Get Them Birthday Cards Ready!

Courtesy of commenter Mary G bringing this to everyone’s attention:

Here’s the full picture of Joe holding his poster:

You all know what to do!

Open thread!

Operational Security is Painless, It Brings on Many Changes, and John Bolton Can Take or Leave It if He Pleases…

Ambassador John Bolton, the Assistant to the President – National Security Advisor (APNSA) and the Frank Burns of American national security professionals, is also a master of operational security!

For those that can’t quite make that out:

And now the close up!

That says:

3) Afghanistan -> welcome the talks; 5,000 troops to Colombia

Nothing like the element of surprise when violating the War Powers Act!

Bolton has to be one of the absolutely stupidest national security professionals ever. Anyone want some action on whether he was one of the 30 people that were denied a clearance by the professional adjudicators and then granted one by Carl Kline, just like Jared Kushner was? He makes Alcibiades pushing the Athenian government to invade Sicily look like a military genius fusion of Pericles, Julius Caesar, Sun Tzu, and Clausewitz! And I don’t want to hear from you Jomini fan boys in the comments either! Keep it to yourselves you freaks!

Open thread!

The Supreme Court Lifts the Nationwide Injunctions Preventing the President’s Ban on Transgender People from Serving in the US Military

Amid all the other hullabaloo today, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to lift the nationwide injunctions that were preventing the President’s ban on transgender people serving in the US military.

From The Associated Press:

The Trump administration can go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender men and women while court challenges continue, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

The high court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have. The order from the court was brief and procedural, with no elaboration from the justices.

The court’s decision clears the way for the Pentagon to bar enlistment by people who have undergone a gender transition. It will also allow the administration to require that military personnel serve as members of their biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive Obama administration rules.

The Trump administration has sought for more than a year to change the Obama-era rules and had urged the justices to take up cases about its transgender troop policy immediately, but the court declined for now.

Those cases will continue to move through lower courts and could eventually reach the Supreme Court again. The fact that five justices were willing to allow the policy to take effect for now, however, makes it more likely the Trump administration’s policy will ultimately be upheld.

Both the Justice and Defense departments released statements saying they were pleased by the Supreme Court’s action. The Pentagon said its policy on transgender troops is based on professional military judgment and necessary to “ensure the most lethal and combat effective fighting force.” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said lower court rulings had forced the military to “maintain a prior policy that poses a risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

Before beginning to implement its policy the administration is expected to need to make a procedural filing in one case in Maryland challenging the plan. That request could be made this week.

Groups that sued over the Trump administration’s policy said they ultimately hoped to win their lawsuits over the policy. Jennifer Levi, an attorney for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement that the “Trump administration’s cruel obsession with ridding our military of dedicated and capable service members because they happen to be transgender defies reason and cannot survive legal review.”

More at the link.

Today’s lifting of the nationwide stay on the President’s policy is frustrating, but it is not the end of the case. The Supreme Court majority – its five conservative/GOP appointed justices – were willing to lift the nation wide stay, but not consolidate and fast track the separate cases wending through the Federal court system. This means that these separate suits to overturn the policy will continue through the courts and it is possible that as they proceed through the appellate phase that new injunctions will be implemented. As disturbing and discouraging as today’s ruling is, it is not the last word on this issue. It is entirely possible that the various suits take so long to get through the Federal courts, which will largely close on Monday because of the partial government shutdown, that a Democratic administration will come into office and reverse the ruling. That is small comfort, but the fight isn’t over.

And it is very important to continue this fight. Especially because the President’s decision to do this was not driving by a request from then Secretary of Defense Mattis. This was a completely unnecessary policy change. It will actually have real negative effects on readiness by making it harder to make recruiting quotas and by driving Americans who feel called, for whatever reason, to serve in the military away from that service. There’s no way to know for sure, but the President’s decision to change this policy on the fly was likely driven by the Vice President and his senior policy advisor Stephen Miller. This type of pointlessly cruel policy is just their speed.

It is also important to know that important, high visibility veterans, both cis and transgender, are planning to fight on.

Here’s Senator Duckworth’s response:



[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — In response to the Supreme Court’s order this morning allowing Donald Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender servicemembers to take effect, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement:

“When I was bleeding to death in my Black Hawk helicopter on that dusty field in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender, black, white, male or female. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve—no matter your gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Today’s decision is disheartening not only because it will help the Trump Administration discriminate against an ever-shrinking portion of our population who are willing to serve in uniform, but also because it enables the Administration to further disrupt to our military and weaken our national security.

“I hope the Court takes up this case and loudly and clearly tells the Administration that this sort of discrimination has no place in our military, and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in Congress will send the same message and show our servicemembers that we have their backs.”

And here’s retired Senior Chief Special Warfare Officer and former member of Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) Kristin Beck’s response:

Senator Duckworth and Chief Beck are fighting, in the words of the DEVGRU motto, For Something Greater.

Open thread!


‘Junkets’ Under Fire Open Thread: Calling Trump’s Cronies Amateurs Is An Insult to People Who Don’t Get Paid

Guess Trump really *did* enjoy his SooperSekrit Iraq drop-in… he got to hang around with real live G.I. Joes, and some of them were properly thrilled when he signed MAGA hats for them. Not sure his minions understood that normal people might have different reactions…

Vulgar Snark Open Thread: Jim Webb for Secretary of Defense

It’ll never happen, of course, because Trump has the successful bully’s instinct for avoiding confrontations with anyone who has both the temperament and the capacity to fight back. In fact, I’m pretty sure this rumor was floated by Trump sycophants (possibly in employment with the NYTimes) hoping to flatter Lord Smallgloves by suggesting he was the sort of Manly Leader who could keep Jim Webb on a leash, like a platinum-charting rapper who buys a tiger for a pet.

But I’m nasty and petty, and from the same (bogtrotting “Scotch-Irish”) clan as Mr. Webb. So I can enjoy this fantasy, from the other side of the looking-glass. Because I’m pretty sure that Webb, within a few weeks, would not just “walk out” but lunge across the table to punch out Donald Trump — who might actually have a fear-induced fatal aneurysm before the Secret Service pulled Webb away.

I would watch the hell out of that video when it was leaked to YouTube… even if it didn’t include Mike Pence simultaneously crying out to his God and wetting himself, while the rest of the craven Oval Office cabal scrambled for cover.

… Representatives for Vice President Mike Pence and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, have reached out to Mr. Webb, one of the three officials said. Separately, a senior Defense Department official confirmed that Mr. Webb’s name had been circulating at the White House. Those two and the third official all spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal discussions.

Mr. Webb did not respond to a request for comment, and a White House official said the vice president’s staff has had no contact with Mr. Webb. How seriously he is being considered was unclear; Mr. Trump likes to float names as he considers his options for various openings in the government — sometimes to test responses and sometimes to keep the news media guessing…

Mr. Webb, now 72, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 and served in Vietnam as a Marine rifle platoon and company commander. He was wounded twice and awarded the Navy Cross, a prestigious award that ranks just below the Medal of Honor, along with other valor awards…

James Fallows, ever the optimist, points out that Webb’s old-working-class-white-guy misogyny (Fallows does not use those words, but that is what’s described) would probably endear him to Trump.