There's an interesting article in today's New York Times about a Vogue India spread featuring poor people modeling things (e.g. an impoverished wearing a $100 Fendi bib). Feathers were ruffled! Umbrage was taken. How dare the fashion people be so insensitive!
I have another view on this.
Notwithstanding my longstanding love of Project Runway, I have limited expectations for what fashion does or should accomplish in the world. Fashion is really just about making pretty things. So I get kind of embarrassed by Kenneth Cole's ads that purport to make political commentary and I resist the idea that buying a certain consumer product I am serving a global cause.
That said, fashion people are creative people and, let's just put it out there, artists. And sometimes artists brilliantly articulate some truth that others fear or can't see.
In the case of the Vogue India spread, what the magazine's antagonists have said is that it's insensitive to use poor people as backdrops for fashion. That it is gross to have people who make a hundred dollars a year modeling a single item of clothing that costs a hundred dollars. The real story is that these photos show explicitly what goes on every day in the world, and not just in India. Namely, that the rich and middle class live alongside, and dependent on, the extremely poor. They are just as human as we are but live subhuman existences, and we prefer not to think our lives have anything to do with them.
Showing the Fendi-bibbed kid gives rise to the immediate thought of, "gee, there are probably better ways that we could spend a hundred dollars than on luxury clothing." It also points out the truth that for all our complaining, the lives of those of us who can read or comment on Vogue are a thousand times better than the lives of half the people on the planet. This is inconsistent with our view of ourselves as having complicated, stressful lives controlled by forces outside of our control.
In this election, Joe Biden is proving the low-key, stable, drama-free vice presidential candidate who basically does his job and stays out of the news. Joe Biden.[...]
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There is only one statement that can be made about this news.“Congratulations, Bristol. I wish each of you health and happiness.”
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John McCain is focusing on the wrong disaster.The Category 3 that's about to hit isn't off the Gulf Coast, and it isn't named Gustav.It's seated in the Gulfstream IV next to him, and it's named Sarah. Holy crap, I don't think even the Corps of Engineers[...]
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That few people in America even know the facts that Blackmon documents in my earlier post is astonishing--but this reflects a toxic "patriotic" denial of truths about American history that we see in contemporary politics today.
In fact, the core facts of continuing slavery in the South were repeatedly investigated and, for a short time starting in 1903, the federal government brought indictments over the issue with cases going to the Supreme Court--but the court proceedings came under such assault by southern politicians that they were shut down, all in a hail of denial of the problems of not just 20th century slavery but of the pre-Civil War version as well. The following quote sums it up:
As the twentieth century neared, though, the orthodoxy of southern patriotism was mutating virulently...The South now demanded in public forums an increasingly rabid level of absolute adherence to a baroque new mythology of the honorable southerner, the contented slave, and the tragically defeated secession.In this, we see the same toxic DNA that twists any criticism of the government policy into hatred of government--and the metaphorical kissing of the flag that Michelle Obama was forced into.
Michelle Obama's comments that indicated that there was much in America's past NOT to be proud of was a direct assault on this patriotic denial of memory. We can't discuss the fact that U.S. mass murder and ethnic cleansing of the native American population ranks as one of the worst crimes against humanity of the last two centuries, just as the persistence of slavery in the U.S. and its mutated form as Blackmon documents was a international crime that ranks with the worst of nations of the world.
All such discussions must be telescoped as far into history and the facts downplayed as much as possible in order to maintain not only a presumption of U.S. virtue in international affairs, but is also critical to maintaining conservative policy domestically. For to continually defend the past-- low taxes, "rugged individualism", "states rights" and so on -- you have to ignore the state-supported genocide and slavery that underpinned those old conservative values.
Almost everyone on the Left readily condemns Stalinism and its crimes, yet the Confederate flag still flies in many states and conservatives defend the right of those states to fly a flag that oversaw crimes as bad as Hitler's and Stalin's.
The toxic brand of patriotism that requires denial of the past is still all too prevalent in our politics. Hopefully, Blackmon's book will contribute in a small way to helping overcome it.
This is from the New York Times, not the Onion. Click on it to enlarge:
Mostly the GOP Convention has degenerated into corporately funded closed-door parties with lobbyists and a violent police riot on the streets. I just got this e-mail from a friend who is there: "Police in riot gear have blocked off downtown St. Paul. Bridges closed, buses shut down." (Here's a video of dangerous terrorist Amy Goodman being arrested today.) One far right GOP extremist is whining they banned him from their party because he hates McCain.
But my favorite response to the whole circus was from Pennsylvania's lamest and most clueless congressman, Charlie Dent-- who still refuses to denounce the racism and homophobia of staffer Adam LaDuca. Dent is spending tomorrow on Capitol Hill... debating himself. As a notorious pawn of Big Oil-- Dent has taken $75,831 in so-called "donations" from Oil and Gas interests, while voting for every bill they wanted and opposing every bill the didn't want (which has led directly to $4/gallon gasoline)-- it was only a matter of time before Dent would re-join the "Texas Tea Party" stunt the GOP has been staging in Washington for the last month. Conveniently, Dent-- who is petrified that anyone will remember he's a Republican or an incumbent-- scheduled himself for tomorrow.
According to the Easton Express-Times Dent will be dancing around dressed up as an American Indian waving a tire pressure gauge over his head and chanting "Drill here now, Drill here now," or whatever it is that these clowns are being paid by ExxonMobil to do.
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There’s been a rumor floating around since John McCain announced that Alaska governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate. And, we at ASZ have avoided the rumor like the plague. According to the unconfirmed story (which first surfaced this past spring), it really wasn’t Sarah Palin who was preggers - it was her daughter, Bristol. Alternet has a synopsis of the rumor.
Today, the Palin’s announced that unmarried Bristol is, in fact, pregnant. And it’s all the fault of those meanie liberal bloggers that they were forced to spill the information.
ST. PAUL (Reuters) - The 17-year-old daughter of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is pregnant, Palin said on Monday in an announcement intended to knock down rumors by liberal bloggers that Palin faked her own pregnancy to cover up for her child.
Bristol Palin, one of Alaska Gov. Palin’s five children with her husband, Todd, is about five months pregnant and is going to keep the child and marry the father, the Palins said in a statement released by the campaign of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
… A senior McCain campaign official said the McCain camp was appalled that these rumors had not only been spread around liberal blog sites and partisan Democrats, but also were the subject of heightened interest from mainstream news media.
“The despicable rumors that have been spread by liberal blogs, some even with Barack Obama’s name in them, is a real anchor around the Democratic ticket, pulling them down in the mud in a way that certainly juxtaposes themselves against their ‘campaign of change,”‘ a senior aide said.
Y’know, and they asked that the media “respect her privacy”. I’m OK with that, to an extent. Many, many 17 year old girls find themselves trapped in the same situation every year, and there’s no cause to drag them through the public mud. However, I do think the topic is very relevant to Gov. Palin’s credentials to be on a national party ticket, particularly when her own views toward abstinence based sex education are…well…let’s let Sarah answer the question:
3. Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?
SP: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.
There are so many other issues with which to skewer Sarah Palin (and I’ll be commenting on some of those issues later today). But as I noted, her teenage daughter’s pregnancy out of wedlock is supremely relevant to discussions that are sure to take place in the next several months. It’s as relevant, and maybe more so, as the fact that rabidly anti-gay Dick Cheney has a gay daughter, but that was out of bounds for some reason (because the GOP said so, I guess) in the last presidential election, where the issue of gay marriage was such a huge, divisive topic.
And if you believe for one moment that the McCain campaign knew about this ahead of time before they offered Sarah Palin the Veep slot on the ticket, I have a bridge to nowhere for sale. Cheap. If McCain did know about it, then that says even more about his judgment (which is already under question) in choosing Palin as his running mate.
In a statement released just as Hurricane Gustav was striking the Gulf Coast, Sarah Palin and her husband announced their 17-year old daughter is pregant and plans to keep the baby. “Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that, as parents, we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned,” the Palins wrote. “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.” McCain officials said the news of the daughter’s pregnancy was being released to rebut what one aide called “mud-slinging and lies” circulating on liberal blog sites.
Palin spokesman Bill McAllister said on the same call that Palin is older than John F. Kennedy was when he ran for president in 1960 and that ``of four people on two national tickets, she is the only one with executive experience.''So she's more qualified than John McCain, who she now says has no executive experience? Keep it coming.
Hillary Clinton's advisers tell the New York Times she will increase her campaigning for the Obama/Biden ticket. One reason: McCain's choice of Sarah Palin and Palin's co-opting of her campaign theme.
Mrs. Clinton’s friends said she was galled that Ms. Palin might try to capitalize on a movement that Mrs. Clinton, of New York, built among women in the primaries....Guy Cecil, the former political director of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said it was “insulting” for Republicans to compare Ms. Palin to Mrs. Clinton.
Hillary's advisers have no problem making the inexperience argument against Palin: [More...]
Mr. Cecil said he believed that the McCain-Palin ticket might initially intrigue some Clinton supporters, but that they would ultimately choose Mr. Obama.
“It is insulting to compare Hillary’s lifetime of service and her commitment to progressive causes with that of a novice, right-wing governor,” Mr. Cecil said.
Good for Cecil. I think the Dems need to take off the kid gloves and go after Palin with all that they've got on her record and her lack of a record, as well her position on issues. Palin has zero national experience and 60 days on the campaign trail isn't enough time for Americans to have confidence that she's learned how the country runs, let alone how to run it.
Barack Obama may have been in a similar place 17 months ago, but since then, he's been briefed by experts daily on every facet of government and had his knowledge tested through more than a dozen debates. No matter how quick a study Palin is, she can't catch up in 60 days, not on the economy, foreign policy, national security, the justice system, health care. She's too big a risk for the number two position.
The radicial right and evangelicals will support her and continue to argue Barack Obama is unexperienced. That argument no longer flies and Obama should take it on, not ignore it.
My suggestion: Deploy Hillary immediately to Pennsylvania, Ohio and to Michigan and Florida. Let her make the argument that a woman is great on the ticket, but only if it's the right woman -- one who can step in and be ready to lead on day one if need be.
The RNC keeps airing the commercial of Hillary's statement during the campaign that McCain and she are ready to lead and Obama just gave a speech in 2002. She is in a great position now to get out there and say why that's no longer true.
She can also hit home the point that Palin is wrong on the issues and, like McCain, would undo years of social progress in this country, endanger all that Dems have been fighting for and economically and militarily give us four more years of what we got with the Bush Adminstration: war and recession.