Commentary & Opinion

Stephen Gottlieb: Impeachment - The Political Question

Mar 27, 2018

Last week I commented that the issue of impeachment refocuses the flood of presidential moves. The possibility of impeaching the president raises another critical political question – would impeachment so annoy the public that Democrats would be defeated for trying to impeach Trump? Or will the focus in the impeachment process on Trump’s misbehavior leave the public sufficiently disgusted that the next election would go to his opponents? There have been attempts to remove presidents by impeachment. They resulted in two trials in the Senate and one resignation to avoid impeachment. That’s too few cases to draw firm conclusions but they deserve a look.

Blair Horner: The NY State Budget Deadline Looms

Mar 26, 2018

Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers are now into the final week of the fiscal year.  New York’s fiscal year starts on April 1st.  Given the holidays this year, there is a push to get a budget agreement in place by Thursday, March 29th.

David Nightingale: Xi Jinping (1953 – )

Mar 25, 2018
Xi Jinping, prior to a meeting in Beijing China, Sept. 19, 2012
DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo / Public Domain

Many of us know little of 65-year-old Xi Jinping, recently elected ‘President-for-life’ of China. His other titles are “General Secretary of the Communist Party of China”, and “President of the People’s Republic of China”.

Ralph Gardner Jr: What's The Matter With The View?

Mar 24, 2018
Photograph  airplane window
RobLa / Wikimedia Commons

Fair warning – this is a rant. But not on the subject you might expect. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with politics. Though, come to think of it, the phenomenon I’m here to discuss may actually speak to a larger vitamin deficiency in our culture, a spiritual malaise of which our current politics is but a symptom.

With the deadline for passing a State Budget right around the corner, our lawmakers are cramming like a student studying for finals. 

Herbert London: The Unlikely Summit

Mar 21, 2018

Lawrence Eagleburger, a key President Reagan adviser, told the president to remove a reference to Star Wars in a national speech. The president balked. Eagleburger tried again and again he failed to persuade Reagan. Clearly the president marched to his own drummer and, in this case, employed use of the theoretical Star War possibilities to extract concessions from Soviet leaders.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Central Issue Of Trump

Mar 20, 2018

President Trump says and does so many things which are parts of much bigger issues, that it’s nearly impossible to keep up.

Carling Willis: Giving A Second Chance

Mar 20, 2018

The human heart beats about 80 times per minute, 4,800 times an hour and 115,200 times a day. It's such a natural process, we don’t think about every individual heartbeat. But each one matters, our life depends on every one of those beats. I never thought of life in heartbeats until the summer of 2016, when a man relied on me to keep his heart beating.  

Last week was Sunshine Week; an annual celebration of the benefits of open government and how to safeguard and expand upon current transparency laws.  If the success of a representative democracy hinges on the informed consent of the governed, it is critical that the public know as much as possible about the information used and the processes by which its representatives spend tax dollars and act on policy recommendations.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Yoga 101

Mar 17, 2018
Instructor Alec Butterfield at Supersoul Yoga in Chatham, NY
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I didn’t choose yoga. Yoga chose me. Or rather my body told me there was no excuse at so youthful an age – I’ll keep my age to myself, thank you – to have legs so stiff that you have to descend the stairs a half step at a time.

Herbert London: The Fraud Accompanying March Madness

Mar 14, 2018

On a recent television program a former professional athlete, upset by the reflective knee bend as a protest during the national anthem at professional games, argued that sports aficionados should rely on the “purity” of the college game. As March Madness approaches, it is evident college basketball is far from pure. It is afflicted with fraud. Felony convictions have already occurred, and more are fully anticipated.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Economy And Those Left Behind

Mar 13, 2018

President Obama brought the economy back since the 2008 crash, and it grows steadily. But the rising tide didn’t lift all boats. Places like West Virginia, heavily dependent on coal mining, were left behind. I’ve taught there, knew coal mining families, shared a hospital room with one and a lovely boy in elementary school who obviously had very good taste took a shine to our daughter. I have very warm feelings about the state and am quite sympathetic.

Kenneth Stratton: The Draw Of Superheroes

Mar 13, 2018

Steve Rogers of the current Captain America film franchise lives by one mindset: that no matter what, “I can do this all day.” And it seems with the recent influx of superhero movies, Hollywood has the same mindset.

 IAEA experts depart Unit 4 of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on 17 April 2013 as part of a mission to review Japan's plans to decommission the facility.
Greg Webb / IAEA / IAEA Imagebank / Flickr.com

Last weekend was the seventh anniversary of the disaster at the Japanese nuclear power plant located in Fukushima.  On March 11, 2011, an earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean that spawned a huge tsunami.  The quake itself caused considerable damage to the Japanese islands near the center of the quake, but the tsunami’s impact was catastrophic.

Ralph Gardner Jr: When The Lights Go Out

Mar 10, 2018
candles
mikecpeck / Flickr.com

That does it. We’re getting a generator.

The lights went out during last week’s Nor’easter. Not once. Not twice. But three times.

Bill Owens: NAFTA - Round 7 With A Twist

Mar 8, 2018

The seventh round of NAFTA negotiations are set to begin in Mexico City in the next several weeks, with the word coming out of Canada that the Canadians are very pessimistic about this process.  In particular, they view the Americans as having little, if any, flexibility due to the policies and rhetoric of the Trump administration. 

Keith Strudler: The Four Minute Mile

Mar 7, 2018

Virtually every college distance runner wishes two things. One, that coach doesn’t call an early morning Sunday practice. And two, that you had just a little more leg speed so you could run the mile. See, if you’re a 5000 or 10,000 meter runner, down deep you knew that meant you couldn’t turn it over quick enough to do something shorter. So you just kept going longer and longer until you kind of outlasted people. That’s my story at least, a former mediocre college 10K guy. The same goes for a friend who’s now an ultra-marathoner, who saw the marathon as just a bit too speedy.

Herbert London: Defending Western Civilization

Mar 7, 2018

For those in the West who have lost their way, no longer sure of whether to believe in their traditions or believe at all, it is useful to recall that liberty is our overarching concern. Liberty, as Edmund Burke counsels, “must inhere in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favorite point, which… becomes the criterion of happiness.”

Stephen Gottlieb: Images Of America

Mar 6, 2018

When the Metropolitan Opera came on with Madame Butterfly recently, I began to puzzle about why the opera is so strongly anti-American. In Butterfly, an American naval lieutenant trifles with the heart of a young Japanese woman ending with her ritual suicide, leaving their baby to him and his new American wife.

Ben Downing: Ending Hunger

Mar 6, 2018

Massachusetts is one of the richest states in the richest nation on earth and yet, 1 in 10 people and 1 in 7 children struggle with hunger. That’s 701,630 of our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. It’s 187,920 kids. That is a moral outrage and it should spur action to ensure no one goes hungry. Unfortunately, this hasn’t proven to be the case. Thanks to a recent study by Children’s Health Watch of Boston Medical Center we have a new way of thinking about the costs of hunger and with it hope for renewed action.

Blair Horner: New York's Ethical Failings

Mar 5, 2018


New York State’s long running corruption crisis continues to this day.  For each of the first seven months of this year, a new high-profile corruption case goes to trial.  Last week the first of those cases went to the jury for deliberations and in the second case, a trial was averted when a former legislator pleaded guilty.

David Nightingale: Lake Baikal And Neutrinos

Mar 4, 2018
Sunset in Baikal
Emilianka / Wikimedia

Those who have traveled to Lake Baikal – and I have not – know it not only as long and thin, but also as the deepest lake in the world. Its greatest depth is a mile, and it lies between southern Siberia and Mongolia. The lake is fed by over 300 rivers and contains more fresh water than all the Great Lakes combined.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Ski Bum For A Day

Mar 3, 2018
Cable car on Czarna Góra, top station (Śnieżnik Mountains, Sudetes, Poland)
Marek Tomaszewski, Barlinek / Wikimedia Commons

Of all the days to go skiing we had to pick the one last week where the conditions more closely resembled those on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (I’m using Guadeloupe but feel free to insert a different tropical locale) than they typically do this time of year in northern Vermont. That’s where we happened to be heading.

Michael Meeropol: Don't Be Fooled By The Story Of Bonuses

Mar 2, 2018

In January 2018, I delivered a commentary in which I quoted economist Dean Baker comparing the savings that major corporations were getting from the tax cut with the amount of money they were committing to the highly touted bonuses they were giving out.   It appeared that about ONE TENTH of the benefit from the increase in after-tax profits was going to these one “time bonuses.

Sometimes programming decisions are mutually exclusive. Take the opera, for instance. 

We know that there are relatively few people who listen to the opera. The big “but” is that those who do listen are passionate about the art form. WAMC has been playing the opera for years. Our philosophy has always been that a great public station will feature programming that may not be readily available and that certainly is the case every Saturday afternoon on WAMC. Imagine you were drawing the audience for opera. The so-called “N” (number) circle would be pretty small compared to the circle representing the audience who listens to news and public affairs on the station. So the question is, should opera take up time during which the majority of listeners would rather be listening to something else? 

30 years ago, Healthcare accounted for 16 percent of the $20 billion Massachusetts state budget. 10 years ago, it accounted for 30 percent of a $28 billion budget. In 2018, it was 40 percent of a $39.4B budget. You don’t have to be a policy wonk to realize that’s an unsustainable trend.

Keith Strudler: Shopping For Sporting Goods

Feb 28, 2018

If you have two kids of a certain age like I do, you spend a whole lot of time in sporting good stores. We tend to do a weekly pilgrimage to buy anything from soccer cleats to compression shirts to running shoes that aren’t even necessarily used for running. It’s an expensive hobby, having kids. And of course, that means we spend a whole lot of time in Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest retail sporting goods chain in the US. And every time I go to Dick’s, I have an uncomfortable moment when I have to walk my kids by the hunting section of the store. Because there, among other things, is a wall full of guns. There’s also bullets, and scopes and all the other things that make guns work – most of which I’m largely unfamiliar with, despite my three summers of Boy Scout camp in Texas. I tend not to spend much time staring, and I certainly don’t encourage my kids to peruse – which isn’t usually that hard, since they’re busy trying to convince me to buy them $100 basketball shoes they don’t need. It hasn’t stopped me from shopping there, obviously. But the feeling is there, and perhaps one reason I wish I was at Nike Store or a Foot Locker – something I never thought I’d say.

Herbert London: The U.S.-China Relations

Feb 28, 2018

It was part and parcel of the “new world order” espoused by Bush and Obama that a China integrated into the organizational structure of global affairs would not challenge the status-quo. Yet try as Washington has, China has its own agenda somewhat impervious to post-Cold War optimism.

Steven Pinker, in The Better Angels of our Nature, argued we’ve become less bloody over the centuries. But so many issues involve life and death. For two weeks this country has been discussing how to stop school shootings. This week let’s address life and death in the Middle East. Next week, events permitting, let’s discuss two issues that threaten life worldwide.

Andrew Pallotta: Janus Case An Attack On All Workers

Feb 27, 2018

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that may forever change the ability of working people to successfully fight for better pay, good health insurance, job security and a secure retirement.

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