Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/28/17

Good Morning!

Thanks for dropping by.

1. Does anyone else wonder how John McCain would have voted last night if President Trump hadn’t gratuitously insulted his military service and suffering as a prisoner of war? I do. I know how much veterans care about their service and sacrifice on behalf of their country, and how deeply a public insult like Trump’s must have hurt. McCain has been seething all of this time. Maybe last night was a vote based on principle; probably McCain thinks it is. There is no doubt, however, that he hates Trump’s guts intensely, and that kind of bias is almost impossible to banish entirely. He is also probably more than a little angry that his colleagues and his party allowed someone who would treat him that way to be the nominee.

The astounding foolishness of Trump’s initial insult to McCain was framed as an insult to veterans, but the fee for his gratuitous nastiness was always going to come due in a setting like last night. Human nature can’t be taken out of politics; in fact, politics relies on human nature. These people aren’t automatons. It would be ethical to put grudges aside, but nobody should count on it.

The President reportedly called McCain to argue for a “yes” vote. I wonder if the Senator said, Scaramucci style, “Mr. President, this unheroic prisoner of war says, with all due respect, ‘Go fuck yourself.'”

I also wonder if Trump learned anything.


2. Reader Charles Green reports that Fox News apparently never heard about the new White House communications director’s recent performance of the one man show, “I, Asshole” based on its morning stories. Meanwhile, Newsbusters, which only catalogues liberal news media bias (but to be fair, that territory is most of the news media), shows how the still unfolding story of Debby Wassermann Schultz’s IT staffer is being hidden, avoided, distorted and spun. How is the public supposed to figure out what’s real, what’s half-real, and what’s fake in such an unethical media environment?

3.  I’m not going to do extensive ethical commentary on the sudden transgender ban for the military until I understand exactly what the issues are. On one side, we see allies for outright discrimination based on the “ick” factor. On the other, we see absolutist solidarity for the LGBs for the disrespected Ts from those who don’t care what the military’s reasoning is. I don’t know how disruptive transgender soldiers are, can be or might be. Are transgender individuals suffering from an emotional or mental disorder? The American Psychological Association says on its website,

“A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder. For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination. Many other obstacles may lead to distress, including a lack of acceptance within society, direct or indirect experiences with discrimination, or assault. These experiences may lead many transgender people to suffer with anxiety, depression or related disorders at higher rates than nontransgender persons.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people who experience intense, persistent gender incongruence can be given the diagnosis of “gender dysphoria.” Some contend that the diagnosis inappropriately pathologizes gender noncongruence and should be eliminated. Others argue that it is essential to retain the diagnosis to ensure access to care. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is under revision and there may be changes to its current classification of intense persistent gender incongruence as “gender identity disorder.”

Translation: “Sometimes, maybe, it depends.”

The military has every justification to decide that someone with a mental disorder or likely to develop one is disqualified for service. The military, in fact, would be justified if it decided that all soldiers, sailors and airmen must have no physical or mental problems at all, be able to do 50 one-arm push-ups, bench 300 pounds,  run a 4 minute mile and solve Rubik’s cube in less than a minute.

That’s all I’m prepared to say on the issue right now.

4. Tucker Carlson is Fox’s big new star, taking the place of Bill O’Reilly. I won’t watch the guy for many reasons, one being the disgusting sexist junk regularly featured on his news and commentary site, The Daily Caller. As I’ve pointed out before, the site routinely covers stories about middle school and high school teachers exploiting their male students for sex with snickering “Yeah, the poor kid–he was probably the envy of all his friends and hurt his face by smiling so long” stories….but only when the child rapist was “hot,” of course.  Tucker allowed another one of these yesterday: “School District Forks Over $125,000 For Male Teen Student’s Mind-Blowing Sex Trauma With Teacher” was the sarcastic headline. The story is similarly full of thinly veiled ridicule at the idea that the boy was harmed “by a slew of sex — including a stand-up-style romp in the back of her classroom and an intense, weeks-long, two-state, sex-filled romance.”  The student was 15.

It does appear that Tucker’s readers, or at least the commenters, are growing up. The comments on this post have far fewer, “heck, I’d hit that when I was a teen!” comments.



120 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/28/17

  1. Let me give some perspective on the transgender ban:
    19 years ago as my college graduation was coming up, I did get in touch with a recruiter, because I was thinking about going into the military. I ended up what some call an “involuntary civilian,” due to the fact that at the time, I was on prescription medication for ADHD.

    Now, that treatment is far less drastic than what transgender people receive to address their situation.

    Other conditions that result in not being able to serve/medical discharges and which require less drastic medical intervention than the transition process include: Diabetes, controllable high blood pressure, asthma, OCD… the list is pretty extensive, and just about any military recruiter can provide one.

    So, why do transgender people get to serve openly instead of this lengthy list of other people? It isn’t about enhancing military readiness. Again, compare the relative level of medical intervention for high blood pressure to the transition process.

    I can only conclude that it’s more about politics and catering to the whims of a Hollywood/New York/Ivy League/DC/Silicon Valley elite, many of whom never served a day in the military than it is about military readiness.

    Donald Trump’s made the right call on this one.

      • One common thread with all the conditions is that they are known to require medical solutions that can be expensive and remove soldiers from service for periods of time. If you want a strong military you have to have a reliable force. The fewer complicating factors to troop strength the better. Military forces have a very specific job. Social engineering and providing medical care aren’t part of the job they distract from it.

        There aren’t very many jobs that require cold calculation more than the military does. We might not like the calculations, but the objective is battle readiness not soothing hurt feelings.

        The really frustrating thing is that people pushing for all these things that soften the military know what is required for a strong one. They simply regard weakening the military as the objective and any social engineering that weakens the military as features not bugs.

    • Personally I never gave a damn about the sexual preferences or anything else regarding who was in the “foxhole” next to me as long as they could meet the same standards I had to and they did their damn job.

      Curious; what about the costs associated with surgery for a trans to make the physical appearance changes, should the government cover these costs? I don’t know if they have been but I don’t think the military healthcare system should be covering these kinds of things or things that are directly related to a trans changing. I don’t care if the trans wants to spend their own money on such things.

      There, I just put a big target on my forehead. Let’er rip.

        • Is that normalized per capita or just an aggregate cost…?

          I’d also assume the military spends more money on aspirin for headaches than it does for transgender issues.

          • I assume aggregate, but the point still stands. The argument is we should keep otherwise qualified transgender people from serving in the military because their healthcare is too expensive. But erectile dysfunction doesn’t inhibit a soldier from doing their job; the military doesn’t need to pay for viagra for vets with ED, but they do so because it’s the right thing to do, and they think the cost is worth it.

          • You’ll have to explain further why the comparison is irrelevant, Zoltar. The fact is that the military is spending lots of money to help members of the military in ways it doesn’t have to do to further the military’s overall goals. So why not help trans people too? Because of the ick factor. There was a time when female birth control was considered immoral by large parts of the country, too.

            • To be fair the orginal source of this topic implies there is a link to PTSD and ED. Also these numbers are from 2014 and the orginal source says they were working on reducing these cost. I would post it, but I’m on my phone. I’ll see if I can find it later. I think it only started covering Viagra in 2012. This might be a case of cause and effect. So is the military right to exclude transgender as a preexisting condition like having high blood pressure or something else like having a low ASvAb score? Idk, this situation is difficult enough without the real and false accusations of transphobia.

            • Chris wrote, “You’ll have to explain further why the comparison is irrelevant, Zoltar.”

              No Chris I don’t have to explain. Your Viagra comparison is just another in a long, long line of deflections and it’s 100% irrelevant to my comment.

              Go away!

        • How is this relevant? Does Viagra treatment have an impact on military readiness? Are people joining so that they can access Viagra? How much does the military spend on birth control pills, or condoms? What about non-injury related cosmetic surgery?
          Bumper-sticker friendly factoids based on estimates are not persuasive arguments.

          • I was replying solely to the argument about cost. The “military readiness” argument is a separate argument.

            I don’t see how allowing trans people to serve impacts military readiness. Trans people are only about .1% of the military, and many do not transition while in the service. Lots of trans people never get surgery at all, relying on hormone treatments instead.

            It’s also important to note that according to most reports, Congressional Republicans were lobbying to simply ban the military from paying for gender reassignment surgery. They had no idea Trump was going to ban trans soldiers from serving entirely. If the worry is the cost and military readiness I would think the former solution would be more defensible than the latter; you’re saying a portion of a small percentage taking some time off for a surgery impacts military readiness, but excluding that population from service entirely doesn’t?

            • “Trans people are only about .1% of the military, and many do not transition while in the service.”

              My buddy, a Company Commander, has indicated that because of that .1%, they’ve had to sacrifice vital time from training for mission readiness (read as: Killing bad guys and not getting killed by bad guys) to focus on preparedness for dealing with the issues coming out of this.

              • I’m certain the military also had to take time to focus on issues coming out of racial desegregation when that first take place, so that’s not necessarily a very compelling argument.

                • Just like in the marriage equality debate. Comparing all the sex and gender related issues to race issues is a complete non-analog.

                  Women have been in the military for, how long now?

                  We still devoted an inordinate amount of time to vapid sexual harassment courses with asinine frequency. Time I could’ve had my guys shooting guns, maneuvering as a unit, and practicing their ability to kill bad people and stay alive.

                  I don’t think for a minute, that in 100 years, the military won’t still be anchored with more classes on “how to treat so-and-so and how not to treat so-and-so”

                  That being said…I’d love to see the orders and policies that came out of the mid-1900s Chain of Command regarding racial desegretation.

                  My gut tells me it was as close to simple as this: “Black soldiers and non-black soldiers are going to be in the same units together. Anyone caught mistreating each other on racial grounds will be disciplined. Carrying on with training how to eradicate Communists if we ever tell you do so.

                  • (I’ll walk back my term “vapid” and “asinine”…the sexual harassment classes were probably necessary, because, despite SJW insistence, men and women ARE wired differently and MEN, especially the aggressive men selected for military service will tend, on average, MORE than the general population towards over stepping bounds towards women)

                    But, that being said, it’s whether or not we think it worth the time to take soldiers out of WAR training and into, essentially, manners training for a percentage of the population.

                    For Man-Woman relationships– 50% of the population? Probably worth the frequency of lectures.

                    For Trans-NotTrans relationships– 0.1% of the population?


                    And I’ll also CLARIFY the first paragraph. Racial issues and Sex/Gender issues are NOT analogs. But that does not also mean I imply that Sex/Gender issues can be dismissed…rather they must be argued from a different set of premises than the Racial Ones.

                    (That said because I know someone on the Left is about to blow a fuse and I want to make sure they blow a fuse over an assertion I’m actually making)

                  • The comparison is between any marginalized group which the military decides worthy of service, and which some people may take time to adjust to.

                    Your frustration with sensitivity training is noted, but that’s an argument against extended sensitivity training, not against letting trans people serve in the first place.

                    • Given that the debate over whether or not transgendered individuals are mentally disordered or not isn’t over. This isn’t merely about “a marginalized group”.

              • I suppose that the news Mattis is now asking for a review of non-combat related training is something we should ignore…

                • Good for him. Mattis is a pure business guy who got to endure the complaints of Enlisted and Junior officers who had to implement asinine levels of bureaucratically mandated non-killing-bad-people training that grew out of the 90s and early 00s. Now he’s going to see what really needs to be trained and what doesn’t.

        • Remember that this is the cost for all active duty, retirees and their dependents who are eligible for care. Less than 10% of the ED drugs are for active duty members (probably for guys like me who were in their 40s before they retired). This also includes medication dispensed at civilian pharmacies as well as military treatment facilities. Just as an aside, when I was still on active duty and on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee the item that often represented the largest expenditure for the MTF pharmacy was diabetic test strips.

      • I can think of a few reasons people would go into the military for the medical care. None of them are about service. So, all the pearl clutching about “They just want the same chance to serve.” Is nonsense. They want the free stuff.

        And they want to break the military. I’m talking about the radical left leadership here, not the poor saps who face the guns both figurative and literally. Cannon fodder is a necessary evil in both kinds of war.

        • So the “poor saps who face the guns” who happen to be trans should be discriminated against because of your biases against the Left’s leadership? This strikes you as an ethical stance?

          • The ethical stance is that the poor saps should not be there. They compromise military strength and readiness in the same way troop medical conditions do. Strong healthy ready soldiers are essential to military strength. Those soldiers are military cannon fodder and the stronger they are the better and the less fodderlike they are.
            Social justice warriors are also cannon fodder in a different kind of war. The weaker and more compromised they are the more they harm the enemy (the military) and the more value they have as pawns.

            One war is fought for the safety of the citizens of the United States, the other is fought to take down the systems of the United States. Which is more ethical to you?

            • “The ethical stance is that the poor saps should not be there. They compromise military strength and readiness in the same way troop medical conditions do.”

              Evidence, please. The same assertions was made about gays, blacks and women. Asserting that trans people weaken military strength and readiness is not enough at this point.

              • Two word, Chris: Chelsea Manning.

                As soon as I saw his photo when he was a guy releasing classified information, I said to myself, “That guy has sexual identity issues.” And in my mind, that made him dangerously susceptible to being connived or cajoled into doing something really stupid and damaging. You know, like accessing and stealing and giving away classified information.

                I saw yesterday Chelsea was given a chance to opine about trans-gendered people in the military. She’s a convicted traitor. If she’s the poster child for the wonderfulness of trans-gendered people in the military, the idiocy of the cause speaks for itself.

                If this makes me a bigot, I’m fine with being one.

                  • Divining sexual mores in prison populations are way past my pay grade, Michael. Wouldn’t a guy who thought he was a girl be a very desirable commodity in a male prison? I have no idea.

                    • She was kept in solitary, yes. For the first few years, before trial, without clothing or bedding, and with the light continuously on. Forbidden to do exercise in her cell.

                      The Judge shortened her sentence a bit because of this extralegal treatment.

                    • The Judge shortened her sentence a bit because of this extralegal treatment.

                      If this is true, where are the progressives shouting it from the rooftops? If a GOP Administration was caught doing such, imagine the scandal. Could it be that when progressives are in charge, this just fine? This occurred under Obama’s watch, after all. Couldn’t protest anything that showed the totalitarian tendencies of dear leader.

                      Such hypocrites.

                    • ” If this is true, where are the progressives shouting it from the rooftops?”

                      They did shout it – and were condemned for sympathizing with traitors.

                      “The controversy claimed a casualty in March that year when State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley criticized Manning’s treatment and resigned two days later.
                      In March, 295 members of the academic legal community signed a statement arguing that, contrary to former professor of constitutional law President Obama’s assertion that Manning’s confinement was “appropriate and meet[s] our basic standards, Manning was being subjected to “degrading and inhumane pretrial punishment.”

                      Nakashima, Ellen. “WikiLeaks suspect’s treatment ‘stupid,’ U.S. official says”, The Washington Post, March 12, 2011.

                      Tapper, Jake and Radia, Kirit. “Comments on Prisoner Treatment Cause State Department Spokesman to Lose His Job”, ABC News, March 13, 2011.

                      “A Statement on Private Manning’s Detention”. March 15, 2011.

                      Pilkington, Ed. “Bradley Manning’s jail conditions improve dramatically after protest campaign”, The Guardian, May 4, 2011.

  2. It’s also unethical to screw the whole country just so you can get some petty revenge. John McCain may be a hero, but he tarnished himself last night if he did this as a cheap stab in the back to the President. Then again, if Ted Kennedy and Beau Biden are anything to go by, he has very limited time left in this world, and little to care about. A lot of conservatives will be smiling wintry smiles and there will be a lot of “we’re glad he’s dead” tweets when his time is up. His embrace of Diane Feinstein was pretty treacherous if indeed he was being principled.

    As for the military ban on transgenders, it’s a clear case of science and medicine becoming politicized. The LGBT movement has mostly won with regard to the first two letters in that alphabet. At this point the big push is for the T, and push they will, because if they stop pushing, they lose their political potency. It was never just about gay couples getting the same rights and recognition as straight ones. It was never even about those confused or mentally ill about their identity (or with legitimate physical problems) getting the care they need or compassionate treatment. It was about getting and keeping political power for those who set themselves up to ride this particular cultural wave. Those riding this wave have often had a bit too much of their own Kool-Aid, same as other true believers and passionate folks. No logical or legitimate argument is going to carry any weight with them. We’re frankly becoming a nation of two-year-olds, who want what they want, when they want it, whatever it takes.

  3. #2 There’s a certain karmic symmetry to what the late Über-Lefty Alexander Cockburn’s Father used to say: “I don’t believe anything until it’s been officially denied.”

    That said, I’ll believe this story has legs until Chris assures me it’s FAKE NEWS.

    While they lay it on a tad thick at times, I do visit a couple of times a day; c’mon, it’s a .org after all.

    I also stop by out of a touch of nostalgia, I used to do freelance current events satire for the now defunct ”Newsbusted” series.

  4. On the transgender issue, It might also be useful to highlight these facts –
    1. The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association are two different entities
    2. The DSM is a product of the latter, not the former – I wonder why the former chose to refer to the latter in its policy statement
    3. The way diagnoses evolve over time is very politically charged – Ira Glass had a fascinating This American Life episode on this:
    (Could you also do an ethics alarm post on the ethics of LGBT individuals in the APA deciding by mobocratic rules that homosexuality is a disorder, in order to push towards decriminalization, and that it is not a disorder, in order to normalize it? It sounds unscientific to me, but I would like to hear your opinion on this – and I ask this as a conservative gay man)

    • Talking about the American Psychological Association…

      The American Psychological Association questions the reasoning behind President Trump’s call to bar transgender people from the military. We’ve seen no scientific evidence that allowing transgender people to serve in the armed forces has had an adverse impact on our military readiness or unit cohesion. Therefore, we ask that transgender individuals continue to be allowed to serve their country,” said APA President Antonio E. Puente, PhD.

  5. #1 is BS. John McCain is not universally admired by Veterans, including most that I know, being involved in several Veterans Organizations. His 30+ year record on ignoring the VA incompetence and many other Military/Veteran issues overwhelms his Military Service. His service on the Military/Veterans committees in the Senate is miserable. What counts is what he’s doing right now, and it’s clear that he’s more interested in John McCain’s welfare, and his personal vision of what is right, rather than representing his constituents. Being known as the “Maverick” in the Senate seems to be more important to him, than actually accomplishing anything. Like most in Congress, from both parties, he’s just another low-performing Political Elite who needed to be replaced years ago with Term Limits. They all hate Trump simply because he’s trying to derail the “good old boy” network in DC Politics. (Note this is not an endorsement of how Trump is going about it.)

    • Having been in Arizona about as long as John McCain has been, I’m largely in agreement on your take on him, JRH. He can be hard to take.

  6. 2. One problem is that “the military” did not make this decision. Trump did, unilaterally, without consulting his joint chiefs. The Pentagon’s response made this pretty clear: they’ve been given no instruction from the president on this issue and won’t start taking action against trans soldiers until they are given orders.

    Trump apparently thinks he can run this country via Twitter, in isolation. The Pentagon’s response was a polite “Nuh-uh.”

    • He’s Commander in Chief, and has the right and authority to make that policy. There is little doubt that he had conversations about it with the brass, even if they didn’t see the policy coming.

      • I didn’t say he doesn’t have the right and authority to do so, only that his actual implementation is incompetent due to his lack of communication.

      • Yep. And good subordinates create a wide range of options if they know a set of unclear orders with a general objective are coming down the pipe. That being said, it’s safe to assume that by the time Trump tweeted, discussions HAD to have occurred with some high ranking personnel but that no real solid parameters were in place.

        In which case, the Pentagon’s announcement is less about telling the President “No”, and more about telling their OWN surbordinates, “Don’t proceed on your own implementing what you think the policy is going to be, stand by”.

        • Not saying they can or should do this–for one thing, it would be illegal and create a constitutional crisis–but at what point is it ethical to tell an incompetent and ineffectual leader “No?”

          • Incompetent and ineffectual aren’t the standards of telling a leader “no”. Otherwise your dearly beloved should’ve been told NO a million times.

            No, a subordinate does everything to advise and guide an incompetent and ineffectual leader’s choices either AWAY from a negative outcome or in a MITIGATING direction if the leader is insistent. Then, if the leader insists, the subordinate does everything in their power to execute an incompetent and ineffectual’s leader as competently and effectively as possible.

            The standard is, does the leader command something *illegal*. Then a subordinate says no.

            The only other recourse for a subordinate who disagrees with an incompetent and ineffectual leader is resignation.

            • I would think yesterday’s vote on healthcare would indicate “ineffectual,” no? How’s the wall coming along? The travel ban that ended up not actually banning most people from the affected countries? No, he’s definitely ineffectual.

              • No. Of course not. Voting down a bad bill is effectual: that’s what is supposed to happen. Passing a bad bill like Obamacare without reading it when its provisions directly contradict what the President has been repeating over and over? THAT’S ineffectual.

                • We must be defining “effectual” differently. Effectual doesn’t mean good, it means getting the things done that you want done. Trump wanted this bad bill to pass. He is furious that it did not pass. Ergo, ineffectual.

                  • No, it means the three-branch system working effectively for the interests of the nation. Presidents do not pass bills, and not having one’s wishes come true are not necessarily markers of failure.

                    I guess I’m making this point because I find the “when did you stop beating your wife?” games by the news media another double standard, as well as a no-win for Republicans. If they pass the bill, they are monsters, if they don’t, they are incompetent. Few in the news media were calling Obama ineffectual when he couldn’t pass gun control, for example. It was the Republicans’ fault. Remember?

                    • If they pass the bill, they are monsters, if they don’t, they are incompetent.

                      You mean like this guy? (almost certainly fake, but illustrative, and I d really rather not show snuff films of the genuine cases)

                      I think that’s a fair assessment, yes. Stopped Clock syndrome. Even the most unreliable and biased source can sometimes be completely correct. Incompetent,definitely,monsters? Well, they have commited monstrosities, but that’s not enough to convict them of that. Misinformed, mistaken, negligent, yes. Everyone’s guilty of that, it’s the degree that’s important. Rare or routine.

            • As Col Eugene Householder stated:

              The Army is not a sociological laboratory; to be effective it must be organized and trained according to the principles which will insure success. Experiments to meet the wishes and demands of the champions of every race and creed for the solution of their problems are a danger to efficiency, discipline and morale and would result in ultimate defeat.

              The thing is… The policy he was defending was the product of SIWs. Social Injustice Warriors, who had introduced it officially just a few decades before.

              Just as Trump’s ban on serving in any capacity whatsoever goes far beyond anything that has gone before. Pure SIW. But “unprecedented” is a word that describes much of the current shambolic situation, in the grand scheme of things, there are more pressing issues.

      • I would submit that Trump tweeting about a transgender ban in the military had less to do with Trump thinking a solid plan was nearly ready to execute and more to do with diverting attention off of the Sessions affair.

        Trump is further wrecking his ability to administrate all in the name of playing the media like a violin (which, despite all his other incompetencies, playing the media like Yo-yo Ma plays a cello is Trump’s expertise).

    • As stupid and as incompetent as it is, a Commander can use whatever means he wants to issue guidance and orders.

      If, indeed, no one in the military had been consulted on this topic, the proper response of subrodinates, is “Understood sir, but we’ll need better detail to enact this plan”. Which is what the Pentagon’s reaction was.

  7. “A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder. For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination.”

    So it is not a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability? Let’s replace “transgender” with other things that would be commonly called mental disorders. If I think I am Napoleon, it is not a mental disorder unless it causes distress. According to this, all I need to do is find “affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express” my identity as Napoleon (granted not sure what hormones or medical procedures would do) so it is not a mental disorder. Wait, what? Get enough people to agree to let me be Napoleon and it is not a mental disorder?

    What about being depressed? If I got enough people around me that told me being depressed was fine and helped me live that way, that would not change the fact that there was something wrong. Isn’t this an ethics issue when the APA is taking this stance? Instead of helping people with problems, they are telling them that just figure out how to live with it without being distressed and then there is no problem. SMH!

    • If scientists proved that you have a brain structure identical to that of Napolean, your comparison might be more be apt.

  8. Regarding Number 1, I find the coincidence of Senator McCain having undergone potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of surgery, all covered by his congressional insurance plan, to be more salient….

    Leading up to this moment, McCain decried the lack of good procedure, healthy debate, and bipartisanship in Congress congress last week. The “skinny-repeal” was universally hated by Republicans, and would have potentially disastrous consequences if enacted without a complete rewrite. It was a procedural punt to the send the matter back to the House, where they could juggle the hot potato.

    The “skinny-repeal” removes the lynch-pin that makes the Affordable Care Act’s math make any sort of logical sense; it removes the individual mandate, which leaves market more vulnerable to healthy individuals withdrawing. With the marginal loss of each healthy individual policy premiums paying more in than out, the risk pool shrinks, and the costs rise for everybody. If too many withdraw, the “death spiral” occurs, as healthy and unhealthy people get priced out of the market and drop out. I may be wrong, but the skinny repeal does not touch Medicaid, so a major expense of the Act is not addressed, and the rest is subject to potential, or even expedited collapse.

    So McCain spoke against bad process, and voted against a bill that in its current form would have consequences no body wants to own.

    Moreover, the consequences no one wanted included free fall loss of insurance. Millions of people might be months away from cancer diagnoses of their own. They may not have savings set aside, having structured their finances with the understanding they had insurance. McCain likely knows what a lucky position he is in. His congressional pension alone could likely pay for treatment without insurance. He spent years injured in a POW camp, and years in rehabilitation with the VA. He has personal experience with what adequate public health care can do, and used it to rebuild himself and give back. His vote is against risking sloppily removing that opportunity for others due to desperate political maneuvers.

    To boil down McCain voting against a bad bill as retribution to the President saying means things about him seems to miss the whole point. His vote stabilizes the market, buying it time for reform rather than hastening its widely predicted collapse, and all but forces bipartisan cooperation if those needed reforms are to come about. It seems to be a principled position to inspire principled participation.

    • 1. Regarding Number 1, I find the coincidence of Senator McCain having undergone potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of surgery, all covered by his congressional insurance plan, to be more salient….

      I don’t. McCain is rich as hell, he has VA benefits to cover his health care, and he is about the least needy member of Congress in that regard.

      2. “His vote stabilizes the market, buying it time for reform rather than hastening its widely predicted collapse, and all but forces bipartisan cooperation if those needed reforms are to come about.”

      Sure. And if it results in the GOP losing the House and the Senate? What then? Will that be good for the country, in McCain’s estimation?

      I have no idea what motivated McCain’s vote. Sure, it’s not a good bill, but Obamacare is not a good law, either. I do know that he hates the President’s guts, and was certainly not unhappy about being able to stick it to him. McCain’s conduct toward Trump since the election has been adversarial and petty

      • I know McCain is rich. I am giving him the benefit of doubt that he was acting altruistically to those less fortunate, because he understands that for all the hard work he has put in, he is still lucky that aggressive cancer is barely a financial blip for him. Voting for a bill that would sloppy undo coverage for others, when he himself has benefited greatly, would seem more out of character than voting in such a manner to stick it to Trump.

          • I am not saying that McCain thinks Obamacare is even good for the nation. I am saying he is motivated to not support a half-assed repeal that on paper would make a bad law worse.

            Republicans have proven themselves unreliable. Despite promises that this will not be the final language of the bill, there is still a chance that if the senate punts this to the house, they might pass it, and Trump might sign it. Despite no one actually wanting it! None of this is out of the realm of possibility.

            McCain is against this risk. It is bad procedure to pass a bill that no one wants. If anything, it would makes Republicans own Obamacare’s collapse if the current bill were signed into law. That would be politically worse for Trump and Republicans.

            Political considerations aside, I think there might be some change of heart given his current health. He does not want to risk people losing healthcare based on a bad-law no one thought through (that was one of the original problems with Obamacare). He may still believe Obamacare will stifle the economy and overly burden many, but hastily repealing it without carefully understanding the consequences, could be just as bad.

            He wants careful, bipartisan debate, not cheep political tricks. Perhaps he thinks Trump is nothing more than a cheep political trick, but his motivations seem to be more than just being a thorn in is side.

            • You don’t know what he wants. Hell, HE probably doesn’t know what he wants. But, we all know what he did. Now it’s going to be endless spin, but at least try to refrain from assuming you know what he wants.

  9. There is debate on whether or not this is true. But the mere fact that this is even reasonably debatable is ethical justification for the military to exclude the transgendered.

    • It really isn’t. The suicide rate of veterans isn’t much lower. And the suicide rate of trans people can be at least partially attributable to lack of acceptance by society. Your solution to that is more discrimination?

      • “The suicide rate of veterans isn’t much lower.”- absolute nonsense.
        If we accept the fairly common figure of 30 suicides per 100,000 for recent
        veterans, (and there is debate on that), and we accept the 45% attempted figure for young transgender people, we have a 1,500 times greater likelihood of attempted suicide for the transgender group.
        You regularly fail to consider the basic facts of an issue. Even in a case like this, where a quick look at the data you are using renders your statement completely wrong. This does not inspire confidence in anything you post.

      • It should also be factored in that the rate of suicide among the LGBT in places like Sweden is comparable to the rate in the U.S., whether married, single, transitioned, whatever. And everything is accepted by society there (under penalty of law, even.) So there’s no evidence that acceptance by society makes any sort of difference these depression and suicide rates whatsoever. It’s noteworthy that the suicide rate of groups much LESS accepted by society (like polygamists or sex offenders) is still far lower than 45%.

      • Also why would you compound a high suicide rate condition with another high suicide rate condition? Being transgender is tough. being in the military is tough. Being transgender in the military? Is there any way that rate wouldn’t be significantly higher than the norm?

        Mich’s comment is accurate. If youre already a high risk group, being in the military is only going to make that worse, and the military doesnt need and can’t afford that.

  10. Regarding #2, I read Charles Green’s comment this morning. I was skeptical. I immediately switched on Fox and Friends, which I had to switch off immediately (I swear it used to be less fluffy); I switched to Morning Joe, which was deep into the latest cock-talk I had to switch that off immediately, too (I swear it used to be more substantive). I switched back to Fox after Fox and Friends and they were covering Scaramucci.

    For what it’s worth.


  11. —Translation: “Sometimes, maybe, it depends.”—

    Add to that, “Now how much can we toe the line here without being classified as a hate group for being too objective?”

      • Could you outline a policy that would let the people you consider transgender use bathrooms, change rooms and serve in the military while at the same time excluding Ed Wood from using women’s changing rooms, bathrooms, and flitting around a battlefield in a ballgown?

        And if you can’t, isn’t Ed Wood just as transgender as the rest?

      • P.S. you’ve just stumbled on my major disagreement with Zoe. No standards, no clearly defined boundaries, anything goes because you can’t say no to anyone so long as they use the magic word, identity.

      • Actually, I saw the movie MASH which was good as well as the TV series which trivialized the Korean War. Personally, I put little trust in the APA’s position on transgenders as it is now a very political organization filled with liberal academics.

  12. If only someone had commissioned a study by a professional organisation to determine the facts…

    Oh wait, they did. But the answers weren’t politically acceptable, the study, being objective and by a reputable group, was expected to give the answers that were desired, to provide cover for a policy that had already been predetermined on ideological grounds.

    So they commissioned another one. And another one. Still no joy, still the same answers.

    The latest one is here

    Eventually, the military were given another 12 months to further study the issue. But still the same answers came up, so they asked for another two years, but only received another 6 months, as by this time the whole situation had degenerated into farce, with many initial opinions having been changed by the weight of over a decade of evidence.

    Truman faced a similar situation in 1947, and to some extent, Trump is following in his footsteps, even if walking backwards. Going against the evidence, rather than with it, but cutting the Gordian knot anyway.

    • Either way, color and gender issues aren’t analogous, just as color and gender aren’t analogous. “Diversity” is not an asset an army. Homogeneity is. Balancing rights versus that issue is tricky, but the balancing must be based on whether the diversity being argued for has real costs or not. The most prominent transgender soldier we are aware of, Bradley Manning, committed treason, and it is not at all clear to me that his gender issues were part of it. What is a rational, unbiased analyst to take from that?

      • There a national interest in allowing people a stake in the country’s defense if they want one.

        There’s a risk that those who do serve will feel resentment or worse toward groups that can’t. That not only will they resent those people, but they’ll resent protecting those people.

        As representative as possible while staying effective as needed would be the ideal. If you don’t want a military with strong bonds to all the people they protect, you might as well hire mercenaries.

        • “There’s a risk that those who do serve will feel resentment or worse toward groups that can’t. That not only will they resent those people, but they’ll resent protecting those people.”

          Nope. Never noticed any such attitudes towards those who could *not* serve.

          There was the occasional malcontent who had resentment towards anyone who *could* have served but didn’t. But barring universal service, I’m not sure what those guys hoped for.

      • Chelsea Manning. She not He.

        No matter. I would have thought you as a lawyer would have been more familiar with Col Diane Schroer, of Schroer v Billington.

        You know, special forces, combat jumps, advisor and head of a classified counterterrorism group…

        Meanwhile, we now know who some of the Military Advisors Trump consulted were. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is claiming partial credit on Breitbart, though he didn’t know the timing.

        The White House itself is only mentioning an article in the Daily Signal by an alcoholic born again Christian with dissociative personality disorder as supporting the decision.

        Somehow that seems strangely appropriate.

        • Correction back at you! Chelsea was Bradley when he committed treason. We had this discussion: who won the Olympic Gold? The meals say Bruce Jenner. The better argument was that the treason was pre-transgender.

          • At least now we know the reason for Trump’s idea that there’s a real financial cost.

            “The last thing we should be doing is diverting billions of dollars from mission-critical training to something as controversial as gender reassignment surgery .”
            — FRC statement on the issue.

            Apparently the 2.4 to 8.1 million (I favour the higher figure) annual cost in actuality has gone from the $100 million plus figure stated by GOP legislators to multiple billions according to the FRC military advisors (which includes VP Spence).

            As regards Manning (how about that for dodging the issue) while the symptoms of transsexuality may only become glaringly obvious to the outside world late in life, the syndrome is present much earlier.

            I had no idea there was a conviction for treason. I was under the misapprehension the proven charge was mishandling classified documents, and the treason charge was dropped due to a complete lack of any evidence that would justify it. Other than public opinion.

            Or didn’t you mean to be taken literally? That such a betrayal of trust was treasonous in nature, if not in substance? I wouldn’t argue against that.

            Manning should never have been given that access, too junior and undervetted. A10 yr sentence would have been entirely appropriate, and in other Anglophone jurisdictions, the sentence would have been higher.

            Snowdon was worse, those who gave him access should have been charged, and if found guilty, given long sentences. Their wilful negligence, motivated by greed, constituted a far more damaging betrayal of trust. Far more damaging than the data released by Snowdon.

            I and those others privy to the details are still very very pissed that the captain of the Vincennes was not only not charged for political reasons, but actually promoted. I really hope the details are declassified soon. The BBC crew on board caught it all on tape.

            Trouble is, admission of what happened would really have damaged the US’s reputation at the time. Through gritted teeth, I can understand the necessity of letting the guilty off Scot free. Those responsible for mass culpable homicide were prevented from doing it again, I guess we’ll have to settle for that.

            • 1. #22. Trump’s exaggeration problem is a non sequitur. A million here, a million there, and pretty soon you’re spending real money. The policy issue is whether the military should be spending any money on transgender treatment. If the answer is no, then any amount is too much.

              2. You actually went to the “OJ isn’t a murderer” dodge! What Manning did was treason. We have the facts. That prosecutors chose not to try him, now her. for that doesn’t change the fact that what he, now she, did was a betrayal of his, now her, country, and treason.

              3.” Manning should never have been given that access, too junior and undervetted.” I agree 100%—it doesn’t excuse the conduct, however. This is the Animal House, “You fucked up! You trusted us!” argument, don’t you think?

              4. Sure, Snowdon was worse. #22

              • ” The most prominent transgender soldier we are aware of, Bradley Manning, committed treason…”

                To imply that Manning is typical or representative in any way of Trans people generally would be unethical. But if that wasn’t your intent, why did you mention the issue? To explain why some people might think that?

                We now know that Trump didn’t consult with generals other than FRC member retired general Boykin.

                No currently serving members were consulted. Neither was Matthis.

                We now know the “military advisors” consisted of the FRC and the evangelical preachers who laid hands on him a few weeks ago. They’ve been crowing about it in Charisma News and other religious publications for days now.

                There is little doubt that he had conversations about it with the brass, even if they didn’t see the policy coming.

                Not according to “the brass” he didn’t. They talked to Matthis, and what they said was nothing like what Trump is claiming. Apparently what Matthis said to Trump was also rather different. According to what Matthis has implied anyway.

                Never mind, it’s Trump. What else can we expect?

                • I think it’s worth mentioning, just like it’s worth mentioning when a Muslim soldier starts on a killing spree in a US military outpost. We don’t have what I would call definitive data on on how trans individuals may handle stress differently than cys armed forces members. Maybe there’s no difference. Maybe there’s no correlation. But when the most damaging soldier to national interests in recent memory just happens to also belong to a group that is being alleged as a threat to the military’s reliability and effectiveness, one can hardly say that’s irrelevant.

                  • We don’t have what I would call definitive data on on how trans individuals may handle stress differently than cis armed forces members.

                    Given the 18 other western nations that permit Trans people to serve, the reports on exactly this issue in the Canadian, Australian, and UK armed forces, the experience of having a year of open service in the US military already, there service records of thousands of Trans veterans.. one would have to ask just how much data is needed for it to be definitive?

                    (Inconsequential typo corrected in quote, ‘cis’ not ‘cys’, hope you don’t mind)


                    Gulf War Battle Damage A-10 79-0181 (Destroyed)
                    Wheels up, hard stick landing after being hit by a SAM. Everyone said it couldn’t be done, including the Flight Manuals and Tech Orders… pilot Capt Rich Biley proved’m wrong on 22 Feb 1991! He brought 79-0181 in at King Khalid Military City (KKMC), Forward Operating Location (FOL) 1 where the CLSS team stripped it of parts, some send to King Fahd International Airport (KFIA), Main Operating Base (MOB) for use on other birds, and then buried it in the desert. Capt Biley was unhurt during the crash.

                    Susan Biley now flies Comair passenger jets. I fail to see how stripping her of VA benefits, and just possibly her citizenship, would benefit the USA as a nation and increase morale and military cohesion in the armed forces.

                    But then, I don’t see how preventing her from getting her birth certificate corrected (she was born in Ohio so can’t get it changed, thanks to FRC efforts) is beneficial either.

                    • Apparently I’m not the only one with this opinion.


                      Fifty-six retired General and Flag Officers provided the following statement to the Palm Center today:

                      “The Commander in Chief has tweeted a total ban of honorably serving transgender troops. This proposed ban, if implemented, would cause significant disruptions, deprive the military of mission-critical talent, and compromise the integrity of transgender troops who would be forced to live a lie, as well as non-transgender peers who would be forced to choose between reporting their comrades or disobeying policy. As a result, the proposed ban would degrade readiness even more than the failed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. Patriotic transgender Americans who are serving—and who want to serve—must not be dismissed, deprived of medically necessary health care, or forced to compromise their integrity or hide their identity.

                      “President Trump seeks to ban transgender service members because of the financial cost and disruption associated with transgender military service. We respectfully disagree, and consider these claims to be without merit. The RAND Corporation, as well as research in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the financial cost of providing health care to transgender troops would be, at most, $8.4 million per year. This amounts to one one-hundredth of one percent of the military’s annual health care budget. As for ostensible disruptions, transgender troops have been serving honorably and openly for the past year, and have been widely praised by commanders. Eighteen foreign nations, including the UK and Israel, allow transgender troops to serve, and none has reported any detriment to readiness.

                      “Recently, two former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have taken courageous stands in support of our transgender service members. General Martin Dempsey said of our transgender troops that, ‘The service of men and women who volunteer and who meet our standards of service is a blessing, not a burden.’

                      “And Admiral Mike Mullen stated that, ‘I led our armed forces under the flawed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy and saw firsthand the harm to readiness and morale when we fail to treat all service members according to the same standards. Thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require. The military conducted a thorough research process on this issue and concluded that inclusive policy for transgender troops promotes readiness.’ Admiral Mullen urged civilian leaders ‘to respect the military’s judgment and not to breach the faith of service members who defend our freedoms.’ We could not agree more.”

                    • Not everyone agrees with the 56 – 16 other retired top brass have issued a statement of support for the President’s position.

                      Boykin of the FRC of course, but also Fox News commentators and board members of other conservative groups.

                      ” Among the signers are Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, former Commanding General of the U.S. Army in the Pacific; Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under President George W. Bush; decorated retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney; Maj. Gen. Michael Jones, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command; and retired Admiral James Lyons, who commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet under President Reagan.

                      The letter states that keeping Obama’s transgender military policy — imposed without congressional action in the last year of his presidency — would have a “very high” fiscal cost to the government, citing a Family Research Council estimate of “between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion over 10 years.”

                      So now the cost is up to $3.7 billion.

                      All have previously written statements objecting to gays and/or atheists being allowed to serve.

                      Mr. President, we note that your bold decision is supported by the American people who have a great reverence for the military,” the officers’ letter states. “We believe you will be rewarded for this brave decision by the American people.” It points to a June Rasmussen survey before Trump announced a policy change that found that “just 23 percent of likely U.S. voters think the U.S. military’s decision to allow openly transgender people to serve is good for the military.”


                    • More from Boykin

                      “And I’ve already said, and somebody will be recording this and this’ll be on YouTube before it’s all over with. But I will tell you what: the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t going to have to worry about the surgery.”

                      “That’s not right,” said Boykin. “That is not right. It’s not right. It’s ungodly. But it’s also just unnatural. This is crazy. Where are the Christians that are standing up?”


                • What the FRC has in mind – and bear in mind they have already written several executive orders that Trump has signed –

                  Discharge of all trans servicepeople under conditions other than honorable backdated from the announcement of the policy.

                  Retroactive change to discharge under conditions other than honorable for all trans veterans so they and their families no longer receive VA benefits. This will save a considerable sum of money. The “hundred million plus” mentioned by Rep Herzler.

                  Deregistration of all Trans people from the Selective Service Act. Again, a considerable cost saving in Federal employment aid, education programs etc that they will no longer be eligible for. It will also mean the Obama protections for Trans people in Federal service will be mooted, as they will be ineligible to be employed in Federal government jobs. Now we’re looking at the Billions savable according to the FRC.

                  “In any capacity whatsoever” means what it says. See and other articles on the FRC website.

                  However, when all is said and done, there are bigger issues that affect more than a few tens of thousands of (soon to be ex- ?) Citizens.

                  Soon to be ex-? Under Reagan era laws, those who are unregistered under the Selective Service Act can have their citizenship stripped from them, but apart from newly appointed Federal Judge Bush and a few others, I’m not sure the courts would OK that, nor the prison terms imposed under the same law. No matter what the FRC, Boykin, Pence and Perkins would like.

  13. As for McCain? The prognosis for his condition is that while he could last longer, he probably only has about 12 months left.

    So he can tell everyone to go to hell and vote the way he thinks best, without having to worry about any factor other than the judgment of history.

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