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Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Braver than Bigotry: Counterarguments to the Ignorance of Trump’s Transgender Ban

 

 

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts [1], please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow … Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity [2] in the U.S. military.  Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs [3] and disruption that transgender people in the military would entail [4].  Thank you”

— President Donald Trump

 

Question:  What’s braver than bigotry?

Answer:  Any transgendered person who is willing to voluntarily enlist in the United States military, especially in face of so much ignorance and hatred.

Unlike the dirt-dumb, draft-dodging, tweeting-twat tainted with the stain of five cowardly draft deferments, many thousands of transgendered Americans have answered the call to duty and been brave enough to serve our nation.  Listen up, Mr. President — you might learn something.

Instead of choosing to take their rich daddy’s dirty money and spend most of their lives dodging creditors, avoiding taxes, bankrupting bond holders and business associates, scamming poor college students, and preening for television cameras, many fine American citizens who also just so happen to be transgendered opted to join our armed forces.  To me, this takes a special kind of person.  So far, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s own records, virtually all of these people on active duty and in reserve units have served honorably.  Many transgenders even risked their in combat and were awarded the most prestigious honors we can bestow on the bravest.

Are you listening, you bumbling coward?

However, our bitter half-wit of President with absolutely zero previous military service — with no prior background in any form government — and who lacks any experience whatsoever in foreign affairs — shocked everyone yesterday when he tweet-farted an inexplicable official new military policy certain to disrupt and distract us all once again from things which are important.

The military ban against transgenders wasn’t just wrong in terms of its substance.  The ban was yet another classless, poorly-thought through, politically-motivated smooch to the religious right wing hate machine, one of his few constituencies of continued support.  It seemed to be made with all the contemplation of popping an Alka-Seltzer after a case of indigestion.  The ban even blindsided the highest members of his own cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all four branches of the U.S. military.  They all woke up Wednesday morning to a new order from the President, with no sense of guidance nor any detail.  Waking up in America now has been reduced to running to the crib each morning to see what the screaming baby has tweeted out to the world.

As is the case with all things Trumpian, the statement is pockmarked with blatant falsehoods and lies.  See President Trump’s statement above.  Accordingly, I have highlighted four particular segments in bold type:

[1]my Generals and military experts” — Generals and military experts do not belong to you, Mr. President.  Personnel in all branches of the military have served this proud nation long before you.  They will serve once you are long gone — hopefully sooner rather than later.  Moreover, the President clearly did NOT consult with anyone on his staff.  President Trump lied.  See:  US JOINT CHIEFS BLINDSIDED BY US MILITARY BAN

[2]in any capacity” — This was the line that took many by surprise.  Clearly, there are many jobs in the military which transgendered people can do just as well as everyone else.  The “fitness for combat” debate is perhaps worth having and we should let those who know combat have a strong voice in this.  However, most jobs in the military are not combat-related at all.  They are in support.  Many are technical.  Others are in repairs.  These jobs should be open to everyone who’s willing to enlist, so long as that person passes the necessary training requirements.  This includes transgendered people, too.

[3]tremendous military costs” — Here the President is referring to a tiny fraction of enlistees who opt to have transgender surgery while on active duty.  The Pentagon reports this medical cost amounts to about $8.5 million per year, which is about the cost of a couple of tires on a F-22 fighter.  Just to prove the absurdity of this comment from the President, erectile dysfunction pills (such as Viagra) costs the U.S. taxpayer ten-times the amount as transgender surgeries — nearly $90 million annually.  “Tremendous military costs,” my ass.  President Trump is lying.

[4]disruption that transgender people in the military would entail” — Wrong again, Mr. President.  Not just wrong.  But embarrassingly wrong.  Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to the RAND CORPORATION, the most revered, hawkish, pro-military think tank in the history of the United States.  Rand released a comprehensive study on this subject last year.  Their conclusion (in their words) was as follows:  “Policy changes to open more roles to women and to allow gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly in the U.S. military have similarly had no significant effect on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”

 

Here are a few additional *myths* I’ve come across on social media during the last day or so (with my responses):

MYTH:  Transgenered people are bad for morale and combat-readiness:

Wrong.  Rand Corporation’s study examined all nations where transgendered (as well as gay) people have served, including combat.  “….little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.  Commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force.”

 

MYTH:  Transgenered people don’t make as good a soldier as “straight” enlistees.

False.  There is no evidence in support of this.  Yes, there are some anecdotal experiences of bigots who may not have been entirely comfortable serving alongside people they think are different.  Yet, nearly two years into the policy of inclusion and nearly two decades into a more open policy towards gays, military preparedness has not been impacted whatsoever by their inclusion.  If anything, given some difficulty in recruiting talent and finding people willing to engage in combat, the volunteerism by transgenders (and gays) has been positive.

 

MYTH:  The military is not a place for social experimentation and forced engineering of equality.

Bullshit.  The same sadly pathetic outdated arguments were once used against Blacks serving when the armed forces were fully integrated in 1948.  Later, Blacks ended up serving in disproportionally higher numbers in combat when Vietnam came around, thus negating the “social experimentation” claim.  Later, the same prejudice was used against women enlisting in various jobs.  Then, the same excuse was pulled from the mothballs again when we began allowing gays to serve.  Now, here were are in 2017, and the old putrid stench of bigotry is back rearing its ugly head once again.

 

MYTH:  The military isn’t like civilian life or other government jobs.  Service men and women do not enjoy the same rights.

This is true, in part.  However, we’ve seen over the generations that military service is often a critical gateway to accessing education and training.  This has especially been the case for the poor and lower middle-class who have looked to the military as a springboard to a solid career, a good-paying job, and greater stability later in life.  Those who are able to serve and gain skills are often preferable job candidates.  They enjoy advantages over non-veterans, especially in many technical, medical, and security jobs (vets get preferential hiring treatment in most government positions).  Denying any person access to the military DISCRIMINATES AGAINST THAT PERSON FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.

 

MYTH:  We should listen to the military people alone on this issue.  They know more about this than we do.

Yes, we should listen to the military people.  But we should also listen to others, too.  In the past, a large contingent of the military opposed racial integration, saying it would destroy morale.  They were wrong.

 

MYTH:  The military isn’t the place to take risks, especially with lives on the line.

False.  The military has always been the greatest risktaker in America.  The military rolls experimental aircraft down runways, manned by brave pilots who don’t know if the plane will fly or crash.  The military uses all kinds of experimental weapons, many of which explode accidentally.  The military engages in risks in battle — almost daily.  Risk is a fundamental part of life in the military, for everyone.  Hence, allowing .02 percent of the armed forces to be made up of transgendered personnel seems like a relatively minor risk, especially given that it’s produced no discernible issues, so far.

 

MYTH:  Transgenders are enlisting to get free surgery, at taxpayer expense. 

Numbers vary, but out of 1.3 million service personnel currently in uniform, somewhere between 1,600 and 6,500 are believed to be transgendered.  The actual number of trans-related surgeries performed each year is quite small.  Moreover, the motivation for joining the military varies.  Many enlist in order to get training and education.  Some seek the benefits.  Quite a few simply want to serve their country out of patriotism.  The same motivations which apply to “straights” also apply to transgenders.

 

My position is simple:  I will stand up and fight for equal opportunity for all, including transgender people.  This is NON-NEGOTIATIABE.  It is a basic human right.

In conclusion, I have but one final question for all the bigots and blindly-obedient Trump fluffers out there who think banning transgender people (or anyone else physically and mentally fit to serve) is a good policy:

Why are you so afraid of transgender people?

Here’s a thought:  Perhaps you’re the one who needs mental counseling.

 

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Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Democrats Offer the Right Message, but Have the Wrong Messenger

 

 

Last night, Rep. Nancy Pelosi held a nationally-televised “Town Hall Meeting.”

Overnight television ratings were’t available at the time of this writing.  However, one presumes the hour-long Q & A session with the House Minority Leader taking center stage probably drew a few million voters.  It’s also a valid guess that just about everyone tuning in to watch Pelosi were Democratic loyalists, and/or voters repelled by President Trump.  It’s highly doubtful that many independents or Republicans watched the telecast.  I’d even go so far as to say the number of opinions swayed by Pelosi’s remarks during the town hall meeting could probably fit into a telephone booth, assuming there were still any phone booths around, which precisely makes my point.

This begs the question all Democrats should be asking, namely — what in the hell was Nancy Pelosi doing on that stage?

Incredibly, the Democrats never seem to learn the lessons of history, even when it’s a hard reality to face and a bitter pill to swallow.  Despite Republicans offering a dreadfully-flawed candidate at the top of their party ticket stained by the highest negatives in American political history, Democrats still got whipped in the election — at every level.  Republicans won the presidency, the House, the Senate, plus an overwhelming number of gubernatorial slots and state legislatures.  Democrats, who spent just as much money nationally as the Republicans (arguably more, depending on metrics), were humiliated.

Democrat defeats weren’t due to spouting the wrong message.  Not at all.  On virtually every issue, Democrats enjoy the majority support.  Do Americans favor raising the minimum wage?  Check.  Do Americans favor responsible gun legislation?  Check.  Do Americans believe in climate change?  Check.  Do Americans want to improve our national infrastructure?  Check.  Do Americans want to protect a woman’s right to chose?  Check.  On nearly every issue, the Democrat message wins the hearts and minds of most people.  Accordingly, since the message wins the popularity contest (and by an overwhelming majority on some issues), the explanation for disproportionate losses must lie elsewhere (yes, gerrymandering has a lot to do with it).

Here’s a novel thought:  Perhaps it’s the messenger.

Given the mass rebuke of Democratic candidates across the board, in all regions of the country, one might have expected plenty of heads to roll after the disaster.  Certainly, it seemed reasonable to expect Democratic Party leadership to gracefully step aside and allow a younger, more energetic crowd with new ideas — not only about how to govern but how to campaign — to step forward and carry the progressive torch.  But instead, Democrats gave virtually all its leaders a contract extension.

Using a sporting comparison, there’s a reason why the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars fired the entire coaching staff after the team finished 3-11 last season.  Even though they’re all probably good and decent people, each talented and knowledgeable in his own right, the ax fell because coaches failed to accomplish their objectives.  Not only did they fail to win, they also lost badly.  Yet, Democrats continue to slumber blindly onward with the same impotent leadership, oblivious to how much of the country sees them.

One of the very first acts by Democrats who assembled in the new congress in early 2017 was to re-elect Nancy Pelosi to what amounts to the de facto face of the party, along with Chuck Schumer, her counterpart in the U.S. Senate.  One might argue there’s justification for choosing Pelosi (and Schumer) and allowing them to continue in their leadership posts.  After all, congressional staffs are immensely critical in the legislative process and it would be hard to argue there are better staffs than Pelosi’s and Schumer’s.  There’s also long traditions in congress, which reward seniority.  Political insurrections might happen in some elections, but they aren’t common on Capital Hill.

Yet, television and town halls require a completely different skill set than the wonkish acts of governance.  If President Trump’s election victory teaches us anything — it’s that we’ve now rocketed into a completely new age of political marketing and showmanship.  Voters aren’t interested much in policy details and studies, nor even facts.  I know, that’s a frightening conclusion.  But no once can refute it.  Facts don’t matter.  Instead, they want a circus.  So, Democrats need to give it to them — wild tigers, elephants, trapeze artists, and even clowns.  That’s how to create the Big Tent and win election victories.

Fortunately, Democrats have a number of outstanding ringmasters ready and eager to spread the progressive message.  Instead of Nancy Pelosi, Democrats would have been advised to offer  the town hall spot to Sen. Al Franken, or Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, or Sen. Amy Klobuchar, or even Sen. Cory Booker (despite his inexplicable vote against allowing pharmaceuticals into the United States from Canada, which angered many on the Left).  Want to pick a better national spokesperson for the party then Pelosi?  Here’s how to do that:  Pick up the congressional phone book, open it up to any page, and point to any name.  It’s that bad.  It’s that dire.

To be fair, Pelosi is right on most issues that matter.  She was way ahead of the rest of the country on civil rights.  She’s also done admirable work in the past and can continue to be a political force.  Yet, when picking a champion for change, it’s baffling why someone was selected who has such high negatives.  Pelosi is the anti-populist.  You know it’s “game over,” when Sen. Mitch McConnell is out-polling the Democratic Minority Leader in national polls.  Why even bother holding a town hall if it’s going to be fronted by someone considered by a majority of voters to be a pariah?  It’s self-defeating.

Still, the Democrats not only refuse to clean house.  They won’t even look at themselves in the mirror.  Even with what would seem to be overwhelming advantages coming up in the next election (2018) given the chaos we’ve witnessed in recent weeks, Democrats could very well blow it again unless some key lessons are learned from recent history.

Nancy Pelosi’s mystifying showing at a town hall meeting might not seem like a very big deal in the grander scheme of bigger issues.  Yet the truth is, it’s yet another painful indication that Democrats remain completely oblivious to how they’re perceived and what’s going on across America.

 

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Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Blog, Essays, What's Left | 0 comments

The Flight that Never Ends

 

airline-flight

 

What’s the longest flight you’ve ever taken?

Several hours?  Perhaps a day or so?

How did you feel at the end of that flight?  I mean, both physically and mentally.  Were you fresh?  Did you feel alive?

No.  Of course not.

You were totally exhausted.  Completely spent.  When the plane finally landed, all you could think about was getting off that airplane, going outside, moving around a little, and stretching your legs.  Getting home, where you could go on with living, probably became an obsession.

We tolerate being trapped inside what amounts to a small room for several hours at a time because we know the annoyances of modern air travel will eventually end.  We know the discomfort of not being able to move around is only a temporary condition.  We know the lousy food, cramped atmosphere, and unhealthy surroundings will last only a limited time before we’re able to run free and enjoy all that’s out there in the world, meant to be savored.

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