Commentary | St. Louis Public Radio


This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2013 - Douglas MacArthur once remarked, “The history of failure in war can almost be summed up in two words: too late.” George Patton said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” These men understood the urgency of warfare and the subsequent need to act with alacrity and dispatch.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 7, 2013 - On Jan. 30, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — known to her friends as Gabby — and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Several members of the upper chamber on Capitol Hill have apparently become concerned that there might be some sort of gun violence problem in our nation and decided to hold hearings to see whether Congress should try to do something about it. Well, you can’t fool these guys for too long…

Commentary: Egypt is in an ongoing revolution

Oct 2, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 10, 2013 - The following is condensed from open letter Ismail Serageldin, director of the Library of Alexandria, sent on July 6.

Egypt is once more doing things its own unique way. After millions of people went into the streets and, in 18 days that shook the world, succeeded in toppling the regime of Hosni Mubarak, they came back in their millions into the streets and squares of Egypt and toppled Mohamed Morsi.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 9, 2013 - Dad died almost exactly a year and a half before we will have the auction at which his things, and Mom’s, will be sold.

Our family is lucky we’ve had this gift of time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 30, 2012 - What will you do, what will you do? Whether this reminds you of Karl Malden’s ads for American Express Travelers Cheques or of Mike and the Mechanics, it is an apt question for Chairman Ben Bernanke and the policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Open Market Committee. 

Commentary: Bounty hunters in New Orleans

Jul 2, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 15, 2012 - There is a concise explanation of our continuing need for regulations, rules, referees and the red tape these restrictions on human freedom entail. It can be rather succinctly summarized in two words: People cheat.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 26, 2009 - As of this writing, former financial genius Bernard Madoff sits in the clink awaiting sentencing for defrauding investors of about $50 billion-$65 billon. His attorneys have appealed his incarceration, arguing that justice would be better served were he allowed to reside in his penthouse during this transitional period rather than in a facility designed for less accomplished criminals.

Thus far, the judiciary has been unsympathetic.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2009 - The country is in the midst of an intense debate regarding whether the federal government should make health insurance affordable for all. Such an expansion of the health-care system will likely cost between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan policy think tank, Center for American Progress (CAP). This, of course, comes on top of the financial sector bail-out and the economic stimulus package, each costing several hundred billions of dollars.

Beacon blog: An end to big-shoulders envy

May 10, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 28, 2010 - In journeys past, when I've made the very short trip from St. Louis to Chicago, I've experienced a "Why Not Us" discontent fueled by what I long have regarded as civic timidity and a rather smug complacency in the St. Louis region that chokes effective change and progress.

Commentary: Illinois needs help beyond government

Apr 16, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 20, 2010 - The late John Kenneth Galbraith, an economist and Harvard professor who served in four presidential administrations, wryly observed: "Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."

For several years now, Illinois' politicians have cowered from the unpalatable and defaulted to the disastrous. We certainly cannot count on them to become more statesmanlike on the campaign trail as November beckons. So, we must hope other influential Illinoisans step forward to make more productive use of the months ahead.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 26, 2010 - A very big part of a trip I'm now on in Central America can be summed up in a story of two mangos.

The first part of the trip was with my daughter who is in San Salvador with a group of students from the University of Santa Clara. She is taking courses -- Spanish, philosophy, history -- at the University of Central America in El Salvador. She is also taking a graduate-level course in life.

Commentary: War is no laughing matter

Mar 8, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 7, 2010 - Readers of a certain age will no doubt remember "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." The program was the cutting edge of televised comedy in the late '60s and early '70s, operating on the premise that if you threw five to six jokes a minute at the audience, somebody was bound to laugh at something. And indeed they did.

Commentary: Another massacre

Feb 24, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 11, 2011 - The attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' life, the murder of six citizens and the wounding of 13 more is surely a dreadful event, but hardly unimaginable or unthinkable. Indeed, if anything the tragic event in Tucson was in some sense foreseeable.

Of course I don't mean that the bloodshed that occurred a few days ago in Arizona was bound to happen then and there. But I do mean that the history, culture, policy and politics of this country -- the socio-political context -- make such violence both possible and predictable.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 17, 2011 - Only 146 years after Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Missouri has finally decided to take a side in the Civil War. We've elected to join the Confederacy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 4, 2008 - Wednesday's major event outside of the convention was a tribute to Sen. Bob Dole from the Kansas and Missouri delegations. Sens. Sam Brownback, Jack Danforth, Fred Thompson, U.S. Rep. and Missouri gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof, and U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Wichita stood on stage to honor this great American.

With frustration and anger still boiling over the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, protesters returned to the streets Sunday to make themselves heard.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

It feels like we’ve been here before. Three years ago, the region and the nation witnessed the passion and furor of protesters in Ferguson who came out to decry the shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, at the hands of a white police officer.

And now, the region and nation are watching us again as demonstrators take to the streets to express outrage over a judge's verdict that found Jason Stockley, a white police officer, not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, after a high-speed chase in 2011.

Courtesy, the Sheldon Art Gallery

A visitor finds it difficult to move along to the next picture when he’s looking at Radcliffe Bailey’s absorbing and  many-layered glittery print, “Tricky 3.” This large, complex and challenging picture at the Sheldon Art Galleries sets the tone for a new exhibition, “Printmaking in St. Louis Now.” In size,  scope, substance and intention, the show qualifies as a respectable blockbuster.

Sam Sextro lights candles across the street from the Edward Jones Dome while mourning the city's loss of the Rams. Sextro and a friend, who ran a St. Louis University High Rams fan club, met outside the stadium Wednesday for a "final tailgate."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This commentary was originally posted on St. Louis Public Radio reporter Maria Altman’s Facebook page on January 14, 2016. It was recorded for “St. Louis on the Air” on January 19, 2016. Listen to the radio commentary here:

Some thought on the Rams leaving for L.A.:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 9, 2013 - Too frequently those who examine public policy dwell on the creation of a law and then on results, usually quantifiable. How the law is implemented is overlooked. Yet, implementation may be key to policy success or failure.

This article first appeared in The St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 5, 2013 - “The trouble with ignorance is that it picks up confidence as it goes along.”

--Arnold Glasow

Convenient ignorance explains most of the folly in human affairs. The things we don’t know really can hurt us.  Worse, the things we think we know are often wrong.

Kelly, a calico cat, lived in Lafayette Square
Donna Korando | St. Louis Beacon Archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 29, 2013 - "From Our Homes To You” — that’s the theme of this year’s parlor tour in Lafayette Square.

In little ways the press release tells how far the area has come. "Enjoy one of the finest neighborhood examples of urban rebirth,” it says.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 28, 2013 - I really didn’t want to write about it. In fact, I intentionally avoided the subject. My previous column, which ran on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the DAY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING, dealt with the hazard posed to Thanksgiving by the commercialization of Christmas. I thought it was a topic worthy of discussion, but admit that it was also a dodge.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 6, 2013 - Recently Mayor Slay’s administration sought to implement a contract with Veolia to evaluate the city’s water department. After protest, in part for Veolia’s work on the West Bank for the Israeli government, the firm withdrew its bid to work for St. Louis. However, this disjuncture should not negate the role of evaluation in enhancing effectiveness in local government.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 4, 2013 - From the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition 100 years later, Western culture flourished in the Gateway City. The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century made St. Louis a rich place. And the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 changed St. Louis’ geography, making it a Pacific as well as an Atlantic port city. Moreover, St. Louis’ factories and businesses helped to make the United States a great power.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 31, 2013 - When I was a kid, Halloween was the day we gave thanks for attending Catholic school. Because the day after is All Saint’s Day in church liturgy, we were off for a holy day of obligation while our public-school counterparts attended classes as usual after a night of trick or treating. (Suckers.)

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 28, 2013: Missouri’s budget priorities have long-term consequences and they are not good.

The recent snafu over the fiscal budget, the debt ceiling and the continued funding of Obamacare provides a teachable moment. Spending choices, whether at the federal or state level, have economic consequences.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 24, 2013: Pessimism is often confused with cynicism, which taints the mindset with an undeservedly negative connotation. A cynic is a person who delights in the ill fortune of others and celebrates the fallen plight of the human soul. It’s probably some form of externalized self-loathing: Being a loser is more tolerable if everyone else is one too.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 23, 2013: The national parks are open again. Panda Cam remained down after the shutdown, because of too much demand. (Let the record show that the editor had to check to make certain it was working.) Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are back at their jobs. In the end, the economic cost of closing the federal government for a few weeks has been estimated in the tens of billions. However, this only represents an insignificant dip in the GDP in the long run.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 17, 2013 - During his 2009 Cairo speech, President Barack Obama acknowledged that in 1953 “the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.” The complex history that coup exemplifies must be understood as we interpret the moderate persona of Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president. In particular, as negotiations begin this week, Mr. Obama should recall his 2009 speech and remain sensitive to the sometimes-sordid role we have played in Iran’s history.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 16, 2013 - I’ve had it with zombies and Republicans. Every newscast begins with the latest demands of House Republicans that must be met before the government is allowed to function and the nation can pay its debts.

The brief reprieve of a commercial break invariably features zombies — zombie movies, zombie television series, zombies hawking cell phones… Perhaps it’s just their juxtaposition but the two genres are beginning to remind me of each other.