Saturday, March 24, 2012

Early Post-War Results

Juan Cole is always good for understanding the Middle East, Arab and Islamic cultures. His observation on the outcome in Libya sounds about right to me.
Libya is nowhere near the mess that France was after its revolution in 1789, and there is nothing like a Vendee or a Terror. There hasn’t been a civil war, though there are still a few pockets of insecurity. Those hoping for bad news really haven’t had all that much considering that the country had been left with no functioning institutions after decades of personalistic Qaddafi totalitarianism.

Libyans are truly at ground zero, starting a journey filled with opportunity and all sorts of risks to that opportunity. After Qaddafi Libyans will, I hope, recognize those risks and build a society based on social and economic justice.

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...awaiting Supreme Court oral argument on the Affordable Care Act.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tooting My Own Horn

My Appalachian Trail memoir, At the Speed of Foot, received its first review last month. I came across it this evening. The reviewer doesn't ignore the book's shortcomings but he does call it "a simple honest book about the AT" and gives it four stars.

I can live with that.

And I will take this opportunity to remind readers that print copies are for sale at You can also find a Kindle edition at

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weekend Words

This past weekend I came across a couple of articles that spoke pretty directly to my two major concerns, economic justice and American militarism.

A Facebook link took me to an article by Arundhati Roy discussing, among other things, the increasing reliance on private for profit enterprises for social goods and services on which all people rely:

The whole privatisation of health and education, of natural resources and essential infrastructure – all of this is so twisted and so antithetical to anything that would place the interests of human beings or the environment at the center of what ought to be a government concern – should stop. The amassing of unfettered wealth of individuals and corporations should stop. The inheritance of rich people's wealth by their children should stop. The expropriators should have their wealth expropriated and redistributed.

A listserve took me to Lt. Col. Daniel Davis' summary of his recent tour of duty in America's never-ending wars:

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.

Both articles are worth reading in full.

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