EPISODE 8b: SARAH ITO UPDATE
Compiled & Synthesized by Samia Mounts
00:02:44 Is Anthony Scaramucci’s method of communication really to scream obscenities?
Sarah is referring to the now-infamous interview “the Mooch” gave to Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker on July 26, 2017. In that interview, Scaramucci used a shit-ton of profanity to trash-talk his colleagues at the White House, calling Reince Priebus a leaker and saying that Steve Bannon sucks his own cock and is trying to build his “own brand off the fucking strength of the President.” Stuff like that. Not exactly the measured tones you expect from the White House communications director.
The interview got him fired after only ten days on the job—but not by Trump. It took retired General John Kelly, now the White House Chief of Staff, to make that (obvious) call.
00:03:11 Did Scaramucci have a career on Wall Street? Was he perfectly suited for it?
Yes, he’s a Wall Street guy known for unapologetic self-promotion and a brash, no-holds-barred personality, no matter if you’re a colleague, a rival, or a member of the press. He’s definitely done well for himself in that world.
00:04:07 Did Trump really give a speech to police officers in which he encouraged police brutality?
Yes. The speech happened on July 28, 2017, in Suffolk County, New York. Trump was addressing a group of police officers and said:
“Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster. And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon—you just see them thrown in, rough—I said, please don’t be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody—don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?”
00:04:51 Where can I find the Boy Scout Jamboree speech and the one where Trump talked about immigrants slicing and dicing young, beautiful girls?
You can watch or read the full Boy Scout Jamboree speech here, and here you’ll find a compilation of the worst/weirdest/most inappropriate moments. It was so bad that the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement declaring their non-partisanship and that they in no way endorse a particular political party, and then issued a formal apology to their members for the highly political nature of Trump’s speech.
The other speech I mentioned was at a Make America Great Again rally, but it was in Youngstown, Ohio, not Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The speech is arguably the most disturbing of his political career. In it, Trump said:
“The predators and criminal aliens who poison our communities with drugs and prey on innocent young people, these beautiful, beautiful, innocent young people will, will find no safe haven anywhere in our country. And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns, because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long.” (Watch video of this part of the speech here.)
00:05:21 Did police departments speak out against what Trump said in his speech to law enforcement officers?
Yes. In the days after the speech, police departments across the country publicly denounced what Trump said. From Boston to New York to Los Angeles to Gainesville, Florida—even the cops in Long Island spoke out against it.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said he was “making a joke at the time.”
Cops across the country didn’t think it was funny.
00:05:59 Was there reporting that said Trump was disappointed in Reince Priebus for resigning as White House Chief of Staff after Anthony Scaramucci publicly humiliated him in that insane New Yorker interview? That Trump would have preferred him to fight back?
That’s what I read in this Huffington Post article, and it makes sense with other reports of how Trump prefers that his top advisors constantly compete, reality show-style, for his favor.
00:08:05 Are more and more healthcare plans withdrawing from the Affordable Care Act health exchanges?
Yes, this is really happening. As of now, there are hundreds of U.S. counties at risk of losing all Obamacare insurance options in 2018, with 40 counties already facing that grim reality. Most people do have several options to choose from through the ACA, but thousands are at risk as many insurers struggle to commit amid the uncertainty about how our healthcare legislation might change under the Republican administration. There’s even fear amongst insurers that Trump will actively try to disrupt the marketplace to prove he was right that Obamacare was destined to implode. (Even though all analyses have shown that the marketplaces are stable and not on a path to total collapse.) Already, Trump’s threats toward the healthcare industry—cutting vital subsidies, for example—have caused insurers to hike their rates with unusually large annual rate increases.
And that’s the rub with all this—insurers are pulling out of the markets and generally freaking out because of the current political battle over healthcare. If it wasn’t for the Trump administration and the Republican Congress spreading so much uncertainty about what will happen with healthcare going forward, the markets would probably be more stable right now.
00:10:41 Is Mike Pence popular with members of both parties?
He didn’t used to be, but now, through the lens of Trump’s America, Pence has become surprisingly popular with liberals and conservatives alike.
00:11:46 Where can I find Sarah’s article about why she supported Trump in the election?
You can read that article right here.
If you’re interested in her other article criticizing Mike Pence for his anti-gay legislation in Indiana, check out the Episode 8 Show Notes at time stamp 00:34:18.
00:12:17 Did Trump really announce a ban on trans people serving in the military on Twitter?
Yes, he sure did. On July 26, 2017, Trump tweeted:
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming………victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medial costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you” (Direct copy/paste from three separate tweets.)
The announcement was a complete surprise to Pentagon officials, who now face the uncomfortable proposition of discharging trans service members who came out last year, after Obama changed the rules to allow them to serve openly and they were promised protection. Also, since the announcement was only made on Twitter, it’s not an active policy change…yet.
On a hopeful note, the Coast Guard Commandant, Paul Zukunft, said he would “not break faith” with trans service members following the Twitter announcement. There are thirteen trans people currently serving in the Coast Guard, and he called them all to say he will have their back, whatever happens. The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, not Defence, but still. That’s nice.
Also, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff basically said the military would change nothing about their current policy until Trump actually issued a real policy change—as opposed to a Twitter announcement that no one was warned about.
00:12:58 Did lesbian feminist icon Jean O’Leary exclude transgender issues from her activism efforts?
Yes. She even gave a speech in 1973 in which she called a trans woman named Sylvia “a man” and accused all drag queens and trans women of insulting and exploiting women. She’s been heavily criticized for this stance, along with many other the second wave feminists.
But what Sarah left out is that O’Leary apologized for the exclusion, saying, “How could I work to exclude transvestites and at the same time criticize the feminists who were doing their best back in those days to exclude lesbians?” She uses “transvestite” to mean “transgender”—this was before our modern terms were well defined—but you get the point.
You can listen to the episode of Making Gay History: The Podcast in which O’Leary talks about the embarrassment she feels over her exclusion of the trans community in the fight for equal rights.
00:16:44 Are the medical costs of trans service members in the military only a tiny fraction of the overall military healthcare budget? Is it true that the military spends five to ten times more money on Viagra?
Yes, based on the best estimates we currently have. In 2016, a Rand study attempted to predict how much the military would pay for trans medical care, and based on a variety of scenarios, they predicted it would cost between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year. Even if the number on the upper range—what the researchers called “the most extreme scenario”—represents an increase in healthcare spending of only 0.13%.
The military’s healthcare costs a total of $49.3 billion annually, with $6.27 billion of that going to active duty service members. Trans medical expenses are a drop in the bucket.
On the other hand, the military spends $84 million a year on drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, with $41.6 million of that going to Viagra alone. Even the Military Times published an article about this lunacy.
00:18:06 Is sex reassignment surgery considered an elective surgery?
No, not by anybody who crafts their conclusions based on facts and research.
Major insurer Aetna categorizes gender reassignment surgery as medically necessary, not as elective surgery, and many other insurers cover the procedure and related treatments.
In July 2017, the Republican majority House of Representatives rejected a measure that would have disallowed coverage of gender reassignment treatment for service members in the military. That measure was proposed by Republican Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, using the same argument Sarah put forward in our phone call—that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for gender reassignment treatments because that money would be better used for other things.
Since the ban on trans people serving in the military was lifted in 2016, trans service members have been able to have their “medically necessary” healthcare costs covered, and that includes gender reassignment treatment.
In short, the medical community does not view gender reassignment surgery as an elective surgery. It’s considered medically necessary.
00:19:38 Did’s Trump’s tweets banning trans people from serving in the military take the Pentagon by surprise?
Yes. The announcement was a complete surprise to Pentagon officials, who now face the uncomfortable proposition of discharging trans service members who came out last year, after Obama changed the rules to allow them to serve openly and they were promised protection. Also, since the announcement was only made on Twitter, it’s not an active policy change…yet.
00:20:29 Does the military take care of people with Type I Diabetes? What about other chronic medical conditions?
I had no idea what I was talking about here. The military won’t even enlist you if you have Type I Diabetes, in most cases. There are actually a host of medical conditions that disqualify potential military recruits, including chronic gastritis, an active ulcer, anemia, hearing problems vision problems, all kinds of diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, limited range of motion due to past injuries, mental illnesses, having an undescended testicle, even pregnancy. It’s a long list.
00:20:46 How many trans people are currently serving in the military?
There’s no exact number available, but the best estimate we have comes from the same 2016 Rand study referenced earlier in these show notes. The researchers estimated that there are between 1,320 and 6,630 trans people serving in active duty, and 830 and 4,160 in the Selected Reserve.
A 2014 Williams Institute study put the total number at around 15,500. That study used data from a survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality back in 2008 and 2009. They survey drew the largest sample size of trans people of any survey ever, drawing 6,546 responses.
There is also data that suggests trans people enlist in the military in higher relative numbers than other groups. A UCLA study showed that of about 21% of transgender Americans had served in the military, compared to only 10% of people in the population as whole.
00:22:04 What happened with the meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and a Russian government lawyer?
On June 3, 2016, a music publicist named Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump Jr., saying he’d been told a Russian lawyer had dirt on Hillary Clinton that the Trump campaign would find useful. In the email, he specifically said, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr., responded with “if it's what you say I love it,” and proceeded to set up a meeting with the Russian lawyer. You can read the entire email chain, released by Trump, Jr., himself, here.
Present at the meeting were Trump Jr., Rob Goldstone, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and the Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya. Also present were four others: Natalya Veselnitskaya’s translator (unnamed), Rinat Akhmetshin, a lobbyist connected to Russia’s intelligence agencies, Anatoli Samachornov, another translator, and Ike Kaveladze, a U.S. citizen professionally connected to one of Goldstone’s clients.
Trump Jr., released two contradictory statements about the meeting within a day of each other. In the first statement, released on July 8, 2017, he said the topic of the meeting was American adoptions of Russian children. In the second statement, released the next day, he said Veselniskaya said she had incriminating information regarding Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but then had nothing to back it up. Then, he said, they talked about adoptions and the Magnitsky Act (leglislation passed by Congress in late 2012 that prohibits certain Russian officials from enterting the U.S. and, more importantly, using our banking systems). In the end, according to Trump Jr., he got no information on Clinton, and Goldstone apologized for wasting his time.
Later, it was revealed that Donald Trump (Senior) had dictated the original response from Trump Jr., in which he said the meeting was all about adoptions.
It’s important to know that “adoptions,” when it comes to Russia, can accurately be interpreted as code for the Kremlin’s intense desire to get the Magnitsky Act repealed. The legislation was passed in response to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009. Magnitsky was responsible for uncovering a massive corruption scandal in Russia, involving Russian officials stealing huge fortunes by committing flagrant fraudulent acts. While in prison, he was denied medical care for months, and then was beaten to death while still incarcerated.
After Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, designed to punish Russian officials who were involved with Magnitsky’s death by freezing the stashes of cash they had in banks and real estate in the U.S., Russia retaliated by suspending U.S. adoptions of Russian children. (Which hurt Russians more than it hurt Americans…another example of the Kremlin’s backward, anti-human way of doing things. Russia has a shit-ton of orphans, and Russians don’t want them. There were 95 adoptions that fell through when they were on the brink of completion because of Russia’s retaliation against the Magnitsky Act. Nearly a hundred unwanted children who stayed in orphanages because of this cruel form of “retribution.”)
00:22:12 Is there a developing obstruction of justice case against Trump because he fired James Comey? How has he been publicly humiliating Jeff Sessions, and what does that have to do with obstruction of justice?
There definitely seems to be an unfolding obstruction of justice case concerning Trump’s efforts to suppress the Russia investigation.
In an interview in May 2017, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had fired Comey because he’d been thinking about the Russia investigation.
Then, Trump spent the last week of July 2017 repeatedly attacking his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. (Ethically speaking, it was imperative that he recuse himself. The investigation is looking into the activities of the Trump campaign, and Sessions worked on that campaign.) If Sessions hadn’t recused himself, he would have the power to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is currently leading the Russia investigation.
There is a lot of fear that Trump is trying to discredit or find a way to fire Robert Mueller. It’s so bad that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are exploring legislation that can legally stop Trump from outright firing Mueller.