Commentary & Opinion

In previous commentaries, I have urged listeners not to be distracted by the “shiny objects” that characterize the Trump Presidency.   Yes, Donald Trump is a lying misogynist, a xenophobe, and a self-aggrandizing crook.

The number one challenge facing all of us is climate change triggered by the warming of the planet.  The rising temperatures have heated the world and have already resulted in significant changes: the melting of the ice caps, famine and drought, as well as rising sea levels, and new and unpredictable weather patterns.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Feed Your Hummingbirds

May 20, 2017
Homemade hummingbird nectar
Ralph Gardner, JR

After you’ve watched hummingbirds feed at your hummingbird feeder for a while – what, you don’t own a hummingbird feeder? – you’ll realize that the box the feeder came in, the one with the picture of a hummingbird placidly sitting at each port sipping nectar; it’s a scam! The picture had been photoshopped.

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Consultants

May 18, 2017

  How do you define “consultant”? Depending on your experience, there are various responses: one might say, “someone who is called in to help you through a challenging time or an exciting new project,” another might say: “someone you overpay to tell you what you already know” or, even worse, “someone who doesn’t have any idea what they’re talking about.” While I think the latter two definitions are unfair, I’m curious as to why someone might respond that way. Based on my experience, I wonder if perhaps this is a “shoot the messenger” situation.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Silence Equals Death

May 18, 2017

As Donald Trump fights for his political life following new revelations about wholly inappropriate disclosure of classified materials and potential obstruction of justice, he has quietly issued new orders that will condemn thousands of women and children around the world to death.

Herbert London: The French Elections

May 17, 2017

The anti-immigrant right is closer to gaining power than any point since the end of World War II. Marine Le Pen has single handedly taken the National Front party from the dark caverns of French politics to government control. This accomplishment, however, will not be rewarded. Virtually all of her major opponents in the 11 person race have called for her defeat in the second round run-off in May. As a consequence, a virtual unknown centrist and pro-European Union pol who served as the erstwhile minister of the economy, Emmanuel Macron, will most likely be the next president.

I keep looking for ways to talk with supporters of the Administration. President Carter started the deregulation frenzy. That has become half of the Republican cut-and-deregulate refrain ever since, consistently repeated by the current White House and the Republicans in Congress. I’d like to focus on the things that will affect those of us who are, financially speaking, ordinary, middle-class Americans.

The failure of numerous administrations to connect the dots in terms of manufacturing job loss truly confounds me. First, let’s gather the facts (not fake facts, but facts as defined by Webster) about manufacturing job loss, when viewed through the prism of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). All of this came to mind as I continued to ponder President Trump’s back and forth on whether or not China was a currency manipulator, or whether to tear up or renegotiate NAFTA. Understanding, to at least some degree, President Trump’s desire to secure China’s cooperation relative to North Korea, abandoning a trade issue to entice China seems at best short sighted.

A new controversy erupted at the state Capitol last week—a controversy over the way the Senate Republicans pay members of their governing coalition.

David Nightingale: Father Divine (~1879 - 1965)

May 14, 2017

Old-timers in the Hudson Valley sometimes talk about properties that belonged to Father Divine -- or rather, to the Peace Movement led by George Baker. These properties were referred to as 'Heavens' rather than houses.

Ralph Gardner, Jr: A Fish With No Name

May 13, 2017
Grass Carp
U.S. Geological Survey / Public domain - Wikimedia Commons

I own exactly one fish. Lately I’ve been thinking I ought to give him a name.

Herbert London: They Want To Kill You

May 10, 2017

In the relentless rush to undermine the Trump administration the Left has adopted the view that the bellicose stance of the president towards North Korea, Iran, and yes, Russia is designed as a distraction. Presumably if one accepts this perverse logic, this hostile rhetoric, missile deployment and movement of military assets are a mere show of force to keep Americans from recognizing the destructive policies being introduced by the newly installed government.

Stephen Gottlieb: Should We Just “Get Over it”?

May 9, 2017

Trump’s supporters claim liberals should “get over it.” Trump was elected so we should “get over it.” Really? What should we “get over”? We should certainly “get over” losing a popularity contest – a high school election or selection of a beauty queen. But getting over real damage is shallow and heartless. It may be our privilege to “get over” our own losses, but we don’t have the moral privilege of “getting over” impending death, damage and destruction to others that we could have stopped?

The high school prom and graduations are big events over the next few weeks.  In an effort to look their best, many high schoolers will go to indoor tanning stores.  That decision could harm their health.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Shooting Sporting Clays

May 6, 2017
Lucy Gardner shooting sporting clays
Ralph Gardner, JR

The last time I went hunting it didn’t go well. I was aiming at a bird high in a tree with my BB gun. And I never expected to hit the thing. But hit it I did and it crashed through the foliage and struck the ground with a sickening thud.

Michael Meeropol: Wag The Dog

May 5, 2017

WAMC listeners in the mid-Hudson Valley are probably acquainted with the free monthly lifestyle magazine Chronogram.   Available from Northern Westchester to Columbia County as well as Orange to Ulster counties, it provides a window into a variety of local activities from music to business to education.   It also is the home of some biting political commentary by the novelist/journalist and Woodstock resident Larry Beinhart.

Ben Downing: Fighting Addiction

May 4, 2017

The opioid epidemic claimed 2000 lives in Massachusetts in 2016, the third year in a year of significant increases. In 2014, for the first time in 15 years, the fatal overdose rate in Massachusetts was greater than twice the national average. Of 30 states in a recent federal study, Massachusetts had the highest rate of opioid related Emergency Room visits.

Sean Philpott-Jones: She Ain’t Hefty™, She’s My Mother

May 4, 2017

Late last week, my social media feed was flooded with videos showing a fetal lamb kicking and squirming inside a large liquid-filled bag. Thankfully, it wasn’t some obscene animal torture video. Rather it was a news article about a recent development in medical technology: the first successful demonstration of an artificial womb.

Keith Strudler: Rooting For Isaiah

May 3, 2017

It is hard not to root for Isaiah Thomas right now. I’m speaking of the younger Isaiah, the one that plays guard for the Boston Celtics, not the one that led the Knicks into a theme park like free fall. Let’s start with the fact that he’s managed to become an all-star despite his 5’9” frame. Having actually met him once and also standing 5’9”, I can attest to his stature. We were literally eye-to-eye. He looked like a college intramural player. So for that alone, he’s a fan favorite.

Garett Argianas' Evening Forecast

May 3, 2017

Meteorologist Garett Argianas delivers the evening weather forecast for Wednesday, May 3, 2017. 

Herbert London: Remaking World Affairs

May 3, 2017

With much fanfare President Trump welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to his Florida retreat for face-to-face meetings weeks ago. According to press accounts, Trump was eager to press Beijing to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and martial spirit.

Stephen Gottlieb: Organizing To Vote

May 2, 2017

All of those who took part in recent demonstrations – the women’s marches, Black Lives Matter and others aimed at protecting civil liberties, immigrants, the vulnerable and the less advantaged – we are not a minority.

Andrew Pallotta: The Con Job

May 2, 2017

I’ve been thinking a lot about a really scary poll number:

89 percent of New Yorkers say they have heard little or nothing about a ballot question coming at us this November.

Blair Horner: State Comptroller

May 1, 2017

Last Fall, top associates of Governor Cuomo were indicted for alleged corruption.  In criminal complaints brought by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the Justice Department alleged that top ranking associates of the governor used their relationships to steer government contracts to the governor’s campaign donors, as well as enriching themselves personally. 

Fifty years after its release, The Graduate still looms large in American culture. With the film back in theaters, WAMC’s Ian Pickus has this appreciation.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Maintaining A Well Groomed Road

Apr 29, 2017
Ralph Gardner, JR

I celebrated Earth Day last weekend the way I do every year. By collecting the trash that accumulated on our road over the previous twelve months.

Have you ever heard of an economist named Arthur Laffer? Back in the 1970s he created a story about the effect of income tax rates on high income people. Because the rates were allegedly too high, incentives had been damaged and the wealthy were refraining from saving and investing. This caused the economy to grow slower. Laffer convinced Congressman Jack Kemp that permanent dramatic income tax cuts would create such a big improvement in incentives that the resulting increase in economic activity would raise the tax base so much that even with lower rates, revenues would actually rise. (The principle is the same as with a sale – the discounted price is more than made up with an increased volume of purchase. In the case of a tax cut stimulating activity, say a 10% cut in tax rates produces income increases of 20% (raising the amount subject to the tax) --- revenues actually go up.)

Farewell, Rosemary

Apr 28, 2017

Professor Rosemary Armao recently dropped a bomb on all of us at WAMC when she announced that she was retiring from the University at Albany where she had a full-time, tenured position as Associate Professor (harder to find than a gold mine.) She will soon be working with investigative journalists all over the world, teaching them the tools of their trade. To put it mildly, doing this puts her in real physical danger. It also means, of course, that she will no longer be a nearly daily presence on The Roundtable and a participant on The Media Project. 

At the moment New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has one eye trained on Washington and a potential presidential run. Much of what Cuomo does these days is actually about developing his national brand. The brand he wants is to be called a progressive. Cuomo is obsessed with the word. It is, after all, a rising tide for Democrats nationally.

Herbert London: Division

Apr 26, 2017

Abraham Lincoln noted poignantly that a “House divided cannot stand.”  Recent events indicate the Republican party has much to learn from the past. A party divided cannot govern. And a president with his majority party split cannot exercise his Constitutional authority.