Monday, April 28, 2008

The Way We Weren't

(Photo Credit: Charlie Nye, Indianapolis Star)

Moose has been wandering in a fog of memory all weekend, and it’s Barack Obama’s fault.

Pardon the sudden obsession with Indiana, kids, but Obama played basketball on Friday in the gym at Moose’s junior high school, Maple Crest Middle School in Kokomo. (Click on the photo above to see "Mustang Country" on the back wall of the gym. That's for the Maple Crest Mustangs, of course.) His team won 13-5 in a 3-on-3 contest. That is far less impressive to Moose than the fact that the skinny black guy with the funny name got out of town alive.

Back in the early 70s, when Moose lived there, Kokomo was a gritty light-industrial town surrounded by cornfields. It was just a little too close to its racist past as a bastion of Ku Klux Klan activity in the 1920s for Moose’s comfort -- and it’s not as if her racial or political consciousness was particularly evolved at that point. She was barely 11 when her family moved there in the spring of 1970. As the Moosians made the first step in a great migration that would take them to three different towns by the time she made it out of high school, Moose’s most pressing concerns were whether she would ever master the new math that was being taught in her new school and what radio station would play the dreadful pop music she favored in her pre-teen years.

Kokomo, Indiana in the early 1970s was the archetypal “wicked little town” conjured in the song of that name from John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. How wicked? Well, Moose would say that Miss Walden, the Nazi ex-cheerleader from hell who was her P.E. teacher and tormented Moose with the humiliations of gymnastics for three years, was wicked. Or she might say that her best friend’s brother, who taunted her on a daily basis in the way that boys from time immemorial have taunted girls, felt wicked back then, though now, of course, he is a perfectly nice man.

But, really, when Moose thinks of wickedness in connection with Kokomo, she thinks of the cross burning.

When she read about Obama’s historic visit to Kokomo (historic because the last presidential candidate to campaign there was Ronald Reagan in 1980), Moose called up that best pal from junior high, Mel, whose mom still lives there. Moose and Mel were girls together in all the ways Toni Morrison describes in her novel Sula. They were inseparable companions in the gawky years of early adolescence. In the refuge of their friendship, they didn’t have to worry about sounding too smart or not having a cheerleader’s grace or pep. Mel taught Moose how to play cribbage. When Moose started playing guitar, she wrote silly songs that only Mel would hear. Together, they walked endless loops around their subdivision, thus discovering that their non-cheerleader’s bodies were amply endowed with endurance and other strengths Miss Walden had overlooked. They survived heartbreaks, hangovers, and the usual assortment of professional and existential crises, and to this day they have a friendship that is rich and sturdy, despite periods of neglect. It’s the kind of friendship in which, after months or even years of spotty contact, one can impulsively call the other up on a Saturday afternoon, and the one who picks up the phone will say, “Wow, I was just thinking of you! I’m reading this book, and it’s all about writing and life and -- ”

“Cool, but did you know that Obama played basketball yesterday at Maple Crest?”

“No,” Mel says with a laugh, “how did you know that?”

“I’ve started reading the Indianapolis Star on line to keep up with the primary campaign in Indiana. He was in Kokomo yesterday. They’ve got this whole photo gallery of him in the gym at Maple Crest.”

“What a hoot!”

From there, Moose and Mel do a quick pivot down memory lane, because Moose needed help sharpening up her recollection of a series of incidents that made Obama’s warm welcome in Kokomo seem nothing short of miraculous to her. Perhaps it’s unfair of her to assume that the town’s attitudes wouldn’t have changed in 35 or 40 years, but some impressions are hard to shake, even when the details of memories grow fuzzy.

Moose and Mel aren’t sure if it was 1971 or 1972, but Mel clearly recalls that it happened late on the night of the 4th of July – actually, early in the morning of the 5th. They also couldn’t remember why they weren’t together for the 4th because they were, as I said, inseparable. Moose must have been off on some family thing, but Mel spent the 4th in the neighborhood, hanging out with other kids, including Brian Burnett, the middle child in the African-American family who had moved into the neighborhood not too long after Moose’s family had moved in. Moose and Mel don’t recall anybody making a big deal out of the Burnetts moving in, and they don’t remember getting any kind of encouragement or discouragement or advice from their parents about how to treat the new neighbors, the first family of color in the neighborhood. Moose has it in her head that Leesa, the older daughter, was smart and sweet. Mel says that Kim, the younger girl, was beautiful. On that 4th of July night, Brian was part of a group doing fireworks – sparklers and “snakes” – the kind of thing today’s overly protected kids don’t get to do. They probably spent part of the night in a rousing game of “Ditch ‘em,” the local version of tag that was played incessantly in summer.

Mel’s family lived in a house at the end of a court. The Burnetts lived at the opposite end of the court, about a hundred yards away. Late that night, as Mel was getting ready for bed, she heard her father call her mother to come downstairs to see something. Her mother was tired and told him just to tell her what he saw. “No, Rose,” he said. “Come here. You need to see this.” Mel overheard the conversation and went downstairs, too, her curiosity piqued. She looked out the front window and saw a cross burning in the Burnetts’ front yard.

What was said that night, as two parents and their youngest child stood watching a terrorist’s obscene torch light up the sky of their neighborhood? How did Mel sleep with such a vision in her mind’s eye? Sometimes time is merciful in blurring the edges of memory. What she and Moose vividly recall is walking together the next day down to the Burnetts’ house, Mel showing her the charred spot in the yard, Moose bending down, rubbing her hand across the spot, smelling the distinctive odor of burnt fuel. What did they say to each other then? Were they frightened? Sad? Did they knock on the Burnetts’ door to offer friendship or support? Did the community do anything to express outrage or find the culprits? Or did people, out of shame or fear, retreat into the polite silence of the Midwest? Again, memories are fuzzy, though Melanie recalls that there were three cross burnings in Kokomo that night and that they were reported in the local paper, the Kokomo Tribune. Moose, having gotten curious about this point of local history, is now using research to fill in memory’s blanks. We promise to update you if we turn up any clarifying details.
. . .try pretending
your time does not exist
that you are simply you. . .
try telling yourself
you are not accountable
to the life of your tribe
the breath of your planet
--Adrienne Rich, “North American Time”
History supplies one useful, if terrifying, bit of context for the fragmentary recollections of Moose and Mel. On the 4th of July in 1923, the Ku Klux Klan held one of its largest gatherings ever -- in Kokomo, Indiana in a place called Malfalfa Park. Some estimates suggest as many as 200,000 people attended. Malfalfa Park no longer seems to exist, but Malfalfa Road is the western boundary of the neighborhood where Moose and Mel lived in the 1970s. Also: Moose’s mother taught high school in Kokomo from 1970 to 1972 and recalls a period of racial unrest following court-ordered desegregation. The cross burnings might have been a part of that unrest or could have helped to provoke it. Finally: When Moose was a cub reporter a few years later in Bloomington, in 1979 or 1980, she was sent to Kokomo to cover a Klan march that turned out to be not that big a deal. Still, the remnants of a sordid history lingered, for decades.

Fuzzy or treacherous as memory may be, Moose is haunted by a flaming cross she never saw and so cannot help but marvel that Barack Obama was welcomed in the wicked little town she never regretted leaving, though she left behind a friend as dear as life itself. For the moment, we will leave aside the questions of whether that welcome is proof that Kokomo has overcome its shameful racist past or merely embraced a candidate who makes forgetting easy and pleasant. We will close by giving the citizens of Kokomo a paws up for being good hosts – and by reminding our readers that Indiana hasn’t voted Democratic in a presidential election since 1964. And the last time before that? 1936.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back Home Again?

(Photo Credits: Top: Matt Detrich, Indianapolis Star; bottom: Matt Dial, Indianapolis Star; Clinton rally at American Legion Mall, Indianapolis, 4/23/08)

What if it all comes down to Indiana -- the Democratic race for the presidential nomination? What if it all comes down to a hardy band of lesbians following Senator Hillary Clinton up and down the state -- from Moose's birth place of New Albany, along the banks of the Ohio River, to the comfy suburban enclave of Valparaiso, close to the shores of Lake Michigan, where she graduated from high school -- with signs saying, "Lesbians Hoosiers For Hillary" (sic and see above)? A lot of people are saying that it might.

I don't think Moose will be able to take it, kids. I think she'll cancel classes for the semester. I think she'll find some clever way to bail out of the last few meetings on Learning Outcomes Assessment that she's committed to attending. I think she'll throw a cooler and a couple of pairs of clean underpants in the Prius and hit the road, with or without me and Goose, to claim her native land for Hillary, to save America, to cast down her bucket with the candidate whom she fondly refers to as Rocky with brains, boobs, and a health-care plan.

Don't you all think it's weird that Goose's home state of Texas resurrected a candidacy that seemed on the brink of death and that now Moose's home state of Indiana, which, in all honesty, has to be the dullest place on dog's earth, is now the epicenter of the election that will transform the universe? Does it affirm your belief that Roxie's World is ground zero in everything that matters? Does it give you Goosebumps? Mooosebumps? Roxie-bumps?

Fasten your seatbelts, kids. We're headin' out to the heartland to get this whole mess sorted out. Stay tuned. Stay faithful. And consider having a few close friends over for waffles this weekend. We want Obama to be able to finish his waffles, so let's commit ourselves to waffle-eating. Send us your favorite waffle recipes, and we'll see if we can't find a way to give Senator Obama room and time to finish his breakfast in peace. Go ahead, Barry. Clean up your plate. We'll answer the phone. Really.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gloat? Us? Oh, YEAH!

Pro-Hillary fem bloggers enjoying some hormonally fueled day-after PA happy dancing -- Why the heck not? From Donna Darko at Hillary 1000 by way of Elizabitchez:

While we're indulging in a little levity, if you missed HRC's killer cameo on Colbert Report, click here. (We would embed it for you, but the geek girls in Tech/Aesthetics don't like the way vids from Comedy Central mess up our page-loading. Take it up with Comedy Central, will you? Those geeks are some seriously mean bitches. Vid's hilarious, though. Go watch it.) (With thanks to deputy internets troller Dudley the Beagle.)

Best line on HRC's surprising only to the media and Obamaniacs victory in PA last night? James Wolcott's take on the New York Times' grouchy editorial deploring the nasty, nasty tone of the Dem primary race:

Shorter New York Times editorial:

Hillary Clinton's ruthless insistence on winning big-state primaries with traditional Democratic voters only hastens and strengthens the case that she drop out of the race and let Barack Obama finish his waffle.

Love it. And you'll love this piece by Eric Boehlert on Media Matters for America on how profitable misogyny has turned out to be for Chris Matthews and the other boyz of the MSM. My typist has been so busy that we haven't had a chance to comment on the cover story the NY Times did on Matthews a couple weeks back, but we have a strict policy of not commenting 'round here on things we haven't actually read, even if it means bypassing an opportunity to indulge in our blind hatred for Tweety.

That's it, kids. It's another one of those nights when the typist's head is about to tumble into the keyboard. We're awfully proud of you for pouring all that campaign money into Sistah Hillary's coffers last night. Didn't get around to it? Shame on you! No face licks for you til you've clicked over to Hillary Clinton dot com. Next round in the fight is less than two weeks away. Girl's got to get ready for battle, and you've got to help her buy the equipment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Double Fricking Digits!

(Photo Credit: AP; Hillary Clinton celebrates victory in PA primary with supporters in Philadelphia, 4/22/08)

Can somebody please explain to me why the LOSER of today's Pennsylvania primary is speaking LAST? Why didn't the WINNER get to inspire us all into the late news? Oh, she probably has to get home to do the dinner dishes or help her aged mother get ready for bed or something. I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the media are still on their knees for the Precious and just waiting, wishing, hoping, and praying for that moment when the Bitch Who Will Not Die will just. . .stop. . .WINNING! How dare she! How dare she fight for the votes that are rightfully his!

Want to shut the media and the blogger boys up, Clintonistas? Then leave this happy place right now, and click yourselves over to Hillary Clinton dot com, so the Bitch We Love will have the resources she needs to compete against His Hopeness in Moose's home state of Indiana and Big Sissy/the Newest Democrat's adopted state of North Carolina on May 6. Moose got her tax refund this morning, so she'll be sending the Good Old Girl a few more Ben Franklins to help get her through the next few weeks. Go on now, sisters, brothers, and gender-queers. Give a sister a fighting chance, and get that hope-monger to STFU.

Wa Po recap is here. Results are incomplete, but things are looking good. She could get a big enough win to make a few superdelegates stop, think, and wet their pants with anxiety.

Tie game, people. Nothin' to do but keep on playing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Texas Is In No Way a Pig State

(Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP; members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints arrive in court in San Angelo, Texas, 4/17/08)

We love it when life imitates one of our favorite TV shows, especially when the imitation involves the colorful home state of one of the moms of Roxie’s World.

This one is for Goose, born and raised in San Angelo, Texas, where a no-nonsense district court judge is now trying to figure out what to do with 416 children found living in a compound of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints that was raided by the state’s Department of Child Protective Services earlier this week. The Tom Green County courthouse, where Judge Barbara Walther has ordered DNA tests to try to sort out the complicated web of family relationships that had developed on the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, is where Goose’s late father Earl got his start as a judge back in the early 70s. He held the very same position – 51st District Court Judge – that Walther holds today.

We’re calling it Big Love, Texas-Style, or just Bigger Love, which comes down to pretty much the same thing, but our post title is taken from a comment on the web site of the San Angelo Standard Times, which is exhaustively covering the FLDS story, where a lively debate has broken out about which is ickier: polygamy or government intrusion on the sovereignty of the individual. It’s a fascinating discussion, punctuated by such illuminating exchanges as this comment by an entirely reasonable fellow who calls himself Anasazi:
You women in San Angelo are being fooled. Yes, [incarcerated polygamist prophet Warren] Jeffs is a punk. Any moron can figure that out. Jeffs is in jail. I'd be more concerned about the pig state that runs your life and keeps you a slave at $7.00 an hour. Can you proud women of San Angelo make a living there at the min. wage of $7.00 an hour?
To which RJ sweetly replies:
I am a woman in San Angelo and I assure you that I make WAY more than $7 an hour. Texas is in no way a pig state -- it is the only state that can stand alone without the other 49 if it chooses to. The other states would be in a world of hurt if they had to survive without Texas.
Oh, how we love the internets for letting us tune in to the voices of ordinary men and women exchanging their opinions on the issues of the day! Here’s to the democratization of thought! Here’s to everything being on sale in the marketplace of ideas!

Question 1: How big do you think RJ’s big hair is?

Question 2: Do you notice how easy it is to tap into that deep vein of Texas pride and resentment regarding the brief period of Texas independence (1836-1846)? Moose has chuckled for years over this particular quirk of the Texas character. She thinks it explains all kinds of things, from Goose’s impressive self-confidence to the tendency of women in her family to show up at reunions with guns in their purses. Small guns, but still, guns. The women in Moose’s family stuff their purses with the more usual accoutrements of middle-class femininity: Kleenexes, small flasks, an assortment of serotonin reuptake inhibitors, maybe a tampon or three.

We digress. We agree with RJ, of course, that Texas is in no way a pig state. Texas is a lovely and sophisticated state which we heart greatly for giving us Molly Ivins, some of the finest live music in all the world, and the concept of the drive-through breakfast taco. It may shine an unflattering light on the Lone Star State, but the FLDS story provides a valuable opportunity to ruminate upon that deep tension at the heart not just of Texas but of all fifty of these goofy United States between the belief in the sovereignty of the individual and the desire to police, control, and limit religious, sexual, and other differences. We are not big fans of religiously motivated polygamy here in Roxie’s World, and we are strongly opposed to teenage girls being forced to have sex and bear children with creepy older men. We’re not wild about the deeply unflattering fashion styles favored on the compound either, but as fans of Big Love we understand the sect’s commitment to the look of Little House on the Prairie.

We are still digressing, aren’t we? That’s because we are wrestling with the temptation to posit an analogy between Mormons and queers as we think through the issues of sovereignty v. state control that the colloquy between Anasazi and RJ brings to the fore. Big Love traffics continually in this analogy, as the Henrickson family negotiates the daily risks and challenges of polygamy in the suburbs. Metaphors of the closet abound, and subplots are driven by conflicts between the need for secrecy and the desire for openness, especially as the older children of Bill and first wife Barb, who were not born into polygamy, grapple with friendships, sexuality, and their relationship to their changed and changing family. On the show, the analogy works as a way of understanding the affable yet besieged Henricksons, who come across as clean-scrubbed sexual utopianists committed to a non-normative relational order. Polygamy for them seems motivated less by religion than by a social ethic of caretaking and shared responsibility. (In the show’s back-story, Bill and Barb became polygamous when Barb was stricken with cancer. An extra wife or two comes in handy during times of crisis, it seems.) Moose calls Big Love the queerest show on television because it challenges audiences to re-imagine intimacy and candidly portrays the complex circulations of desire within families, particularly between and among the “sister-wives” in the Henrickson household. If we were writers of slash fiction, we would pen a steamy scene between Jeanne Tripplehorn’s Barb and Chloë Sevigny’s Nicki.

On the show and in the real-world drama unfolding in West Texas, however, the analogy between Mormons and queers breaks down around issues of coercion and consent. Adamantly as we support sexual freedom as an aspect of free expression and committed as we are to diversification of family and relational structures, we have never thought hetero-polygamy was a great deal for women or children, especially female children. We can’t join in Anasazi’s outrage toward the pig state that storms in and pulls 416 kids out of a situation in which girls as young as 13 are alleged to have been raped, beaten, and impregnated by men in their fifties. The right to free expression doesn’t include the right to victimize those who are too young to make free, informed choices. The state has a right and, indeed, a responsibility to try to protect children and others with a limited capacity to consent. (Should we debate age-of-consent laws and the sexual rights of children? Nah, not here, not today.)

The challenge in any case that pits the sovereignty of the individual against the state’s responsibility to prevent harm is to know when the state is acting rationally and legitimately and when it is acting out of bias against persons or practices that it finds objectionable when no real threat of harm exists. That is why it is not inconsistent, in our judgment, to feel relieved that 416 kids have been removed from the Yearning for Zion Ranch and yet feel outraged that states and the federal government continue to deny consenting adults the right to marry a person of the same sex. In that sense, we regretfully conclude, Texas is a pig state after all – and so are all of the others, with the brave exception of Massachusetts.

Big love to all of you, kids. We’ve missed you and are happy to be back here in the ‘sphere where we belong. Peace out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Unsinkable Hillary

(Photo Credit: AP via Politico; Hillary Clinton downs a shot of whiskey at Bronko's Restaurant and Lounge in Crown Point, Ind., 4/12/08)

Video of Hillary's belly up to the bar moment is here and its political resonances are probed here, but we want you to watch this long glorious scene from The Unsinkable Molly Brown, because it's what we think of when we see a tough woman knocking down shots with the boys just because she can. Debbie Reynolds chews up the scenery, and Peter Gennaro's choreography will take your breath away. Swear to dog. In the wacky world of Moose's pop culturally mixed childhood, the soundtrack album to this 1964 film was as big as Meet The Beatles. She knew all the words to both. Still does, in fact. Anyway, the toe-tapping vid:

This one goes out to the late, great Frig, who taught Moose to love the musical, to all the girls who needed three gulps but managed to get the shot down without choking, and to qta and Mel, who are helping Moose put on a show this week. Miss you, are you, love you. Mean it.

And for Hillary, who keeps swimming.

Linky Love:

Go read this wonderful piece by Rebecca Traister in Salon on young women who are sick of the trashing of Hillary, even if they are supporting Obama. It's an unusually nuanced analysis of generational divides among women and of how the F word (feminism) is playing out in the election.

Check out Anglachel's Journal, a blog that's recently landed on our radar screen. She's a Clintonista whose instincts strike us as razor-sharp.

Hang in there with us, kids. We're working hard to stay afloat ourselves right now, but our hearts are always here with you. Swear to dog.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mad As Hell

Are you mad as hell at Roxie's World for making you wait so long for a new post and for being so stingy with fresh, meaty content recently? Don't get bitter, children. Bitterness isn't cool, according to Saint Barack, wannabe Lord and Master of the Universe and He Who Separates the Cool from the Un-Cool, the Sweet from the Bitter, the iPhones from the clunky rotary dial phone on your grandmother's hall table. Whatever you do, don't get bitter. It might wrinkle your skin. It might make you stop and think about the details of Hillary Clinton's health-care plan. And that would not be good. . .for Saint Barack.

Don't get bitter. Get mad. Spend the next nine minutes of your life watching this video on pervasive anti-Clinton media hysteria (which we picked up from Riverdaughter by way of Tom Watson), and you may find yourself throwing open the windows to deliver a good hearty scream. Why the heck not, people? Sometimes I stand on the edge of our deck and bark my little head off, just because I can. You should try it, but first watch the vid:

Bracing, eh? That burn you get in the back of your throat sitting through the clips of all those chortling, vicious, way-too-sure-of-themselves guys will go away if you scream, I promise. Once you've done that, go read this equally bracing and brilliant piece by Kate Harding on Shakesville on why it's time for Obama supporters to stop, think, and get skeptical about their candidate. Our favorite line? Well, Harding's refrain is, "The man is not a fucking progressive," which would be our refrain if the nannies over in Standards and Practices didn't shoot us dirty looks every time we use a dirty word in Roxie's World. But because we love a good rant, we're willing to brave those dirty looks to give y'all a big chunk of Harding's message to Obamaniacs:
Listen up, blindly twitterpated Obama supporters (and here, I must insert a big, fat, blinking neon IF THE SHOE DOESN'T FIT, DON'T WEAR IT warning), I'm not even asking you to vote for Hillary if you've still got the chance. It's not my place to tell you what to do with your vote. But as a fellow Democrat -- and hell, I'll even go so far as to say for the good of the party -- here's what I'm asking you to do: WAKE THE FUCK UP.

You have almost succeeded in crowning Obama the nominee. Way to go. But that is just the beginning. And as far as building him up for the general goes, fawning over him and freaking when he's criticized is not helpful. You need to recognize that he is not the fucking messiah, that the media does not love him more than they love McCain, that you have not seen the tip of the goddamned iceberg when it comes to opponents trying to take him down -- and neither has he. You need to recognize that he has a bad habit of saying things that come off badly to a whole lot of people, and you need to figure out some more effective counterattacks than, "But Hillary's got cooties!" You need to stop exhaling when some gaffe of his "blows over" and understand that nothing has blown over yet, because the GOP hate machine has not even fucking bothered with him yet.

And P.S., you might want to think about apologizing to the millions of people who voted for Hillary, whom you've ridiculed, insulted, and attacked time and again, as if the Democratic nomination automatically equals the presidency, and there would never come a time when you need our support. You also might want to tell your candidate to ask for our fucking votes instead of smugly assuming he's got them.
You gotta love a girl who can drop an f-bomb and the word "twitterpated" into the same paragraph. Another reason to love Harding is that she engages in some righteous deconstruction of comments His Hopeness makes regarding the LGBT community in a lengthy interview just published in The Advocate. Obama sidesteps a question suggesting he is asking the LGBT community to wait for full equality in supporting civil unions rather than marriage and continues to defend his association with homophobes such as Donnie McClurkin on the grounds that he (Obama) has a unique capacity to create comity between gay people and those who would consign them to Hell. "I tell you what," Obama says in response to a question about campaigning with McClurkin in South Carolina, "my campaign is premised on trying to reach as many constituencies as possible and to go into as many places as possible, and sometimes that creates discomfort or turbulence."

Hands up if you think the real problem between queers and queer-haters is just lack of "conversation," which is the solution Obama offers: "Our campaign is built around the idea that we should all be talking." Fall on your knees, kids -- The Savior says we can talk our way to harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding! Meanwhile, Moose, who may be feeling a little bitter, sulks in the corner, cynically muttering the only lines from Ezra Pound she's ever been able to remember:
What is the use of talking, and there is no end of talking,
There is no end of things in the heart.
For Portly Dyke's take on Obama's interview with The Advocate and related matters of privilege, language, and unconsciousness, click here.

When the typist starts quoting Ezra Pound, you know it's time to stop blogging and start getting ready for the coming school week. Peace out, kids, and talk nice to each other or you'll upset the perfect harmony of One Nation Under Obama.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Shall We Dance?

Because we really don't have time for blogging this evening but want you to know we are thinking of you and your insatiable desire for weird pleasures made accessible by the internets:

(With thanks to the Official Prep School Teacher of Roxie's World, who is the very best there is at finding and sharing perversely fascinating junk.)

It's one of those weeks here in Roxie's World when an old dog is grateful to be deaf as a post. That way I don't have to listen to the sighs and grumbles and sharp intakes of breath emanating from my poor pitiful typist as she careens through the house throwing down one stack of papers and picking up another, while muttering endlessly about talks and meetings and classes and some strange creature she calls a symposium. I catch the sound of this word in my one half-good ear and wonder if the moms aren't shopping for a new companion animal, but I don't see any signs of crates, chew toys, or litter boxes, so I put my head down and go back to sleep, knowing that sooner or later the storm will pass and all will be calm again in Roxie's World.

Meanwhile, here are some links to all the stuff we are not blogging about while Moose endures her terrible, horrible, busy-as-a-fly-in-an-outhouse week:
  • Is blogging hazardous to one's health? I'm doing fine, thanks, but my poor pitiful typist is suffering most of the symptoms of what will soon be known as Blogger's Constant Traumatic Stress Disorder: weight gain, neck and shoulder pain, sleep disruption, low self-esteem on days when traffic is low. (You can help out on that last one, people -- Just click over here two or three times a day, and Moose will be happy!) (Face lick to Dog-Eared Book for passing this important story along.)
  • Are we thrilled that Clinton strategist Mark Penn finally got his comeuppance? You betcha. We called for his head months ago, loyal readers will recall. We're glad he is down. We wish he was out, but a girl can't have everything.
  • Are we relieved that someone has written a withering critique of the Obamaniacal assertion that the only way Clinton can get the nomination is to "steal" it? Of course, and we're especially pleased that it's written by Sean Wilentz, who is just sharp as a tack. Your homework? Forward this to every Obamaniac you know and tell them to get the heck off their high horses. Game is tied, and the fourth quarter has barely begun.
  • Is it seriously bumming us out that as we type this piece Stanford is losing to Tennessee in the women's national championship game? Yes, but it fits with the pattern of everyone we even remotely care about imploding in basketball this season. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer even took off her aviator glasses for the final! We hope it wasn't because Roxie's World made kind of a snarky comment about VanDerveer's style as anti-style the other day. We realize that is a time-honored tradition in lesbian culture, coach, and we honor you for maintaining it. We love you, Tara, and we really hope your team gets its act together here in the last six minutes.
Sigh, kids. In a matter of minutes, college basketball season will be truly, finally, utterly over, and we'll have no choice but to face the other sources of madness in our lives. How many days is it til exhibition season begins? Wake me in time for tip-off, okay? Peace out.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

In Justice

(Image Credit: U.S. Department of Justice Performance Work Plan and Appraisal Record of Leslie Hagen, via National Public Radio)

Another in Our Ongoing Series of Letters to Actress and Kinda/Sorta But Not Quite Out Lesbian Jodie Foster:

Dear Ms. Foster,

Me again -- Your favorite dog blogger on the subjects of politics, pop culture, and basketball, with occasional forays into sexuality and cinema. Hope you're doing well. Congrats on the opening of Nim's Island, which my Aunt Katie saw this morning and thoroughly enjoyed. We hope it does better than The Brave One did for you. We are really thinking you should steer clear of the whole gun-toting vigilante thing. It just doesn't suit your fundamentally thoughtful, conscientious nature. We realize the death of Charlton Heston leaves a void in the universe of Hollywood gun-nuts, but we don't think you're the person to fill it.

Which brings us to the point of this letter: Your next project. We think we've found it, and we hope you'll bear with an old dog as she pitches an idea to a mega-star. We don't know if you happened to be tuned into NPR the other day when they aired a story by Ari Shapiro on the dismissal of attorney Leslie Hagen from a contract position as liaison between the Justice Department and the U.S. attorneys' committee on Native American issues, despite receiving the highest possible ratings for her work. The Justice Department's inspector general is now investigating whether Hagen was let go because of rumors that she is a lesbian. The award-winning federal prosecutor from Michigan was told in October 2006 that her contract would not be renewed (though she and her supervisors wanted it to be). Monica Goodling, senior counsel to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez who resigned from the Justice Department after acknowledging she had engaged in personnel actions that were inappropriately politicized, was involved in the Hagen case. Hagen's former associates -- one of whom described her as "the best qualified person in the nation" to hold the position she had at Justice -- told NPR that she was dismissed after a rumor reached Goodling that she is a lesbian:

As one Republican source put it, "To some people, that's even worse than being a Democrat."

Several people interviewed by the inspector general's staff said investigators asked whether people drew a connection between the rumors and Hagen's dismissal. The witnesses, who spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity, said they felt that the rumors led to the decision not to renew Hagen's contract.

Someone who worked in Hagen's office says that in a 2006 meeting, senior officials were told that Hagen's contract would not be renewed because someone on the attorney general's staff had a problem with Hagen. The problem, it was suggested during the conversation, was sexual orientation — or what was rumored to be Hagen's sexual orientation.

One person at the meeting asked, "Is that really an issue?" But the decision had been made.

Here's the part that makes this story such an ideal vehicle for you, Ms. Foster: Leslie Hagen, in addition to being an exemplary employee, was also a loyal Republican and a private person who did not discuss her personal life. She was a good girl, Ms. Foster, a team player, and a discreet individual who kept her professional and personal lives completely separate. Indeed, she is so private that an exhaustive, 4-minute Google image search turned up not a single photograph of Hagen! She was let go simply because the morally/politically zealous Goodling thought she caught a whiff of the Sapphic about her. Today, Goodling is out of the Justice Department, and Hagen is back, working another contract job in the Office of Justice Programs. According to NPR, "People who know her say she feels hurt by what she's been through, and that she just wants to focus on her work." The incident hasn't gotten a lot of attention until the NPR story last week. Now, Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter are looking into the matter.

Imagine what you could do with this story, Ms. Foster -- the keep-your-head-down, play-by-the-rules career attorney versus the arrogant political hack who bends the rules toward her own self-righteous ends. We would call it In Justice (get it?). We see Gwyneth Paltrow in the role of Monica Goodling (though that's better than Goodling deserves) and relish the thought of the two of you facing off in one of those classic Washington scenes -- the encounter in the restaurant or the parking garage, the dueling news conferences, you staring fearlessly into the lenses of a thousand cameras quietly declaring, "I just wanted to do my job," while a teary Goodling breaks down and says, "I owe Ms. Hagen and the nation an apology." It's a wonderful opportunity for you to play a dyke and meditate on the complex issues of public and private, professional and personal that have been such fascinating aspects of your story, identity, and persona for so many years. It's a way to come out while raising questions about why our stories and our politics are so obsessively invested in uncovering the "truth" about sex and sexuality.

This is the film you were born to make, Ms. Foster -- and Roxie's World is happy to help you make it. We'll write the screenplay, as long as you promise to let us introduce a couple of cute dogs and maybe two or three references to queer theory -- the easy stuff, we promise, nothing you'd need a degree in French lit from Yale to understand. Call us, will you? My people are standing by, waiting to hear from your people.

Yours sincerely,

(Photo Credits: Monica Goodling by Mark Wilson, via NPR; Gwyneth Paltrow via random search of internets on "Gwyneth Paltrow")

(With thanks again to the Shy One, who is getting really good at sniffing out stories for Roxie's World.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Not Ready to Make Nice

Attention, pro-Hillary fem bloggers! Yep, that's you, Historiann. You, too, Elizabitches and the new pal I picked up by way of Elizabitches, Ouyangdan. Oh, and all y'all over at The Confluence and The Hillary 1000 and a bunch of you at Shakesville, though we've not officially met. (What about pro-Hillary butch bloggers? Moose mutters from the corner. Don't you want to get their attention, too? Sure, Moose, as soon as you launch that Butch PhD blog you were so keen on awhile back. Stop it, Rox, between typing for you and holding down my day job, I don't have time for any solo blogging, and you know it. Hush then, Moose, I'm trying to take care of a little business here.) Listen up, you pro-Hillary righteous dude bloggers! You know who you are, Tom Watson, Lance Mannion, James Wolcott, and Bob Somerby. And stop with the barking, you progressive Wire Fox Terrier bloggers! C'mon, Buster. I'm serious. I've got something to say.

Okay, now that I've got your attention, I've got an assignment for you. Roxie's World is launching its first meme, and y'all have been tagged to spread it throughout the internets. C'mon, kids -- Let's get viral!!! Check out this amazing, inspiring, well-made, suitable for humming along with video of Clinton clips played along with the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice." (Listen and watch fast, before some lawyer spots the vid and takes it down for copyright infringement.)

Clearly, this is the theme song for the embattled Clinton campaign ("embattled" being the adjective that by law must now precede every reference to the campaign of the junior senator from New York) at this torturous stage of the long, bloody march to Denver. (Oh, did you miss the blood? Could that be because it's actually been an incredibly civilized and not especially divisive contest, even if Goose has been threatening to leave the Democratic party?) To the crowds of know-it-alls who say Clinton doesn't have a chance, she replies, "I'm not ready to back down." To the hordes of haters who have felt entitled to spew venom at everything from her hair to her health-care plan, she shakes her head and says, "It's a sad sad story when a mother will teach her/Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger." To the Dem party leaders who wish to hell she'd quit carrying on about the poor voters of Florida and Michigan, she grits her teeth and says, "I'm still mad as hell/Can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should."

This is the video for the mad, mad moment in which we find ourselves, my friends. This is the link you should pass along to all your legions of loyal blog readers, all your undecided Dem relatives in states that still have upcoming primaries, all your Republican (but mostly apolitical) sisters who have indicated they intend to change their party affiliation in order to vote for Hillary in North Carolina (which they must do by April 11). Pass it on, children.

Because the fat lady is clearing her throat in the wings, and we'd rather hear the Dixie Chicks or another Clinton stump speech than her any day.

Because this election isn't about bowling or Bosnia, the Kennedy-Obama (non)connection or the Clinton marriage. It isn't even "about" race or gender, unless by that you mean it would be utterly marvelous for the United States to have its first non-white or non-male president. It's about who's got the best plan for leading the nation out of the nightmares of the Shrub epoch and the strongest capacity to turn plans and promises into realities. In our judgment, the candidate with that capacity is the one we recently described as "Rocky with brains, boobs, and a health-care plan." (And have you noticed that the Clinton campaign has been reading us again and playing the Rocky card in PA? Would it kill ya to give us credit, guys? Just one little shout-out to the most fanatically pro-Hillary dog blog on the internets?) If you happen to concur in that judgment, pass this post along to a pal. Pass the video along to someone who likes strong women, good music, and socialized medicine (kidding, kidding -- you know Hillary isn't that brave -- oops, crazy).

Oh, and go read this great interview HRC gave to the Philadelphia Gay News. Bunch o' folks are linking to it today, and it gave Moose a little lump in her throat. We didn't want you to miss out on Hill's strong statement of support for using the powers of the federal government (regarding immigration, asylum, the military, and taxation) to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and same-sex couples.

'Night, kids. Don't forget to do your homework. We've got an election to win and a nation to save. This ain't no time for making nice, believe me.

(With thanks to the Candy Man, co-chair of the Pretty Boys for Hillary Caucus, for sending the vid in our direction.)

Update: Historiann has submitted her homework assignment, and it is excellent, we must say. A big lick on the cheek to Donna Darko for directing traffic our way from her blog and from The Hillary 1000. Welcome, everybody -- Great to have you in our happy little pack! Best news of the day, though? Hands down, it's word from North Carolina this morning that a certain Republican (but mostly apolitical) sister read this post and filled out the paperwork to change her party affiliation so she can vote in the NC primary for Hillary on May 2. You know what this means, don't you? No, we're not predicting HRC will win North Carolina. We gave up prognosticating after the debacles of our Texas/Ohio predictions (which newbies can read about here and here). It means that for the first time in recorded history, the balance of political power in Moose's immediate family has shifted decidedly toward the Democrats! Yes, it's true:
3 of the 5 living Moosians now belong to the party of FDR instead of the party of Nixon!
It's possible there were tremors in the earth this morning emanating from a southern Indiana graveyard as the bodies of several dead Republican Moosians suddenly started spinning, though Moose believes that her mild-mannered Republican (but mostly apolitical) father would have understood the political migrations of his daughters. She likes to imagine that if he had lived to see the odious presidency of Shrub, with its stupefying incompetence, its contempt for civil liberty, and its unprovoked war, he might have made a similar journey, declaring, "I didn't leave the Republican party. The Republican party left me." The dead have no defense against such imaginings, but it's awfully pretty to think so, isn't it? Meantime, let's welcome the official (and actual) Big Sissy of Roxie's World into the Dem fold. And let's not tell her about the huge tax hikes and the plan to take "In God We Trust" off the currency, okay? At least not right away -- We need to ease her in slowly, kids. ;-)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Party On, Beloveds

Yes, the Lady Terps were unceremoniously drummed out of the NCAA tournament last night by a beyond-control Stanford team. (Can it be possible that Kristi Toliver scored 35 points and the Terps still never really had a chance? Turns out it is possible if Lang and Harp are shut down inside, and the normally solid-from-the-charity-stripe Terps manage to miss 5 out of 6 shots from the foul line during a critical streak in the second half.) (Kathy Orton's Wa Po report is here. Milton Kent's Bal Sun report is here. Rick Maese has a nice tribute to senior Crystal Langhorne here.)

So, yes, there is sorrow in Roxie's World today, but we can take comfort in the fact that the Terps got bounced by one of the few teams in women's collegiate basketball coached by a pretty much out dyke. We have always admired Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer. I mean, how can you not admire a woman so focused on the game and nothing but the game that she goes on national television wearing aviator glasses and clothes straight out of the box from Lands' End? We love us some sports geeks here in Roxie's World, and VanDerveer is just about as geeky as it gets. Plus, we bow in homage before the searing talent of Stanford guard Candice Wiggins, who scored 41 points in a performance Orton accurately described as "transcendent." We are heartbroken for the four seniors on Maryland's team who worked so hard to get back to the Final Four in their last season, but we don't mind seeing VanDerveer and Stanford having their first chance to battle for the crystal trophy since 1997. We wish them well, even if we will be pulling for C. Vivian Stringer and the Scarlet Women of Rutgers to be the ones cutting down the nets in Tampa.

The agony of defeat notwithstanding, sports fans, today is a holiday in Roxie's World. Today is the day we celebrate the birth of America's favorite dog blogger obsessively devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. Yes, kids, it's true. It's April Fool's Day, and I am fourteen years old! I may be mostly deaf, a little bit blind, frequently incontinent, and achy in the legs, but my leaky old heart is still ticking and my typist is still pounding away at the laptop. Life is good, children, and so we celebrate by re-posting the vid we used last year to mark this occasion because, hey, we think this scruffy terrier dancing to "Happy Birthday" is just about the funniest thing we've ever seen. Watch it again, and raise a glass to my amazing longevity. You know you want to, and I want you to, too. Love you, legions. Mean it.