Saturday, June 23, 2007

Larry Johnson On "The Surge"

image credit: U.S. Army

The caption reads: Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division decide which route to take to reach their next objective on the streets of Baqubah, Iraq, June 19.

Our latest push into the badlands of Iraq has, according to the New York Times, not been going too well:

In an otherwise upbeat assessment, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, told reporters that leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had been alerted to the Baquba offensive by widespread public discussion of the American plan to clear the city before the attack began. He portrayed the Qaeda leaders’ escape as cowardice, saying that “when the fight comes, they leave,” abandoning “midlevel” Qaeda leaders and fighters to face the might of American troops — just, he said, as they did in Falluja.

Militants Said to Flee Before U.S. Offensive

This all sounds familiar, doesn't it? Even the general admitted it did. "Just, he said, as they did in Falluja". In other words, we've tried this before and it hasn't worked. Larry Johnson observes:

General Odierno, our number two guy in Iraq, needs a sit down with Benjamin Franklin. He has the symptoms of insanity. Franklin apparently was the first to note that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".

Swamp Fox Goes to Iraq

I think maybe he needs a sit down with a military historian, too, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Johnson goes on:

Let me see if I have this straight? We go after a supposed concentration of Al Qaeda. We encircle a city filled with civilians. We blow the living shit out of the place. And guess what? The terrorists aka insurgents beat feet and melt away. The so-called cowards won't "stand and fight". Well, looks to me like those cowards are much faster learners then we are.


The current U.S. offensive will fail. We will punch ourselves out on an enemy that is smart enough to retreat in the face of overwhelming force. We will go house to house rousting able bodied men from their sleep and humiliating them in front of their wives. We will detain some of these folks but eventually let them return home. When they return home they will be fully prepared to support whatever insurgent group will help them reclaim the honor we took from them.
Swamp Fox Goes to Iraq

Once again, we are confronted with a truth that you don't have to be a military genius to understand. If a group of foreigners ransacked your home, and humiliated you or your family wouldn't you want revenge? I would, and I'm usually in the "living well" camp when it comes to revenge these days. If you can't understand this you are almost terminally dull-witted. We're making enemies over there far faster than we're killing or imprisoning them.

Johnson then evokes an unsettling historical precedent:

General Odierno ought to go back and read some good old fashioned American History. There was this guy, General Francis Marion, who got the nickname "Swamp Fox" from a fussy British Colonel (Tarleton) who complained that Marion did not fight fair[.]

Swamp Fox Goes to Iraq

This campaign didn't end well for the British. There's another general who also distinguished himself during that war by avoiding a catastrophic battle, George Washington. Washington and Marion prevailed by not being caught by more powerful forces without a way to escape. In the end, they, with the help of the French, pushed the British from American territory.

My own guess is that Gen. Odierno is trying to goad the Iraqis into just such a catastrophic battle. I'm also guessing that the Iraqis are nowhere near that foolish. Like everything else about our handling of this war, it's bound to fail for obvious reasons.

And yet we're doing it over and over.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Digby Unveils

One of the bigger mysteries of the left wing blogs has been revealed this evening. Digby, one of the most brilliant and passionate voices on the Net, broke cover this evening to give a speech at the Take Back America conference. Firedoglake has the details.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Senator Clinton Featured In Salon

image credit:

There are two interesting articles on Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency in Salon magazine today.

The first is an interview. What is remarkable about this interview is how pat and prefabricated her answers struck me. That's not to say that it was an especially inquisitive interview, but just about all of it was, seemingly, lifted word-for-word from other speeches she's given around the country. The only topic I hadn't seen before was how she felt about being referred to by her first name so often. Her answer:

I probably have more of an open mind. But I understand the point people are taking because if you also refer to Rudy and Mitt and John then that would be even-handed. I get the same indignation from a lot of women who read you and others and say, "They never call the other candidates by their first name."

And I think that in print -- as opposed to building a campaign that really does use my first name because it is so identified with who I am -- that's the concern that people have.

Hillary's hard-won experience

A Clintonesque answer if ever I heard one. She makes a point while at the same time seeming to stay above the fray. "I'm not personally offended, but ...". Don't call people fools for either using her first name or not, but make the point that she deserves respect for her accomplishments and position. It's the sort of rhetoric that made Bill Clinton such an effective politician, and it's quite clear that Hillary has it down, too.

[As an aside, my policy is that I generally refer to her as "Senator" or "Mrs." Clinton, and only use her first name to either break up monotony or distinguish her from Bill Clinton.]

To illustrate that point, Salon also has an article on the Senator's most recent trip through New Hampshire. Entitled "Hillary Clinton always comes prepared", it's a portrait of a candidate who always does her homework:

"This is the first time that anyone has given me an introduction that is perfect," gushed Jeffrey Cohen, a neurologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who was on the panel. During the question period, Nancy Speck, who teaches biochemistry at the medical center, told Clinton, "I'm extremely impressed by how knowledgeable you are." Afterward Speck said, "She gets it. She's somebody as a scientist I could have a conversation with."

Hillary Clinton always comes prepared

Sound like any other Clintons we know? More than a few people in the press have remarked about President Clinton's ability to talk at length on almost any issue, and on his ability to make it appear that he agreed with or at least understood the point of view of those with whom he was discussing it. The annoying thing about this, of course, was that you were never sure where he stood on an issue. While Hillary is a bit more definite, she clearly has some of that old Clinton magic going.

I've been wondering what has kept Hillary Clinton ahead in the polls. Her support among blacks is clearly important, but not as solid as one might think:

With strong support from the African American community, Illinois Senator Obama has assumed a strong lead over New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton [in South Carolina]. On the Republican side, Thompson zoomed to the top spot, slightly ahead of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, even though he hasn't yet announced his bid for the GOP nomination.

SC poll has Obama, Thompson as frontrunners

From these articles, and from others like Taylor Marsh's coverage of a recent campaign stop by Senator Clinton in Nevada, it's pretty clear where Clinton's real strengths lie:

Candidate Clinton stayed for an hour, then asked people to feel free to stay afterwards. She took pictures with the audience from the stage, Secret Service at the ready. But this was an audience of adoring fans. They cheered on cue. They believe in Hillary Clinton. There was a feeling of excitement and building momentum among the crowd and among those to whom I spoke. They sure didn't get the sense that this was a speech she gives all the time across the country, in state after state, or that this event was anything but just for them. It was likely a picture perfect microcosm of what's happening across this country from Candidate Clinton and her campaign. Sure it's a full out pep rally, but it's a formidable operation.

Clinton's Snapshot of America

As someone who has done a lot of work in community theatre, I've learned to recognize a well-run production when it's described to me. The Clinton campaign is such a show. Other candidates will have to have their act together if they want to overtake her. Certainly lame attempts at smears, and hiring loudmouth idiot consultants isn't going to cut it.

Mrs. Clinton isn't my favorite candidate by a wide margin. She's not all that inspiring a speaker, and she's certainly not ready to make a stand on an issue that's going to cost her any support. She's way too happy to ingratiate herself with big business. But she is organized, and that's important. Despite the largely nonsensical criticism to the contrary, Bill Clinton's was the best-run Presidency in memory, and Hillary was part of that Presidency. Her website, apart from its overuse of flashmedia, is competent and well-organized. She also knows, maybe better than any of the candidates from either party, what the demands on her time and attention will be like once she's in office. She's willing and able to learn about the issues she'll have to confront as President. After six years of being led by a man who won't even pick up a newspaper that's almost refreshing.

Other candidates had better take heed.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bill Moyers On A Libby Pardon

image credit: Bill Moyers' Journal

Emptywheel spotted this gem of an essay by Bill Moyers. Marcy's article quotes the early part of the article, which mentions the impassioned plees on behalf of Scooter by Adelman, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, et. al. Moyers then concludes:

None seem the least weighted down by the sheer, glaring unfairness of sentencing soldiers to repeated and longer tours of duty in a war induced by deception. It was left to the hawkish academic Fouad Ajami to state the matter baldly. In a piece published on the editorial page of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Ajami pleaded with Bush to pardon Libby. For believing “in the nobility of this war,” wrote Ajami, Scooter Libby had himself become a “casualty”—a fallen soldier the President dare not leave behind on the Beltway battlefield.

Not a word in the entire article about the real fallen soldiers. The honest-to-God dead, and dying, and wounded. Not a word about the chaos or the cost. Even as the calamity they created worsens, all they can muster is a cry for leniency for one of their own who lied to cover their tracks.

There are contrarian voices: “This is an open and shut case of perjury and obstruction of justice,” said Pat Buchanan. “The Republican Party stands for the idea that high officials should not be lying to special investigators.” From the former Governor of Virginia, James Gilmore, a staunch conservative, comes this verdict: “If the public believes there’s one law for a certain group of people in high places and another law for regular people, then you will destroy the law and destroy the system.”

So it may well be, as THE HARTFORD COURANT said editorially, that Mr Libby is “a nice guy, a loyal and devoted patriot…but none of that excuses perjury or obstruction of justice. If it did, truth wouldn’t matter much.”

Begging His Pardon

Sorry, Bill, that was just so beautiful I couldn't bear to quote less of it.

Many of us, in one way or another, have tried to describe what heinous little shits these people are. I think Moyers, with his careful, civil tone, has captured that view of them as well as anyone.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scooter In The Dock: Part Deux

image credit: Library of Congress

Happy Flag Day.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is once again in court, this time for sentencing. It's starting to look like there won't be a decision today, but stay tuned. Firedoglake is live blogging the proceedings. Here's today's first installment.

Needless to say, the drumbeat from the Republican shills for a pardon hasn't let up. If anyone doubts that Libby will be pardoned, consider this - these guys never do anything because it's the right thing to do. They've been put up to it. By whom, you wonder? I hope not for long. The only question is when it will happen. The Bush Administration doesn't care about public opinion at this point, since nothing's likely to change that short of a complete turnaround in Iraq. They clearly don't care about the Repbublican Party's future, just their own. As for the idea that Bush won't do it because he could be impeached? Do you really think that this crew of marshmallows is going to impeach anyone? He could eat a baby on the White House lawn in broad daylight and they wouldn't touch him.

Meanwhile, Taylor Marsh has a couple of interesting bits in her Hot Topics column today. The first is the article where I found today's picture. Thank you. The second is about the universal health care plan John Edwards announced more details about today. So far, it's been an interesting read. The goals are well thought out. I'm not so sure about the methods, but with something as complex as this problem I suspect that's inevitable. For my part, I think making things simpler is a good way to go. Anything that tends to make the problem even more complicated is probably not such a good idea. Hopefully, I'll be a little more specific later after I've read and digested.

UPDATE: Judge Walton has ruled that Libby must begin serving his jail sentence, which will be for a maximum of 30 months. Firedoglake has a live blog account of the events.

UPDATE 2: Larry Johnson's come up with an activity schedule for Scooter while he's in jail. Personally, I think he, Cheney, Abu, and W. should all spend some quality time experiencing what they were glad to subject others to.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

More Documents In The US Attorney Scandal

Image credit: GWU National Security Archive

There's been a new document dump in the US Attorneys scandal, which I used to refer to as the "USA Eight" scandal before we knew there were something like nine or ten USAs who were fired for still mysterious reasons.

This group of documents are all e-mails, as have been many in this scandal. One observation we old-timers can make is that most communication these days is done by e-mail, not by letter. That's interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that communications often happen in minutes when they used to take hours or days, and that when there's no editing people say the darnedest things. But I digress.

I haven't looked at this new group of e-mails, which appear to be from Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor, who were subpoenaed today by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Fortunately, Marcy Wheeler has. She's found some juicy stuff:

There are some doozies in here--where Harriet talks about asking "the Chief" about something, where Kyle Sampson admits to deleting an email from Bill Kelley on the Pryor/Griffin affair, and Sara Taylor's repeated attempts to ram Tim Griffin into Arkansas at all costs.

The Secrets They're Still Protecting

She then goes on to ask the question that's on everyone's mind, one way or another:

But I find another question just as interesting. What are the emails that they're still refusing to turn over. After all, although the emails they had previously withheld are embarrassing and outline the White House's intimate involvement in the purge, they're still not that damning. So what is it that they're still keeping hidden?

The Secrets They're Still Protecting

Most of us would stop right there, but not the relentless emptywheel. She has gone on to build a table of interesting e-mails that appear to be missing. Check it out.

Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo is still on the case. They observe:

The subpoenas follow fast on Justice Department emails turned over to Congress last night that fattened the already substantial case that the White House was intimately involved in installing Timothy Griffin, a former aide to Karl Rove as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock.

The Justice Department, in a letter vetted by the White House, wrote Congress back in February that Karl Rove didn't play "any role" in Griffin's nomination -- a statement the Department has since admitted was false.

Committees Subpoena Former Rove Aide, Miers

Among other things, we're learning that when this Justice Department denies it's doing something, that doesn't mean very much.

Scarecrow makes some observations about what this Justice Department has become at FDL today:

The Justice Department has become so politically compromised that no one can assume its criminal prosecutions are based on facts instead of political motivations and furtherance of one-party rule. The civil rights division has turned into a perpetrator of civil wrong. Career attorneys who were dedicated to protect Americans’ right to vote have been pushed out and replaced by political operatives hell bent on denying likely Democratic voters the ability to even register. Honorable prosecutors have been replaced by White House loyalists and incompetent cronies. Men and women with integrity who would never sanction wholesale lawlessness by the executive or massive invasions of citizens’ privacy or sanction torture have been “retired” to make way for political operatives who justify felonies, illegal surveillance, torture, illegal kidnapping, indefinite detention and the imposition of military law on US residents.

America Under Siege, But It’s Just Politics

This has certainly been the trend. There are folks who've said this is all about vote fraud, or something else. My guess is that it's about many things, none of them good. Scarecrow listed them in that paragraph.

Keep in mind that Sara Taylor was one of Karl Rove's aides, and if emptywheel's observations are correct, one of those ambitious young people who sometimes reach a bit farther than they ought to. Maybe she'll be feeling like making amends. One can hope.

So read, enjoy. Try not to let it ruin your lunch.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Baghdad: The Noose Tightens

image credit: U.S. Army

[This is an assault bridge, a temporary structure that modern armies use to cross rivers. There may be more of them in use in Iraq soon.]

This McClatchy article explains the situation pretty well:

In at least the seventh attack on Iraqi bridges in the past two months, a bomb damaged a bridge over a tributary to the Tigris River on Monday, cutting off the most popular route from the northeastern part of Diyala province to Baghdad.

Insurgents hit another bridge in Iraq

Another day, another attack on a transportation choke point in Iraq. As Larry Johnson notes today, this is almost certainly part of a deliberate campaign:

The ongoing attacks on bridges in and around Baghdad creates significant risks and logistical obstacles for U.S. forces in Iraq. In my opinion these attacks are part of deliberate strategy to create ambush choke points, degrade the capability of U.S. Quick Reaction Forces, and enhance the ability of insurgent forces to cut the U.S. lines of communication.

The Bombed Bridges of Baghdad

Our military forces in Iraq almost certainly recognize this possibility. Yet the McClatchy article goes on to note:

The U.S. military had no immediate information on the bombing, spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Garver said. Garver said bridge bombings didn't greatly "impede the mobility of the military." But bridges are high-profile targets whose destruction affects the lives of civilians, he said.

"If there is a definite campaign against bridges this is an insurgency trying to destabilize the government," he said.

Insurgents hit another bridge in Iraq

We can argue about whether it's an "insurgency" or a "resistance movement" another time, but for now let's just say that Larry Johnson's theory is at least as plausible. There's another possibility as well, which is that the campaign is designed to enhance the power of local warlords or others with the power to control the remaining bridges. It could also be to further isolate different parts of the city from each other, a campaign we're helping by building walls around neighborhoods in Baghdad.

Whichever of these explanations is actually the case, it doesn't bode well for either the Iraqis who live in or near Baghdad or for our presence in the country. Both will become much more endangered as these transportation facilities are destroyed.

Anyone who lives near a river knows how important bridges can be. When they aren't operational, it's harder for people to go to work, and it's harder for supplies of all sorts to reach their destination. Traffic snarls and lost commerce result. Having this happen in the middle of a war also has tactical implications, as Johnson notes in his article. It's much easier to predict where convoys will pass, because fewer avenues exist. They're not just attacking bridges, either. Highway overpasses also appear to be a target.

Our resident geniuses in Congress should take note, preferably before they fold again on providing more funding for our presence in the country.

UPDATE: Taylor Marsh has pointed at an LA Times poll that says Congress' reputation is at its lowest point in a decade. Gee, go figure.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Our Iraq Strategy: Bread And Circuses

image credit: U.S. Army Here's the caption for this picture:

Spc. Herrick Lidstone, a radio operator with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, takes a security halt during a nighttime foot patrol in Sha'ab, Baghdad on May 4.

If you weren't convinced that we can't win in Iraq by my illustrated version, Patrick Lang and Ian Welsh provided the text to go with the pictures yesterday.

Colonel Lang wrote an article yesterday about those other fortresses that the U.S. is building in Iraq.

[retired Marine Corps General Anthony] Zinni is right. This is a bad idea. The reason for that is simple. The peoples of the region and across the world of Islam will regard this as proof that they were correct in their previous belief that all the high rhetoric about "liberation" and "democracy" was a lie and that the war in Iraq is simply a renewal of Western imperialism in the Middle East.

A Bad Idea

As I wrote in the comments, as far as I'm concerned you don't need to be a military expert to understand this issue. All you have to do is think about how you'd feel if this was going on in your own country. Building these things, given that we say we don't want to stay and just want to help Iraqis run their own country, is foolish in the extreme.

Ian Welsh wrote an excellent article on the strategy of guerrilla warfare. He then observes:

If people feel that the occupation of their country won’t end peacefully – then war is inevitable. If certain groups wish to impose their religion and know that it will not be allowed then war is a route to their goal. If people want law and order and occupation forces are unable to provide it – then a new government is necessary and if one cannot be obtained through peaceful means then it must be obtained through violent ones.

The Way of the Weak: Guerilla Warfare

Building huge fortresses in the middle of their country just might be taken as a sign the occupation won't end peacefully, don't you think?

Meanwhile, Juan Cole writes what many of us have been thinking lately every time we hear more about the saga of Paris Hilton on TV:

American television never mentions that the US has 19000 Iraqis in jail, or that some have been women, or that some are innocent, or how they feel about being in prison.

So is Paris Hilton being given special treatment by our media? We all are, folks.

Paris Hilton [and] Iraqi Prisoners

This morning, Christy Hardin Smith discusses the fate of some of our male prisoners. She quotes this NY Times article:

Ahktar Qassim Basit says he is not angry about the four years he spent as an American prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, before his captors mumbled a brief apology and flew him to this drab Balkan capital to begin a new life as a refugee.

It is this new life in Albania, Mr. Basit and other former Guantánamo detainees say, that is driving them to desperation.

Chinese Leave Guantánamo for Albanian Limbo

We scooped up a group of innocent people, kept them in prison for years, and then exiled them in another country they have little cultural knowledge of. We're winning friends everywhere these days, aren't we? Christy writes:

Note that the US cannot find asylum for these innocent people because the Chinese government told these nations not to take them. George Bush has put the United States in such a weakened posture that the Chinese government is now dictating terms to other nations on whether or not they can do the decent thing and accept innocent people who we have been wrongly detaining — for years — because the Chinese government doesn’t want these people to receive mercy. A lot of these nations have been enjoying Chinese loans (just like the US has been to finance a lot of George Bush’s follies), and they cannot afford to anger the Chinese and their substantially strengthened posture. Welcome to the world that George Bush built for all of us. Feeling safer now?

Who We Are At The Moment…

It's hard to imagine a bigger crew of screwups than the politicians of our country, until you look at what's gone on in the news the last few years. Have you heard about any of this stuff on TV news, in between the breathless coverage of Paris, Tom Cruise, American Idol, household pets, or whatever other nonsense they choose to devote air time to? When Scooter Libby was on trial, the TV news was all over the Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears stories. Why do I remember that? I wrote about it. The "bread and circuses" format of news these days is not only depressing, it's become dangerous to our country. We depend on these shitheads to tell us what's going on in our country, not to mention our world. That they choose to tell us about celebrity bimbos instead is a prescription for tragedy.

We're seeing one of those tragedies play out in Iraq.

UPDATE: Firedoglake is back up.

UPDATE 2: Tony Auth's cartoon summarizes the Iraq bases issue nicely (h/t Bob Geiger).

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Scooter In The Dock

image credit: Vieux Montreal website

This is Old Montreal, in Quebec, Canada. Scooter and his cohorts have me thinking fondly again of places that aren't in the U.S. Of course, they have their share of low-lifes, too. Otherwise, they'd be willing to import more of ours, wouldn't they?

I Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was sentenced to thirty months in prison and a $250,000 fine today. The overly-optimistic among us would probably conclude that a little justice was done today. My bet is: fat chance. He'll be pardoned before he gets within ten miles of a prison. Former Senator and current part-time actor and full time dimwit Fred Thompson, who if voters hold to their pattern will be our next President, has been shilling for a pardon for Libby for some time. Clearly, it's about time to pull the trigger, or Libby will almost certainly start cooperating with U.S. Attorneys by identifying Leaker Zero, the one who first identified Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA agent to Cheney. If that person was Cheney himself, then he certainly knew that her identity was a secret, and is either culpable for identifying her to Libby and others without explaining her status, or did it deliberately to cause Ms. Wilson's exposure.

And that pardon had better happen soon:

While numerous public officials have been investigated, charged and even convicted in the three decades since Watergate, they almost always avoid prison by appeal, plea bargain or pardon. But at the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton raised the possibility that he would order Libby to jail even while he pursues an appeal.

Libby sentenced to 30 months in prison

There's no way Libby is going to jail. If Judge Walton decides that Scooter's going to jail in a few weeks, the pardon will happen before Independence Day. Bet on it.

UPDATE: Think I'm cynical? Read Juan Cole on the topic. Here's a sample:

Libby was not charged with the leak, which was probably illegal and certainly grossly unethical. Since Valerie was undercover working against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially with regard to Iran, in running a deliberate leaking operation against her Libby was essentially functioning as an agent of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.


The same is true for Cheney himself and for Karl Rove, Bush's political adviser. They are all traitors who betrayed an undercover US operative who was attempting to work against the ayatollahs in Tehran.

Hmmm. Parlez vous quebecois?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Steve Gilliard, A Voice Gone

Steve Gilliard, a powerful and insightful voice on the left-wing blogs, passed away this morning. This is a quote from his website. I have no idea what will become of The Newsblog, so I'll quote it in its entirety for whatever posterity that serves:

Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog (, passed away early this morning. He was 41.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

We will post more information as it becomes available to us.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us. We will miss him terribly.

As will I. My condolences to his friends and family.

UPDATE: Among Steve's many Internet friends was Jane Hamsher. She wrote a wonderful tribute today.

UPDATE 2: The Rude Pundit wrote about his friend as well. As RP points out, much of Steve's work is still visible on his old blog.

UPDATE 3: (June 6) An obituary appeared today in the New York Times. One sentence stuck out for me:

In what is a now-familiar story among Internet collaborators, many of the thousands who posted online reactions to Mr. Gilliard’s death wrote that they had known little about him, even the fact that he was black.

I found out fairly early on that Steve was black, but it was because he or someone mentioned that he was. He wrote about the things that concern us all, and he did it very well.