Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I'm An Angry Bird (Military Ladies edition)

While I'm still plenty angry about the whole Scott Walker fiasco, I am ALSO angry at the fact that because I'm a woman, my fundamental right to choose what to do with my body are being infringed upon.

So we're on the way back from picking up our new foster dog and like the super classy liberals that we are we have NPR on. And apparently a couple days ago they did a story on women fighting in the front lines. I immediately quipped "Well considering they don't trust women to make any type of decision regarding their reproductive health, I can't imagine this is going to bode well."

Surprise, surprise:
I was right.
As I was doing a lot talking OVER the radio (yes I realize interruption is a horrible habit and one that I don't see myself giving up any time soon so apologies to all of my friends when I interrupt with a movie/song quote or some other type of amusing anecdote/anecdon't), I didn't hear one comment that was read in support of women engaging in ground combat. You can read/listen to the original article here.

The article discusses the possible overturning of the barring of women engaging in direct ground combat. While I have many issues with the military, the issues it brought up for upholding the ban harken back to the 1800s. When women were considered genteel and delicate:

Late last year, a panel of active-duty women and veterans testified before the commission. During that exchange, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen expressed his concerns about getting rid of the ban.
"Here is my problem," Peterson said. "We're talking about ground combat, nose-to-nose with the bad guys, living in the mud, eating what's on your back, no hygiene and no TV. How many of you have seen how infantrymen, the ground troopers, live, and how many of you would volunteer to live like that?" (taken directly from the NPR article linked to above).
Minus the ground combat and nose-to-nose with bad guys, this kind of sounds like camping. Clearly that is huge jump and I'm not trying to indicate that being in a combative unit of the army is like camping, but the fact that hygiene and tv come into play?! Does anyone join the military thinking they're going to stay caught up on their favorite shows and get to shower whenever they want? To me this is assuming that women only care about how they look and following their stories. 
Fortunately, "Tammy Duckworth was an Apache helicopter pilot in Iraq and lost both of her legs in combat. Now she's the No. 2 at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She replied immediately: 'I've lived like that. I've lived out there with the guys, and I would do it. It's about the job.'" (taken directly from the article).
I'm sure there are plenty of people (men AND women) out there who couldn't live in a combat zone, myself included. Which is why I didn't sign up for military (okay and a slew of other reasons). I like my bed, I like my dog, I like pizza and booze. But to make this specifically about women, who are often put in this position anyway (why they're revisiting the issue), when there are just as many lazy men wouldn't thrive in this position.
According to the article, the question isn't whether or not they CAN do this work, it's whether they SHOULD be doing this work. So because someone has a vaj and tits that means they SHOULDN'T be allowed to fight in ground combat, even if they WANT to.
Pregnancy was brought up in this article and in the follow-up heard today whilst driving. What if the woman get pregnant and can't be deployed? Can't this be treated like any other job? You get maternity leave, you report when your maternity is up? Right? Millions of non-military women do this everyday. I didn't say it would be easy or fun, but it's an option.
During the follow-up, some people predicted women would intentionally get pregnant to avoid deployment. Thanks. It's good to know that you distrust the women in our military as much as you distrust just plain ol' everyday janes. And again, this could happen. But couldn't a man also do something to keep from getting deployed? This street goes both ways, but clearly only women are super untrustworthy. Even though they are willing to die. For your country.
And then there's privacy.
How can we trust grown adults to undress in front of each other? How can we trust them to carry out bodily functions in front of one another? Does the military realize that there are co-ed bathrooms and showers at various colleges throughout the country? So we can trust military personnel to carry guns and maneuver tanks but we can't entrust them to catch a glimpse of nip or peen without being thrown into a tizzy. Of course. THAT makes perfect sense.
And the last one that is brought up is my favorite:
Unit Cohesion: Does having a woman around create distractions? (taken directly from original article).  Does the military have that little faith/trust in their male personnel that they expect them to turn into every man depicted in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" when seeing Jessica Rabbit? Slobbering, wimpering messes with hearts in their eyes? Or is this insinuating that women are constantly using their feminine wiles to woo men and distract them from their jobs. Ladies are just too slutty in their fatigues.
And yeah, there is a huge issue of sexual assault/harrasment in the military. According to the ACLU Blog of Rights, One in three women are victims of sexual assault while in the service. The VA finds the condition so prevalent that it has it's own name MST or Military Sexual Trauma. I don't think this is going to get better while we continue to demean able-bodied and willing women who want to serve in all aspects of the military.
If this segregation continues then women will continue to be looked at as second class citizens. Because if the US Military Complex thinks that women can't do all the things men can, then why shouldn't the men within that complex feel the same way? Or the US population in general?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why I'm An Angry Bird (Scott Walker edition)

I begin with a quote from Tavis Smiley, as stated on "Real Time with Bill Maher on 2.18.11:
"These budgets are moral documents. And when we see what you put on the table, we know then what you really believe."

It turns out, that while I don't think of myself as political at all, my friends have told me that, yes I am a political person. And this blog is gonna get all political up in your shit. True!

And Governor Walker has been upsetting me (and tens of thousands of other individuals across the state AND the nation). And I've been wanting to blog about it for awhile, but was out of town, getting cold sores from the stress of it all, and I was generally getting my agitation out by just discussing with my friends.

But it doesn't seem to be letting up. Paul Krugman keeps writing about Wisconsin, We're figuring heavily into "Real Time" with Bill Maher. We're regular fixtures on the Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

And since I'm a bit of an attention whore, I like it.
But then I remember WHY we're getting the attention.
Because our governor is bat-shit crazy. Yes. I realize he's an elected official. And that 53% of Wisconsin voted for him. BUT. I have a slight feeling that if he would've been TRULY honest (not "honest" as he states he was) in his campaign, if he would have come right out and said:
"The only TRUE way to fix the budget crisis here is to bust all the unions," my guess is that maybe not so many people would have voted for him. Just a guess here, I'm no political theorist. I'm just a person who was laid-off once and decided to start a blog about my adventures in the poor-house, which due to me being born in the wrong social class, are most likely to continue on for the rest of my days.

And I'm not gonna lie. I'm a total liberal.
I have no bones about labeling myself that.
I'm not one of those who says "I'm X-leaning" or "I don't vote for the party, I vote for the person," although my paternal grandma always said that one. Even though I think she voted republican 99% of the time, but she's adorable and could do whatever she wanted. Personally I think it's because her dad was a union president and probably PROBABLY (I have no basis for this fact, this is pure conjecture) voted democrat her entire life. But like I said, I never asked her about it, so that is a pure guess.

But as her father (my great-grandfather that I never met) WAS a union president, I feel it would be remiss to NOT talk about what's happening in my state. That I love.

Supposedly, Scott Walker ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility. He demanded that the public sector unions pay into their pensions at a rate of about 5.8% (compared to their previous 1%) and pay more for their healthcare, I believe at a rate of 12.6% (compared to their previous 6%).

Honestly, I think there are better ways for the state to get out of it's deficit (raise the sales tax) or here is a fun visual a friend of a friend posted on facebook:

My Wisconsin teachers taught me to show my work:            |
|                                                                                     |
| Deficit = $137 million                                                       |
| WI Adult Population (2009) = 4,342,866                           |
| (5,654,774 total population times 76.8% adults)                 |
|                                                                                     |
$137,000,000 divided by 4,342,866 = $32                  |
|                                                                                     |

While I'm sure there are some people/adults who couldn't afford to pay this I know there are people (like myself, my friends, those who commented on this statistic via facebook) who would be willing to pay a double or triple share. And let's be real. I'm not flush with cash. I live paycheck to paycheck and receive no support from my parents. But I would gladly do this to enable the teachers  (THE TEACHERS--THOSE WHO TEACH YOUR KIDS [yep your kids, cos I don't have any]!!!) to keep their "great" benefits and measly pay. Not to mention their collective bargaining rights.

Here is a fun twist:
While Fox News originally reported that 61% of those polled were FOR ending collective bargaining, it quickly corrected itself by saying that it actually had the figures flip-flopped (are you freaking kidding me?!?!) and that 61% actually OPPOSED ending collective bargaining rights. This can be seen here in the always funny Colbert Report. While I realize people make mistakes, this seems a little too ridick, even for my tastes.

I'm just a little mad over this.
Mad that my brother, my cousins, my old teachers might get paid even shittier than they would have if this bill passes. I've heard their (and other state workers, like prison guards) will received a $200-$600 cut PER MONTH. That is a mortgage payment for some.

Mad that this bill would make cuts to a $1 billion cut to health care programs that serve the disabled, elderly, and low-income residents currently served through Badger Care, the state’s Medicaid program.
Mad that this bill would undermine all that the unions have done. I like the fact that I get days off, get benefits, and get to work in proper working conditions. This didn't happen because bosses thought the workers deserved more or better. It happened because the workers organized, formed unions and demanded it.

Mad that the unions have AGREED to increase their contributions to their pensions and benefits (the part that is actually about the budget) and STILL Governor Walker won't take out the collective bargaining language that's in the bill.

Mad that I feel this bill is going to pass, barring some Christmas Day miracle that gives three republican senators hearts.

Mad that the president has said very little about this situation as this is CLEARLY a political issue rather than a fiscal one.

But I hate to end this on such a downer (because I don't see these blogs getting any more cheery), I have to say that I'm so very proud of Wisconsin coming together, protesting peacefully, getting us much needed national attention, getting the message out that this ISN'T about just the budget, this is political high-jinks, in full force. 

So thanks to all my awesome friends who keep posting great links and articles, thanks to the public service workers who are protesting non-stop, thanks to all of the supporters who aren't public workers (Ian's Pizza in Madison has received donations from all over the country and other countries, including Egypt!), thanks to Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow (and all of their writers!) for bringing and keeping this issue in the spotlight of American politics, thanks to Paul Krugman for bringing his always super-smart analysis to this issue. 

Mad love to all of you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Keeping it Weird in Austin (but not really)

First of all, I would like to welcome myself to the 21st century as this is my VERY FIRST blog post written from an airport. THIS IS LIVE PEOPLE.

My journey to Austin barely happened. As Milwaukee received the Storm of the Century/Snowpocalypse/Snowmageddon, all sorts of flights were moved and bumped. And seeing as I have to fly standby, my chances for getting on weren't looking good as the plane was full of pilots and other (read: paying) standby people.

But HARK! One seat left and it was all mine! ALL MINE!
Of course, I had to sit in the middle and that wasn't the most fun as I had a ginger who kept adjusting his junk next to me (seriously? that is SICK! to quote Angus Anderson) and on my right was an olds who was playing ridick games on his super-fancy ipad. I was slightly enthused to see this guy playing games as I fully expected him to be checking his stock portfolio. But alas, weird sports games and weird music coming from that thing.

On my flight to Denver I took in the fifth installment of Harry Potter and tried not to think about the ginger constantly adjusting his junk. So SICK!

Whilst at the Denver airport I caught up on some emails, drank a couple cocktails and met (and talked with!) a Christian Steelers fan who alerted me that the terrible towel proceeds to the the Pittsburgh Children's hospital. He also told me that his favorite player (whose name escapes me, because seriously? I don't know anyone on the Steelers aside from the accused rapist.) But this guy always liked Player X because he did the sign of the cross when something good happened, then as it turned out, on one of the team flights, while all the players were playing poker or sexually assaulting flight attendants (okay I totally make that part up) Player X was just sitting there reading his Bible. After my Steelers buddy left it turns out I was sitting next to a gay.
A SOUTHERN gay English professor. This is my life. I actually had a hard time understanding him (and various other people on my journey) as his accent was quite thick.
Texas=Taxes in my head.
But he was supes nice, let me use his lighter and referred to his interior designer husband as such, which I love.
He, too, assured me that I would get into grad school, which I found oddly reassuring even though I could have been a coke-head making up stories.

My flight from Denver to Austin was amazing. I got to sit in the emergency area which means lots of leg room AND the flight was fairly empty which mean no one was next to me!
Knitting abounded.
Much to my dismay, I had realized I bought the wrong size yarn, and was/am unable to keep knitting until I remedy this issue.

As a side note three birds just swooped by me.
Inside the airport.
And then some stickies chased it off.
Because that is appropriate behavior for a child & animal interaction.

Austin was cold, dark and damp upon my arrival.
The next day was declared a snow day.
I'm not lying.
There was a dusting of snow on areas that didn't get sunlight.
I couldn't stop giggling at all the reference to the "cold" and the "snow day"
DO YOU!?!?!
See above for storm of the century/snowpocalypse/snowmageddon

My time in Austin was spent hanging at local eateries/pubs which were quite similar to the caliber in Milwaukee, but more expensive, and not as friendly. But I went to see EGL for his b-day and his party was a good time indeed: a private karaoke room was rented where I, once again, halted the good times by singing "Thunder Road."
I like being a crazy person.

And their new roomate had a dog! So I was very happy about that, as you know how much I love dogs.

On Saturday, after working out my impending travel plans, we played Trivial Pursuit on the capital lawn which was lovely as it was warm out (!!! do you even know how long it's been since I've seen sun?!? I didn't even have to have a coat on!!!) We then patronized a pizzeria where consumed cocktails, sat under the heat lamps and had many arguments/discussions over fun rape/forcible rape, David Letterman/Joaquin Phoenix/Crispin Glover, abortions, Brokeback Mountain and Dennis Quaid. Good times.

The evening was cut short by the fact that we had to wake up dreadfully early (330!) as my flight out of San Antonio left at 625. And San Antonio was about 1.5 hours away from Austin.