Aug 04 2017

Honor, Code, Loyalty

We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

Today is the anniversary of the United States Coast Guard (in Lego) but I’m not here to talk about that.

Instead I want to discuss heroism.

Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, has personally informed each of the 13 Transgendered (that we know of) members of his service that he will not enforce Trump’s tweeted orders to dismiss them.

“I will not turn my back. We have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith.”

Though the Coast Guard is considered a member of the 7 Uniformed Services (the ones you can’t remember are the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps), it’s never directly reported to the War Department or their successor, the Department of Defense. Instead it’s historically a part of the Treasury Department (like the Secret Service) though they were transferred to the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11. I think that’s a crying shame and they should be back in Treasury if anyone cares.

In any case they may technically be able to avoid complying because of their chain of command and while that kind of detracts from the heroism angle I’ll take what I can get.

Trump’s Tweets

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

And then there was a 9 minute gap where people in the Pentagon went ballistic over the possibility we were going to go… uhh, ballistic (I see what you did there) and attack North Korea or Canada.

….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

Phew. Wait. What?!

….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

Disruption? You mean like scaring everyone that you’re going all Jack D. Ripper? Oh, you mean like Blacks and Women. How enlightened of you.

Look, it doesn’t exactly take M-theory to figure out what’s happening here. The Donald is in a death spiral of popularity (Trumpcare, Russiagate to name two) and is shoveling red meat to his bigoted base as fast as he can to try and stem the rot.

Since the tweets there has been absolutely no follow up from the White House and the Service Heads have said that until they have an actual policy they won’t act.

And as for that tremendous unsupportable cost?

Coast Guard spends more to protect Trump at Mar-a-Lago than the military spends on trans health care
by Lindsay Gibbs, Think Progress
Jul 29, 2017

Coast Guard leaders are bracing themselves for significant cuts as Trump’s most recent budget proposal suggested cutting its budget by 2.4 percent, or $267 million. But there’s one place the Coast Guard is not going to be able to scale down—protecting President Trump’s waterfront Mar-a-Lago club during Trump’s frequent trips down south.

When Trump travels to Mar-a-Lago, which he has done seven weekends of his six-month long presidency, the Washington Post reports that Coast Guard has to deploy “cutters, patrol boats, helicopters, and anti-terror specialists from across the country,” which amounts to about a $1 million cost per trip to protect the Trump-dubbed “Winter White House.”

So far this year, the Coast Guard has spent $6.6 million protecting Mar-a-Lago. And it isn’t the only government department doling out for these trips—according to conservative estimates calculated by Politico based on figures from the Government Accountability Office, the government spends about $3 million per Mar-a-Lago visit when you factor in costs for security and travel on Air Force One in addition to the Coast Guard expenses.

That means that the government has already spent far more this year on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips than it has on transition-related health care for transgender service members. Last year, a Pentagon report found that transition-related health care expenses would cost between about $2.4 and $8.4 million per year.

I suppose I should admit that as a wee lad I entertained briefly the notion I should apply to the Coast Guard Academy (right here in Connecticut) thinking I might get a job saving lives, enforcing safety regulations, or, best of all, tending a Lighthouse (it suits my solitary nature). In retrospect I think it’s just as well I didn’t because there are other aspects like busting drug smugglers and turning back immigrants that I’m not as comfortable with.

Besides, I suck at taking orders.

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