Commentary & Opinion

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Visit From Dr. Soot 'N Cinder

18 hours ago
Doctors Soot N’Cinder. Bob Balfoort (left) and Kurt Straub
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Consider kindling – you know the stuff you start fires with – and its ability to sow marital discord?

What promoted me to do so was last week’s hard frost and a visit from our friendly, local chimney sweep – Dr. Soot N’ Cinder.

Judith Enck: The Harvey Weinstein Effect

Nov 16, 2017

It has been 26 years since Law School Professor Anita Hill shocked the nation with her detailed testimony in Congress about how Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.

Herbert London: The Saudi Dilemma

Nov 15, 2017

Recent events in the Middle East confirm the observation that very little in the Middle East is easily understood.  A day after Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a palace purge by arresting several of his fellow royals, a high ranking prince mysteriously died in a helicopter crash.  State media did not reveal the cause of the crash, albeit any suggestion of motive would be entirely speculative.

Stephen Gottlieb: Sloppy Thinking About Gun Control

Nov 14, 2017

After the car ran people down in lower Manhattan, I read an article about making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with the author’s suggestions but I want to make a point about arguments for and against. One could say that people with bad intentions will just find other ways to kill lots of people. True or false? Actually it’s completely misleading. How many people with bad intentions will find other ways and how many won’t? How many people will do as much damage to as many people and how many won’t? The statement that some will doesn’t tell you. And the claim that all will is pure nonsense.

Michael Meeropol: Start The Bandwagon Without Me

Nov 14, 2017

Forgive me if I do not join in the almost universal commendations for Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker because they have made speeches attacking Trump.   Once more, I am sorry to say, the media has seized upon the latest bright shiny object in the sorry saga of the Trump Presidency.  Focusing on these two men and the speeches they made attacking Trump obscures the fact that they have both been reliable votes for the tremendous damage that Trump and his appointees are doing to the United States.

Blair Horner: Whither Reform?

Nov 13, 2017

Last week, New Yorkers turned down an opportunity to call a constitutional convention. If it had been approved, delegates would have been elected and given the mandate to propose changes to New York State’s governmental blueprint.

Rob Edelman: Women And Men...

Nov 13, 2017

These days, cinematically-speaking, there is much emphasis on the unfair exploitation and much-overdue liberation of women. Quite a few such films were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Some were set in centuries past. MARY SHELLEY, for example, emphasizes the title character’s resolve to latch onto her individuality in a male-dominated society. Some were set in more recent times. BATTLE OF THE SEXES centers on the 1970s tennis match between Billie Jean King and super-chauvinistic Bobby Riggs. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Family Splitting

Nov 11, 2017

You might ask yourself, as I did, where’s the silver lining to having a two-hundred year old oak tree come crashing down on your pool house? Besides, luckily, being covered by insurance?

Bill Owens: Football And President Trump

Nov 9, 2017

This is not about President Trump’s tweeting about NFL players kneeling down during the National Anthem, but in admiration of his punting skills

Herbert London: The Bergdahl Decision

Nov 8, 2017

The Bergdahl military hearing at Fort Bragg has finally reached a conclusion. U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has received a dishonorable discharge, but a military judge ruled he will avoid prison time for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his post in 2009.

Stephen Gottlieb: Our Introduction To Iran

Nov 7, 2017

With Iran in the news I’ve been remembering my own introduction to the country. Our group of Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Iran in winter, after the semester had begun where we were supposed to teach. We were taken to the home of Prime Minister Hoveyda and stood there not knowing what to do or say. As it happened, I was standing next to the Prime Minister. Looking down, I realized we were standing on a magnificent Persian carpet.

Blair Horner: Three Questions For Election Day

Nov 6, 2017

This year’s Election Day offers voters a range of candidates for local office. In addition, New Yorkers will have three questions on the ballot that could impact the state’s constitution.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Gone Beagling

Nov 5, 2017
Master Beagler Jack Kingsley and several canine members of the Old Chatham Hunt Club
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Last Sunday – the one with the high winds and torrential rains – might not sound like the best weather for beagling. That’s the sports where, to quote the website of the Old Chatham Hunt Club, the organization that sponsored the event, “a wily rabbit leads an eager pack of hounds through a whirlwind tour of the countryside.”

Herbert London: Bergdahl And President Obama

Nov 1, 2017

The admission is in; the sentence awaits us. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl admitted deserting his Afghan post and endangering fellow troops. By all accounts this is the most serious betrayal of presidential authority in my life time.

In a week, we will be voting to decide whether to call a constitutional convention for the State of New York. The powers of the Convention would be wide open. Before going further, it is important to look at the provisions for calling the Convention:

Andrew Pallotta: Redefining What Is Union Work

Oct 31, 2017

What do you think about when you hear the term “union work?”

Blair Horner: Superstorm Sandy's Fifth Anniversary

Oct 30, 2017

Climate change is not something that will impact in the future – it’s happening now.  An unrelenting heat wave in California and on the west coast has helped fuel forest fires, there has been massive flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal that have devastated that region, hurricanes Irma and Maria have decimated the Caribbean, hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

David Nightingale: A Few Pet Peeves

Oct 29, 2017

Let's get away from trumpitudes and politics for a moment. This essay is about brights, loud ads, passwords, and 'unavailable'.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Tea For Town

Oct 28, 2017
Carrie Chen conducting a Chinese tea ceremony at Casana Tea House in Hillsdale,NY
Ralph Gardner, Jr

Hillsdale, New York probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind as the setting for a Chinese tea ceremony. But Hillsdale is happening.

Fred Kowal: A Republic, If We Can Keep It

Oct 27, 2017

In a story often told about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 – the gathering of our country’s founders that produced the blueprint of our great democracy – someone reportedly asked Benjamin Franklin if the delegates had just crafted a monarchy or a republic.

Bill Owens: Free Speech

Oct 26, 2017

There have been a number of controversies regarding free speech on college campuses, including those at Middlebury and UC Berkeley.  The Wall Street Journal and others have written numerous stories and have opined about the intolerance of the left, conveniently ignoring the same intolerance on the right. 

Thank You!

Oct 26, 2017

Dear WAMC friends,

YOU did it. I am truly humbled and amazed and delighted about the success of the Locked Box and the subsequent eighteen-hour fund drive. Shortly after it ended, the newspapers called me up and asked me why things went so fast. I opined that our success could be attributed to the fact that Donald Trump was so abhorred and feared by much of our audience that they needed the radio station like never before. They were happy to put their money behind what they saw as a fearless institution.

Herbert London: Hollywood Chic

Oct 25, 2017

The Hollywood faithful turned out with all their finery to reward one another with self-reverential awards called Emmys. As the public now knows this event turned into a verbal auto de fe of President Trump.

Stephen Gottlieb: Dealing With Hate

Oct 24, 2017

Group epithets darken our world. It is particularly dangerous because the president encourages it. Trying to revive the language and practice of hate is shameful regardless of whom it comes from. How can we deal with it?

Ben Downing: Gun Laws And Common Sense

Oct 24, 2017

My Dad had been district attorney for less than 2 years when Wayne Lo opened fire on Simon’s Rock campus the night of December 14, 1992. He killed one fellow student, one professor and injured 4 others before his semi-automatic rifle jammed.

In an era of growing poverty, homelessness and hunger, it’s amazing how little attention the problem of food waste gets by policymakers.  According to a 2016 report (in the Guardian), roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually, an amount constituting “one third of all foodstuffs.”

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Bittersweet Season

Oct 21, 2017
Ransom Hall, Kenyon College
Cbc717 / Wikimedia Commons

I shouldn’t be talking to you right now. I should be at parents weekend. That’s where you could have found me on this weekend, or thereabouts, for much of the last decade.

Bill Owens: NAFTA Update

Oct 19, 2017

It appears that few of the critical issues have been resolved in the first two rounds of negotiations. Most of the press reports and insider commentary indicates that the process is not going particularly well, which was confirmed by two recent events. On Friday, October 6, 2017, the announcement by the U.S.’ chief negotiator that vehicles would have to have a specific level of US content as opposed to NAFTA content is a significant departure from previous positions held by the United States, though no specifics were provided. On October 11, 2017 Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit included threats from Mr. Trump to withdraw from NAFTA.

Herbert London: Defense Reality And Mythology

Oct 18, 2017

Tocsin is in the air. The North Korean representative to the U.N. said President Trump’s recent speech was tantamount to a declaration to war. While this kind of verbal saber-rattling has occurred in the past, it is worth asking whether U.S. forces have the technological superiority to thwart any potential foe and the nuclear superiority to deter a “first strike.”

Stephen Gottlieb: Generosity And Vegas

Oct 17, 2017

Two weeks ago, I’d prepared commentary about the value of generosity in foreign affairs but awoke to the horrible reports from Las Vegas. I went ahead with it while I caught my breath and planned commentary about guns. But generosity is very relevant and I want to return to it. Gun rights definitions which don't account for the thousands of people killed with guns every year are simply selfish. The it’s-my-gun-so-you-have-no-right-to-regulate-it attitude is selfishness, not liberty.

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