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Monday, September 24, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Foreign policy has long been one of the last great bastions of sexism. But as glass ceiling after glass ceiling is shattered in Washington, the time has come to ask when one of the last great barriers will be overcome: Is America ready for a male secretary of state? From a theoretical standpoint, there is no real reason that a man couldn't do the job. But in the salons of Georgetown and the halls of Foggy Bottom, there continues to be a steady undercurrent of chatter that a man just wouldn't be up to it. Right or wrong, here are some of the justifications foreign-policy insiders cite when they make the case that appointing a man as the highest-ranking diplomat in the land would be an overreach. First and foremost, many wonder whether a man would have the necessary endurance to do the job. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has visited more than 100 nations during her tenure, flown 897,951 miles, and spent 376 days abroad. By making it to 110 countries in just one term, Clinton broke the previous record for most countries visited by a secretary: 98, held by Madeleine Albright. And although Condoleezza Rice visited fewer countries, she did log more than a million miles in the air. Not many men can point to those kinds of frequent flyer miles. But beyond just the raw stamina needed to robustly represent the United States at home and abroad, others wonder if a man would simply bring the same skills to the table as does a woman. In numerous studies, women have been ranked as more emotionally intelligent than men while enjoying a greater ability to empathize with their interlocutors. Both men and women consistently rate women as better listeners than men. While some level of stereotyping is likely at work in these findings, there is much to argue that women are more culturally attuned and adept at interpersonal skills than their male counterparts. What skills could be more important for a good diplomat?" (ForeignPolicy)


"Top Jewish Democrats are standing squarely behind President Obama's decision not to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warning Israel to butt out of the U.S. presidential race. The White House has been on the defensive ever since Israeli officials publicly complained last week after Obama refused to adjust his schedule to meet with Netanyahu at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this week. Republicans quickly pounced, urging Obama to reconsider and inviting Netanyahu to meet with them at his convenience. 'I don't think it's necessary for the president to rearrange his schedule,' Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the top Democrat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, told The Hill. 'I didn't think it was appropriate for the prime minister to publicly get into a dispute with the president of the United States, since we're both very closely working together to impose sanctions and to force Iran to stop its development of a nuclear weapon.' Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, blamed 'internal Israeli politics' for the spat. 'Maybe Netanyahu's for [Republican candidate Mitt] Romney. And he's making a mistake if he is,' Frank told The Hill when asked why he thought Israel had leaked the news of a perceived 'snub' to the Reuters wire service. 'I think it was unwise for him to do as much,' he said. 'I think they've pulled back a little bit.' 'I think Obama played it right,' Frank added. 'The Israelis have to consider American public opinion; America's not ready to go to war until it's absolutely necessary. I think it's a mistake from Israel's standpoint if they give the impression they're trying to push us into going to war. I don't think any pressure's going to work.'" (TheHill)


"On September 18th at Cipriani Wall Street, the Institute of International Education (IIE) recognized the 10th Anniversary of its Scholar Rescue Fund at its Opening Minds to the World Gala Benefit. As part of this event, IIE's Humanitarian Award was presented to SRF founders Henry Jarecki, Henry Kaufman, Thomas Russo and George Soros. Senator Patrick Leahy was the special guest presenter for this award. The Scholar Rescue Fund has helped hundreds of scholars escape dangerous situations in their home countries. At the heart of the Fund is the idea that each scholar the Fund helps who continues his or her work in safety is a beacon of hope in the world, and will reach hundreds or thousands of additional students through the multiplier effect of teaching and learning. Since 2002, SRF has assisted over 450 scholars from 48 countries, placing them at nearly 300 host partner institutions in 40 countries around the world. The work of the Fund has become even more important in recent years with current threats to academic freedom and safety in countries such as Syria and Libya. The scholars' own dramatic experiences are the most powerful embodiment of the impact of the Fund. Abdul Sattar Jawad, for one, fled Iraq in 2005 after three attempts on his life by the Mahdi Army. As dean of the College of Arts at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, he realized his work as a Western-trained journalist and academic and editor of Baghdad's only English-language newspaper was endangering his life and the lives of his family." (NYSocialDiary)


"I stopped reading novels long ago. When those arch-phonies writing magic realism became household words, I dropped out quicker than you can say, 'Raymond Chandler.' Now that’s what I call a novel—the stuff Chandler churned out about old El Lay, everyone gulping booze and puffing away like steam engines, and only exercising between the sheets. Crime writers have always had an inferiority complex about their work, but they sure beat some of the clowns posing as novelists nowadays ... Speaking of underrated writers, what about the master, W. Somerset Maugham? I wouldn’t dare call him 'Willy' to his face, but he was a great stylist, a wonderful short-story writer, and his The Razor’s Edge is one of the masterpieces of English prose ... Norman Mailer’s An American Dream was outrageously provocative in the existential angst of its hero Stephen Rojack, and later on Mailer’s Harlot’s Ghost was a beautifully written and researched opus. Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities is a modern classic, illustrating exactly what Larry Darrell had foreseen as capitalism’s soul-wrenching weakness. Gore Vidal’s Washington, D.C. had me enthralled about the goings-on inside the Beltway, a place I’d choose instead of jail, but only just." (Taki Theodoracoupulos)


"Howard (Stern) said he thinks that Romney is like Gordon Gecko. He said he should probably be thrown out of the country based on what he's done. Howard said he will cast his vote for Obama. Jesse (Ventura) said that he has continued with the Bush stuff and he hasn't really changed the things he said he was going to change. Jesse said that they still have Gitmo and they won't release them because there's no way they could get a conviction ... Howard said that most people don't really look at the candidates. They vote based on the party. Jesse said that's why he thinks we should do away with the parties. Jesse said they should take the names off the ballot and find out what these people stand for. Howard said Jesse must like Occupy Wall Street. Jesse said he absolutely does. Howard said they just want a level playing field. Jesse said what they were doing was exercising their first amendment rights. He said if Howard tires to do that they'll get run off by pepper spray and dogs. He said these two parties don't care about this stuff." (Marksfriggin)


"The mistake Netanyahu has made is to believe he can go over the head of President Obama. He has tried through Congress, where his speech last year earned 29 standing ovations. He has greeted Romney in Israel as if he were on a state visit. He has said those “who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” He has given critical interviews on U.S. TV networks in the midst of a presidential campaign. And he hath protested far too much that he has no intention — none — of swaying the outcome. Some adjectives that come to mind are: brazen, reckless and irrational. Another is disingenuous: Obama has set a clear red line on Iran — he will not permit Iran to become a nuclear-armed state. The president is angry. Not surprising that he has no time to meet with Netanyahu during his post-Yom Kippur visit to the United States this week for the United Nations General Assembly. No Israeli prime minister should seek to circumvent the president, bet on his losing an election, and attack him publicly when the most strategically damaging course for a state as powerful as Israel is to alienate its unwavering ally, generous funder and military supplier — the United States.  Barbara Boxer, a senator and California Democrat, was outraged. In a recent letter to the Israeli leader, she said she was 'stunned' and disappointed by his questioning of American support for Israel. 'Are you suggesting that the United States is not Israel’s closest ally and does not stand by Israel?' Boxer wrote. 'Are you saying that Israel, under President Obama, has not received more in annual security assistance from the United States than at any time in its history?' When Congressional support for Israel shows cracks, that is a seismic event." (Roger Cohen/NYT)



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