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And yet, I’m still not thrilled at the idea of President Dean.

From this week’s Doonesbury FAQ

What’s up with Trudeau running a big Howard Dean campaign the last few weeks. Is Trudeau in the tank? —M. Mahoney, Sacramento, CA

Damn near. Here’s the skinny for full-disclosure buffs: GBT and Dr. Dean were childhood buddies, having first met at summer camp. During a camp wrestling tournament, the puny Trudeau pinned the athletic Dean twice, an humiliation (attention, biographers) that has haunted Dean ever since. After attending Yale together, the two lost track of one another until Dean became governor of Vermont and told a reporter that he’d developed his sense of humor hanging out with Trudeau. Trudeau wrote him to protest, because during his teenage years, GBT didn’t actually have a sense of humor. This may explain why reporters don’t think Dean has one, either. Actually he does, at least around Trudeau, so GBT gave him $2000 (maxing out early) on the promise of relief from daily Dean-For-America fundraising spam, a promise that his friend has yet to make good on. Dean has also refused to soften his position on gun control, drug reform, or any other issue of importance to GBT, so a lot of good it’s done.

Which is apparently the second source NewsMax relied on when it proclaimed that Howard Dean is the media-elite darling:

Dean is “the media’s favorite long shot for president” and enjoys an “adoring national press,” confirms Editor & Publisher magazine. Why? Because he loathes President Bush even more than his rivals do and attacks him on everything possible: Operation Iraqi Freedom, tax relief, education reform, national defense…

He has more in common with the Bush administration than he’d like to admit, however, notably the secrecy he so hypocritically attacks. The frequently out-of-state guv refused to reveal his campaign trips on his schedule. It took a lawsuit filed by local yokel newspapers and an order by the Vermont Supreme Court to force him to make public his trips campaigning for the White House.

By the way, here’s the inside story of why Bush-hating cartoonist Garry Trudeau gave Dean extra publicity in “Doonesbury”: The two are longtime friends who met at summer camp when they were 13, a fact Trudeau fails to disclose in his free plugs.

Of course, Dean and Trudeau attended Yale at the same time as President Bush. Small network, ain’t it?

Why I am in the mood I am in,
or, Tin-foil hats for the sophistimacated.

Days like today? Seems like this

The media makes pornography out of the collective guilt of our politicians and business leaders. They make a yummy fetish of betrayed trust. We then consume it, mostly passively, because it is indistinguishable from our “entertainment” and because we suspect in some dim way that, bad as it surely is, it is working in our interests in the long run. What genius to have a system that allows you to behave badly, be exposed for it, and then have the sin recouped by the system as a resellable commodity! I mean, you have to admire the sheer, recuperative balls of it!

—is the only possible explanation for this pending promotion

[national security adviser Condoleezza] Rice and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz are the leading candidates to replace Powell, according to sources inside and outside the administration. Rice appears to have an edge because of her closeness to the president, though it is unclear whether she would be interested in running the State Department’s vast bureaucracy.

the pending failure of this bit of terribly necessary compassionate conservatism

Just over half of Alabama voters oppose Gov. Bob Riley’s $1.2 billion tax and accountability package, results from a new poll show.

Less than 30 percent of voters would vote to pass the package, with the rest remaining undecided, according to the poll conducted last week by The Mobile Register and the University of South Alabama.

The survey, conducted Monday through Thursday, polled 820 Alabamians who said they were either “very likely” or “likely” to cast a vote on the plan and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

—and the utter dearth of this sort of outrage outside of a small corner of the Islets of Bloggerhans—

A CBS News tally shows this is Bush’s 26th presidential trip to Crawford. He has spent all or part of 166 days at the ranch or en route—the equivalent of 51/2 months. When Bush’s trips to Camp David and Kennebunkport, Maine, are added, according to the CBS figures, Bush has spent 250 full or partial days at his getaway spots—27 percent of his presidency so far.

Meanwhile other Americans are getting no time off from their job.

Stripped of his uniform and laid flat on his back in a first-aid tent, a wounded Army engineer fixed his wide, unblinking eyes on a flimsy overhead tarp that shielded him from the desert sun.

I could go on, but. (But.) What, after all, is the point when this is seen—by anyone, anywhere—as making a valid point, political or otherwise? (You see?)

All I know is, I still don’t have any whiskey.

The mindset in question.

A confession: I’ve never been a huge fan of Spider Robinson.

A fan favorite, and something of an acolyte of Robert Heinlein, he’s most famous for his short stories (and the occasional novel) set in and around Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon—a genial sort of place: the best bar near the big SF convention after the floor has closed; a sort of Northern Exposure-ish utopia small enough so that everybody knows your name, but big enough (in heart) that everybody can be his or her respective self, warts and all. (With SF puzzles, tropes, allusions, convoluted in-jokes, and horrible, horrible puns.) —Robinson is more naïve than he thinks he is, a raging sentimentalist operating under the mistaken assumption that he’s hard-boiled, but he’s got a way with words, and a more inclusive than not view of humanity, which excuses a lot in my book. “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased—thus do we refute entropy”; and if celebrating that is hokey, well, we could all do with a little more hoke around here, from time to time.

But. And even though I knew he comes by a great many of his ideals via the aforementioned Heinlein (let’s just note I’m more partial to Disch and Delany and leave it at that), and that those ideals include more than a dollop of that attitude towards women mistaken by some as feminism but more usually noted as pedestalization—I was still taken aback to discover this particular Robinson quote:

Darling, all men think about rape, at least once in their lives. Women have an inexhaustible supply of something we’ve got to have, more precious to us than heroin… and most of you rank the business as pleasant enough, but significantly less important than food, shopping or talking about feelings. Or you go to great lengths to seem like you do—because that’s your correct biological strategy. But some of you charge all the market will bear, in one coin or another, and all of you award the prize, when you do, for what seem to us like arbitrary and baffling reasons. Our single most urgent need—and the best we can hope for—is to get lucky. We’re all descended from two million years of rapists, every race and tribe of us, and we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t sometimes fantasize about just knocking you down and taking it. The truly astonishing thing is how seldom we do. I can only speculate that most of us must love you a lot.

Now, there’s—largely speaking—two responses to this kernel:

(No points for guessing where I stand. Biology is not destiny, muthafuckah.)

Those two (largely speaking) responses help determine how people respond in turn to the news that Illinois has modified its definition of rape to include the following:

c) A person who initially consents to sexual penetration or sexual conduct is not deemed to have consented to any sexual penetration or sexual conduct that occurs after he or she withdraws consent during the course of that sexual penetration or sexual conduct.

Either: the stuff is more precious than heroin, and if she’s said “yes” there’s no use changing her mind, as that poor addled rapist-man couldn’t stop if his life depended on it; or good God, of course No means No, decent sex means being attuned to what your partner’s up to as well as yourself, and consent is not a binding oral contract, for fuck’s sake. (As it were.)

Do note we haven’t winnowed all the chaff by any means. There’s still grey areas a-plenty—the pedestalization that underlies l’difference that’s vived in the quote above has more than enough room for the concept of the chivalrous gentleman who damn well stops when his partner says whoa, and I’d never dream of suggesting that Robinson, say, would decry the Illinois law merely on the basis of said quote. (And on the other hand, there’s room enough for concern about the possibilities of abuse in the “what a fuckin’ cop out” camp. —And yet: even here, we find grey, we find fuzz, we find fog.)

But I now find myself in the need of fresh coffee. So.