Commentary & Opinion

I was driving home from the grocery store. The radio was tuned to this station. Wanda Fisher was playing a song that I hadn't heard but I knew what the woman was singing about – it was the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Hundreds of girls died because the doors were locked shut. They died from the fire, the smoke or jumping from windows like people did on 9-11.

Robin Christenson: Affirmative Action

Aug 8, 2017

Recent information leaked from the Department of Justice suggests that changes are afoot that would undermine affirmative action in college admissions processes, potentially punishing colleges that undertake policies to promote a diverse student body.

Every year, the American Cancer Society reviews each of the 50 states’ cancer-fighting programs.  The report, How Do You Measure Up, was released last week and identified some good news and bad for New Yorkers.

Rob Edelman: Garfield’s Breaking Point

Aug 7, 2017

The career of one of the great, unsung Hollywood actors is being spotlighted this month with the DVD and Blu-Ray Criterion Collection release of one of his lesser-known, underrated films. The actor is John Garfield and the film, which dates from 1950, is THE BREAKING POINT.

David Nightingale: Pool in the Woods

Aug 6, 2017

A hot humid day, and as I walked through the forest toward the pool I saw someone was already there -- but I could only see the head and a small hat. Perfectly motionless.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Dissecting August Light

Aug 5, 2017
Ralph Gardner Jr.

There’s something about August light that makes it superior to the light at any other time of year.

Fred Kowal: President Trump And The Press

Aug 3, 2017

It’s one thing when a candidate attacks the media on the campaign trail, or a politician isn’t pleased by—or is critical of—a news story or report.

Keith Strudler: Olympic Planning

Aug 2, 2017
Olympic rings
wikipedia.org

Every now and then, I get into an argument with my mom about vacation planning. It’s usually because she wants to plan a trip a year in advance, and I have a hard time seeing past lunchtime. For a whole lot of reasons – two of them being my children – I’m not really good at long range personal planning. In other words, I barely know what I’m doing next week, much less next year.

Herbert London: The Trump Doctrine

Aug 2, 2017

In his July 6 speech in Warsaw, President Trump pledged America to the “defense of civilization itself.” Here in simple terms is the emergence of a Trump doctrine: “the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.” By referring to the spiritual foundations of western civilization, the President echoes our collective civilized humanity: the laws and culture that undergird western civilization.

Stephen Gottlieb: Religion, Chautauqua Style

Aug 1, 2017

Instead of the mess in Washington, let’s talk about something positive. We just got back from a brief vacation in Chautauqua. I've been going there whenever possible since 1955 and I think it is valuable to talk about what it has meant to me, especially in this time when discussion of religion is so fraught.

If you enjoy theater that makes you think and feel, you will truly appreciate “The Boy in the Bathroom,” playing at Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls.  The characters and situation will stay with you for a long, long time.

The nation’s Capitol seems gripped in the absurd. The Congressional majorities in each house are hell-bent to take away health insurance from millions of Americans. Despite promising to make health care better and more affordable, the President and the Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives seemingly cannot rest until they have torn away health insurance coverage from low and moderate income citizens. An effort, by the way, that would lead to misery, financial insecurity and a much greater risk of serious illness and early deaths for those without coverage.

These days, “immigrant” and “immigration” have become dirty words among certain segments of the American populace. If your surname is what some Americans judge to be a “funny” name, or an “UnAmerican” name, well, the person with the surname is not to be trusted. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Going Overboard For Lobster

Jul 29, 2017
Pedro Leitao buys a hundred pounds of lobster for his annual Maine vacation
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

What is it about lobster rolls? A trip to Maine would seem incomplete without one of these tasty treats. About the only thing that can compete on a consistent basis in the counter food category is a charcoal-grilled cheeseburger and fries.

Keepin' On Keepin' On

Jul 27, 2017

In just a few days, my body will be 76 years old. That’s incredible. I don’t feel 76. People tell me I don’t look 76 but maybe they’re just flattering me. I suspect what’s keeping me going is a combination of three things: watching what I eat, exercising every day and most of all, loving my job. 

Sean Philpott-Jones: Hard-Headed For Football

Jul 27, 2017

Growing up, I was never a big football fan. I didn’t care to watch the NFL on television (not even the playoffs or the Super Bowl) and I rarely went to watch my high school team play on Friday nights (except for homecoming). This isn’t to say I was a sports aficionado, but I preferred more individually oriented sports like tennis, cross-country, and martial arts. In fact, it is only in the last five years or so that I have developed an interest in the game – largely as a result of marrying into a family of rabid Buffalo Bills supporters.

Herbert London: Venezuelan Misery

Jul 26, 2017

Winston Churchill made the telling observation that socialism can provide equality, but it is the equality of misery; while capitalism offers the inequality of prosperity and plenty. History has reinforced this belief many times and now we are living through this nightmare yet again in a place Hugo Chavez of Venezuela a called socialist paradise.

Stephen Gottlieb: The World Beyond the Tweets

Jul 25, 2017

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.

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