Friday, June 20, 2014

Thieving Bastards

I wrote an essay.

It was called Absolutely Nothing, an answer to Edwin Star’s famous question: War, what is it good for?

That essay has been called a savage indictment of the Iraq War, and I suppose that it is. I was there. I lost friends there. I have strong opinions about that conflict and those who sent us into it and who now want us to go back.

That essay struck a nerve with people.

And it became widely popular.

And now it’s spread across the world, gone viral, millions have read it.

Those people, they turned me into a meme, an internet sensation. They took my face, my words, my life and slapped their URL on it and spread it across the world.
Media preview

My essay was a hit.

Simple, right? Anybody could do it.  You just sit down, type some words, fifteen minutes maybe, hit publish, and boom! instant fame.

Easy, right?

Sure, anybody could do it. Anybody.


Except, of course that it is not easy.


And not just anybody can do it, very few can in point of fact.

I’m not blowing my own horn here, but I’m not going to pretend any false modesty either.

Not everybody can do it, but I can and that is a simple provable fact.

Don’t believe me? You try it. Go on start a blog. Write something. Put it out there. No tricks. No gimmicks. Just write something. Go on. I’ll wait. Just sit down, type some words, fifteen minutes maybe, hit publish and give me a call back when you achieve the level of notoriety my essay did.  Or the one before it. Or the one before that. Go on, I’ll wait. Let me know when they turn you into a meme.

Oh come on, give it a go. Because anybody can do it right?

You know what you’re going to discover?

You going to discover the same blunt truth every naïve newbie learns, and that is this: Writing is work. Hard work. Exhausting work. Frustrating work.

Blogging is work. Hard work. To do it right, takes skill and dedication and work. And yes, it is writing in every sense of the word.

The kind of writing that created my essay Absolutely Nothing? That kind of writing? Well, you see, there’s not one goddamned thing easy about it – because to write something like that takes your life.

It takes your life.

Your whole life.

Absolutely Nothing was two thousand, six hundred words long.  About six pages in any standard 12-point font, double-spaced with 1” margins on standard letter-sized paper. Six pages. You want to know what it took to put those twenty-six hundred words together?

Do you?

Because I’ll tell you.

Fifteen minutes? Hell. Writing that article took 30 years of my life.

You want to know why that essay resonated with so many people?

You want to know why you could feel the raw emotion and the rage and the pain?

You want to know why the words sing?

You want to know what that took? It took enlisting in the Navy at 21 years of age.  It took decades of service, working my way up through the ranks. It took sailing across tens of thousands of miles of ocean. It took walking on six continents. It took endless watches and days without sleep. It took being hungry and cold and being scared out of my mind. It took three wars and a dozen deployments short of war. It took making Chief Petty Officer, a rank only a small percentage of enlisted Sailors achieve, one which required years of dedicated effort and sustained superior performance, at sea, on land, thousands of hours of work and study, years of experience under conditions most civilians would never understand or be able to hack. It took learning how to lead, it took pain and setbacks, it took earning the trust and respect of those around me – men far bigger and far tougher than me. It took earning a college degree one credit at time, when I could find a few minutes to study between training and deployments and sixteen hour work days. It took making Chief Warrant Officer, a commissioned rank and a distinction that comes to only a very few of the very best of the Chief’s Ranks, one that cannot be given but must be earned through more than a decade of dedication and sacrifice. It took serving in war zones around the world. It took going to Iraq. It took volunteering for and leading hundreds of missions. It took spending months, years, away from my family and friends, twenty years of missed birthdays and Christmases. It took missing family funerals, and it took standing at attention while they buried my shipmates under the cold white marble. It took leading men and women into harm’s way over and over and getting them all home again. It took watching my comrades die, one hundred and twenty-eight as of today, of my friends and shipmates and comrades in arms who came home in boxes. It took dozens more, those who returned alive but not whole, shattered, broken, torn, and bloodied in body and spirit.  More, it took a decade of work, of writing every single fucking day. Working to improve my skill and craft, to find my voice, to create my unique style, to learn how to fit words together in a way that is distinctly mine, to figure out how to reach people and gather an audience one precious mind at a time. It took working far into the night. It took getting up early. It took hundreds of hours of dedication and frustration and sweat. It took time away from other things I should have been doing. It cost me money, thousands of dollars to build my site, buy the books, to take the classes, to learn the craft. It cost me time with my family, with my wife and son. And most of all, it took my experience, my hate and my pain and my rage and my love and my admiration for those who died and who were maimed and who served with steadfast loyalty under the most terrible of conditions.

That’s what it took.

That’s what it took to write those two thousand six hundred words. It took my service and my experience and my goddamned life.

And that, right there, is what syndicated talk radio host Mike Malloy stole from me.

That is what you steal from writers and artists and singers and musicians and painters and photographers and dancers and other creative people when you take our work without asking, without permission, without payment.

You, you thieving bastards, you steal our lives.

And you have the audacity to wonder at my anger? You have the unmitigated gall to question my outrage at your rape? You who sat here, safe and fat, you, you sons of bitches, you deserve nothing but contempt.

You’re stealing my life, you fucker.

Mr. Wright I have never been so disappointed with anyone as I am with you. Money? thats what your about? you say that Mike Malloy who works for free is a theive jus because he read your geat letter on his show? Mikes doesn’t make any money from your letter. Mike a real American who calls out merecenarie cowards like you .your letter is to important for you to want money it needs to be out their and should be free to all americans! but your mad because people read it and you didn’t “get paid”? you are not a writer you are a bloger and you need to learn that words on the internet are free for ALL. you need to stop whining and listens to Mike maybe you’ll learn something! [sic]
  – Stacy [M]

Mercenary cowards.

Mercenary coward.

I gave more than twenty years of my life to this country.

I served in a war I didn’t agree with for my country.

I watch my friends and brothers and sisters die, for my country.

I wrote an essay, a product of my skill and viewpoint and experience and that very service.

I published it on my own website, for my own readers.

Mike Malloy and others took my words, my life, without permission, but I’m the mercenary coward?

My “letter” is too important for me to want money.


My words are too important for me to want money. I guess I’ll just live on the fame and the glory then. I can’t wait to see my mortgage company’s face when I tell them that my words are too important for me to pay them in actual money – but hey, maybe I can offer them some exposure on my blog, eh? Maybe they’ll cut me some slack, because my words are so important. Yeah. Maybe Mike Malloy will pitch in and give them a little “free” coverage too.

My words are too important. Why is that you, suppose? Is it because I spent my life writing that essay?

But those “important” words, they’re not worth anything?

Funny, a few days ago those words and my authority to speak them were worth something to Mike Malloy. They were obviously worth something to his listeners, the hundreds who first wrote to offer praise and then wrote in disappointed sour condemnation, the people who pay Mike Malloy Radio Productions LLC $59.40 per year for a subscription to his podcasts, but call me a mercenary and a whore and a greedy coward.

Malloy works for free? He does? Really?

Given that he and his wife both make up Mike Malloy Radio Productions LLC, I have to wonder how they pay their mortgage, put food on the table, make their car payments, put clothes on their kids – if they don’t make any income from their radio show? 

How is it that Mike Malloy makes a living from his words, and that makes him a hero of progressive talk radio, but me? If I want to make a living from my words, my experience, my life, I’m just a greedy mercenary whore.

Mike Malloy is a great American. Me? I’m a coward.

You know what it took for me to write that essay while Mike Malloy, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Ann Coulter, and the rest of these thieving bastards were safe in their studios? I and those like me were out there in the dark and dangerous corners of the world fighting the wars these jackasses goaded America into. That’s what it took.

And that, right there, is why Mike Malloy lacks both the skill and the authority to write Absolutely Nothing.

Jim. Thank you for your letter sent to Mike Malloy. His reading of your letter on Monday night gave me the chills. Unfortunately, like most of us, my blood was already boiling. I wish I had been prepared to record it since I do not have access to the podcast. If you have the letter posted online, please share the link with me. I'll share it with my family and friends. Thank you for your service and your dedication to the truth.
   – Mark [T]

Access to Mike Malloy’s podcasts.

He wants me to give him my essay for free because he can’t afford to pay for Mike Malloy’s podcasts.

So I gave it to him and I wonder how ole Mikey feels about getting stiffed out of his money?

[… ]all he did was read your public blog aloud, and give you a bunch of free advertising.  And believe me, I am sure he is NOT making money off reading your blog.   In fact, he told everyone on his show about your site!  If anything, he brought YOU people going to your site.  I had never heard of it before. So,  I really don't get why you are so pissed off.   Why are you blogging if you don't want people to read it?   You sound really litigious.  If you are looking for deep pockets to sue, you are barking up the wrong tree.  Try Rush Limbaugh!   I'm sad and sorry I ever went to your site!
    - Susan [S], Malloy Chat Forum moderator

Except, of course, for that part where Malloy is in point of fact making money off my intellectual property. He makes money from advertising revenue and from subscriptions to his podcast – recordings that contain my material.

As to the “free” advertising. I didn’t ask for it. I don’t need it. I’m not interested in it.

This is no different than if a sign painter put up a billboard with your name on it unsolicited, and then stopped by your house to help himself to your property as compensation. In addition to writing, I’m an artist. I work at the lathe, I turn wood into very expensive artwork. Do you think I’d be grateful if Mike Malloy walked into my studio, took one of my pieces without paying and then showed it around town, and when I protested said, “Hey, whatcha bitchin’ about? I drummed you up some business, didn’t I, you greedy fucking whore.”

You have no idea what it took to create that artwork. My dad taught me how to turn when I was kid. My dad is dead now and that memory, those skills, the reflexes in my hands are all I have of him. More than 40 years of my life have been spent in developing the skills he gave me, I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars into the tools it takes to make my artwork, and I’ve invested hundreds of hours into the piece you stole. I’m the artist, I decide what it’s worth. A deal goes two ways, you don’t just take it and give me something I don’t want or need, something that is worthless to me in return. You took my life, asshole, I decide what that’s worth, not you. Malloy’s “exposure” is worthless to me.

I don’t need Mike Malloy, he needs me

He didn’t serve, did he? He wasn’t sent into war on a lie, was he? His experience is what? Sitting on his flabby ass behind a microphone? No, he needed me, he needed my words, my experience, he needed me to lend validity and gravity to his message. And just like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and all those bastards the essay was about, Mike Malloy used my experience and that of my comrades to further his own agenda – and then discarded us when he was done.  To him veterans like me, we’re good for a few page hits, a bit of advertising revenue, but not worth actually paying for. Talk about a metaphor for this nation. It’s not enough we got fucked by our own government, and ass-raped by the system that was supposed to care for us when we got home, no, no, the Mike Malloys of the world see us and figure they can squeeze just few more drops of blood from our lives.

CWO Wright, thank you for saying like it is. Oooarah! Heard it on the Mike Malloy show. I posted it on my blog and I’m emailing the full text to everybody I know!
  - Gus [A]
and he did, post the full text on his blog.

Hi Jim: Thanks for your awesome article I have sent around on facebook and my website because it speaks the truth so many want to deny. I will catch up with you later as I am on the run. View my website to see we agree on much. One Vietnam Vet to another from Iraq, and with a perspective that shines and blazes. Peace, Love and Joy.
  - Daniel C. [L],
and he did, post the full text on his blog and his facebook page.

Heard it on the Mike Malloy show and if he can just use your words for nothing, guess we can too.

Peace and love, Brother, right in the ass.

Let me guess, you guys used to work for Colin Powell, didn’t you?

Mr. Wright. Heard your letter read on the Mike Malloy show. Perfect! Way to take down these criminals! I wanted you to know we printed out a thousand copies and we’re handing them out to every customer at [coffee shop] along with directions on how to get Mike’s podcast. Thank you and thanks to Mike Malloy!
  - Cindi

Well, ain’t that just grand?

Yeah, why don’t you just hand my essay out for free with directions on how to buy a subscription to Mike Malloy’s radio show? Sure, that’s just fucking great.

Boy, tell me again how Mikey did it for me, because I just never get tired of hearing that story.

He [Jim Wright, me] puts his thoughts out there very well. Facebook is a marketplace of ideas, passed around and shared. His thoughts got picked up. Were they attributed to him? Then I don't understand the anger. If they were not, then... what? Sue? Pitch a hissy fit? I used to enjoy SKS. It's quickly losing its appeal. And, I'm a writer.
  - Nancy [R]

And I’m a writer.  Really? Well then, Nancy, why don’t you write for Mike? You can do it for the exposure, that and $59.40 a year will get you a subscription to his show.

Like they say, artists tend to die of exposure – they laugh when they say it, but they’re not kidding.

Sorry you're going so deep into this. Mike Malloy and Stephanie Miller are two of the best radio hosts around. You should have been happy to have them spreading the word about you. Oh well.
  - William [C]

Yeah, yeah. I'm the problem. I'm the enemy. Three days ago I was a happy Jim Wright fan, sharing his stuff and thrilled to see him get some much deserved attention. Now it's all going to go to shit. Now you folks are going to troll other people who share your views and wanted to help spread them. But I'm the problem. Enjoy!
  - William [C]

William was yelling at my Facebook audience.

And yes, Bill, you are the problem.

You’re perfectly happy to get hundreds of hours of free entertainment from me, to have a place that you can comment and like minded people to associate with, a safe place that I protect – built through my efforts and my work at no expense to you. And you think I should be grateful when people steal my life? You’re right, you and people like you, you’re the problem.  You’re a fucking vampire, Bill, sucking the blood out of people like me for your own nourishment and giving nothing back, expecting me to dance and caper for your entertainment without compensation.

You don’t give a damn about me, you selfish little parasite, you just want free blood and you don’t care where it comes from.

You are indeed the problem.

(William was unfriended. Friendship, at least with me, is a two way street)

I've been listening to Mike Malloy for years, off and on. Same with Stephanie Miller. I read your post, which has been everywhere, and thought it was fucking great. But to learn that you thought you should get something out of it... I've had my 15 minutes of fame. Now you've had yours, with a lot bigger splash than I had. Why I did, I was doing for my children and the children of everyone. Why did you do it? To get paid? Mike's not about the money, trust me on that. He gets fucking death threats, and he lives in Georgia to boot. Not easily scared. You took it way over the top. Say you're sorry and move on.
  - Steve [V]

Oh, right. You were doing it for the children, all the little children of the world.

What about my children?

What about my children? Is my son not worth anything?

Oh, and just for the record, Steve, I get death threats too – from selfish assholes just like you. And Georgia? Really? Don’t make me laugh, Jackass, put on your big boy pants and come try Alaska sometime. Alaska? Fuck, how about you try Iraq, asshole.

You really have to love this idiot. Mike Malloy steals my material, offers me something I find utterly worthless as compensation, and I, me, I should say I’m sorry? How much you want to bet that Steve beats his wife. Smack! Why do you keep making me hit you? It’s your fault! Smack! Say you’re sorry and move on! Smack!

Seriously, fuck you, Steve.


I have a thousand more messages just like those. Hell, two thousand, I don’t know, I stopped counting.

I think it would have been easier on folks like Mike Malloy and his fan club, not to mention Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, if people like me had just gotten ourselves killed in Iraq.

Sure, it’s a whole lot easier to ass-rape a dead veteran than a live one.

We make better symbols dead, you can put whatever words you like in our mouths and you don’t have the trouble of paying for our healthcare or our talent.

You want to know the really ironic part?

You want to see naked hypocrisy?

Check this out:

All materials contained in this Site are protected by international trademark and copyright laws and must only be used for personal, non-commercial purposes. This means that you may only view or download material from this Site for your own use and you must keep all copyright and other proprietary notices attached to the downloaded material.

The reproduction, duplication, distribution (including by way of email, facsimile or other electronic means), publication, modification, copying or transmission of material from this Site is STRICTLY PROHIBITED unless you have obtained the prior written consent of MIKE MALLOY RADIO PRODUCTIONS, LLC or unless it is expressly permitted by this Site. The material covered by this prohibition includes, without limitation, any text, graphics, logos, photographs, audio or video material or stills from audiovisual material available on this Site. The use of materials from this Site on any other web site or networked computer environment is similarly prohibited.

That’s a (fair use) excerpt from the Mike Malloy Radio Productions LLC website regarding use of his intellectual property.

You can read the whole thing here and ain’t that a peach? Malloy’s material is his protected property, but mine isn’t. You need written permission to use his material, but mine you can just take without permission or compensation. Malloy demands you respect his property rights, but me? I’m a greedy mercenary whore.

I wrote Malloy, he refused to answer.

I became angry, I said so on social media. He came snooping around (and don’t pretend he didn’t, he “liked” several comments left by his cronies on my Facebook page. I can prove he was there). Eventually Malloy responded:

Well, I'll be goddamned! I read your piece on the air because it appealed to me. I decided it might appeal to others. Big fucking mistake. I had no idea you are such a mercenary, greedy type. Wow. I had no idea you are such an amateur as to bitch when someone (me) gives you publicity. Make money off what you wrote? You have to be kidding. This is where your amateurishness is so apparent. In the first place, reading a piece on the air is considered "fair use." And, um, how would I "make money?" As far as your web site and what it says there about "using" your "stuff", sorry, but I've never been  to your site.  A friend emailed a link from Australia. Now, take your ugly, mercenary words and go back to wherever you came from. And, strong suggestion: Back off with your threats, especially on social media. You are leaving a very public and incriminating trail. Sue me? For reading  something you wrote on the air? Un-fucking-believable! Sorry I rattled your cage, JIm. My mistake. Big time. Trust me on this: you just disappeared. - MM

He took my material because it appealed to him.

Amateur bitch. Make money off what you wrote, you have to be kidding.

Funny thing about that, as the famous professional writer David Gerrold noted on my Facebook page – amateurs don’t get paid.

How would he make money? I’m guessing that would be the same way he makes money off of his broadcast every single goddamned day. Q.E.D.

Leaving aside that fact that I somehow doubt a man like this would have any friends, he claims he never heard of Stonekettle Station or what it says here about “using my stuff” (you know, exactly like it says on his site about using his stuff), he says a friend emailed him a “link.” So he read my essay and directed people to my site – now how did he do that if he didn’t know where it was? He expects others to adhere to his rules regarding his property, but doesn’t bother with finding out how I feel about my property even though he obviously knew where my site was.

Progressives like this? These are the people that give right wing extremists legitimacy – ironically the very people Mike Malloy rails against on a daily basis. 

When the Tea Party and the militiamen out at the Bundy Ranch threaten to shoot down Americans over collectivism, this right here is what they are talking about, i.e. liberals and progressives like Mike Malloy who think that products of work and ideas of intellect are community property and can be confiscated without agreeable compensation and distributed freely to others – except for their own property, of course.  This is exactly what the right fears, and correctly so it would seem. Quod erat demonstrandum.

When my own readers attempted to contact Malloy and complain, they received various responses:

Uh, do YOURSELF a BIG favor and get the fuck off my email. Oh, and your attempt to sound cool is way missing the bullseye. Thanks.

Are you serious? Or just another right wing head fuck? Don't answer. I don't care. Do this: Get the fuck off my email.

Mr. Malloy read and commented on some of Mr. Wright's brilliant blog post, which was forwarded to him from another listener, then praised Mr. Wright's comments on the show last night. He also urged his listeners to contact Mr. Wright at his StoneKettle site to tell him how much they appreciated his powerful, important work. Imagine the shock to then receive this response from Mr. Wright following the program last night:
"At the moment, I regard Mr. Malloy as a fucking thief and I'm considering suing his radio program into the poor house. I've sent him a message, but he hasn't responded. If any of you know this jackass personally, have him contact me. Otherwise I'm going to pull a Harlan Ellison and drop the flying monkeys on his head. I don't know Stephanie Miller either. I've never heard of her show. I never sent her a letter either. She also didn't get my permission to use my stuff. She's number two on my list. Same deal. These people are making money off of my material without so much as sending me a thank you card. This is NOT flattery, it's THEFT. Let me reiterate something here, my material is my intellectual property. This is clearly stated on my webpage. If you steal from me, I will hunt you the fuck down, flay your skin off, and wear your dead heart for a goddamned hat"
This is what provoked the email Mr. Malloy sent to Mr. Wright this morning (which was later, apparently, posted on his FB page). Was Mr. Malloy's email to Mr. Wright so outrageous, given this invective and threat he received from Mr. Wright?

Yeah, about that last one.

Notice anything funny about that?

“Imagine the shock to then receive this response from Mr. Wright following the program last night: … he hasn’t responded. If any of your know this jackass personally, have him contact me…”

Now ask yourself something, if I sent that to Malloy, then why would I say “he hasn’t responded. If any of your know this jackass…”

That quote was taken from my Facebook page, not from any message sent to Malloy.

Yes, that is correct, Malloy’s response to complaints that he stole material from me and then acted like a jackass … was to steal one of my Facebook posts as justification.

Make of that what you will.

As I said on Facebook, frankly it just doesn't leave me feeling very motivated.


This was never about the money.

I give away my stuff to my readers, to the community I have created, for my own reasons. But those words are still mine, no different than if I gifted my friends with the artwork from my woodshop.

The last three things I’ve written went viral, what if the next one does too?

Is this what I have to look forward to? Theft? Hate? Hypocrisy? It’s bad enough I get that from the rightwing nuts and the Tea Party cranks and the Sarah Palin worshippers. Now I have to watch out for the progressives and the liberals too?

It’s getting so that I can’t tell the right wing haters from the left.

I’m not welcome on the left. I for damned sure don’t belong on the right.  And I don’t fit into the middle. I have become an alien in my own land, a stranger to the country I fought for, and I look around and realize that I am not alone in this.

I wonder, you know, maybe I should have just stayed in the business of killing people, maybe I should have just stayed in Iraq.

At least there I knew who the enemy was.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Absolutely Nothing


This post has been removed.

It has removed because a number of commercial news sites and radio shows stole my intellectual property without bothering to ask for permission or offering compensation. These thieving sons of bitches took my material and used it to attract readers and viewers which in turn makes them money, none of which was offered to me.

Here I write for myself and I don’t mind you reading it for free, here on Stonekettle Station. But I will be goddamned if I’ll allow people to take my stuff without permission and go make money on it without giving me a piece of it.  When I said something to this effect on social media, I began receiving messages from readers who were offended and seem to think I owe it to the world to give my material away for free to whomever wants it and however they want to use it - and that I’m somehow a whore for expecting payment.  Tell you what, you’re welcome to write your own goddamned stuff.

If you want to read the article, well, folks, it’s been posted all over the internet, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding a copy. 



There’s a follow up post, Thieving Bastards, which describes why this event bothers me so much and exactly what it takes to write what I write.


You may read an authorized copy of Absolutely Nothing here.


You may read an authorized copy of Absolutely Nothing here.


You may read an authorized copy of Absolutely Nothing here.



Stonekettle Station will be off-line until further notice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Negotiating With Terrorists: The Counterpoint

This article is a follow-up to my previous piece, the widely shared Negotiating With Terrorists.

6/7/14: Addendum at the end of the post.


“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
      ― Muhammed Ali


We are the sum of our parts.

Our memories and our experiences shape who we are and, more importantly, how we see the world.

By definition, our worldview tends to change over time. That malleable viewpoint is influenced by a thousand things: friends and enemies and the indifferent, marriage, children, information both true and false, trauma, stress, grief, joy, depression, hope, rage, hate, love, education, reason, to name but a few.

Age often lends a certain perspective, not always, but often.

Sometimes that perspective can completely change who we are – sometimes we call that wisdom. Or not.

Sometimes we change ourselves. We don’t like who we are, and so we deliberately become someone else – ask any recovering alcoholic if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Or a born again Christian. Or a scrawny kid like me who joined the military and set out to prove something to himself. Sometimes it’s involuntary, driven by outside forces and influences – have a chat with veteran about PTSD if you need an example. And sometimes that change comes willie-nillie as we careen happily assbackward into the unknown.

And sometimes, well, sometimes life just hardens who we are.

It’s different for each of us.

When I was young, a teenager, just before I enlisted for the first time, a group of radical Islamists overthrew the Shah of Iran and took sixty-six American diplomats and their staff hostage from the US Embassy in Tehran.  For four hundred and forty-four days those men and women were held captive while we Americans seethed in impotent rage.

I was young then, true, but I don’t remember America hating Muslims before that. When I was a kid, the terrorists who committed endless atrocities came from Belfast – and the money to support their cause, along with the money to fight them, came from right here in America and I knew other kids whose parents were on both sides of the fight. Those Irishmen were terrorists, but we didn’t hate them – but then they weren’t attacking us either, so maybe that’s the difference.

They were killing our friends though, so then again maybe it’s something else.

Afterward, after the revolution in Iran, and then the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut a few years later, it was the Arabs who were terrorists – and they’ve remained so ever since.

And we often hate them.

And maybe some of them have earned it.

The Iranian Hostage Crisis came to define the Carter Presidency and I, like many other Americans, despised the President for not doing something, anything, to get our people back.  Arabs, they’re just a bunch of goat herders, towelheads, my naive 18-year old self thought. Just park a nuclear aircraft carrier off the coast and land the Marines! That’ll scare the dirty sons of bitches! Show ‘em who they’re messing with!  Christ, Jimmy Carter, what a damned pussy! Why doesn’t this guy do something? 

And, of course, when we finally did do something a year into the crisis, the rescue mission – Operation Eagle Claw – crashed and burned in the Iranian Desert and eight American servicemen died. A half dozen more were badly injured. Two multi-million dollar aircraft were destroyed and five more were abandoned to the Iranians – along with the hostages.

It was … shameful.

And that too I blamed on Carter’s incompetence, and I was so goddamned glad to be rid of him when Ronald Reagan took the White House.

But, time, you see, does tend to temper the heat of youthful passion and lend one that perspective I mentioned up above.

Three decades later, almost all of which was spent in military service, in so-called peace and in war and in everything in between (a significant fraction of which was spent within spitting distance of that self-same Iran), and I tend to view things far differently. You see, unlike that naïve 18-year old kid, the me of today, the experienced US Navy Chief Warrant Officer, me, I know what it would have taken to pull off that rescue – especially in 1980, with the limited technology and the rusting post-Vietnam equipment and the general state of the US Military. I know in endless detail. I know the troops and the equipment and the weapons and the comms and the terrain and most especially I know the intelligence problem, because that was my job. I know the politics, and that too was my job. Hell, I served with men who were there, in the desert that night in 1980, watching helplessly as their comrades died in fire. 

Because of that and many other things, I’ve come to view the Carter Administration in a very different light and I shake my head now in sympathy at the impossible situation, at the hate and the rage and the uninformed criticism the president faced – including my own scorn – in addition to the terrible tactical, strategic, economic, and political problems.


And so, here we are.


Two days ago I wrote Negotiating With Terrorists.

On the surface, that essay is about the return of an American prisoner of war, Bowe Bergdahl.

But underneath, the article is really about the same socio-political themes I commonly address, hate, fear, political insanity, reflexive unreason, hysterical punditry, division for profit, and empty patriotism.

The article appears to have struck a nerve.

Negotiating With Terrorists went viral. It continues to go viral. It’s not yet the most widely read or shared thing I’ve ever written, but it’s getting there.

As with everything nowadays, Americans are deeply divided on this issue because it seems we must lately line up on either side of any issue no matter how great or how trivial and scream reflexive hatred at each other. And again, like everything else, that division tends to the extremes and my email today reflects that in spades.

Over all, most of those messages are positive, tens of thousands of people agree enthusiastically with what I wrote. But many emphatically do not – and that hatemail, and it is hate mail, is pretty damned toxic indeed. Here are a few samples:

fuck go fuck yourself fucking ass coward i fucking hope your scum ass licker fucking dies people like you make me fucking puke!!


Liberals are cowards one and all just like the author of this hatchet job. Obviously he has never served. Coward.

Let me be the first to say GFY! [Go Fuck Yourself] … I feel sorry for anybody who had to serve under your traitorous command.

you are a liar! Borg.dum is a fuckin muzzie traitor! That is a FACT. He walked away from his post and left Americans to die and that is indisputable fact. hell ya leave him to die! He is not an American you are wrong about that stonehead.

And these are the more, intelligent, ones.

Nothing in the hundreds of hate comments that attempted to post here on Stonekettle Station, nothing in the thousand plus emails I’ve received in the last two days, none of the pundits, not Rush, not Glenn, not Ann, not Sarah, not Sean, none of the politicians most especially John McCain nor Ted Cruz, nothing has convinced me that I was in any way wrong in my analysis yesterday. If anything, I take it as validation of my initial premise.


But then I got a letter from a Marine.


He is a United States Marine Corps Captain, recently returned from his second tour in Afghanistan. He disagreed with my article. But, and here’s the thing so pay attention, the Captain’s letter was polite, respectful as in one peer to another, firm in its opinion, intelligent, thoughtful, reasoned, did not engage in personal attacks, and was written in a clear and concise manner. And he signed his name to the bottom of it. 

In other words, exactly what I would expect from a Marine.

There is a reason why Marines have commanded respect the world over for more than 200 years, and it’s not just their pretty faces and unmatched fighting ability.

The Captain asked me if I would retract or edit Negotiating With Terrorists.

I told him no.  But not because I didn’t consider it. Because you see this Marine brought me forcefully back to where I began here today, and that is this: We are the sum of our experiences.

And despite the fact that I spent two and half decades in uniform and served in this war, my experience is emphatically not the Captain’s. 

Nor is it that of the soldiers who served alongside Bowe Bergdahl.

I knew this, I acknowledged it the previous essay:

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 I meant that, sincerely.

But in retrospect it’s clear to me that I wasn’t expansive enough.

And I know this because some misguided people attempted to use my essay, my words, to school a Marine Captain who had just returned from the war zone.

These people attempted to use my experience to discredit his.

This was never my intention. Never. And I find it as unacceptable as he did.

Now listen carefully: what I said was that those aforementioned pundits, the usual cast of hatemongers and their like-minded politicians, are doing their usual dance – and that dance is motivated by hate, pure and simple. Hate is profitable and they’ve refined it to a fine art.

What I did not say, what I specifically did not say, was that I thought the soldiers mentioned in that paragraph above were to be painted with the same brush. I didn’t say it, because I don’t think it and you damned well shouldn’t either. And the next time you attempt to use my words to chastise a Marine, I’d be honored to hold his hat while he explains to you the folly of your ways.

We are the sum of our experiences.

Those Soldiers, those Marines, those Sailors, those Airmen, and those Guardsmen are fully entitled to their resentment.  It is possible that like my own example above, thirty years from now they may view things differently – or maybe they won’t.  There are those veterans from Vietnam who have forgiven Jane Fonda, and there others who wouldn’t piss on her only if she happened to be fully engulfed in flames. Both are entitled to their opinions, they earned that right with their own blood and Fonda can live with the Goddamned consequences of her own actions.

Just as Bergdahl will.

I told the Captain that I could not retract my article, instead what I would do is give him (and by extension those he had led and those who had served alongside Bowe Bergdahl) a platform. 

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Right now. You read my words, now read his. I want you to read this warrior’s words, every one of them. You don’t have to agree with him, but you need to see the situation through a Marine’s eyes, though the eyes of those who wear the uniform and who stand into danger with steadfast devotion.

We are the sum of our experiences, this is his:

With Bergdahl’s return we have the expected torrent of screaming from all sides. Would to God that Americans could learn again to have dignity and discuss their viewpoints without vitriol. Or at least value silence. Left and Right. This Bergdahl issue is one that a small sliver of our population has any real business speaking about: Uniformed service-people.

Recent conversations have highlighted three misconceptions, at least from my perspective as a twice deployed Marine Captain, that the media is broadcasting in this prisoner transfer case: That Bergdahl was a POW, that the trade-off was empathetic, and that disagreeing with this process is somehow political.

On both my deployments to Afghanistan we were all briefed thoroughly on this guy. We were to keep an eye out and ask around about him, even in Helmand. From intel collection they learned that he apparently got upset with Army life and walked off his camp one night. He sought out the Taliban and aligned himself with them. Our understanding was that he may have taught them US weapons, IED making, and tactics. That’s called not only desertion, but aiding and abetting the enemy. Not a prisoner taken against his will. You will note, he was never designated a POW. There is a reason.

From current conversations with my intel connections, it seems we knew where this guy has been for some time. But since he originally cost at least 6 lives by being a little ****, the vote was that he did not rate any more American blood. We all swore the same oath… the enormous majority kept ours. Bergdahl broke his and cost lives.

However, he needed to come back at some point to face the consequences or homecoming, whatever was appropriate. We go through great lengths to salvage our dead, even if just their souls are dead. Like all good things in life, such sensitivities take timing and precision. What is so maddening about this from a military standpoint is that we traded the Himmler posse of Afghanistan for a guy who willingly went and joined our enemy and contributed to at least the deaths of 6 of his comrades. It’s like “Tommy Boy Does Foreign Policy”. The 5 Taliban leaders are evil. Suicide belt on Down’s syndrome kid evil. Bombing school buses evil. Digging eyes out of skulls with a spoon evil. And they will continue to wage their jihad on the Afghans that my people worked too hard to set up for success. And if the Taliban has any sense (and they do) these 5 guys will start up Jihad SERE School 2.0. That makes this trade seem not so much based on empathy. It seems amateur. It seems like ineptitude. In the real world of blood and loss, the end result is important just as long as the process doesn’t totally undermine it. Like a pyrrhic victory. These concerns are not partisan. Or maybe these guys are implanted with revenge which will come later.

Every young person in uniform has been told at one time or another, “Good initiative, bad judgment”. Would that a kindly entity could put his arm around certain decision makers and frankly state such as a mentoring opportunity. This trade will be looked at as a giant victory to our enemies--- the real jihadist network. Why is that important? PR. Their information operations for the next few seasons is set. By us. They succeed as long as they can convince young and aspiring jihadists that they can make the US wilt. It deepens the impression that the administration is way over its head. Which is why there exist things like war committees in Congress, who legally should have been included in this decision but were bypassed. Again: the appearance of ineptitude. If not heard a single person in uniform begrudge Bergdahl his return. There are exponential WFTs as to the process, however.

And to answer a previous question about the value of a US serviceman because he’s a serviceman: If I were to walk off from my trusted place of duty, join the enemy, and conspire to kill my brothers, how many Taliban would I be worth? Exactly zero. Honor and duty still trump platitudes and dishonor earns magnificent violence.

We have rescue forces second to none in the world. By a long shot. If we desired, we could have pulled him out. We’ve known where he was, down to the number of guys guarding him. Our true professionals could have done some great work there. What didn’t need to happen is that we give back major chess pieces who return to a hero’s welcome and trade high-value targets for low-value propositions. In the end it will not be people at Paypal, Dell, or ATK who will bear the brunt of this. It’ll be my brothers and sisters in the Marines, Navy, and Army. And there will be blood.

I’m about to freeze the comments on Negotiating With Terrorists, I think that conversation has run its course, and I’m going to close here with this:

I stand by what I wrote, but what I wrote isn’t the whole story.

Part of the remainder was described to you by a Marine Captain. And there is more to come.  There are legitimate questions that need to be answered, some of those by President Obama, some by his detractors in Congress, and a great deal more by Bowe Bergdahl himself. 

Six brave men died getting Bowe Bergdahl home. Five dangerous men went free. You must never forget that, that was the cost of Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom.

But, we don’t leave our people behind.

Consider however what the Captain said, more may die as a consequence of what it took to make good on that sacred promise, and that, my fellow Americans, that is the price you will pay.

The question will always be: was he worth it?

Was it worth the price we had to pay? But that’s always the question, isn’t it? In war the price is always, always terrible and this is part of it, right here.

Was he worth it?

I don’t know the answer to that.

I think those who love Bowe Bergdahl would say that he was indeed worth the price, and more.

But I suspect the six Gold Star Mothers of those men who died chasing after Bergdahl would say something different – and in point of fact I don’t have to guess, I read their outrage yesterday when my words were linked to their sorrow.

Was it worth it?

I don’t know, but let me ask you this: if, if, Bergdahl is tried and found innocent, then don’t we as a nation owe it to those dead men to finish what they started?  And if Bergdahl is guilty, then don’t we owe it to those self same dead heroes, those men who came of their own free will and gave of themselves the last full measure of devotion, and don’t we owe it to all the living ones who like the Captain, like me, served our country honorably and stood steadfast by our duty, don’t we owe it to ourselves to bring Bergdahl home to account for his sins? Don’t we?

Was he worth it?

I have no idea.

Look me up in thirty years, maybe I’ll know then.



Addendum 1:

I’m disappointed.

I expected more of my readership.

I asked you see the situation through a soldier’s eyes. Instead some of you have resorted to the same kneejerk blinkered responses you accuse the Captain of and you’ve missed the point of this follow-up. I wrote it the way I did for a reason. I’d like you to go back and read it again, carefully, dispassionately this time. And let’s leave the conspiracy theories regarding the military chain of command at home this time.

I asked you to look at this from a different viewpoint for a reason, and I expected those of you who know me, who read me on a regular basis, to think about what I said.

Something a lot of you are missing, especially those of you who lack military command experience: the Captain’s position, and that of his superiors, makes perfect tactical sense. 

They had to assume the worst case scenario.

They had to assume Bergdahl was compromised. And until they have proof otherwise, they must continue to assume so – they must assume that Bergdahl gave up what he knew to his captors, tactics, techniques, intel, routines, routes, all of it. Whether you assume that Bergdahl gave it up willingly or under torture or because of Stockholm syndrome or whatever, you have to assume that he did give it up.

Anything else is irresponsible. 

I’ve told you over and over, war is dirty and immoral and fucking horrible, this, right here, is part of it.

The Captain’s, and that of his chain of command, are the only correct viewpoint for military leaders in their position.

The Captain has to assume that the enemy has his playbook, anything else gets his Marines killed.

Debriefing of Bergdahl will take years and may show that he didn’t give up anything of value, or it may not

Which is why I directly implied that the Captain may feel differently in the future, when the memories and the heat of war have faded, and the true situation is known.

Or he may not – even if history eventually shows that Bergdahl isn’t a deserter.

And if Bergdahl is a deserter, it may be that thirty years from now he, Bergdahl, will come to regret his actions – which is why I deliberately mentioned Jane Fonda who now deeply regrets hers. And while those regrets don’t change the facts, they may temper how others view the events of history.  And if that’s so, it may change the Captain’s position.  Someday.  Or, should it go the other way, it may change mine. Someday.

Or not.

Which is why I ended the piece with the line I did.

The Captain has good reason to believe the way he does, unlike the raging pundits and politicians mentioned in the previous piece.

You, I hope, can find a place of reason in between.


Addendum 2:

A lot has been made about whether or not the six soldiers who died in the aftermath of Bergdahl’s disappearance specifically died looking for Bergdahl.

I find this utterly unnecessary argument distasteful.  

Those men died in the performance of their duties. 

They died in the service of their sworn oath. 

They died in the service of their country. 

They died in a foreign land, in a war zone, wearing the uniform of the United States of America.

Whether they were out there under orders to specifically look for Bergdahl or not, they were still looking for him.

Those six dead men, along with all the others who fell in this shitty war, are indeed the price we Americans paid.  They are the price Bergdahl’s unit paid. They’re the price Bergdahl paid, intentionally or not.

Watching those dead soldiers’ bodies be dragged through the streets of the media by self-serving politicians and media pundits and the shouting mob on both sides of the aisle disgusts me.

Here at least, I’d appreciate it if you’d show those dead men the respect they deserve.


A note about commenting: Comments are in full moderation and will remain so until further notice. I’m not going to reemphasize the commenting rules, you’re suppose to be an adult, act like one. If you behave like a child, your comment will not post. //Jim

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 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.”


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