No Picture

Trump announces he’s kicking thousands of transgender people out of the military

July 26, 2017 aurorax 0

He made the announcement on Twitter.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Without warning or explanation, President Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that he is unilaterally reversing the military’s plan to allow transgender service:

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……

 — @realDonaldTrump

Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..

 — @realDonaldTrump

victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you

 — @realDonaldTrump

While the tweets are lacking for details, they suggest that thousands of transgender people already serving in the military will lose their jobs. Last June, the Pentagon announced that they no longer had to hide in the shadows — that their positions were safe if they were public about their identities. That plan was to allow openly trans people to enroll starting July 1 of this year, but Defense Secretary James Mattis agreed to delay that implementation six months to allow for further review.

Meanwhile, conservative House Republicans have been attempting to find various ways to curtail this policy through amendments to the defense spending bill. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) originally floated an outright ban to transgender service, then ultimately advanced an amendment banning military funds from being spent on transition-related health care. That amendment was surprisingly defeated earlier this month by the Republican-controlled House in a close 209–214 vote. Nevertheless, Hartzler and others were continuing to explore additional options as of this week, apparently encouraged by Vice President Mike Pence.

In proposing her amendments, Hartzler repeatedly claimed that the medical costs to the military would be $1.35 billion over ten years. On multiple occasions, her office refused to respond to ThinkProgress inquiries to identify the source of that number, which is 16 times higher than the highest estimates provided by the RAND corporation in its report released along with the Pentagon’s policy change last year. RAND found that the military’s health costs would increase at most around $8.4 million per year, an increase of only 0.13 percent.

Since Hartzler started floating her bogus number, the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has estimated even higher numbers. This numbers game appears to have persuaded Trump to ignore the review and unilaterally decide to kick all transgender people out of the armed services. 19 other countries allow transgender military service — and have for some time.

On Tuesday, the Log Cabin Republicans highlighted an interview with new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci proclaiming how “pro-gay” (albeit not pro-trans) the Trump administration is. Indeed, that has been the argument made by conservatives who claim to be LGBTQ-friendly throughout the campaign and well into this year. While it’s true Trump did mention LGBTQ people in his convention speech and once hold up a rainbow flag, he only ever made these references when fanning Islamophobia.

Though Trump appeared to be trans-friendly the first time he was presented with a question about North Carolina’s transphobic bathroom law HB2 during the campaign, his position quickly shifted and he began to claim that transgender inclusion is a “state’s rights” issue. As has been the case in just about every civil rights fight, “state’s rights” is code for “if a state wants to discriminate, let them.”

The administration’s other actions, such as rescinding the Obama administration’s guidance protecting transgender students in schools and working to reverse Obamacare’s guidance protecting transgender patients in health care, further demonstrate that Trump seems to have little concern for transgender people whatsoever.

Trump announces he’s kicking thousands of transgender people out of the military was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

No Picture

3 very strange moments during Trump’s press conference with the Lebanese prime minister

July 25, 2017 aurorax 0

We have some questions.

President Donald Trump, with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, speaks during their joint news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 25, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Donald Trump held a confusing and contradictory press conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday, moments after the Senate voted along party lines to proceed on a motion to gut health care.

Speaking in the Rose Garden, Trump thanked Republican senators for their vote while Hariri looked on.

“Now we move forward towards truly great health care for the American people,” the president said. “We look forward to that. This was a big step.” Of Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), who both voted against the motion, Trump said only, “It’s sad. For them.”

Lebanon has notably worked to expand universal health care to its citizens — but that irony wasn’t the only strange turn of events to come out of the press conference. Here were the highlights:

1. Trump praised giving health care to refugees.

Trump has spent his first six months in office actively working to both repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and impose stringent policies banning refugees from the United States. Earlier this month, the United States shut the door on refugees, as the country reached the limit set by the president, and Trump has sought to target Syrian refugees in particular.

Alongside Turkey and Jordan, Lebanon has disproportionately shouldered the burden of taking in refugees from Syria. Approximately one million Syrians are currently displaced in Lebanon, which has a population of less than six million. Trump acknowledged the high number, before going on to laud the country’s efforts to provide for refugees in a range of ways, including providing food, water, shelter — and health care.

It was an irony not lost on U.S. citizens, many of whom took to Twitter:

Trump in press conf. w/ #Hariri “We have provided #healthcare for Syrian refugees in #Lebanon” I guess they r luckier than #US citizens!


Trump denies Syrian refugees from US Trump denies healthcare to millions of Americans Trump takes credit for giving refugees healthcare?!

 — @CeeScott12

2. Trump thanked Lebanon for fighting a part of its own government.

In one of the stranger moments of the press conference, Trump thanked Hariri for Lebanon’s efforts in fighting extremist groups, including Shia Muslim militant organization and political party Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people and the entire region,” Trump said. “The group continues to increase its military arsenal which threatens to start yet another conflict with Israel. With the support of Iran, the organization is also fueling humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.”

There’s only one problem: Hezbollah is in the Lebanese government.

Hariri became prime minister following a 29-month political stalemate in Lebanon that only ended after Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, became president. Aoun named Hariri prime minister as part of a compromise deal of sorts, and while Hariri has an adversarial relationship with the organization, its members nonetheless have significant power within the government.

Reminder that #Hezbollah is a part of #Lebanon’s government. Hariri became Lebanon PM only after making peace w/Hezbollah.

 — @farnazfassihi

Trump pledges more support for #Lebanon army…calls #Hezbollah “a menace” to Lebanese state and region.

 — @Joyce_Karam

Trump previously came under fire as a presidential candidate when he commented that the difference between Hezbollah and the Palestinian organization Hamas did not matter to him.

3. Trump said the war against ISIS was going very well.

Another striking moment in the Rose Garden saw Trump lauding his administration’s progress in the war against ISIS.

“We’ve made more progress in the last four or five months than the previous administration made in eight years,” Trump asserted. He went on to reference a ceasefire brokered with support from Russia resulting in “a lot of lives saved.”

That claim comes just one week after an Airwars investigation revealed civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq are on track to double under Trump. Over 2,200 civilians have died since Trump took office, almost twice the number killed during the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency — hardly “a lot” of lives saved.

Presumably the result of relaxed rules of engagement and greater resolve to wipe out ISIS at any cost, the staggering casualty rate hasn’t yielded a clear victory for the United States. ISIS still retains significant control over territory in both Syria and Iraq. That reality is one neighboring Lebanon is familiar with, despite Trump’s comments.

3 very strange moments during Trump’s press conference with the Lebanese prime minister was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.