Here's my brief take on the DailyKos "screw them" mercenary controversy. I don't know where else to say this, so I'll say it here! Isn't that what a blog is for?
If Kos wants a way out, he just has to say that his association with mercenaries is as death squads, which everyone who paid attention to Central America in the 80s can understand. He can then say that it has since been pointed out to him that they were not death squads but security guards, so his comments are inoperative.
It's a bit late for all that now. We may never know what those guys were doing out there and why the United States felt the need to hire people to do it. They probably weren't doing egregious things but they probably were doing things that needed to avoid scrutiny. Saying the above might also leave a bad taste in Kos's mouth, which I would totally understand.
The man served in the military on top of that. Is it any wonder that he's not well-disposed towards soldiers-for-hire, even if they are "just" security guards? Servicemen and women make sacrifices for their country because they believe it is their duty. Soldiers for hire or security guards or whatever make a rational risk-benefit analysis for a paycheck. I'm sure a lot of the Blackwell guys went to Iraq with good intentions, but the fact remains that they can walk away at any time, and they get paid a pretty penny. Servicemen and women cannot. Many of the people who are outraged seem not to be aware of this distinction.
All that aside, nobody deserves to die, nobody deserves to have their body desecrated after they die, and every death is cause for mourning. The actions of the mob were truly disgusting, although, as others have pointed out, they are pretty much par for the course in war. (That's why we should avoid war if at all possible!) So I can't accept callous disregard for death. But to my mind only the most uncharitable reader can see Kos's comments as a rational and coldly promulgated policy argument. It was obviously a statement made in a moment of passion. Nobody can get it right all the time. Everyone has dark impulses. We judge people not by whether or not they have these impulses, or even so much by how well they keep them in check, but in how they make up for the real harm they cause when they fail to do so. Kos retracted his statement and gave a more nuanced explanation of how he felt.
We really got blindsided by all this. I can't believe how successful the wingnuts have been in getting Kos's advertising pulled. I now worry that candidate fundraising will be hurt. It sucks. I guess we just learn from this, realizing that this new tactic exists, and move on.
--Melissa O, at 19:17