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Monday, June 2, 2014

Negotiating With Terrorists

 

Are we really going to do this?

Is this what it’s finally come down to, is it really?

Look at yourselves, you silly selfish bastards.

Look. At. Yourselves.

Go on, do it, find a mirror and look into your own dead zombie eyes and see the empty void looking back.

This revolting, disgusting display of hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy, is this what we’ve finally become?

Are we now so filled with foul bilious hatred, are we now so consumed with soul-destroying fear, do we now despise our own selves so much that we would actually protest the return of one of our own? Is that it?

Is that what we’ve become?

If so, then the sooner America collapses of its own maggot-ridden gangrenous rot, the better.

No. No, don’t you dare look away. Don’t roll your eyes and dismiss the question. Don’t change the subject. Don’t click on to another story you find more palatable. You started this. You look into your own rotten soul and you answer the question.

Is this who we are?

Because the utter unmitigated, unhinged, unbounded yellow-eyed hypocrisy that defines this sick twisted morally bankrupt philosophy has finally, today, reached its zenith.  There is nowhere left to go.

I didn’t think these people could dishonor the spirit of this country any more than they already had, but I was wrong.

Oh, I get it. I understand that frightened people become more and more irrational, especially when they are allowed, encouraged, to feed incestuously on each other’s fear. And I get that they are afraid. I can see it in their faces, I can hear it in their voices. I get that they’re afraid of change. I get that they’re afraid of the future. I get that they’re afraid of the past. And I get that they’re afraid of the present. I get that they’re afraid of losing power and privilege and prestige. I get that they’re afraid of their capricious and childishly vengeful god. I get that they’re afraid of different races and different cultures and different accents and different religions and different sexual orientations and different viewpoints and different politics. I get it, they’ve screamed their small fears over and over and only a dead man could possibly miss it.

I get that they are so consumed with rage and so filled with naked hate and so programmed with their diseased ideology that it poisons their minds like a computer chip submerged in acid.

I get that they are so utterly terrified of the world that they piss themselves in abject fear at the mere thought of going to the grocery store without a goddamned gun stuck in their pants like an extra oversized prick.

More than anything, I get that they are afraid of Barack Obama, everything about him, every single thing about the president terrifies them. Obama stalks their feverish nightmares and he is the very symbol of their shameful impotence – so much so that they’ve written him into their precious bible, in a starring role as the devil, the destroyer of worlds.

I get it.

And I get that it’s an uncontrollable mindless tic, a raging xenophobia, a political PTSD, and they know that it’s wrong but they can’t seem to do anything about it.

It’s just how their crippled minds work.

I know that I’m supposed to cut these people some slack. I know that an objective person would try to empathize. I know I should try and see the world through their eyes, to meet them halfway, to treat them as if their gibbering insanity is, if not okay, at least reasonable. Understandable. Sane. And I try, with varying and limited degrees of success, but I try because I understand they are afraid and they just can’t help themselves.

But this? This, right here, this is the limit of my patience.

With this, they can no longer claim that it’s a difference in political philosophy, or a clash of competing economic theories, or the debate between big government and small, or civil rights, or taxes or the national debt or jobs or gay marriage or abortion or any of the bullshit excuses they’ve used to justify their unhinged rage for the last five years. 

No, it’s hate pure and simple.

It’s hate for hate’s sake, hate driven by unreasoned selfish fear and nothing more. 

When these capering lunatics stand in front of the nation, the world, and without a single shred of decency, without the tiniest modicum of self-conscious shame, without any apparent awareness of their own boundless hypocrisy, and loudly protest the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the clutches of our sworn enemies, I have to say no more.

I’ve reached the limit of what little tolerance I have for this insane hatred.

They say it’s because Bergdahl is a deserter, that he could be a traitor.

And maybe he is. Maybe he’s both.

And maybe he isn’t.

We don’t know. No one knows, except for Bergdahl himself.

And Bergdahl has neither admitted his guilt nor proclaimed his innocence as yet. There’s been no Article 32 hearing, no trial, no court martial. The military and the intelligence agencies haven’t even begun his debriefing. All we know for certain is that an American soldier was taken captive by the enemy, held for years, and returned as part of a prisoner exchange.  That’s it. That’s what we know. We don’t know what events led to his capture, not all of them, not yet. We don’t know the details of his captivity. We don’t know the particulars of his release beyond the broad details that have been published in the press. 

Nevertheless, Bergdahl has been condemned by the popular media, by social networks, by pundits and politicians, not because they know more about the situation than you or I do, but solely because they hate the president. If Obama was behind Bergdahl’s release, then Bergdahl is a traitor, Q.E.D. because the president must never, ever, be allowed even the slightest acknowledgement of patriotism. 

This condemnation isn’t about Bergdahl, it’s about Obama.

Certainly, some of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers say he deserted. That he was disillusioned with the war, with America, that he left his guard post and walked away into the desert in some foolish and quixotic attempt to reach China.  They say that men, good men, real heroes, died searching for Bergdahl after he disappeared. 

And those soldiers, they’d probably know, wouldn’t they?

And, yeah, if I was one of them I’d be damned resentful too and I have no doubt whatsoever that I’d use this blog to protest those who would attempt to paint Bergdahl as a hero – if I knew for certain that he deserted, if I’d lost friends searching for him.

I don’t begrudge those soldiers one iota of their resentment, they earned it with their own blood.

And let’s say it’s true.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that Bergdahl is indeed a deserter, that his capture by the Taliban was a result of his own cowardly actions.

So?

So what?

Last time I checked, the punishment specified for violation of UCMJ Article 85 (or Article 86 depending on Bergdahl’s intentions) isn’t to throw him to our enemies!

Ultimately, Bergdahl will have to face his accusers, and if the allegations of desertion are proven true then he will answer for the crime of desertion as specified under the Uniform Code of Military Justice – which technically could include the death penalty since the desertion is alleged to have occurred during time of war and in the face of the enemy. Far more likely, of course, if Bergdahl is convicted of desertion he’ll probably get little more than a bad conduct discharge and forfeiture of any benefits. It’s unlikely that he’d see prison time – and, really, how would that even be a punishment compared to what he’s already been through?  Likely he won’t ever face a hearing and he’ll be administratively separated from the service at the Army’s earliest possible convenience.

But, and here’s the thing so pay attention, even if Bergdahl is tried and found guilty of desertion, even if he’s found guilty of treason as some would have it, he’ll go to prison – we won’t give him back to the Taliban.

There is no crime so great that leaving him in the hands of our enemies is the indicated punishment. 

He was, he is, one of ours. Period.

For better or for worse, he’s one of ours, and we don’t leave our people behind – not even the deserters.

We Americans sent him into the meat grinder and it is our sacred obligation to get him home, no matter what.

Even if he was dead. 

We’ve been digging through the jungles of Southeast Asia for the better part of four decades, trying to make good on that promise for the men we left there.  We’ve spared no expense to return home little more than tiny moldering pieces of bone.  Some of those dead men were heroes, some were hardened professionals, and some were just soldiers doing their duty, who came when called and who did their best to survive a horrible conflict they couldn’t understand and wanted no part of. Some were steadfast and some were cowards and some were fools. But they were, each and every one, ours. And we have done our best to bring them home.

And what? We should do any less for Sgt. Bergdahl?

The staggering hypocrisy of this becomes immediately apparent when you realize that the very same folks who would grant an unconditional pardon to the traitorous Edward Snowden, a man who provably and self-admittedly gave aid and comfort to our adversaries during time of war and who continues to do so to this very day, these same people would proclaim Snowden a hero and leave Bergdahl to die unlamented in a Taliban cave – solely because they despise Barack Obama and for no other reason.

For the last two years, these very same people have been screaming for Obama’s impeachment, because the President ordered the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who publicly renounced his citizenship, declared his allegiance to our sworn enemies, and who then actively took up arms against the United States and loudly encouraged others to do so as well.  These same people would sacrifice untold numbers of American soldiers to capture a self-declared terrorist and give him a trial because they simply cannot and will not acknowledge that the president did the right thing, but these very same people would condemn Bergdahl and leave him to rot in Afghanistan without so much as an Article 32 hearing, solely to further their blind hatred of Barack Obama.

For the last eighteen months these very same people have been screaming for Obama’s impeachment. Impeachment? Hell, some of these silly sons of bitches, including sitting members of Congress and members of the military, have marched on the White House demanding the actual overthrow of the United States government and the imprisonment or death of the President, because four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya. They are outraged, outraged beyond logic, beyond prudence, beyond reason, because they believe Obama didn’t do absolutely everything possible up to and including an armed military invasion to save those men.  But these same people, these very same people, would leave an American soldier to die at the hands of the Taliban and they refuse to cheer his safe return, solely because they hate Barack Obama beyond all rational bounds and they will not allow this administration any victory no matter how small – even when they themselves have been condemning Obama for leaving an American serviceman in the hands of our enemies

For them, Bergdahl be he a captive or a free man, is nothing more just another way to attack the president and they can spin their hypocrisy in any fashion necessary.

They are angered by Bowe Bergdahl’s release, because they say we don’t negotiate with terrorists.

But what they conveniently fail to mention are those pictures of Cheney and Rumsfeld with Saddam Hussein, back when we were giving the murderous Iraqi despot money and guns in his war against Iran and which he later used to invade Kuwait.  Or that part where we armed Osama bin Laden with Stinger missiles and all the guns he and the Mujahidin could carry into Afghanistan. Or that part where these people’s beloved patron saint, one Ronald Reagan, sold arms to our mortal enemies in Iran, a nation the US Congress and that very same President had publicly labeled a terrorist state, the very same terrorist rat bastards who took our entire embassy staff hostage and held them for over a year.  Or that part where that very same administration took the profits from that arms deal with terrorists and used it to finance still more terrorists in the jungles of Central America. And the really, really amusing part is that the same people who are right now shouting “we don’t negotiate with terrorists!” are some of the very same people, name for name, who were personally negotiating with terrorists in Iran, in Iraq, in Libya, in Afghanistan, in Colombia, in Nicaragua, in Somalia, and in Beirut.  

We don’t negotiate with terrorists?

Jesus Haploid Christ, we do business with terrorists on a daily basis and have all the way back to WWII when we contracted with the Mafia to run arms into occupied Sicily.

We don’t negotiate with terrorists, what a fucking joke.

Answer me a question, if we can sell arms to terrorists, to our own enemies, then you tell me why we can’t negotiate with those same terrorists for the return of our own people.

If our people aren’t worth it, if they aren’t worth more than the value we place on arm sales and political maneuvering, then you go right on and tell me what all the shouting is about over Benghazi. Go on, I’ll wait. 

If our people aren’t worth four or five terrorists sitting in a Gitmo prison cell, then you tell me why we’ve spent the last twelve years in two wars, why we traded the lives of six thousand servicemen and why we killed hundreds of thousands Iraqis and Afghans to avenge three thousand Americans. Go on, tell me why it was okay for the previous administration take a hundred enemy lives for every one of ours, but it’s not acceptable for the current administration to trade five terrorists for the life of one American soldier – especially when we gave six American lives as a down payment looking for him after his disappearance.  Why were the Americans who died on 911 any more valuable than Bowe Bergdahl?

And if Bergdahl is guilty of desertion, then don’t we owe it to those six dead soldiers to bring him home and make him account for his cowardice?

These people are so eaten up with hatred, their souls are so corrupted by their poisonous worldview, that instead of satisfaction at the return of their fellow countryman they feel only loathing – because they simply cannot stand to see Obama with a joyous Jani and Bob Bergdahl, announcing the safe repatriation of their son.

The staggering hypocrisy of John McCain continues unabated, the man is a disgrace to the uniform he once wore and the honor he swore to uphold. McCain, more than any other living American, should know what it’s like when governments value politics over their own citizens. Navy Lieutenant John McCain, if he still exists inside that wretched bitter old man, that John McCain more than any other should remember what it’s like to come home as a POW under a cloud of doubt and suspicion. But Vietnam was a long, long time ago and John McCain is a rich man now and more than willing to condemn others for his own sins.

Ted Cruz, a man who wants to be President of the United States, who wants to be the Commander in Chief, is the very epitome of these intractable sons of bitches. No other American embodies every horrible facet of the moral bankruptcy that is this corrupt selfish philosophy – unless it’s his father, the turd-blossom didn’t fall far from the horse’s ass in the Cruz family.

Cruz said, "What does this tell the terrorists? That if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists?"

Cruz went on to say the prisoner swap was “very disturbing.”

Disturbing?

What does it tell the terrorists?

This, this right here, is where we as a nation, need to say no more.

We need to stand up and say we’ve had enough. That not only are we sick and tired of being afraid of terrorists, but we’re even more tired of listening to the fearful cries of the other terrorists, the ones who practice being terrified as a political philosophy.

This madness, this crippling unreasoning fear, must be dragged into the heat of the sun and cauterized, before it kills us all.

What does it tell the terrorists? 

Fourteen years we’ve been killing these cockroaches, we’ve killed thousands of them, we’ve killed their families, we’ve destroyed their country, we rooted them out of their strongholds, we hunted down their leader and shot him in the head and dumped his body into the sea. 

And for what? So we can still be afraid?

All of this, all of these lost lives, all of the terrible terrible cost, all is for naught because we were willing to trade prisoners, because we’re the kind of people who would care enough about our own to want him back? Is that it?

What the hell have we been fighting for?

What were all those lives traded for?

If we can’t bring one American home alive.

Why do we have the mightiest military in the world? In the history of the world, if we have to live in fear of what the goddamned terrorists think?

If we have to live in terror all of the time.

If we can’t even go to the goddamned grocery store without a gun?

Here’s the really disturbing question:

What does Ted Cruz’s statement tell the US Military?

What does it tell the terrorists? Who cares. The real question is what does it tell America?

That under a Tea Party administration if you’re captured by terrorists, well fuck you, Soldier. We don’t negotiate with terrorists. Our vaunted principles, our inflexible ideology, our unbending politics and our sound-bite simple-minded doctrine is worth more than your life. We don’t negotiate with terrorists (even though we really do, don’t we? Pretty much all of the time). Besides, you’re probably a traitor anyway.

Think about that.

Think about it real hard.

Think about it real hard, especially if you’re the parent of a soldier-age son or daughter.

And then be glad, goddamned glad, that you have a president who was willing to do what it takes to get Bowe Bergdahl home.

Dead or alive, we get our people home, whatever the cost, that’s the one promise that must never be broken.

The day we forget that, the day the fear of “what will the terrorists think” becomes more important to us than that sacred obligation, that’s the day America dies.

Whether or not Bowe Bergdahl is a hero or a deserter or just a hapless fool who screwed up under the enormous pressures of war, he’s still an American.

He’s one of ours and and there’s only one thing to say:

Welcome home, Soldier.

Welcome home.


Update: Commenting on this article is now closed.  Because there are now over 300 comments on this post, to see them all you must scroll to the bottom of the queue and click on “load more.” You may have to do this several times to see all of the comments.

The follow-up article is here: Negotiating With Terrorists, The Counterpoint. Please read it before you send me any more hatemail. Any additional comments may be left there. // Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

366 comments:

  1. No comments yet? Enjoyed this post, for articulating my disgust much better than I could, but also always enjoy reading the comments. Thanks.

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    1. The post has only been up for a few minutes, I'm still proofreading and editing and most readers haven't noticed it yet.

      Once it's flagged to Facebook and Twitter, the comment count will go up - which I'm about to do right now, in point of fact.

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    2. mr wright, thank you. you articulated my shock and horror at the attitudes of john mccain, ted cruz, and other asshats... thank you.
      and i agree...
      WELCOME HOME SOLDIER... WELCOME HOME.

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    3. You said it brother, earlier today I got blocked by Sarah Palin for calling her on her idiocy, that made me happy. She was acting up with such stupid statements that had no backing in truth, and hating on Bowe, and the president I couldn't take it.

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    4. I am so glad we have wordsmiths like you to say what I think. Thank you!

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    5. I truly cried as those very simple words "Welcome home soldier" - cause that truly says all that needed to be said.

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    6. Jim, you've written so eloquently what's been in my heart.
      Thank you.

      Freckles

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    7. If I may be brief in my comment, WOW!, perhaps I should expand on that just a bit, F**k'n WOW. you have expressed the thoughts and sentiments of all of us, (well, most of us ) but have done it so much more articulately than we could ever hope to do. Thank you for that. I will post this to my wall, and share it to my friends.

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    8. This, this is amazing. Thank you.

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    9. Whether he is a deserter or not, he is still an American Soldier, and he deserved nothing less than for America to make sure he came home. If he has committed crimes against his country, then it is up to his country to see that he is fairly tried, and fairly punished for them. It is not up to us to say "let our enemy keep him, do what you want with him. " We are Americans, and we are supposed to stand for the principle of innocent until proven guilty. This soldier has not been found guilty of any crime, other than in the twisted minds of people who only pretend to stand for American principles. We as Americans should ashamed of them, and of ourselves for allowing them to have so much influence over us.

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    10. I hope you don't mind that I posted this in a Slate.com comment section. Thank you for putting into words my thoughts.

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    11. I learned something very important yesterday; its not that American no longer believe that everyone should "get their day in court", its that America no longer understands the concept of someone "getting their day in court". I liked you post.

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    12. The author hits it spot on!

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    13. Amen, . You captured the Whole Presidency. Thank you for your articulation. Very profound, Very true,,,, Thank you.

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    14. Thank you. You've articulated everything I was feeling as well. I'm so angry at friends and the media who are jumping on the bandwagon to trash this guy without giving him his day in court. We had a soldier walk off post and kill 16 Afghanis in cold blood - including 9 children, then proceed to try to burn their bodies. He got less shit than this guy is getting. They're calling for Berghdahl's death - yet they were anxious to get Sgt Bales home so that the Afghanis didn't kill him. I'm a bit confused by our warped values.

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    15. Thank you, as a fellow veteran. Joan E. Harman

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    16. Honestly, if we as a country now live in such fear that we are afraid of every single action our government takes, then the terrorists really have won. Those conspiracy nuts like to say that Obama is a terrorist plant, which is ridiculous on every level imaginable. What's much closer to the truth is that the "terrorists" created Ted Cruz and those of his ilk. No, I'm not saying he's some terrorist plant, simply that the terrorists created the fear in America that allowed such an erosion or our collective souls that someone like Ted Cruz is somehow now looked on some type of American savior. What have we become when the Ted Cruz's of the world are thought to be our best and brightest hope?

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    17. Spectacular. Keep writing.

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  2. I'm a regular reader, and mostly agree with your points, with one minor issue. My impression -- although I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise -- is that the overlap between those who lionize Snowden and those who are ready to cast Bergdahl to the wolves is pretty much zero.

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    1. A regular reader as well, and I was thinking the same thing.

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    2. Yep..my only fault with the article.

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    3. Yep, agree with you on pretty much everything except this one point. I don't lionize Snowden but I do think he did the right thing. I don't know of anyone who would agree me that would agree with Ted Fuckin' Cruz.

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    4. I agree Rob. The Snowden issue is more complicated and pretty irrelavent to this issue. This is about shameless political posturing giving lip serviceto a crazed faction of the political right. I welcome our poor guys home. It's hard to be a soldier when you find out a President needlessly sent many to war for the profit of oil companies. Yes there were terrorist that had attacked us, but they were not in Iraq. We did a lot of stupid crap for the greed of a few. That is what we should really be outraged about. I am glad one of our soliers got bck to their family.

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    5. Snowden vs. Bergdahl? Apples vs. Moon Rocks? I say we free all political prisoners. As too the fear = hate part, I could not agree more! The sniveling cowards are those mindlessly screaming in outrage.

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    6. I agree with your assessment of the Snowden/Bergdahl anology. Yes, there is a great deal of overlap!

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    7. Count me in, I agree with everything in this otherwise excellent piece except what I see as a basic misapprehension of Snowden's actions as a whistleblower, irrelevant to the prisoner release.

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  3. Thank you, once again, for articulating what I can only sputter through my rage at these jack-asses.

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    1. Thank you so much. I've shared it. I agree with all you have said here Jean...

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  4. Welcome home, Soldier. Welcome home...

    ... and I'm the sister of an Army pilot and the mother of a USMarine. All I can do is echo with "PLEASE don't ever violate that sacred obligation to leave no man behind. PLEASE." I've got two of them out there.

    I remember when my Vietnam POW came home - the one on my bracelet... I want that same jubilation from my countrymen, for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

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  5. One very salient point no one seems to be making:

    John McCain was himself returned to the USA, was rescued out of the festering Hell he'd been tortured in for years and years, as part of a prisoner exchange. That he owes his freedom to North Vietnamese Communists being let go and set free.

    This should be hurled in his face, publicly and loudly, until The Return of Old Yellow Stain finally does what he should have done years ago and retires.

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    1. I had forgotten the irony of his own exchange . I will remember this and use it
      Great article.

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    2. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredJune 3, 2014 at 8:57 AM

      Another little known fact is that then captured pilot John McCain did sign a statement critical of the US involvement in Viet Nam. Of course this was done under duress and torture and many POWs did the same. The Military Code of Conduct requires a POW to resist to their utmost ability, but the valiant, steel-minded POW who resists unto death is the stuff of Hollywood, not real life in the face of real torture. There's a reason that statements made under duress are inadmissible (and why our own hypocrisy on this in GITMO and renditions is so bad) is that they're not reliable. People, real people, not Hollywood actors in a script, will break under torture and say whatever they feel their tormentors want to hear and what they are made to do should not held against them. They are obligated to resist to their utmost - and it's assumed that they do, until proven otherwise. This all makes, in my mind, Sen John McCain's comments even worse.

      In the end, it really doesn't matter. No matter what the President says, or does, it's the worst thing possible and I just can't tell anymore whether it's driven more by the hate or the fear (as Jim has amply pointed out). I just doesn't matter. The outcome is the same.

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  6. Thanks, Jim. I've spent part of the last few days wondering if the President could anything other than die or resign that would meet with the approval of the Tea Party folks. Pretty sure that if he stepped into the street to keep a kitten from being hit by a car he'd be blasted for thinking about trivial stuff when he should be governing the nation or for putting a Secret Service agent at risk by being the least bit unpredictable.

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  7. And yet once again: hammer meet nail.

    Thank you.

    I have been stewing about this since I first started seeing the rumbling/grumbling.
    At first I thought maybe I had heard wrong or that I didn't know all of the story.
    But then I read a bit more and realized it was simply everything that you said.
    Just because it was President Obama and his administration that got this man released, then of course, OF F'ing COURSE, it was wrong.
    Give me a goddamned, bloody break. (Sorry, couldn't help myself. My husband is a Navy man himself and has a nicer mouth than me.)
    Thank you again for setting the narrative straight.

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  8. Awesome post. I agree completely.

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  9. Thank you for stripping the situation down to the essential elements.
    This is the best thing I have read since the news broke of Bowe Bergdahl's release.
    Thank you for your service.

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  10. The reality is that the Taliban are the people who would rule Afghanistan if there were ever a free and fair election there, and are the likely next rulers of Afghanistan after we tire of propping up the puppet government in Kabul with U.S. arms and money. President Thieu err Karzai's government isn't likely to last long after the last U.S. soldier boards a C-130 for home and the last diplomat is airlifted by chopper out of the Kabul embassy. So we might talk about "negotiating with terrorists", but these "terrorists" are the past and future rulers of Afghanistan, so if we're going to negotiate with anybody, they're the people we must negotiate with.

    Or we could bomb the place flat. Like the Soviets tried to do. But dropping $100K smart bombs on mud huts made with local mud and a few gallons of water and rebuilt within days of being destroyed is a loser's game. And in the end we'd run out of mud huts to bomb and manage to have accomplished nothing but looking like jerks.

    So yeah, we're going to negotiate with "terrorists". Whether we want to or not. Because like the North Vietnamese back in '73, they're the people who are gonna be in charge after we leave, so unless we want to stay there forever paying blood and money to prop up a government that nobody in America really cares about...

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  11. You know I'm just old enough to remember an America where we weren't supposed to be afraid all the damn time. An America where courage meant having the ability to do what was right.

    When we could have just said "Fuck what the terrorists think. He's one of ours" and that would be the end of it.

    I miss that.

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    1. In hindsight, that was all an illusion. But I disagree with your premise. We were afraid before WWII. We were afraid during the Cold War. We were afraid of Mutually Assured Destruction. All the time. We were afraid during Vietnam. We were afraid in Lebanon. We were afraid during the Iran hostage crisis. We were afraid during the Balkan wars. We were afraid during the Gulf War. The media always drums up the fear for their corporate masters. More an more we get evidence to see that it is people like the Koch brothers who want us in a state of perpetual fear so we can be divided against ourselves and easily controlled and manipulated. This way we ignore all the ways they are exploiting us for their own self-enrichment.

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  12. "Let’s say for the sake of argument that Bergdahl is indeed a deserter.... Last time I checked, the punishment specified for violation of UCMJ Article 85 (or Article 86 depending on Bergdahl’s intentions) isn’t to throw him to our enemies!"

    Hear hear! Best point I've heard come out of ANYONE talking about this situation.

    The whole Bergdahl story—every bit of it—sounds strange to me. I have a hunch there's something going on behind the scenes on our behalf...something we're probably better off not knowing about.

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  13. Love, love, love this. I'm sure you're catching a handful of proofreading errors, but I caught publically (publicly, and I make this mistake all the time,) and there's a spot where you have "we're" and just need "we." In content, I tip my hat to you, sir. Well spoken.

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    1. Got 'em both before I saw your comment. But I appreciate your assist anyway, thanks.

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  14. As always, you are uniquely qualified to use your experience and expertise to bring sense to an otherwise complicated issue. Thank you so much, for being a voice of reason.

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  15. I thank you for expressing my thoughts and feelings so much better than I ever could! I get more discouraged every day. Then you wright something and it makes me realize there are still sane, intelligent people in the world.

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  16. My reaction, when I first heard the RWNJs starting to yelp, was that if Sgt. Bergdahl had been brought home by a GOP president, said president would by now have been declared the Greatest Negotiator in World History.

    Thank you for your righteous anger.

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  17. Damned straight, Shipmate.

    I so sincerely hope we never have a Commander in Chief who would leave one of our own behind. And am glad you did such a great job laying this out. Regardless of what this young soldier may have done (and as you so eloquently pointed out, we do not yet know), leaving him in the hands of the enemy should have never been seen as a viable option.

    Bravo Zulu on a well written work, Jim.

    Old Navy Communications Officer

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  18. I do so love your work. Thank you. I frequently send in edits, but this time I am keeping quiet. Sure, there are a few editing glitches, but they are due to the fact that you are so angry, your fingers were outpacing your editing brain, and I think they add to the immediacy of the anger. You've been out there. I can understand why you would be this angry for these assholes criticizing the bringing of one of our own home. I've never served, so I've never been out there. But I agree with you. If we allow the internal terrorists who use terror as a political tool to continue along this path unchallenged, the jig is up. The great experiment finally fails. -- Martha

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  19. No I wasn't feeling angry at all until now...really. I was angry, now I'm seething. Part of me thinks...what's the point? I don't have the money to complete against these corporations putting these dillholes in office. I have no SAY. They DON'T care what I have to say. They are so twisted with hipocracy...well, how does one fight that? I really do fear for the future of my children. My son is only 12 and he is more aware of what is going on in the world that many adults and he has his own fears. How do you reassure your child?

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    1. You VOTE.....!!!!

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    2. Well, that hasn't turned out all that well so far.

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  20. Fire in the belly and ink in the pen! Excellent points. We really need to stop this insanity.

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  21. A very loud standing ovation for this essay Jim, one of your finest to date.

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  22. A very loud standing ovation for this essay Jim, one of your finest to date.

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  23. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "I could see myself" freeing all Guantanamo detainees for one American hostage." - Herman Cain, 2011

    "I am very happy this man is free. But . . . do we negotiate with terrorists or don't we? Sure looks like we do." - Herman Cain, yesterday

    In Iowa, we have a term for those who offer advice without ever having carry the weight of being in a position to make those very hard decisions. "Back-seat drivers" is what we call them. And honestly, they can be really annoying.

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    1. you're being kind with "back seat drivers"

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  24. And the same people who are crying outrage about the VA because they suppotr our troops. With friends like these. . . Welcome home soldier indeed. I saw a meme on some social media recently. "I was born an American, but I have become a stranger in my own country."

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  25. GREAT article, per usual. Caught a boo-boo, or so it reads to me. Ignore it if I'm reading it incorrectly.
    "Why do we have the mightiest military in the world? In the history of the world, if we have to live in fear of what the goddamned terrorists think?"
    It seems to me, that the first sentence should be joined somehow to the second sentence.
    Anyway - I admire your way with words. Well said, sir.
    - Johnny David Gordon

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  26. As a non-American, it is heartening to know that not all Americans are ignorant republicans who only care about power, money or their own self-interests. I always admired America for being the only nation willing to sacrifice her own sons to fight for another's freedom. Thanks for another well written article. =)

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    1. Thank you for saying this Zeenie. I live and work overseas and while I do know that many folk can see past the stupid ones, it still hurts that our country is often represented by people that are... well, stupid and mean and intolerant, and they can be so loud about it! It's nice of you to remind us that you're watching and can see the good past the bad. <3 !

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  27. Thank you, Well done. I hoped someone could articulate what I was feeling and once again you have shone through the lunacy. These screaming fanatics are so far off base, they don't really care about anything except their fear and hate of the President. I'm forever telling people to take a stand for something and you do it with great skill.Thank you, Again.

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  28. Sorry but couldn't help having flashbacks of my uncle telling me what he went through after coming back from Vietnam as a POW. I use the word uncle, because he was my father's brother but he was my "dad". So, this one struck a nerve. He came back to a less than welcome environment and having been shot in the arm. his future as a pilot was over. Having read the last two articles written (bad idea for someone who values our Vets) I can't help but feel beyond angry. They gave their lives, all of themselves for us. This is what they get?????? Really???? I got to agree with Jim. Bergdahl is one of ours, an American soldier. We negotiate with terrorists on daily basis. So? Why not get our soldier back?? We are talking about a life. So, it's wrong because they didn't make money of it?? (Although, I'm sure somebody did) After all, that is what it always comes down to.
    Then the VA issue. Saw that one coming, another scapegoat just to say "see? We did something" oh, please. They did nothing. My uncle didn't want to go to the VA's hospital. After so many years of trying he finally got in. Unfortunately, by that time it was too late. I must admit, he did receive proper care and was treated with the respect he deserved. However, this VA hospital "crisis" has been around longer than I've been alive. Honestly, I don't care who's butt they kiss while he is serving office. These are things that go beyond politics. People, wake up!!
    Thanks for the article,
    Angelina

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  29. Thank you, from a fellow Viet Nam Vet.

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  30. I was so disgusted and angered by John McCain that I couldn't even make words to describe it. Thank you for voicing this so well and so forcefully. We have to get rid of these cowering, gibbering apes or it will be the end of America.

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  31. And of course, if President Obama had decided to notify Congress and wait the 30 days while they approved or disapproved of the trade, those same usual suspects would have been screaming at him for not completing the deal immediately. No matter what he says or does, they immediately want the opposite.

    I just wish the President would give a policy speech in favor of breathing. It would sure cut down on the opposition, wouldn't it?

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  32. I am so glad to follow someone who can articulate what I cannot. We bring our men and women home, full stop.

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  33. Haven't read the rest of the comments, but just had to post a reply to your article.

    OMG~thank you!

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  34. To all the good Christians blasting the President for bending the law on Gitmo releases:

    "One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. 2 There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen.[a] 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” 4 When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. 5 Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son[b] or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” 6 Again they could not answer."

    I'm not suggesting Obama is Jesus. I am suggesting that McCain, Graham, Cruz, et al are Pharisees.

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    1. I just posted the link to this on John McCain's FB page. I don't believe he'll read it; I just want to see how long it takes before my comment is scrubbed.

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  35. *slow golf clap* Thank you.

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  36. If a child of one of the SOBs who are expressing their hypocritical outrage over the exchange made for the release of Bergdahl was in Berdahl's shoes..the SOBs would be doing all kinds of deals to obtain release..they would be setting up the detainee's in mansions anywhere they chose, give them government contracts, a kings ransom and a key to the White House..or would they??..unless their is a profit to be made somewhere in the deal. Hell, I'm not sure they are even humans who possess a soul capable of having the most basic sense of parental love for their own offspring at this point much any sense for the general welfare of the whole country or of individual freedoms.

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  37. Indulge my wide eyed naivete for a moment...Imagine that President Bush had chosen to use drones to take out the perpetrators of 9/11 rather than going to war in Afghanistan. Imagine that he hadn't created reasons to go to war in Iraq. The blood and treasure that we would have saved-ye gods. Not to mention the physical, mental and psychological damage to men and women at the prime of their lives. If Sgt. Bergdahl wondered whether the terrors of war were justified, he certainly was not alone. If my son had been killed in an effort to look for him, I would be justified in my outrage. But let's focus our outrage where it needs to go-to the war mongers (largely deserters and chicken-hawks themselves) who created these wars nearly from whole cloth.

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  38. When the right mocked the Purple Heart when Kerry was running, one had to be apalled!.By inferring he had not earned his commandations they dissed every prior and future Purple Hreart recipient. The far right, led by their ugly mouthpieces, can be the sickest of sick puppies! .

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  39. I could write a waterfall's worth of words to explain my gratitude, but will leave it at a Thank you, Sir!

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  40. Thank you so much for this. You have articulated so perfectly what this is really all about. It feels like an angry crazy circus. That horrible fraud McCain, and Palin, and Romney. Jesus Haploid Christ what mess would we be in if these bozos had been elected? And the moral and intellectual midgets who aspire to the highest office? Cruz, Ryan, Ron Paul? It makes me ashamed. All the saber rattling from folks who never served and whose kids never will, the back seat driving from folks who vote themselves egregious pay and benefits while stalling and blocking a simple increase in minimum wage? I have nothing but contempt for these people. The gun morons? This will not end well. Thank you, Jim. Powerful & great piece.

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  41. Ironically, John McCain was released as part of a prisoner exchange.

    http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119272

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Homecoming

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  42. Thank you. Thank you for expressing what I would so very much like to say to each member of all of the political parties. We've become so polarly divided that we can no longer function as basic decent human beings. How is it OK to let someone suffer or die to further your political aspirations? When the political victory is more important than anything or anyone else, you've lost what makes you human.

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  43. Thank you, Jim. From the moment I first saw the idiocy of "negotiating with terrorists" on CNN, I was outraged. You have put into words what I wanted to say.

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  44. Your posts regarding veterans and the military always help this civilian get a glimpse of the sacred honor it is to be a part of our country's military. People don't sign up for military service to defend only one *type* of American, but all Americans. You remind us of that sacred obligation our nation has a duty to maintain: to bring all service men and women home. It baffles me that the hate that some have for President Obama is so deep and intransigent that they turn away from even one who took up that sacred honor to serve in the military, that they turn against the values they so publicly parade on the campaign trail. The extent of their hate defies logic - well, any and all hate defies logic, because hate isn't logical.

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  45. Brilliant, as always, Jim.

    When I first starting reading all the screeching about how he's a deserter, voiced most passionately by people who weren't even there, and how six others died finding him all I could think was: well, those six and all the others who spent time looking for him, all the while KNOWING they were at risk, they knew him didn't they? They, better than anyone, likely knew whether he actually deserted or just had a meltdown and cracked. They knew. Yet, they still put their lives at risk looking for him. Six died. So, if finding one of their own mattered to those fellow soldiers that much, why shouldn't it matter to the country at large? The screaming monkey's call those six "real" hero's yet then go on to question the value those hero's themselves placed on Bergdahl's life. It doesn't make sense to me.

    Beth (used to be in Toronto) in London.

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  46. Once again, I offer a personal anecdote in response to this outstanding essay. I went to grad school with a woman whose father was a lifelong Navy man. He served in Viet Nam (submariner). Toward the end of the war he was on his last deployment there, and his wife (who had two young children, one of which was my grad school roommate) was in church of a Sunday morning. The pastor in his homily opined that because the war was morally indefensible, anyone serving in it (doing their duty, honoring the oath they had taken to serve, in other words) was likewise immoral. My rommie's mother got up, led her two children out into the aisle, turned to face the coward in the pulpit, and said simply "My husband is serving there." and walked out. As my roommate told it, her mother did not set foot in that church ever again.

    Sergeant Bergdahl deserves his day in court, he also deserves to be regarded as INNOCENT until proven otherwise.

    Thank you for your continued service, Mr. Wright.

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  47. Great piece.... thanks. You said everything I would like to say.

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  48. Thank you, Jim.

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  49. Nail firmly and forcefully on the head.

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  50. Should be required reading, or better, everyone required to listen to every word being read, then made to sit very quietly and think, really think about who we are, who we want to be and what we can do to stop this insanity.

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  51. Posturing. Strutting. Cock-sure. And the lemmings follow their leader du jour. Weary of the insanity. Weary of the fear. Weary of the hate. Most of all, weary of the hate of this President.

    What way is America's moral compass pointing?? Do we even know any more?

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  52. Thank you, Jim. Enough said!

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  53. "Cruz said, "What does this tell the terrorists? That if you capture a U.S. soldier, you can trade that soldier for five terrorists?""

    As if terrorists didn't make it a goal to capture US soldiers before Bergdahl got swapped… Geez, Bergdahl WAS captured, and he was not the first... If anything, maybe now they wouldn't kill or behead any of them if they know they can swap them…

    Same as Benghazi: YES, it's about Obama, but also about uber partisanship, political grandstanding, tv ratings, 2014 mid-terms, 2016 election and impeachment.

    Conservatives: no soul, no shame, no decency. All politics.

    Freeportguy

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    1. The thing is, the Taliban are prisoners of war, as the Taliban was the legally constituted government of Afghanistan when we went to war with them. We've got to send them back ANYWAY, at least if the US is to comply with the treaties we've signed.

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    2. We've all seen that signed treaties mean to conservatives the same thing "personal responsibility" does: they exist solely for OTHERS to abide by them…

      Freeportguy

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  54. Thanks you, Jim!

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  55. Well done, Jim. Now if only it causes one of our fearless leaders to take the time to step back and think about this rather than simply take on their typical demagogue approach.

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  56. Wow! You've said it all. Thank you!

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  57. The teabaggers and other repubs hatred for President Obama is greater than their love for our country.

    But this is what we can expect any time a Democrat is in the Oval Office from now on, until something changes. They tore Clinton apart and wasted time and millions of dollars to impeach him. Instead of doing the job they were elected to do! The R's are only in this to make a D look bad and they will stop at nothing to accomplish that. They don't care about this country at all, they only want the R's to outnumber the D's.

    Excellet article, I agree with everything you said.

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  58. Thank you for saying eloquently what needs to be said. On the return of our own, and on the VA hospital management issues, your clarity of expression is like a wind clearing fog.

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  59. Powerful, and so so sad. Too many fearful, clueless, idiots who do not know how to think for themselves. Most ARE stupid when it comes to analysing, figuring, researching, comparing - and so they blather.

    One thing besides the comments I agree with that there is likely about zero overlap between Snowden supporters and those who you describe here - your comment "Fourteen years we’ve been killing these cockroaches" could be modified, maybe 'killing them like cockroaches' if you must, but as it reads now, it sounds like you consider all who live in that country/those countries 'cockroaches', and I don't think that's what you intended, since there has been so much collateral killing.

    I'm posting a quote from your article on my timeline, with a link to the whole thing, of course. Might lose some of my conservative 'friends', but so be it.

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  60. Wow. Because this morning I just happened to see Mon Oncle D'Amerique. And there is this scene where they are giving a mild electric shock to rats. If the rat is alone, it gets inhibited and mentally and physically sick. If there are two rats, they tear into each other with every shock, but otherwise stay emotionally and physically healthy. Then the film does a brilliant job of equating this rat behavior with the same behavior in humans. And it makes me think that the people attacking in blind rage are a lot like the rats - they are attacking because somewhere pressure is being exerted - say by a capitalistic economy that no longer includes a free market. So the ones who think it's okay to attack do, and the ones who don't get stressed out and sick - and here is where I officially creeped myself out beyond all description. Because what the hell happened to just handling shit? I have decided to use the most powerful weapon I know against these bastards. Love. Love instead of hate. Acceptance instead of judgment. Activism instead of apathy. My friends and I pull together to help everyone in the group who needs help, then we look for more people to help. I will do this one effing person at a time if I have to. It isn't that hard to do. Now I'm not letting people off the hook for their behavior. I don't put up with unethical or toxic behavior myself. But I genuinely believe that pulling together and loving each other is how you beat these guys. It's hard to fight kindness, for you will always catch more flies with honey. Love can ease the pressure, the electrical pulse that makes the "rats" fight. So I want to thank you for this post Jim. This is weapons grade love, and I heartily concur with it.

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  61. Thank you for taking alllllll of this and putting it in one place - I feel better having shared this on FB - Phew! My head explodes when listening/reading the other sides' take on this ... and you have allowed me to put my head and heart back together!

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  62. Well put, stay loud in Alaska, it seems way to red up there, glad a real thinking American is up there now. I'm think Sean would have been happier if we trader them 1500 missiles or something.

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  63. Thank you, Jim. This needed to be said, and was worth every minute of my time.
    We need to start Washington over again; get people out who have too many conflicts-of-interest, get in good people who work hard and aren't afraid to do the right thing, not the thing that's easiest.

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  64. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing clarity to this. I feel like the lone (sane) person in my family of "conservatives." I see all the junk mail my elderly mother gets from the tea party and others. What a pack of lies. I've seen these lies for so long and wonder how otherwise normal, intelligent, loving people can fall for this crap. I've seen the lies, the exaggerations and I've seen how they just eat it up blinded by their fear and hatred (and dare I say bigotry some times). We're better than this. We are. I just get so frustrated and sad. What's a girl to do?

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  65. People who think that exchanging POWs is a brand new and dangerous thing, because it, as so many are trying to claim, 'puts a target on all American soldiers' are truly very shallow and short-sighted. Our soldiers ALREADY have a target on them. It is widely known that we, as Americans, do NOT leave our men and women behind. We value every one. We value our military, our civilians... we even value our pet doggies, transport animals, and even feral cats. We value LIFE. That we treat this value, this idealist drive to bring ALL of our troops home as a sacred duty, this is common knowledge!! So, this exchange with Sgt Bergdahl... adds nothing. No new target. That target, which has been worn by every soldier who ever put on a uniform for our country, was already there. I knew it was there and felt proud to wear it. The value that WE place on our troops, that we have always placed on our troops, already gives them value as prisoners, and it means that we should always remember to value them just as highly.

    The more dangerous precedent that could be set is for the government to NOT work to take care of our troops and to NOT work to bring home our POWs, the good ones or the icky ones.

    (And I am so tired of seeing people bring up cases of civilians in connection with this case, for example, that ex-Marine who is in Mexico, in jail, for crossing the border with assault weapons... he is NOT a POW... geez! Just because a person is in jail in a foreign country does not mean they are POWs. Different laws apply! It's really not that hard to understand.)

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    1. "ex-Marine who is in Mexico, in jail, for crossing the border with assault weapons... he is NOT a POW"

      But to conservatives, assault weapons are holy grails…

      freeportguy

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    2. And there is the rub. We can't just say that an American is in jail, we have to say a MARINE is in jail. Part of the glorification of all things military. It drives me crazy. He was a Marine, now he's a civilian who presumably did something stupid. Get a lawyer and figure it out just like any other American who does something foolish in another country.

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    3. You're missing the point. For the people who make that argument, it's the *weapons* that are the POWs here.

      In case I failed miserably to get my point across, this was supposed to be funny.

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    4. I got the joke. (funny ironic and dark, not ha-ha, but funny). Some people have very messed up priorities. :)

      Deb - I too get annoyed with the focus on 'Marine'. Honestly, shouldn't they be more ashamed of that? That an ex-Marine, who really should have known better when it comes to carrying personal weapons across international boundaries, made such a mess of things? He might be innocent (innocent-ish!) due to mental issues/PTSD, we don't have the full facts, but he still broke the law. Anyway, being capable of signing on the dotted line and making it through basic training, or even a full tour, is always worthy of some level of respect, but it does not grant one special privileges. It is not a get out of jail free card - not in our nation or in other countries. It does not give us a right to be a**holes to everyone else. Frankly, I believe it means, just as it did when we still wore the uniform, that we have a larger responsibility to set a good example, do the right thing, and be a positive representative of our nation. To uphold the morals, values and principals we were encouraged to live by when in service. But that's just me.

      I do feel terrible for the guy in Mexico. I do. I hope he is safe. I hope he comes home soon. I hope they wrangle out the paperwork, declare him a dumb kid doing dumb stuff, and send him home. But, he's not a POW. He's not even covered by a status of forces agreement. As I understand it situation, he's a civilian who broke a serious law in a foreign country. He is dealing with the repercussions. Those who insult and demean the administration and state department for failing to FORCE other countries to abide by US law are... well, it's mind-bogglingly stupid. Not once have we ever taken over the world! We don't own all of the nations. Other nations do have the audacity to maintain their own laws and cultures, and shockingly, it isn't always just like ours. siiiiiigh...

      And think about it - what if a Mexican military veteran drove his car into the US with assault weapons. What would these tea partiers want to do to that poor hypothetical guy?? It wouldn't matter if his family claimed, like this Marine's family is doing, that he was confused and having troubles due to PTSD.

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  66. Jim,
    I love the way you tied the fear of the right-wing nut jobs to the fear of letting Obama look good to the fear shown by a guy who wears a gun tucked into the back of his pants with the safety off.

    But this hypocrisy goes further. You or a commenter noted that John Kerry's Purple Heart was mocked when he was running for the presidency. They got away with mocking a medal the man received in wartime while continuously pronouncing that they support the troops. They cheered a serviceman in the Middle East when he started to ask a question during a Republican town hall and the cheers turned to boos when he said he was gay.

    If we removed the hypocrisy from these people there wouldn't even be a stain left on the rug where they were standing.

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  67. THANK YOU. Thank You. thank you. thank you SO MUCH. Amen.

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  68. Damn, son, but you are a joy to read.

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  69. As soon as news of this "deal" went public I knew the GOP would waste no time in condemning the President. Yet had troops been pulled out and this soldier still been held prisoner (or worse executed as Daniel Pearl was on film) the GOP would have howled just as loud. Also in all coming elections the GOP candidate would be arm in arm with the Bergdahl family promising to find out what happened to their son. The sheer evil of the GOP takes my breath away.

    OK so far behavior normal for Republican - you hate your country, your President and your nation UNLESS the President and Congress are GOP - if that happens then you can go back to only hating your nation as you sell off bits and pieces to the 1%.

    There is no way any of us can put ourselves in Bergdahl's situation in 2009 or what his mind-set was. Even if it was to "walk to China" (sounds a bit of gallows humor to me) the powers that put this man in this position, who sent him on tour after tour are also responsible for his actions for good or ill. There are a million possibilities including the fact that he simply went out for a walk in a very dangerous place at the wrong time but our country put him there. Also on the news today the various commanders say that none of the 6 who died on patrol were looking for Bergdahl - they were on patrols that were in the area they thought he might be and part of the deal was - hey you are in the area keep looking for anything unusual (which they would do anyway).

    Welcome home soldier, welcome home.

    Marlene

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    1. "There are a million possibilities including the fact that he simply went out for a walk in a very dangerous place at the wrong time..."

      ....Or he might have simply been captured while using the latrine, as one story goes.

      Reynardine over at PoliticusUSA posted this comment: "Contemporary logs by the Taliban unit that captured him describe surprising him in the latrine, weaponless and with his pants down. That does not sound like willful desertion. It sounds at most as if a combat-weary soldier who expressed his fatigue later had the audacity to go to the toilet."

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  70. Jim Wright - Thank you for articulating what's been in my head for some time.

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  71. As Michael Longcor said in his song "Building Fires," "The old men of power keep searching for demons, but they never see the ones peering back out from their mirrors."

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  72. Just to to put an alternative view to the 'love in'... I think the article has been written by somebody who is clueless and who doesn't "get it" at all.

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    1. A retired Naval officer with experience in intelligence is clueless? Or did you bother to figure that out?

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    2. .....really? REALLY?? Are you new around these parts or somethin'? I think Jim Wright mightily 'gets it'.

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    3. Nigel, dear. He gets it. He *gets it* just fine. He just isn't willing to swing from the same pulpit because he has served, honorably, and doesn't believe in dispatching service and honor over to the likes of politicians to do with as they will.

      IF the man is guilty of desertion, then it's the military that can try him after determining whether or not he should stand trial. We DO NOT throw our men or women to those we are fighting.

      Now. If you'd like to go out to Afghanistan and prove to us that YOU "get it", I'd be happy to see you go. Deal?

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    4. No, let the man talk. What exactly is the "it" he doesn't get? Engage, don't just throw out vague statements.

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    5. So... you're saying the gun in your pants isn't a substitute for your little willie, Anonymous?

      Or were you referring to a different part of the text?

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  73. Thank you Mr. Wright. I was afraid I was the only one who was appalled at the cries of outrage at the return of one of our soldiers from captivity. You are right. This is the absolute lowest that a person can go.

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  74. All that I can add to this excellent post is that one criticism of the prisoner exchange, that it would encourage terrorists to kidnap American troops in Afghanistan, sets new records for stupidity.

    What is the theory behind that criticism - that they haven't ALREADY been trying as hard as they could to bomb or shoot our people?

    Is the Taliban supposed to have reserve that they have not yet deployed because they weren't really trying?

    WUT?

    (Also, the critics' casual conflation of Al Qaeda and Taliban is worse than lazy; it ignores the usefulness of wedging your various enemies apart and dealing with them individually. We are leaving Afghanistan, and should stay out of Pakistan, so Taliban POWs are of no value to us except as bargaining chips ... which in this case, were spent well.)

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  75. Michael Hale Sr.June 3, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    He captured the very essence of the capitulation of theses nay-saying hatemongers who didn't serve but have benefitted from those who have served. They still want to sit in judgment of our President the way they never did for any other President. It's easy to be critical when you don't have to make the decisions that you never would have make or could make because you aren't built like this man (our President). Welcome home Soldier! Thank you Mr. President and thank you Mr. Wright for puttin' foot to ass they way you have! Yes sir!!!

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  76. Thank you Mr. Wright. Your passion, eloquence and common sense are a much-needed counterweight to the foul howls of the churlish pseudo-patriots.



    “We don't leave soldiers behind. ... Whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity. Period. Full stop,” Obama said at a news conference in Poland.
     
    This video frame grab taken from a Taliban propaganda video released Saturday, July 18, 2009 shows Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared June 30, 2009.

    The United States is committed to freeing its prisoners of war regardless of how they were captured, Obama said.

    "That's what every mom and dad who sends a son or daughter [to war] should expect from the United States," he added.

    U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ,stressed that Bergdahl, who was taken as a private and promoted while in captivity, is innocent until proven guilty, and that the military would continue to care for him and his family.

    "The questions about this particular soldier's conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity," Dempsey wrote in a statement.

    "This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him. As for the circumstances of his capture, when he is able to provide them, we'll learn the facts,” Dempsey added.

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  77. Jim Wright - you are a ray of blinding light in an otherwise dark, dark place. I wish I could find some reason to believe that we are not doomed... The stupid, it burns.

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  78. Jim, you might know the answer to this question better than most, even though you weren't an Army grunt: is it usual for the military to promote a soldier in enemy captivity up from Pfc to Sgt in two promotions if there's any whiff of desertion or traitorous activity about him? Or does promoting him make him more liable for greater punishment should he be found guilty in a court-martial?

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  79. For some reason, this incident reminded me a great deal of the extradition of James Kopp from France, the man accused of murder in the Slepian Assassination in 1998. Kopp's extradition was negotiated by then Attorney General John Ashcroft. The hitch is that he faced the death penalty under New York law and France does not extradite people who will be facing a capital charge when they get back. So John Ashcroft did a complete 180 on his states rights platform, steamrollered the New York and Erie County Attorneys General (who were political enemies) and brought Kopp back with the assurance that the capital charges would be dropped, even though he had no legal authority to do so. Why would Ashcroft do this? Because Kopp was associated with a domestic terrorist organization that had staunchly supported Ashcroft for years: Operation Rescue. Ashcroft even had the gall to shake Kopp's hand when he got off the plane in Niagara Falls.

    This wasn't negotiating with a terrorist group. This was negotiating with a long-term ally to keep an admitted terrorist OUT of New York's electric chair against the wishes of that state. And it was done by the Republican politician who had made his career out of promoting states rights and the death penalty.

    So, yeah, the modern "conservative" hypocrisy on this issue has long been a core part of their ideology. It's ok if W gives $43 million to the Taliban to fight drugs in the Summer of '01 but it's evil incarnate when O gets one of our own troops back, even if it is to stand trial.

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  80. I am no less sickened and appalled by the shrieking and slobbering and carrying-on but this is a great post and you, sir, know whereof you speak. Thank you.

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  81. Excellent, as usual. You articulate what I have been feeling far better than I do, so thanks!

    As others have mentioned, we have been "negotiating with terrorists" for years. The underhanded, secret negotiations of the GOP to have the embassy personnel released AFTER Reagan was crowned rather than during Carter's time in office was one of the ugliest negotiations ever. That said, negotiations were necessary to bring our people home and we were negotiating with the Iranians, our favorite terrorist country at the time.

    McCain's comments are completely bizarre since his release from a POW camp was predicated on negotiating with terrorists AND a trade of American lives for some North Vietnamese POWs in American custody. How could he forget this and make the stupid statements he has the last couple of days? He is far past his pull date.

    Again, thanks Jim, for your righteous anger that most of us on this blog share with you. Too bad it doesn't reach the hearts of the politicians who are leading the hate-fest on President Obama. I salute you, our President, and Sgt Bergdahl.

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  82. I loathe hypocrisy in all its forms. It marks the speaker as weak in mind, body, and spirit. The cowards who spew it must be called out and shamed (there's a concept that REALLY needs to come back). Thanks for doing so, Jim.

    Peace
    Chris in South Jersey

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  83. First time I've read your commentary and I am so thankful to see someone from the military articulate not only the blind hatred of Obama but also the need to quit using Bowe Bergdahl as a political football. I am glad that he's coming home and I will leave any review of his conduct up to the military personnel, as it should be. You are an eloquent and passionate speaker; thanks for this editorial. I shared it on my FB page and have already donned my HAZMAT attire to await the shit storm I've unleashed, lol.

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  84. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I actually DID cry tears of relief to know I was not the only one outraged and angry. I've actually been pretty pissed off at his fellow soldiers bitching about hunting for him, too --- the way the military disregards MENTAL woundings that could have been responsible for him wandering off in the night pissed me off.

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  85. I support Obama, Snowden, AND Bergdahl. I support anyone who has an independent idea/thought, however I might find it misguided, against a fear-mongering, hate filled population of intellectual illiterates. And the occasional expletive works too.

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  86. If you're going to support our troops, you're going to support this guy going home. Let the military court sort it out. That's what it's there for. We're supposed to be a civilized country. Let's start acting like it again.

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  87. Thank you from the bottom of my heart - a tour de force!

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  88. You stated, far more succinctly than I could and with more force and value (as I'm not a veteran), exactly what I was thinking. Your reference to Anwar al-Awlaki is the very thing that has been running through my head for days now. Besides, releasing the prisoners means that we don't spend money on a trial and can now, if they take up arms against us again, have them executed in the field as blatant enemy combatants. This is is a win-win and these knuckle-draggers aren't educated or intelligent enough to recognize it because it came from a black President that they can't stand.
    Thank you, Jim, for your words.

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  89. Jim,
    I almost always agree with you 100% ( only because I haven't read everything you've ever written) and I admire your willingness to not tiptoe around stating your unabashed opinion. Because of that and because I think there are more of us who support your stance than those who do not, I think you should run for the position of Symbolic National Official Tool of Satan (SNOTS)....or on second thought maybe we should find another title. Anyway, I share your posts when I come across them because they are so sensible. Thank you!

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  90. Chief - I don't really have anything constructive to add to the conversation apart from applauding your sensibilities and your truthful writing. I spent ten years in the military police (USAR) and continually bumped up against the proto-Fox News ultra right-wing 'Muricans because I always tried to look at both sides of the issues and was always shouted down (or just patted on the helmet and looked at with pity and sympathy). I left the Army, one of the saddest decisions I ever made, partly because of this. I was a college boy NCO and that was a poor fit.

    But I thank you for being a veteran not consumed by irrational knee jerk reactions. I thank you for understanding that we all need to -- must -- work together and not fall apart. We're dangerously close to the precipice and I worry that Ted Cruz, et al, are too firmly belted into the driver's seat where we won't be able to pry them out in time.

    Thank you, Chief.

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  91. Jim, this may be my favorite of all your posts (and I've read pretty much all of them), in spite, of the depressing topic. Your fury is totally appropriate and directed.
    Thank you again.

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  92. I was with you right down to the fourth sentence. I. Cannot. Tolerate. This. Stupid. Shit.

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  93. President Ronald Reagan actually sent weapons to terrorists in return for hostages and he got sainted by the Conservative Political Class for the effort.Such hypocrites.

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  94. I'm the mother of a US Marine. God bless you and thank you. I agree with every word. Those people make me sick! And sad.

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  95. I'm the mother of a US Marine. God bless you and thank you. I agree with every word. Those people make me sick! And sad.

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  96. "And for what? So we can still be afraid?"

    That.

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  97. Spot on as always, Chief- I have been beside myself listening to these asshats condemn the man before he's even had his day in court- the news media is just as bad- they smell blood in the water, and nothing sells copy like scandal. Whether Bergdahl is a deserter or not is beside the point- he has been held by the Taliban for almost five years, and I'd be willing to bet he'd much rather have spent that time at Leavenworth.

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  98. Bergdhal was NOT forgotten......not so sure the swap was the ONLY course of action. Anyone remember the SRS hostages in Colombia? To refresh your memory, we did not negotiate with the FARC and yest, they returned home!

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  99. Thank-you Sir for this tremendous posting.

    I think every American ought to read it and I shared your post today.

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    1. Considering the staggering volume of hatemail, trollage, and just plain unhinged rage that I'm getting, I suspect everybody in America has read it.

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  100. I have to disagree with you about Snowdon, but on every other point I can only say "Well said, sir!" As a Canadian (though with more American relatives and in-laws than Canadian) I can really only observe with wonder at what looks to be a continuation of the Civil War in America. So far as I can see, Obama's chief defect seems to be presiding while pigmented.
    Sad, very, very sad.

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  101. One very importan point is sorely overlooked and you write it good.
    "If our people aren’t worth it, if they aren’t worth more than the value we place on arm sales and political maneuvering," There is the key to all the reactions. If US can't keep it weapons industry going many things must give. Well, really badass writing anyways

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  102. I've been saying it for a while. These people simply HATE Barrack Obama... When I say it, I have to over emphasize the word because that's the only way to explain what drives the right's behavior when it comes to the President.

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  103. Holy crap. TPM:

    O'Reilly Bashes Bergdahl's Dad: He 'Looks Like A Muslim' (VIDEO)

    "How low can you go?" I'm starting to get the feeling that with modern Conservatives, we may never actually know...

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  104. "What would the terrorists think?" What would the TERRORISTS think? Who gives a flying flung feces what the terrorists think. Rather, what would our military members think? What would potential future military members think if we abandoned our own? Gonna reinstate the draft? Drag uncommitted young men kicking and screaming into war zones? Yes, I'm sure that will work out really well.

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  105. Thank you for sharing it. Yes, this Veteran agrees with it and applauds you. You've stated it very eloquently.

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  106. Thank you for articulating what I feel about this. I am not about to judge this young man for what has occurred. There are people whose job it is to investigate the FACTS of the matter. I will leave it to them. We don't leave people behind.........period. I am glad he is back.

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  107. WOW ! Thanks you. Not sure how you crawled into my head and pulled out every word of my personal rant going on in my brain. But thank you... now I do not have to write it down. You wrote it for us. You should run for office. You have my vote.

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  108. Your eloquent rant should be delivered before a full Congress with a steely eyed glare. Thank you again, Jim, for putting into werds what's in my head and heart.

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  109. Thank you for saying everything I feel.

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  110. I wish I could have served under you. Well said Warrant!

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  111. From the wife of a PTSD disabled Viet Vet, thank you.

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  112. Thank you so much for writing this. I am a liberal who does not support war as a first option, and prefers diplomacy first. Then we do what we must do if all else fails. That being said, I have been waiting for my conservative brethren to finally recognize this hypocrisy that has taken hold of the extreme right making our country a hotbed of domestic terrorism just driven by all you describe! It's time for good, and true patriotic people, not the foaming at the mouth Faux news junkies faux Tea Party patri-nots to stand up, speak out, and VOTE too! We need rational, reasoned political discourse from many viewpoints to solve our problems, not this mindless money driven prattle spewed by those with a self-serving agenda and followed by the mindless members of the Idiocracy who can't think for themselves or take the time to just read a little more, and actually think a cogent thought. Thank you for your service, and most importantly, thank you for your words, profanity and all!

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  113. Thank you for articulating everything that has been going thru my mind, how can any of us as Soldiers ever think to leave an AMERICAN behind. PERIOD

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  114. Ditto. Thank you for writing this.

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  115. I have thought much the same as this post for a long time. The modern GOP is the most downbeat, defeatist party in modern times. They don't believe the US can solve its problems, even when other countries already have. They don't believe the US economy can ever grow or compete, so they're scrambling to get ahead of and control of the inevitable collapse. They don't believe we have any aspirational power to persuade anymore, which, given the things they did during the Bush Jr. administration, might actually be true, so they argue for force at every turn. They don't believe in American diversity, scientific or cultural progress, or in the ideals that are advanced in the constitution. They're tired, worried, scared, and ready to surrender democracy itself to preserve the last shreds of a lifestyle they think they want, but never existed.

    I have only two quibbles with this post.

    1) I'm just not with you about al-Awlaki. Was he a terrible person? Yes. Did he mean to do us harm? Probably. Did he renounce his citizenship? So it is said. None of that changes the requirement that he is entitled to a trial....most definitely before his government kills him. Obama took an easy route. He could have tried him in absentia and kept it secret. That was certainly possible and wouldn't have affected his ability to carry out a 'sentence'. I believe that sometimes there are extraordinary risks to our country that justify such actions. The 'war on terror' has never been at that level. Whether it is a democrat or republican making the call is irrelevant, I expect our leaders to follow the constitution. Otherwise, who makes the next decision about what constitutes justification for government sanctioned murder without trial? This was a terrible precedent.

    2) While I agree about the right's affection for Snowden being driven entirely because he is linked to an embarrassment of the Obama administration, I'm not sure your account of him is accurate. I do think he's done damage, but I don't get the sense that this was for personal gain. He's made himself an outcast while those who told his story make themselves a boatload of money and win awards. I think he's sincere about the damage our government has done and how dangerous it was becoming. As with al-Awlaki, the NSA programs are based, at best, on a perverse interpretation of the constitution, and I was happy to see them outed. The argument that we must give up privacy to ensure safety is valid....but then, whoever said freedom and privacy came without cost or risk?

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  116. LOL, I only have one thing to say. You really think they are not going to find something worse to say once this blows over? They are on a mission to outdo each other with outrage. It will only keep getting worse until the cameras find something more interesting to talk about. Another school shooting the way things are going.

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  117. Goddamn, I think I need a cigarette. And I don't smoke.

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  118. I thought we didnt negotiate with terrorists, Has that changed and I missed it.

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    1. You didn't actually read the essay, did you?

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    2. I'm not sure what this guy is smoking or if you actually don't see what's happening or what? What is the limit for getting one of our soldiers back? If the captors would accept nothing short of all the launch codes for all our nukes, would THAT still be worth getting him back? NO, of course not. If they demanded the delivery of several M1A1 Tanks, would THAT be OK? No! So where do you draw the line. I don't want to be cynical but it should be intuitively obvious that releasing 5 of the worst terrorist we were holding to take a 1 year vacation while planning their next move is also NOT an acceptable deal. Unfortunately so many people who do not understand the military will see only the nice part of reuniting a man to his family (until he's court marshaled). However from every perspective, this is a preposterous deal. Are people politicizing it? Yes, you bet. When a political leader does something THIS outrageous he needs to be held accountable. Less than 1% of the thousands of soldiers I've served with in 30+ years would EVER want to be released under these conditions. It is what we signed up to do, defend our country, NOT be bait for making terrorism pay off. THAT is what we see when we look in the mirror. Sorry I gota call 'em as I see em.

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    3. If you're going to claim superior knowledge of the military, you should probably learn how to spell Court Martial, I'm just saying.

      Also, I really loved that "...I don't want to be cynical, but," fuck 'em, leave him to die. That was a really nice touch.

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  119. BZ! Shipmate you have NAILED it. Oh, and I'm a retiree (LCdr) and SERE grad, as well. You NEVER give up on your buddies, no matter what you think they might have done.

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  120. ^^^ Standing, Clapping, and Saluting!

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  121. I am so glad you wrote this. I am morally outraged. I never thought that so many proud "yellow ribbon" magnet owners would speak so dishonorably about a young POW even before he has made it back home. You are correct. NONE of us know the circumstances of his capture. NONE of us know - and - at this point it isn't important. I am quite sure the military will have an investigation and will follow their procedures for such.

    In the meantime, THANK YOU young man for your service. Me and my family are so glad, so grateful, you are being returned to your family, to your fellow citizens. God speed.

    And to his fellow service members who are trashing him and talking about the six members who died "because of him going AWOL" I say you should face a court martial or whatever option the military has to discipline you. That is NOT how we do things here. I am through with allowing hate mongers like yourselves the ability to TRASH people without benefit of investigation, trial, or even that little American thing - the right to face your accusers and DEFEND yourself. You should be ashamed. I am ashamed that people like you wear the uniform because you have so little understanding of what this country stands for.

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  122. Thank you for giving voice to my outrage!

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  123. Our biggest bargain with terrorists was struck at the end of the Civil War when Lincoln (a Republican you jerks) said we would welcome the traitorous South back without consequence. I probably would have agreed with that decision at the time. Just as I agreed with not impeaching Reagan for Iran-Contra and Bush/Cheney for war crimes but unfortunately it has gotten us here. Because we didn't string them up and lock them up they have come to think they are right. They need to ask themselves if they would feel the same way if Cruz or Paul or Bush or Cheney or Reagan and struck this deal. If they say yes, they are hopeless liars. Maybe those dreaded FEMA death camps are not such a bad idea. And don't forget to take your guns with you.

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  124. In the spirit of the Great American Pastime (besides hating the symbol of disaffected, right wing, "patriot" impotence) you, sir, have hit a Grand Slam Home Run to the upper deck.

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  125. craig mcgillivrayJune 3, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Chief,
    I'm going to pass this along to others. Thanks for writing a well reasoned and well targeted reply to the thoughtless trogs who would rather destroy The United States rather than live in them. Keep writing.

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  126. Now it also appears that the same turds who have tried to gain political advantage by attacking this young man are not only hypocrites - they're outright liars about their own priori involvement. http://www.politicususa.com/2014/06/03/republican-bergdahl-scandal-falls-white-house-discussed-swap-gop-2011.html

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  127. Thank You for expressing my sentiments as well. Michael Hastings wrote a great article on Bowe Bergdahl in June 0f 2012. Go to the Rolling Stone magazine website and type in Bergdahl. His childhood and relationship with his parents are detailed. It's a great read.
    Corky in Texas

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