Commentary & Opinion

Stephen Gottlieb: The World Beyond the Tweets

2 hours ago

News media look for succinct sound bites that encapsulate one’s message. Even so, Bush simplified political language considerably. Things were good or bad, the right or wrong thing to do. When Al Gore confronted him with carefully researched numbers, Bush simply responded that Gore’s was “fuzzy math.” That was a put-down; not an explanation. It gave people no reason to agree or disagree except the bare fact that Bush used a put down.

New Yorkers have a big decision to make in three and a half months: A decision whether to overhaul their state constitution. That document requires that every 20 years voters get an opportunity to decide whether they want to rewrite the state’s foundational document. This November, voters will get that vote.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Growing Local Hors d’Oeuvres

Jul 22, 2017
The first homegrown cherry tomato of the season with Hawaiian black lava salt and refreshments
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Last holiday season I received an advent calendar from the Burpee company. Instead of chocolate, or whatever treat is typically secreted behind the twenty-five doors of an advent calendar, this one contained seeds: beets, basil, tomatoes, poppies, cauliflower, radishes, watermelon.

Herbert London: Shariah And The Constitution

Jul 19, 2017

With very little fanfare, the first Muslim woman was sworn in as a judge of the 7th Municipal Civil Court District of East New York. During the swearing in ceremony she held the Koran at Brooklyn Borough Hall on December 10, 2015. That was two years ago and it does not appear as if anything untoward has occurred in the subsequent period.

It was difficult to sit through all the sanctimonious claims of doing law by adhering to precedent by a succession of Supreme Court nominees and then read its decision in BNSF R. CO. v. Tyrrell in which the Court overruled International Shoe v. State of Washington. Senators have been grilling the nominees for years about adherence to precedent. We heard about ordinary precedent, long standing precedent, and precedent that has been used and cited numerous times.

Measuring Progress On Testing

Jul 18, 2017

How do you measure progress? That’s great question. In the fight to reduce standardized testing and return decision-making to classroom teachers, some critics say New York is moving too slowly.

Blair Horner: The World Gets A New, Huge Iceberg

Jul 17, 2017

Last week a gigantic portion of the Antarctica ice sheet broke off.  This isn’t the first time an enormous chunk collapsed into the sea, but it may be the biggest.  This gigantic iceberg is part of the “Larsen C” ice sheet and measures 6,000 kilometers in size, or roughly the size of the state of Delaware. 

David Nightingale: Wrong Way Corrigan (1907-1995)

Jul 16, 2017
Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan's plane returning to the US via ship
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Douglas Corrigan, son of a school teacher and an engineer involved in bridge construction, submitted his flight plan to the NY authorities in July 1938, and this plan was to fly non-stop from Brooklyn back to California, which he'd left ten days earlier. That prior 27-hour cross-country trip was amongst the longest non-stop flights he had ever made, and he had fitted special extra fuel tanks to his plane.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Dodging The Raindrops At Tanglewood

Jul 15, 2017

I love Tanglewood. The problem is Tanglewood doesn’t love me back.

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses the overturning of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's corruption conviction, Thursday's meeting between President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron and the GOP's latest health care proposal.

Herbert London: Trump, Qatar And Saudi Arabia

Jul 12, 2017

Soon after President Trump’s Riyadh speech, the Sunni nations chose to isolate Qatar, a sponsor of State terrorism. In fact, Egypt, Libya and the Emirates already contend Qatari planes and ships are to be banned from their air space and territorial waters.

There have been calls for a new national constitutional convention. They are generally cast as calls for a convention to do something specific, rather than open-ended authority to propose changes. There is an argument about whether those calls fit the constitutional definition of state initiated calls for a convention and what such a convention might do, But clearly many states think they are valid and have proposed a new convention. Indeed such calls may be only a few states shy of the required two-thirds of the states, depending on how many calls are deemed valid. So I think we should talk about it. I’ll spare you the technical argument and focus on the issues.

Blair Horner: The Voter Fraud Canard

Jul 10, 2017

With timing that was either irony or political tone deafness, just before Independence Day a panel created by the President of the United States issued a directive to all 50 states requesting that they submit a vast amount of information on American voters contained in state databases.

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses a New York Times report claiming Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it. 

Joan K. Davidson, President Emeritus of the J.M. Kaplan Fund
J.M. Kaplan Fund

The first goal of being a philanthropist should be to do good. But there’s a second, perhaps undervalued side of giving away your cash – having fun while doing so.

On June 26, 2017, forty economists including six Nobel Prize winners sent a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell voicing strong opposition to the bill that was crafted in secret by the Senate and made public the week before the July 4 recess.   McConnell had initially hoped to sneak the bill through before the Senators went home for that recess because he feared that when they were home they would hear so much opposition that some of them might lose their nerve and vote against it.   As it was, by the time he had pulled the bill and sent it back to be re-worked (which is still happening as this commentary was being delivered), nine Senators had (for varying reasons) announced opposition to it.

Fred Kowal: Starting The Conversation

Jul 6, 2017

You can sometimes tell a lot about a person just by talking to them on the phone. 

Keith Strudler: Elliot’s Bike Wreck

Jul 5, 2017

Last week I ended up at one of those after-hours pediatric offices. My 7-year-old Elliot took a nasty spill off his bike and ended up with cuts from his knee to his face, all of which were immediately bandaged. But around bedtime that evening, when we were changing the gauze, the scrape on Elliot’s knee looked a little too deep. I know that because I nearly passed out when I took a close look. So being the good father that I am, and looking for an excuse to take someone out for ice cream, off we went to pediatricians after dark.

Herbert London: Inflexible Progressivism

Jul 5, 2017

As a young man coming from a left-wing pedigree, I embraced a liberal agenda which included most notably, a belief in Israel as a bastion of socialism and democracy. In the 1950’s a good progressive was a good Zionist.

Bill Owens: Georgia Six - A Surprise?

Jul 4, 2017

There have been four special congressional elections since Mr. Trump was elected president, and Republicans have prevailed in each instance.  The Georgia Sixth Congressional District election was heralded as an opportunity to take back a district that had been held by Republicans for more than forty years; nonetheless, it went Republican again by four percentage points, while Mr. Trump won by roughly one percent.

Infrastructure maintenance is the Rodney Dangerfield of budgeting:  It never gets the respect it deserves.  Failing to maintain water tunnels, roads, bridges and mass transit systems can lead to catastrophic outcomes – both in terms of the impact on people as well as the cost to taxpayers.  So, it’s important to keep them well maintained and repaired when necessary.  As President John F. Kennedy once remarked, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” 

So the WAMC fund drive is over.

This time it took just nineteen hours to get it done and to put it to bed. The Berkshires sure did their part. There were moments when I was reading all the names of contributors on the air and I just couldn't keep up. It started a few weeks before the fund drive with our invitation to shorten the drive by putting money in the Locked Box. It was amazing how fast that money came in.

Rob Edelman: Way Before Ellen

Jul 3, 2017

If you are of a certain age, you might remember THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS, the popular hit TV sitcom of the very late 1950s and early 1960s. But Dobie Gillis, the title character played by Dwayne Hickman, and his pal Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik caricature immortalized by Bob Denver, were not the show’s lone memorable characters. Surely, one of them was Zelda Gilroy, the pony-tailed, comically obsessive high schooler who was forever in love with the otherwise disinterested Dobie, who was completely fixated on beautiful blonde Thalia Meninger, played by Tuesday Weld.   

Ralph Gardner Jr: City Vs. Country

Jul 1, 2017
Dancers at Sunset Park in Brooklyn
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

The question comes up often these days: Where would I rather live? The city or the country?

And the answer is… both.

Bill Owens: What's Going On With Trade?

Jun 30, 2017

On the Canadian front, on May 18, the Trump administration gave formal notice that it was proceeding toward a renegotiation of NAFTA.  There have been some general hints at the direction the administration will take, including the issues that might be negotiated. Some believe that this will be simply a tweak; others believe it will be a potentially massive rewrite of NAFTA.  Many groups are urging the Trump administration to focus on tweaks rather than dramatic changes. 

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Jun 30, 2017
Paul Caiano
WNYT

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Friday, June 30, 2017.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Time For Citizens To Take The Lead

Jun 29, 2017

Earlier this month, President Trump finally honored one of his many (often contradictory) campaign promises. He formally withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. America is now one of only three countries in the world who are not party to this landmark agreement, joining Syria and Nicaragua in refusing to work collaboratively to combat the threat of global climate change.

Herbert London: Overcoming Illusions In The Middle East

Jun 28, 2017

Illusions in the Middle East die hard. However, with the publication of the Hamas political document, there shouldn’t be any doubt about the motives of this Muslim Brotherhood organization. The western press continues to assert that Hamas is “moderating” its views, but the document itself offers a different picture.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Courts Stand Up For Impunity

Jun 27, 2017

In one of the last cases to be decided this term of Court, the Supreme Court described the death of Sergio Hernandez as “a tragic cross-border incident.”[1] Indeed. I want to make clear that I care deeply about this case. Several friends and I helped write an amicus brief to the Court about it.[2]

Blair Horner: Albany Makes Things Worse

Jun 26, 2017

As the scheduled 2017 legislative session wrapped up, commentators noted that Governor Cuomo and the legislative leadership failed to address the seemingly unending corruption scandals that have plagued both the legislative and executive branches.

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