Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tails Between His Legs - What The Hell Is Trump Wearing?

There are far bigger issues in the world right now, but Trump's 'formal wear' at the State Dinner given by The Queen at Buckingham Palace simply is a sartorial monstrosity.

I have worn 'white tie and tails' a number of times. It simply makes you feel amazing. It makes you want to dance like Fred Astaire while sipping champagne and negotiating a treaty between warring Balkan countries.

So when I saw Trump - a man supposedly with money and his own clothing line - wearing his formal wear at Buckingham Palace, I felt the need to deconstruct everything wrong with it. And there is a lot, so buckle up...

First, the vest. Oh my God, the vest. When wearing tails the vest should not hang down below the jacket. At most, there should only be a sliver of white showing below the jacket, and some consider even this heresy. Here, Trump's vest has a good four inches of real estate below the equator. The vest is too long and the jacket is too short.

Next, the shirt is all wrong. Trump is wearing a turn-down, plain shirt collar instead of a stand up wing collar. Not only that, the shirt has pleats in the front like a tux (not tails) shirt. A shirt for white tie should be plain front, either a piqué or a plain starched front.

Then there's the tie. Every man should know (or should know someone who knows) how to tie a bow tie. This little white tie is clearly pre-tied (one up from a clip on).

Last, Trump's jacket sleeves are far too long. You should see about a half inch of shirt cuff, but these sleeves come down to his knuckles. (Insert tiny hands joke here.) You are not supposed to wear a wristwatch with white tie either, but it is impossible to tell if there is one under there.

Still, the problems with Donald Trump's white tie and tails pale in comparison to those of his sons. Eric and Don Jr. seem to have dressed themselves as extras in The Wild, Wild West...

Both boys are wearing jackets with square cut fronts and backs instead of actual "tails". I've never seen this cut of jacket before - anywhere. I can only imagine they were found somewhere in the back of a prom rental shop. Don Jr.'s is in bad need of a pressing and Eric's has some weird front closure that covers the vest. A closer look shows Eric and Don Jr. are wearing the same jacket (2 for 1 sale?) and the jacket is meant to be buttoned. A button and buttonhole can be seen on Don Jr.'s jacket below. Eric has his actually buttoned in the above photo, covering the vest except for two weird little points showing. A tail coat is never meant to be buttoned. It is meant to hang open. I expect the powder blue stretch limo is just out of shot.

The only one wearing proper white tie and tails is (shudder) Jared, showing the right amount of cuff, a sliver of vest, and correct shirt and tie. The rest look like the Clampetts, which is amazing considering the resources and advice available to the Trumps, or even a quick internet search.

If you want to see white tie worn properly, I give you Benedict Cumberbatch...

Or even (blush), my slightly younger self...

I'll leave you with a final thought - who wore it better? Trump or Frankenstein's monster?

Monday, April 8, 2019

My Toronto Star Op-Ed Piece on the Jody Wilson-Raybould Affair

Bismarck Had A Point

Toronto Star
April 4, 2019

By Stephen Lautens

Bismarck once supposedly said: “You should never watch while your laws or sausages are being made.”

The realities of what goes into both of them can be distinctly off-putting.

Canada has had a front row seat in the SNC-Lavalin sausage factory for the past two months and it has distinctly spoiled our appetites.

Starting with a leak, a narrative emerged that then Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould was under siege, holding out like the Alamo against an onslaught of attempts to persuade her that she should use her extraordinary powers as AG to change the already decided course of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin and allow them to enter into negotiations for a plea deal. The plea deal may be on terms more or less onerous than a roll of the dice on the outcome of a criminal trial, but it comes with the ability of SNC-Lavalin too keep bidding on Canadian contracts. A conviction would not.

SNC-Lavalin is on trial for what was at one point systemic corporate corruption. Because of institutionalized bribery and kickbacks, they were banned by the World Bank from bidding on any of their contracts, and if convicted in Canada could face a similar 10-year ban here as well.

Well and good. The Prime Minister, his office and various other departments thought a deal was in the best interests of Canada, investors (including Quebec pension funds), employees, and would be generally popular in Quebec. Except the independent prosecutor in the Attorney General’s office said no deal. The AG backed her prosecutors and said that was the end of it – prosecutorial independence, cornerstone of our justice system.

Except it wasn’t. The government pressed, pleaded and argued. Some experts say that is acceptable, as long as the final decision remains with the Attorney General. Others are stricter and say no means no. Trudeau and others pressed on and the AG said their attempts at persuasion were unwelcome. Buzz off.

It is an accepted rule that if an Attorney General feels their independence has been compromised, they have to resign – immediately - usually with a short statement in the House of Commons as to why. The few times it has happened, it has been devastating to a government.

But that didn’t happen here. Instead of a bombshell we’ve had a brush fire. The Attorney General didn’t resign. At least not as Attorney General. Someone else became Attorney General, she was shuffled to another portfolio and after a month resigned.

For two months there have been arguments, speeches, leaks, taped phone calls, tweets, hearings, statements and now expulsion from caucus.

So the question is, are we better or worse off having seen the sausages being made?

© Stephen Lautens 2019

SNC-Lavalin, Deferred Prosecution Agreements and the Whole Ball of Wax.

I was doing the rounds last ween after a tweet thread of mine took off about the duty of an Attorney General to resign if he/she feels pressured (not secretly tape record government officials, be the subject of leaks, letters, and tweets). Here's my appearance on the Jon McComb Show, a Global affiliate radio show in BC, chatting about the Liberal caucus expulsions, the SNC-Lavalin mess, and what's next.


I also managed an appearance on CTV, a local show in Cobourg and a column in the Toronto Star.