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Stephen Gottlieb

  • Some forty years ago, shortly after I came to Albany, the late Kathy Katz put Frances Fitzgerald’s America Revised in my hands. I had become a history buff as a kid and knew that much of what was in my high school texts was nonsense. So did my teachers. It wasn’t ‘til I took history courses at college that I was assigned books and authors who actually cared about truth. There’s nothing new about the distortion of history in service of telling kids fairy tales about America. But teaching our children that minority groups have played important and positive roles in America remains a political football.
  • Iran’s rulers are responding to demonstrations with violence, imprisonment and murder. That’s very painful for many of us. I believe at least one of our Iranian friends lost her life as the result of the Revolution in 1979, though I haven’t been able to find out for certain. I’m sure some of our friends have experienced similar grief either in 1979 or coming from the current violence. Can America do anything about it?
  • I’d like to ask what’s “radical”? A lot of our political conversation is about what is and is not “extreme” or “radical.” That’s about policy and it’s important. But what does it mean?
  • As the pandemic and inflation settle down, we’ll have lots of folk with new jobs looking for places to live. Let me suggest that we should rethink our housing, zoning, and living policies.
  • People are frustrated they and their children aren’t doing as well as their parents. There’s a grinch out there mucking things up. Did you catch it? It’s time to lock it up!
  • I heard Christmas in the Trenches when it was played during Thanksgiving. On the Thistle and Shamrock, John McCutcheon described trading stories and memories with a Black cleaning woman at a studio where he was performing, until she told him about soldiers who put down their arms on a Christmas eve during World War I and shared some camaraderie, though they’d be trying to kill each other come morning.
  • The gunfire attack on two power substations in North Carolina shut power off for thousands in the middle of a severe cold wave, and the Russian attacks on Ukrainian power stations shut off power for millions in the Ukrainian winter. Both brought to mind a conversation I had with a physicist friend. I suggested we’d be safer if we generated some of our own power – a system known as distributed power. He responded that it would be much more expensive that way.
  • I’m sick and tired of hearing analysts, economists, corporate executives and those they’ve convinced claiming that we don’t have enough unemployment and need more to reduce inflation. It happens that one federal agency is charged with dealing with inflation, the Federal Reserve Bank. It can’t directly lower inflation or the costs of food, fuel or health care. It’s main tool is to slow the entire economy by raising interest rates – which throws people out of work in order to reduce demand for goods and services and force business to cut back. So following the Fed, analysts take the easy way and focus on the one solution that makes unemployment a deliberate policy.
  • We’ve prevented election deniers from overruling elections based only on the imagination of sore losers. Hallelujah. But things sometimes do go wrong which need to be corrected. Courts, quite properly, have ordered recounts after reviewing the evidence. Courts have also rewritten legislative district boundaries that violated one-person-per-vote or other state or federal constitutional rules. Those cases rest on evidence, not on someone’s imagination.
  • We’ve been grieving over the latest shooting, this time in Colorado Springs. My wife and I vacationed there. We have gay and lesbian friends. I’ve helped in gay rights litigation. Violence against any group – gays, women, Blacks, Muslims, Jews or others – attacks the sinews of a diverse society where most of us cherish living in peace with our neighbors and value each other’s contributions to the world we love.