GOP opponent Mitt Romney on a range of key issues, but still vulnerable on his handling of the economy. Obama holds double digit leads over Romney on healthcare, foreign policy and women's issues and voters say the president is more likable, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday. But the poll also finds Obama struggling to sell voters on his economic record. Forty-six percent of those polled say that Obama's handling of the economy would be a major reason to oppose his re-election, with 32 percent saying that issue would make them more likely to support him. Romney tops the president on handling the economy with 47 percent preferring his approach to 43 percent for the president. On specific economic issues, the poll finds a close gap between the two candidates. Forty-seven percent polled say Obama would better support small business to 45 percent to Romney. On creating jobs, Obama has a similarly small edge, with 46 percent preferring his positions to 43 percent for Romney.Those numbers, though, fall within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error. Overall, the poll finds Obama leading Romney by single-digits among voters, 51 percent to 44 percent, in a hypothetical November match-up.  Obama has a strong margin among women, leading Romney 57 percent to 38 percent support. The president however trails among men by 8 points." (TheHill)


"Michael’s was busy for a Monday although the decibel-level was far lower than the Wednesdays you read about here. Among the guests, the  'hit of the week' for this people watcher: Carole King. The very same. I’ve been a Carole King fan since the beginning. Although I’ve never seen her in concert, the image of her in my head remains that on the cover of 'Tapestry' her now immortal album ('I Feel the Earth Move,' 'You’ve Got A Friend,' 'So Far Away'). That was 41 years ago (!). She’s a little blonder now and prettier than her (already pretty) picture. She was at Table 1 in the bay (where we often take pictures of groups of 6 or 8 with the semi-circular window as background), with three others including our friend Joe Pontarelli. I wanted to take her picture, and I wanted to ask Joe how he knew her. Fan stuff. But I knew better: give the lady some room. I was with Joan Gelman, another Michael’s regular, and a friend I met there. Joan is a long time television producer here in New York, and has worked on many shows over the years, so she always has stories on celebrities, city life and events ... After lunch I took a cab that drove through Central Park, entering on Central Park South and meandering up to 72nd and Fifth ... On my way home I stopped by Archivia to pick up another of Liz Smith’s recommendations: 'Mrs. Kennedy and Me; An Intimate Memoir,' by Clint Hill, with Lisa McCubbin." (NYSocialDiary)

T"he thing about being murdered, it usually comes as a surprise. Even in Naples, where the criminal clans known collectively as the Camorra are again struggling violently for control of the streets, no victim wakes up expecting on that given day to die. He shaves carefully, dresses in his beloved clothes, slips on an expensive watch, and maybe squeezes his wife before heading out to meet with his friends. If he suspected his fate, he might at least kiss his wife good-bye. But the neighborhood has been home for generations to everyone he knows who counts. He deals there in extortion, protection, narcotics, and counterfeit goods. He abides by alternative rules. For this he is respected. He rarely carries a gun. His experience until now has been that murder happens only to others. Then someone comes along and kills him. It is a strangely final event. There may be a moment of recognition at the end, but by then the man can no longer stay alive. Recently, in a northern district called Secondigliano, it was obvious that the victim knew his fate for about seven seconds before he died. Secondigliano is an old farming town that has been swallowed by the city. It has evolved into one of Europe’s largest open-air drug markets and a working-class stronghold for the Camorra. The victim was a mid-ranking member of one of its clans involved in a typically convoluted struggle, and not known to the police before. He was in his mid-30s and beginning to bald. He was immaculately dressed and groomed. As was his habit, he had come to a small street-front gambling shop to play a bit of one-armed bandit. Surveillance cameras there captured his demise. It was broad daylight. As a cautionary measure he had placed three guards outside, one of whom was burly, but none of whom was armed. The gambling shop was narrow and had space for only six machines against one wall. In the back was a closed door. The victim was alone in the room. He sat on a stool to gamble. A street camera caught the killers’ arrival. There were two of them. They pulled up fast on a motor scooter, both in full-face helmets with the visors down." (VanityFair)


"Remy Stern, who left Gawker late last year after Nick Denton installed A.J. Daulerio as editor-in-chief, has a new gig: He's joining the New York Post as a digital consultant. 'Remy will help shape the Post's overall digital strategy going forward and work on the site day-to-day,' a Post spokeswoman told Capital. 'He will work in the Post newsroom on a daily basis.' He will report to Jesse Angelo, who, as we reported a few weeks ago, is taking on a larger role in steering nypost.com following the departure of website editor Erle Norton last month. Angelo, long a rising star at the News Corp. papers, appears to be further consolidating his power within the company, where he is also editor of The Daily, its tablet publication." (CapitalNY)


"Say that Peter DaSilva is coming over to take your photograph. The San Francisco-based photographer has shot them all, from Ev Williams to Mark Hurd to Hunter Walk to Carol Bartz to, now, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, the Instagram darlings of the moment, to accompany the front-page New York Times story about their sale to Facebook (for a billion in cash and stock, basically about a week after Instagram raised $50 million, at a $500 million valuation). And Peter's done it all without kicky filters! Tee hee! Anyway so of course maybe this photograph will end up on the front page of the New York Times and you didn't tuck in your shirt while Peter was there, and now you look unkempt, schlubby and not good in general. Even if you are a very handsome person, you will look that way! I know that it feels square. I know that it feels like your dad's way to wear shirts. Maybe it's old thinking. Maybe it's inside the box, not even near the outside of the infamous box? And I know that sometimes you even forget a belt because you are so very busy! But before a photographer comes over, why don't you stop, look down and check yourself." (Choire Sicha)


"Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney fittingly threw a dinner at ‘21’ to celebrate the 21st birthday of Anne’s son, Randy Harris. Guests included Amanda Hearst, Patricia Hearst and husband Bernard Shaw, Sharon Bush and Steven and Kimberly Rockefeller. King Harris gave a warm speech, we’re told, while his son Randy joked to his 80 guests, 'Everyone should stay and party, the way Jay did in the ’80s!' Those toasting him included Candace Bushnell, Emma and Lucy de Kooning, Joe and Edith Tobin, Janna Bullock, George Farias and Alison Mazzola. The party went into the wee hours when the younger set headed downtown to dance." (PageSix)


"Jenna Talackova is the beautiful contestant who was originally disqualified from Donald Trump's Miss Universe Canada pageant because she's a transsexual. This is Trump's second birther campaign. The first was that time-waster regarding Obama's birth certificate. Then came this one about whether a beauty contestant was born male or female. He flat-out lost the first campaign, but this time Trump did the right thing and admitted defeat. Jenna's back in the running, so the message is good: Transsexuals are women. To add to the complicated layers here, I was invited to a meet-and-greet with Jenna in a New York restaurant on Saturday, and was delighted. But an hour before the event, I got a call from her rep saying, 'This is a meet-and-greet with LGBTQ leaders. This is not for publicity.'  In other words, I couldn't write about meeting Jenna. That sounded sincere and modest, I guess (though I'm not used to being told I can't cover something I'm invited to). 'OK,' I said, warily.
'And by the way,' the rep added, 'there will be cameras there, filming the whole thing for a documentary.' Huh?" (Michael Musto)

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