Monday, August 31, 2009

Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!

Haymarket Flier, 1886
Deckelkrug from c1880, Württenberg State, Germany (with title slogan).

I would like take FDChief up on his suggestion to "present conditions of, prospects for, and place in the 21st Century United States (or the setting of their choice) of "labor"; the artisan, laborer and manual worker."

In terms of introduction for this post, I would only point out the history behind the labor movement in the US. Chief mentions May Day and implies of course the Eight Hour Day Movement of the 1880s . . . Haymarket and the rest. Haymarket 1886 is a fascinating subject, but I assume a basic understanding of Haymarket and the significance of the entire movement, and the necessary role of German-Americans in carrying it forward.

I would also add that one of the innocent activists hanged was a Confederate war veteran married to an African-American woman - Lucy Parsons - who went on to become one of the symbols of the movement . . . her husband one of the five (I include Lingg) hanged by the Yan . . . I mean state of Illinois. ;-)>

So assuming an understanding of the basic US history of the labor movement up to circa 1890, consider how exactly we would translate the above Deckelkrug slogan. If we translate it simply as "workers of the world unite!" we make is pretty simple and very ambiguous, open to many interpretations and manipulations . . . Translating it as "proletarian class organize yourselves!" would create a completely different meaning. Essentially the American proletarian class (led by a political elite?) would organize themselves . . . Or it could refer to following a universal communist party (supposedly making the call). Or it could simply refer to local unions. One starts to get an idea of the complex nature of the workers movement and why it led in so many different directions . . . In all I don't think that anyone would argue that people should be expected to work 16 hour shifts or seven day weeks. At the same time, like all such belief systems it has been a source of much confusion, waste and suffering.

But why would we want to even bother with such a verbal task? Allow me to let you in on one of the dirty little secrets of the 19th-20th Century . . . the workers movement, and especially communism/Marxism/"Marxian thought"/whatever, were all the spiritual children of modern capitalism, and especially its crimes and inequalities. Prior to that Christianity had served this purpose in the West . . . the equality of all men (before God). Where Christianity fell short was of course that it was only a promise of a supposed eternal future, whereas - lets call it simply "socialism" - was a guarantee of a materialist and earthly future, something its practitioners might experience without dying. The various heads of organized religion did not improve their appeal to the people by openly siding in most cases with the established power.

What mattered from a Marxist perspective was the level of class conflict. The interests of the seemingly oppositional classes were irreconcilable and once the workers had been kicked around enough . . . The victory of the working class promised the end of class conflict and thus heaven on earth. It was only a matter of time, like the turning of the earth.

A bit more objective, Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:

Whenever a nation does not completely disinherit its workers, it has been able to count upon their loyalty. The loyalty has been little more hesitant than that of the middle classes; but it has been, on the whole, more generous than the nation deserved, when the real motives of its material enterprises are considered. The pretensions of nations, which only the most penetrating intellectcs among the intellectuals are able to discount, are discounted among the workers only by those who have had the bitterest experiences of national greed and brutality. Lenin's uncompromising antipatriotism, during the World War, found an echo in the hearts of the Russian proletariat, because there the workers were completely and obviously disinherited; and the machinery of state was so manifestly inept and corrupt that it could not claim the usual reverence which even disillusioned workers give a government which manages to maintain its functions. In Europe, on the other hand, the patriotic fervor of the workers was dampened without being destroyed. . . . The modern worker sacrifices his patriotism in almost exact proportion to the measure of social injustice from which he suffers. He disavows the nation only if it has thrust him out of its system of cultural inheritances and economic benefits in the most obvious terms. . .

Moral Man and Immoral Society, 1932, p 101.

So you know where I'm coming from . . . a little "c" capitialist/small town Southern conservative, former churchgoer, anti-communist, profitting from and living under what one would normally call "socialist" programs run by various European states, now and in the past. Voted for Obama in 2008. Used to talk about this stuff with (East) German commies back during the bad ole days.

As to how I see the future of labor in the US - since I'm not really sure what I'm going to say - I´ll add that at the end of this post. . . All comments welcome!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Labor omnia vincit

I'd like to propose a "theme" for the coming week.Now let me preface by saying that I normally despise blog "themes". They are usually an excuse for the blogger to trot out some multiply-rejected article he or she is dying to inflict on the innocent reader. Or as a part of some sort of larger blogger sort of "Blog for..."that enables people who can't write their way out of a wet napkin to straphang on to better bloggers. And they're often a substitute for original thinking.

That said, I'd like to suggest the contributors here to think about, and write about, the present conditions of, prospects for, and place in the 21st Century United States (or the setting of their choice) of "labor"; the artisan, laborer and manual worker.

We live in an age where domestic manufacture and industry is declining in importance to a degree unknown since the rise of the United States as an industrial nation. Even the pastoralists among the Founders, who saw their creation as a nation of smallholders and sturdy farmers came to see the importance of domestic manufacture. Thomas Jefferson said in 1816:
"We have experienced what we did not [before] believe: that there exists both profligacy and power enough to exclude us from the field of interchange with other nations; that to be independent for the comforts of life we must fabricate them ourselves. We must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturist... Shall we make our own comforts or go without them at the will of a foreign nation? He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufacture must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign nation or to be clothed in skins and to live like wild beasts in dens and caverns. I am not one of these."
It is doubtful that we can ever regain the dominance we owned in the period between 1945-1975 - we cannot hope to benefit from a world war destroying our competitors every generation. But we - the We of We the People - seem willing to allow our domestic labor and industry to slip to a mere shadow of itself in return for a largesse of cheap plastic geegaws from Asia.

Is this inevitable, or to be deplored? Is this irreversible, or merely temporary?

And what are the political, social and economic implications of the decline of Domestic Labor.

I suggest we spend the next week - before "Labor Day", itself an ingenious twist on what in the Old World is "May Day", a celebration of all things working class and Red - exploring the changes that have occurred, are occurring, and may occur, to our own laboring class here at home.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Santayana Moment

OK, policy nerds: when did this happen and what was the subject of the discussion?
"In (year), when the (President's name) team was already on board and there was great enthusiasm over the new theories of counterinsurgency ... and (Asian country) had been chosen as a testing ground, [David] Riesman [the Harvard sociologist] remained uneasy. In mid-(year) he had lunch with two of the more distinguished social scientists in the (President's) government. On the subject of (Asian country) the others talked about limited war iwth the combativeness which marked that particular era, about the possibilities of it, about the American right to practice it, about the very excitement of participating in it. All of this smacked strongly of the arrogance and hubris of the (time period), and Riesman became more and more upset with the tone and the direction of the conversation ... "You all think you can manage limited wars and that you're dealing with an elite society which is just waiting for your leadership. It's not that way at all," he said. "It's not an Eastern elite society run for Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations."

Lechery, lechery, wars and lechery. Nothing else holds fashion.

Or there's this guy's observation...

(h/t to Armchair Generalist for the citation...)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wars of Choice

"Even by conservative estimates, the War on Drugs now costs the United States $50 billion each year and has overcrowded prisons to the breaking point — all with little discernible impact on the drug trade."Old article, but still worth a read.

One of my biggest issues with our persistent fiddling around in central Asia is not the cost in money or lives. For an imperial state - which is what we are, in effect, even if we don't acknowledge it directly - both are relatively insignificant. And the greater "cost" were we to fail to impose our will on the locals, assuming we can ever figure out what that will is, is negligible.

No, the real cost of the ridiculous wars to impose Six Flags over Nothing is the inflation of what should be a peripheral, economy-of-force operation to the main effort of our foreign policy to the detriment of all else.

John Robb has talked repeatedly about the likely breakdown of the socially and politically fragile states to the south; I have linked to him before over at GFT. We have a real problem developing right next door, and meanwhile the Obama Administration is hearing that we need to throw more uniformed Americans into a strategically peripheral, crucially impoverished part of the world known for hating foreign armies.

And we persist in the moron-level stupid that is the "War on Drugs" - given that humans have been drugging themselves since the first Sumerian got high-schooled on a clay pot of piss-weak barley beer - whose primary side-effect so far continues to strengthen groups like the Zetas, who are more dangerous to our domestic stability than the Taliban if the Taliban had a goddam fleet carrier.


I honestly have nothing more to say. I don't have an answer; if the smart people in the government can't figure out that big battalions won't work in the places in central Asia where central Asians have been succeeding for generations through craft, bribery, threat, assassination and subversion, what the hell can I say?

I don't know what will make American politics, or the American People, smarter about their own governance, their own economy and their own security. I suspect that nothing will: the combination of poor education, inequity of wealth, wretched public information sources, and now-deeply ingrained corruption in most levels of government (and by this I don't mean the usual "folded hundred dollar bill" corruption, I mean the prostitution of American politicians for the largesse of the immensely wealthy corporations and individuals who actually wield the power of the state) conspires to intensify the widening gyre. We are, simply, fucked.

"Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain."

Update 8/26: Here's a good example of what I mean.

I believe strongly that a vital society, especially a vital republic, depends on the open, honest, powerful exchange of, and debate on, the ideas that form the bedrock of public policy. To that end, I would argue that no one - or at the very most, a handful of people - can and should be excluded from the debate.

But if there is a poster child for the sort of person who was so utterly, catastrophically, criminally wrong - wrong for all the wrong reasons, too, like a foolish incapacity for forethought, partisan greed, disregard of the most simpleminded bases for intellectual effort - on the subject of U.S. foreign policy that in order to even BEGIN intelligent discussion he must be bound, gagged, hooded, thrown into a tiny cell, sleep-deprived, bombarded with white noise, and sprayed with a hose at random intervals, then Paul Wolfowitz is that person.

And yet...and is the editorial board of the respected journal "Foreign Policy" giving Wolfie, the second stupidest fucking guy on the planet, a forum to air his idiot opinions. It's like giving a place on the podium at the national pyschotherapist's convention to an undermedicated-to-the-point-of-pants-pissing whacko.

But this is what passes for "informed foreign policy opinion" in the 21st Century United States.


Re-updated 8/26: Here's a fairly good discussion going on over at Matt Yglesias' place on the whole issue of "Why Our Afghans Can't Seem To Beat Their Afghans". Yglesias quotes Shuja Nawz answering his (Yglesias') "why can’t the Afghans fight their own war?"
"Probably because we won’t let them. All the talk about the strategy for the war comes out of American mouths. We never hear the Afghans talk about how they hope to conduct the war or how they hope to defeat the Taliban. If the United States and the coalition own the war, they will fight it their way."
Didn't we do this forty years ago with the ARVN? Marvin had a lot of other problems, but one of the biggies was that we trained him, to the extent we could, to be a little G.I. Joe, with all of our strengths and our weaknesses. But we couldn't MAKE the Marvins into GIs, with our ability to take heavy losses, regroup and drive on (at least the pre-1972 Army could do this), with solidly professional officers who were not more than marginally corrupt and decent NCOs able to shoot, move and communicate. And, especially, we couldn't make the RVNAF into the USAF and the ARVN artillery into the USA field artillery. Without the fire support, the U.S. tactics - which amounted and often still do to "find, sorta fix, back off and call for fire" - we taught them fell apart.

Not having a - or having a poor - geopolitical strategy for central Asia is irking but neither surprising nor particularly frustrating. Lots of empires have had that problem. But teaching tactics to foreign troops is not that difficult. All you have to do is understand the kind of war you're teaching them to fight. The fact that we seem to be unable to teach this to the ANA is just...ridiculous.

We are STILL so fucked.


Not that I wanted to break into the argument about MacArthur or anything...But I couldn't help grinning ruefully over this.

(h/t to Sven Ortmann over at Defence and Freedom for the image)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kings of Battle

I was waiting for my little girl to finish her everlasting evening potty business last night when I picked up one of the books in the commode-side reading basket. It happened to be Jeff Chandler's "Napoleon's Marshals", although, given the catholicism of bathroom reading in our house it could well have been any one of the others tossed in there: a Star Wars comic, "The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove", several Title 9 catalogs, and that paperback where the heroine's genitalia are referred to as her "burning center" (I suspect that Grandma left that one; not our style but very much in hers).

Anyway, as it happens, three things coincided; I was thinking about a piece I'd read earlier about our captain-general in the Hindu Kush, Stan McChrystal, I was also thinking about Seydlitz's earlier ruminations on military genius, and the page fell open to the chapter on Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte: soldier, officer, Marshal of France and King of Sweden.

What it got me to thinking about is the perils of confining our thinking of military genius to the purely kinetic elements of the art of war. First, let's look at Marshall Bernadotte's resume:

Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte
Born 1763
Enlisted 1780 (PVT)
Commissioned 1792 (LT), COL by 1794
Demi-Bde Cdr 1794-1798 (BG) (Theinigen, Passage of Tagliamento)
Ambassador, Austria 1798
Minister of War 1798-1799
Army Cdr 1800-1801 (Vendee COIN) 1801-1804 (Army of the West)
Corps Cdr 1804-1808 (Marshal) (Ulm, Austerlitz, Prussian campaign)
Governor, Hanseatic Towns 1808-1809 (Danish Islands)
Corps Cdr 1809-1810 (Wagram, Defense of Walcheren)
Crown Prince, Sweden 1810-1818 (Grossbeeren, Dennewitz, Leipzig, Bornhoved)
King, Sweden 1818-1844

And, by way of contrast, GEN McChrystal's:

Stanley A. McChrystal
Born 1954
Commissioned 1976
1/504Inf (Abn) 1976-1978 (2LT)
SF Officers Course 1978-1979
7th SFGA 1979-1980 (1LT?)
Off. Adv. Course 1980-1981
UNCSG-JSA S2/3 1981-1982
FSGA (1/19 Inf) 1982-1984 (CPT)
3/75Inf (Rgr) 1985-1989 (MAJ)
Naval War Coll 1989-1990
JSOC J-3 1990-1993 (MAJ-LTC) (Second Gulf War)
2/504 Cdr 1993-1994
2/75 Cdr 1994-1996
JFKSoG 1996
75Inf Cdr 1997-1999 (COL)
CFR 1999-2000 (BG)
82nd Div (Abn) ADC 2000-2001
18th Corps (CoS) 2001-2002 (MG)
Joint Staff J-3 2002-2003
JSOC Cdr 2003-2008 (LTG)(Third Gulf War)
ISAF/USFOR-A 2008-present (GEN) (Occupation of Iraq, XVIIth Afghan War)

The differences jump right out at you, don't they?

First, the Marshal starting as a private, the General as a cadet. Then, of course, the meteoric rise of Bernadotte's career in the chaos of Republican France, no surprise there. The heavy combat experience available in the late 1700's compared to the relative peace of the 1980's and 1990's.

But - look at their "mid-career" trajectory!

Bernadotte is all over the place: Corps commander, army commander, minister of war, governor, corps commander again, then, the weirdest twist of all - prince and king.

McChrystal, the Man Who Would Be King of Afghanistan, on the other hand, makes the typical US Army trot of command, staff and schools. Yes, there's the one year stint as military staffer for the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). But there's no other exercise of political or geopolitical power. No civilian positions or outside-the-Pentagon political jobs. Minister of war (i.e. SecDef)? Governor? Ambassador?

And, of course, the relative lack of wartime command. Not McChrystal's fault - he didn't have the wars Bernadotte did. But, still...

And keep in mind that Bernadotte was far from being considered even among the upper third of Napoleon's commanders. He had a couple of good outings against the Austrians and Prussians in 1797-1804 and then against his old comrades Davout and Ney in 1813. But he screwed the pooch at Jena and Auerstadt, and his contibutions to Wagram were thought to be meager.

The thing is - all the Napoleonic Marshals' vitae look like this: they were not just troopers. And their enemies were pretty cosmopolitan as well: Scharnhorst and Gneisenau fight in the field, do much of the heavy lifting that reconstructs the entire Prussian Army after 1806, and then conspire to throw off the French occupation after 1812.

Wellington, you know.

These guys were doing grand tactics, operational art, strategy, grand strategy, even geopolitics. They had to negotiate treaties, bribe allies, threaten enemies, spy, suborn, cajole and encourage. These guys were all-rounders.

What is McChrystal? A highly-trained technician? An overpromoted trigger-puller?

So. I'm not trying to add Charles John (Bernadotte's king name) to the pantheon of military geniuses. But I am trying to get us to ask; we're putting people like McChrystal where we used to put people like Bernadotte. Are we preparing ours today as well as the armies and the rulers of Napoleon's time did theirs?

Being Frank with the dining room table

This is the only way to respond to these idiots. They aren't there to have a "conversation" any more than the KKK wanted to discuss the social implications of integration with African Americans in 1960.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bag of Tricks

Those of you who have followed my stuff over at GFT, or remember some of the battles I used to have with the guy who went by "MSR Roadkill" (who is, I believe, the same person who still shows up at "Abu Muquwama" as "SNLII") at the old Intel Dump, know that I respect Niall Ferguson just slightly above Reginald Dyer and just below the nastiest, knee-scabbed, clapped-up, $10-a-go Yokohama waterfront whore (since she, at least, returns actual value for the money).

Now, while I understand that being a skeevy jackhole who never met an imperial rule he didn't like has never stopped Niall from being the idol of the Christopithocene Right and Neoconus Erectus Boys Club, I never thought he was actually fucking stomp-down, brain-dead stupid or bug-gobbling whack.

Until now.

Because, dammit, any man who still demands the respect due a thinking adult (much less a tenured historian) after writing "President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. One of the best-loved cartoon characters of the 1920s, Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky." has got to be one or the other.

And he gets paid for this? Jesus Wept!!

(James Fallows has more, and better, as always)

(h/t to Paul Krugman, who highlighted this nasty little business)

A Thousand Words

In case you were wondering why financial regulation, a public option for health care, an increase in domestic employment and a caesura to foreign adventurism aren't going to happen anytime soon.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trial before Pilate

The generation of this post came from two very different parents, as should all fertile offspring. The first was a comment on the earlier post at Graphic Firing Table about celebrity culture in general and as it applies to Lance Armstrong, the cyclist, in particular. The other was a part of a long conversation I've been having with a friend, a terrifically bright and vital woman, about perception and truth and the relationship between them.

First, the comment. The poster, a friend of ours who is a cyclist himself and is married to a fitness fanatic and passionate cycling addict, said:
"...your discussion of the Lance's bad behavior was the final straw, and I just took off the yellow bracelet I have been wearing for I read the coverage, and read about Kristin Armstrong I felt less and less happy about wearing the symbol of somebody I increasingly thought of as callous and egotistical. The details of his breakup with Sheryl Crow just crystallized my distaste for Lance's character."
So the revelation of Lance's ruthlessness put an end to both the bracelet and the respect.

The discussion revolved around my friend's concept of Truth as something universal and immutable, a sort of Truth as Godhead, that exists as an object beyond, immune to and unaffected by, human perception.Its a good discussion, and well worth the recounting but beyond what I want to talk about here. But I want to use it as a frame to hang my subject on.

Because in this case the is a central Truth to the matter: the entirety of the personality of Lance Armstrong himself.

This is utterly unknown and, more to the point, unknowable, to any of us; my friends, me, you the reader. We cannot know Lance Armstrong as he knows himself, as his family and friends know him, even as those who are acquainted with the man know him. What he likes, what he doesn't, his strengths, his failings...beyond the crayon drawing of the man presented in the public media we have, like my friend's concept of abstract Truth, no way of understanding LA through inquiry or perception.

We can observe, assess and judge what we see as aspects of the man's personality. And I have, and did; saying that, while I respect the man's athletic skills and his tough struggle back from cancer, his treatment of the women in his life leaves me cold, and less that enamored of him as a husband, fiancee' and lover.

But, that said, those things don't lessen his skill. They don't detract a bit from his courage.

And they don't affect his stated belief, through his Lance Armstrong Foundation, "in living every minute of it with every ounce of your energy: channeled and focus: getting smart and living strong. Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything."

As someone who has been shot at, well, Lance, no, attitude isn't everything - windage and elevation make a difference. But let that pass.

The thing is, the yellow bracelet can mean different things, and I would say that it may mean more, or less, or just different things than the man himself.

If you're wearing a Livestrong bracelet to symbolize your fight against cancer, or someone's hope for recovery and survival...or as a way of expressing support for the man as a cyclist and a champion, then it seems to me that revelations of the man as a man, husband, father, partner really don't dim the brightness of that little rubber band. You can support the man as an athlete, or as a cancer survivor, without admiring or respecting his romantic or sexual ethics.

But if you're wearing it as some sort of general show of affiliation or association with Lance Armstrong the man, well...

...then you're probably wearing it for the wrong reasons.

Lance Armstrong is no different from any of the other strong, glib and pretty people we "meet" through the electronic media. His strength cannot strengthen us, his prettiness gild us, or his fame enhance us. His intelligence doesn't make us wiser, his wealth make us richer. We are who we are regardless of our wish to cover ourselves with a tiny corner of the mantle of his celebrity.

Sadly, we live surrounded by the notion that none of the realities in the above paragraph are true, but we are smaller and lesser for believing them. When Pilate asked "What is truth?", he meant to pose a conundrum, not state a contemporary confusion. But more and more, I believe that we in 21st Century America are truly confounded separating our perceptions from reality, belief from fact, and the cold truth from warm and inviting lie.

(crossposted from GFT)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night......

and suddenly, through the driving rain appeared a small, sporty car that wheeled into my driveway and stopped abruptly in front of the garage. Out stepped my visitors for the evening, the contentious and always interesting Ranger ( along with his sidekick and co-blogger, the estimable Miss Lisa.

Their arrival wasn't a surprise. They live only a couple of states away and we'd long been discussing an in-person meeting. At least one such planned encounter fell through a couple of years ago, so I was pleased we were able to make it happen this time. Our visit did not disappoint. Ranger is about what I'd gathered from his body of work, a big, tough guy—in every way what one would expect from a fellow with his military chops—but also someone who, unlike many of our contemporaries—has continued to grow in his post-service days. I like to think I've done the same and I must say it's a real pleasure to be in the company of such a man.

Lisa is also about what I expected. She's slight, perhaps even frail-looking, but is also tough as nails. She doesn't let Ranger push her around, and she sure didn't let me do it. She's a formidable woman and is also a pleasure to be around. I always find these women of my daughter's generation to be very interesting. They're the first generation of women that grew up without many of the stereotypes of the past; they were accordingly able to take advantage of many educational and employment opportunities previously denied them. I hate to generalize, but from what I've seen, the women are often turning out better than the men, probably because they're more focused and more aware that one has to fight for one's rights.

They both have very interesting life stories, but I'll leave the details to them. One of my favorite expressions is, "There are eight million stories in the big city" (if you watched TV crime dramas in the 60s, you should remember that one), something I originally adopted as a sarcastic rejoinder to a whiner or to someone making excuses for poor performance, but it's also appropriate when observing the infinitely rich stories possessed by our fellow humans, or at least by most of the thinking ones. I got two such stories a couple of nights ago and was fascinated. I now know a lot more about what makes Ranger and Lisa tick; presumably they know the same about me. I think this will aid us in understanding each other.

The point I want to make here is that I find this whole area of human life experiences and behavioral patterns particularly relevant to what we're trying to do with this blog. This all began with a military blog, begun by an Army reservist lawyer, and it's now morphed into something much different. At those times when I may start to feel somewhat frustrated because we seem to be straying from that military-centric ideal, I catch myself, realizing how enriched and refreshed I am by hanging out with my co-bloggers and those who take the time to make comments. Something else I'm finding as well: I'm getting a little bored with much of what's in some of the long-running popular military blogs. "Yes," I find, it's really kind of neat having some talented folks whom I trust discussing something other than military issues. So I like our
"doctor, lawyer, Indian chief," approach. I think it may wear well over time.

We discussed myriad topics during our evening together, which included dining alfresco on grilled chicken and consuming adult beverages (Ranger and Lisa are light drinkers, so I did most of the consuming) on my patio, which, fortunately has a large protected area. I'm not going to get into a lot of detail other than to say that I think we're of like mind in most important areas. As old soldiers, Ranger and I of course had to go through our military backgrounds and see if we had any friends (or enemies) in common. Actually, when one thinks of how large the Army is—and it had a lot more troops during our time than it does now—it isn't really surprising that we each toiled away at the same time without ever running into each other or having friends in common. This is even more understandable when one considers that each of us dwelt in a small, insular community essentially closed off to Big Army. To get some good insight into their thoughts, I suggest perusing Ranger's excellent web site. Neither he nor Lisa is exactly shy about letting one know their thoughts.

I guess bloggers getting together isn't all that uncommon, but this was the first time for me. It was very gratifying to find that even while the mysteries of these folks I'd deemed admirable from afar were being stripped away, they became even more admirable in person. I hope I get a similar opportunity to meet the rest of you some time and I expect the same results.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sorry, that ship has sailed already.

Hello everyone.

Yes, I’ve been away…but…now, I’m back…um…well, I’m here, yes…here. Here is a good word to use and describes quite well my present mindset which considering the week long trek up to Boy Scout Summer camp has left me feeling both tired, and slightly less than rested.
However, I did take a moment to sit on a rock and ponder the lake, Shaver Lake that is. A man made water hole with a bit of interesting history.
Apparently the area under the lake was a small river running through what most easterners would call a “dell.” Up river a wee bit was an Indian village and down river a wee bit was a small town. The residents of the small town decided to “settle” the issue of the “Indian” up stream by wiping them out, whole sale. The chieftain, Chiwanakee, is said to have led three other warriors in a stop gap measure to delay the white men’s plans to kill the entire village. Thus giving the villagers time to split the scene.
Of course, as the government usually does, it settles these things by building a dam in 1911 and flooding the whole area.
Kind of settles the whole “this is my land” debate.
Go argue with the fish.
So I’m sitting there on this boulder over looking the lake and across from the Scout summer camp was another camp that seems, at least to me, to be a public camp. From there I can hear the screams of coeds in both fun…and um…pleasure.
“Give me back my panties!”
Ahahahaha…haha…ha...uh brother.
Sound carries over placid water…unfortunately.
Since I’m not a crowd man, I “volunteered” to stay and watch the camp fire as the boys went to the last camp fire of the week.
The coeds across had been having fun at the scouts expense, and I have to say, some scouts got an anatomy lesson from passing female boaters and skiers.
[Things that tell you the boy’s are seeing something that they are a little to young to see is when you hear a couple of them with binoculars saying, “Oh my G-d. Look at what those two girls are doing! That is so hot!”]

Anyway, back to my ruminations on the rock over the placid waters echoing the shrills of the coeds under a sky of blinking stars…I gave our country some serious thought…well, namely, I thought about the health care, the cries of “socialism”, and of course the pandering of the Republican talking points about how “evil” Obama is…really, that is what they are pandering. Not how we’re going to pay for the Health Care bill, or why they’re protecting their patrons asses forcing Americans to ask a for-profit insurance company whether or not they can get a treatment…nah…they use the tried and true… ”FEAR!”

In an exchange between a Congress critter and his district this exchange occurs.
“Madam, what are you afraid of?”
“I’m afraid of Obama!”
“Who told you to be afraid of Obama?”

“Glenn Beck showed me why!”
“Madam, may I suggest you turn off Glenn Beck.”

There you go our American democracy at work, G-d help us all.

So, as I sat on that rock, I had an epiphany, nay, a revelation supplied by a week of no news, and some time to process the crap…and here it is….

Ladies and Gentlemen of America.
Boys and girls, friends and foes, Republicans, Democrats, and everyone else lend me your ear for a brief, oh so brief moment.
You, yes all of you, me included, are all up in arms about the issue of health care, am I not correct on this?
Some have shouted, “I’m afraid of Obama’s socialism!”
Some have shouted, “Obama is a socialist!”
Others have snarled, “Death to Obama!”
While some have even suggested, “Obama is an Islamo-fascist!”

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I will not quibble that Universal Health Care is a socialist program, it is; however, I want to take you back a few years…yes, just a few so you can completely and fully understand the subject.

You, me, and the rest of the Americans of this former Republic have been, for the past forty years slowly, and progressively choosing Socialism. But wait, there are other things that have contributed to our steady rise to a Socialist polity.
You see, for the whole twentieth century has been one long growth of socialist government programs aimed at trying to enhance you, the average Joe and Jane American’s lives a little.
Public education…socialism.
Fire departments…socialism.
Police protection…socialism.
Social Security…socialism
Food Stamps…socialism
Business subsidies…Socialism
Cooperate bailouts…Socialism
Unemployment checks…socialism
Disability insurance…socialism
There are so many social's hard to count them all.
In fact, a great deal of our Government’s mandates are socialistic in that they are geared to help you, me, and our neighbors as well.
You see socialistic programs are not bad things, and have been run quite well…perfectly? Not so much, but they have been around for a very long time, and we all have benefited from them.
Therefore, what you, me, and everyone else has been voting for the past thirty years is which Socialist program we want.
The Republican Socialist program, or the Democrat Socialist program.
The Republican Socialist program can be summed up in five words, “Socialism for our rich donors.” or Corporate Socialism.
Yes, if you are rich, and are willing to share a few paltry dollars with the Republican party you too, can have a slough of Social programs aimed at you: Tax cuts for the wealthy in which you get to keep your dollars while the dwindling pretenders in the middle class with the proudly growing poorer class shoulder more of the national debt. On top of those tax cuts comes the promise of tax-payer bailouts for your companies, insurance institutions, and of course your investment companies all supplied by those pathetic putzs in the middle and poorer classes. All in all, the Republican Party has proven itself a trustworthy partner with the Rich in protecting them and keeping them rich.

The Democrat Socialist program can be summed up in seven words, “Dude, seriously, we’re trying to help you.”
Now, the Democrats aren’t the classiest bunch in the classroom, but their hearts are in the right place. They want everyone to have equal access to the good life.
You in the trailer park with the keg for a belly, drinking your third case of bud for the day, flipping your mullet to impress the wife and the twelve year old girl next door…even though you are the laughing stock of the neighborhood, and the proud example of what our poor education system has produced even you are deserving of having a shot at the good life.

So when you get your panties all bunched up in a knot in your crack about Obama being a Socialist, or Socialism in general try to remember that we’re already a Socialist nation…the debate truly is…which Socialist Platform do you want.
Republican or Democrat.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

This interview was on Hardball last night.

I couldn't think of a better title for this than what I have, because to my mind it does encompass "everything" that is right and good about America and "everything" that is bad, deficient.

Good because this girl is brave enough to go on national television to defend her demands of Sen. Specter. She's a decent human being who has simple decent goals for her family and I don't think anyone can fault her for wanting that.

What is bad, however, is that she's a conduit for points of view that may not have her best interests in mind. I really doubt she knows what life in Russia is or was like and she apparently does not understand the "socialism" of Social Security and Medicare let alone the concept of Constitutional Law.

A very large portion of the American electorate is ignorant of the basic issues behind all our lives. A major cause for that fact is that nearly all of our media is part of corporate businesses, our media who, as my boy Olbermann has said more than a few times, are successful when they make money for their owners, and he does make money for GE and they keep him on the air despite the continuing feud with NewsCorp.

The Washington Post was recently caught trying to sell their influence to the rich and powerful, David Gregory of Meet the Press told Governor Sanford he'd get the best treatment of his issue on his show, John Solomon offered to help cover up possible criminal political activity, it's all about access, getting the scoop, the ratings and advertizing money.

We desperately need to get the influence of money out of our politics and print/radio/video media.

I don't know the best way to do that, but I believe it's vital for our country's democracy to do so.

A good start would be to get the lies and the lying liars who tell them out of our public discourse.

Update: Down in the comments, Publius saw through Katy's persona toute suite. Joan Walsh at

{QUOTE}While Abram told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell that she wasn't very sophisticated about politics, and claimed not to even know her family income, in fact she's a leader of the ( Glen Beck's ) 9/12 group, setting up its networking site on Ning, greeting new members, inviting folks to events at her home and elsewhere – and last night, after her star turn, comparing her cause to that of Martin Luther King Jr.{END QUOTE}

Click for Abram's site.

Rick Perlstein has a good read in WaPo:

Here's a piece of it, but all of it is worth the 5 minutes:

{QUOTE}It used to be different. You never heard the late Walter Cronkite taking time on the evening news to "debunk" claims that a proposed mental health clinic in Alaska is actually a dumping ground for right-wing critics of the president's program, or giving the people who made those claims time to explain themselves on the air. The media didn't adjudicate the ever-present underbrush of American paranoia as a set of "conservative claims" to weigh, horse-race-style, against liberal claims. Back then, a more confident media unequivocally labeled the civic outrage represented by such discourse as "extremist" -- out of bounds.

The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America's flora. Only now, it's being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest. Latest word is that the enlightened and mild provision in the draft legislation to help elderly people who want living wills -- the one hysterics turned into the "death panel" canard -- is losing favor, according to the Wall Street Journal, because of "complaints over the provision."{END QUOTE}


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That Devil Forrest! : An Example of Military Genius?

Nathan Bedford Forrest is one of the most controversial commanders in US military history. Slave trader, plantation owner, (un)successful businessman, gambler, philanthropist, LtGeneral of Confederate Cavalry in the Civil War, and finally as a Grand Wizard in the original Klu-Klux, he is revered by some (perhaps some who should not revere him) and hated by others (who perhaps should take a more careful look).

Was he a war criminal for what happened at Fort Pillow in April 1864? And how could one of the prime movers behind the formation of the Klu-Klux order its disbandment in 1869 and then even offer the state government of Tennessee in 1874 to “exterminate” those who had refused to disband?

Forrest was needless to say a complex man, but if the war records, and much of what has been written since, are to be believed also a 24-caret military genius.

Back to theory now. How would one define a military genius?

Clausewitz defined military genius as a “harmonious combination of elements, in which one or the other ability may predominate, but none may be in conflict with the rest”. What types of societies produce such genius? “The smaller the range of activities of a nation and the more the military factor dominates, the greater will be the incidence of military genius. This, however is true only of its distribution, not its quality. The latter depends on the general intellectual development of a given society. . .” (Book 1, Chapter 3, On War).

The main point to consider about this concept of military genius is that it is the prime element which counteracts friction in war.

Antullio J. Echevarria provides us more on this:


Military genius, according to Clausewitz, consisted of a harmonious balance of several qualities belonging to reason (Verstand) and passion (Gemüt), or what we might refer to, while admittedly taking some liberties, as sense and sensibility. The latter category included energy (Energie), steadfastness (Festigkeit), resolve (Standhaftigkeit), strength of temperament (Gemütsstärke), and strength of character (Charakterstärke).

As mentioned earlier, these served as a counterweight to the elements of danger, physical exertion, uncertainty, and chance, which made up the atmosphere of war; . . . Energy was necessary to overcome the resistance of one's enemy as well as the inertia of one's own military machine; it might take the form of a commander's personal quest for glory, or his desire to satisfy his own honor.

Although these motives were often regarded as negative, Clausewitz believed they could prove more powerful, and thus more valuable, than other passions, such as patriotism, fanaticism, and revenge. Steadfastness and resolve go hand-in-hand: the former refers to the ability to stay focused when confronted by sudden adversities; the latter means the capacity to remain committed over the long haul. Strength of temperament best equates to self-discipline, the ability to listen to the voice of reason in the midst of even the strongest of emotional appeals—to maintain one's perspective. Strength of character, a common term throughout the nineteenth and most of the twentieth century, means strength of conviction, which might stem from many factors, but—ideally—came from an unshakeable belief in correct principles; in contrast, obstinacy was blind adherence to unfounded or incorrect ideas, and thus was a perversion of strength of character, and so was to be avoided. Once again, therefore, we see the importance of objective knowledge in the formulation of judgment.

In a sense, all of these qualities fall under the heading of physical and psychological courage. Physical courage means the ability to function in spite of the debilitating influence of danger and the physical privations of war; psychological courage refers to the capacity to accept responsibility, to make decisions in times of crisis.

Yet, the central point of this chapter of On War is that all of these qualities would come to naught without the use of the intellect. The ability to penetrate the fog of uncertainty that surrounds events in war, and to exercise sound judgment, was essential. This higher use of the intellect required a certain coup d'œil—an innate ability to see in an instant the true significance of manifold things or events, to grasp the situation completely and precisely even as it unfolded. Put simply, coup d'œil describes the ability to see simultaneously with the physical as well as the mind's eye. As mentioned previously, this talent could be nurtured by acquiring correct knowledge of war.

Together, these were the qualities essential for successful command at high levels, and Clausewitz believed one could find them in evidence in each of history's great military commanders: Alexander, Hannibal, Gustavus Adolphus, and Frederick the Great. However, he did not limit genius only to such lofty heights. In his view, true genius was the harmonious union of the traits of temperament and intellect in such a way that each cooperated with, rather than opposed, the others. While some scholars believe Clausewitz's model for genius was Napoleon, it was probably Scharnhorst, whose traits were balanced. Napoleon's character was weighted toward arrogant recklessness, and thus not balanced enough for true genius. In Clausewitz's studies of the 1814 and 1815 campaigns, moreover, he more than once sought to deflate the Corsican's growing legend, though he clearly admired aspects of his way of waging war. The officer he most admired was his friend and mentor Scharnhorst, to whom he owed a great deal.

Possessing all the qualities mentioned above was not enough to qualify as a genius, however; they also had to work together. The message was, simply, that favoring one type of quality, such as energy, led to an imbalance, a character flaw that adversity would overwhelm, or an adversary would exploit.

Clausewitz and Contemporary War, pp108-9

Military genius can use theory to understand what is going on, but more importantly genius operates “beyond theory” since genius is able to understand the application of the military means (beyond simple tactics to operations and the achievement of strategic aims) acting/reacting within a resistance environment. That is how these means are used during a specific epoch, in effect the genius creating an “art of war” for that epoch, which others attempt to copy. Strategic theory in turn attempts to incorporate these “insights” into the further development of theory. Thus strategic theory is the retrospective attempt to codify military genius developing an art of war for a specific epoch - as well as testing the tenets of the general theory which covers all wars. . .

Thus concerning the genius there is a very important temporal component: the military genius, unlike the avante garde artist, is very much a person of his times. Whereas, like the artist, the military genius creates and provides models for others to follow, which in both cases does not mean that those who follow will be able to achieve the same results.

Later in that same chapter Echevarria goes into the distinction between the military genius and the “brilliant military mind”, quoting Clausewitz’ contemporary Kiesewetter, “A brilliant mind is one who makes discoveries in science, a person who, with respect to knowledge, is original. A genius is that person who, in works of fine art, delivers exemplary products . . . achieves originality . . . Newton was a brilliant mind and Horace was a genius”. Put another way, the brilliant mind follows the rules and makes an original discovery, whereas the genius makes his own rules and creates an achievement of originality.

Or, in our case War as social relationship and military genius as art. Logistics, communication, technical intelligence collection . . . as brilliance, in other words staff . . .

So how does Nathan Bedford Forrest measure up as a military genius?

In 1861 Forrest was a successful business man and plantation owner in western Tennessee close to Memphis. He had no military training or experience although had grown up on the frontier, was used to a rough life, and had hunted and ridden a horse since childhood. He enlisted as a private, but was quickly elected to the rank of LtCol by the cavalry regiment he had raised himself. He distinguished himself in his first action against Federal troops in December 1861.

He had the innate ability (coup d'œil or in German Takt des Urteils) to size up an enemy situation and know whether it was ripe for a cavalry charge or not. This he gained from personal reconnaissance without field glasses. He trusted his own eyes better.

Far from being reckless, he gave the impression to some other commanders as being too skeptical, asking numerous questions and demanding accurate intelligence in the planning of an operation, and then acting with absolute decisiveness once he had made up his mind to act. Forrest was also a master at what the Soviets would later refer to as maskirovka (not just camouflage, but active deception as well) in that some of his greatest triumphs were escaping from pursuit (by simply hiding his command in a woods) and in getting superior Union forces to surrender to him after elaborate ruses to convince them of his “overwhelming strength”. Having experienced US Grant’s use of psychological means (his demand of “Unconditional Surrender!” at Fort Donelson in 1862) Forrest used the same methods reinforced with his well-earned reputation for fierceness to demand the same from several unlucky Union commanders who crossed his path.

He had incredible drive and energy and being a physically powerful man would help to manhandle horses and artillery across rivers, offering an inspiring example to both his officers and men.

At the tactical level, Forrest developed several innovative cavalry manoeuvres and pioneered close coordination of artillery with his cavalry acting as infantry. Discarding the cavalry saber as a preferred weapon early on, his troops fought mostly with pistols and on foot, using the shock action of the mounted charge when he best sensed it would bring about a decision. In battle Forrest was brutal and fearless, leading countless charges and having at least 29 horses shot from under him in action. He was also an expert at close combat, credited with single-handedly killing 30 Federal soldiers and officers in personal combat, at times outnumbered three to one. He was both loved and feared by his men: calm, quiet and even gentle in garrison, battle transformed Forrest into a red-faced demon, a veritable “steam engine of war”. “War means fighting, and fighting means killing” was his view of war and “shoot any man who won’t fight!” was his first order of battle to his officers.

Forrest was able to transfer this tactical success to the operational, and even strategic level. His actions in Tennessee challenged Union control of that state and his raids kept Sherman looking over his shoulder during his advance through Georgia. Forrest almost single-handedly kept the Southern cause alive in not only Tennessee but Kentucky and northern Mississippi as well, and was able to recruit new units even in Union occupied areas as late as mid-1864. Given his correct assessments of the situations at Fort Donelson and Shiloh in 1862, Chickamauga in 1863, and Franklin in 1864, and his keen understanding of the importance of communications and logistics in the warfare of his time, had Forrest been given the command of the Confederate Army of Tennessee in 1862, or at the least been allowed to deal with Sherman’s advance in the manner he had argued, the course of the American Civil War would have been quite different.

Not that this be taken as harping over “the lost cause”, Forrest, while not arguing for secession in 1861, admitted that the war was “about slavery”, that is his genius and the horrible sacrifices of his countrymen, let alone the tragic damage they did to the country as a whole, were for a criminal cause. This being not the last time that the genius and human potential of a capable people would be abused and squandered on a twisted and inhuman dream.

So, Nathan Bedford Forrest is my example of a true military genius following Clausewitz’s definition. A fitting close would be to read Forrest’s farewell address to his troops issued at his surrender.

Is there any one else you consider a military genius in this regard as well, especially since Forrest’s time?

Why is a military genius such a rare commodity?

What would “military genius” entail today?

What is the effect of strategic culture on the formation of a military genius?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sooner or Later, Things Start to Make Sense

Way back in grad school, I studied public sector cost/benefit analysis. The prof, an economist of reasonable standing, and a truly gifted classroom presence took us into the intricacies of understanding non-quantifiable costs and benefits. In short, he was addressing the difficulty of a "numbers only" methodology, and the "courage", as he defined it, of honestly addressing the non-quantifiable rather then hiding behind the numbers.

16 years later (1992), while traveling in Russia, we became friends with Vladimir, a faculty member at the Merchant Marine Academy in St Petersburg. In explaining to us the inevitable fall of the USSR, Vlad addressed the fallacy of the Soviet GDP, in that it was so heavily influenced by what he called unnecessary, dead end public works projects. One example he offered was the massive open air concert plazas along the Volga canal. As he described it, they created short term WPA style jobs while being built, and a couple of jobs keeping them clean over the years, but the only concerts most ever hosted were on the day the specific plaza was completed. His point was that no society can benefit from an endless string of low wage public works projects, especially when it is a closed economy, even though they were posting nice GDP numbers to compete with the West's numbers. He said, "GDP rose and we lived like livestock."

Just recently, I watched a WingNut spout packaged GDP ratios and the like to claim that life in America is fabulous, almost everyone is doing quite well, the current recession is just a minor inconvenience, unregulated capitalist creators of wealth will come to save the day and "no one will be turned away from the emergency room" - so no other country or "system" is worthy of comparison. Of course, it was clear that he had no idea about the numbers he was using other than they were right wing talking points. Oh, yes, the US also has the most obese poor in the world, which he said was a clear indicator of what a pack of whiners the poor are. As one fellow quipped off line, "He wouldn't know a GDP is it bit him on the ass."

Zoom to the present, and we find this quite interesting piece! My economics prof's viewpoint and Vlad's evaluation both eloquently stated, and my conclusion therefrom confirmed.

Numbers are not in any measure the end all/be all descriptors of the human condition.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Actually, it's been bad for some 10 years

While folks are bemoaning the current economic crisis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been reporting information for some 10 years that show it hasn't been good for at least 10 years!

In short, jobs in the private sector have been decreasing since shortly after the start of the Bush administration. All this "private enterprise" and "ownership society" crap, and jobs were declining constantly in the private sector. The only saving grace was that "THE ENEMY", government was hiring. But every right winger I know will tell me that the voodoo economics they espouse builds wealth and creates jobs.

WASF, and deserve it!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

"...he IS a corrupt idiot."

Slavoj Žižek has an interesting article up at the London Review of Books discussing the hollowing out of Western democracy. I'd opine that his case is arguable - it rests on Italian democracy, never the strongest of reeds. But he makes several worthwhile points:
"It is democracy’s authentic potential that is losing ground with the rise of authoritarian capitalism, whose tentacles are coming closer and closer to the West. The change always takes place in accordance with a country’s values: Putin’s capitalism with ‘Russian values’ (the brutal display of power), Berlusconi’s capitalism with ‘Italian values’ (comical posturing). Both Putin and Berlusconi rule in democracies which are gradually being reduced to an empty shell, and, in spite of the rapidly worsening economic situation, they both enjoy popular support (more than two-thirds of the electorate)."
He has a great deal to say about the recent political crisis in Iran, and discusses European democracy in detail, but some of what he discusses touches on our present political condition:
"With Ronald Reagan (and Carlos Menem in Argentina), a different figure entered the stage, a ‘Teflon’ president no longer expected to stick to his electoral programme, and therefore impervious to factual criticism (remember how Reagan’s popularity went up after every public appearance, as journalists enumerated his mistakes). This new presidential type mixes ‘spontaneous’ outbursts with ruthless manipulation."
Worth a read.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

God Grant You Many Years, Mr. Olbermann

As I noted before, I tend to dither over topics. With all the general bad news, doom and gloom, unemployment, the general state of affairs in our Republic ( that is, if you still think it is one ), there certainly are many choices to select from and chew on for a while.

Right now, for me, the top 2, and I can't decide which is number 1, are our foreign wars and health care reform. And to be honest, it does not matter which one is tops.

Then there's the sad state of our "independent press", which was orginally enshrined in the Bill of Rights to protect us against abuse from our government. A task which it has failed to do in my opinion, because of the lack of independence due to the corporate powers behind all our media.

I was planning to write on our media, and I was mulling all I wanted to write about that topic over the past week. Maybe later, and maybe someone else can take that up.

But our national "dicussion" ( if you wish to call it that ) over health care has been a constant voice in both ears. One voice is the debate itself and the politics surrounding it and the other voice is the manner in which our news media are handling it.

I have been following the stories about health care reform, especially at FDL which has been tirelessly working on Congress and its reading public to fire up support for reform and to poll individual members of Congress to make pledges for reform or at least to hear what they say about it.

And then Jane Hamsher wrote this:

The progressive caucus is being laughed at by Nancy Pelosi, who joined with Rahm Emanuel to give the Blue Dogs everything they want:
Nobody takes the progressive caucus seriously, and rightfully so. They do nothing but make idle threats that they don't follow through on.

If people in their districts don't start screaming and demanding that they stand up, we're looking at a health care bill with "co-ops" that will be nothing but a bail out of the insurance industry.

They're pathetic.

Well, that certainly popped my bubble of enthusiasm. Then there was the news of the organized disruption of town-hall meetings and the usual Republican and WingNut stupidity and lies about everything, from Cash for Clunkers to Obama's birth and everything between.

I was beginning to feel like Marvin the Robot.

Now, I won't go into the mangy mess of the now doubted story in the New York Times about the secret deal between Murdoch and GE to shut down the "feud" between Olbermann and O'Reilly, because that IS another story.

Plus it's in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, I'm tired, can't sleep, and if I don't get this out, I'll fret about it all night, and I do not want that. Writing is cathartic; I'm sure most will agree to that.

So, to wind this up, I was looking forward to watch Countdown yesterday evening, as I usually do, to see what KO's response to the NYT story would be. He put the reporter who wrote the story on his 3 worst persons list for, in brief, not getting the story right.

What blew me out of the water, however, was his Special Comment broadside against Congressional opposition to health care reform with a strong public option.

Here's the MSNBC link to the video.

I'm aware of the criticism some have for CountDown, but I've always liked his show, and try to catch it whenever I can. The greatest point in his favor is that he does present the best possible reporting of a story and does not hesitate to name the people behind the story, which he most certainly does in the video I linked to. Best because, I believe he's honest about his work and has passion for dealing with this country's problems. Next to that is that there is no hesitation to make time for corrections when needed. For me, his show is a bright streak of color set against the bland, superficial, "he said/he said" of the rest.

You know, like normal intelligent conversation compared to this:

This Special Comment could be the spark for a regeneration of the effort to carry health care reform, with a strong public option ( I prefer a single-payer system, if you want to know ) through the next couple of months.

And do call your Representative and Senators to push them to support this benefit to our country.