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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

If you aren’t a rabid news hound, you might have passed over yesterday’s op-ed in the New York Times penned by seven men — Buddhika Jayamaha, Wesley D. Smith, Jeremy Roebuck, Omar Mora, Edward Sandmeier, Yance T. Gray and Jeremy A. Murphy.

What isn’t stated in the byline (but is noted at the end of the article) is that these seven men are Soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and are on the tail end of a 15-month deployment to Iraq.

What is immediately obvious? These men are critical of the recent media reports that have suggested a rosier picture in Iraq, saying it runs counter to their experience.

These men are no Beauchamps — they are open about who they are, give their full names and are identified by rank (they are all enlisted, none ranked higher than E-6).

In the op-ed, they note that they are expressing their personal opinion and not acting in an official capacity as members of the Armed services. Still, they identify their ranks and their unit — this identification is what gives their claims about lack of progress in Iraq a certain level of authority.

The million dollar question, then, is whether or not it is right for Soldiers to be doing this. Does the right (and obligation) to share your beliefs trump your commitment to your chain of command and the mission? Do Soldiers really have an “out of uniform” public existence, or are you always in uniform when your name is splattered across the pages of the Times?

What are your thoughts? Sound off.

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“A Soldier serves his country, not a political party.”

Right?

Maybe not in the blogosphere.

Matthew Currier Burden of Blackfive.net relays some e-mails from Soldiers about the recent elections, including:

…If the Democrats gain even a squeaker majority in the House, I strongly believe we will suffer greatly for it. The Jihadists here have been pulling out all the stops here just to affect the election. A Democrat victory in congress will validate their tactics, and spur them to push harder.

Furthermore, a Democrat Majority will have 3 main goals that will be relevant here. 1)They will throw about investigations and subpoenas like a fire truck throwing candy in a parade. It will be virtually impossible for the executive branch to get any real work done. 2) They will begin impeachment proceedings which, while going nowhere, will further embolden our enemies. 3) They will cut funding to the war in Iraq, in a childish show of control over a Commander in Chief.

If the Republicans win, me and my fellows here will be allowed to continue doing our jobs. In time, all the hard work here will show, and we will win…

And what about this from Liberal Jarhead at Bring it On!:

Well, the local Republicans have not changed their spots.

They’ve been sending people into mainly non-Republican neighborhoods here (read: working class and/or Hispanic) and giving out false addresses for polling places. Same old same old. The local Dems have gone to court to seek a restraining order to make them stop this. Other than that, at least one Democratic-sponsored billboard just got vandalized (someone climbed up with a can of spray paint and wrote “Don’t” over “Vote Democratic”), and if you have a Democratic bumper sticker, you’re liable to come out of the grocery store or wherever and find a Republican sticker plastered over it. That is especially galling, being a blatant violation of private property by people who make championing property rights one of their main claims to fame and a suppression of someone else’s First Amendment freedom by people who harrumph about freedom all the time. I get into a lot of staredowns with shitheads in monster SUVs with Bush stickers when they see the assortment of liberal stickers on the back window of my little Corolla; the fact that they’re mixed in with Marine Corps and NRA stickers seems to confuse them, though, and maybe it makes them a little bit less aggressive.

Meanwhile, the local Repub candidates are engaged in the usual shrill and highly misleading slanders against their opponents while distorting their own records (for example, the incumbent Representative for my district, Heather Wilson, is making a big deal of the fact that she voted for a minimum wage increase, without including the part about it being the Republican House bill that combined that with elimination of the estate tax.) She also voted to extend the Patriot Act and supports the war and brags about being a veteran (she was in the Air Force) while consistently voting to slash services for veterans. She’s 4% points down in the latest polls – her challenger, former state attorney general Patricia Madrid (can’t be AG anymore due to term limits) is up 49% to 45%. Madrid is no dream candidate, but she’s strong on the environment, whereas Wilson always votes the straight Grand Oil Party line in that arena, and she’s against the Patriot Act and in favor of getting our troops out of Iraq.

It seems that servicemembers on the right and the left are voicing their politics in their blogs.

So what is the deal? And what are the responsibilities of Soldiers when it comes to political activities in the blogosphere?

Since I come from an Army background, I pulled the Army regulation (which I am sure is pretty much identical to those of the other services.) AR 600-20 is very specific about what Soldiers can and cannot do when it comes to politics to ensure that (a) the rights of the Soldier are maximized when it comes to his or her participation in the political process and (b) that the Soldier does not become a symbol, tool or pawn of a single political party.

The regulation doesn’t, however, say anything about communication of political opinions online (shock!)

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are entitled to their political beliefs and have a right to express those beliefs. However, the regulation specifically prohibits Soldiers from associating themselves in an official capacity with a campaign or political party.

So the million dollar question is: is it appropriate to identify yourself in your blog as a servicemember (and implying that you speak on behalf of other servicemembers) while advocating a political cause?

And does stopping this kind of speech ammount to a “crack down” on milbloggers? (More on that controversy later).

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