Monday, February 04, 2008

Will Lt. Col. Ray Mejia Be Disciplined?

Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel) conducted a press conference in the State House today with a high-ranking, Hispanic Army reserve officer to announce his support for Delph's legislation to crack down on employers in Indiana who hire undocumented workers. "The rule of law is what this country is based upon, and I believe in that," the Star quotes the 54-year-old Mejia as saying. According to the Star, he works with the 310th Expeditionary Support Command as chief of the Distribution Management Center division. Mejia said Delph did not seek him out for his endorsement."I actually came to him," [Mejia] said. "I said, 'I believe in what you are doing.'"

Lt. Col. Mejia is certainly entitled to speak out about his opinion on Delph's legislation; however, military code, as has been explained to me, requires that a member of the military only advocate for political causes while not in uniform. As you can see from this photo from the Star, Mejia is in full uniform when he spoke out in support of Delph's legislation. Last year, Michael Isenhower, an Indiana National Guard member, was quickly demoted from specialist to private first class after he spoke out against SJR-7, the gay marriage amendment, at a Senate hearing while dressed in uniform. Will that same military code which got Isenhower in trouble be used to punish Mejia?


Don Sherfick said...

Gary, I heartily agree with your sentiments. It is so disguisting to see the double standard in the current miltary concerning such public appearances/endorsements. My only regret is that you referred to SJR7 (or whatever numbering it goes by currently) as "the gay marriage amendment". Unfortunately it reflects the sad fact, to which the media has largely bought into, that in this 15 second sound bite world folks take the easy road in naming what is surely a much more complex matter. I often think that if SJR7 began with its fuzzy second sentence instead of its first one (containing a definition of marriage) we would be in a totally different enviornment in the public discourse. As it is, the folks pushing this thing, now trying to figure out ways to dress it up in property tax clothing (hopefully again doomed to failure if they try in the House), have captured the "naming rights". It ought to be called the "Unmarried Couples Disenfranchisement Amendment", but lots of luck. Sorry to stray from the original subject matter....but I guess I'm not alone in that. (:

Anonymous said...

I don't wish this person any problems, but you have a good point.

We have a democratically elected Executive, Legislative, and Legal branches of government in the US.

The military needs to be subservient to our three civilian branches of government as dictated in our constitution rather than anything approaching a military dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

Every attempt to legitimize bigotry needs a token. All the better if it wears a uniform.

Anonymous said...

As an LTC, I can't believe that Mejia was stupid enough to wear his uniform while participating in any political function. Delph is also an officer in the Army Reserve, so he should have known better and could have saved Mejia's ass.

Since Mejia is in the federal Army Reserve and not the state National Guard, it's going to be impossible for any state politicos to help him cover this up.

Anonymous said...

Well, even if Delph is in the NG, he is a zealot, having learned at the elbow of Dan Burton.

Whose brother foisted those ridiculous no-fee religious license plates on us.

The consistent mesaage here is: if it's far-right, it's OK. And on this subject, it's just hateful, to boot.

Delph will be like a cat on a hot tin roof trying to explain this one away. He's not the brightest blub in in the chandelier.

Anonymous said...

Nice post by Advance Ind. Couple points: Punishing businesses for the illegal immigration problem superficially seems like a good idea, I'll grant you. But let's say it costs a large employer its license, possibly due to technicalities. Who's really punished? It's the Hoosiers who lose their jobs and the town whose economy is thwarted. This should be the government's job; the onus shouldn't even be on private business. Also, the Repubs are still pushing a marriage amendment? This is necessary in light of all we're faced with in this state? Really? Since I'm a "pro-family" conservative, I'd encourage our gay friends to marry. Either way, let's maintain some perspective.

Jeff Cox said...

Punishing businesses for the illegal immigration problem superficially seems like a good idea, I'll grant you. But let's say it costs a large employer its license, possibly due to technicalities. Who's really punished? It's the Hoosiers who lose their jobs and the town whose economy is thwarted.

If they're employing illegals, then it's not really Hoosiers who lose their jobs.

IF a business is hiring illegals "do to the jobs Americans won't do" -- for those wages, anyway -- they probably shouldn't be in business. Raise the wages and law-abiding Americans will do the work.

Jeff Cox said...

Every attempt to legitimize bigotry needs a token. All the better if it wears a uniform.

So in your world, the people who coined the term "La Raza" are innocent and the supporters of this bill are the bigots, huh?

Anonymous said...

Mejia reaches his MRD or mandatory retirement date at the end of this month. He finished his last duty on Sunday which is why UCMJ action won't happen. I served with him in Iraq and he is the real deal. Earned many medals and accommodations. To compare him with a gay rights activist is beyond pathetic. Mejia earned his right to speak. Plus he became a citizen by serving in the military which makes his uniform relevant. Gary, I am a big fan of your blog, but your hypocrisy on this issue is overwhelming. You are an immigration attorney. Are you afraid of losing market share? How can you criticize others like Mayor Ballard for a conflict of interest?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Hey, anon, I don't have a vote on the matter in any official proceeding. Don't confuse the meaning of a conflict of interest. So Mejia is about to retire and that makes it okay to violate the military code of conduct?

Anonymous said...

10:18 p.m. is a bigoted sob. AI's point is that no one -- gay or straight -- should be able to engage in such politics in uniform. And if people do, they should be treated the same. It ain't that controversial a point, but you sure do show you homophobic spots.

Anonymous said...

You missed the part about the relevancy of his uniform. It was his path to citizenship. Testy about your own conflict of interest defending the rights of illegals?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the Army does for Hatch Act enforcement these days, but I remember when my dad was active duty, in the reserves, and working as a civilian for the DoD, he was so paranoid about getting into trouble with the Hatch Act, he wouldn't even let people put yard signs in his front yard.

I know that a yard sign wouldn't get him into trouble, but I wonder if things have loosened up since the times when people were so afraid they wouldn't even put yard signs in their front yard out of fear they'd suffer professionally?

Michael Z. Williamson said...

Frankly, while I agree with his position on immigration, I hope they dismiss him in disgrace and strike his pension.

Ready for some general about to retire, so no action will be taken, to endorse Hillary?

If one side can do it, the other can.

Incidentally, I'm a 23 year vet and an immigrant myself.

Anonymous said...

Procynic, it IS Hoosiers who lose their jobs if a large employer is shut down. Say you have 4 illegals and 2,000 native Hoosiers in a manufacturing plant. If the business closes, they all get screwed. I'm not saying the business shouldn't be penalized or outed in any way, but let's think about the consequences here.

Anonymous said...

Gary, I know you hate this bill. You have made it very apparent in the past. You are probably the only person who cared about the man in uniform. Are you so worried this man may sway opinions to support the bill that you would attack one of the military's brave men. Be glad you live in the US and not communist China. Although I wish you did live in China. Maybe their they would properly deal with your disrespect of a brave military man.

Anonymous said...

Wait. Do rules exist? Is there a rule of law? The people pushing this bill seem to think so, and I'll grant that they actually believe this. If so, then why does the law NOT apply to this uniformed officer who broke the code?

By the way, what does it matter how long a man serves or what his background or oreintation is? Aren't all soldiers men of honor and expected to follow the same code? Or is the gay guy an expendable peon?

Michael Z. Williamson said...

Ward chair: Read my post above.

I assure you, every vet I know is about to boil. If he was Guard, I expect the Guard PAO would have had the Private's testicles for breakfast for this.

It opens a huge can of worms, gives official military color to a political issue, and if they discipline him, it officially colors the other way.

This is a PR nightmare for the military, and an invitation for some Hillary supporter to do the same.

And please don't play the "Brave man in uniform" card. Kerry and McCain were both brave men in uniform. As politicians, they suck. Nor are you a veteran.

Anonymous said...

The point is ...does he have to comply with military regulations or not...if not, then who else is excused from adhering to the regs.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mike, you are mistaken. I was in the military 20years myself. I don't see a problem in what he did. I think it is extremely relevant that this man legaly entered this country and joined the military. It is the military that allowed him to ensure citizenship.

I to showed up at many political functions in uniform. The military new all about it and I was an NCO. If you have never served you should not criticize.

Anonymous said...

so 7TH DISTRICT WARD CHAIR... if you are a republican, you do not have to comply with military regs? is that your point...and since you flaunted it and got away with it then it must be all right...but what about the guy who was demoted just last year for doing the exact same thing.,..who decides who can ignore the reg and who has to abide by there some special board or what?

Anonymous said...

Ward Chair your selective application of the UCMJ and long-standing practices, makes me fume.

You're a hypocrite.

The man could've shown up in civvies or waited three weeks, if the above posts are correct. What's the rush?

Using the uniform for politics, right or left, is wrong. And it violates the UCMJ. Always has, always will. By one hour, three weeks or five years, if the man is on active duty, he should hang the uniform in the closet before he exercises his First Amendment rights.

There are multiple volumes of military court procedures on this very point. Not once was the uniform rule overturned. It is quite clear, and officers, in particular, are warned about it constantly. My dad was a 35-year NCO and he got written and verbal warnings constantly.

But then, for far-right zealots, who wrap themselves in the flag and the Constitution on most issues, a little inconsistency is no big deal, right?

I do not fault the Lite Colonel's views, although I disagree with them. I applaud his courage in stepping forward. I'd probably not even have a problem with him mentioning, in civvies, that he is a lite colonel about to retire, if he really thinks that gets him more streed cred.

But the uniform is like a neon sign, and it's wrong. Period. If you don't see that, Ward Chair, you need a political lobotomy.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

Ward, I'm a 23 year vet. Army. Air Force. Active. Guard. Middle East. And an immigrant.

I happen to oppose amnesty and illegals. That doesn't mean I think the rules and laws we live by, and the regulations I took an oath to abide by, are flexible on a whim. That's the position of people who call "illegal aliens" "undocumented workers."

The colonel is a sack of crap.

If you repeatedly showed up at political functions in uniform, so are you.

Please do not shame yourself with a reply. Your oath obviously meant nothing, and you are a not a man and have no honor.

We could do without people like you, as well as illegals.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. Memo to self: DO NOT piss off Mike.

Well stated, Mike.

Anonymous said...

What is it with these people? In short, the LTC bloody damned well violated articles of law under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for a statement while in a public forum about a political issue, while in uniform. If I went an permanently broke a bunch of Code Pinkers at one of their rallys while in uniform, I'd be in no less trouble. You may attend a public political forum in uniform so long as you are a part of the Color Guard and kept your mouth shut. The military's job is to protect the people of this country, defend the Constitution and to carry out the lawful orders of the Commander in Chief. That is pretty much it. They are to endeavour to remain publicly as apolitical as possible.
LTC Mejia should be drummed out for what he did. If you auger a young troop in the ground for saying what he said publicly, then you'd better be prepared to render the same courtesies to a Senior Field Grade Officer who should have known better from the start. I line up on Mikes side.

Anonymous said...

If the military was LTC Mejia's path to citizen ship, then how is the uniform not relevant. I have personally worked with Mejia for years and know that he is a man of honor, integrity, and service, both to his country and this state. It is disturbing to see the number of posters that have no clue about what the UCMJ policy states or what LTC Mejia stated at the press conference that may have violated this policy. If the military offers a route to citizenship that he obviously followed, then he can openly and freely speak about this military policy while in uniform.

Doug said...

The Indy Star is reporting that an investigation is underway.

There is beautiful irony here. Sen. Delph has repeatedly waxed eloquent about the sanctity of the rule of law and explained that it's the rule of law his bill is designed to protect, with not a hint of racial animus anywhere to be found. But now, we find, he is endorsing a violation of the rule of law to promote his immigration law. We had to break the rule of law to save it!