As you know, I developed Huckaphobia almost 2 years ago. You might think it would have abated by now, but you’d be thinking wrong.

Monday night I happened to send Samer the link to Huckalerts, a prank which still makes me laugh until I cry. This is good because I was then able to use it to inoculate myself while watching Huckabee’s appearance on the Daily Show last night.

It was a long interview, a two-parter. The topic I wish to fuss about is in the second half of the interview:

Sure, Jon Stewart gave him what-for, but it’s still chilling to watch because Huckabee is a personable, relatable guy who has the attention of a lot of moderates who don’t feel personally connected to this issue. (I hate using the word “issue”, I feel like “human right” or even just “right” is a better term, but I’ll use issue because that’s the context for the discussion).

It boils down to this: You people are not spending enough time worrying about Mike Huckabee and it’s going to come back to bite us all.

p.s. I hope I haven’t been causing your feed readers to freak out, I’ve been cleaning up some of the old mangled code from the import to this site and sometimes when I update old posts it notifies people and then they get annoyed. Sorry.

In my increasing despair about the level of political discourse (or lack thereof) being evinced in the “debates,” I’d forgotten about a piece Michael Stebbins wrote for the November/December 2007 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. ” Luckily, the Utne Reader reprinted it.

Five years into the Iraq debacle, national security has been reduced to an election slogan that pairs either pro or anti with war. Meanwhile, important issues such as nuclear proliferation, military escalation with China, and unmonitored, unhinged spending by the Defense Department don’t fuel political chatter or get the talking heads spinning. On a campaign trail paved with sound bites, they hardly merit a mention.

Last year, during the parade of primary debates, Michael Stebbins and his colleagues at the Federation of American Scientists assembled a list of pressing national security questions that voters deserve to hear answered. Though the field has narrowed, the candidates and the press continue to avoid these matters. We’ve still got time before November, though, so if a candidate comes your way, consider posing one of the federation’s questions, which Utne Reader reprints here from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Nov.-Dec. 2007), an indefatigable watchdog of the nuclear and defense arenas.

[read “Hey Candidates: Debate This!”]

(Incidentally, [tag]Michael Stebbins[/tag] is an artomatic artist)

Interesting piece in the New York Times last week about the ways that [tag]Cuban[/tag] citizens work around [tag]Cuba[/tag]’s governmental restrictions on the Internet:

A growing underground network of young people armed with computer memory sticks, digital cameras and clandestine Internet hookups has been mounting some challenges to the Cuban government in recent months, spreading news that the official state media try to suppress.

Last month, students at a prestigious computer science university videotaped an ugly confrontation they had with Ricardo Alarcón, the president of the National Assembly.

Mr. Alarcón seemed flummoxed when students grilled him on why they could not travel abroad, stay at hotels, earn better wages or use search engines like Google. The video spread like wildfire through Havana, passed from person to person, and seriously damaged Mr. Alarcón’s reputation in some circles.

Not that long ago I stumbled across an interesting Cuban blog, Generacion Y, which is mentioned in the article:

Because Ms. Sánchez, like most Cubans, can get online for only a few minutes at a time, she writes almost all her essays beforehand, then goes to the one Internet cafe, signs on, updates her Web site, copies some key pages that interest her and walks out with everything on a memory stick. Friends copy the information, and it passes from hand to hand. “It’s a solid underground,” she said. “The government cannot control the information.”

(There’s an English version of the site, but the translation is rather awkward).

Free Burma!

I know that Free Burma, who’ve organized the “one blog post” campaign, want participants to post the graphic in lieu of a real post today, but I’m not very good at following directions so I’d like to direct you to the website of the [tag]U.S. Campaign for Burma[/tag], which I believe is one of the best informational site about the human rights situation in [tag]Burma[/tag].

(Disclaimer: Husband’s school-friend Jeremy runs this organization, but I’d be deeply impressed with their work even if we didn’t know them).

Nothing really gets the blood pumping like hate, does it? Makes you feel all warm and cozy. Righteous indigination, a sense of belonging. What could be better? I had a long manifesto on hate, a tangent from yesterday’s mention of the alleged War on Christmas, but I’ve junked it in favor of a link to an interesting read on Alternet today, A Whiter Shade of Christmas:

The holiday song “White Christmas” is a favorite among the white supremacist set, for obvious reasons. May your days be merry and bright / And may all your Christmases be white. Put into the context of white nationalism, the tune becomes a jolly anthem for white pride and privilege. And don’t think that racist activists can’t be jolly or share a little holiday cheer.

In fact, there is an international organization of white supremacist women who devote their energies to holiday activities such as sending Christmas cards to their incarcerated “brothers,” and raising money for needy Aryans. This year Women for Aryan Unity (WAU) is holding its 15th annual Yulefund, which has purportedly raised $2,000 over the last three years to buy gifts for children of incarcerated white supremacists. Women for Aryan Unity also publishes a cookbook, sends welcome packages to new mothers, and runs an Aryan Clothing Drive.

[read the rest of the article]

In her conclusion, the author makes the following suggestions:

In the meantime, you can dedicate your holiday activities to tolerance by giving a year-end gift to one of the many anti-hate organizations and donating to a clothes drive that helps people of all colors. And, for God’s sake, please don’t sing “White Christmas.”

I do hope that her request that one not sing “White Christmas” is some sort of failed sarcasm, because if it’s not it takes her into that silliness zone so cozily occupied by our favorite sitcom host, Bill O’Reilly.

Mia Zapata’s killer gets 36 year sentence:

The sentence was 10 years longer than the standard maximum for felony murder.

After playing a film paying homage to Zapata, King County Deputy Prosecutor Tim Bradshaw argued that Mezquia deserved a longer sentence than the standard.

He said Zapata’s death was painful, cruel and violent.

“The state thinks that Mia was an exceptional person and the crime was exceptional,” Bradshaw said.

Then, in an unusual move, he called for a show of hands from those in the packed courtroom who supported the longer sentence.

Most of the spectators raised their hands.

In meting out the punishment, Armstrong said she found a legal basis for the longer sentence in the physical evidence presented at trial. Zapata suffered numerous rips, tears and internal injuries that went beyond those found in a typical rape and murder, Armstrong said.

[read the whole article]

It seems appropriate to close this post with a link to Home Alive. The Seattle-based organization, formed in response to Mia’s death, teachs self-defense and does anti-violence public education programs. There’s a second compilation album to benefit Home Alive available at cdbaby.

Ellen Goodman’s “Unfriendly Fires in the Gender Wars” is quite thought provoking:

Maybe he was right to compare sexual assaults in the military to “friendly fire.” Last week, an advocate for victims, Scott Berkowitz, told a panel of investigating congresswomen that “while these friendly fire attacks leave no trail of blood, they leave many damaged souls in their wake.” No doubt about it.

But “friendly fire” is the chosen term for a tragic mistake. It’s what we say when one soldier is hurt by another accidentally.

Sexual assault is, however, no accident. Certainly not the kind of assault reported by 129 female soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Bahrain. Not the kind experienced by about 3 percent of all military women in 2002. These are intentional attacks. Women trained to fight for their country found themselves in a retro battle of the sexes.

Such stories told by female soldiers are reminders of the hot spots where women can get caught between time zones and images. On the one hand, military women are on the cutting edge of equality, recruited to be anything they want to be. On the other hand, they became something they didn’t want to be: victims.

Of course, this is not just a military story. It echoes on other playing fields of change. Just a few weeks before the panel met in Washington, I was in Boulder, Colo. On the front page of the newspaper that morning was a dramatic photograph of the University of Colorado’s women’s basketball team. On the same page, there was yet another chapter in the endless sex scandal swirling around the university and its football team.

[read the rest of the column]

This editorial appeared in the Washington Post on Saturday (where this link is from) and Goodman’s work is syndicated across the country.

Scott Berkowitz is the President and Founder of RAINN (the rape and abuse national network) in Washington, DC.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the DC Rape Crisis Center has a plethora of events scheduled throughout the month, including the annual Take Back the Night rally, which is scheduled for April 24th this year.

If you aren’t in DC and are looking for info on a local Take Back the Night rally, you can try searching the Feminist Majority Events Calendar, or search the web for local universities or other organizations sponsoring events in your area.

Your local IndyMedia site might also have information specific to your area. (Go to the main site and look for the IMC closest to you).