Commentary & Opinion

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.


New York lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to begin their push to agree on a state budget, due by April 1.  There are a number of issues on which they must agree: first the amount of money that is available and then how to spend it. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Enjoying Dinner With Our Community

Feb 24, 2018
community members dine at Eat Here Ghent community dinner
Marianne Rossant

Here’s some advice if you’ve been invited to a community dinner. Get there early. By the time we wandered in halfway through Eat Here Ghent, an event last Sunday afternoon to celebrate the farms and farmers of Ghent, NY, a town with a thriving local food scene in Columbia County, much of the feast had been consumed.

Bill Owens: The New Players In Healthcare

Feb 23, 2018

The announcement that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J. P. Morgan Chase are combining in some fashion to enter the healthcare marketplace, has the potential to create a new dynamic in healthcare. The number of employees under the control of these entities is significant as Amazon employs 154,000; Berkshire Hathaway employs 257,000; and J. P. Morgan Chase employs 191,000 for a total of 602,000. Tens of millions of Americans are insured through traditional insurance products.

Alan Chartock

WAMC's political observer Dr. Alan Chartock discusses President Trump's calls for arming trained teachers as part of an effort to fortify schools against shootings, comments by the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre and new unsealed charges against President Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort. 

Bill Owens: Law And Order

Feb 22, 2018

The Republicans have always touted themselves as the “Law and Order Party”, I am not quite sure what that means. They have branded themselves as the Law and Order Party and Strong Defense Party. It is always interesting to delve behind the facts and see who has been most supportive of defense and veterans rather than simply listening to the rhetoric. You might be surprised.

Keith Strudler: The Best Or Worst Of Olympic Times

Feb 21, 2018


No one is going to confuse Liz Swaney with Lindsey Vonn. They do both compete in winter downhill Olympic sports. But the comparisons stop there. This is Swaney’s first Olympic Games, compared to Vonn’s fourth. And Swaney does the snowboard half pipe, while Lindsey Vonn is a downhill skier. So those are some differences. But that kind of buries the lead. It's like saying the difference between Brad Pitt and John Candy is that Pitt prefers to wear brown shoes.

Herbert London: Due Process Circa 2018

Feb 21, 2018

In defending an aide accused of wife beating, President Trump asked, “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” Alas, without defending all such claims, the president has a point that allegation often translates into culpability without an adherence to due process.

Alan Chartock

WAMC's political observer Dr. Alan Chartock discusses President Trump's ordering the Justice Department to propose regulations to ban so-called bump stocks and a report showing more than twice as many women are running for Congress this year compared to 2016. 

Stephen Gottlieb: Response To School Shootings

Feb 20, 2018

After this latest school shooting with 17 dead, I’ve read wonderful pieces by people who lost loved ones to guns, and banal pieces by wonderful writers whose imaginations were fried by the horror. What’s left? Sometimes I try to convince, or fire the choir. Here I’m trying to understand why we can’t put the guns away.

Fred Kowal: A Hero For SUNY

Feb 20, 2018

I knew it was going to be a lean year for SUNY, especially after the governor began talking about a $4.4 billion budget deficit, and how it was going to be a financially difficult year.

Alan Chartock

WAMC's political observer Dr. Alan Chartock discusses indications that President Trump is open to supporting a bipartisan congressional effort to revise federal background checks for prospective gun buyers and President Trump's endorsement of Mitt Romney in the Utah Senate race. 

Blair Horner: Lead Poisoning Threat Persists In NY

Feb 19, 2018

Almost 50 years after New York banned the sale of lead in paint, each year some 1,800 children are found to be lead poisoned in New York.  This epidemic affects mostly young children of color from low-income communities who live in poorly maintained housing, where windows, doors, walls and ceilings produce invisible lead dust that is ingested by infants and toddlers through hand-to-mouth behavior and inhalation.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Under The Weather

Feb 18, 2018
The Sick Bed
Edward Prentis (1797–1854) / Public Domain

You’ve probably heard that this is a particularly nasty flu season. Apologies for my cough. As a matter of fact, you may be listening to this commentary with a thermometer in your mouth and a bottle of Tylenol by your side.

Bill Owens: A Weakening U.S. Dollar

Feb 15, 2018

President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin both recently indicated that they believe the US dollar should weaken against other currencies.  It is important to note that the US Government like all western countries does not control the currency exchange rate as opposed to countries in southeast Asia where the government dictates/manipulates its currency exchange rates.  China is famous for this, and President Trump rightfully has attacked them for this manipulation. 

Herb London: Trump’s Foreign Policy

Feb 14, 2018

Writing on the pages of The Weekly Standard Michael Warren contends President Trump does not have a foreign policy. According to him, “Trump’s foreign policy has been incoherent and usually reflected the views of whoever was most influential with the president at any given moment. Advisers have had to race to keep up with the wavering lines.”

Stephen Gottlieb: Why Law?

Feb 13, 2018

Governments, including democracies, make laws and rules. Lots of folk spend lots of time telling us we don’t need regulation, or at least we need lots less. Laws and rules are restraints on our freedom to do what we want. And most people are honest. So why do we need law?

Judith Enck: Make America Dirty Again

Feb 13, 2018

Barely a day goes by without learning about yet another anti- environmental policy belching out of the Trump Administration.

The governor has done a lot to promote the state’s program to boost breast cancer screening rates.  He spent considerable time advocating for the expanded program and made it a centerpiece of his 2016 State of the State address and earlier this month issued a news release about his Administration spending nearly $38 million on breast screening services.  But cancer is not only a women’s issue, it affects all of us.

David Nightingale: A Walk

Feb 11, 2018

I left home and parked at the side of a little-used off-road. Where my tires had been in 5” of snow a week ago, there was now only muddy water. Maybe a walk would clear the mind of a degree of hopelessness, concerning world news, rampant flu, and/or the hopelessness of the current administration.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Our Good Neighbors

Feb 10, 2018

If you’re lucky enough to live in the country there are probably a bunch of factors that contribute to your sense of well-being. These include, in no particular order – open skies, sunsets, trees, gardens, streams and wildlife. At least wildlife that keeps a safe distance from your vegetables, shrubs, attic, etc.

Artwork from a radio-related World War II propaganda poster for the United States
Public Domain / WikiMedia Commons

Here are this week's highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line.

Bill Owens: So, The State Of The Union

Feb 8, 2018

Reading the right and left’s reaction to President Trump’s State of the Union speech was nothing short of boring.  Go back eight years to President Obama’s first State of the Union speech and re-read the comments, largely the exact opposite from each side.  Go back eight years from then to President Bush’s first State of the Union speech and the comments reverse again, go back eight years to President Clinton’s first State of the Union, and the comments reverse, yet again.  Predictability is boring.  Recently, President Trump said Democrats who didn’t clap for him might be treasonous, so what does he think a Member of Congress who yelled “liar” at President Obama is?

Garett Argianas' Evening Forecast

Feb 7, 2018

Meteorologist Garett Argianas delivers the evening weather forecast for Wednesday, February 7, 2018.

Herbert London: Reliving The Lessons Of A Free Market

Feb 7, 2018

It is axiomatic to suggest that presidents get more credit than they deserve when the economy does well, and more blame than they deserve when the economy goes south. However, in the case of President Trump he is given almost no credit for the soaring economic market, despite the fact his tax reduction bill and executive orders cutting excessive regulation are in some manner catalysts for the market upswing.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Nunes Memo And Trump’s Disloyalty

Feb 6, 2018

I prepared something else to talk about today but find myself furious about the misuse of the Constitution to prevent getting at the truth. Trump, and his supporters, are attacking the Mueller investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Nunes memo, written by congressional Republicans, is part of that attack. It says that, though well after the investigation began, a former member of British intelligence who had ties to the Clinton campaign, transmitted information which was included in a request for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, the FISA court. Based on the Nunes memo, Trump and his supporters claim that the investigation is tainted.[i]

Bill Owens: The Death Of Estate Planning

Feb 6, 2018

Excuse the pun, but with the federal exemption going to $11.2 million per person, one may initially conclude that there is little or any need left for estate planning.  Obviously, for the vast majority of us (around 99%) there would be very little to do in terms of federal estate tax planning.  New York State, however, retains its exemption at $5.2 million, which means there is a spread of almost $6 million, thus, the need for estate planning still exists for those with assets in excess of $5.2 million utilizing, if you will, the standard techniques of the marital deduction, life insurance (presumably using an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust), gifting,  and portability of exemptions.

Blair Horner: NY's Political Culture Again On Trial

Feb 5, 2018

For the past two weeks, a former top aide to governor Cuomo has been on trial for corruption.  According to federal prosecutors, he was a key figure in a widespread bribery scheme that included shaking down those seeking government contracts for special treatment in exchange for campaign contributions and money for him and his associates.  The trial continues and the individual is presumed innocent.  But this trial – combined with others in recent years – offers unique insights into what ails Albany.  There are four overarching problems that emerge when reviewing the totality of the corruption cases brought in New York.

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