“When will they ever learn?”  — Pete Seeger

The answer, sadly, is never. Mankind has waged war since the beginning of time. If it were up to me, world leaders who wanted to send their nations’ youth to battle should, instead, meet one another in an arena and fight to the death. Maybe that would end the killing.

Back in World War I & II, soldiers returning from the battlefield were described as being “shell shocked”. Today it’s Post Traumatic Stress. Regardless what you call it, people who experience the madness of war, of watching their fellow soldiers blown to bits and more atrocities wouldn’t be human if those experiences didn’t have profound effects on their lives. Some resort to drugs and alcohol. Others to violence aimed at others or themselves. Some freak out while still deployed.

Perhaps that’s what happened to Bowe Bergdahl.

After hearing the news reports of the “POW exchange” that saw the release of the only US POW being held in Afghanistan in exchange for five senior Taliban members being held at Guantanamo Bay, I was confused. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Bergdahl was captured on the battlefield, but conflicting reports said he was AWOL, having left his encampment on his own accord – and many lives were lost in the search for him.

A fellow soldier who was among those searching for the missing man – and saw friends die as a result – wrote about it for The Daily Beast today in a piece titled, “We Lost Soldiers in the Hunt for Bergdahl — a Guy Who Walked Off in the Dead of Night.”

At first I was aghast, wondering why five really bad guys were being exchanged for a deserter. But while talking about it on the show this morning with Howie Klein, I realized that I have no idea the effect being inside a war zone has on one’s mind. Perhaps Bergdahl just couldn’t take it any more.

I’m sure we’ll find out more about the circumstances of his capture, but we should be happy that he’s home (even if the story is a bit too creepily similar to Homeland. Let’s just not turn this guy into a hero.)  To be continued…

Howie Klein joined in for his weekly “Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie” to talk about tomorrow’s primary races in California, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, and New Jersey. Please vote!

We also spoke about the New Dems/Blue Dogs who – supported by Steve Israel and the “Republican wing of the Democratic party” keep voting the wrong way, as Howie wrote about here. 

After news from the Talk Radio News Service, we had a busy second hour too!

Ryan Grim of Huffington Post taped an interview Saturday morning with a couple of big names: Thomas Piketty and Elizabeth Warren, on the same stage! It’ll air tonight, 8:30 ET  on Huffington Post Live... but they posted a teaser segment that intrigued me.

And finally, fireworks this weekend at the Working Families Party convention as Fordham Law professor and longtime progressive activist Zephyr Teachout challenged Andrew Cuomo for the WFP nomination. Although a deal was negotiated, and Andrew Cuomo agreed to a number of concessions including

– Public Financing of Elections

– the Women’s Equality Bill

– Funding for 200 Community Schools

– Changes to the school funding formula

– $10.10 minimum wage

– Local control for minimum wage up to 30% higher than the state minimum wage (i.e., $13)

– Decriminalization of a small amount of marijuana, amount unspecified

– the Dream Act

and the big one that would make all that possible: finally wresting control of the NY State Senate from Republicans to Democratic control.

The question is whether or not he’ll follow through on his promises. In the meantime, Zephyr Teachout is deciding whether or not to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

Tomorrow, Jason Leopold with more on the Bowe Bergdahl exchange, and GottaLaff too!