I just heard the news about Steve Gilliard's passing.
When I first started reading blogs, Gilliard and Billmon were the first two stops on my daily reading list - Billmon for his studied analysis of the political and economic issues facing our beleaguered nation, expressed in exquisitely reasoned and constructed posts, and Gilliard for his inimitable ability to reach across the desk, grab you by the lapels and scream, "dude, WHAT THE FUCK!?!?"
That's not to say Gilliard wasn't smart. He was as beautifully brained as anyone on the Internet, and more than one of his detractors found that out the hard way when they mistook his brash, profanity-laden style as evidence of a lack of seriousness. To me, his ability to use the word "motherfucker" - and use it well - in an impeccably researched post on the French occupation of Algeria and its parallels to our current disastrous occupation of Iraq exemplified what this thing we Earth people call blogging is all about. Unlike some other military historians on the Internet, Steve's voracious intellect also encompassed a deep, practical knowledge of how real-world politics actually work, including the labyrinthine politics of New York City.
Steve Gilliard may not have invented the "street-fighting liberal" attitude, but for my money he worked it better than anybody and he was the writer most likely to get me fired up to get off skinny white ass and do something. When he first went into the hospital, I left a comment over at The News Blog saying he had to get well soon because there was no way I could face Rudolph Giuliani's presidential candidacy without knowing he would be there to play whack-a-mole with every bullshit talking point that popped out of Rudy's mouth. But Gilliard's gone now, so it's up to us to keep these fools from disfiguring America anymore than they already have and maiming the rest of planet while they're at it.
Let's go pick a fight.