Sunday, September 30, 2007

Make It Stop

Please, someone, take Maureen Dowd's laptop away from her before she writes another word about Hillary Clinton. I am an old dog with a leaky heart, and I can't take it anymore.

Please, tell her that her favorite analogy -- insisting that the Bush and Clinton families are alike in being "dynasties" -- is wholly specious and unconvincing. The Bush family has been close to the centers of political, economic, and military power in the United States since the early decades of the twentieth century. (See Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush if you don't believe me.) Hillary Clinton married a guy who never met his father and became president the old-fashioned way: by getting more votes than the fella he ran against. She's been elected to two terms in the U. S. Senate and has a crazy idea that she might be at least as capable as the moron currently occupying the Oval Office. But Mo Do wastes precious inches of real estate in The New York Times with choice quotes like this one from Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, who "once told" Dowd:
She’s never going to get out of our faces. ... She’s like some hellish housewife who has seen something that she really, really wants and won’t stop nagging you about it until finally you say, fine, take it, be the damn president, just leave me alone.

Don't you love that chummy "once told me" formulation? I can see them leaning across the table toward one another in some impossibly chic Manhattan bar. Beads of sweat slide slowly down the glass that holds Mo Do's cosmopolitan. When Wieseltier hisses out the phrase "hellish housewife," Mo Do has to swallow hard to keep from indelicately spewing her beverage across the room. She laughs so hard her face almost moves. Almost. She is having so much fun she thinks she might order something to eat. But no, it's Thursday. If she eats today that's it for the weekend.

Frank Rich was hatin' on Hillary today, too. His piece isn't as venomous as Mo Do's, but he and his colleague seem locked in a contest to find the worst possible analogy to describe the Clinton campaign. Rich compares her to Al Gore in 2000 -- cautious, long-winded, equivocal, running a safe campaign aimed at not losing rather than winning the election. Digby aptly describes Rich's less than illuminating comparison as "utterly useless lightweight psycholanalytical drivel," to which Roxie's World says, "Paws up!"

More pleasant reading can be found in the Times in A. O. Scott's thoughtful look into the mind and music of Mr. Bruce Springsteen, whose new album, Magic, will be released this week. The Boss will be hitting the road with the E Street Band this fall, and we can look forward to a potent mixture of pop and politics from the group. Springsteen has clearly had it with the outrages of the Bush years and is making no effort to conceal his contempt. One song on the new album, "Last to Die," asks the question a young John Kerry asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he came back from Vietnam: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Roxie's World will have a review of Magic up soon. The moms got an advance copy, thanks to a kind friend in the Garden State. And, yes, they've got tix for the DC show, which Moose managed to procure all by herself on the internets last week when Goose was out of town. (Usually, only Goose is trusted with the sacred task of procuring Bruce tix. Moose might get flustered and end up with Celine Dion or something. We are awfully proud that she managed to shoulder this awesome responsibility. We're thinking maybe Condi Rice should send her to Burma to work out that whole mess between the monks and the junta.)

Finally, Wa Po found a gay Iranian. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last week in remarks at Columbia University that there weren't any. Incredibly, he was wrong. There are queers in Iran, and they are finding the courage to find one another, to come out, and to try to educate people via the Web and through dialog. We applaud their bravery, and we wish them well in their education project. Trust us -- We know what it's like to have a dumb president who acts as if you don't exist much of the time.

Click, watch, listen, children. Here's "Radio Nowhere," fresh off of Springsteen's Magic:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Defining Moments

Pretend you're an English prof. Find the theme linking today's links. Your 3-paragraph analysis is due Saturday at noon.
  • Our crack team of internets trollers finally succeeded in locating video of the Dimwit-in-Chief arguing for reauthorization of the obscenely misnamed "No Child Left Behind" act by arguing that "childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured. " It is here, and you must watch it. You will love me for finding it for you. Make sure you watch the whole clip so you can catch Shrub's second grammatical mistake, which no one else seems to have noticed, when he says that Congress needs to work with the administration to pass legislation "that helps gives our children the education they deserve." Wonder if White House press sec Dana Perino grabbed her Wite-Out to try to cover up that presidential gaffe on the transcript as well. (For the story on the corrected then un-corrected transcript, go here.)
  • Frank Rich had almost convinced us that Idaho senator Larry Craig had suffered enough for the crime of toe-tapping. We were starting to get uncomfortable with what appeared to be an obvious entrapment and all the folderol about what a laughing-stock Craig had become and how tied up in knots Republicans were with his "I wish I could quit you" resignation/non-resignation, guilty plea/non-guilty plea. Today, though, Craig was back at work in the Senate and voted against the Matthew Shepard bill, which Democrats had attached as an amendment to a defense spending bill. (Wa Po story on the bill is here.) It's just the latest in a long line of anti-gay votes Craig has made, so Roxie's World is officially back to not caring what happens to this pathetic hypocrite.
  • We're happy to send you over to Crooks and Liars for a minute to see the clip of Hillary Clinton answering a hypothetical question about torture in last night's Democratic debate in New Hampshire. Moderator Tim Russert sets her up by mapping out a scenario that Bill Clinton had endorsed in an interview with him a year earlier allowing for the use of torture in some super-duper scary situation. Clinton says torture cannot be the policy of the United States, and then Russert makes the gotcha move of revealing that "William Jefferson Clinton" had endorsed its use in this limited, hypothetical case. "Well," Senator Clinton replies, "he's not standing here right now." It's a great moment. It surprises Russert and amuses the crowd. It demonstrates, again, Clinton's graceful mastery of the challenge of coming across as both womanly yet presidential. Day by day, Clinton wears down whatever resistance there might be to the idea of a woman in charge of the Situation Room at some moment of grave national crisis. Better her, after all, than the guy who proves that "childrens do learn" but some presidents just never does. (Senator Clinton earns raves from a group of public-speaking coaches for her handling of the "He's not standing here" moment in Wa Po.)
  • Finally, speaking of the former president and future First Dude of the United States, here's a great clip of Bill going all righteous over the ridiculous MoveOn kerfuffle. (Roxie's World thought the Petraeus/Betray Us ad was a dumb idea, but we were appalled by the hyperventilated responses to it.) Bill's back in the War Room, showing Democrats how to smack down Republicans' manufactured outrages over non-issues and their vicious attacks against any and all opponents. Watch it, savor it, then close your eyes and imagine ole blue eyes back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come 2009. Sweet dreams, beloveds. The Clintons are on their way home.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Look at this:

Read this:
September 23, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
New York Times

Pardon Poor Larry Craig

"I DID nothing wrong," said Larry Craig at the start of his long national nightmare as America's favorite running, or perhaps sitting, gag. That's the truth. Justice lovers of all sexual persuasions must rally to save the Idaho senator before he is forced to prematurely evacuate his seat.

Time's running out. The final reckoning may arrive this week. On Wednesday, a Minnesota court will hear Mr. Craig's argument to throw out the guilty plea he submitted by mail after being caught in a June sex sting in the Minneapolis airport. If he succeeds, there's a chance he might rescind his decision to resign from the Senate on Sept. 30. Either way, he should hold tight.

Not only did the senator do nothing wrong, but in scandal he has proved the national treasure that he never was in his salad days as a pork-seeking party hack. In the past month he has served as an invaluable human Geiger counter for hypocrisy on the left and right alike. He has been an unexpected boon not just to the nation's double-entendre comedy industry but to the imploding Republican Party. Gays, not all of them closeted, may be among the last minority groups with some representation in the increasingly monochromatic G.O.P. If it is to muster even a rainbow-lite coalition for 2008, it could use Larry Craig in the trenches.

On the legal front, Mr. Craig is not without his semi-spirited defenders, an eclectic group including Arlen Specter, the A.C.L.U., The Washington Post's editorial page and scattered Democrats. While there's widespread agreement that Mr. Craig was an idiot not to consult a lawyer before entering a guilty plea (for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor carrying a $575 fine), idiocy is no more a federal offense than hypocrisy, especially in Washington.

What Mr. Craig did in that men's room isn't an offense either. He didn't have sex in a public place. He didn't expose himself. His toe tapping, hand signals and "wide stance" were at most a form of flirtation. As George Will has rightly argued, if deviancy can be defined down to "signaling an interest in sex," then deviancy is what "goes on in 10,000 bars every Saturday night in our country." It's free speech even if the toes and fingers do the talking.

The Minnesota sting operation may well be unconstitutional, as the A.C.L.U. says. Yet gay civil rights organizations, eager to see a family-values phony like Mr. Craig brought down, have been often muted or silent on this point. They stood idly by while Republicans gathered their lynching party, thereby short-circuiting public debate about the legitimacy of the brand of police entrapment that took place in Minnesota. Surely that airport could have hired a uniformed guard to police a public restroom rather than train a cop to enact a punitive "Cage aux Folles" pantomime.

A rare gay activist to stand up forthrightly for Mr. Craig is Franklin Kameny, whom the Smithsonian Institution recently honored with an exhibition documenting his lonely Washington protests for gay civil rights in the pre-Stonewall 1960s. When I spoke to him last week, the 82-year-old Mr. Kameny said that many Americans don't seem to know how much the law has changed in recent years. Though he's no admirer of Mr. Craig, whom he describes as "a self-deluding hypocritical homophobic bigot," he publicly made the case for the senator's innocence in a letter to the conservative Web site

"Fair is fair," Mr. Kameny wrote. Mr. Craig, guilty of no public sex act, "was the victim of a false arrest and a malfeasant prosecution." Even had he invited the police officer to a hotel room, there still would have been no crime. The last American laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults were thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2003.

The hypocrisy in some quarters of the left about the Craig case is arguably outstripped by that on the right, heaven knows. It has been priceless to watch conservative politicians and bloggers defend their condemnation of Mr. Craig in contrast to the wide stance of tolerance they've taken toward David Vitter, the inimitable senator from the Big Easy.

On the same day Mr. Vitter was deploring at the Petraeus-Crocker hearings two weeks ago, a (female) prostitute was holding a California press conference with Larry Flynt about her alleged participation in the unspecified sins to which the senator has publicly confessed. "He was a very clean man," she helpfully explained to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. "He came in, took a shower, did his business and would leave."

Mr. Vitter, a shrill defender of marriage, still has the support of the G.O.P. hierarchy. Many believe that the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his posse tried to Imus Mr. Craig and send him packing in a single week because Idaho has a Republican governor (nicknamed "Butch," no less) who would appoint a Republican successor. (The governor of Louisiana is a Democrat.) Others argue simply that Republican leaders are homophobes who practice a double standard for heterosexual offenders. But the reality is more complicated.

As we learned in the revelations surrounding the years-long cover up of the Mark Foley scandal, there may be more gay men in the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill than there are among the Democrats. Even Rick Santorum, the now-departed senator who likened homosexuality to "man on dog" sex, had a gay director of communications. Homophilia and homophobia have been twin fixtures in the modern G.O.P. at least since the McCarthy-era heyday of Roy Cohn.

As Rich Tafel, the former executive director of the gay Log Cabin Republicans, points out, this internal contradiction could not hold once Karl Rove and President Bush decided to demagogue the issue of same-sex marriage by pushing it into center stage of a national political campaign. That meanspirited and cynical election-year exploitation of homophobia accelerated the outing of Republicans by activists on the left.

"It made gay Republicans targets," Mr. Tafel told me last week. (Stories about Mr. Craig percolated on the Internet long before the airport incident.) In response, Mr. Tafel said, fearful gay Republicans on the Hill have retreated deeper into the closet. The Bush-Rove strategy "created the Larry Craigs," he said. "It created that man crawling around toilets."

Mr. Craig has denied being gay. Perhaps someone might believe him had he not, in 1982, gratuitously proclaimed his innocence in a pre-Foley page scandal, even though no one had accused him of anything. But whatever Mr. Craig's orientation, many closeted Republicans remain in place on Capitol Hill, easy targets for political opponents who want to expose G.O.P. hypocrisy.

Were Mr. Craig now to keep his seat, maybe his trial by fire would drive him to end his perennial gay baiting and become a latent proselytizer for a return to a more open, live-and-let-live Republicanism in the retro style of Barry Goldwater. Granted, Mr. Craig has shown no leadership of any kind in his career to date. But if Trent Lott can have a second chance after seeming to embrace the Dixiecrat racialism of Strom Thurmond, why not the toe-tapper from Idaho?

The G.O.P. needs at least one minority group in its ranks if it's going to be a viable political party in the 21st century. As the former vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp asked rhetorically last week, "What are we going to do — meet in a country club in the suburbs one day?" His comment was prompted by the news that the major Republican candidates had claimed "scheduling conflicts" to avoid a debate at a historically black college in Baltimore. This was so obvious a slight that even Newt Gingrich labeled the candidates' excuses "baloney," and the usually controversy-averse Jay Leno was moved to call for the Republicans to "change their minds" after the debate's moderator, Tavis Smiley, aired the issue on "The Tonight Show."

The brushoff of that debate followed a similar rejection by the same candidates (except John McCain) of a debate sponsored by Univision, the country's most-watched Spanish-language network. It's only the latest insult to Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing American minority. Without Hispanics, the G.O.P. is doomed in swing states from Florida to Nevada. If you have any doubts, just look at the panic at the staunchly Republican Wall Street Journal editorial page. It has now even started attacking its own cohort — what it calls "Fox News populists and obsessive bloggers" — for driving away once-Republican Hispanic votes with over-the-top invective about illegal immigrants.

It would be unfair to say that the G.O.P. is devoid of sensitivity to all minorities. True, Peter King, the Long Island congressman, said last week that America has "too many mosques," but he was balanced by Mitt Romney, who sent out a press release wishing "the Jewish people" a hearty "L'Shanah Tovah" for the New Year. And let no one fault the Republican presidential field for not looking like America: Alan Keyes is back!

But the last minority with at least a modicum of influence in the party's power structure seems to be closeted gay men. As an alternative to cruising men's rooms, the least they could do is use their clout to stay the manifestly unjust execution of Larry Craig.


Sorry for the big fat cut-and-paste cop-out, kids. My typist is teaching Virginia Woolf tomorrow. The English profs will understand. Love you. Really. Go watch the Dems debate on MSNBC. I'll get back to you soon.

Liveblogging on the debate is here.

(Image Credit: Cover of first English edition of Virginia Woolf's Orlando [Hogarth Press, 1928])

Monday, September 24, 2007


“Be brave, little Piglet.”
“It’s hard to be brave when you’re a very small animal.”
-- A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Moose insisted on the fancy foreign title for this post. She wanted to make sure that, should Jodie Foster happen to stumble into Roxie’s World, she’ll see that at least one viewer of The Brave One who does not have a degree in French lit from Yale caught all the heavy-handed references to Albert Camus’s absurdist novel The Stranger in Foster’s latest film. And by the way, Ms. Foster, the three English profs who headed off to the multiplex to subject themselves to your scenery-chewing performance in Neil Jordan’s powerful yet morally murky film also caught the allusions to D. H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson dropped in like so many bonbons for literate viewers who were trying really hard not to focus on the bodies piling up as your character worked through her post-traumatic stress disorder. Moose cracked up as soon as you started purring into your microphone that, “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.” “Ooh, ooh, I know,” she wanted to shout. “D. H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature!” By the time you recited “Because I could not stop for Death – ,” all three profs had entered into a spirited game of Guess the (Way Too Obvious) Quote, which did in fact help to distract them from the aforementioned corpses. (Final total: 8)

So, what did our crack team of highly trained interpreters think of The Brave One? After the flick, the team (Moose, Goose, and the Candy Man*) repaired to a local hot spot for mojitos and snacks. They agreed that the mojitos were delicious and the film was highly watchable, though Goose and the Candy Man both looked away during the scene of the brutal attack on Foster’s Erica Bain and her fiancé David (played by Naveen Andrews) that sets Erica’s odyssey of grief and vengeance into motion. For the record, Moose rarely looks away from a screen and never does so when Jodie Foster is on it. Director Jordan doesn’t flinch from depicting the gore that is the heart of his story. The attack on Erica and David is balletic yet visceral. The attackers tape it as it is happening, so viewers are forced to reckon with it simultaneously as a “real” event and a performance, effectively introducing several important themes related to media, technology, surveillance, and self-consciousness that are central to the film’s probings of identity and violence. Late in the film, viewers watch Erica watching the tape of the attack on her cell phone and then have to watch it again when she forwards the tape to the detective closing in on her and her killing spree. One of the many sicknesses the film explores is that of a postmodern culture gorged on images of itself. The Brave One may well be the first film for the YouTube generation.

The performances of Foster and co-star Terrence Howard, who plays the weary homicide detective named Sean Mercer, are indeed gripping. Their characters are in many ways reverse images of one another – white and black, female and male, killer and cop – yet they connect on the basis of shared woundedness and professional respect. Mercer has heard Erica on the radio before she and David are attacked. He knows the dulcet, NPR tones of her voice before he sees her battered, comatose body lying in a hospital bed. Erica meets Mercer at the scene of one of her first killings and quickly expresses an interest in interviewing him for her show. (Trolling for material helps to explain her presence on the scene.) The characters are soon locked in a fascinating pas de deux, drawn in by a desire to know one another despite the risks of exposure (for Erica) and moral compromise (for Mercer, as he slowly realizes Erica is the vigilante killer he is pursuing). The air between them is thick, the thickness an ambiguous mixture of the psychological and the erotic. The performances are brilliantly understated. Erica and Mercer speak few words, but their eyes convey worlds of pain and the unbearably complex understanding unfolding between them.

Had The Brave One stayed true to the moral and psychological complexity of its central relationship it might have been a brilliant film. Unfortunately, in the end, it absconds on that complexity; it betrays its characters and takes refuge in the cheapest forms of emotionalism: bloodlust and, we are sad to say, dog love. The ending justifies the judgment offered by A. O. Scott in the Times that the film is “cowardly” and “just as crude and ugly as you want it to be.” We won’t tell you exactly what happens, but we will tell you that Moose, Goose, and the Candy Man sat in stunned silence as the credits started to roll and a smattering of applause broke out in the theater. Jodie Foster, in promotional interviews for the film (like this one on NPR), has labored to suggest that the moral of The Brave One is that guns are always bad, but the ending valorizes Erica Bain’s vigilantism as cathartic, healing, and more efficient than the slow, bureaucratic work of law enforcement.

In the final analysis, The Brave One is maddeningly divided in its aims. Its artsy-fartsy allusiveness and high production values would have us believe it is serious about examining the devastating consequences of a self upended by unanticipated and undeserved violence, but in the end it offers the comic-book satisfactions of a dead-eyed, steady-handed super hero who takes aim against a sea of troubles and blows them the hell away. The Brave One offers awesome “Jodie Porn,” but its satisfactions, as with all porn, are fleeting. We continue to hope Foster will start being a little braver about the kind of projects she takes on.

(For a round-up of reviews of The Brave One, go check out Rotten Tomatoes.)

*Postscript from the Office of Persona Management: The individual referred to in the above post as “the Candy Man” was formerly known in these precincts as “The Official Gay Stalker of Roxie’s World.” This change in identity has been carefully considered by OPM and approved by Roxie Smith Lindemann, Sole Owner and Proprietor of Roxie’s World, because it is a) easier to type than the lengthy “Official Gay Stalker of Roxie’s World” and b) more reflective of said individual’s fundamentally sweet disposition. All inquiries about identity adjustment should be addressed to me: Mark Twain, Director, Office of Persona Management, RW Enterprises, LLC.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Tax on Straights

One of the all-time funniest stories from the Hilarious Adventures of Moose and Goose was passed down to me by Lily, the transgender tabby who lived with her brother Spike and the moms back in the olden days when they were cat lesbians and apartment-dwellers. According to Lily (and cats never lie), one fine Sunday morning they were all hanging out in the apartment doing Sunday-morning things when a momentary communications breakdown threw the household into a brief state of confusion that was followed by paroxysms of laughter. Here's how it happened:

Moose (from the living room couch, with the Sunday Post spread out in her lap): Goodness, I am reading the most horrible story!

Goose (from the kitchen, with the coffee pot in her hand): Really, honey? What's it about?

Moose (wishing the coffee were ready already): Oh, it's just awful! It's about attacks on gays!

Goose (with her hand on the button of the coffee grinder): A tax on gays???

Moose (over the sound of the coffee grinder): Yes, attacks on gays. You just can't believe how vicious, how terrible --

Goose (angrily banging on the coffee grinder): And how insane! Who would ever come out if they knew they would have to pay a tax?

Moose (perplexed): Wha-a-a?

Spike (licking himself in a pool of light in the middle of the living room floor): Smile

Goose (storming into the living room, coffee pot in hand): Yes! A tax on gays! Who would pay such a tax? Who would propose such a tax? Has this country completely lost its mind?

Moose (now grateful she does not have a cup of coffee in her hand, realizing she would spill it as she falls off the couch laughing hysterically): Yes, dear, the country has completely lost its mind, but I'm not talking about a tax on gays. I'm talking about attacks on gays -- You know, baseball bats, beatings, violent homophobia.

Goose (pausing, mid-rant): O-h-h-h-h, attacks on gays. Well, that's terrible, too.

(Another pause, followed by explosions of laughter, followed by repeated cries of "attacks on gays?" and "a tax on gays!" and a lengthy discussion of the many forms of violence aimed at gay people and other minority groups, followed, at last, by coffee. Meanwhile, the cats went on licking themselves and feeling superior to a species hopelessly dependent on something as slippery and strange as language as a means of communication.)

Why do I offer up this tale of homophones and homophobes to brighten up your Saturday? Well, the moms and other queer Marylanders are still hurting from this week's ruling by the state's Court of Appeals upholding a ban on same-sex marriage. (Wa Po finally had an editorial on the decision this morning, urging Governor Martin O'Malley and the legislature to accept the court's invitation to address the matter of relationship inequality legislatively rather than judicially. Good idea, though Roxie's World is opposed to any compromise that offers same-sex couples anything less than the full panoply of rights and benefits that go along with civil marriage.) I thought a funny reminiscence might help ease the pain, but it also sets me up to offer one of those consoling, glass-half-full stories I like to pass along to readers who have a tough time seeing the silver linings in the gray clouds.

So, call this story "The Upside of Discrimination," or, at long last, "A Tax on Straights."

The legions of my loyal fans who do not live in Maryland may not be aware that the state is trying to figure out how to plug a $1.7 billion hole in its budget. Our telegenic Irish rocker Dem gov Martin O'Malley is launching a series of tax and budget proposals aimed at addressing the problem. Among them is a plan to revamp the state's income tax brackets. (Don't nod off on me, kids. I know tax policy isn't as entertaining as, say, roving bands of pistol-packing lesbians, but this is important.) The plan aims to make the income tax more progressive by adding two new brackets at the upper end of the income spectrum. Under the state's current tax structure, everyone with a taxable income of $3000 or more pays the same top rate of 4.75%. Here's how Wa Po explains the new brackets O'Malley is proposing:
A 6 percent bracket would be applied to single filers with a taxable income of $150,000 or more and to married couples filing jointly with a taxable income of $200,000 or more. A 6.5 percent bracket would be applied to all filers with $500,000 or more in taxable income. Taxable income refers to a filer's income less certain deductions and exemptions allowed by the government.
And here's a pretty graphic from the Post comparing the current and proposed brackets:

Clearly, friends, it pays to be gay. Why? Well, if my moms were married and filing jointly, their taxable income would be darn close to the $200,000 threshold of the 6 percent bracket. (Remember that "taxable income" is income minus exemptions and deductions allowed by the government.) As single filers (and humble state employees) legally enjoined from marrying, however, they are well below the $150,000 threshold for the 6 percent bracket. In other words, Maryland's discrimination against same-sex couples is a great deal for my moms -- and a dumb deal for a state desperately in need of revenue.

My moms, as I have told you many times, are weird. One of the weirdest things about them is that they actually love to pay taxes. They tell pollsters who call our house that they will vote for the candidate who promises to raise taxes in order to fund legitimate public needs -- such as health care, education, transportation, and environmental protection. They would be delighted to help Gov. O'Malley plug the state's revenue hole (Moose wants me to put a finger-in-the-dyke joke here, but I won't do it), but they can't because the state apparently thinks that encouraging heterosexual procreation is more important than balancing its budget. (O'Malley is opposed to same-sex marriage, though he has expressed support for some form of civil union.)

The moral of the story? Discrimination costs -- everybody. In one way or another, all of Maryland's citizens are paying a marriage penalty.

For an example of heart-felt and courageous leadership on the marriage issue, take a look at this video of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders announcing his decision to sign a city council resolution in support of same-sex marriage after having said he could only support civil unions. In an emotional 5-minute statement, Sanders quietly acknowledges that his daughter Lisa and several friends and staff members are gay and that, "in the end I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship, their very lives were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Ronna." In the end, folks, it really is that simple.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blue State Blues

(Photo Credit: Mark Gail, Washington Post; news conference held after Maryland Court of Appeals announced its decision in same-sex marriage case)

Message from MD to the Moms and Other Queers: Hey, there are seats in the back of the bus. What's the problem?

Message from the Moms and Other Queers to MD: What part of "equal justice under law" do you not understand?

Ironically, the moms are hard at work educating the young citizens of Maryland today, so my typist doesn't have time for a long post. (Clearly, there's a whole lot of educating to be done here in Maryland, wouldn't you agree?) Still, we had to register our profound disappointment with the long-awaited ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals in Conaway v. Deane and Polyak, a case that challenged a 1973 law against same-sex marriage on the grounds that it violated the state constitution's ban on gender discrimination. In a 4-3 decision (actually, 4 1/2 to 2/12 because one judge concurred in part and dissented in part), the court ruled that
limiting marriage to a man and a woman does not discriminate against gay couples or deny them constitutional rights. Although the judges acknowledged that gay men and lesbians have been targets of discrimination, they said the prohibition on same-sex marriage promotes the state's interest in heterosexual marriage as a means of having and protecting children.
That's from Wa Po's report on the decision. For good, extensive coverage, including a link to the decision itself, go here.

Message to Children in Same-Sex Parent Families: Legally, you don't exist, and that's okay because the state has an interest in promoting other kinds of families that are better than yours. Got that? Britney Spears is a better mom than the two hard-working women who feed you and clothe you and read you to sleep every night. You are a second-class kid in a second-class family, and the state of Maryland is just fine with that.

Message to my Legions of Loyal Fans: Contact our good friends at Equality Maryland, the state's major LGBT civil rights organization. Thank them for their hard work on behalf of the community. Then write them a big fat check to keep the work going. Marriage may not be all we need or want, but it's a civil rights battle we can't afford to lose.

Your favorite dog blogger is covering her head with her paws this morning. I am ashamed of my home state and sad for all my queer pals. There are no second-class citizens in Roxie's World, beloveds. The fight will go on -- and I'm in it for Aaron and Maya and all the first-class kids out there whose parents happen to be queer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pot Shots

(Photo Credit: Showtime; Mary-Louise Parker and Hunter Parrish on Weeds)

The war drags on and the details of Hillary Clinton’s new health care plan may still be fuzzy, but there is joy on the couch in Roxie’s World today for one simple reason:
The latest episode of Weeds does not suck.
This is great news for the moms, who were just about to give up on the Showtime series starring the adorable Mary-Louise Parker. Weeds has been a house favorite since its debut two seasons ago. In its first season, it garnered rave reviews from Roxie’s World’s Special Task Force on Representations of Marijuana in the Media (“Pot Shots” for short) for its nuanced yet hilarious treatment of a suburban widow, Nancy Botwin, who begins selling dope in the planned community of Agrestic when she realizes that her beloved late husband has left her and her two sons with a fabulous new kitchen and nothing to live on. Parker was brilliant and sexy as the resourceful, grieving mom helping the fine (mostly middle-aged male) citizens of Agrestic cope with the quiet desperations of their routinized, sanitized, hollow lives. The cast (including Kevin Nealon as the sweet but corrupt accountant and city councilman and Elizabeth Perkins as the Cruella de Vil-ish Celia) was superb and the writing pitch-perfect. Weeds was the smart satire Desperate Housewives dreamed of being in the best moments of its first season.

In its sophomore season, though, Weeds, as Mr. Bruce Springsteen might put it, took a wrong turn and it just kept goin’. The moms cringed when Nancy started dating Peter, who was revealed to be a DEA agent in the final episode of season one. Season two was wholly devoted to developing the Nancy-Peter relationship and the increasingly ridiculous web of plot twists and professional complications that ensued from it. That season ended with Peter’s apparent murder in a drug deal gone awry. The moms spent the entire hiatus wishing the next season would open with a Dallas-like shower scene in which Nancy would explain that Peter and his whole stupid subplot had been a bad dream. They longed for the show to get back to what it did best: devastatingly insightful suburban satire with three-dimensional characters who managed to be flawed, funny, and lovable. Forget the Armenian drug dealers, the shootouts, the crosses and double crosses. This isn’t Pulp Fiction, people. It’s a 30-minute slice-of-life comedy!

Unfortunately, the writers didn’t listen to my moms when they started doing scripts for the third season, which began airing in August. Over the first five episodes, things went from bad to nearly unwatchable as Nancy was forced into servitude for U-Turn, an overblown stereotype of the vicious black drug thug. Desperate to pay off a debt, the terms of which the aptly named U-Turn keeps changing, Nancy is subject to repeated humiliations and wholly gratuitous threats. None of it feels believable, not because the world of drugs isn’t a violent one but because the world of Agrestic, so compellingly drawn in the show’s first season, is shaped not by the violence of melodrama but by the soul-sapping violence of upper-middle class ennui. In places like Agrestic, guns don’t kill people. PTA debates over snack foods in vending machines kill people. Such a debate, in season one, was one of Nancy Botwin’s finest moments. The same cannot be said for “the brick dance” she is forced to perform in the course of running an errand for U-Turn in season three.

Finally, however, in the latest episode, “Grasshopper,” which aired last night, Weeds seems to be finding its way back to sanity. That return was signaled by the sudden (and wholly necessary) death of U-Turn, who died, as so many TV characters do, because the writers didn’t know what the heck else to do with him. Actually, U-Turn died because he had humiliated his hapless lieutenant, Marvin, one too many times. U-Turn, Nancy, and the hugely obese Marvin are out for a run in the hills when U-Turn, who has high blood pressure, collapses. Marvin, instantly realizing an opportunity, sends Nancy to get help and, in a moment reminiscent of Tony Soprano’s quick decision to help his nephew Christopher slough off this mortal coil, calmly holds his hand over U-Turn’s mouth until he dies. “This is for saying I was too stupid to be your second in command,” he says as he pushes his hand down tighter. “And this is for laughing at me for going to Dreamgirls.” Moments later, U-Turn deservedly breathes his last.

You know you are back in a sit-com when a man will kill to defend the dignity of having seen Dreamgirls. I know my good pal over at Queering the Apparatus would applaud that move and joins me and the moms in saying good riddance to U-Turn and all the dopey (not in a good way) plot twists he represented. The moms and I are well aware of the fact that the trunk load of heroin U-Turn left in Nancy’s garage could create a whole new series of equally ridiculous machinations, but his death also sets the stage for Nancy to have a rapprochement with Conrad and Heylia, her former partners who dumped her like a hot potato in the course of the battle with U-Turn. It’s true that Nancy has lost something of her innocence over the last season and a half, and it’s arguable that a drug dealer can’t afford to be as naïve as she was when she stumbled into the business. Still, one hopes the show has made something of a “U-turn” away from shoot-‘em-up melodrama and back toward the sly send-ups of suburban domesticity that served it so well in its early days. Weeds is too good a product to waste. We wish it a long, slow burn.

Peace out, righteous dudes.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Told Ya So

Not that we're in a bragging mood or anything, but:

On Tuesday in Roxie's World, we said, and I quote,
What matters is that the ground and the discourse have shifted. Troop reductions will happen. If the administration can fudge the data enough to make its claims of progress appear credible (to the credulous), then the reductions may be larger and sooner than Petraeus was willing to suggest in his testimony before Congress.
This morning, Wa Po reports that the administration is already opening the door to larger troop cuts, as it continues to fudge the gains made under the "surge":
One day after President Bush announced a limited drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq by next summer, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that it might be possible to reduce U.S. forces there further over the course of next year, down to approximately 100,000 troops by the end of 2008.

Gates's comments followed a White House report yesterday concluding that the Iraqi government has not made satisfactory progress on several political and security benchmarks. In a congressionally mandated assessment, the administration found only modest improvements since an interim report in July.
In the fairy-tale world of the Bush administration, saying a thing still makes it so, which perhaps explains why the president's "new" policy has been named "Return on Success." Apparently, "Declare Victory and Get Out" is still under copyright protection, so the Bush brain trust decided to make the "return" of American soldiers sound like the profit on some particularly shrewd investment. I wonder how the families whose sons and daughters "returned" home from Iraq in pine boxes feel about the latest effort to brand war policy.

Also on Tuesday, Roxie's World predicted that if conditions in Iraq don't improve enough for even the adept liars of Bush world to declare a success, the administration would simply "buy time until the disaster can be passed along to someone else." No less a genius than New York Times columnist Paul Krugman agrees with us on that one. Yesterday, Krugman declared that the administration already realizes "that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia." Noting, among other things, the administration's lackadaisical efforts to get the Maliki government to get closer to meeting some of benchmarks it was supposed to be aiming for, Krugman writes:
All in all, Mr. Bush’s actions have not been those of a leader seriously trying to win a war. They have, however, been what you’d expect from a man whose plan is to keep up appearances for the next 16 months, never mind the cost in lives and money, then shift the blame for failure onto his successor.
Finally, on the cultural front, glancing at the early reviews, we think we were probably also right about Jodie Foster's new movie, The Brave One. Last Friday, we expressed ambivalence "about the whole gun-toting vigilante aspect of the story" and suggested that Ms. Foster needed to get a little braver about the kind of parts she was taking. A. O. Scott in the Times calls The Brave One a "cowardly" film and "a pro-lynching movie that even liberals can love." Stephen Hunter in Wa Po is more favorably inclined toward the film, calling it "great Jodie Porn" and apparently impressed by director Neil Jordan's attention to "the kinesthetics of violence." Still, his review makes us think this film is going to make us more secure in our conviction that Foster needs to venture out of Hollywood to find scripts and roles more worthy of her talents and intelligence.

We'll offer up our own review of The Brave One as soon as I can persuade the moms to step away from the computers and get themselves to the multiplex. Eventually, they will. Poor Moose is still a sucker for Jodie Porn.

Careful out there, kids. It's a dangerous world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Declare Victory

Message to MoveOn: STFU!
Message to Dems: You're WINNING, You Idiots!
You know it's going to be a weird day when Moose shouts out from the breakfast nook, "George Will is right, by god!" Trust me, that rarely happens, no matter what Goose puts in the coffee. It happened this morning, though, as Moose ran tired eyes over these words:
Congressional Democrats should accept Petraeus's report as a reason to declare a victory, one that might make this fact somewhat palatable: Substantial numbers of U.S. forces will be in Iraq when the next president is inaugurated. The Democrats' "victory" -- a chimera but a useful one -- is that Petraeus indicates there soon can be a small reduction of U.S. forces.
Will goes on to argue that Dems can only claim victory by making a mountain out of a molehill, given the modest size of the troop reductions Gen. David Petraeus is advocating, and by making a spurious claim for having created the mountain. Will is wrong (as of course he must be, unless the world is flat and the law of gravity has been repealed) about the spuriousness of the claim. Democrats, who gained control of the Congress on the strength of strong anti-war sentiment throughout the country, can justifiably take credit for having created the conditions under which the Bush administration and its generals had to put troop reductions on the table. It doesn't matter how small they are. It doesn't matter that sizable numbers of U.S. troops are likely to be in Iraq when the next president takes office and perhaps well into her second term, though it would obviously be vastly better to bring as many troops as possible home as soon as possible.

What matters is that the ground and the discourse have shifted. Troop reductions will happen. If the administration can fudge the data enough to make its claims of progress appear credible (to the credulous), then the reductions may be larger and sooner than Petraeus was willing to suggest in his testimony before Congress. Otherwise, the administration will buy time until the disaster can be passed along to someone else -- and the blood of every single soldier and citizen who dies in this conflict in the meantime will be on Republican hands. Democrats will be on record as having been in opposition to the so-called "surge" and as having advocated timetables for withdrawal. In concrete terms, the victory may be modest, even hollow, but it is a victory nonetheless. Troop reductions of any size would not be a foregone conclusion if Democrats did not hold the gavels in the House, the Senate, and on all the Congressional committees.

You wouldn't know that from listening to the chatter among Democrats and progressives. Roxie's World is sorry to be giving a great big PAWS DOWN to our good friends from, but their full-page ad in the New York Times in advance of Petraeus's testimony has to be one of the dumber political gestures we've seen in awhile. It fully justified Wa Po's Chris Cillizza's provocative debate topic: Momentum or Menace? The ad was a gift to Republicans, who wasted no opportunity to bring it up during the hearings to try to smear Democrats as troop-haters. That trumped-up reminder of the Vietnam era flummoxed Dems yesterday, though the Senate Foreign Relations Committee seems to have been less deferential in its treatment of the general and Ambassador Ryan Crocker today. (Wa Po coverage of today's testimony is here.)

You know we're idealists here in Roxie's World, kids. You know the Division for World Peace and Free (Legal, Organically Grown, Government-Regulated) Dope is one of the largest units of our vast corporate/political empire. Our official theme song is "Imagine." Our company uniform is flax pants, Birkenstocks, and whatever peace tee-shirt we can lay our hands on. It pains us to find ourselves advocating patience, pragmatism, and realism in trying to end a war we've been protesting since before it began. We hate it, but we don't see any alternative. If the left splits over the war, the right will win. If we allow the perfect to be the enemy of the best-we-can-get-under-the-circumstances, then President Romney will shred what's left of the Constitution with another Supreme Court appointment -- and people will go right on dying in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And, soon enough, Iran.

Six years past the nightmares that found us on a crisp September morning, we must all reflect on what we can do to end the horrors of war, of any death in violent conflict. We may never agree on a single answer, but we must bear that shared, noble purpose in mind and move forward with compassion and respect for differences. Otherwise, we lose, regardless of the outcome of any particular struggle.

Peace out, beloveds.

(Photo Credit: Tyler Hicks, New York Times; 6th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, NYC)
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
--W. H. Auden, "September 1, 1939"

Friday, September 07, 2007

An Open Letter to Jodie Foster

(Photo Credit: Justin Stephens)

Dear Ms. Foster,

Congrats on the forthcoming flick, The Brave One. The moms and I have some ambivalence about the whole gun-toting vigilante aspect of the story, but you look great in the publicity photos, somehow managing to find that elusive mixture of fierceness and fabulousness that has served you so well throughout your career. (You also look stunning in the photos that accompany the Entertainment Weekly cover story/interview you just got.) Moose wants to talk to your trainer. She can't believe you've had two kids and are still so incredibly. . .fit. Goose, on the other hand, would like to talk to your agent. She's disappointed by some of your recent projects. Frankly, she has never gotten over Panic Room, which was laughably bad, despite the very fetching eyewear you sported. She totally gets the "Hollywood has no good parts for intelligent women in their forties" problem. She just hopes we don't have to suffer through twenty more years of seeing you play Smart Women in Ludicrous Situations before you start getting to play the Wise and Feisty Old Broad roles. We can't wait for you to become an American Vanessa Redgrave.

But that's not why I'm writing to you. We couldn't help but notice that you figured prominently in a recent Out magazine cover story by Michael Musto, "The Glass Closet: Why the Stars Won't Come Out and Play." The "glass closet," according to Musto, is "that complex but popular contraption that allows public figures to avoid the career repercussions of any personal disclosure while living their lives with a certain degree of integrity. Such a device enables the public to see right in while not allowing them to actually open the latch unless the celebrity eventually decides to do so herself." The flamingly gay Musto identifies you as one of the "foremost residents" of the glass closet and is untroubled by the coy way you have negotiated questions about your sexual identity that have arisen over the years. He describes you as,
one of the original out-but-not-really-out queens of “at least.” You know: She’s never come out publicly, but at least she’s never tried to claim she’s straight either. She’s talked incessantly about her kids, but at least she hasn’t named the father and tried to make it sound like he was any kind of love interest. She won her greatest acclaim for a movie protested by gay activists — The Silence of the Lambs — and reportedly refused to do a short film based on the lesbian classic Rubyfruit Jungle, but at least she isn’t afraid to play tough women, single moms, and parts originally written for men (even if that might be what she mostly gets offered).
Musto is right as far as he goes, though with the passage of time your association with the transphobic Silence of the Lambs becomes more rather than less difficult to comprehend, even if it was a great part and a riveting performance. (And it was. Moose still can't watch that scene of you in the house with Buffalo Bill in his night-vision goggles without wanting to leap into the screen to rescue you. She's a real sucker for that tough-yet-vulnerable thing you do. If she had a locker, it would probably be covered with pictures of you, but I digress.)

For years, the moms gave you a pass on the matter of coming out. After a deranged fan tried to assassinate a president to get your attention, they figured you were entitled to all the privacy you could manage as an incredibly public figure. They were also persuaded by a former teacher of theirs who argued that you were in some special category of sublimely talented Artists who somehow transcended politics. Yes, and this teacher was a big old dyke herself and a founder of women's studies. She had no problem knocking Shakespeare off the top of Mount Olympus, but the hem of your garment was not to be soiled by the vulgar politics of gender and identity. Shakespeare was a dead white guy, but you had serious work to do. If you want my opinion, I think it was that Yale degree in French lit that earned you the aura of untouchability among otherwise sensible people who had put themselves and their careers on the line in order to be visible and to transform disciplines and institutions. "She got a degree in deconstruction," another of the moms' awestruck colleagues used to say. To which I reply: Big whoop!

Here's the thing, Ms. Foster: I know the arguments for coming out all sound really quaint and old-hat at this point. I know you've got kids to raise and Work To Do. I admit there is integrity in trying to live life on your own terms and in refusing to put your guts on display
for a culture addicted to stories that have anything to do with celebrities and sex. Nonetheless, I would still like to see you offer a simple, matter-of-fact acknowledgment that you are, like my moms, a sister of Sappho. We're not saying you need to do a full-on Melissa Etheridge or offer yourself up as a poster girl for same-sex marriage. Just stand up and say, "I'm gay. It's no big deal, and it's nobody's business, but, yes, I am a proud, happy lesbian. Next question?"

Why? Because your studied evasion of the question suggests that your sexuality is a big deal. The open secret is still a secret, and secrecy suggests shame, fear, some scary old thing that dare not speak its name. Do you really think such an acknowledgment would have serious professional repercussions for you at this point? I mean, seriously, Ms. Foster, could it get much worse than Flight Plan? To be honest, I think the more significant threat to your career is your own diffidence, your refusal so far to venture beyond the safety of Hollywood studio films. I think you'd find better scripts and juicier roles if you looked elsewhere, but what do I know? I'm just a dog who watches a lot of HBO.

Coming out still matters. There are still queer kids who hunger for role models and straight kids who have never met an openly gay person in their lives. Moose had a coming-out moment in one of her classes just the other day. She's teaching a queer lit course this term, so it was a no-big-deal kind of thing, because it fit in with a conversation the class was having about labels, terms, the language we use for talking about sex and gender. She tucked it in slyly, as she so often does, in the form of a joke, but the students got the joke, and she could feel a collective sigh of relief spread across the room as they took it in. The relief was all about the difference between an open secret and real openness. You and Moose, with your degree in French lit and her PhD in English, might argue til Hell freezes over about what it is that gets revealed in such declarations of sexual identity. Given time and enough wine, the two of you might actually come to agree on the ontological aspects of the question, but Moose would still insist on the political and pedagogical value of coming out.

Why? Because when she made her declaration the other day, she looked back to the corner of the room and noticed a queer kid smiling. And it wasn't just because he got her joke.

Yours sincerely,

P.S. Another nice piece on you in the Sunday Times, this one by Manohla Dargis. It occurs to me your penchant for "secrecy," which is also a theme in Dargis's prelude to The Brave One, is a cagey marketing ploy. Keep 'em guessing -- and keep 'em coming back to try to solve the riddle of the sphinx-link Foster. Whatever, girlfriend. I think they'd come back for the acting chops and the husky voice, no matter what you were selling, but that's just me.

P.P.S. On the other hand and just in case you think I've been harsh, check out this hard-hitting reaction to your reticence and your recent roles from Modern Fabulousity. He's promising to boycott The Brave One!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to School

(Photo Credit: University of Maryland)

That's it, kids. Labor Day has come and gone. The white shoes are back in the closet. The pencils are sharpened, the syllabi carved in stone. Moose spent the morning brushing up on the tyrannies of the bipolar gender system and the afternoon trying to find a parking space on a campus suddenly bursting at the seams with eager young scholars, experienced plagiarists, and enervated administrators.

You know what that means, don't you? Yes, it's true: Less content, more LINKS! Welcome to September in Roxie's World. So much to read and watch, so little time to think.
  • Start with this funny bit by Richard Cohen on what you might have missed while you were on vacation. It includes such under-reported stories as, "On a voice vote, congressional Republicans decided to limit themselves to one sex crime per session."
  • Once you've tickled your funny bone, see if you can stomach reading the choice morsels from Robert Draper's new book on Shrub, Dead Certain, that have appeared in The New York Times. Are we surprised that the Great Leader looks forward to his post-presidency as an opportunity to make money ("replenish the ol' coffers" by giving speeches, as his father and Bill Clinton have done)? Or that he envisions just "getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch?" Has there even been a smaller, shallower, cruder occupant of the Oval Office? The Deciders here in Roxie's World say no, in thunder.
  • Then, if you can bear an update from the Department of Lost or Sold Souls, read the excerpt from Glenn Kessler's forthcoming book on Condoleezza Rice, The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy. The central argument is that the woman who tutored Bush in foreign policy when he was running for president has
    been transformed by her long partnership with the man whom she once referred to as "my husb-" before pausing and saying, "the president." She has gone from being a foreign policy realist to being a cheerleader for Bush's vapid idealism about exporting democracy. Kessler reports that Bush enhanced Rice's clout with foreign leaders during his first term by advertising their closeness, telling them, "Miss Rice is like my sister" and "When she speaks, you know that she is speaking for me." Is anybody else creeped out by these strange suggestions of incest and ventriloquism in the White House?
  • Reward yourself for enduring all that unpleasantness by heading over to Queerty to see clips of Hillary Clinton's appearance on the season premier of Ellen this morning. (Sorry to take you off-blog, but it's not up on YouTube yet.) Aside from Clinton's smooth performance, the bit is worth watching because the usually ridiculously careful, non-political Ellen is refreshingly open about her gayness and her commitment to LGBT issues.
  • Finally, take a look at Clinton's recent appearance on Letterman. We'll just give the second part of her lengthy visit, where she does a killer Top Ten List of her campaign promises, which includes a vow to bring order and stability to The View. Remember what we said about finding her funny bone? When she puts her hand on the Bible on January 20, 2009, you just remember that Roxie's World called it first. Here's the clip:

Enjoy the new school year, kids. We hope you got the coolest new lunch box at your bus stop and that all of your teachers will recognize your unique gifts and charm. Barring that, let us hope they're too busy to catch your nose-picking and your unattributed borrowings. Peace out.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Criminal Gestures

(Image Credit: Matson, St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Roxie's World will shed no tears for the ignominious end of Senator Larry Craig's political career. (He announced today he will resign his office at the end of September, after Republicans abandoned him in droves when his June arrest in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis airport became public this week.) Good riddance, we say, to a hypocrite whose public actions aided and abetted the causes of homophobia and discrimination against LGBT people. As a senator, he helped to enact the ridiculous "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which continues to hound and persecute gays and lesbians who have served with honor in the armed forces of the United States. (William Saletan has an excellent piece in tomorrow's Wa Po which argues that by the standards of "don't ask, don't tell," Craig's conduct would have resulted in his discharge from the military. It's here.) He voted for the mean-spirited federal Defense of Marriage Act, supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, voted against prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and voted against expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Check out his sorry record here.)

Bye-bye, Larry. Don't let the (bathroom) door hit you on the way out.

And yet, the sizable gay caucus here in Roxie's World got a little queasy this week when we paused to reflect on the nature of the crime to which Senator Craig pleaded guilty. He was not, after all, charged with having public sex or paying for sex or exposing himself or anything clearly, explicitly, actively sexual. Instead, Craig pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct (gestures that were interpreted as sexual signals) which he "knew or should have known tended to arouse alarm or resentment of others," according to his plea agreement. We have to admit that's a pretty low threshold. I mean, gosh, kids, if arousing alarm or resentment is a crime, I could come up with a pretty long list of folks I'd like to see in handcuffs, couldn't you? I'd start with the entire Bush administration and work my way down to all those celebrities who are rich and famous for no apparent reason and still manage to behave badly. I resent that, a lot, and think the amount of attention they get for such behavior is, yes, criminal.

We'll waste no sympathy on Craig, but it is worth pointing out that laws against "disorderly conduct" have historically been used to police a range of non-normative sexual behaviors that pose no threat to anything but an extremely narrow view of sexual propriety. Moose says you should all go read the work of historian George Chauncey to get a sense of how statutes against "lewdness," "vagrancy," and "loitering" have been selectively enforced to punish same-sex sexual conduct, or merely, as in Craig's case, the apparent desire to engage in same-sex sexual conduct. Political science professor Aaron Belkin briefly touches on the sordid history of such statutes in an op-ed on Craig in today's Wa Po.

There is more than a little irony in the fact that the Supreme Court de-criminalized sodomy in 2003 but it's still possible to be arrested for "wishing to engage in lewd conduct," as the officer who arrested Craig put it. If wishing is a crime, then your favorite dog blogger is guilty as can be. As, I imagine, are you, my beloved, desiring readers. Perhaps that's why they say, Be careful what you wish for.