Friday, July 28, 2017

Waking up to Donald Trump

These days perusing the headlines first thing in the morning often is like taking that first sip of coffee and discovering someone has laced it with Tabasco sauce. You gag. You spit. You say "What the hell?" or worse.

Wednesday and Thursday were Tabasco days. Via one of his early morning tweets, which have come to resemble lightning bolts from a demented Zeus, Trump banned transgendered people from serving in the military. In a separate action later, the Justice Department intervened in a discrimination suit filed by a gay employee and took the side of the employer.

The transgender ban shocked most everyone, Republicans and Democrats in Congress and gay activists but most of all the military. No one had lobbied for the ban—certainly not the Pentagon—and there are no studies or reports to justify the action.

Trump said he had "consulted with my generals and military experts" but none could be identified by the White House or the media. Another day, another lie by our president.

Trump's tweet stated that "our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."

"You're fired!"
Except there is no evidence anywhere. nor complaints by anyone, that the estimated six thousand transgender military personnel—out of some 1.3 million people in uniform—had disrupted any of the country's security objectives.

As for the costs, someone already figured that the military already spends more on Viagra than on any transgender-related medical interventions, which amount to a gnat on the butt of the mammoth Pentagon budget.

Any more, I've developed a knack for defensive newsreading which guides my thumb and eyes to slide down my tablet, past the headlines about the cyclonic lunacy that grips Washington, and on to calmer waters such as book and movie reviews, travel stories, even the business page and daily recipes.

But the news about the transgender decision was a thumb-stopper. I first felt anger at the gratuitousness of Trump's decision—an arbitrary edict based on no facts and purporting to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

Politically it didn't win Trump many friends even among Republicans. There wasn't any cheering sweeping the country.

And pity those long-suffering gay people in the Republican Party, some of whom even support Trump, and who now find their efforts to fit in more daunting than ever.

The only logic may be that Trump once again, and not unlike authoritarian rulers, tried to distract public opinion from his crisis-prone administration's other problems, by creating a phony issue. Fake news indeed.

All that aside, what I felt most was sadness for the transgendered people in uniform who have served loyally and now face possible expulsion from the military or a tortured coexistence within it as second-class soldiers. They deserve better than this.

32 comments:

  1. Take a deeeeeep breath, Al. Then exhale.

    Repeat.

    As needed. There, there.

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    1. Good advice. But first I have to console Reince Priebus. I hear he's a bit out of sorts. Maybe some churros.

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  2. Touché....made my day

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  3. That was meant as a compliment Al...

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    1. Thank you. I took it as a compliment.

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  4. It's an executive "bathroom bill," but doesn't require that tiresome legislative consent. As an order by the CIC, it may be exempt from judicial review. Win-win, except we all lose.

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    1. You're probably right, but I hope not. I imagine the ACLU and others will file suit once the extent and impact of the order is clarified by the Pentagon. I don't know if it's even an executive order. Do tweets qualify as executive orders?

      Thanks, Deborah.

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  5. Sir, the quality of your political commentary is rising.
    Dana Jennings

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    1. Dana, thank you. Now if Stew can get his loaves of bread to rise also, instead of turning into bricks, we'll be all set.

      al

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  6. Truly stranger than fiction how this rediculous jerk continues on.
    What's more disheartening are his supporters. They seem to have some sort of mental disorder.
    At least he has reason to continuously lie and try to distract us but there's nothing in it for anyone else, unless you are a billionaire :)

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  7. Before the comments turn into an echo chamber, allow me to inject a little diversity of opinion. Diversity is always great, right? And common sense is always nice.

    Transsexuals suffer from mental illness, and not a trivial one either. If you want to "switch sexes" to the extent that you're willing to put yourself under the scalpel, literally carving up your body, and swallow powerful drugs, then you have a serious problem. The military is wise not to invite the mentally ill into the ranks.

    Let us also not forget that the rule barring transsexuals in the military existed long before Obama became president, and it existed for quite a spell AFTER he became president. It was only after he suffered a severe case of political correctness one day did he kill the rule against transsexuals.

    And let us also not forget the suicide rate among transsexuals is sky-high, something around 40 percent. There are lots of justifications for that, but it does not negate the fact of the rate. Mentally stable people do not off themselves at that level.

    These people do need help, and I hope they get it, but they need it outside the military.

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    1. Felipe, I welcome diversity of opinion.

      Assumptions and stereotypes have been used to discriminate ever since prejudice was invented quite a long time ago. The military was not integrated until the time of Truman because the mixing of races was considered to be damaging to military cohesion and morale. Women were too frail, and emotional if not hysterical, to hold a weapon. Gays were maladjusted, wimpy and would also damage morale. All those prejudices have been discarded.

      Now we have transgender people. First, I don't believe all transgender people undergo hormonal or surgical treatment.

      But just because some do and we don't understand why, doesn't make them mentally ill. Personally I don't understand why people join the military in the first place, but millions volunteer and re-up two and three times, for patriotic reasons, career development or whatever.

      I'm sure transgenders who decide to go the medical intervention route receive some serious psychological and physical evaluations. Such procedures are not something you undertake on a whim at a strip-mall clinic. Indeed they point toward the seriousness of their decision, which should elicit respect not scorn.

      Bottom line is that Trump pulled this out of his ear without any basis, data or consideration. Some argue HE might be the one who is seriously erratic if not mentally ill.

      I think all people who are willing and able to serve in the military should be able to do so and so with transgenders. If they work out fine, if not so be it—just like anyone else. A number of countries allow transgenders in their armies, including Israel. The world didn't end.

      Or are American transgenders crazier than others elsewhere?

      BTW, try to work through your Obama Obsession Syndrome. The skinny guy from Kenya did not ruin the U.S. Concentrate on George W. instead, who wrecked the economy and got into ruinous wars still roaring on fourteen years after. That guy did some real damage.

      al

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    2. And moreover....

      http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/27/being-transgender-no-longer-a-mental-disorder-in-diagnostic-manual/

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    3. The diagnostic manual has fallen victim to PC, clearly.

      Delete
  8. Wrong Michael -
    40% of transgender children reported attempting suicide.
    I'm sure Trumps baseless excluding them from serving their country will increase their death rates.

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    1. Rick, check out my response. Thank you very much for your comment.

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    2. Did you change your name?

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    3. In addition, trump first announces his transgender/military decision via twitter. dumb.

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  9. Felipe - Holy Mother of God. I could say a lot but the sad truth is it wouldn't make one iota of difference to such a mind-set. So I will repeat the one thing you said that has value: Common sense is always nice. Amen.

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    1. OK Barbara, I'm not going to argue with the Holy Mother of God... thanks for your comment.

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    2. Intelligence from a very smart young woman:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk7wxK-yA_w

      Delete
  10. Personally, I'm not sure what I think of Trump's tweet. However, those transsexuals already serving honorably should be left in place, IMHO. And I'd note that there are plenty of military jobs that require neither strength nor being on a battlefield. So they aren't all hauling 80 LB packs across some godforsaken desert.

    But I consider sex reassignment surgery in the same plane as any other cosmetic surgery, eg, something that attempts to bridge the physical state with the mental state. Thus, I'm not a fan of the taxpayer or insurance paying for it.

    I'd also note that the military also discriminates on any number of other bases that don't apply to other jobs, namely flat feet, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, allergy to bee stings, and numerous others which can be found here. http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/disqualifiers-medical-conditions.html This isn't some kind of institutional hatred; it's simply a reflection of the fact that the military has an essential need for a particular kind of fitness.

    I'm also QUITE skeptical of the "spends more on viagra than transsexuals claim." Given that the military personnel base is overwhelmingly YOUNG men, it's hard to imagine much need for viagra. In fact, a need for the opposite has been much-discussed. And if the story is true, then the military's health insurance is the only one on the planet that pays for the stuff. We all ought to look into that as a separate issue. So call me skeptical about that particular sound-bite.

    Further there's no "right" to serve in the military. You must be fit for military service as the surprisingly lengthy list of disqualifications makes abundantly clear.

    So given the likelihood of medical and emotional complications, if nothing else, transsexuals probably deserve a higher level of pre-enlistment scrutiny. And given their minuscule percentage of the population, perhaps Trump merely concluded it wasn't worth the hassle.

    I'm not sure that's evil intent, nor any kind of assault on the LGBT community. Poorly announced? Poorly coordinated? Lacking in institutional readiness? You bet. But in the bigger scheme, far less important than all the ink spilled over it.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we have a friend considering making the switch, but no action taken so far.

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  11. Dear Mr. G.: Your magnanimity regarding transgender people already in the military is noted. But if there's no apparent problem with trans already in the military, why keep out trans wanting to enlist? This seems like an illogical grandfather clause that also, ipso facto, relegates trans already in uniform to second-class status, i.e., we'll keep folks of your ilk, but not one more. Why?

    But before discussing the merits of the policy, we should consider the way Trump announced it: by early morning Tweet, without any consultation with the military—which hadn't voiced any concerns about trans people already serving—or anyone in Congress. It's a policy change Trump pulled out of his ear, or from some other dark place, without any thought or consideration. The best I can figure is that by creating news he tries to distract media and public attention from the chaos in his own administration such as the failure of health care reform in the Senate or the Russia investigation.

    The cost of sexual reassignment surgery is a red herring, as is comparing it to plastic surgery. "I'd like to change the shape of my nose" is not the same as "I need to have treatment so my sexual identity corresponds to my physical appearance and makes me a more effective serviceperson." You shouldn't dismiss trans people, their travails and their medical needs as frivolous.

    The costs of sex-change surgery are infinitesimal in the context of overall military expenses and indeed, one-fifth of what the Pentagon spends on Viagra: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/26/the-military-spends-five-times-as-much-on-viagra-as-it-would-on-transgender-troops-medical-care/?utm_term=.5631e2e72fa4
    Erectile disfunction, buddy, is a medical condition and it is covered by insurance as it affects even young(ish) men for a variety of reasons.

    Flat feet, among other conditions such as severe vision problems, may physically and demonstrably impair people from serving in certain sectors of the military. Being trans doesn't limit your ability to fly a plane or aim and press buttons at a drone launching center.

    Keeping people out of the military under suppositions, prejudices and stereotypes was used by the military to keep out women, gays and others without any basis in fact. In Israel I met Jonathan, a short very slight and very gay man who drove a tank when he was in his 40s, along with men and women. straight, gay or whatever. According to some of those old-chestnut suppositions, the job of tank commander should be limited to burly men with hairy chests.

    To serve in the military is not a "right" but the military does have an obligation not to discriminate or exclude people on the basis of WTF.

    Kim, if I may slide in a few more ad hominems, it's painful to read how some people, in your case a gay man, pretzelize themselves trying to rationalize, explain or justify some of the stuff Trump pulls out of his ass. You're not stupid, uneducated or out of your mind—by a long shot. What is it about Trump?

    Al
    in San Miguel where the weather continues to be perfect and we're happy because our cat Fifo returned last night after a 36-hour absence.


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    1. Al,

      Good points all, and as I opened my comment, I'm really not sure what I think is the best policy, though I usually support policy that jibes best with well-studied facts. Instinctively I tend to agree with you, but wanted to point out a reasonable argument as to why this is not necessarily some kind of rabid discrimination. Like abortion, this whole transgender debate has sucked up far more time that it's worth. Right? Just look at how excited people are about transgenders and the issue of restrooms.

      Meanwhile there are VASTLY more important things for us as a society to be focused on. And I'd rather we stay focused on them, and I wish Trump would help.

      As for my fondness for Trump, I think the status quo is badly broken, and I think he's an agent for change. It's not going to be perfect or smooth, but it's happening. Just look at Trump's cancellation of the CIA program arming supposedly "moderate opposition" in Syria. That's the kind of thing NO OTHER president would have done. Yet I think it's the right thing. I'm tired of my tax dollars being spent creating endless conflict in poor countries. Let's just leave them alone. I'm also entirely sick of the whole concept of "politically correct," a Stalinist concept if there ever was one. Trump is tearing this down too, and greater freedom is the result.

      Also, Trump isn't perfect, but the Democratic party has been captured by an evil leftist/banker coalition that is busy selling out the country.

      So for me, it's a lesser of two evils.

      Saludos,

      Kim G

      P.S. Take a look at the Jarvik video that Felipe posted a few days ago. It's an interesting look at Trump. Also if you want to understand Trump and his supporters better, read Scott Adams' blog for the last year or so. It might open your eyes. Finally, go watch some of Trump's unedited speeches on YouTube. I'd especially recommend his post-Orlando speech. I found it very moving.

      Finally I should add that if I consider right-wing Christians a threat (and I do), then I think of Muslims as a super-threat. Why the left seems to dislike fundamentalist Christians but want to welcome Muslims with open arms TOTALLY puzzles me. Now, just to be clear, I'm not a bigot against individual Muslims, but I don't like their religion and I don't want to see more of it in the USA.

      Delete
    2. So you are not a bigot Muslims but don't like Islam; and don't want any more Muslims in the U.S. unless they don't practice their religion. That sounds like the right-wing jingle about gays to the effect that they "hate the sin but love the sinner."

      I give up.

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  12. Dear Mr. G.: Your magnanimity regarding transgender people already in the military is noted. But if there's no apparent problem with trans already in the military, why keep out trans wanting to enlist? This seems like an illogical grandfather clause that also, ipso facto, relegates trans already in uniform to second-class status, i.e., we'll keep folks of your ilk, but not one more. Why?

    But before discussing the merits of the policy, we should consider the way Trump announced it: by early morning Tweet, without any consultation with the military—which hadn't voiced any concerns about trans people already serving—or anyone in Congress. It's a policy change Trump pulled out of his ear, or from some other dark place, without any thought or consideration. The best I can figure is that by creating news he tries to distract media and public attention from the chaos in his own administration such as the failure of health care reform in the Senate or the Russia investigation.

    The cost of sexual reassignment surgery is a red herring, as is comparing it to plastic surgery. "I'd like to change the shape of my nose" is not the same as "I need to have treatment so my sexual identity corresponds to my physical appearance and makes me a more effective serviceperson." You shouldn't dismiss trans people, their travails and their medical needs as frivolous.

    The costs of sex-change surgery are infinitesimal in the context of overall military expenses and indeed, one-fifth of what the Pentagon spends on Viagra: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/26/the-military-spends-five-times-as-much-on-viagra-as-it-would-on-transgender-troops-medical-care/?utm_term=.5631e2e72fa4
    Erectile disfunction, buddy, is a medical condition and it is covered by insurance as it affects even young(ish) men for a variety of reasons.

    Flat feet, among other conditions such as severe vision problems, may physically and demonstrably impair people from serving in certain sectors of the military. Being trans doesn't limit your ability to fly a plane or aim and press buttons at a drone launching center.

    Keeping people out of the military under suppositions, prejudices and stereotypes was used by the military to keep out women, gays and others without any basis in fact. In Israel I met Jonathan, a short very slight and very gay man who drove a tank when he was in his 40s, along with men and women. straight, gay or whatever. According to some of those old-chestnut suppositions, the job of tank commander should be limited to burly men with hairy chests.

    To serve in the military is not a "right" but the military does have an obligation not to discriminate or exclude people on the basis of WTF.

    Kim, if I may slide in a few more ad hominems, it's painful to read how some people, in your case a gay man, pretzelize themselves trying to rationalize, explain or justify some of the stuff Trump pulls out of his ass. You're not stupid, uneducated or out of your mind—by a long shot. What is it about Trump?

    Al
    in San Miguel where the weather continues to be perfect and we're happy because our cat Fifo returned last night after a 36-hour absence.


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    1. In spite of what the virulently anti-Trump Washington Post reports, I seriously doubt, as Kim noted, that much cash is spent on viagra. Have you heard the phrase "fake news"? A big viagra outlay simply makes ... no ... sense ... whatsoever.

      It's common for those of a leftist slant to point to Israel (a nation that the left normally and heartily dislikes) as an example for this, that and the other. Women in the Israeli military, gays, transsexuals, midgets, cross-eyed cabbies, you name it, and Israel has it in their military. It is exceedingly liberal in its recruitment, more so, I would wager, than 99% of the world's other armed forces.

      And why is that? Is it because Israel is so progressive and open-minded? Hardly. It's because it's a small nation with a small population surrounded by millions of Muslims who want them dead, buried and the nation entirely wiped off the map. Israel puts about any warm body available into uniform out of sheer necessity. The U.S. does not have this need.

      It's not comparable at all.

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    2. Dear Felipe:

      Countries that accept transgender people in their military: Canada, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Czech Republic, Austria, Israel, Thailand, Australia, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Belgium ... and Bolivia.

      The figures for Pentagon potential exposure for medical treatment of transgender people came from a Rand Corporation study commissioned by the Pentagon. The figure for expenditures on the treatment of erectile dysfunction came from Military Times newspaper, using DOD sources.
      http://www.militarytimes.com/pay-benefits/military-benefits/health-care/2015/02/13/dod-spends-84m-a-year-on-viagra-similar-meds/

      C'mon folks. Dismissing information you don't like as FAKE NEWS!!! is making you sound like Trump, who as we all know had the biggest crowd at his inauguration in the history of the republic, possibly the universe.


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    3. With a few exceptions, those nations you list are all in the grip of political correctness. Sad but true. President Trump is pulling the U.S. from that lamentable list. Hooray!

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  13. I'm laughing. Kim suggests we listen to Trump and his speeches.
    I watch what he does, and see how his actions in office and in life match up to his speeches. The guy is fraudulent.

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