Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

Ralph Gardner Jr: Ways To Save Autumn

Sep 19, 2020
The Empire State Rail Trail at Kinderhook NY
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

A lot of people I know – make that everyone – are apprehensive as we head into autumn and then winter with coronavirus nipping at our heels and more essential organs. So as a modest public service I thought I’d offer some of the solutions I’ve come up with for coping with the season’s stresses, psychological as well as physical.

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock speaks with WAMC's David Guistina about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's CNN drive-in town hall last night.

WAMC’s Dr. Alan Chartock speaks with WAMC’s David Guistina about a Washington Post, NPR story that reveals a military whistleblower told federal officials that hours before law enforcement in Washington D.C. forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in early June, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and seek devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire.

Bryan Griffin: It’s Disingenuous

Sep 16, 2020

We’re in the middle of a painfully disingenuous election cycle. Can Democrats reconcile their inconsistencies, or is it all only as deep as the votes it can buy?

Every economist understands that there are some things a capitalist economy won’t do for us. I won’t bore you with the technical reasons, but there are lots of things that depend on government. Trump and his Republican friends assume that calling them socialist will scare you away. Let’s understand that their claim is flawed from the get-go because public health, Armed Forces, police, fire departments and many others are all socialist in that sense. The interesting question is why they are trying to tar the programs they call socialist?

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock speaks with WAMC's David Guistina about President Trump's visit to California and his comments on climate change amid the state's wildfires.

The massive fires on the West Coast are unprecedented in both their size and impact.  An area larger than the size of New Jersey is now burning in California, Oregon, and Washington.  Those fires continue to rage and the death toll continues to rise.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans are poised to flee their homes as the dangers grow. 

The Federal Reserve published its Beige Book which predicts modest growth based upon the continuing loss of jobs, (new claims), particularly with large employers which we have talked about before, like Coke, etc., the continuing level of unemployed individuals at nearly 2 million and the general slow growth of the economy. They also express fears of a resurgence of the coronavirus and what impact that would have on the economy as well. Again, as I noted last week, the stock market soars, even with a few bumps, go figure.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Back To The Museum

Sep 11, 2020
The recently reopened Impressionist wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I was able to answer one question Thursday afternoon that I’ve been asking myself for years: why do I get giddy visiting museums filled with art, whether those I’ve visited a dozen times before or for the first time? Because when you think about it most of them are populated with works by the same painters, from Old Masters to modern artists that you’ve seen a thousand times before?

Jim Crowe: The Bright Side Brigade

Sep 9, 2020

Are you a member of the Bright Side Brigade? I’ve been a member of this relentlessly cheerful group for ages, but just realized it. I noticed that, in every conversation where I described a bad or distressing experience, I finished by spilling out a bright side or silver lining to the whole mess.

Stephen Gottlieb: Kleptocracy's Consequences

Sep 8, 2020

America, until recently, was one of the world’s cleanest places to do business. You didn’t have to pay people off to do what you wanted – indeed you couldn’t. Regulation was not about having a handout – it was about protecting the public. Public servants weren’t allowed to take anything for doing their jobs – from the president on down. Your job was your job. Taking anything was corrupt.

There are fewer than two months until Election Day – an election that will impact the history of this nation and the world.  In New York, due to the disruption created by the pandemic, voters will be casting their ballots in an unfamiliar system, one that has been constantly changing.  A new wrinkle was added last week.

The next few weeks are shaping up to be the most challenging and unique back-to-school season we’ve seen in a century.

David Nightingale: Navalny

Sep 6, 2020

This essay is about Alexey Navalny, the 44 year old critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin. It appears, at the time of writing, that Navalny was poisoned, and after delay, sent to Germany for treatment.

What is socialism?   I watched the Republican convention and though the word was spoken often, the only thing I learned about it was that it is very bad. According to the speakers at the Republican Convention, if the United States became a socialist country, we would become like Stalin’s Russia, Castro’s Cuba, or Maduro’s Venezuela.

Bryan Griffin: Voters Aren’t Buying It

Sep 2, 2020

There’s a great divide in this country.

The Democrats spent most of their recent convention trying to make the case that the divide belongs solely to the President.

Stephen Gottlieb: What About Those Demonstrations?

Sep 1, 2020

The Black Lives Matter movement is being waylaid by provocateurs and others who want to use the opportunity to loot stores or, as one hoodlum did, shoot people on camera and then, apparently craving notoriety, tried to give himself up to police who ignored him because he’s white and they were convinced all bad things are black.[1]

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Falling Stars

Sep 1, 2020

“Dad, the Perseid meteorite shower is easy to see in the sky the next few nights.  How about we drive out of Albany where it’s dark enough to stargaze?”

Blair Horner: NY Budget Woes Are Coming To A Head

Aug 31, 2020

With the Congressional stimulus negotiations seemingly at a stalemate, the financial health of New York is looking more and more grim.  Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a report earlier this month that calculated that the state had collected $3 billion less during the April-July first quarter than last year.  But last week, his message got darker.

I was listening to NPR, last Thursday, as the Florida Commissioner of Education was interviewed.  He did a wonderful job of speaking the talking points, but when confronted with the tough questions he just simply rolled over those same talking points.  As an example, he was asked if a child tested positive in a classroom wouldn’t you have to test all the other children and the teacher, to which he responded “no”, because the teacher was standing at the head of the class, and when a follow-up question was asked about wouldn’t it be possible that the other children were infected, his answer was “no”, all they had to do was stay home if they had symptoms.    Obviously, if  one child tested positive, there is at least the possibility that they had been sick for some period of time and capable of spreading the disease and the other children wouldn’t know until they experienced symptoms. The logic of this is simply mind boggling. You choose your one-word description, I have chosen mine. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Mask Makers Of Columbia County

Aug 29, 2020
Mighty Masketeers of Columbia County members Carol Frederick, left, Deena Pewtherer, center, and Dan Barufaldi
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

If the pandemic has taught us anything at all it’s this: it’s really hard to look good in a mask. Doesn’t matter how attractive you are, if half your face is obscured behind fabric, you’re probably not improving your appearance.

Stephen Gottlieb: Health Law Arrogance

Aug 25, 2020

There’s so much to talk about, but let’s go out for a walk or step into a shop. Unfortunately, some people pugnaciously claim the freedom to ignore health laws.

New York has a long and deserved reputation for having one of the most dysfunctional elections systems in the nation.  Election after election, New York has ranked at – or near – the bottom in terms of voter participation.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced an accord resulting in the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the cessation of certain Israeli expansions. This comes at a time when Prime Minister Netanyahu is under extreme pressure as a result of his ongoing trial for corruption, his mishandling of the pandemic the Israeli economy and the threat of a fourth election hanging over his head. Mr. Trump, of course, as we know, is behind in the polls and has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis in the United States, the economy has fallen apart as a result of that mishandling, and many of his foreign policy initiatives have flopped – North Korea, China, just to name a few. It was announced later last week, that the UAE wants to buy some advanced fighter aircraft which Israel objects to. Detante, maybe on hold, where do the Palestinians stand? They both needed a positive story with little risk of a substantive outcome.

The idea of art is to change a person’s perception of the normal. There is currently an experiment going on in Barker Park, downtown Troy, that appears to be changing the perceptions of everyone.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Art Of Heroism

Aug 22, 2020
Author Justus Rosenberg
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

House calls may not be the wisest move in the middle of a pandemic, especially when your host is ninety-nine years old. But I wasn’t content to meet Justus Rosenberg – that’s not Justice as in Sonia Sotomayor or John Roberts but J…U…S…T…U...S – on Zoom or some similar video chat service. Especially while I was in the throes of his memoir, “The Art of Resistance; My Four Years in the French Underground.” It’s published by William Morrow.

Who said this?

"They want three and a half billion dollars for something that'll turn out to be fraudulent, that's election money basically. They want three and a half billion dollars for the mail-in votes. Universal mail-in ballots. They want $25 billion, billion, [sic!] for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to make the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,   But if they don't get those two items that means you can't have universal mail-in voting because you they're [sic!] not equipped to have it," [grammatical errors included verbatim.]

As lawmakers scrambled to wrap up the session last month, they passed hundreds of bills, most of which were well outside of the public’s view.  Due to the intense interest in the COVID pandemic, the public unrest over race relations, and the deepening financial crisis, it’s not surprising that other important issues were decided outside of the limelight.

Bryan Griffin: Just Give Us The Facts

Aug 19, 2020

Is objective journalism dead?

It’s certainly been sacrificed on the altar of hate for the administration – and to the new truth of the progressive narrative.

I argued on this station that Trump should have been impeached for disloyalty. The American people understand disloyalty. They didn't understand the significance of the articles of impeachment.