Alex Blaze

Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach on Rachel Maddow

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 21, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, lesbian, Lieutenant Colonel Victor J. Fehrenbach, military, pentagon, rachel maddow

I'm sick out of my mind today, so anything of substance will be unlikely. But here's a video from Rachel Maddow about DADT:

I have some thoughts after the jump, since I thought this video was particularly interesting.

1. Is it possible to defend LGBT troops and oppose DADT and talk instead about the everyday troops instead of the high profile officers? I know that they make good TV, but it seems like we've only been talking about them for the last few months here.

I come from a family with a long history of military service (as far as I know, I'm the first male on either side not to serve in at least three generations), so I know that there is a difference in terms of recognition and compensation when it comes to enlisted military folk and officers. Should we be perpetuating this? Are we perpetuating this by giving more attention to "mission critical" discharges and people who estimate the government spent $25 million in training them?

In the end, equality isn't just having the same access to the top of the hierarchy; it's having our mediocre people treated the same as mediocre, straight folks. But that's a lot more radical of a change.

2. What is the Pentagon doing spending $25 million in training someone? Does it really cost that much? Where's that money go to?

Oh, wait... when it comes to wasteful government spending, the Pentagon can't be beat. Heaven forbid a woman with children ask for money for food, because the fiscal conservatives will get up in arms about what a waste of money that is, but defense spending never seems to count as spending in this debate on finances.

I'm absolutely sure that they could have spent less than $25 million to train one person, the military. I'd like to see receipts, see how that breaks down. Because I know from the time I've spent with military folks that the compensation for officers can be outrageous, considering it's our money and all.

I know I'll catch flack for saying that considering the fact that these people are at war and putting their lives on the line (well, some of them), but this is a totally optional war makes it just that much more ridiculous.

3. In the first few weeks after Obama won the election, and all the pundits were talking about how gays in the military was what unraveled the extremely liberal Bill Clinton because he got into a huge fight with the Pentagon, I think that they had learned all the wrong lessons from that incident. It's not that Clinton was too liberal (ha!), but that he thought he could call the shots when it came to military policy. And, as the Pentagon is always quick to teach a new Democratic president, they're the ones in charge.

I'm assuming that the military brass doesn't want to change this policy, and that's why Obama's and Congress's feet are dragging on it. Obama's changed a number of his positions since he got into office when it comes to the national security issues: he now supports creating an extra-legal system to try Guantanamo detainees, he doesn't support investigations into either detainee abuse or torture, he's supported Bush's definition of "state secrets" to keep abuses of power under wraps, and he won't even release those photos of detainee abuse that he said he would only two months ago.

What's going on with that, as well as DADT, is he's learning who's really in charge. I wouldn't be surprised if the Pentagon is threatening, indirectly at possible, to put the country at risk if he doesn't cave into their demands.

You just thought you lived in a democracy.


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christophe | May 21, 2009 6:05 PM

For everyone who is still in support of Obama in hopes of improving GLBT rights, this should be a final wake up call as to Obama's true feelings on the matter. He's just another hypocrite who has no intention of keeping any of his promises to the LGBT community. Does this really come as a shock to anyone? he will end up breaking before all of his supporters, except some who don't care what he does, catch on to him. I was alone in my family for support of this SOB, and they are screaming I told you so over and over. As many have pointed out, he could easily delay these discharges by an Executive order, but he has shown he isn't interested in doing that. I wouldn't be surprised if he is actually against ALL LGBT rights. There should have been more investigative reporting on his relationship with ole Rev. Wright, BUT he was telling EVERYBODY what they wanted to hear and everyone lost their common sense over the matter.

Honestly, what struck me about this interview was how he answered the question "does your presence hurt morale?" He simply denied that anyone knew about his "case," refusing to even say the words "I'm gay," and made a better case for staying closeted in the military than serving openly. And, in the process, came across as very conflicted.

But your points are also well taken. Also, given the sheer number of dykes in the military, one would think a high profile woman (in addition to Grethe Cammermeyer) would make the news at some point.

Yeah, I didn't register that the first time I watched it, but here I can see it. I think that he's just so internalized the closet that he's still getting used to having been outed, effectively, by the US government.

Yeah, what's up with all these high-profile cases being boys?

I've been disappointed with Obama and his administration for sometime but I've been hesitant about being vocal. I saw this video yesterday and couldn't hold my tongue any longer. It's infuriating that this is happening but our President who claimed to be an ally refuses to take any action.

So now I'm shouting to our President (and to everyone that will listen) do something!

I've been disappointed with Obama and his administration for sometime but I've been hesitant about being vocal. I saw this video yesterday and couldn't hold my tongue any longer. It's infuriating that this is happening but our President who claimed to be an ally refuses to take any action.

So now I'm shouting to our President (and to everyone that will listen) do something!

Rick Elliott | May 22, 2009 1:57 AM

I'm not in the military, however,my situation is analogous to the Lt. Colonel's. In spite of the fact that he is demonstrably highly skilled and trained at considerable expense to the country, DADT demands he be booted out of the military. I am a Presbyterian minister, a published author, and not serving a parish. In at least one of my parishes I was told I'm the best preacher and pastor that 100-year-old congregation has had. I'm a top-flight public speaker who has been told that I have the ability to take complicated biblical material and make it understandable without "dumbing it down." No one can honestly or accurately state that I do not have "gifts of the Spirit. I served effectively for 28 years before my health started deteriorating--the biggest reason for the deterioration being that I couldn't endure the stress of "leading a double life."
Yet despite the obvious gifts and skills I have for ministry, I am forbidden to serve. Sure, there's the caveat that celibate GLBT folk can serve. But we all know that to be a specious distinction.
I now preach while pastors are on vacation and when congregations are between ministers or do not have the finances to call a minister. In only one situation was I not re-invited: I was too dramatic in presentation. In several situations the called pastor didn't want me back because I showed him/her up.
I am a gifted teacher, preacher and pastor, but would not be able to serve if my health permitted it. I guess the denomination believes that God made a mistake when God chose to give me the gifts for ministry I demonstrably have.
In theological language--that's denying the sovereignty of God: I guess God can only give gifts of ministry to heterosexual folk.


1.
(my experience, 20 years in the Navy)

Gosh, no one ever looks at the grubbies (lower ranks, E-4 and below) who clean the shitters. A lot of them are over worked, dirty, crass… think of a puppy not yet house broken. *sigh* in other words, kids.
Stick a camera in their faces and its either “Hi Mom” or just two huge round eyes.

The go-to-guys (mid-ranks E-5/6) who do all of the heavy work and long hours with the much needed skills (and in my experience) actually can get some lee way and if anything, the higher ups won’t kill the golden calves if the only thing they have to fall back on is a grubbie to replace them. By this time, the service member has been in for two tours which is about 8 years at least. They know what to say and do and what not too.
Get a camera around them and…. Well, it’s not really gonna happen. They’re working, the crusties will send you to the grubbies.

The crusties (E-7/8/9) are at the end of their career, are broken, used up and are only hanging around for the free coffee. They are opinionated and tend to boss people around… but that’s their job.
Get a camera around them and… actually I’ve never seen anyone do anything that stupid. (think bigfoot)

For the most part, all of us enlisteds like it quite. Quite is good.
The few attention whores…well they move on to something more fitting that gives them all the attention they need. Like the PAO (Public Affairs Office) and typically that’s the only smiling faces you get to see at a command.

2.
The way the cost is figured out is the cost of the salary + the cost of the equipment + the salary of the instructor + the operating cost of the equipment + the cost of supporting the equipment + benefits +…. Get the picture?

A pilot receives basic flight training, advanced flight training. More training ‘in type’ then more training for mission specific profiles.

For a fighter pilot his cost also includes the air adversary training costs. That includes ground, air and sea elements… now that may seem “wow” and it is when you see the bill but its spread out over a lot of people.

If it includes an aircraft carrier… oh boy that’s a huge ass nut to cover. (5000+ people salaries, a SAR squadron, ship services to pull out and pull in, provisions (jet fuel, ships fuel, food for 3 meals x 5000+ people requireing an average of 4000 calories a day…and the list goes on)

Enlisted people get similar training. Due to the advanced electronics required for modern combat you need a technician that can fix them in the field under adverse conditions.

For me that was over 18 months of training before I was ever allowed to touch an aircraft. It took another 6 months to be able to do it safely and unsupervised. So, that’s 2 years and I was able to do simple stuff by myself. More months to finally mature to be able to trouble shoot and repair the most complex systems.

My cost of training? Something like 8 million. Next Gen electronics cost a lot of money to play with and are expensive to fix when you break them.

[oh crap… it’s a furlough day and here I am working… *shhhh* don’t tell on me ? )

3.
President Bush couldn’t even get the words out of his mouth before we attacked Iraq. Um… yeah, the Pentagon was so “P

President Truman was a real president. When he signed his Executive Order 9981 he didn’t take any orders from the Pentagon. He gave them to the Pentagon. He stood up, and stood his ground. That’s what needs to be done to get DADT abolished.

Wanna know something really funny?
All four branches of the military actually had started to modify their stance on DADT during the presidential elections.
Heck, it looked like everyone was for abolishing DADT and they could tell that with McCain and Clinton they would be forced to abolish it no matter what.

So… put me in the column “fallen out of luv” with the current president.
He’s starting to seem more and more like a democrat for the financial stuff and a republican lap dog for the civil rights stuff.

Can I have my vote back now please?

The DADT folks got really lucky with Dan Choi and Fehrenbach. Both are compelling case studies on why DADT hurts military preparedness.

But what happened to the woman that Obama wrote? Why isn't she on Rachel Maddow too?