(Note: Giving the finger to the federal court system and the US Constitution itself, with a pardon of the reviled Sheriff Joe Arpaio, didn't happen until the hurricane became a Category 4 and we were already off air today.)
First today, Hurricane Harvey is set to slam into the Texas Gulf coast as dire warnings are issued by the National Weather Service that some areas may be "uninhabitable for weeks or months" thereafter. The startling language in the forecasts echo that not heard since it was used by in the extraordinary NWS warning issued prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, 12 years ago this week (as we also covered on air at the time).
Our own Desi Doyen — a native of south Texas herself — explains the concerns of changing, global warming-fueled weather patterns that are leading forecasters to predict that Harvey may stall in place for days, dropping massive amounts of rainfall (as much as 40 inches in some places) over the next several days, before the storm could move back out to the Gulf only to return for a second landfall. Are state and federal officials — with many key posts still unfilled by Trump — fully prepared for what's to come?
Then, we're joined by Sue Fulton, former President of Sparta, an organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the military and their families, to discuss Donald Trump's recent surprise Twitter-announcement that "The United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military."
Fulton, a former US Army Captain and a member of the first coed graduating class at West Point, had worked with the Obama Administration's Pentagon on the policy that had previously lifted the ban on openly transgender service members last year. She describes the detailed and meticulous process that had been carried out by the Department of Defense, with stakeholders from every branch, as well as outside organizations, and the military's own interest in carrying out the policy change that Trump is now reversing.
We discuss how Trump's own process to reverse the policy change appears to run precisely counter to the one carried out by Obama, as well as the wishes of military leaders and service members and the vast majority of Americans of all parties. We also discuss why Trump appears to be carrying this reversal out, despite both the success of lifting the ban to date and comparable changes to similar exclusionary policies that had previously barred both women and openly gay members.
Fulton has a lot to share and inform us about all of this. I strongly recommend tuning in for today's show in full.
For now, however, especially with all of the breaking news I'm still trying to follow tonight, I'll share just this one quote from Fulton for now: "(The Pentagon) did not make this decision to open transgender service willy-nilly — they made it based on their judgment about military readiness. That's as it should be. I hear people telling me, 'This should be about military readiness', and the answer is: this is absolutely about readiness. This is about having the strongest, most effective military force that we can muster to protect and defend the interests of the United States. And, as part of that, the Pentagon has determined that allowing transgender people to serve — to keeping that talent within the armed forces, and continuing to recruit talent from as broad a pool as possible — is right, is the best thing to create this strongest possible force. And that decision was made carefully. Now that decision is being overthrown based on no evidence. In fact, based on saying that the evidence that the Pentagon itself uncovered and determined to be accurate should somehow be thrown out the window."
Then, as luck would have it, no sooner did I finish speaking with Fulton, then news broke late today that, in fact, Trump has made good on his threat and has officially signed new guidance, ordering the Pentagon to proceed with restoration of the ban on transgender service members.
That, just days after calling for "unity" in the country, and telling members of the military at Fort Myers: "Every person who puts on the uniform makes our nation proud. They all come from across our land. They represent every race, ethnicity, and creed. But they all pledge the same oath, fight for the same cause, and operate as one team — with one shared sense of purpose." What an extraordinary monster. And I'm being very polite here…
We'd love to get your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org