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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"In the past several weeks, Prime Minister Netanyahu suffered four defeats that undoubtedly will have serious repercussions on Israel’s global standing, especially if he succeeds in forming the next Israeli government. President Obama’s reelection humiliated Netanyahu, who openly supported Mitt Romney; he suffered a second defeat when the Palestinian Authority secured an observer Palestinian state at the UNGA. It was also a slap in the face for Netanyahu when much of the European community overwhelmingly voted in support of the Palestinians’ UN bid while the rest abstained, sending an ominous signal to Israel signifying where the EU stands in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His string of defeats continued with the flare-up in Gaza, from which Hamas emerged with a stunning political victory. With uncommon audacity, PM Netanyahu openly supported Mitt Romney; blatant vocalizations concerning U.S. political affairs in general and on elections in particular are uncharacteristic of foreign leaders, let alone Israeli PMs who must demonstrate careful sensitivity. By openly challenging a popular sitting President of the United States, a nation on whom Israel depends for military, political, and economic support and powerful affinity, Netanyahu demonstrated a lack of political savvy. He also acted contrary to Israeli public opinion, which considers US-Israeli bilateral relations of critical importance to Israel’s national security. Obama’s victory was explicitly and directly translated into Netanyahu’s defeat, forcing him to rush to rectify his self-defeating miscalculation by being the first to congratulate Obama upon the President’s victory. As a result of this brash behavior, Netanyahu lost clout with Obama; one obvious repercussion may be that President Obama takes a much harder stance on Netanyahu’s policies. It remains to be seen how much Israel will suffer from Netanyahu’s mistake. The Israeli government’s failed attempt to prevent the Palestinian Authority from elevating their status at the UN to a non-member observer state represents another colossal defeat for Netanyahu." (ProfessorAlonBen-Mir)


"In the days after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, demonstrations spread across the Muslim world, and the convoluted genesis of The Innocence of Muslims, whose trailer had gone viral, began to emerge in fragments. A man who called himself Sam Bacile and claimed to be an Israeli-American real-estate developer told reporters that he had directed the film, on a budget of $5 million provided by Jewish donors. That story proved to be false. 'Sam Bacile' was one of many pseudonyms used by a man who was born Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in California whose criminal record included convictions for bank fraud and intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Nakoula changed his name in 2002 to Mark Basseley Youssef and again in 2009 to Ebrahem Fawzy Youssef. Nakoula did, however, write the screenplay for a film called Desert Warrior, which was shot in August 2011, primarily on a soundstage at a Duarte, California, facility called Media for Christ. A feature-length cut of the movie, retitled The Innocence of Bin Laden, was shown exactly once, to an audience of fewer than 10 people, at the Vine Cinema, on Hollywood Boulevard, in June 2012. A month later, 'Sam Bacile' posted a 14-minute trailer for the film, retitled this time as The Innocence of Muslims, on YouTube, and then posted it again, using yet another title, Muhammed Movie Trailer. Exceptionally amateurish, with disjointed dialogue, jumpy editing, and performances that would have looked melodramatic even in a silent movie, the clip is clearly designed to offend Muslims, portraying Mohammed as a bloodthirsty murderer and Lothario and pedophile with omnidirectional sexual appetites. 'Is the messenger of God gay?' one character asks rhetorically. 'Is the master dominant or submissive?' The clip attracted no significant attention until the beginning of September, when an Arabic-language version of the trailer appeared on YouTube. Coptic Christian activists in the Washington, D.C., area, possibly working in conjunction with a fundamentalist preacher in Florida named Terry Jones, who has staged a public Koran burning, promoted the trailer to journalists and via social media. On September 8, an Islamic TV program in Egypt showed scenes from the trailer. A clip from that broadcast attracted hundreds of thousands of views online. What happened next remains murky." (VanityFair)


"Monday, December 31, 2012. A cold, almost bitter wind blowing off the river last night. As we come down to the clock. About 7:45 p.m., Jesse Kornbluth sent me a message from Twitter’s Breaking News that Hillary Clinton had been admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital to treat a blood clot from her recent concussion.  The Secretary of State has long been in the news but recently the sotto voce speculation has been about her health in general. One of the results of this speculation is the frequent expressions of sympathy and concern for her. She is, at the end of the day, greatly admired for her fortitude, her stamina, and her great capacity for hard work. Add to that her motherhood. We wish her a speedy recovery.Last week on this day, this evening, I went to the annual Christmas Eve buffet dinner that Nan and Gay Talese give at their Upper East Side townhouse with their daughters Pamela and Catherine co-hosting. The Taleses are a remarkable New York family – by which I mean, an immensely talented family with a large presence in the public mind, due not only to their talents, but their bonhomie. Gay is a famous writer, famous for his bestsellers and his topics. Nan is one of the New York publishing world’s most important editors, with her own imprint at Doubleday. They are both, separately and together, very cordial, and naturally friendly people. Furthermore, she’s a beauty and he is an authentic dandy always turned out with best foot forward and a sartorial style all his own (although it has a natural genesis – his father was an Italian tailor when he was growing up in the 1930s)." (NYSocialDiary)


"Just a few flakes swirled about our toes on Saturday night, but we were nearly blinded by the white inside the Waldorf-Astoria for the 58th Anniversary International Debutante Ball. Some remain skeptical of such affairs, because, as one gentleman noted at the coat check, it isn’t the ’50s anymore. But this year’s class was impressive. Swanning about in the traditional snow-colored dresses were a chemical engineering major, several accomplished philanthropists and a nationally ranked tennis player, among other offspring of socially prominent families. When we spotted Olympic swim team doctor Dr. Scott Rodeo, we couldn’t help asking if he’d trust unofficial bachelor of the year Ryan Lochte with his debutante daughter, Sarah. 'Absolutely!' was the surprising answer, 'Ryan’s a great guy. Have you met him?' We have, and Sarah, we think you could do better. The first stop for the 24-karat guests was the receiving line in The Astor Room, where one man with a spectacularly waxed mustache—after suffering blows by several bustles, trains and furs—quipped, 'it’s just like prom, isn’t it?!' Forty-seven quick, gloved handshakes later, the guests, in tails and taffeta, were swept to cocktail hour while the debutantes posed for portraits." (Observer)



"I went to the Jail on Christmas Eve because I felt sorry for the ladies. Meanwhile Sally is right where she wants to be. Inmate #123432143 at the Key West Detention Center. 'See,' she confided to me that evening, 'I’m a lesbian.' Sally is short, she is wiry and aging abruptly, meanwhile her blue eyes twinkle when she speaks, her head thrown back. 'Three hots and a cot, and all the pussy I can eat. If you’ll pardon my French, this place is fucking Paradise!' Later, driving to Sunny’s house, I had brought along a Christmas gift which happened also to be contraband, a perfectly rolled joint stuck inside my wallet, and every cop car I passed I considered how I might end up back at the Detention Center. At least I know everyone there. Sunny read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, which I’d never heard before. Her boyfriend of near a score years clamped back tears as he watched her. Thirty of us sat in their pretty garden lit with fairy lights laced through the foliage, and under a dark sky with its paths of stars of crushed diamond. It was a beautiful evening." (ChristinaOxenberg)


"I spent New Year’s Eve at home with two old friends, Barbara and Philip. When I say old friends, Philip and I met in 1966 when we were both actors. Four years later, through Philip, who was then living in Hollywood under contract to Universal, I met Barbara, who was living in Los Angeles with her (now former) husband. Both have been close friends ever since. Our bond is that we are never at loss for curiosity and conversation, and enjoy the process. It so happens that Barbara, who does not imbibe generally, loves champagne. And Philip, who has been known to imbibe liberally, also loves it. So I decided to get some. I’m not a major champagne aficionado, although it is a common item on the social circuit -- at dinners, cocktails, openings. I can usually take it or leave it. However, a couple of weeks ago at a book party I had some that went down so easily that I was reminded of the one time I had some very good champagne and I was amazed at the difference. Several years ago, however, we were at a luncheon party in France at the chateau d’Anet the residence and the resting place of the legendary Diane de Portiers. (Social Diary 6/18/04). It was outdoors and they were pouring champagne. I took a glass. It was the stuff that gives legend to the name, the other-worldly way-up-there. So light and smooth and fresh, like the purest sparkling water -- with some subtle charm. I was later told that it was probably a small vineyard of which there are many in Champagne, and their champagnes are often the best. That was eight years ago." (NYSocialDiary)

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