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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Whatever one thought of the Libya intervention, the details make for a bad advertisement about NATO. As one U.S. Air Force planner told me, 'It was like Snow White and the 27 dwarfs, all standing up to her knees' -- the United States being Snow White and the other NATO member states being the dwarfs. The statistics regarding just how much the United States had to go it alone in Libya -- pushed by the British and French -- despite the diplomatic fig leaf of "leading from behind," are devastating for the alliance. More than 80 percent of the gasoline used in the intervention came from the U.S. military. Almost all the individual operation orders had an American address. Of dozens of countries taking part, only eight air forces were allowed by their defense ministries to drop any bombs. Many flew sorties apparently only for the symbolism of it. While most airstrikes were carried out by non-U.S. aircraft, the United States ran the logistical end of the war. 'Europe is dead militarily,' a U.S. general told me. In 1980, European countries accounted for 40 percent of NATO's total defense spending; now they account for 20 percent. One numbered air force within the U.S. Air Force is larger than the British Ministry of Defense. Western Europe's military budgets are plummeting, even as their armed forces are not allowed by local politicians to do much besides participate in humanitarian relief exercises ... Of course, during the Cold War NATO had a core purpose, which it lacks today: defending Central Europe against Soviet divisions. The disappearance of that core purpose immeasurably weakens NATO. And the withdrawal of two of the four U.S. Army brigade combat teams from Europe by 2014 will weaken it further, even with the missile deployments in Eastern Europe." (STRATFOR)


"Not long ago, the political and media cognoscenti maintained a strict code of conduct: never—except in the privacy of a late night bar stool, after all the recorders have been turned off and the stories filed—should the next presidential election be speculated upon before the current one concludes. Eventually, after the last of the ballots were counted, some poor pundit would find himself on cable news, and with the newly completed campaign season no longer able to stomach more blather, he would gamely look ahead to the campaign four years hence. And the world, it seemed would emit a loud groan. Too soon! We are politics-sick! No more horse-race frivolity! Not so in 2012. Instead, the race four years from now is taking up so much oxygen that at times it looks as if it could crowd out the one five months from now. All the way back in March, The Fix, The Washington Post’s well-respected political blog, ran a feature called 'Sweet 2016,' which allowed readers to vote round-robin style who they wanted to—or who they thought would—win in an election nearly five years away, choosing amongst such local luminaries as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Gov Chris Christie, not to mention figures from further afield, like Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (who, it should be noted, may be the first person in history to be seriously floated for the presidency while trailing in her inaugural political endeavor) current GOP heartthrob Marco Rubio, former GOP heartthrob Bobby Jindal and (because third Bush is a charm, right?) Ole Jeb. And much like the Major League Baseball all-star game, for which fan voting in big cities like New York means an inordinate amount of Yankees and Mets in the line-up, so Mr. Cuomo bested Ms. Clinton in the final round of the Democratic tournament bracket and vanquished Mr. Rubio to cut down the nets." (Observer)


"It was another busy one in the city. Over at the New-York Historical Society, they were holding their annual Strawberry Festival Luncheon. Chelsea Clinton was the 'honoree.' I don’t know if that meant she spoke since I wasn’t there, but usually the speaker is the draw.  I saw her mother there, as well as Michelle Obama and several other prominent women. All interesting; all good. I’ve never heard Ms. Clinton speak but she comes from a fascinating upbringing, child of two hyper-dynamic people, so there must be a uniquely intelligent perspective ... At about seven I stopped by Tamsen Z, the jewelry boutique owned by (Tamsen) Ann Ziff. ..From Tamsen Z I went over to Susan and John Gutfreund’s apartment around the corner on Fifth Avenue, where they were hosting a cocktail reception for the upcoming Masterpiece London’s Inaugural American Committee. I had no idea what that is but like the Ann Ziff story, Susan Gutfreund always has big and interesting cocktail parties, and the Gutfreund apartment is one of the great private residences in New York." (NYSocialDiary)


"Men around the world, rejoice. Sofia Vergara is single again after splitting with boyfriend Nick Loeb after more than two years together, Page Six can exclusively reveal. The Colombian stunner and New York-based Loeb broke up over the weekend following a series of arguments, sources tell us. And, on Monday, she attended the Met Ball alone. A source told us, 'Sofia was confiding in friends at the ball that she and Nick have split. They have been fighting a lot recently and have been on the brink of splitting many times. It is not yet clear if they are over for good, but they are done as a couple for now.' ... Another source told us that Vergara and Loeb’s relationship stumbled under the pressure of her growing fame and popularity. Her success on 'Modern Family,' and as host of 'Saturday Night Live' — as well as her obvious sex appeal — has turned her into one of TV’s biggest female stars. The couple met at a Golden Globes party in 2010. Vergara said in January that Loeb enjoys red-carpet events. 'He loves my career,' said Vergara. 'He likes coming to these events. For him, it’s like a hobby to be part of this Hollywood scene.' But Loeb, who considered running for the Florida state senate last year, is the son of John Loeb Jr., who served President Reagan as ambassador to Denmark. He is the grandson of one of the Lehman brothers and was a partner in his family’s stock brokerage firm." (PageSix)


"Waiting for Elisabeth Moss on the rooftop of Hollywood's Sunset Tower Hotel, it's impossible not to conjure her Mad Men character, Peggy Olson: the mousy hair, the dowdy dresses, the prickly bookishness.But the rockabilly black boots that appear on the poolside terrace belong to an entirely different creature-a thoroughly modern Moss. Sporting cut-off jeans and a tantalizing black tank, with a fedora crowning her chin-length hair, the 29-year-old vibrates with sexy confidence ...The 5-foot-3-inch actress is surprisingly candid about (and clearly reveling in) her single life since filing for divorce after less than a year of marriage.She and (Fred) Armisen met in October 2008, when Moss dropped by for a cameo on SNL the night her Mad Men costar and pal Jon Hamm hosted. Four months later, Armisen and Moss were fawning over each other publicly ... '[He makes me laugh] more than anything in the world,' she said at the 2009 Grammys, with Armisen interrupting, "She makes me laugh. No joke. She is the funniest.' 'Really? That's so sweet!' she gushed. The ill-fated pair were married in a simple, private ceremony in Long Island City in October 2009.(Moss appeared on The View just 48 hours before the big day and didn't reveal a thing about it.) Shocking fans, the pair separated eight months later; Moss cited irreconcilable differences, and their marriage was officially dissolved in May 2011. At the time, friends blamed the split on conflicting work schedules. But Armisen caused a stir when he stepped out just weeks later with his 23-year-old SNL costar Abby Elliott, a relationship that fizzled as well ... Moss, for her part, hasn't said a word about the divorce-until now. 'It's so hard to talk about,' she says, growing quiet. 'One of the greatest things I heard someone say about him is, 'He's so great at doing impersonations. But the greatest impersonation he does is that of a normal person.' To me, that sums it up.'  She leans forward, chin in hands and brow furrowed, as she confides all this in a low, measured near-whisper." (P6Mag)

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