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Quoth The Craven

A while ago, I mentioned that for some reason Joel Schwartzberg of the PBS "news" show NOW had decided that I simply couldn't live without getting e-mailed details on each and every program before they aired. Last time, he was touting their "examination" into ways the Republicans were trying to deny people their right to vote.

That public drubbing didn't do a damned bit of good, though, 'cuz he keeps sending me them. And yesterday, he sent me one that made me almost throw up in my mouth a little:

Please see below long and short listings for NOW #333

Short listing: 8.24.07
Soldiers against the war: They went to Iraq, but decided the war was wrong. Next on NOW

Long Listing: 8.24.07
Choosing to go to war is both a government's decision and one made by individual enlistees. But changing your mind once you're in the army is a risky decision with serious consequences. On Friday, August 24 (check your local listings), we talk to two soldiers who went AWOL and
eventually left the Army, but who took very different paths. NOW captures the moment when one man turns himself in, and when another applies for refugee status in Canada, becoming one of the 20,000 soldiers who have deserted the army since the War in Iraq began. Each describes what drove him to follow his conscience over his call to duty, and what penalties and criticism were endured as a result.

"I see things differently having lived through the experience," former army medic Agustin Aguayo tells NOW. "When I returned from Iraq, after much reflection I knew deep within me I could never go back."

The NOW website at www.pbs.org/now will offer more insight into the case made by conscientious objectors, as well as more stories of desertion in the ranks.

Joel Schwartzberg

In the old days, desertion in time of war could earn one a trip in front of a firing squad. We live in a more enlightened time, however, and that sort of thing wouldn't fly too well.

A while ago, I talked about Dr. Mary Hanna, an Army doctor who -- just as she was finishing her training and about to become a fully certified anesthesiologist, decided that she was a "conscientious objector" and could not in any way support the military -- not even by treating wounded soldiers here in the United States. In the end, the Army let her go with a promise to repay her debt.

My suggestion was a bit harsher -- that Dr. Hanna return all the pay she had accepted from the Army, repay the money they Army had spent on her education, and then pay that same amount again as "punitive damages," as well as to pay for her replacement until her educational money can be used to train another doctor. I also suggested she should be banned from accepting any government money, funding, grants, or payments.

I think that's a decent starting point. Those who are convicted of desertion today should serve the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment for the remainder of their term of service.
  • Restitution of all pay received prior to their service in war.
  • Loss of right to vote.
  • Lifelong forfeit of any government loans, grants, payments, salary, or any other form of financial assistance or compensation.

I don't care about your position on the war or not. The principle is clear here: these people willingly signed a contract and made a commitment to our nation, and now they are running out on that deal. No one gets into the military unless they want to be there -- we haven't had a draft in over 30 years -- and that's a huge commitment.

The best definition I've ever read of "freedom" was from David Gerrold's "A Matter For Men:" "Freedom is being responsible for your actions."

These people that, I'm fairly comfortable in predicting, NOW will portray in as sympathetic light as they can, freely made their choices to commit several years to the United States armed forces. In return, they were given certain compensations and considerations by the United States. Now, they are freely choosing to renege on that commitment, and there should be very severe penalties for that action -- not gushings of pity and softball treatment by a news program paid for by the same taxpayers who are being cheated out of these people's agreed-upon service.

Joel (and I'm fairly comfortable in assuming you'll read this, especially since I'm going to e-mail you a note about it, and you commented the last time I kicked around your show), if you want an idea for your next story on people in the military who have had it rough, might I suggest you invest a bit of that money of mine you take and look into the story of Specialist Alison K.? Her full name isn't given, but with her first name, rank, unit, and the details of her experiences certainly ought to make tracking her down no challenge for a news organization of NOW's caliber.

I realize that she might not exactly fit your ideological bent, but it could be a very compelling piece. And she's certainly more worthy of the treacly sympathetic portrayal I'm confident your story on the deserters will receive.

Update: Joel just sent me a link to an excerpt from the show. Amazingly enough, I was right. (See the extended version for the video)


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Comments (44)

Wait just a dawl-gone minut... (Below threshold)

Wait just a dawl-gone minute!

If you enlist in the military you might have to go to war?

That's the craziest thing I'd ever heard.

If you enlist in t... (Below threshold)
If you enlist in the military you might have to go to war?
Yep. And next thing you know, we might start expecting firefighters to run into burning buildings and police officers to place themselves in harms way to protect innocent civilians.
Thanks for the heads-up abo... (Below threshold)

Thanks for the heads-up about Specialist Alison K. It's a personal, courageous story -- one that actually transcends "ideological bents" of any stripe; I'm sure you agree.

One more thing -- Remember ... (Below threshold)

One more thing -- Remember that police officers and firefighters are allowed to quit their jobs for any reason without fearing jailtime or public scorn.

JT:It shouldn't ta... (Below threshold)


It shouldn't take long for the tolls to jump on the "20,000" figure.

Not that it is any way close to the truth, it's because it fits their agenda just as it fits Joel Schwartzberg's to propagate that lie.

Where did that 20,000 deser... (Below threshold)

Where did that 20,000 deserters figure come from?

"Remember that police offic... (Below threshold)

"Remember that police officers and firefighters are allowed to quit their jobs for any reason without fearing jailtime or public scorn."

Yep. Such is the glory of being a civil servant, and not a member of the Armed Forces.

Joel:One more ... (Below threshold)


One more thing -- Remember that police officers and firefighters are allowed to quit their jobs for any reason without fearing jailtime or public scorn.

What a fallacious comparison that is.

Forgive me for asking "Mr. journalist," but do members of a police force or firefighters sign a contract that sets their term of service and how long that service is? AND, not so incidentally, a provision that specifically provides the military/Gov. the option if needed to extend that length of that service

If that comparison is an example of your critical thinking you need to sue your journalism school of choice for a return of all monies paid to them, they FAILED.

In addition you need to reimburse any and all fed/state and city taxes paid to educate you going back to kindergarden.

FormerHostage:... (Below threshold)


Where did that 20,000 deserters figure come from?

Off the top of my head I can't give you a specific place but the figure has been around for a while on most if not all the anti-war/anti-military sites.

And it's bogus as hell. Most times I've seen numbers close to it the propagandist conflates being AWOL/UA with desertion and they are VERY separate things.

It has always amazed me how... (Below threshold)

It has always amazed me how much the value of a person's word has degraded over the past few decades, and instances such as this only serve to damage that concept even more.

These military members raised their right hands, signed on the dotted line, and swore to not only uphold and protect, but also obey the orders of those people appointed over them. Deserters violate both concepts, violate a contract, and, worst of all, violate their own word.

And whether society likes it or not these days, without his word, a man is nothing.

I have more than a few other choice words and descriptions I would use to describe deserters, especially during this time of war, but I think I will leave it at that... No need to raise my blood pressure too much.

Why let accuracy, ethics an... (Below threshold)

Why let accuracy, ethics and truth get in the way of yellow-stripe journalism AKA NOW?

And whether society lik... (Below threshold)

And whether society likes it or not these days, without his word, a man is nothing.

Yep, I couldn't agree more.

You see some of the enablers and those that diminish the the power/importance of a person's "word" or contracts in congress as some scramble to bailout out those that were taken in by shady home loans.

To hell with contracts and promises, it's more important for them to pander for votes and spend million/billions propping up the shysters and the too stupid to read crowd.

20,000 That sounds very hig... (Below threshold)

20,000 That sounds very high. Almost 400 a month. But hey thats a nice round number the left can remember.

"20,000 ... . But hey that... (Below threshold)

"20,000 ... . But hey thats a nice round number the left can remember."

It's the exact same number that'll be on their grant checks, when they arrive.

Forgive the satire but...</... (Below threshold)

Forgive the satire but...

Joel Schwartzberg, sometimes known as"Mr. journalist," if by some magic/stroke of bad luck on your part you awoke and were bound by a contract obligating you to 4 years service as a journalist for Fox News would you desert?

If you enlisted during Viet... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

If you enlisted during Viet Nam...we served ONE combat tour of 12 MONTHS...
now of course multiple tours of 15 months...
Hmmmm the patriotic rush to serve our nation is failing.....
They are losing brothers and sisters to IED's because in the 21 century we lack the capability as a nation to produce properly armored vehicles....
They know our Nation's "Support the troops" does not apply when they come home healthy or injured..

They know that after years of effort and sacrifice...basics for the Iraqi people such as clean drinking water..electricity...and even more ironically gasoline .. are scarce....

They recognize their greatest efforts to support a clearly dysfunctional Iraqi pretend Govt are futile...

It is clear to me...when I talk to Iraq vets with shattered bodies and minds when I go to the Denver V.A. ...this group of Vets are perhaps the most courageous and honorable vets our nation has ever had....

Bush/Cheney/Rummy will be in the same fires of Hell as Bin Laden and Saddam

Sometimes I wonder if Nogo ... (Below threshold)

Sometimes I wonder if Nogo (I'm sorry... "nogo..." ) has his standard talking points written up, and then cuts and pastes them into any vaguely relevant thread, then tweaks them just a little. Because it's always the same.


Point of clarification...we... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Point of clarification...we were only forced to serve on combat tour...anyone could...and some did volunteer for multiple tours...but I found that those who did more than one tour did so for personal reasons other than patriotism.

you know... i think it woul... (Below threshold)

you know... i think it would be a worthwhile investment... if nogo were to use his veteran's status... access the gi bill of rights... and take a course in basic english... one that covers composition... with a heavy emphasis on punctuation and capitalization and complete sentences... along with a healthy lesson in ellipsis abuse... but that would probably make his thoughts comprehensible... and expose his inanity for all to see... so maybe not...


Yep sometime I cut and past... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Yep sometime I cut and paste...but this is not one of those times...
I challenge ANY of you to go to your local V.A. Hospital..go to the general waiting area...

My views are not just the result of my military service almost 40 years ago...
But as injuries from that service have exposed me to Vets from all conflicts since then....

...damn right I get passionate about it...

Please Jay you are certainl... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

Please Jay you are certainly above the esoteric claptrap of that post...

Gee, nogo, I thought passio... (Below threshold)

Gee, nogo, I thought passion was expressed in exclamation points, while ellipses are most often used to represent trailing off... the end of incomplete sentences and thoughts... symbolizing a lack of energy and enthusiasm from the speaker... zzzzz...

Sorry, I done bored myself to sleep there. Dunno how you avoid doing that to yourself more often.


"If you enlisted during Vie... (Below threshold)

"If you enlisted during Viet Nam...we served ONE combat tour of 12 MONTHS...
now of course multiple tours of 15 months..."

Interesting that a lot of the Vietnam vets were actually drafted.

Also, prior to Vietnam, enlisted, or drafted, you stayed for the whole show.

I'll agree that these men and women are the best soldiers we've ever had - no argument, on any level.

The fact that this is taking time does not mean that their sacrifices have been wasted, though, and I think it highly uncool of you to declare as such.

I think you hear less compl... (Below threshold)

I think you hear less complaint from the active army than from reserves. Lots of people who enlist don't realize their committment is actually longer than active service. I read stories about guys who get reactivated after doing a short stint prior to 2001. Now they're in a different stage of life - they have families, are in the middle of school, or have other obligations that make serving more of a burden.

I do have some sympathy for those people - before 2001 it was hard to imagine circumstances that would call for the reactivation of reserves, so I think lots of people signed without giving it due consideration. But sign they did, and now it's time to honor that signature. The time to think about potential downsides is before you sign.

The CO thing is a load of crap. How you get COs in a volunteer military is beyond me, unless it's purely a legal dodge to get out of combat. At least when there was a draft it made sense - but now? No.

To get back on topic, here'... (Below threshold)

To get back on topic, here's a medic (the UTube Clip) who started having CO thoughts after a man is killed after pulling too close to a convoy. Good thing he got out - he was a danger to his buddies. So this means what - someone joined up and found out he didn't have the guts to be a soldier. He took the legal way out and got out. Fine. Good riddance. Sad that he wasted so much of the military's time and money training him. So he went and volunteered for the Public Health Service, or Peace Corps, or what, being such a dedicated person who wanted to serve the country who had been so good to him and his family? Somehow I got the impression he's back in the commercial market and isn't feeling like he owes anybody anything. What a patriot!

How about the next case not on the clip. Another paragon of virtue I suppose?

NOW propaganda, courtesy of the Goebbels School of Broadcast Journalism.

" - before 2001 it was hard... (Below threshold)

" - before 2001 it was hard to imagine circumstances that would call for the reactivation of reserves"

Unless you take into consideration that whole Gulf War I bi'ness ;)

nogo [common sense]<p... (Below threshold)

nogo [common sense]

It is clear to me...when I talk to Iraq vets with shattered bodies and minds when I go to the Denver V.A. ...this group of Vets are perhaps the most courageous and honorable vets our nation has ever had....

Well golly gee wiz! Wouldn't asking those "with shattered bodies and minds" anything related to the Iraq war result in answers showing disillusionment or more?


Kinda like asking a nitwit in the lobby coffee shop of media matters or movon whether they think Bush is the greatest Pres. ever.

That aside the picture you paint is BS, all wounded vets aren't as you claim they are many are very supportive of the Iraqi effort.

Remember that poli... (Below threshold)
Remember that police officers and firefighters are allowed to quit their jobs for any reason without fearing jailtime or public scorn.

Hmm. My company has paid (not all) for me to return to school and further my education. In return, I owe them 5 years of service. If I ever leave, I have to pay for every class taken from five years back from the day I walk out.
The military isn't alone in expecting that if you take their dollar, you stick around for a while. Esp when sticking around was part and parcel of the deal going in.

Nogo,I respect, ad... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:


I respect, admire, and appreciate your service to our country. Thank you. Your chronic wounds are a tragedy. Every wounded warrior coming home from Iraq is a tragedy. Every warrior not coming home alive from Iraq is a horrible tragedy. I don't even know if I could do justice with words to how those realities of war make me feel.

During World War II somewhere around 80 million people were killed. Add to that the wounded and crippled. At a time when the killing technology was infantile compared to what we have today and at a time when the world population was a fraction of what it is today.

If this blemish on the human race is not dealt with now, if it's allowed to fester, grow, and gain power (yes it IS a war for oil - we'd rather a stable, democratic Iraq have the oil than Al Qaeda & Ahmadinejad) and we just appease them- let them win the early battles, the body count this time could be in the billions. We humans actually have the ability to wipe most life off the Earth.

(I think I read once that cockroaches would probably survive -- and I think James Carville, too.)

War is one of the most horrible atrocities ever invented by humans. Still, sometimes it's the best of all available options. If you look at the whole, big picture with an intelligent, historical perspective, you can see that we not only can, we MUST prevail. A stable, democratic Iraq will not be the end of Islamofascism, but it will be a BIG step in the right direction and it will make all the rest of the steps substantially easier.

The heroes who have volunteered to fight in Iraq and elsewhere, many re-enlisting after their commitment is up even, know this. While it is critically important to be constantly mindful of the tragedy and sacrifice of this war the things you post here mostly tend to dishonor them, at least in my opinion. This war won't just "end". It will be won by one side and lost by the other side. Using the tragedy of war as propaganda to demoralize the good guys is not a morally superior position from which to argue.

But Al Qaeda appreciates it.

Whose "side a... (Below threshold)
civil behavior:

Whose "side are we on P Bunyan?

The side of the Sunni Baathists who we have armed to fight Al Queda? Or the Wahabbi/Salafi Sunnis whom we just sold 20 Billion dollars worth of arms? The same Al-Saud dynasty who fund religious madrasses and are taught to fight the infidel? That side?

Or are you on the side of the Shia Islam Al Maliki and his majority in Iraq who carry the same belief as the Shia Muslims in Iran? The same Shia Muslims who are part of the insurgency whose tribal militias are cleansing the streets of Baghdad of Sunnis while workign under the cover of AMerican support.

Which side are you on? Who will you declare the winner? Do you even have a clue?

Civil, it might surprise yo... (Below threshold)
C-C-G Author Profile Page:

Civil, it might surprise you to learn that someone can be on America's side.

It will probably also come as a shock to you that not all choices are black and white, either-or. Sometimes you have to pick the lesser of two or more evils.

For all the lefty bloviating about conservatives seeing everything in black and white, the left's view of foreign policy sure seems to be monochromatic.

hmmm.. I see Joel Schwartzb... (Below threshold)

hmmm.. I see Joel Schwartzberg the subject of this piece did nothing more than drop by and offer a sorry-assed analogy to explain himself.

Then fled.

The guys nothing more than a troll.

The guys nothing m... (Below threshold)
Linoge Author Profile Page:
The guys nothing more than a troll.

Not to be crude, but "Duh."

You're not, that's just a r... (Below threshold)

You're not, that's just a reaffirmation.

cb is so last month about I... (Below threshold)

cb is so last month about Iraq. Wake up and smell the good news. Don't sip, though; you'd choke.

cb, the Sunni have tribes, ... (Below threshold)

cb, the Sunni have tribes, the Shia have factions, the Badrs and the Sadrs. You are exposing your ignorance.

CB,Unlike you Amer... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:


Unlike you America's defeat/Islamofascist's victory supporters on the left, I am on America's side and on the side of those who want a free, stable, democratic Iraq. Unlike most leftists, I am on the side of freedom, liberty, democracy, and human rights.

Whose side are you on? (Don't bother answering that--it was rhetorical.)

Yes there are political problems in Iraq. I
acknoledge that, but do not think it is right to use them a justification for allowing the terrorists to claim victory over us. I believe there can be peace but it will take time.

Hell, here in the US our political problems are causing over a million totally innocent humans to be put top death every year, but I'm not giving on us yet either. I believe good will triumph over evil. It always has. Sometimes it takes a war, but I sincerely hope it won't take another civil war in this country to defeat the evil as it did in the 1800's.

I see Stuckey's has wireles... (Below threshold)

I see Stuckey's has wireless internet and CB's boss is allowing servers to bring in their laptops for the overnight shift.
Very considerate.

Hey, pecan logs rule. ... (Below threshold)
Linoge Author Profile Page:

Hey, pecan logs rule.

C-C-G...."you're either w... (Below threshold)
civil behavior:

C-C-G...."you're either with us or with the terrorists" GW Bush
"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction" Dick Cheney

Sounds pretty black and white to me......
Sounds like that was not as black and white as stated so simply. No doubt??

"For all the lefty bloviating about conservatives seeing everything in black and white, the left's view of foreign policy sure seems to be monochromatic."

Of course you want to drag out the Bush Doctrine and pretend that freedom is on the march i Iraq. All the while in your own country you are being summarily stripped of your own liberties in exchange for a false sense of security.

Have you not read of the signing statements and executive orders and the Military Commision Act and the revised and enhanced version of the Patriot Act. Where is the justice in extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretapping, American companies being used as spy venues, detention without habeas corpus? Or something so inoucous as a Presidential Advance Manual designed to how to hide protestors so the president doesn't have to see/hear them, and if that doesn't work, how to send your own people as a counter-protest to drown them out and block their view.

You call that liberty,democracy and human rights?

You've got to be kidding?

P.S. Wizzy......to assume you know another's health, wealth or wisdom is extremely risky. You are bound to get caught with your own pants down.

Civil Behavior, you should ... (Below threshold)

Civil Behavior, you should consider yourself lucky not to be living under a Democrat President during wartime, that is when you see real infringment of civil liberties - as opposed to your silly whining about the Patriot Act.

QOATH THE SPURWING PLOVER E... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

QOATH THE SPURWING PLOVER Enviromentalists wackos and goverment biologists stay way from me my mate and my offspring were all getting ready to migrate and your damn radio tracking colars dont get and good country/western or classic rock stations

Jay Tea, if you had watched... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea, if you had watched the show, instead of being the sub-human piece of crap that you are, you might have learned something different.

The man in the clip proves nothing of the sort about "your being tight." Instead, the program shows quite clearly that people who think like you do, have no idea about what war is.

That a man, a new immigrant-citizen, who wanted to fight for his new country, might be appalled by actually seeing what that choice meant, proves your kook extreme right wing garbage shows just exactly what kind of brutal sub-human that you are.

You are a pompous know-it-all asshole.

It is ironic that 3 of the ... (Below threshold)

It is ironic that 3 of the biggest and wimpiest Vietnam deferment fabricators are the ones that invented this war = Bush , Cheney and Rove and the rest of those neo-con baby boomers, all draft dodgers and ....where does it say that you sign up and you keep going back to multiple tours of duty until you get killed or maimed permanently.???

Send some of your kids and stop talking about it and criticizing others that simply can't take it anymore. No one signs into an army if they know that they have to do 3 or 4 tours of duty like a newphew I have.. Families like ours are sending ours time after time ... and if you have ever been there in the Middle East you know they do not want our MacDonalds there, much less our health care system and democracy.... WHAT A HORROR OF A PRESIDENCY. Apocalypse Now Bush has said!






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