Thursday, April 9, 2009

* Fashion News ~ enough of politics, economics, war and unemployment – The more important question is, “How was Michelle Obama’s couture received in Europe?” At least three times the FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) wore the designs of lesser known designer Jason Wu. Can you imagine? Women’s Wear Daily asks where the love has gone for big name designers like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren.

Iconic fashion designer Oscar de la Renta took off the Gucci kidskin gloves to assess Michele’s choice of wardrobe. "American fashion right now is struggling." Concerning the outfit worn to meet Queen Elizabeth he said, “You don't...go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater.”

Well-known designer Vera Wang offered less edginess in her observations and more pleading: "I love seeing young designers and their vision and how they grow and all of that," she says. "On the other hand, of course, I wish she would consider some of us, because I think we also have contributions to make."

Liberal blogger and author Arianna Huffington, appearing on CBS, offered this observation: "Even if you don't terribly like that particular outfit," she said of Mrs. Obama's fashion sense, "you know it is what she loves and what she looks good in."

Progressive blogger Stephen Weinstein noted, in an interview with himself, that he was not crazy about the black coat Mrs. Obama wore with the purple stuff all over it.

* Hot Toddy replaces Scotch on the Rocks - “Arctic sea ice is melting so fast most of it could be gone in 30 years. A change in the amount of ice is important because the white surface reflects sunlight back into space… When ice is replaced by dark ocean water, that sunlight can be absorbed, warming the water and increasing the warming of the planet.” Also disappearing is the common sense of global warming deniers. Just because Fargo got two feet of snow does not mean the planet is not warming. The dynamics are apparently too complicated for the agenda-driven and scientifically challenged. The next thing they will be telling us is that evolution is a sham.

* Keeping abreast of trends – The swelling numbers of enhanced breasts that dominate television, cinema, magazines, fashion and pop culture is perhaps a metaphor for the U.S. in the early years of the 21st Century. Victoria’s Secret is no longer a secret. Phoniness has become de rigueur both in leadership and feminine allure. The inflexibility and grandiosity of the manufactured female breast is representational of much of our society – more pump than circumstance.

* Speaking of breasts – National Cleavage Day was celebrated on April 3rd, thanks to the initiative of the makers of Wonderbra. I look forward to the day when Jockey will produce miracle under ware for men, such as a MrWonderThong. In any case, Wonderbra brand manager Samantha Paterson said, "It gives women a chance to be beautiful and glow in the furtive, yet appreciative, glances their cleavage evokes from men." The last time I looked my furtive glances were not especially appreciated but, in support of this national day of pride, I remained furtive, committed and focused.

* A fading American trait ~ Integrity – This is a societal issue that runs broad and deep. We are experiencing a period where money and power have trumped and overwhelmed the common good and a sense of community. At every level of government investigations and corruption convictions dominate the news. Police corruption and abuse stain the landscape with regularity. In Pennsylvania two judges of Juvenile Court accepted bribes from the operators of juvenile detention centers. The judges encouraged accused youths to forgo legal representation and then found the youths guilty, resulting in incarceration. The FBI is so burdened by a broad range of investigations that they are overwhelmed. We look down upon Mexico and many other countries for the corruption that has rotted their political and legal systems but shrug at what is taking place in our own country. Oh well.

* Equality – The word has always been synonymous with America but for many it has also been an antonym. African Americans and Gays can attest to this reality. The good news is that gains have been made and these gains are marshalling momentum. The election of Barack Obama did not obliterate racial prejudice but certainly can be seen as a milestone. Three very recent events will be of import for gay rights. The Supreme Court of Iowa validated legal rights for gay relationships as did the legislature of Vermont which overrode their Governor’s veto of legislation recognizing gay marriage. The D.C. Council voted to recognize other states’ gay marriages. The religious right has every right to advise its members on sexuality. It has no right to infringe on the rights of citizens who choose a different course. That is the heart of freedom and one of the many reasons why we have separation of church and state. As former Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair said in a recent interview about gay rights, “Equality isn't political correctness, it's just justice.”

* Not a good week for the religious right ~ and that is good news – First their eyeballs were spinning with the news from Iowa and Vermont concerning gay marriage. This was capped by the President of the United States having the “audacity” to say in a speech in Turkey that America is a secular nation. Unlike his predecessor, President Obama must have read the U.S. Constitution.

Today the Obamas are hosting the first Seder ever held at the White House. The Passover holiday dinner remembers the Jewish exodus from slavery under Pharaoh over 3000 years ago. Yes we can in this country recognize each others religious beliefs while not imposing one group’s beliefs upon another. “Diversity” is not a four-letter word, nor is “respect.”

A reader forwarded a YouTube Video “20 Things To Do With Matzah” for those challenged with leftovers.

* Self-Euthanasia – May I take your order please? – MSNBC listed “The 19 worst drive-thru foods in America.” I was especially impressed with Hardee's Monster Thickburger. The sandwich contains 1420 calories, 108 grams of fat of which 43 grams are saturated fat, 2770 mg of salt and 230 mg of cholesterol. Put in perspective it is the caloric equivalent of 6 McDonalds hamburgers, the saturated fat of 43 strips of Oscar Mayer bacon, and the sodium equivalent of 84 saltine crackers. As we say in the fast food business, “Have It Your Way.”

* Warts that won’t go away – Former VP Dick Cheney recently made the media rounds where he had the opportunity to again preach about the justification of torture. He continued to emphasize its value in protecting Americans. We have heard this theme from other former Bush administration players as well as some Republican congressmen and right-wing media miscreants. Having closely followed this circus of situational ethics I have yet to hear of one instance where the use of torture saved one American life. You can bet your ass that if weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq we would know about it. You can make a similar bet that if a terrorist plot against America was thwarted because of information garnered from the use of torture it would have made headlines for days. It may be human nature to believe your own lies but it is neither good foreign policy nor moral.

* Call me proud, Mr. President – It has been quite a while since the leader of our country was welcomed with open arms, applauded and respected in a foreign venue. On his just-ended visit to Europe President Obama, our representative to the world, spoke in complete sentences. He answered unplanted questions openly. He renewed the concept of diplomacy and international cooperation. The last U.S. President’s foreign policy was predicated on megalomania, nation building and myopic militarism. The current challenges are more daunting because of previous policy but the possibility of resolution has substantially increased. The Progress Report reviews the substantive accomplishments of Obama’s European trip. Call me proud and hopeful.

* “You don't...go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater.”
Oscar de la Renta


Ruth Z Deming said...

Immensely enjoyable column, Stephen, perhaps b/c it wasn't filled w/the usual heaviness of all the things wrong with the world though The First Lady's wearing a sweater in the presence of Her Majesty is certainly up there!

Hadn't realized the Obamas were hosting Passover tonight. This first family is endlessly creative and doing something the Pope should've done long ago.

You have yourself a great seder. When you dip the apple in honey, I wish you all the sweetness in the coming year!

Dr.Zamboni said...

i think she can wear what she wants to, she is a First Lady not a fashion designer. Obama is not Jewish he always trys to play all the cards of religion at once or when a religion is "popualr". the pope should never host a passover dinner he is a Christian not a uniter of all people.