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Robert M. Gates: If we encounter a closed fist when we extend our open hand, then we will react accordingly.

DIS-ORIENTATION… Considering recent reports that the number of hate groups has grown 54 percent since 2000, California has seen a spike in anti-gay crimes after the passage of Proposition 8, and blacks and Hispanics now earn roughly three-fourths the salaries of their white counterparts, Squid was relieved, really, to read Pine Cone editor Paul Miller’s May 1 editorial revealing the “first fired, last hired” school of racial discrimination as a myth. “The opposite is usually true,” he wrote. “Minorities are given tons of advantages in school and in workplaces that whites and Asians are denied.” Glad a well-to-do white man was able to clear that up.

Speaking of -isms, Squid’s starting to feel a little lost in a sea of male mascots. There’s the Geico Gecko, the AFLAC Duck, the Cheetos Cheetah… and the list goes on. It’s as if all kid-friendly, anthropomorphized animals must, by default, have balls. Squid, by contrast, is proudly genderqueer and nurses a deep aversion to pronouns. Now the Monterey Museum of Art teases Squid in advance of unveiling its own mascot, which “has eight arms and wears art specs… He’s friendly, likes to draw, paint and take pictures and wears a hat.” Male again – and a cephalopod, no less! Squid only hopes the museum has a unisex bathroom.

RADIO-ACTIVE… Squid caught a segment of Rush Limbaugh’s show in which a caller wondered if Bush’s Boy Genius Karl Rove would get booed off the stage in semi-liberal territory like Monterey for his appearance at the the Panetta Institute Lecture Series. Limbaugh said Rove could defend himself. “Even if somebody throws a pie or a shoe at Karl Rove, he’ll dive in the audience after ’em,” Limbaugh said. The pill-popping pundit was right. Rove showed an instant air of arrogance at the lecture’s press conference, whispering jokes into Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s ear and keeping his mouth slightly open as Sylvia Panetta introduced him, as if he was thinking: “I helped screw over this country for eight years, W. covered my ass, and now I’m in a Democratic stronghold bragging about it.” And who better to talk about the partisan divide than the Republican architect who deceived voters into electing this country’s worst president twice? Rove denied targeting the evangelical vote and cited how the church was instrumental in the civil rights, women’s and abolition movements. “We should not attach labels to people of faith,” Rove, the First Amendment defender, declared. Meeting the Great Man, Squid sees why Bush’s label of Rove as “Turd Blossom” is accurate (besides the “Blossom’’ part.)

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