Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

Andrew Pallotta: A New Year Brings A New Day

16 hours ago

Elections are one of the great things about our democracy. Every two years, or every four years, we take a look at our nation’s direction, and the direction of our communities, and we decide if we want change, or if we want to stay the course.

Stephen Gottlieb: To Heal The Climate

Dec 1, 2020

I was delighted that President-elect Biden named John Kerry as special envoy to deal with the climate. Our earth and climate have been taking many hits. Unless we heal the damage and deal with global warming, things will get much worse fast. But talking about the threat of climate change paralyzes some people who make it harder to get anything done. So I’d like to focus on the positive.

Ralph Gardner Jr: My Antique Bottle Problem

Nov 28, 2020
Some antique bottles discovered in a 19th century dump at the writer’s house
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

During Phase 1 of the pandemic my wife turned her organizational skills to cleaning up our cavernous basement, a Herculean endeavor that took several weeks. For Phase 2 she’s tackling the garage.

Bryan Griffin: Great Reset? No Thanks.

Nov 25, 2020

Remember in 2009 when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Russia with a big, red, plastic button that she thought said “Reset”? Well, she presented it to her counterpart in the Russian Foreign Ministry only to be informed that the button read “overload” and was more reminiscent of an industrial emergency stop button than any sort of reset.

Stephen Gottlieb: To Heal The Pandemic Economy

Nov 24, 2020

I’d like to give thanks for those whose lives we can save and whose futures we can restore. To do that, there’s no choice between defeating the virus and rebuilding the economy; we've got to do both.

Scott Karson: Striking A Balance

Nov 24, 2020

Vaccines are a modern medical breakthrough and have helped save countless lives across the world. While this is widely acknowledged, a vocal minority has crusaded against all vaccines – including the inoculations for COVID-19 that are now undergoing clinical trials.

As the world continues to grapple with the deadly coronavirus pandemic, some potentially good medical news has developed.  In recent weeks, two major pharmaceutical companies claim to have developed vaccines that are far more successful than anyone had expected in protecting the public from COVID-19.

Mr. Biden has indicated that he will refuse to authorize the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. This is a matter that goes back to virtually the last decade, and it has been through the courts, through Congress, etc. This could be a major issue with Canada, but one that I am certain they anticipated given Mr. Biden’s views on the environment. The question for Canada will be on balance will Mr. Biden be a more friendly President than Mr. Trump. He certainly will be less insulting and obnoxious.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Joys Of Winter Grilling

Nov 21, 2020
Ralph's charcoal grill
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I’ve heard and read lots of stories lately about how to pull off Thanksgiving safely in the middle of a pandemic. I’m not sure where or whether this suggestion fits in: why not consider grilling outdoors if turkey isn’t compulsory?

I gave my first commentary back in 2005. In it, I identified Alan Greenspan and John Kenneth Galbraith as economists occupying two ends of the spectrum of economic policy choices discussed within the economics profession in the US. I ended the presentation with the following sentence:

Fred Kowal: Patriots

Nov 19, 2020

So, here we are. The election is over. Sorry, President Trump. The results are clear. Joe Biden won fair and square, and by an electoral college margin that you defined as an historic landslide when you won in 2016.

Photo of Alan Chartock, WAMC's Pesident and CEO.
Eric Korenman / Eric Korenman

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses reports that President Trump has fired cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs, who recently described the 2020 election as "the most secure in American history."

Stephen Gottlieb: Blame And Public Safety

Nov 17, 2020

The Governor charged communities to re-examine their police departments, and several pieces in the local paper described the disproportionate treatment of African-Americans, ending up with the question whether police are racist. I like and respect the authors and there’s a lot of wisdom in those pieces but, to make progress, I question focusing on blame. Segregation was “inherently unequal” regardless of what the officials thought they were doing. Blame is about fault. I want improvement, not some Grand Inquisitor looking for purity. That makes everything harder.

As the nation – and the world – tries to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the fight to combat the ongoing climate catastrophe caused by global warming must be a priority. 

The election results in the US, although still being contested by Republicans clearly shows that Mr. Biden won the popular vote and electoral college votes. 

Just because our ancient stories are myths doesn’t mean that they aren’t true.

Keith Strudler: The Winter of Discontent

Nov 11, 2020

So perhaps the most pressing sports question in my household has nothing to do with the NFL, or the NBA, or about college football. It’s not about what happens to March Madness this year, or even if the Summer Olympics are still on. It’s about rec basketball. More to the point, will we have rec basketball this year?

Bryan Griffin: Election Wins And Losses

Nov 11, 2020

The dust is settling from the 2020 U.S. election season.

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to address aspects of how we can heal from the damage of the Trump years. We’ll have to change the politics to communicate with each other, the economics to take care of the whole country, policies to protect the climate, gun rights to define where and when they belong, and we have to get to know each other better.

Audrey Kupferberg: Lizzie And First Cow

Nov 10, 2020
Audrey Kupferberg

The gruesome legend of Lizzie Borden has not faded from our popular culture, even after 108 years.  Remember the oft-quoted rhyme:  Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her father forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her mother forty-one. 

Blair Horner: Health Care Moves To The Front Burner

Nov 9, 2020

Last week American voters chose a new President.  The impacts of President Trump’s tumultuous presidency may last long after he leaves the White House.  For example, this week the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the question of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – known as “Obamacare.”

What a week, thank God it’s over.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Leaf Blowing Season

Nov 7, 2020
Ralph Gardner works the leaf blower
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

When we were dating my wife excelled with the creativity of her gifts. For one birthday she presented me with a scale model of our pond. It came complete with miniature trees, water, and a baby snapping turtle rented from a pet shop on 14th Street in Manhattan. The actual pond boasted an intimidating adult snapper.

Michael Meeropol: In Praise Of Black And Brown Voters

Nov 6, 2020

So I watched hours and hours of coverage of the election between 6:00 PM on Tuesday, November 3 and 4:30 PM on Wednesday, November 4.   I got about 2 and a half hours sleep over night on Tuesday and woke up early enough (at 4:15 AM)  to see the counting of votes from Milwaukee Wisconsin flip that state from a Trump to a Biden majority giving Wisconsin’s electoral votes to Biden.  By then I had endured the loss of Florida, North Carolina and (I feared) Georgia.  I also saw the apparent re-election of Thom Tillis in North Carolina, John Cornyn in Texas, Joni Ernst in Iowa and the loss of the Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama.   These early results dashed my hopes for a Senate majority and with it hopes for judicial reform and a whole series of hoped for progressive legislation.

Stephen Gottlieb: Election Night Rag

Nov 3, 2020

Depending on where you live, there are a few hours left to vote. If you haven’t, it would be an excellent use of your time.

Blair Horner: Reforming New York's Elections

Nov 3, 2020

Regardless of the election results, the verdict is in on New York State’s system of running elections: It fails and is in desperate need of overhaul.

The Province of  Alberta, Canada has announced that it  will be starting a pilot program at one of their land borders and at the Calgary airport, permitting incoming citizens and visitors to take a COVID test which if it results in a negative outcome will eliminate or reduce the need to quarantine.  This certainly makes sense, and hopefully it will spread to other Provinces so that we can begin the process of actually reopening the border. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Poll Worker's Proud Dad

Oct 31, 2020
campaign signs
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I’m proud of my daughters – there are two of them – for lots of reasons, perhaps most of all at this moment because they’re politically engaged. You’d be hard pressed to find a low information voter anywhere in our household.

How many of those reading this have seen the 1915 D.W. Griffiths film BIRTH OF A NATION?   This film is a classic.   It is also a disgusting celebration of the Ku Klux Klan.   Purporting to tell the story of both the Civil War and the Reconstruction era, this film presented the racist view of Reconstruction.   Unfortunately, that was the view that dominated American historiography from 1900 to the 1960s.   This analysis was known as the “Dunning School” after a professor at Columbia University William A. Dunning.   He and his Ph D students developed a “story” about Reconstruction after the Civil War that had at its jumping off point the “inability” of black Americans to “handle” the right to vote and other political opportunities.  This led, according to the writers in the Dunning School, to corruption, mismanagement of government, and social atrocities such as the legalization of intermarriage.   Manipulated by people coming South (dubbed “carpetbaggers”) and white Southerners (dubbed scalawags) who joined with carpetbaggers and ignorant blacks to form “radical Reconstruction” governments, the freed slaves brought a reign of corruption and debauchery down on the South.   Historian Claude Bowers summarized the views of the Dunning School in his 1929 book The Tragic Era, The Revolution After Lincoln.   Some have argued that he wrote the book to flesh out the theme of Griffith’s movie.

Andrew Pallotta: On Election Day, Make Your Voice Heard!

Oct 29, 2020

Tuesday, November 3rd is Election Day. Do you have a plan to vote?