"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Manohla Dargis's review of Clint Eastwood's J.Edgar reminded me of this piece by Hitchens on Republican Senator Larry Craig. Dargis:

Later, Tolson applies for a job at the F.B.I. and is eagerly hired by Hoover, inaugurating a bond that became the subject of titters but that Mr. Eastwood conveys matter-of-factly, without either condescension or sentimentality. Before long Tolson is helping Hoover buy his suits and straightening his collar, and the two are dining, vacationing and policing in lock step.
Tolson becomes the moon over Hoover’s shoulder, a source of light in the shadows. Even the ashcan colors and chiaroscuro lighting brighten. In these scenes Mr. Hammer gives Tolson a teasing smile and the naked face of a man in love. Mr. DiCaprio, by contrast, beautifully puts across the idea that the sexually inexperienced Hoover, while enlivened by the friendship, may not have initially grasped the meaning of its depth of feeling.
Mr. Eastwood does, and it’s his handling of Hoover and Tolson’s relationship that, as much as the late-act revelation of the pathological extent of Hoover’s dissembling, lifts the film from the usual biopic blahs. Mr. Eastwood doesn’t just shift between Hoover’s past and present, his intimate life and popular persona, he also puts them into dialectic play, showing repeatedly how each informed the other. In one stunning sequence he cuts between anonymous F.B.I. agents surreptitiously bugging a bedroom (that of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a resonant, haunting presence seen and heard elliptically and on TV) and Tolson and Hoover walking and then standing alone side by side in an elevator in a tight, depthless, frontally centered shot that makes it look as if they were lying together in bed.
Although Hoover and Tolson’s closeness was habitual grist for the gossip mill, the lack of concrete evidence about their relationship means that the film effectively outs them. Certainly a case for outing Hoover, especially, can be made, both because he was a public figure who, to some, was a monster and destroyer of lives, and because he was a possibly gay man who hounded homosexuals (and banned them from the F.B.I.). But this film doesn’t drag Hoover from the closet for salacious kicks or political payback: it shows the tragic personal and political fallout of the closet. And Mr. Eastwood and Mr. Black’s expansive view of human frailties means that it’s Hoover’s relationship with Tolson — and the foreboding it stirs up in Hoover’s watchful mother (Judi Dench) — that greatly humanizes him.
I knew it was all over for Sen. Larry Craig when he appeared with his long-suffering wife to say that he wasn't gay. Such moments are now steppingstones on the way to apology, counseling, and rehab, and a case could be made for cutting out the spousal stage of the ritual altogether. Along with a string of votes to establish "don't ask, don't tell" and to prohibit homosexual marriage, Craig leaves as his political legacy the telling phrase "wide stance," which may or may not join "big tent" and "broad church" as an attempt to make the Republican Party seem more "inclusive" than it really is.

But there's actually a chance—a 38 percent chance, to be more precise—that the senator can cop a plea on the charge of hypocrisy. In his study of men who frequent public restrooms in search of sex, Laud Humphreys discovered that 54 percent were married and living with their wives, 38 percent did not consider themselves homosexual or bisexual, and only 14 percent identified themselves as openly gay. Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Personal Places, a doctoral thesis which was published in 1970, detailed exactly the pattern—of foot-tapping in code, hand-gestures, and other tactics—which has lately been garishly publicized at a Minneapolis-St. Paul airport men's room. The word tearoom seems to have become archaic, but in all other respects the fidelity to tradition is impressive.
The men interviewed by Humphreys wanted what many men want: a sexual encounter that was quick and easy and didn't involve any wining and dining. Some of the heterosexuals among them had also evolved a tactic for dealing with the cognitive dissonance that was involved. They compensated for their conduct by adopting extreme conservative postures in public. Humphreys, a former Episcopalian priest, came up with the phrase "breastplate of righteousness" to describe this mixture of repression and denial. So, it is quite thinkable that when Sen. Craig claims not to be gay, he is telling what he honestly believes to be the truth.

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