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Hypocrisy at the DailyKos

The blogs are buzzing. At the recent YearlyKos convention in Chicago, a controversy arose during a panel discussion entitled “The Military and Progressives: Are They That Different?” A soldier in the US Army was shouted down after he expressed support for the surge in Iraq, and claimed that it was working. According to The American Prospect:


As the Military and Progressives panel came to an end, a young man in uniform stood up to argue that the surge was working, and cutting down on Iraqi casualties. The moderator largely freaked out. When other members of the panel tried to answer his question, he demanded they "stand down." He demanded the questioner give his name, the name of his commander, and the name of his unit. And then he closed the panel, no answer offered or allowed, and stalked off the stage,

Wes Clark took the mic and tried to explain what had just occurred: The argument appears to be that you're not allowed to participate in politics while wearing a uniform, or at least that you shouldn't, and that the questioner was engaging in a sort of moral blackmail, not to mention a violation of the rules, by doing so. Knowing fairly little about the army, I can't speak to any of that. But it was an uncomfortable few moments, and seemed fairly contrary to the spirit of the panel to roar down the member of the military who tried to speak with a contrary voice.

You can view a video of the incident here.

The DailyKos quickly tried to explain (i.e. rationalize) why they shouted down this soldier. The explanation they came up with was this:


The thing is, every soldier knows that you don’t take part in politics while you’re in your uniform. It’s not only highly inappropriate—it’s also illegal. And there’s a good reason for it, too: When you wear the uniform, you are representing the military, and it is essential that the military never, ever wade into politics. That’s what banana republics do—and it causes all kinds problems with regard to democratic processes and corruption. Just look at these fine examples of mixing the uniform with politics and governance: Moammar Qaddafi, Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noreiga. It’s just not a good idea—and that’s why we don’t do it. Ever. Period.

The DailyKos cites military regulations backing up their official position on this issue. In all honesty, they are correct. There are statutes and regulations in place that prevent soldiers from doing this very thing.

But…does the DailyKos actually believe in this statute? Do they actually believe that a soldier should never take place in a political event or protest while in uniform? Well, let’s see:


“So they’ll prosecute me if I wear my Army uniforms to an anti-war protest? Really?

But that’s not the point. As we’ve seen time and time again, we see military personnel, in uniform, all the freakin’ time as backdrops to Republican pro-war events — including with Mr. 28% — and there haven’t been any prosecutions of those folks.

Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh has already been discharged. He has every right enshrined under the Constitution, including those of free speech and peaceful assembly.

And anyone that thinks otherwise, quite frankly, is legitimately and objectively
un-American
.”
This was written by the FOUNDER of the DailyKos, Markos Moulitsas. He was ranting against the fact he, as a former soldier in the US Army, is not allowed to wear his uniform to an anti-war protest. He claims that anyone who says that he is not allowed to wear his uniform to a political event is “un-American.”

Let me say that again. Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the DailyKos, is on record saying anyone who says that a soldier is not allowed to wear his Army uniform to a political event is “un-American.”

Yet, the attendees at his YearlyKos event claim this military statute as a rationalization for shouting down a uniformed soldier. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

OK. Maybe, I’ve got this all wrong. After all, the opinion that this military statute is "un-American" is an opinion held by Markos Moulitsas. His supporters or the moderator of this panel discussion at YearlyKos may not necessarily hold this same opinion. Perhaps they believe that it is a legitimate statute, and it is their duty to enforce it. Well, let’s see.

The moderator of this panel discussion at YearlyKos is named Jon Soltz. He is the one who made very clear his objection to this soldier speaking in the discussion while in uniform. The DailyKos reported the events this way:

“Jon allowed to soldier to speak, but not before issuing him a very stern warning—the same warning he had received the previous night from General Clark about political debate, the uniform, and the law

Soltz, who is still a Captain in the Reserves, at that point had heard all he wanted to hear. As an officer, he took it upon himself to reprimand the sergeant for breaking the Uniform Code of Military Justice, left the stage, and went to confront the soldier. In fact, if he hadn’t reprimanded the soldier, he could have been seen as condoning the act—and none of us wanted to do that.”

So, Jon Soltz is a firm believer in this code. He stays true to the belief that no soldier in uniform should take part in a political event. Or, does he?

Take a look at his website, VoteVets.org. VoteVets.org is a political action group who has been very critical of the War in Iraq and President Bush. Jon Soltz, being a part of the VoteVets.org Board of Advisors, is pictured on the website with a detailed history of his military service and his public policy campaigns.

What do you think his photograph shows? That’s right. Soltz is pictured in…you knew this was coming...his uniform.

On a political website, of which Soltz is a leader, he pictures himself in his military uniform. It seems to me that this would be a clear violation of the same military code he claims to believe in so whole-heartedly.

Hypocrisy? Absolutely.

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