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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



" If the timing of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's trip to Israel and the Middle East this week is a 'coincidence,' as White House spokesman Jay Carney asserted on Friday, it's one of the most politically convenient in presidential campaign history. President Obama's Pentagon chief arrived from Washington on Sunday for high-level talks in Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan during Mitt Romney's highly publicized visit to Israel between London and Poland. Panetta's visit follows trips to the Middle East and North Africa this month by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and other administration officials. They're part of an Obama administration blitz designed to demonstrate at home and abroad U.S. support for new democratic governments, in Tunisia and Egypt, and old: namely Israel. President Obama himself cannot wade into the morass with a regional visit 100 days from Election Day; it would only invite a lost week of campaign distractions, and probably sway few votes. But he doesn't have to. After the diplomats and White House advisors comes Panetta, bringing the full-throated, frank-talking, multi-billion dollar support of the U.S. military. In the run-up to Romney's trip, conservatives had slammed Obama's handling of the Middle East as ignoring Israel -- the president has not visited Jerusalem and the administration, Romney argues, has discouraged Israel's threats to use military force to halt Iran's apparent pursuit of nuclear weapons. Obama, the charge continues, is too soft for relying on economic sanctions and international coalition building to stymie Iran, too reluctant to intervene militarily on behalf of Syria's rebels against the hated Bashar al-Assad, and too weak in his inability to stop the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in Egypt." (ForeignPolicy)


"The American presidency is designed to disappoint. Each candidate must promise things that are beyond his power to deliver. No candidate could expect to be elected by emphasizing how little power the office actually has and how voters should therefore expect little from him. So candidates promise great, transformative programs. What the winner actually can deliver depends upon what other institutions, nations and reality will allow him. Though the gap between promises and realities destroys immodest candidates, from the founding fathers' point of view, it protects the republic. They distrusted government in general and the office of the president in particular. Congress, the Supreme Court and the Federal Reserve Board all circumscribe the president's power over domestic life. This and the authority of the states greatly limit the president's power, just as the country's founders intended. To achieve anything substantial, the president must create a coalition of political interests to shape decision-making in other branches of the government. Yet at the same time -- and this is the main paradox of American political culture -- the presidency is seen as a decisive institution and the person holding that office is seen as being of overriding importance." (STRATFOR)


"I’ve been reading 'Citizens of London' by Lynne Olson. The book was published by Random House two years ago. A friend gave it to me as a birthday present then but I hadn’t yet got around to reading it until a couple of weeks ago when my neighbor Joan Hardy Clark told me she’d just finished it and that it was really good. The cover features the blurb: The Americans Who Stood With Britain In Its Darkest, Finest Hour, along with a photograph of five men on a launch leaving Westminster Pier: Prime Minister Winston Churchill, FDR presidential adviser Harry Hopkins, American Ambassador John Gilbert Winant, American envoy William Bullitt and Lord of the Admiralty A. V. Alexander. After running into Joan, I pulled the book out from under the pile waiting for me, just to see if I could get a glimpse of “why” she thought it was so good.I’ve got another sixty pages to go and it is one of those books that as you get deeper into it, you try to read it faster because it’s so interesting/exciting/emotionally-wrought, as well as revelatory about these characters who are now historical on both sides of the Atlantic. The title is misleading (and unfortunately doesn’t reflect the richly, informative, almost novelistic qualities of the historical content) because it’s not just about the Americans but about the British, especially Mr. Churchill. And Mr. Roosevelt. And that time and that place." (NYSocialDiary)


"Sand castles and SPF? Not at this beach party, darlings! On Friday night, the Cinema Society along with Rent The Runway hosted a midsummer fete for the new film, Robot & Frank, starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, and Liv Tyler at the oceanfront maison de Jerry and Judy Della Femina. The notable coterie of Hamptonites and celebs who joined the cast post-rainstorm included John Leguizamo, John Slattery, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Judith Giuliani, Zosia Mamet (more girls!), Hilary Rhoda, Nanette Lepore, Fern Mallis, Daniel Benedict, Andrew Saffir, Malcolm Carfrae, Katie Lee, Greta Monahan, Lucy Sykes Rellie, Richard Johnson, Russell Simmons, and Harry and Peter Brandt Jr. who caught up with Tyler amid air-kisses on the tapis rouge." (Fashionweekdaiy)


"I attended fourteen schools in all, but the one I loathed the most was very hard to leave. Trust me, I tried everything. This was a windswept Dickensian nightmare on the south English coast. In the evenings, after Matron had performed her rounds, checking to see we were all in bed, it was time to play. My best friend Gia was fearless and up for anything, her only fear was spiders. After ‘lights out’ Gia and I would hustle fellow miscreants and I would lead us out onto the downs and the white Cliffs of Dover. If we happened across a construction site we would set about removing tools and chucking them about. We dragged planks and anything not bolted down and hurled them over the cliffs. As dawn peaked, after a night’s ransacking, we would return to the school, breaking back in how we had escaped, through the kitchen window. One time, upon re-entry, we heard the sounds of Matron. There were eight of us on that particular excursion and we had just crawled in through the window. Matron was calling out names." (Christina Oxenbrg)


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