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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Europe lacks a strategic concept that would allow it to become a superpower and, despite decades of integration, doesn’t have a clear representative for other countries’ leaders to contact, said Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state. 'It isn’t really absolutely clear when America wants to deal with Europe who exactly the authorized voice of Europe would be,' Mr. Kissinger said Wednesday in a panel discussion with Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. 'Most importantly, on many issues, there doesn’t really exist a unified European strategic approach.'  Mr. Kissinger, who worked in the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford at the height of the Cold War, is often credited with saying: 'Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?' He said Wednesday he’s 'not sure I actually said it, but it’s a good phrase.' European Union leaders in 2009 appointed the first permanent president of the European Council and the top diplomat for the bloc. Each of its 27 member states continues, however, to run independent foreign policy, while the council president merely coordinates summits of the bloc’s leaders. Mr. Kissinger acknowledged that it’s easier now than several decades ago 'to get answers to technical questions' from Europe’s institutions, but the Continent lacks an internal structure — and a joint military force — that would allow it to take a bigger role in world affairs. 'One expression of power status is military capacity. For Europe, it’s preposterously low in relation to what Europe wants to do,' he said. 'The ability of a country to bring about its objectives bears some relationship to its capacity to fight for them.'" (WSJ)


"Is it a coincidence that, on the same day Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Syria a 'rogue state,' he had his picture taken in the cockpit of a jet? Conceivably. The photo-op was a presumably long-scheduled promotion for Turkish Aerospace Industries. Still, here in Instanbul the juxtaposition did not go unnoticed. The front page above--from the Daily News, the English-language counterpart to Hurriyet--was typical of Turkish newspapers today. And for the last several days Turkish columnists have been pondering whether, after Syria's downing of a Turkish jet near the Syrian-Turkish border, the chances of war between the two countries have grown appreciably.It's an important question, because in the event of sustained hostilities Turkey would likely become the leading edge of an invasion of Syria backed by various Arab states and Western powers, including America. And this would make it hard for Russia, which has a valuable naval base in Syria, to stand idly by. The closest thing to a consensus here seems to be that the answer is yes, Turkey is closer to war, but only marginally. The affirmative answer derives partly from Erdogan's statement that "the rules of engagement have changed" in light of the Turkish jet's downing, and that Turkey would now respond aggressively to Syrian provocations that might in the past have drawn a more measured reaction. Even leaving aside what this says about Erdogan's actual inclination, it reduces his political room for maneuvering in the event that there should indeed be another Syrian provocation. The reason for judging that, nonetheless, the chances of war have grown only marginally, is twofold First, Erdogan's response to the crisis has on balance been circumspect. When he consulted with NATO, he did so under Article 4, which sanctions    'consultations' among NATO members, not Article 5, which would have been more of a call to action. (This decision may reflect his perception that other NATO nations are in no mood for war, but, if so, that reality itself militates against war.) And the same headline, above, that has him calling Syria a rogue state has him also conferring with Russia. Turkey, which does a lot of business with Russia, has no interest in reviving Cold War fault lines, to say nothing of starting an actual war in which Russia is on the enemy's side." (TheAtlantic)

"(Reille) Hunter has been lambasted over the years for coming onto Edwards, when he was a married man. She defends that by saying, 'Something electric exploded between us,' about their first meeting. To be fair, this seems to be an effect Edwards had on a number of ladies. Take, for example, the letter that the 97-year-old Bunny Mellon wrote him after their first meeting, in 2008: 'Dear, dear John. Yesterday was the most magic day I have had for 30 years! Something between us gave me the feeling that a dark cloud had suddenly blown away and was replaced by love and understanding and a joy of life.' If Hunter were really introspective, as opposed to just knowing how to play it, she might have examined the role this sad, rich woman played in her life for the crucial period when she became pregnant by Edwards and had his baby. For it was the lonely Mellon who bankrolled Edward's needs as he maintained his mistress and daughter. Not that she gets any thanks from her beneficiaries. Writes Hunter: 'One could actually even say zero dollars of Bunny Mellon's money was ever spent on me, because it turned out that the Youngs had actually sold their house in Raleigh for a large profit, and they did have plenty of their own money to cover all of my expenses until Fred reimbursed them for everything.' See what I mean about reality? 'Do you have any idea what it feels like to get to a mental place where you no longer trust anyone?' asks Hunter, two-thirds of the way through the book. I call this the John Edwards effect. The man is a world-class liar who'd make anyone crazy. After the National Enquirer broke the story of the Hunter/Edwards baby, Hunter was chased through the streets of Los Angeles by paparazzi, eventually ending up in St Croix, in the Virgin Islands (don't ask). Staying in a hotel, with very little with which to take care of her daughter and no means of reliable communication, she switched on the television. Whereupon, "I was met with the most publicly and emotionally devastating night of my life." It was the ABC News interview where Edwards lied and lied and lied about everything, including the fact that he was the father of Hunter's daughter, Quinn. Hunter's explanation for this is that Edwards was temporarily insane." (TheGuardian)
"Ms. Sergeenko, who was recently named by the Russian edition of Glamour as that country’s trendsetter of the year, is nervous about how she will be received in Paris. That is because she was not actually invited by the French to participate in their official couture event, and showing independently is a bit presumptuous. But judging by the increasing presence of Russian models, journalists, stylists and, most important, clients, her unsanctioned show will hardly go unnoticed or unattended. Requests for tickets have already exceeded capacity, and Natalia Vodianova, the Russian supermodel, is expected to appear on her runway. In fact, it would be difficult to overstate the impact that Ms. Sergeenko and this clique of young Russian women, becoming known for their 'unbounded personal style,' as Vogue noted in its April issue, is having on fashion. They include Miroslava Duma, the daughter of a Russian senator, who edits a fashion and style Web site; Vika Gazinskaya, a fashion designer with an eclectic range of geometric hairstyles; and Elena Perminova, a model who is the girlfriend of Alexander Lebedev, a former spy for the K.G.B. and now a billionaire banking magnate and owner of The Independent and The Evening Standard of London newspapers. According to a Style.com assessment of the Russian Fashion Pack, as they are sometimes called, no one on the show circuit, with the exception of Anna Dello Russo, 'changes outfits more often or with more look-at-me enthusiasm than this group of designers, bloggers and scenemakers.' With their audacious entrances and conspicuous consumption, they are the most visible new customers for couture in a generation, far outspending clients from emerging economies like India, Brazil and China. Karl Lagerfeld has said that, in a given season, some Russian clients have bought as many as 35 Chanel couture outfits, which typically have prices in the five and six figures." (NYTimes)

"The girls, so many girls, dressed in pastel-colored wraps that bared shoulders and the swells of their cleavage, clacked their Louboutin heels up a SoHo staircase one muggy May evening. At the landing, visibly breathless and sweaty, their eyes lit up. They had entered the penthouse loft of Edward Scott Brady, the boyishly handsome world traveler, former classical cello virtuoso and 'retired entrepreneur,' who was throwing a 'Welcome Back Bash' to honor his return from his seventh trip around the globe ... As the two stopped to pose for a Guest of a Guest photographer, people in the crowd discussed the size of Mr. Brady’s loft. 'This loft is, like, biggest loft in New York City,' said the impressionable Mr. Astafev. Still, was one loft—whatever its size—big enough for all three men, for their grandiose personalities? The presence of the trio, all in one place, seemed to signal a small if meaningful shift in the city’s cultural history: After a long, dire post-Lehman cold snap, during which ostentatious displays of wealth, social bravado and dandyish fashion gambits were put into deep hibernation, something was stirring. Wall Street was no longer occupied. The impassioned battle cries of the stringy-haired sleeping-bag brigade, fulminating about the ample chasm separating the 99 and 1 percents, had faded. A socially ambitious lad no longer had to hide his Cartier cufflinks or Stubbs & Wootton slippers under a bushel. Suddenly it was okay again to venture into the limelight, okay to aspire to notoriety and social prominence. Not everyone was ready to put it all out there, of course, but this was the vanguard. Call them the Gatsbabies: three dandyish gentlemen—but straight, mind you, very, very straight—who seemed to come out of nowhere. In this, they were not unlike the former James Gatz himself, on whom they unconsciously styled themselves, the emperor of West Egg, the subject of a million high school book reports and any minute now, a glistening slice of Oscar bait starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Baz Luhrmann." (Observer)

"House Republicans in tight races this fall say they are on board with the leadership’s plan to hold a repeat vote to repeal the 2010 healthcare law, even though they acknowledge it won’t go anywhere in the Senate. In an election season when every floor vote is scrutinized for its political impact, the decision by the leadership to forge ahead – with the encouragement of its most vulnerable members – underscores how confident the GOP is that the law remains unpopular with the public. 'My guess is that my constituents would appreciate another vote,' Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) said. The House GOP already voted to repeal President Obama’s healthcare overhaul as one of its first acts in 2011. But in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law, party leaders plan to do so again on July 11. 'Obviously we all understand that it’s a statement of principle and it doesn’t have any chance in the Senate, but I think it’s appropriate,' Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) said Friday. 'I think it’s important that the majority in Congress make its position known in light of what the Supreme Court did.' Hoping the high court would strike down at least part of the law, GOP leaders had pledged to try to immediately repeal whatever was left of it. But with the decision to let it stand virtually in its entirety, a repeal vote is redundant." (TheHill)


"The word around television circles is that Armando Iannucci, satirist-in-chief of Britain’s political classes, is one of the most pleasant people to work in a petty and frequently vituperative world. But his writing is designed to hurt. 'His laser-guided humour is deadly accurate,' announced his occasional collaborator Steve Coogan when presenting Iannucci with a Writers’ Guild award last year, before adding his own savage comedic twist. 'Yes, occasionally he misses and hits a school or a hospital. But more often than not, it eviscerates a legitimate enemy target with minimal collateral damage' ...We talk about Iannucci’s latest sitcom success, HBO’s Veep, another political satire but this time based in Washington, where the level of abuse is pitched (a little) less intensely but where dementedness appears de rigueur. The series, which has ended its run in the US and recently opened on Sky Atlantic in the UK, stars Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus as US vice-president Selina Meyer, a figure rendered pathetic by the cruelly contrasting facts of her closeness to the centre of power, and her actual powerlessness. ('Did the president call?' she constantly and fruitlessly asks her PA, not so much a running joke as a callous reminder of her cosmic irrelevance.) There is, very deliberately, no Malcolm Tucker in Veep. 'If you spoke to the vice-president like that, you would be thrown out of the room and told never to come back,' says Iannucci. Selina Meyer’s more subtly drawn antagonist is Jonah, the White House liaison who, despite his gaucheness, derives kudos purely from working in the same building as the president. It is the West Wing effect, says Iannucci. 'One of the guys we were talking to said that as a result of working there, he started dating ‘eights’. [As in out-of-tens.] 'That is how they talk, very openly.'" (FT)

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