“I’m A Motherf***ing Marine”
That quote from the non-government affiliated Air Force Times says all that needs to be said as far as we’re concerned.
Lots of speculation as to the reasons behind Trump’s latest “ban”, and the timing of it: turning to culture wars to distract from the Russia investigation, health care mess after initial Obamacare repeal win, and blow-back from Trump’s Twitter assaults on Jeff Sessions (although that abuse continues). Foreign Affairs reports it’s been a pet project for Vice President Pence ever since a measure blocking the Pentagon from providing “medical treatment related to gender transition” narrowly lost in the house with 24 Republicans joining the vote against.
Politico contends the real reason for the sudden move has to do with Trump trying to build a win for himself on a spending bill with Conservative Republicans.
Transgender people serving openly in the military Is relatively new: there was a ban in place until about a year ago. The Pentagon is already evaluating the effects of that decision. (Secretary of Defense James Mattis is on vacation this week.)
Reaction to Trump’s strongly worded statement was also strong, from Capitol Hill and beyond. Michael Bloomberg writes a pretty damn fine rebuttal of the President’s action saying the Israeli army has had transgender soldiers for decades, and the “tremendous medical costs” argument is baloney: even the most generous estimate would amount to no more than 1/1000th of 1% of the military budget. John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, rallied to the defense of transgender soldiers already in the military, but did not render an opinion on future volunteers.
We kind of find it nuts that this line of reporting is even necessary (but the President is making it so): according to the Rand Corporation there are 1,320-6,630 transgender active service members out of 1,300,000 total. It estimates that between 29 and 129 of them will seek transition-related care while serving. The government does cover the cost of gender transition surgery with a doctor’s recommendation. Even then, the outside cost would be $5.5-million or so, out of a total medical budget of nearly $50-billion.
All this comes as something of a surprise, right? Don’t forget:
In an unsolicited friend-of-the-court brief, Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department argues that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit discrimination against gay and bisexual employees. That case, currently in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, could very well end up at the Supreme Court.
So stop feeling sorry for Jeff Sessions!
Looks Like Health Care In The Senate Will Come Down To The “Skinny Bill”
That’s the version that keeps a lot of Obamacare, getting rid of the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and a tax on medical device manufacturers. Of course, since it effectively means you wouldn’t have to buy insurance until you got sick, premiums would probably skyrocket.
But Republican Senators say not to worry, the “content” of the “skinny bill” isn’t the point: Bob Corker calling it a “forcing mechanism”. Or something that’s easier to pass, that can get the Senate working with the House on what will become the “real” bill. In other words, kind of a little sham. And there’s still no guarantee it’ll pass.
Democrats say the “skinny bill” gives them plenty to worry about. Senator Dianne Feinstein: “Let’s be clear: This bill would intentionally break individual insurance markets nationwide.”
In the meantime, another of the Senate’s options bit the dust: one that would’ve repealed Obamacare without replacing it. It only got 45 votes, with 7 Republicans against.
Let’s Give A Shout-Out To Lisa Murkowski For Doing What John McCain Should’ve, And Rand Paul Said He Would Do Almost For Sure, But Didn’t
The Alaska Senator was one of only two Republicans who in the end, voted against starting debate on health care, with Maine’s Susan Collins keeping her promise to be the other. That’s even after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dangled more than a billion dollars in Alaska funding in front of Murkowski to get her to change her vote. Murkowski understatedly explained: “I’m very comfortable with the decision I made.”
In Alaska, Murkowski is already legend. In her last election, she stunningly won as a write-in candidate after a Tea Party upstart beat her in the Republican primary.
Will The Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up…
We’re going to take a moment to wildly speculate about something: when President Trump Tweeted out his ban on transgender people serving in the military, something struck us as odd. (And it wasn’t just, obviously, the content.) The Tweets themselves are very formal and clunky, and poorly divided up: when we read the first Tweet by itself, (and there was a gap of about 10 minutes between that and the 2nd part), we thought the U.S. was on the verge of bombing Syria or attacking North Korea (and according to Buzzfeed News, we weren’t alone in that):
The President, for all his faults, is excellent at Twitter. So we’re thinking maybe he didn’t construct these Tweets.
Compare and contrast to Trump’s previous Tweet chronologically, that came about an hour before:
Now that’s Trump!
Why does this matter at all (since it doesn’t change the odiousness of what’s in the Tweets)? Because we are wondering if this is part of an effort by Trump’s brand-new Communications Director to consolidate the President’s messaging within his Twitter account. Our theory is circumstantially backed up by the fact that White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not to speak further on the subject in subsequent briefings. So for once, the White House seemed to really be making–and sticking to–one message.
But we also could also be totally wrong…guess we’ll see…
Looking For Some “Light” Weekend (or Midweek) Reading?
Michael Lewis has a stunning piece in Vanity Fair about the Department of Energy under Trump. Which, as the article reminds us, is responsible for “hunting down weapons-grade plutonium and uranium at loose in the world so that it doesn’t fall into the hands of terrorists.”