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Trump Administration Set To Formalize Transgender Military Ban

Trump Transgender Military Ban

Just about a month ago, President Trump surprised everyone by announcing on Twitter that he would be implementing a ban on transgender soldiers from serving in the military. The announcement, which reversed a policy change that the Obama Administration had announced just last year, came as a surprise to pretty much everyone since there had been no indication that the issue was under consideration by the White House and the Defense Department was continuing to work on implementing the Obama Administration’s plan. In the immediate aftermath of the President’s announcement, the military leaders at the Defense Department stated that current policy would remain in effect notwithstanding the President’s tweets unless and until a formal order was received from the White House. Shortly thereafter, the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard stated that his branch of the service would continue to follow the Obama Era policy until they receive a formal order to the contrary. On the other hand, though, there were the President’s tweets, which the White House has said in regard to other matters represent official policy, and the threat that an order could come from the President that would change existing policy and essentially mean the end of military careers for transgender members of the military. In that regard, it was reported by The Blade, a news site that caters to the LGBT community, that a new policy directive regarding transgender troops had been prepared by the White House and would be sent to the Defense Department. Subsequent to the President’s announcement, polling seemed to make clear that most Americans opposed the President’s announced policy, but that did not appear likely to deter the President from his chosen course. In the interim, a group of transgender soldiers has filed a lawsuit alleging that the President’s anticipated actions are unconstitutional.

This week, The New York Times reported that the Trump Administration has completed its work on the new policy and preparing to grant the Defense Department the authority to begin implementing the ban:

WASHINGTON — President Trump is preparing to give the Defense Department formal authority to expel transgender people from the military in an upcoming order, barring the Pentagon from recruiting transgender troops and cutting off payment for sexual reassignment surgery and other medical treatments for those already serving.

A White House memo that is expected to be sent to the Pentagon in coming days gives Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, six months to enforce the transgender ban that Mr. Trump announced abruptly last month in a series of tweets. The directive was confirmed Wednesday by a person familiar with its contents but who was not authorized to discuss its details and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The authority has not yet been finalized. Once it is approved, it would allow Mr. Mattis to force out transgender service members by setting a legal standard of whether they would be able to deploy to war zones or for other lengthy military missions.

The president’s order-by-social media caught senior military officials by surprise and short-circuited the customary interagency policy process that attends such sweeping decisions. At the time, as senior military officials scrambled to determine how to carry out the order, White House officials said they would work with the Pentagon to devise a policy to fit Mr. Trump’s tweets.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, declined late Wednesday to comment on any forthcoming guidance, saying the White House had no announcement on the matter. The memo was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Advocates of allowing transgender people to serve openly said the guidance imposed an unacceptable double standard.

“It is unconscionable that the commander in chief would take aim at his own, loyally serving troops for political reasons at a time when the military needs to focus on real threats,” said Aaron Belkin, the director of the Palm Center, a research institute that had worked with the military to devise its policy on admitting transgender service members.

“Imposing one set of standards for transgender troops, and another set of standards for everyone else is a recipe for disruption, distraction and waste,” Mr. Belkin said.

Mr. Trump gave no warning before announcing the ban in July and declaring on Twitter that American forces could not afford the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members. The president said he had consulted generals and military experts, but Mr. Mattis was given only a day’s notice about Mr. Trump’s decision.

The upcoming guidance — basing expulsion on a troop’s ability to serve — appears to be an attempt to reconcile Mr. Trump’s call for a blanket ban with concerns about whether the defense secretary should dismiss transgender forces who are currently in the ranks.

Mr. Trump’s decision was roundly denounced by members of both parties, many of whom argued that anyone willing and able to fight for their country should be welcomed into the military.

“This is NOT how you keep America safe,” Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, said in a Twitter post. “Period. #ProtectTransTroops.”

This policy change will only impact a small number of the 1.3 million men and women serving in uniform in the various service branches. According to a 2016 RAND Corporation study, the number of transgender troops numbers somewhere between 2,000 and 11,000 troops if one includes active duty and reserve troops, for example, while other studies have estimated that the number could be as high as 15,000 troops. Whatever the number, though, it’s clear that this change in policy could have a significant impact on lives and careers of a large number of people, most especially those members of the military who responded to the Obama Administration’s policy change announcement by revealing their transgender status to superior officers or other others in the military. For many of them, it will mean an end to their military career altogether or at least a significant reduction of the opportunities available to them due to the fact that they would be barred from serving in combat units. For others, it will mean continuing to keep their gender identity a secret out of fear that revealing the truth could have a serious impact on their careers or the end of their time in uniform entirely. Absent a hold being placed on the policy change by a Federal Court, which is, of course, the ultimate aim of the lawsuit that was filed earlier this month, the policy will go into effect at some point, and the military will be forced to take a massive step backward on an issue where it was about to make real progress.

In any case, as I’ve said before there is clearly no justification for this change in policy by the Trump Administration. Both the aforementioned RAND Corporation study and other studies have shown that allowing transgender service members to serve openly would have no significant impact on readines, morale, or military performance or readiness. This is much the same thing that similar studies found that there would be any no negative impact from the repeal of the then-existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding service by gay and lesbian soldiers. The experience that the U.S. military has had since that policy was lifted some six years ago seems to demonstrate clearly that these studies were correct. Additionally, it’s worth noting that many of America’s closest allies, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom, allow transgender individuals serve openly in the military. None of these nations have reported any problems or issues whatsoever. Given this, implementing the ban as the Trump Administration seeks to do now is not warranted, not justified by the existing and available evidence, and entirely unjust.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KM says:

    This policy change will only impact a small number of the 1.3 million men and women serving in uniform in the various service branches.

    Actually, the scope might be greater then that. See, the wording originally was “Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity”. Any capacity could mean civilians who work as defense contractors or in jobs affiliated with the military. Depending on the way the memo is phrased, it might just cause more wide-spread disruption then planned. Can someone work for a military-related project if trans, even as a private citizen employed by a private company under contract? How many companies will have to make decisions on their own valuable employees rather then risk losing a valuable government cash flow?

    I know someone in this position. His company’s not exactly on the liberal PC train but decided his skills are worth whatever crap gets flung their way rather then lose him. He has only recently begun his transition and is now terrified he’ll lose a great job in the private sector since they primarily deal with military contracts. This administration’s botching of legal verbiage on memos and directives has not given him any confidence, either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. michael reynolds says:

    We’re going to drag men and women in uniform, people serving this country, people going in harm’s way to defend the American people and eject them – and their training and skills – in order to pacify the howling mob who call themselves Christians.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  3. James Pearce says:

    “Given this, implementing the ban as the Trump Administration seeks to do now is not warranted, not justified by the existing and available evidence, and entirely unjust.”

    This is all true…but the policy is also a trap for Trump’s opponents.

    I’m not blundering into it. I’m gonna walk around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 10

  4. Slugger says:

    Whatever happened to “no sharia law”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trans people are not the problem, there’s no evidence that they cost us votes or support beyond what we already lose by not being racist aszholes. You seem to have a different opinion from the majority of Americans – and the Joint Chiefs – who don’t see a problem.

    The wall between Left and Right is made of abortion, guns and race. We are not going to abandon these folks any more than we’ll abandon African-Americans, Latinos or Muslims. I’m all for compromise and finding areas of agreement but Democrats do not abandon minorities just to curry votes. Unlike Republicans, we still stand for something.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  6. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    In any case, as I’ve said before there is clearly no justification for this change in policy by the Trump Administration.

    Sure there is…it was a policy instated by a black man.
    Second to his own aggrandizment, this is Trumps greatest driver…to undo anything that black guy did. No matter what.

    European diplomats also told BuzzFeed that they think Trump’s foreign policy doctrine is driven primarily “an obsession” with undoing former President Barack Obama’s initiatives.
    “It’s his only real position,” one official said. “He will ask: ‘Did Obama approve this?’ And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: ‘We don’t.'”
    The official added: “He won’t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama.”

    More importantly…the Orange Idiot is unifying the country!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Franklin says:

    There’s some old saying that if you’re conservative you don’t have a heart and if you’re liberal you don’t have a brain. Trump doesn’t have either, so I’m not really sure what he is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  8. grumpy realist says:

    Trump seems to be damned scared of transgender people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. Kylopod says:

    @Franklin:

    There’s some old saying that if you’re conservative you don’t have a heart and if you’re liberal you don’t have a brain. Trump doesn’t have either, so I’m not really sure what he is.

    That Politico article from a few weeks ago indicated that this all started when some hardcore social conservatives in Congress convinced him that funding for trans-op surgery was taking away money he could use to fund his precious border wall. That’s when he decided to call for an outright ban on trans service members, even though that isn’t what the Congressmen had had in mind and which would actually be more costly in the long run. So, yes, this move is heartless AND brainless, the Tin Scarecrow of Oz.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Well, he doesn’t know what to grab them by.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We are not going to abandon these folks any more than we’ll abandon African-Americans, Latinos or Muslims.

    This….is exactly what Trump is counting on, this tenacious righteousness that tilts everything towards stupid.

    For instance, prioritizing this fight below certain others doesn’t mean you’re “abandoning” anything. It’s recognizing that you can’t do anything about it now, aside from suing, and that the best course of action is to prepare for when you can.

    But if we dig in our heels here, we going to sacrifice an agenda that could serve tens of millions for one that serves a few thousand souls. Patience. Strategy. Resolve. That’s how we win.

    If we become Trump’s dancing monkeys, we already lost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  12. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    This….is exactly what Trump is counting on

    You must be the only person here who still thinks Trump thinks in a strategic way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  13. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Okay, serious question: what happens if the Pentagon just tells Trump “Yes, sir, mission accomplished. New policy in place.” and then doesn’t change anything and lets him go on thinking that it’s done? How’s he gonna know? Are the God-bots going to sit in on hearings or something?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    You must be the only person here who still thinks Trump thinks in a strategic way.

    “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

    – Sun Tzu writing about Trump’s presidency 2500 years ago.

    My notion that this was going to be an effort-free cake-walk ended last November. Pretend Trump is a formidable enemy, even if you don’t believe it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  15. CSK says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Someone will have to rat out the Pentagon to him. But what can he do? If he admits his order was ignored, he’ll look as stupid and ineffectual as he really is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    My notion that this was going to be an effort-free cake-walk ended last November. Pretend Trump is a formidable enemy, even if you don’t believe it.

    I’m the absolute last person who needs to be convinced of that. I’ve been making that point incessantly here for the past several months, to a lot of people’s annoyance. Heck, I was saying it before the election. The analogy I always make is Vizzini shouting “Inconceivable!” every time Trump fails to go down in flames.

    All the available evidence suggests Trump lives in the moment, operating by instinct. Chessmaster is not the only personality type that can be underestimated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m the absolute last person who needs to be convinced of that.

    So why the shade about being “the only person here who still thinks Trump thinks in a strategic way?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  18. Jay Gischer says:

    Just what behavior are we differing on, anyway? I mean, if what Doug has reported is true, this policy has very weak support on both sides of the aisle. Why would it be non-strategic to oppose it?

    I’m not being rhetorical, I really want to know what you are worried about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    So why the shade about being “the only person here who still thinks Trump thinks in a strategic way?”

    I’ve seen no evidence of long-term strategy on his part. That’s not where his strength comes from.

    First of all, the biggest factor that has helped him survive politically ever since he won the Republican nomination doesn’t have anything to do with his strengths but is simply institutional: we live in an era of intense partisan polarization, and most Republicans stick by him for one reason, and one reason only: because of the R after his name. In fact he was a weak candidate, and he’s turned out to be a weak president so far. He has no idea how to govern, he’s not at all in control of the agenda, he faces a Congress and even an administration that often openly flouts what he tells them to do. It’s not even clear this trans ban will go anywhere, and it certainly won’t help him with the portion of the agenda he really cares about that motivated this move in the first place: the border wall.

    In spite of this, he may survive politically. He may even be elected to a second term. But that has a lot more to do with the system he’s in than his political acumen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    prioritizing this fight below certain others doesn’t mean you’re “abandoning” anything.

    I’ve noticed something. For you, “prioritizing” something means “mentioning or discussing it whatsoever” even when someone’s rights are actively under attack.

    Can you just go ahead and give us a complete list of what we are and are not allowed to talk about, and whose rights are worth preserving and whose we can just discard for political expediency?

    That way, when one of your “no talkie” subjects comes up, we can just go ahead and ignore your comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  21. CSK says:

    OT, but breaking:

    Trump has pardoned Arpaio.

    Sebastian Gorka is resigning. He doesn’t like the direction foreign policy is taking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. James Pearce says:

    @Jay Gischer:

    Why would it be non-strategic to oppose it?

    Because the only reason Trump is doing this policy is so liberals will oppose it. Doing what your enemy wants you to do is, by definition, non-strategic.

    And look, I’m not saying, “Don’t oppose this.” I’m saying, oppose it smartly. Don’t portray this as an attack on transgender(ed) people. Portray it as an attack on the military. Yes, wave that flag. Question whether transphobic troops hurt readiness. “Shouldn’t you be worrying about the enemy, soldier?” Ponder whether terrrorists would enjoy being killed by trans troops as much as they enjoy being shot with bullets dipped in pigs blood. Agree that troops should pay for their own sex-change operations, which they probably won’t get anyway, because “sex-change operations” aren’t really a big part of a trans-friendly world.

    @Kylopod:

    doesn’t have anything to do with his strengths but is simply institutional

    Sure, but he also beat, what was it, 16 better qualified Republicans? It seems like half the Republican party opposes him most of the time, anyway. And in the face of institutional collapse, made possible mostly by his election, maybe his power lies elsewhere.

    I think his power lies in one thing, and one thing only: Pissing off liberals. That’s his strategy. Considering that it’s made him the most powerful man in the world, maybe we should consider that political acumen had something to do with it.

    Can you just go ahead and give us a complete list of what we are and are not allowed to talk about, and whose rights are worth preserving and whose we can just discard for political expediency?

    Everyone’s rights are worth preserving. But know when your chain is being yanked. The best response would be no response. Trump is a troll.

    Don’t feed the troll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Squirrel!

    😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Look, you know as well as I do that this won’t be fought in Congress. It will be fought by transgendered members of the military, backed up by liberal legal organizations, in court.

    And they’ll win.

    This guy doesn’t understand long-term strategy. In all the time that I’ve known him, he’s never been able to think more than one move ahead, and even that is a rarity. He’s reactive, and he doesn’t realize that he’s temporarily winning the battle at the expense of losing the war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  25. Argon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    This guy doesn’t understand long-term strategy. In all the time that I’ve known him, he’s never been able to think more than one move ahead, and even that is a rarity.

    Like pardoning Sheriff Arpaio. Holy crap.

    David Roth had it spot on in his recent article, “The President of Blank Sucking Nullity“. He’s just an a-hole at heart. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “I’m not blundering into it. I’m gonna walk around.”

    In other words, “I’m not going to criticize injustice in the name of prejudice. Instead I’ll criticize Democrats. Oh, and Hillary sucks and white men are the real victims!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  27. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Patience. Strategy. Resolve. ”

    “When they came for the trans soldiers, I said screw ’em, there aren’t that many of them, I’ll wait until they go after a bigger group.

    When they came for the Hispanics, I said, hey, they’re most illegals anyway.

    When they came for the blacks, I said, oh well, but white men are the real victims here.

    When they came for the women, well, white men are still oppressed.

    And I know that they’ll never come for the white men, so I’m going to criticize Democrats for wasting their time standing up for minorities instead of the only real victim in the world. Me.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    But if we dig in our heels here, we going to sacrifice an agenda that could serve tens of millions for one that serves a few thousand souls.

    Bullsh*t. Those rights we are fighting for belong to everybody, not just “a few thousand souls” which you seem to think are disposable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Your obsession with transgender people is all about you, not about strategy. There are zero American voters who will vote GOP who weren’t already going to vote GOP over race, guns or abortion. The Venn diagram of racists and trans-haters is a single circle. In the first poll I found, trans military people had 58% support, which, surprise (!) is the same number as those opposing Trump. There is therefore no evidence or logic to support your stand. This is about your hang-up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: “16 better qualified differently unqualified Republicans”

    FTFY I’ve become fatigued with the notion that Republicans even *have* qualifications to hold office. Venal sociopathy is a requirement to seek political office, but the current spawn of William F. Buckley, Jr. in the GOP have taken it to a heretofore unplummeted level. The Marianas Trench of venality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. teve tory says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    FTFY I’ve become fatigued with the notion that Republicans even *have* qualifications to hold office. Venal sociopathy is a requirement to seek political office, but the current spawn of William F. Buckley, Jr. in the GOP have taken it to a heretofore unplummeted level. The Marianas Trench of venality.

    Stupid People with Shitty Values.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Look, you know as well as I do that this won’t be fought in Congress. It will be fought by transgendered members of the military, backed up by liberal legal organizations, in court.

    Yep. And all the politicians who did little more than tweet on the subject will brag about how they “fought” for transgendered rights the whole time…

    @wr: You only get to die on one hill, you know…

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Those rights we are fighting for

    And if those rights erode the more you “fight,” what then?

    @michael reynolds:

    The Venn diagram of racists and trans-haters is a single circle.

    You don’t have to be a “trans-hater” not to want to be spending a bunch of money on “sex change operations” for military personnel, Michael. But by all means, don’t counter that lie.

    Advance a different one.

    (And this is what I mean by being outplayed. Trump, for spurious reasons, bans transgendered troops. The left goes, “Hey, that’s mean.” And Trump goes, “No, it’s smart. I’m saving you money.” And everyone else goes, “You know, he’s got a point.” You’re supposed to attack the “saves you money” argument and leave them no refuge but transphobia. But the left is so stuck in this mode that they are the brave protectors of the oppressed –and it’s laughable how much they are not that– that they’re unable to even make persuasive arguments to counter unpersuasive ones. It’s all just “You’re a racist and you’re a racist and you’re a racist and you’re a racist.” Well, the racists have Trump as POTUS, and we have, what, a best picture Oscar for Moonlight? Superficial is as superficial does.)

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    I’ve become fatigued with the notion that Republicans even *have* qualifications to hold office.

    There’s a few decent ones left, believe it or not. They’re being drummed out, of course, and when they are, where are they going to go?

    I don’t know, but it won’t be to our side.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  33. James Pearce says:

    Ah, the perils of the pile-on…. Five replies and I get thrown in the moderation queue. Maybe one of the mods can spring it if they get a chance?

    Diversion question: Has anyone seen the movie “Silence?”

    If so, do you ever feel like the left are the priests who “ask to be tortured to prove their devotion to god” rather the ones who trample on the fumi-e so they can continue ministering to the faithful?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. James Pearce says:

    Also, published this morning, this from James Kirchick:

    “The media’s attachment to Twitter and cable news blinds them from recognising what Bannon grasps: that the Democratic Party is increasingly becoming hostage to its activist, progressive, identity politics-driven base, which obsesses over issues not relevant to the vast majority of the American people but that play well on Twitter and MSNBC.”

    The final sentence:

    Democrats shouldn’t fall into his trap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    You have to be a trans-hater to obsess over costs which are less than the cost of supplying Viagra to the military. It’s an absurd complaint. You’ve provided zero evidence that trans military has cost us a single vote and falling back on discredited memes. It’s not trans folk costing us support in the white working class, it’s black people and immigrants. Why don’t we abandon African-Americans, too? We might carry Alabama.

    You’ve made no logical case and offered no supporting evidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce:

    If so, do you ever feel like the left are the priests who “ask to be tortured to prove their devotion to god” rather the ones who trample on the fumi-e so they can continue ministering to the faithful?

    Didn’t see the movie, haven’t read the book. But, no, I have no illusions about the left as inquisitors (although I do think you’re hyperventilating), but the comparison is flummery pure an simple. Pfui.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You have to be a trans-hater to obsess over costs which are less than the cost of supplying Viagra to the military.

    They could also be ignorant, misinformed, or just not that interested in the subject to investigate it thoroughly. In fact, they’re probably ignorant, misinformed, or just not that interested in the subject, the majority probably in this latter category. The smallest category: Genuine haters.

    That situation could be helped, but not with demagoguery.

    Why don’t we abandon African-Americans, too? We might carry Alabama.

    Michael, Democrats can’t even carry Alabama with African-Americans, and they’re 26% of the population.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. James Pearce says:

    Why don’t we abandon African-Americans, too? We might carry Alabama.

    Michael, Democrats can’t even carry Alabama with African-Americans, and they’re 26% of the population.

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    Didn’t see the movie, haven’t read the book. But, no, I have no illusions about the left as inquisitors

    It would probably make more sense if you’ve seen the movie or read the book. The inquisitors in this metaphor are the forces of oppression. The left are the priests who proudly march to their deaths to prove their bonafides, instead of the priests who acquiesce just enough to quietly spread the faith.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Michael, Democrats can’t even carry Alabama with African-Americans, and they’re 26% of the population.

    This is the kind of bullsh!t evasive answer that stops you being taken seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds: This was the rest:

    They could also be ignorant, misinformed, or just not that interested in the subject to investigate it thoroughly. In fact, they’re probably ignorant, misinformed, or just not that interested in the subject, the majority probably in this latter category. The smallest category: Genuine haters.

    That situation could be helped, but not with demagoguery.

    I’m just sick of hearing this “We can’t afford to abandon (insert oppressed minority here) ” stuff.

    Because, I mean, with “the resistance” entertaining themselves with acrostics in resignation letters and all of their petty little obsessions, you already have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  41. al-Ameda says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Trump seems to be damned scared of transgender people.

    Restrooms have always confused him.

    There is no need to wonder what would happen if we gave Republicans complete control of the federal government. This, and much much more, e.g. executive and administrative decrees rolling back environmental regulations, abrogating international treaties and accords, continued threats to default on federal debt …

    As the line in “Something In The Air” goes:
    We have got to get it together
    We have got to get it together now

    Yeah … or we’re looking at 7 more years …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Venn diagram of racists and trans-haters is a single circle.

    Would that that were so, but there are plenty of people that are transphobic and homophobic that are fervently against the institutional oppression of their own minority group and other ethnic and religious groups.
    The rest of your point is on target.

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  43. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    Sure, but he also beat, what was it, 16 better qualified Republicans?

    It’s convenient you cut off the first part of my sentence “the biggest factor that has helped him survive politically ever since he won the Republican nomination…is simply institutional.”

    All the skills he has a media troll worked to his advantage during the primaries. But there isn’t a shred of evidence they’ve helped him since that point. He was the most unpopular presidential nominee in history, and he made almost no efforts to broaden his appeal. Faced against the most unpopular Democratic nominee in history after two terms of Democratic rule, he still managed to get 3 million fewer votes while eking out an EC victory by a hair. That’s not the sign of a strong candidate, it’s the sign of a lucky one.

    And here he is, now, eight months into his presidency, with not a single major legislative victory, with a Congress that often openly defies him, his administration at the center of a major scandal, with several resignations of top officials already, and with historically low approval ratings for a president this early in his term. Could he survive all this politically? Sure! But it’ll be the same as he’s survived everything else: by the skin of his teeth, and relying heavily on the enormous incentives his party has for sticking with him despite how big a disaster he is. He came to power waging war against the institutions, but at this point the institutions are the only thing keeping him aloft.

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  44. Improvement says:

    The ban on transgender military applicants makes perfect sense, from both a military effectiveness perspective, and the vantage point of budgeting, as both lawyers and veterans have noted:

    http://libertyunyielding.com/2017/08/26/trump-orders-limits-new-transgender-troops/

    As Stars and Stripes reported in September 2016, “The Pentagon expects to pay between $40,000 to $50,000 during the course of a service member’s life to treat gender dysphoria.”

    The fact that the TOTAL medical expenses of a couple thousand transgender troops is less than the total medical expenditures of a million cisgender troops is hardly a reason to ignore their higher PER CAPITA cost, as commenters above have erroneously done.

    This ban is not rooted simply in animus against transgender people. If Trump had a deep-seated animus against transgender people — or just wanted to pander to the religious right — he would have rescinded Obama’s executive order protecting transgender employees of federal contractors. But Trump kept and publicly reaffirmed that order.

    Rather, the ban has a rational basis, and advances some important government interests.

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  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Improvement:

    Seek joy elsewhere, troll. We’re not interested in your rationalized animus.

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  46. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod:

    And here he is, now, eight months into his presidency, with not a single major legislative victory, with a Congress that often openly defies him, his administration at the center of a major scandal, with several resignations of top officials already, and with historically low approval ratings for a president this early in his term.

    And yet for all that, who is going to challenge him in 2020? To me, Trump’s awfulness highlights and emphasizes the Democrats’ own unique awfulness.

    @Improvement:

    The fact that the TOTAL medical expenses of a couple thousand transgender troops is less than the total medical expenditures of a million cisgender troops is hardly a reason to ignore their higher PER CAPITA cost

    So you’re in favor of cutting mental health benefits for troops if the “per capita” costs meet some arbitrary threshold? If you support the troops why not support all of them?

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  47. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    And yet for all that, who is going to challenge him in 2020?

    I dunno, start with these potential names:

    Elizabeth Warren
    Julian Castro
    Deval Patrick
    Terry McCauliffe
    Kamala Harris
    Amy Klobuchar
    Tim Kaine
    Cory Booker
    Jeff Merkley
    Sherrod Brown
    Chris Murphy
    Andrew Cuomo
    Martin O’Malley
    etc., etc.

    Keep in mind, also, that the past three Democratic presidents–Obama, Clinton, and Carter–were virtual unknowns at the national level a cycle before they ran.

    To me, Trump’s awfulness highlights and emphasizes the Democrats’ own unique awfulness.

    I have repeatedly warned people here to resist their habit of continually assuming Trump’s demise is right around the corner. I would give the same advice to people with doubts about the Democrats’ future.

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  48. James Pearce says:

    @Kylopod: Some good decent people on that list, none of whom stand a chance against Trump.

    I like Elizabeth Warren, but if she runs against Trump Americans will be treated to a year or more of unrelenting, misogynistic abuse. Are you confident that such a glaring display of abuse will hurt Trump politically? Not me. They picked Trump because he’s a serial abuser and ruthless asshole. His 2020 opponent will have to be able to take it, and dish it out, and I have my doubts anyone currently in the Dem pool can do that.

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @James Pearce:

    Some good decent people on that list, none of whom stand a chance against Trump.

    So even if the country is in recession by 2020 and Trump’s approval ratings dip below 30%, according to you none of those candidates would “stand a chance” against Trump. Interesting.

    Either you’re trolling, or you have zero understanding of politics or even what happened in last year’s election.

    So tell me, if Trump is so invulnerable to Democratic defeat no matter what happens, because there are no candidates on the horizon who even stand a chance against him, then why, may I ask, did a candidate as supposedly awful as Hillary Clinton very nearly defeat him?

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