Commentary & Opinion

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
garbage
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.

Stephen Gottlieb: Brotherhood

Apr 25, 2017

In the height of the Civil Rights Movement we used “brotherhood” to express our quest for more than tolerance, but for closeness as one human family. I’ve never found a gender-neutral term for that feeling, so I continue to use it but in a gender-neutral way – we are all family, cousins, a part of one community. As John Donne famously wrote in 1624, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Blair Horner: Earth Day, 2017

Apr 24, 2017

Earth Day was last week.  Earth Day is an annual event that started in 1970 and is an important opportunity for our society to examine how well we are protecting the environment.  And this year’s Earth Day occurred at a critical juncture: the planet is heating up as the result of human activities, most notably the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal). 

David Nightingale: Sojourner Truth (1797?? -1883)

Apr 24, 2017
Sojourner Truth, c. 1870
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution / Wikimedia Commons

Why write an essay on the well-known Sojourner Truth, especially well-known in New York? Well, my motivation is none other than a long-felt comment about mankind's inhumanity towards mankind, and I use her to illustrate the rare power of honesty and truth.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Birding With An Expert

Apr 22, 2017
Elizabeth Grace examining a warbler nest
Ralph Gardner, JR

When I started spending weekends upstate in the late 1970’s I didn’t know a blue jay from a bluebird. Having grown up a city kid, I owed my early birding education to two sources: my wife, who was raised in the suburbs; and a weekly birding column in the Chatham Courier, a Columbia County newspaper, written by Kate Dunham and her partner Elizabeth Grace.

Bill Owens: Looney Tunes

Apr 21, 2017

The recent explanations given for the failure of the Republican health care bill left me incredulous and searching for some comparative experience from my past.  I found it in Looney Tunes.

Fred Kowal: NIH Budget Cut

Apr 20, 2017

In the flurry of attention being paid to questions surrounding the role of Russia in our last presidential election, the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula and in Syria, and endless attention being paid to President Trump’s Twitter adventures, what has been lost is a necessary focus on the President’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. 

Herbert London: Facing The Budget

Apr 19, 2017

Each year legislators sharpen their knives, consider key constituent needs and meet to pass a budget. This year isn’t very different except that when the Republicans could not unify to replace the Affordable Care Act, unexpected questions about the party emerged.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Future Of Jobs

Apr 19, 2017

Automation is changing the workforce. It creates some highly skilled jobs but eliminates many others, from service jobs like taxis to previously professional tasks like document review. Factory jobs are decimated by automation.

Judith Enck: Adirondacks

Apr 18, 2017

Environmental conditions in the Adirondacks and Catskills have improved because of strong national environmental protection policies.  Those improvements are now at risk if President Trump’s proposed budget, coupled with his anti- science policies, are put in place.

Every year since his first as governor, Governor Cuomo uses the time after passage of the budget to take a statewide “victory lap” to stress what he sees as the most significant achievements.  This year has been no different:  The governor has used the week or so after passage of the budget to focus public attention on his plan to offer tuition-free public college. 

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Lessons From A Capital Campaign

Apr 16, 2017

Recently I was part of a successful capital campaign. To say I learned a few things along the way would be an understatement. Without giving away details on the organization or betraying anyone’s confidences, I’d like to share a few of the many things I learned through the process.

Ralph Gardner JR: A Visit To Lover's Leap Farm

Apr 15, 2017
Curt Gobrecht at Lover's Leap Farm
Ralph Gardner, JR

Spring marks kidding season for goats.

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