Trump Attacks Transgender Troops


At 5:55 AM Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally attack thousands of serving military personnel in a series of three Tweets which have rocked the nation. Seeming to come out of nowhere, these Tweets appeared on the President’s page:




Nobody’s quiet sure which “generals and military experts” he’s referring to, because these Tweets caught the Pentagon completely off guard. You don’t make radical policy changes by Twitter, there’s a process. I can just imagine the Joint Chiefs today, muttering “that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works!” Don’t expect changes to current policy any time soon, despite the President’s ramblings. That’s not how the Pentagon works.

The “tremendous medical costs”, by the Pentagon’s own estimate, will run up to perhaps $8.4 million a year to care for the needs of transgender troops or their qualified dependents. To make a comparison, the Department of Defense says it spends about $60 million a year on Viagra and Cialis. Trump will kick out transgender troops, some already serving in battle zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, to save $8 million, while the generals and admirals down those little blue pills to the tune of $60 million. There’s a ton of tasteless jokes here, but we’ll pass on them for the moment.

After promising to be the best President ever for the LGBT community while he was running for the job, Trump has since done nothing but throw a big raspberry our way.

In January, all content on LGBT civil rights on the White House website was removed.

In February, the Trump administration rescinded protections for transgendered students on their use of public restrooms in public schools.

In March, revoked protections for LGBT workers against discrimination in hiring and employment.

In April, dropped a federal lawsuit over North Carolina’s statewide prohibition on LGBT equality.

In June, refused to issue a Proclamation recognizing LGBT Pride month.

In July, Tweets the US military will not “accept or allow” transgender people to serve in the military.

Caitlyn Jenner, perhaps the best known transgender woman in the world, issued a statement condemning the President’s Tweets:

 “I believe every American should be outraged by the disrespect shown to those people wearing our country’s uniform. Furthermore, this half-baked idea puts all of our service members in harm’s way.”

Jenner is a Republican, and supported Trump in his bid to become President. Many in the LGBT community have long been dismayed by her support of him, and see this as ‘too little, too late’.

The big question is, of course, just what is the President trying to distract us from with these Tweets? While this story sucks the oxygen out of every newsroom in the country, and occupies the talking heads (and bloggers) for this cycle, what is going on that he doesn’t want us to notice? The radical right-wing judges he’s appointing to Federal Courts? The openly-hostile-to-science people he’s putting in charge of technology and science divisions in the federal government? His plans to fire Attorney General Sessions, and appoint someone to replace him during the Senate recess next month, who will then fire special counsel Mueller for him? His entirely inappropriate comments to Boy Scouts at Jamboree?  Who knows what will come down the pike next?

One thing is for certain – the LGBT community will not stand by and be silent. We stand with our “T” brothers and sisters, and will fight with them to insure they are recognized as equal members of American society.  Right wing zealots lost with segregation, lost with civil rights, lost with inter-racial marriage, lost with job and housing discrimination, lost with marriage equality, and they’ll lose this one as well. They are on the wrong side of history, and the rest of us will not allow them to drag us all down with them.


 Photo: Associated Press


Nunes and water – where does the rain come from?


On Wednesday, July 12, our Congressman Devin Nunes took to the floor of the House of Representatives and made a fool of himself (again – remember Russia, anyone?) (and of us, for electing him to office, repeatedly).  Here’s the video.

Nunes was speaking in favor of House Resolution 23, the GROW Act (it passed the House). In it, he chastises the left and environmentalists for letting 92% of water entering the Delta flow out into the Pacific Ocean. An ocean which, he says three times, is allegedly rising due to global warming. In his comments, perhaps meant as sarcasm (it’s not clear whether he was being sarcastic or if he actually believes this), he wonders why anyone would want to add water to already rising seas. At this point, we could devote time to explaining the hydrological cycle to Mr. Nunes, and how all that water had to come from the Pacific Ocean to begin with, before any of it “flushed” back out past the Golden Gate bridge. That, however, is for another time. Perhaps the Congressman’s 6th grade science teacher can send him a reminder.

During his time speaking to a nearly empty House Chamber (hear the echo in the video? but, in his defense, most speeches made before the House are to a near-empty chamber), he held up a photograph of a woman scooping water out of a tank on her patio, because her home has no water. Nunes doesn’t explain how this bill will help her, but chastises the left, as if it’s somehow their fault. He does not credit the picture, which is from this article, originally by Fresno Bee writer Andrea Castillo, which appeared July 30, 2015, at NewsDeeply. He also fails to explain how this project will help her, since her problem is due to dropping water tables under her home in East Porterville. Those water tables are recharged by rain and the Tule River. Delta water does not make it’s way to East Porterville, and increased storage in other parts of California will not raise the aquifer under her home. As far as I can tell, he simply found a poignant image unrelated to the bill before the House, to create a touching photo op.

In his comments, Nunes makes reference to “supposedly severe drought”, and then realizing he should amend that, says “and it was, no question, a severe drought, but…” and then made his comments about letting 46 million acre feet of water be “flushed” out into the ocean. An ocean that is rising due to global warming. He wants to know why anyone would want that. I suppose we should give credit where credit is due, and acknowledge that Nunes has finally come around to accepting that the drought was (is – we’re not certain that our very wet season this year means it’s over) real, and not a machination of evil Democrats in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Progress, even if only baby steps.

I don’t know if more storage is the solution to water shortages or not. I do know that ever-increasing farming of what is essentially a desert has to take into consideration the inherent difficulties in balancing the need for irrigation with the need to protect and preserve delicate ecosystems throughout the state. One doesn’t get to ignore the other, and users have to recognize the needs of all those effected by both drought and abundance.

In an email sent out by Congressman Nunes on Friday, he continued his attacks on environmentalists and Governor Brown. Here’s that email:

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, in an attempt to convince California lawmakers to renew the state’s dysfunctionalcap and trade program, Governor Jerry Brown called climate change “a threat to human existence.” He instructed lawmakers that their vote on cap and trade would be “the most important vote of your life” and warned of a future “horrible situation that you’re going to see mass migrations, vector diseases, forest fires, [and] Southern California burning up.”

Since the “environmentalists” are forcing California to dump millions of acre-feet of water into the ocean supposedly to benefit the smelt, a three-inch baitfish, I have to wonder whether some of this water might be useful for putting out Brown’s cataclysmic fires.  

You may be curious what you can do to avoid such a terrible fate. Conveniently, some academics published an article this week recommending four measures people can take to avoid the global warming apocalypse: have less kids, don’t drive cars, don’t fly on planes, and don’t eat meat.

As environmental extremists continue subjecting us to their absurd doomsday predictions and their preposterous “solutions,” I’m going to have a bite of a gift sent to my office by Rep. David Valadao: smelt-themed cupcakes.”

Included in the email was a picture of cupcakes, with gummy fish garnished on top of the frosting.

Why the “scare quotes” around environmentalists? Are people who value naturally operating ecosystems, and yes, even a 3″ fish, scary to Nunes? Perhaps. An educated constituency is dangerous for many Republicans.

While Nunes has (apparently) accepted the idea of a drought, he hasn’t accepted the overwhelming consensus that climate change is real, and driven by human activity. Anyone who believes in the science is, in his mind, an “environmental extremist”.  One baby step forward, but lost in the rearward march of right-wing denial.

We really need to begin considering alternatives to Devin Nunes as our representative. He’s not serving the needs of his constituents, and it’s time to elect someone who will. He’s up for re-election in 2018. Let’s get some fresh perspectives to represent the 22nd District.


Image credit: Screen capture of CSPAN via YouTube, as posted by Representative Devin Nunes

Nunes overruled in House vote


Yesterday, Devin Nunes voted “AYE” on the Hartzler Amendment, a part of the National Defense Authorization Act.  According to The HillThe amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was filed by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). It would make it so “funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to provide medical treatment (other than mental health treatment) related to gender transition to a person entitled to medical care.”  This would have had the effect of removing  access to existing medical treatments for a specific group of military personnel and their dependents.

The amendment failed, with a vote of 209 in favor to 214 opposed (with 10 not voting).

Nunes voted in favor of this spiteful amendment, but fortunately cooler heads prevailed (who would have thought we’d be saying that about THIS Congress??) and overruled him. Transgender service personnel will continue to receive the medical care they and their dependents need and deserve.

Locally, The Source LGBT+ Center is available with support and resources for transgender individuals and their families and friends.  The Source is open Tuesday through Friday, 3pm to 6pm at 208 W. Main, Suite B (downstairs), Visalia. (The Montgomery Square building)

Phone number 559-429-4277

Web page

Facebook at

If you want to call Nunes’ office to express your disappointment in his vote, the Visalia number is 559-733-3861

Image: United States House of Representatives

Pride Visalia 2017 – Historic Site, Historic Event


In 1852, white settlers* built a small fort along the banks of a creek, and started the community that would become Visalia. Used during the Civil War by Union soldiers, dispatched to keep southern sympathizers in Tulare County ‘under control’, the fort eventually faded from the community.  At some point, the grounds became a lumberyard, which served the city and surrounding region for decades. Today, the property is part of the Arts Consortium, and it recently hosted another historic event.

Visalia’s first Prides were held a long time ago, and the local LGBT community has celebrated many events, on and off, over the years. You may have heard that this was the “first” Pride in Visalia, but what is meant is this was the first pride festival hosted by The Source LGBT+ Center. It was also probably the first Pride event to be noticed by the wider community, and was certainly the largest ever held here.

On June 24th, 2,000 people attended Pride Visalia. Two local television stations covered the event, and the Visalia Times Delta printed articles and posted pictures and videos from the festival online. In total, local print media carried four articles about the festival. Local radio stations interviewed the organizers, and the nation’s leading LGBT magazine, The Advocate, posted pictures from Saturday’s event on their website (shared on Facebook over 2,000 times). Facebook tells us that overall, posts about Pride Visalia reached 100,000 people.  Two billboards, one on 99 near Pixley and one in Tulare, heralded the festival to thousands of passerbys.

Five live bands and DJs entertained the crowd. Forty vendors and organizations set up, with nine options for food on site. Nobody went hungry or thirsty, or lacked for information on community resources. Government agencies, local churches, and various non-profits and retail vendors tabled at the event.

Two sets of Drag Queens (and Kings!) entertained the crowds, and the kids got a big kick out of those family-friendly shows. Check out the Visalia Times Delta’s pictures here for a look at the fun.

County Supervisor Amy Shuklian was selected as one of two Grand Marshals for the festival. The award states “Pride Visalia Grand Marshal In Appreciation for Outstanding and Dedicated Service to our LGBT+ Community June 24, 2017”.  I (Jim Reeves) was honored to be selected as the other Grand Marshal. The Source LGBT+ Center’s Executive Director Brian Poth presented the awards at the main stage.

Also held during the festival was a wedding. (News media called it a “gay wedding”, but I just call it “a wedding”) A couple who have been together 14 year tied the knot, with their two young daughters doing duty as flower girls and ring bearers.

Overall, a fantastic turnout, both by the community and local organizations. Corporate sponsors made it possible to bring a top-quality event to Visalia. Between them and the kind donations of cash and effort by so many, the festival was a huge success. And not a single incident requiring security or police response was reported.

Next year Pride Visalia 2018 promises to be even bigger and better!


* one wonders what the native Yokuts thought of the newcomers and their strange structure. 

No Room At The Inn


Here’s a conundrum… what do you do when you have a big political event coming up that lasts a couple of days? It’s in a foreign country, there’s a pretty decent lead time to work out the details, and you have to plan for a large entourage. This is a big deal, so you can’t have things go wrong… after all, you represent the President of the United States! There will be leaders from the top twenty countries in the world (hence the name, G20), and you represent number one. Things have to be perfect. What do you do?

Well, apparently, if you’re the Trump team, you forget to book hotel rooms in Hamburg.

Yeah. The Trump team waited too long to book rooms for the American delegation and their support staff.

I can just imagine the panic that must have taken hold when the people charged with setting things up started to see the “no vacancy” returns on Trivago and*. Fortunately, the city of Hamburg stepped in to rescue the hapless Americans, and it appears the delegation will be staying at the Senate guest house. Officials are not admitting it, but Buzzfeed reports sources will confirm only that “a summit delegation” is staying there. At least this way the leader of the free world won’t have to stay in Berlin and chopper in first thing in the morning.  (or maybe she will. Angela Merkel is heir apparent to that title since Trump is unwilling, or more correctly- unable, to fill those shoes)

This is what happens when you don’t staff government offices.  The Trump team has yet to fill literally hundreds of jobs that became vacant on January 20. It’s clear “hotel booker” must be on that list.

I shudder to think what may come out of this meeting. The political pros from around the world are going to clean Trump’s clock, and Putin holds the key to wind it.  We’re rewarding him for meddling in our elections, hacking our computers, and letting him off for invasions by letting him come to the G20 meeting at all, and then granting him a one-on-one meeting with the President of the United States. Trump may think he is a world-class negotiator, but hotel real estate deals are several orders of magnitude below this level of discourse. He has no clue, and he’s not the kind of a man that would even realize it. He’ll walk out of there telling us he ‘won, won,won’, but the only real winner here will be Putin.

I think we owe someone in Hamburg a big favor. It will be unfortunate if their only reward is a free night in a Trump hotel somewhere.

I picked those at random. I don’t actually think the US government uses such services and I’m not endorsing either, they just popped into my head first.