Humor in Uniform

Watching the Iowa speeches last night, it was a bit unsettling — if not quite Shocking! — to see Ron Paul introduce Jesse Thorsen, an active-duty Army corporal, to share a few words. In uniform. Can he do that?

Answer: No.

Guidelines laid out in the federal Hatch Act specifically prohibit uniformed members of the military from making political speeches or taking official roles on political campaigns. Members of the military are permitted to attend political rallies, but must not be wearing their uniform while in attendance. On stage with Paul, Thorsen was wearing green Army fatigues.

Opinions are like assholes, and we’re all entitled to one. But in Our Exceptional Nation, we exercise our rights as citizens — not soldiers.

Not yet, anyway.

Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity [CNN]

They knew what they were doing, they just want to make an issue out of it especially if solja boy gets prosecuted.

This is deeply disturbing shit. Has anyone else here read ‘The Origins of the Military Coup of 2021’ in Parameters about 15 years ago by a JAG named, IIRC, Dunlap?

Great piece, beautifully documented and as a work of speculative fiction not all that badly written.

@redmanlaw: an army prosecution may be what they are both looking for. that’ll keep him from going back to afghanistan. all the weekend warriors from the eastern part of the volunteer state here have been none too happy about continued deployments to iraq and afghanistan. they signed up for a zero down VA home loan, a free truck payment, and 2 weeks of automatic weapons play each year. shit ain’t been working out like they thought.

Didn’t seem to do much good anyway. Now it’s time for them to head back to Reagan National to get more rock-hard throbbing cock SOSHALLIZM! shoved down their throats.

You know what? I think military types can say whatever the hell they want. Provided they do not violate or show disrespect to the chain of command, and so long as they aren’t forced by anybody to support somebody, and so long as there’s a “does not imply endorsement of whole military” disclaimer: let ’em talk.

I mean, suppose an active-duty guy a couple of years ago outed himself and said “I want to serve openly,” I’d think that would be beyond appropriate.

Am I missing something?

@ManchuCandidate: I just checked Wikipedia. Dunlap retired well, high, in the DC JAG office. Last I spoke with him in another life in like 1998 he was assigned east buttfuck somewhere, some surmised, because of his provocative work on this subject. He didn’t believe that and, end of day, Parameters is a war college journal.

A quickie search finds this:
4.1.2. A member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not: Participate in partisan political fundraising activities (except as permitted in subparagraph, rallies, conventions (including making speeches in the course thereof), management of campaigns, or debates, either on one’s own behalf or on that of another, without respect to uniform or inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement. Participation includes more than mere attendance as a spectator. (See subparagraph Attend partisan and nonpartisan political fundraising activities, meetings, rallies, debates, conventions, or activities as a spectator when not in uniform and when no inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement can reasonably be drawn. )
4.6.4. This is a lawful general regulation. Violations of paragraphs 4.1. through 4.5. of this Directive by persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice are punishable under Article 92, “Failure to Obey Order or Regulation,”…
Any person subject to this chapter who–
(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;
(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or
(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties;
shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
Maximum punishment.
(1) Violation or failure to obey lawful general order or regulation. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years.

I spent a good bit of time with courts in the Army from 1962 thru 1968.

BTW, I’m not a lawyer but I played one often in the Army, and had to keep up with such stuff as a Forensic Chemist with DEA for about 26 years, testifying as an expert witness in over 100 trials [and being stipulated to about a thousand times more after flying or driving out of Dallas in the days when air travel was fun.]

The worst part was sometimes sitting on hard hallway benches in a suit in un-A/C’d hallways for a day or two, but the good parts meant having a rental car or loaner from the local DEA office to sightsee for a day or few from NYC to LA, Misoula to SC, and time to explore the bars and wimmin at night, at mostly gov’t expense. Not to mention the old 5 and 6 PM DFW-Denver flights on Frontier with steak ‘n lobster ‘n wine.

So thanks for the good times, my fellow citizens. I’m free to say that now, including my endorsement: Go, Willard! Your four million bought you only six votes less than you got in Iowa four years ago! Onward to defeat in November!

@RevZafod: What’s interesting is that nobody gives a shit for the fact that any employee of the federal gubmint – which, let’s face it, a soldier primarily (or as Newt says, fundamentally) is – is prohibited from using Company Time to publicly express an opinion.

The uniform just makes it easier to determine whether or not former corporal Jesse was on the clock. Hint: he was.

@chicago bureau: Am I missing something?

The uniform.

If he had worn civvies last night, nobody would have thought twice. Not me, anyway.

@chicago bureau: We had to get permission (ex-husband and I) from the press office before agreeing to SandyEggo teevee interview in our home before his carrier set out for Gulf I (it hadn’t started yet, but…). Rules were, no uniforms, no political opinions. It was picked up by The Navy Times. Only uniform allowed was his when they saw us saying goodbye at the NAS. Then Jr and I drove from Coronado to Pt Loma sub base to see the carrier steam out of sight. I think the war started on 1/18? I think it was the day after my ex’s birthday. Sorry. Having past issues right now.

@JNOV is like, Peace?: Gulf I for me was the original CNN 24/7, including Peter Arnett and the other doods hiding under a table; Scud Stud; and my hipster hating on the “Mother Of All” memes.

OT: ever tossed back an opiate with a couple glasses of cabernet? Zzzzz

@peggynooner: Oh, man! Yes. Gulf I started with a speech I heard as I was driving my kid through the mountain roads to help him sleep. “And God Bless the United States of America…” The visual of Gulf I was at work, and we had CNN on in the waiting room all the time. I’d call a patient, day or night, and there it was. Explosion. Explosion. And I knew my ex was over there loading bombs on planes, crab-walking the carrier deck. Fixing FLIRs on Hoovers (Red Gryphons! “Griffins”? Seriously?). I was 24? He was 25?

Somewhat related, my kid, now 22 and at the same week of his life that I was when I found out I was pregnant with him, he’s finally forced me to cut the mental cord. He knew his mind was free, but I guess I wasn’t ready to accept his freedom despite knowing but maybe not feeling that that’s what I’ve always wanted.

I mean, that’s our job, right? Raise ’em and set ’em loose. “My kid” implies some type of ownership, but he’s free. He finally realizes it, and he’s making me remember/accept/deal with it. I hate it. And he’s taking too much philosophy.

ADD: Pass the opiates. I wish I could float right now.

Another weird thing, related to what jwmcsame wrote: We never expected to be in a war. Sure, we had some folks still in from Vietnam (one an excellent instructor of mine with a self-inflicted 16″ scar down the side of his neck). Still, when we enlisted, we didn’t see this coming ever. Never. Kids. Stupid. Poor. Running away from home hoping for something better.

@FlyingChainSaw: Thanks for the tip about the article. The publication came out in 1992 and the title is actually about the military coup of 2012, not 2021. Naming the perpetrator of the coup General Brutus may have been a little Hollywood.

Dunlap’s unforgivable sin was probably suggesting the military should refuse to take the money to perform non-combat missions that ought to be accomplished by civilians, including police forces. He supported a smaller military that did nothing but train to fight and when needed fight. I’m sure his writing about the Iranians slaughtering soft American troops around the Persian Gulf didn’t win him many friends at the officers club.

@Dave H: One of the saddest things about 9/11 was how much of non-state paramilitarism was predicted with precision by the armed forces academic research and professional research communities. (There was a lot of bizarre theorizing, too, about ethnics rising up, banding with the gays to take over LA and having to be repulsed with cruise missiles armed with laughing gas, etc.) That and protocols for managing these kinds of conflicts. Never used, engaged maybe once during the Clinton Administration in containment of islamic radicals in the southern islands of the Philipines. Given any opportunity, CheneyCo put us right back into bankrupting conventional ground war mode.

True about Dunlap but he did end his tenure at an appropriately high level, higher than I would have guessed when I spoke with him last, probably around 1995/1996 or so.

Debate and opine all you like, folks. The fact remains that Jesse Thorsen disobeyed a standing regulation which he should surely have known existed. He was sworn to uphold the laws of the US when he enlisted. He broke that oath.

Call me old-fashioned for believing that my oath of service meant something, as his should have. If that’s wrong, fuck this country and all who sail in her.

He should suffer the consequences. Probably not to the max, but certainly seriously as a warning to others that they shouldn’t take their oaths lightly. At the least, I’d want a General Discharge or even Honorable, short of Dishonorable, to allow him to benefit from his prior service. But he has shown that he is no longer qualified to serve.

He has shown contempt for the oath he took, and should no longer be allowed to pretend to place service to his country over service to a political allegiance. I wouldn’t want him to forfeit benefits he has earned by by his service so far.

@RevZafod: What surprises me is that it’s a Hatch Act issue. I thought it had to do with military code. That, and civic decency.

@RevZafod: If you don’t mind, I’d like to put on my Devil’s Advocate hat, and gin up a bunch of questions going both ways, because like Benedick, I find this thread fascinating. So not to get too schizophrenic on you, I throw out the following to the group.

TO WIT: As the daughter, ex-sister-in-law, best friend/surrogate mother, niece, granddaughter, great-granddaughter (3 times over), blah, blah, ad nauseum of men who have served in the military I say yes to you about Mr. Thorsen disobeying a standing regulation that he undoubtedly knew existed. And no you are not old fashioned, because your oath and that of every other family member of mine had meaning, and some ass hat in Iowa can’t take that away. (P.S. Don’t make me show you the jingoistic holiday display my parents orchestrated on my childhood block in Texas).

OTOH, I am totally Team Chicago Bureau in that I think people in the military still retain First Amendment rights. What CB didn’t say, but I’d like to hope he agrees, is that much like all other First Amendment jurisprudence, there’s the good ol’ time/place/manner restrictions that don’t go into substance unless you want to burn the barn down. In other words, I don’t really give a shit what you say, Sgt. FeelGood, but don’t wear your uniform, don’t do it when you should be driving a truck or piloting a drone to kill insurgents or Pakistani housewives, and don’t blow up an abortion clinic or movie theater or say you want to overthrow the presidency. There are limits. Straightforward enough.

THAT SAID, I want to emphasize I’m on Team RevZafod that there is a huge significance of said people in the military appearing in their uniforms, and think that they should take it seriously, and never desecrate/smear/question said uniforms (which carry huge symbolic meaning) by using them for political purposes. Which undoubtedly includes giving a barn-burner speech for Dr. Evol.

THAT SAID, where do you draw the line about appearing in uniform? When do we get into substantive analysis of the content? The heartwarming videos of JNOV and ex-Mr. JNOV going off to sea? The Marine coming home to his dog? The Air Force guy coming home to his 7 year old daughter’s second grade class? These people are appearing to promote the latest war effort and sacrifices they impose upon loved ones, both human y los furry critters. Why is this okay and not Sgt. Paultard in Iowa? What’s the difference in terms of political speech or supporting a political agendas? Why are those images any less (or in my book, more) fraught with meaning than some random private standing up in Cedar Falls rambling for a crazy pants libertarian Austrian OB/GYN from East Texas?

My position, and perhaps it’s because I had a Pavlovian childhood of being exposed to and standing up and saluting to military uniforms, but I don’t care if you’re talking about flu shots or adopting abused kitty cats, don’t fucking do it in the military uniforms. Now I’m a freak on this point. I see a guy or gal in the airport wearing a uniform, I try to buy them enough booze and junk food to get to Baghdad. I still can’t really talk about my reaction when I happened to be in the Phoenix airport when a bunch of Army paralympics athletes in uniforms decided to pass through the Starbucks line at the same time as me. Let’s just say there were a lot of tears the whole way around, but you have to have a heart made of a nugget of black coal to not be moved by a bunch of guys who are using wheelchairs and prostheses while wearing their uniforms, when all they want to do is get a double shot mocha espresso.

In other words, SFL’s position is don’t wear the fucking uniform and we wouldn’t have noticed. What Nojo said, but he said it with way less the words it took me to get to the fucking point.

Oh, and back to the original post – I agree with RevZafod that Thorsen totally disobeyed a standing order. But what I find most horrifying is that he knows he can get away with it, because if the godless Moooslem Nee-THUNK-gro socialist administration actually disciplines him for it, he is the biggest fucking martyr on the planet for the Paultards and the Faux News krew.
Seriously, do you have any suggestions as to what the fuck should Barry,, do about it? If this dude is so much as stared at, Faux News will be nailing him to the cross. My money is on “pretend he doesn’t exist, he’ll go away, there won’t be drama,” though I think that willful oblivious attitude creates an oh-so-dangerous precedent, as pointed out by our friend FlyingChainSaw. I dunno what the hell should be done with him, because I sure as shit don’t want to turn him into some sort of Faux News martyr. It pisses me off, but from an intellectual point of view, our team is impotent on this point. (which illustrates how smart/evol team Paultard is)

@JNOV is like, Peace?: And he’s taking too much philosophy.

Bad sign. I succumbed at 24.

@SanFranLefty: JNOV’s story sounds like an over-zealous PR office. If anything, I’m surprised at that one — it’s human-interest bread & butter for reporters, especially Sandy Eggo reporters.

The code cited above mentions “partisan”, which is a good rule-of-thumb. Because that’s really the issue: Civilian authority over the military. I’m not sure I have an issue if the Corporal shows up in uniform at an anti-abortion rally, but I know I have an issue when he wears it to a presidential campaign event.

@nojo: Don’t curse JNOV Jr. to a future of traipsing around in Berks with socks.
/this schtick never gets old

@nojo: Yes, but the gray areas are what we lawyers and philosophy majors love to revel in. What is partisan? Is it like obscenity? You know it when you see it? When you feel its squishy frothy santorum-ness envelope you and make you feel gross and tingly all at the same time?
Not that there’s anything wrong with feeling gross and tingly at the same time.

@nojo: Yes, I thought so, too, the overzealous thing, but it was also the first war it looked like we were getting into since Vietnam. As we were being put on three-day stand-by (ex’s WestPac had already been scheduled), many, many, many folks whispered, “Is this really about oil or not? We’re risking our lives over that? We’re going to kill people over that?” These were questions that our minds, either young, dumb, ignorant, or all of the above, never considered, because we thought we were joining a peacetime standing force. Instead, it looked like we were about to liberate a country most of us had never heard of. Why? We were taught not to ask or think, and we were afraid to. And we were afraid.

Most of the interview focused on our kid, believe it or not. Before a carrier sets out, it has to go out for short periods of time so pilots and crew can qualify for this and that (not just take off and landing), so he’d be gone a week here, a few days there, and our kid, who was just beginning to speak, would walk around the apartment and call his name. Also, we looked like a mixed-race couple, so that added to the feel-good inclusion thing.

Meh. When I took that final oath when I enlisted, I knew the gov’t owned me — I became your property through the gov’t. At that time, I knew there were things that I would go to the brig for, but mouthing off on teevee in uniform about a war that hadn’t yet started wasn’t one of them, especially trying to take care of a kid.

@nojo: Yes. I blame you.

@SanFranLefty: Seems to me that wearing a uniform under such circumstances is intended to make a statement. Which it did. Why is it different from service members marching in Pride parades? Surely both actions are not permitted. Which is why it’s going to be difficult to discipline him but I can’t think some suitable punishment can’t be devised that allows everyone to save face. No posting Lady Gaga lip-dubs on youtube for a month, perhaps.

I thought you gave up your right to 1st amendment protection when you joined the forces as you are serving a higher cause and swear to abide by a different set of rules. Isn’t the point that soldiers aren’t supposed to have opinions but rather to do what they’re told? Then when you take off the uniform you become a person again. I, for one, detest it when some general turns up on The Daily Show wearing full uniform in the most ostentatious manner possible to sell a book. I don’t see why such displays should be permissible either.

@Benedick: Then when you take off the uniform you become a person again.

That’s the hope but not always the reality. The programming goes deep depending on the branch, what you’ve seen and done, and what they’ve done to you while you were in.

Did you happen to learn any marketable skills while you were enlisted? Yes? Lucky you. But is your training recognized by a civilian accreditation program? No? Oh, well. Good luck using that GI Bill to pay for that education you still can’t afford because you have a family to support.

I was lucky to have attended the only civilian-certified x-ray school in the armed forces when I was in, took the civilian exams, moonlighted while in, and I was able to get a job when I got out. Army and Air Force techs just as capable as I was were not so lucky.

You’d be amazed at how many people walk out of the military just to reenlist when they realize that being a civilian is too difficult after having someone think for you for so long. And sometimes it’s just easier to have someone think for you, to know you have food and housing for yourself and your family just as long as you go along to get along.

@JNOV is like, Peace?: His research comes up a lot in reportage about the Cheney White House dismissing any discussions about Bin Laden’s people plotting to attack US targets on their watch. Thanks for the video citation. I had no idea the guy was such a jerk.

@JNOV is like, Peace?: The whole act and complete willful ignorance of the culture of ministries like the FBI which has little interest if you are right. You move a place like that by letting the larger bureaucracy have the idea and then being in place to lead it. Beating it over the head with the truth all the time and telling Louis Freeh he’s been taken for an idiot is a sure way to meet a lot of brick walls. FBI is almost totally about curating a defined process of case development and delivery and makes for a relatively rigid culture. If he cared about the work, his forensic research, and just being able to go for it in the US and abroad, he should have tried to get into USSS where, due to relative poverty, agents are encouraged to innovate, think on their feet, make friends overseas quickly and to forge teams on the fly (things he was good at and would have been encouraged to do in that organization). In the end, he wasn’t about the work. He was about cultivating his ego. He pouted when he got burned and went into private industry to cash in. But what about the incredible peril hanging over the US of A? If he believed his thesis, and cared about it, he would have found a way to fortify it and moved the mandarins to act on it. Having unearthed a truth of that kind of consequence, you’re responsible for it. That’s why.

@JNOV is like, Peace?: Here’s how it works:

Journalism -> Peaches -> Pizza -> Radio -> Philosophy -> Journalism -> Design -> Geek.

Works for me, anyway. Jr’s mileage may vary.

@nojo: Look. If he can put me up in Marina del Mar Rey in my doddery, more power to him.

@FlyingChainSaw: But just because the FBI is broken doesn’t mean that O’Neill should have been ignored. He did his homework. He had facts. He followed leads and made connections no one else did, and he was ignored time and time again simply because people didn’t like him? He was where he was supposed to be and doing what he was supposed to do. Egos got in the way, and people died, including O’Neill and untold folks in Afghanistan and Iraq just because he didn’t kiss Freeh’s ass? Freeh is in Darth Cheneyville.

Nice to know that middle schoolers are keeping us safe. No, that’s an insult to middle schoolers.

TJ/ Oh, so does prednisone make you want to eat every fucking thing you see, including babies? Or is that the atheism?

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