The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Busy weekend

Lots of stuff going on, so I haven't written a lot this past week. So I just have some links this morning in lieu of anything more interesting:

I thought I had more. Hm.

The inconvenience of being a female veteran

You might not like the military or its mission, but I can tell you it's one of the more meritocratic organizations I've ever worked with. That's great if you're a woman—until you leave, as Sarah Maples explains:

The military doesn’t just urge women, it requires them—especially if they want to succeed—to view themselves on the same playing field as their male counterparts. They are also expected to behave and perform in traditionally masculine ways—demonstrating strength, displaying confidence in their abilities, expecting to be judged on their merits and performance, and taking on levels of authority and responsibility that few women get to experience. The uniform and grooming standards work to downplay their physical female characteristics. Additionally, the expectation—explicit or implicit—is that they also downplay other attributes that are traditionally considered feminine, such as open displays of emotion. That’s not to say that gender isn’t going to be noticed or that others aren’t going to make it an issue—they will. But highlighting female characteristics is undesirable. As General Lori J. Robinson, the U.S. military’s first female combatant commander, put it: “I’m a general, a commander, an airman. And I happen to be a woman.”

When many women leave the service, they expect that being a woman in the civilian community will be easier, but that isn’t always the case. They have to prove their abilities all over again, earn their place at the table again. As veterans, they’re not afraid to prove themselves. They proved themselves in boot camp. They proved themselves at tech training. They proved themselves every time they arrived at a new duty station. They have plenty of practice proving themselves. They can prove themselves one more time. The difference, this time, is that the individuals on the other end are not prepared for them to do so.

On active duty, women were my support network, a situation encouraged both by our small numbers—approximately 15 percent of the active duty force is women—and by the military’s emphasis on teamwork. My experiences with civilian women, however, have not always been as friendly. Other women veterans have also reported negative experiences with civilian women, ranging from lack of understanding and inability to relate to cold shoulders.

Complicating matters is that, while I and other women veterans make efforts to assimilate, we are often reluctant to completely lose the identity we developed in the military, particularly if it means assuming traditional gender roles. The idea that the male standard is the normal one has become so ingrained during service that women veterans don’t realize they’ve absorbed the spoken or unspoken message that adding “female” to something diminishes it.

It's an interesting read. I wonder how it applies to other societies? I'd be especially interested to learn about how Israeli and British female veterans are treated. (Very differently, I'd wager.)

What Dana Milbank is thankful for

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders infantilized the White House press corps on Monday by demanding reporters say what they're thankful for before asking a question. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has some thoughts:

Sarah, I am thankful for the checks and balances the Founders put in place, for they are what stand between us and despotism when a demagogic president’s instincts would take us there. And I am profoundly grateful to the many men and women who, often at great personal cost and risk, have stood up to the authoritarian in the White House. President Trump has done much damage, particularly to our international standing and our civil culture, but it would be so much worse without these profiles in courage.

I’m thankful to the voters of Virginia and elsewhere, who gave us a first sign that Trump’s scourge of nationalism and race-baiting can be repelled.

And I’m profoundly thankful that Trump and so many of his appointees have turned out to be incompetent, unable to implement some of his most dangerous ideas.

The whole column is worth a read.

Exemplar of self-dealing, corrupt "charity" shutting down

Following an order of the New York Attorney General, the Donald J. Trump Foundation has started the process of dissolving:

In a statement, a spokesperson for the foundation confirmed that it is being shuttered. "The Foundation continues to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s Charities Division, and as previously announced by the President, his advisers are working with the Charities Division to wind up the affairs of the Foundation. The Foundation looks forward to distributing its remaining assets at the earliest possible time to aid numerous worthy charitable organizations."

The attorney general's press secretary, Amy Spitalnick, said the foundation can't close just yet, however. "As the foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete," said Spitalnick.

This is a reminder that the State of New York is not subject to the President's pardon power, and has jurisdiction over just about all of Trump's affairs. Were Robert Mueller to be fired, it's likely Eric Schneiderman will pick up where Mueller left off, with no loss of forward momentum. It's also likely Trump's lawyers know this.

At least the Trump Foundation is on its way out. That's one fewer potential source of criminal activity we'll have to worry about.

The Red Atlas

A new book by an English retiree compiles still classified Soviet maps of British and American cities:

On a business trip to Riga, Latvia’s capital, in the early 2000s, [John Davies] hit the mother lode. Davies happened upon a shop that held bundles of Cold War-era maps of British cities, created by the Soviet military. The maps were so detailed that they included such elements as the products factories made and bridges’ load-bearing capacity. “I was just amazed,” Davies said.  

Each time Davies went to Riga, he would bring back another armload of the maps. And it turned out the Soviet military hadn’t just made maps of British cities: Davies discovered similarly intricate maps of U.S. cities, as well as areas across the globe. He and Alexander Kent, a professor of cartography at Canterbury Christ Church University, worked together to figure out how the maps were made. Their research can be found in a new book, The Red Atlas.

It's published in the US on my home-town imprint, the University of Chicago Press—and is at this writing out of stock on Amazon. (And of course I just ordered it.)

The MAVNI program

My current project involves military enrollment, so I am following the story of the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program, recently suspended by the Pentagon:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that he supports reactivating a program designed to attract foreign military recruits who agree to serve in exchange for fast-tracked U.S. citizenship.

Speaking with reporters at the Pentagon, Mattis said the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, or MAVNI, was suspended a year ago and additional security measures were put in place to guard against “espionage potential” among U.S. military recruits born in other countries. Those new regulations left the program paralyzed, ending a reliable stream of high-quality troops.

“We are taking the steps obviously to save the program, if it can be saved,” Mattis said. “And I believe it can.”

The MAVNI program has produced more than 10,400 troops since 2009 — personnel who possess language and medical skills deemed vital to military operations and in short supply among U.S.-born troops. The military continues to process those who enlisted before the program was suspended.

It may seem odd that people who enlisted over a year ago still require processing, but this is pretty normal. The Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) affects nearly all applicants as military needs and space in Basic Military Training (BMT) and advanced schools are both limited. People who enlist can take up to 545 days to ship.

Also, an interesting bit I just learned, if an alien enlists in the DEP and then drops out before shipping to BMT, that person is forever ineligible for US citizenship (8 USC 1426). Also see 8 USC 1429 for how to become a naturalized citizen through military service.

Busy day link round-up

I have some free time coming up next Friday, but until then, there's a lot going on. So I have very little time to read, let alone write about, these stories from this week:

Back to project planning...

Foreign intelligence's best asset

The unsurprising news that President Trump tweeted about something that his son found out only minutes before back in June shows just how foreign governments can use his impulsiveness and stupidity to play him:

Seeing Assange prompt a Trump tweet, via Don Jr, is I suspect only the first and clearest of many examples. Who told Trump what? In a lot of cases Trump’s tweets will likely tell us. Trump’s October 12th Wikileaks tweet was totally opaque until we found out about Don Jr’s DMs with Assange a few minutes before. Trump’s tweets are impulsive, immediate, unvarnished. They amount to realtime surveillance of what he was thinking and what he knew at key points of the campaign. They just require the fruits of the ongoing investigations to decipher what they mean.

Some day, we'll find out (perhaps through a Truth & Reconciliation Committee) just how badly this man has hurt the country.

My favorite article of the day

I'm chilling in my hotel room on the second day of my trip, not sure how much longer I'll remain awake. (Waking up at 5am sucks, even more so when it's 4am back home.) This is a problem in that I need to write some code before tomorrow.

So I've spent a few minutes perusing the blog feeds and news reports that came in today, and I have a favorite. The favorite is not:

No, though all of those brought little flutters of joy to my heart, the story that London is going to make Oxford Street a pedestrian utopia by 2020 really got my interest. Since I have never driven a car anywhere in Zone 1 and have no intention of ever doing so, I think blocking 800 meters of Oxford Street to cars is fookin' brilliant.

A bit of good news for our side

Ah, business travel. What could possibly improve upon eating a turkey sandwich in a faux-chic room at an Aloft outside BWI airport while reading all the articles I queued up earlier? Certainly not the need to get up at 5:00 tomorrow morning—Eastern time, an hour ahead of Chicago—to get someplace by 5:30.

But when I got off the plane, I saw this bit of good news:

Democrat Ralph Northam was projected to win Virginia’s race for governor Tuesday over Republican Ed Gillespie, as Democrats appeared headed for a big night across the board in races for lieutenant governor, attorney general and several key seats in the House of Delegates, based on exit polls and early returns.

Virginia’s elections have been closely watched nationwide as a test of President Trump’s status and impact on the tenor of politics in every state.

If the results hold, it could signal a big win for Democrats in Virginia. In another closely watched race, in Prince William County, Democrat Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person to win a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates. She beat longtime Republican incumbent Robert G. Marshall by a wide margin. At least four other Republicans lost their seats.

It was part of a wave of apparent victories for Democratic candidates, including what looked like a sweep of statewide offices. Democrat Justin Fairfax appeared headed to win as lieutenant governor over Republican Jill Holtzman Vogel, and Attorney General Mark R. Herring was headed for reelection over Republican challenger John Adams.

This is Virginia, former home of the Confederacy, but lately a growing blue bump on the bright-red South.

Also, the turkey sandwich wasn't bad. It just needed some mayo.

Breaking: Chris Christie, chief wart on the pock-marked ass of New Jersey, will be replaced by Democrat Philip D. Murphy.