Commentary & Opinion

I just heard that Jeff Bezos is worth $100 billion. What is he doing with that net worth? Is he putting it all to work? If not, why not? Ya think if we just gave Jeff another billion he’d put that money right to work putting Americans to work? Why can’t he do that with the $100 billion he already has?

Andrew Pallotta: The Republican Tax Scam

Nov 28, 2017

As I record this commentary, the final version – and ultimate fate -- of the Republicans’ tax bill has not been decided.

Blair Horner: American Democracy Hits A New Low

Nov 27, 2017


There has been a palpable decline in political ethics in America.  What was once suspected – that elected officials could their trade policy positions for campaign contributions – has become more and more openly discussed.  It’s as if elected officials no longer see themselves as servants to the public, but instead as servants to the rich and powerful.

Rob Edelman: The Shape Of Brilliance

Nov 27, 2017

I’ve said it before, and I will shout it from the top row in the largest movie house. THE SHAPE OF WATER, which momentarily will be coming to theaters, is not just one of the very best films of the year. It is one of the very best films of any year. There is so much to say about this extraordinary film. On one level, it is a fairy tale, set in Baltimore in 1962. Its central character is Eliza, a solitary young woman who is mute, and who is superbly played by Sally Hawkins. Eliza toils as a cleaning woman in a mysterious, high-security scientific laboratory where strange, indescribable events are occurring.

Ralph Gardner Jr: My Grandparents, The Forgers

Nov 25, 2017
An antique lamp created by Myra and Ben Gardner
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Last week I opened a drawer in the antique high boy in our front hall and found photographs I’d never seen before. They were of my father’s family, and they dated back to the 19th century.

Herbert London: A Thanksgiving Message

Nov 22, 2017

Each year prior to Thanksgiving I try to express the reasons for my gratitude in print. This year is difficult. The republic I love is facing new and formidable challenges. A hostile minority is so embittered it has adopted the violent approach of the former Brown Shirts. In some circles, civil discourse is impossible. Universities are ostensibly centers for propaganda with naysayers subject to rejection and scorn.

Stephen Gottlieb: Beggars, Soup Kitchens And The Poor

Nov 21, 2017

I’ve noticed a lot more beggars on the streets as our politics have become increasingly stingy. I’ve seen that before and once mentioned it to a candidate for dean. His response was that we could ban them. I was happy we didn’t hire him.

Fred Kowal: The Endless War

Nov 21, 2017

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States undertook military action in Afghanistan, with the stated intent of removing the Taliban regime from power and apprehending or killing those responsible for planning the heinous strikes.

Blair Horner: Climate Change - Failing To Act?

Nov 20, 2017

There can be no doubt that the planet is warming; 2016 was the fifth time in the 21st century a new record high annual temperature has been set (along with 2005, 2010, 2014, and 2015) and also marks the 40th consecutive year (since 1977) that the annual temperature has been above the 20th century average.  To date, all 16 years of the 21st century rank among the seventeen warmest on record (1998 is currently the eighth warmest).  The five warmest years have all occurred since 2010.

Rob Edelman: Politics And Presidents

Nov 20, 2017

Two current films deal with various aspects of politics American-style way back in the 1960‘s and ‘70s. Both center on the highest levels of the federal government. Both have their flaws, and some of them are quite deep, but they are well-worth mentioning, given their subject-matter.

David Nightingale: November '17

Nov 19, 2017

October changed into November. The leaf peepers came to the mountains, took photos, and left. I'm not sure if they saw the peak of colors they wanted, for many roadside trees still have leaves -- brown and orange. Despite low temperatures, nature still shows bright red bushes and full green trees.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Visit From Dr. Soot 'N Cinder

Nov 18, 2017
Doctors Soot N’Cinder. Bob Balfoort (left) and Kurt Straub
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Consider kindling – you know the stuff you start fires with – and its ability to sow marital discord?

What promoted me to do so was last week’s hard frost and a visit from our friendly, local chimney sweep – Dr. Soot N’ Cinder.

Judith Enck: The Harvey Weinstein Effect

Nov 16, 2017

It has been 26 years since Law School Professor Anita Hill shocked the nation with her detailed testimony in Congress about how Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.

Herbert London: The Saudi Dilemma

Nov 15, 2017

Recent events in the Middle East confirm the observation that very little in the Middle East is easily understood.  A day after Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a palace purge by arresting several of his fellow royals, a high ranking prince mysteriously died in a helicopter crash.  State media did not reveal the cause of the crash, albeit any suggestion of motive would be entirely speculative.

Stephen Gottlieb: Sloppy Thinking About Gun Control

Nov 14, 2017

After the car ran people down in lower Manhattan, I read an article about making streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with the author’s suggestions but I want to make a point about arguments for and against. One could say that people with bad intentions will just find other ways to kill lots of people. True or false? Actually it’s completely misleading. How many people with bad intentions will find other ways and how many won’t? How many people will do as much damage to as many people and how many won’t? The statement that some will doesn’t tell you. And the claim that all will is pure nonsense.

Michael Meeropol: Start The Bandwagon Without Me

Nov 14, 2017

Forgive me if I do not join in the almost universal commendations for Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker because they have made speeches attacking Trump.   Once more, I am sorry to say, the media has seized upon the latest bright shiny object in the sorry saga of the Trump Presidency.  Focusing on these two men and the speeches they made attacking Trump obscures the fact that they have both been reliable votes for the tremendous damage that Trump and his appointees are doing to the United States.

Blair Horner: Whither Reform?

Nov 13, 2017

Last week, New Yorkers turned down an opportunity to call a constitutional convention. If it had been approved, delegates would have been elected and given the mandate to propose changes to New York State’s governmental blueprint.

Rob Edelman: Women And Men...

Nov 13, 2017

These days, cinematically-speaking, there is much emphasis on the unfair exploitation and much-overdue liberation of women. Quite a few such films were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Some were set in centuries past. MARY SHELLEY, for example, emphasizes the title character’s resolve to latch onto her individuality in a male-dominated society. Some were set in more recent times. BATTLE OF THE SEXES centers on the 1970s tennis match between Billie Jean King and super-chauvinistic Bobby Riggs. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Family Splitting

Nov 11, 2017

You might ask yourself, as I did, where’s the silver lining to having a two-hundred year old oak tree come crashing down on your pool house? Besides, luckily, being covered by insurance?

Bill Owens: Football And President Trump

Nov 9, 2017

This is not about President Trump’s tweeting about NFL players kneeling down during the National Anthem, but in admiration of his punting skills

Herbert London: The Bergdahl Decision

Nov 8, 2017

The Bergdahl military hearing at Fort Bragg has finally reached a conclusion. U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has received a dishonorable discharge, but a military judge ruled he will avoid prison time for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after abandoning his post in 2009.

Stephen Gottlieb: Our Introduction To Iran

Nov 7, 2017

With Iran in the news I’ve been remembering my own introduction to the country. Our group of Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Iran in winter, after the semester had begun where we were supposed to teach. We were taken to the home of Prime Minister Hoveyda and stood there not knowing what to do or say. As it happened, I was standing next to the Prime Minister. Looking down, I realized we were standing on a magnificent Persian carpet.

Blair Horner: Three Questions For Election Day

Nov 6, 2017

This year’s Election Day offers voters a range of candidates for local office. In addition, New Yorkers will have three questions on the ballot that could impact the state’s constitution.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Gone Beagling

Nov 5, 2017
Master Beagler Jack Kingsley and several canine members of the Old Chatham Hunt Club
Ralph Gardner Jr.

Last Sunday – the one with the high winds and torrential rains – might not sound like the best weather for beagling. That’s the sports where, to quote the website of the Old Chatham Hunt Club, the organization that sponsored the event, “a wily rabbit leads an eager pack of hounds through a whirlwind tour of the countryside.”

Herbert London: Bergdahl And President Obama

Nov 1, 2017

The admission is in; the sentence awaits us. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl admitted deserting his Afghan post and endangering fellow troops. By all accounts this is the most serious betrayal of presidential authority in my life time.

In a week, we will be voting to decide whether to call a constitutional convention for the State of New York. The powers of the Convention would be wide open. Before going further, it is important to look at the provisions for calling the Convention:

Andrew Pallotta: Redefining What Is Union Work

Oct 31, 2017

What do you think about when you hear the term “union work?”

Blair Horner: Superstorm Sandy's Fifth Anniversary

Oct 30, 2017

Climate change is not something that will impact in the future – it’s happening now.  An unrelenting heat wave in California and on the west coast has helped fuel forest fires, there has been massive flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal that have devastated that region, hurricanes Irma and Maria have decimated the Caribbean, hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.

David Nightingale: A Few Pet Peeves

Oct 29, 2017

Let's get away from trumpitudes and politics for a moment. This essay is about brights, loud ads, passwords, and 'unavailable'.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Tea For Town

Oct 28, 2017
Carrie Chen conducting a Chinese tea ceremony at Casana Tea House in Hillsdale,NY
Ralph Gardner, Jr

Hillsdale, New York probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind as the setting for a Chinese tea ceremony. But Hillsdale is happening.

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