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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"It was Tuesday morning in Phnom Penh when Barack Obama decided to dispatch Hillary Clinton to the Middle East to try to help defuse the mounting conflict in Gaza. Clinton had been traveling at Obama’s side on his swing through Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia—but now duty called, and she was off to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo. So peripatetic has Clinton been as secretary of State that it seemed perversely fitting that what was billed as her final foreign trip with her boss would be cut short this way. And while news of cease-fire talks in Gaza came hours before she touched down in the region, the sequence of events was a vivid reminder of the stature that Clinton has gained in the job: For the past four years, she has been Obama’s go-to gal in any global crisis. Clinton’s impending departure, in other words, presents the president with a massive pair of pumps to fill—and a domestic political skirmish far less bloody than, but nearly as bloody-minded as, the one in the Mideast. At the center of this conflagration is U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, one of the prime candidates to replace Clinton, and a series of Sunday-show appearances she made after the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, in which she declined to call it a terrorist incident but instead deemed it a 'spontaneous' protest that had been 'hijacked' by 'clusters of extremists.' For this, Rice is being flayed by John McCain, who has called her 'not … very bright' and 'not qualified' to be secretary of State, and pledged to do 'everything in my power' to block her from the post, as well as being denounced by 97 House Republicans, who in a letter to Obama declared that Rice’s 'misleading statements' about Benghazi 'caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world.' Beyond the spectacle of gratuitous spleen-venting, does any of this Republican fulmination matter in the least—or, as the headline of a recent Maureen Dowd column in the Times put it, 'Is Rice Cooked?'" (John Heilmann)


"Now that the post-election blaming and bloodletting has mostly subsided, the Republican foreign-policy establishment is doing what it inevitably does in the wake of electoral disappointment -- starting to regroup. This week, many of the leading lights of Republican foreign policy are gathering at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. for a forum titled, 'The Price of Greatness: The Next Four Years of Foreign Policy.' The conference is hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative think tank that is essentially the love child of the earlier Project for the New American Century, the conservative assemblage that, before it disappeared from the map, was a primary cheerleader for invading Iraq. One need not be clairvoyant to guess the primary themes of the conference. Speakers like Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl will decry sequestration, the automatic budget cuts scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 2, 2012, as hobbling the U.S. military, but they will almost certainly fail to mention that military spending has doubled over the last decade. Likewise, conservative commentators Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan will wring their hands over what President Barack Obama's reelection means for the millions of people around the world waiting to be liberated by American troops. And featured speaker Bernard-Henri Lévy will decry U.S. inaction in Syria. (We know that Republicans are in regrouping mode when they invite French intellectuals as speakers rather than simply dismissing them 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys.') Despite the stirring rhetoric, most of the speakers will miss the real threat to Republican foreign-policy dominance: a very thin bench for 2016." (Foreignpolicy)


"Cold and sunny in New York, the first day after the Thanksgiving weekend. Toni Goodale invited me to a cocktail reception and 'app demonstration' that she was hosting with her husband James, for Richard Mason, the South African-born novelist whose latest best seller is 'History of a Pleasure Seeker.' A blurb from the Seattle Times on the back of the paperback which the Goodales were giving their guests last night, says it all: “Just try to resist ... A Continental Downton Abbey plus sex, with a dash of Dangerous Liaisons tossed in.' (Coincidentally, Dan Stevens, one of the Downton Abbey stars who is currently appearing on Broadway in 'The Heiress,' is featured on the app, and was there last night.) The Goodales are very active in literary circles in New York, and are major fund-raisers and supporters of Paris Review and PEN. Jim Goodale is a leading First Amendment lawyer who has represented the New York Times in every one of its cases that went to the Supreme Court, including the Pentagon Papers. He’s also one of those New Yorkers active in many projects, committees and institutions. For several years he even had a Sunday television talk show, 'Digital Age.' All that’s a very small part of his awesome CV, however (http://www.jamesgoodale.net/).  Toni Goodale has long been active in fundraising for PEN and numerous other organizations and philanthropies in New York. Like her husband she is a New Yorker who gets a lot done all the time. The couple also raised a family, and are now enjoying the gift of grandchildren.  The Goodales both have welcoming personalities. Their guests always have a good time. Among them are writers – biographers, novelists, media people, as well as executives, diplomats, lawyers, public relations consultants, editors, publishers, political figures and the occasional banker or billionaire. As a social milieu, it is a gathering of people, many who are prominent in their fields, who like conversation and all matters of public life that are reflected in their host and hostess. And it’s always fun." (NYSocialDiary)


"Howard (Stern) started the show talking about how he feels like the kid from Two and a Half Men and denounce the show. Howard said the son on the show is 18 now and he's found religion. Howard said he has denounced the show. He said that the kid is against it and says that he wants them to fire him. Howard said the guy is making 8.5 million a year on that show and he wants to be fired. Howard said he has no idea how hard it is to get work in show business. Howard said anyone who works on that show ends up going crazy. Howard said Charlie Sheen is old enough to know better but this kid doesn't know. Howard said this kid grew up in show business. He said he lucked out at a young age. Howard said Jon Cryer is so normal and he gets show business. He said he knows how to milk it now. Howard said he's going to milk it for all it's worth. Howard said the guy is talented too. He said it turns out he's the one who carries that show anyway. Howard said the kid who went berserk is so stupid. Robin said she didn't know they could hear it. Howard said everyone was sending it to him yesterday. Howard read about the kid, Angus Jones, and how he found this church and then came out against the show. Howard read about how God told him personally that he wanted him to get it together so he started reading the bible. Howard said he found a church with an all black congregation. Howard read that Angus had a friend tell him about the church. Howard said they shouldn't fire this kid. He said he doesn't know what he's talking about. He said he should just go on and read his dumb lines. Howard said he's getting $8.5 million to do the show. Howard said last week he was in scenes with Miley Cyrus. He's very lucky. Howard said he hopes that someone is watching his money. He said he'll end up donating it to the church." (Marksfriggin)









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