Stephen Gottlieb | WAMC

Stephen Gottlieb

Stephen Gottlieb: A Taste Of Their Own Medicine

Jan 12, 2021

I find myself getting angrier by the day and wanting to give the extremists, the alt-WRONG, the Trumpistas, the people who think the road to greatness is violence against each other, a taste of their own medicine. They chanted “Lock her up” and I want to lock HIM up, and THEM too.

Stephen Gottlieb: New Year's Wish For The Green New Deal

Jan 5, 2021

For my own peace of mind I’m going to go ahead with the commentary I planned about global warming rather than the latest anti-American actions of the person in the White House, so:

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump's Final Days

Dec 29, 2020

There’s been much news about whether Trump would use force or declare martial law to stay in office. Trump bumped that off the news by declaring he wouldn’t sign the stimulus and relief bill, then signing it after widespread criticism. Perhaps he’s abandoned using force to stay in office. But he’s taken many steps to set up the possibility. Ignoring the Senate confirmation process and civil service protections, he put his most reckless and irresponsible supporters in acting positions. He tested which federal forces would and which would not respond to his commands to take over parts of America, in defiance of state and local officials. Typically, Trump sends ambiguous messages to his [quote] “Second Amendment supporters” and others, to get them thinking about how they can keep Trump in power. If they create enough chaos, he’s ready to take advantage. If not, he’ll claim he was trying to keep the peace.

Stephen Gottlieb: Blame And Public Safety

Dec 21, 2020

At this time of year we celebrate kindness and generosity. We celebrate helping each other and breaking down mutual distrust and dislike. I love the lyrics Rogers and Hammerstein put into the mouth of Julie Andrews in The King and I:

Stephen Gottlieb: Peace And Penalties

Dec 15, 2020

A recent email from Tom Huf struck me as a clear and succinct statement about the problem with American policy toward Iran. Tom, like my wife and myself, was a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran, and follows developments in Iran closely. Here’s what he wrote:

Stephen Gottlieb: To Heal The Climate

Dec 1, 2020

I was delighted that President-elect Biden named John Kerry as special envoy to deal with the climate. Our earth and climate have been taking many hits. Unless we heal the damage and deal with global warming, things will get much worse fast. But talking about the threat of climate change paralyzes some people who make it harder to get anything done. So I’d like to focus on the positive.

Stephen Gottlieb: To Heal The Pandemic Economy

Nov 24, 2020

I’d like to give thanks for those whose lives we can save and whose futures we can restore. To do that, there’s no choice between defeating the virus and rebuilding the economy; we've got to do both.

Stephen Gottlieb: Blame And Public Safety

Nov 17, 2020

The Governor charged communities to re-examine their police departments, and several pieces in the local paper described the disproportionate treatment of African-Americans, ending up with the question whether police are racist. I like and respect the authors and there’s a lot of wisdom in those pieces but, to make progress, I question focusing on blame. Segregation was “inherently unequal” regardless of what the officials thought they were doing. Blame is about fault. I want improvement, not some Grand Inquisitor looking for purity. That makes everything harder.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to address aspects of how we can heal from the damage of the Trump years. We’ll have to change the politics to communicate with each other, the economics to take care of the whole country, policies to protect the climate, gun rights to define where and when they belong, and we have to get to know each other better.

Stephen Gottlieb: Election Night Rag

Nov 3, 2020

Depending on where you live, there are a few hours left to vote. If you haven’t, it would be an excellent use of your time.

Stephen Gottlieb: My Feelings About This Election

Oct 27, 2020

It’s hard to describe my feelings. The great founding documents of our country seemed like they’d always be with us. When we participated in the Civil Rights Movement we thought were working for a better America. We never believed it could all disappear. We were brought up reciting the Gettysburg Address. We knew parts of the Declaration of Independence by heart. Some of us knew deals with the devil of slavery underlay the creation of the Constitution but also knew it had given us a platform to make a better world for everyone. We took it all for granted. Until the White House tenant threatened to take it all away.

Stephen Gottlieb: For The Left Wing Of The Party

Oct 20, 2020

Did you feel safer in the Biden-Trump debate with Joe, who spoke like a caring uncle, or Donald with the demeanor of a raging bull? We know enough about Trump’s admiration for Hitler, his bringing extremists into Republican politics, to realize that his coy remarks  about what his supporters could do with their “Second Amendment rights,” his calls to “Liberate Michigan”, “Liberate Minnesota,” “Liberate Virginia,” and to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” while intended to protect deniability, were in fact aimed at the extremists among his supporters, the Klan, Proud Boys, Nazis, white supremacists, and gun toting extremists, inviting them to keep Black and Brown people and others likely to vote Democratic away from the polls or at least prevent their votes from counting. That world’s not safe for any of us.

Stephen Gottlieb: Voting Rights Vs. Big Donald

Oct 13, 2020

It is illegal to injure, coerce,  threaten, or intimidate people trying to vote or conspire to. So-called “Second Amendment rights” are no defense to those crimes, merely the means of committing them.

Workingmen and women, white and black, have real grievances. Big shots want you to play Let’s You and Him Fight because then nobody gets anything and all of us slave for the bosses. That’s a game of rhetoric. The big shots bellow about bad people coming across the southern border – women and children mostly – or Black people with the effrontery to suggest that cops shouldn’t be shooting them in the back just because they’re Black. Some whites object that Blacks are trying to be higher on the pecking order but there isn’t a single job produced by that rhetoric and it won’t shrink the deaths of despair that have been taking too many white lives. White men and women want, need and deserve jobs – decent ones that you can take care of your families with. But all Trump gave you is that bellowing. Everyone knows how to create jobs – things need to be built and improved – some talk about infrastructure ‘til they’re blue in the face but Republicans block it – first they didn’t want a Black president to take credit for improving our infrastructure but they insist everything should be produced by capitalistic magic – a fancy way to say they don’t want to do anything for you or the country. The internet and electrical grids need to be improved and hardened – including the retraining that could create a real income stream. But they stopped Obama, and they stopped the work. What good did that give you? Bragging rights? Try and feed your families bragging rights.

Stephen Gottlieb: For Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Sep 29, 2020

I dearly wanted to talk about Justice Ginsburg last week. But because a family member needed my help it was impossible. There are new issues, but Ginsburg, a Justice who actually believed in justice, is worth a few more words.

Stephen Gottlieb: Of Course, Black Lives Matter

Sep 22, 2020

I was on a Mohonason panel, talking with students about the Civil Rights Movement. The panel included Reggie Jackson, an African-American folk singer who sang on the front lines of the iconic demonstrations, his friend, Greg Greenaway, a southern-born white deeply committed to civil rights, and Nell Stokes, an activist raised in the segregated South before moving here and spending her life fighting for freedom. I have enormous respect for all of them. I was invited because I walked over from my apartment to the March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his I Have a Dream speech, and because I worked on civil rights in several legal offices.

Every economist understands that there are some things a capitalist economy won’t do for us. I won’t bore you with the technical reasons, but there are lots of things that depend on government. Trump and his Republican friends assume that calling them socialist will scare you away. Let’s understand that their claim is flawed from the get-go because public health, Armed Forces, police, fire departments and many others are all socialist in that sense. The interesting question is why they are trying to tar the programs they call socialist?

Stephen Gottlieb: Kleptocracy's Consequences

Sep 8, 2020

America, until recently, was one of the world’s cleanest places to do business. You didn’t have to pay people off to do what you wanted – indeed you couldn’t. Regulation was not about having a handout – it was about protecting the public. Public servants weren’t allowed to take anything for doing their jobs – from the president on down. Your job was your job. Taking anything was corrupt.

Stephen Gottlieb: What About Those Demonstrations?

Sep 1, 2020

The Black Lives Matter movement is being waylaid by provocateurs and others who want to use the opportunity to loot stores or, as one hoodlum did, shoot people on camera and then, apparently craving notoriety, tried to give himself up to police who ignored him because he’s white and they were convinced all bad things are black.[1]

Stephen Gottlieb: Health Law Arrogance

Aug 25, 2020

There’s so much to talk about, but let’s go out for a walk or step into a shop. Unfortunately, some people pugnaciously claim the freedom to ignore health laws.

I argued on this station that Trump should have been impeached for disloyalty. The American people understand disloyalty. They didn't understand the significance of the articles of impeachment.

Stephen Gottlieb: Statues And The Arc Of Justice

Aug 11, 2020

Let’s talk about statues. I love Michelangelo’s and was privileged to see his masterpieces in Rome. And I’m moved by Daniel Chester French’s sculpture of a seated Lincoln in the Washington memorial that bears his name. I think’s it’s ironic to tear down or even reconstruct the statue, erected by the freedmen themselves, of Lincoln with a former slave – the freedmen knew the difference between enslaving and freeing people and wanted to commemorate and honor their liberation while preserving the understanding of the great moral wrong that had been done to them.[1]

Two weeks ago, I commented about Jefferson’s fear of a presidential coup. Last week I spoke about using nonviolent methods to prevent a takeover by the incumbent president, who told Chris Wallace on Fox that he might not leave the White House if he loses the coming election. Afterward, I expressed my concerns and showed a copy to Ian Shapiro, a friend and polymath who’s done brilliant work on both foreign and domestic policy. He sent me back a portion of a new book of his on economic insecurity, The Wolf at the Door: The Menace of Economic Insecurity and How to Fight It. I quickly realized we were approaching the same problem from different angles. Insecurity makes people want to believe that Trump is leading them to better days. I’ll return to that next week. And the campaign itself will help protect us against a presidential takeover.

Stephen Gottlieb: Jefferson On Trump

Jul 21, 2020

I was weeding some of my papers last Saturday and found a copy of a letter sent by Thomas Jefferson from Paris, where he was representing this country, on December 20, 1787, to James Madison here in America. As a slave-holder, Jefferson committed grievous wrongs, but Thomas Jefferson wasn’t stupid and what he wrote struck me because he was precisely describing what we most fear today. Jefferson’s letter was about the Constitution. He played no part in writing it, stationed in Paris as he was. But having gotten a look, he wrote his friend about what he did and didn’t like.

Stephen Gottlieb: Our Human Constitution

Jul 14, 2020

Recently I spoke with a class of high school girls. They asked me to talk about the Constitution and we agreed I’d talk about how we interpret it. I wasn’t advocating any particular method. In fact, I referred to the late Justice John Paul Stevens, adopting an observation by the then sitting president of the Israeli Supreme Court, that a judge does best who “’seek[s] guidance from every reliable source.’”[i]

Stephen Gottlieb: The Case For Black Reparations

Jul 7, 2020

Many years ago, one of my professors at law school, Boris Bittker, wrote a book called The Case for Black Reparations. Bittker was known mostly for his work on taxation, but he cared and wrote a great deal about race. One year at Reunions, he took my wife and me to see a pair of very interesting films about the confinement of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast in internment camps during World War II, and the experience of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii, many of whom served in the American military. Bittker’s book on black reparations went through the issues in a very lawyerly way as if he were arguing to a court. But let me describe it on a very human level.

I wanted to deliver this last week but Trump’s use of the military against domestic protestors had me fear for the future of our republic and I put this off.

My heart wants to talk about the momentous things happening in our country but the disloyalty of this president is too frightening to talk about anything else. 

Stephen Gottlieb: To Reinvent The Cops, Disarm Them

Jun 16, 2020

The Governor wants us all to reinvent policing in our own communities. Let’s pull that apart. He wants each separate community to have a conversation about policing and reset everything. Sounds good. Community is a lovely warm word. But I think the reality is a lot different than it sounds.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump’s Second Amendment Hooligans

Jun 9, 2020

The pandemic has been making life quite difficult for many of us, but if we don’t figure out a way to deal with Trump’s invitations to violence things can get a lot worse.

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