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Commentary & Opinion

Stephen Gottlieb: Liberty And Terror

Jan 21, 2021

Some things sadden us: Cries of election rigging started long before anything happened perhaps because Republicans had spent years very publicly trying to rig the election against Democrats by excluding or gerrymandering Democratic voters. People stick to rumors of election rigging despite repeated counting and recounting of votes, repeated failure to produce evidence of wrongdoing and numerous decisions in which judges of both parties made clear that they saw nothing more serious than trivial mistakes. Armed groups mimicked battles for power in dictatorships, stormed and vandalized the Capitol, attacked Capitol police, and attempted to stop the count. Even some Congressmen still insist on forcing their way past metal detectors intended to keep all weapons out.

Governor Cuomo is scheduled to release his proposed state budget this Tuesday.  His budget will be the first to comprehensively analyze the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s finances and it will also be the first budget of the second decade of the Cuomo Administration.

The US and Canada announced that the border closure was extended until February 21st. Ms. Stefanik, a co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, commented and left the impression that there were plans in the works to modify the current closure restrictions, while her counterpart, Brian Higgins, the Democratic co-chair, indicated that there was nothing in the planning stages that would change the way the border currently operates. This is a further reflection on Ms. Stefanik’s inability to provide accurate information to her constituents. It is very clear that the Canadians are not going to open the border until COVID is under control, and unfortunately, I don’t think that is going to happen for at least several more months, and only through the vaccine distribution.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Where's My Package?

Jan 16, 2021
The writer’s new squirrel baffle
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

You’re probably familiar with the line in that Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” – “Don’t it always seem to go. That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” I’ve discovered that goes double when you’ve ordered something online, are waiting with great anticipation for the FedEx or UPS truck to come rolling down your driveway, and the item never shows up.

Bryan Griffin: Speak Up!

Jan 13, 2021

The President has been deplatformed. Parler, an app designed specifically to be an alternative to mainstream social media, has been shut down. Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google have all dropped the guillotine on conservatives. From their public statements, it is clear that these big companies all share the same politics and have collectively decided to punish members of the opposing ideology.

Stephen Gottlieb: A Taste Of Their Own Medicine

Jan 12, 2021

I find myself getting angrier by the day and wanting to give the extremists, the alt-WRONG, the Trumpistas, the people who think the road to greatness is violence against each other, a taste of their own medicine. They chanted “Lock her up” and I want to lock HIM up, and THEM too.

Blair Horner: A Dark Day In American History

Jan 11, 2021

Last week the President of the United States attempted to overturn the 2020 election through the use of force.  There can be no other interpretation of his actions.  His effort was planned for months and executed after all his other measures to overturn the election failed. 

The reaction of the stock market on Wednesday the 6th and Thursday the 7th, following the certification circus that occurred in both houses, was startling. The market is essentially keeping, an upward trajectory.  Mr. Trump predicted that the stock market would fall apart if Mr. Biden was elected. That appears not to be the case.

Ralph Gardner Jr: An American Story

Jan 9, 2021
Le Cafe Arnold postcard, 1946
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I wrote most of this commentary on Wednesday morning before the Capitol was stormed. Such cataclysmic events have a way of dividing life into before and after. But after rereading it I think it still applies.

Scenic Hudson: Move On From Fossil Fuels

Jan 8, 2021

Governor Andrew Cuomo has worked hard over the last four years to stop oil and gas infrastructure projects, while the Trump administration promoted pipelines and gutted federal laws aimed at curbing climate change. Now, with a new administration ready to take the reins, Cuomo will have an ally in the White House.

Stephen Gottlieb: New Year's Wish For The Green New Deal

Jan 5, 2021

For my own peace of mind I’m going to go ahead with the commentary I planned about global warming rather than the latest anti-American actions of the person in the White House, so:

On December 22, President – elect Biden delivered a Christmas message to the country.  He very soberly asserted that:

Blair Horner: The 2021 Legislative Session Begins

Jan 4, 2021

New York State lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene this week to start a new two-year legislative session.  The state Constitution is clear about the opening of the Legislature, that it must start meeting on the “first Wednesday after the first Monday in January.”

The Canadian dollar firmed up last week as a result of the new Brexit deal between England and the EU.  The belief in the Canadian market is that this will bolster global trade, not just trade in the EU, but also in virtually every region of the world.  Clearly, this Brexit trade deal is good for England, good for Europe and it would appear that many experts believe it would be good for the world.    This deal keeps free trade in place with regard to goods, but interestingly, virtually all other aspects of the EU agreements are not going to be available to Great Britain, and conversely, the Europeans will not have those provisions available to them visa via Great Britain.  The principal issue, of course, is the movement of people, as that is going to be stymied and will take some time, I suspect to work out since they will now have to reestablish immigration operations.  I would also note that Northern Ireland won in this arrangement because it remains part of the EU and therefore, connected to the Republic of Ireland with essentially free trade staying in place.  Very important on many levels for the Irish.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A January To Celebrate

Jan 2, 2021
Senator Charles Schumer and fellow Brooklynites celebrating at Grand Army Plaza on November 7, 2020
Lucy Gardner

January, from my point of view, is the cruelest month. Or certainly the most anticlimactic. The gifts have all been opened and the holidays are over. If you’re still watering your Christmas tree – we do well into the month – you feel as if you’re promoting a lost cause. It’s as if you can’t quite relinquish December and the buildup and excitement synonymous with that tinsel hung and holiday-lighted month.

Scott Karson: Power Of Attorney

Jan 1, 2021

The new year is traditionally a time for reflection, thinking back on the past 12 months and making resolutions for the future.

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

WAMC political observer Dr. Alan Chartock discusses what he expects on the 2021 political horizon in New York and Washington. Chartock also unveils his New Year's resolutions.

Dan Ornstein: The Chamber Of Secrets

Dec 31, 2020

While everyone was going crazy over Harry Potter in the nineties, I never really got on that fandom train. I half-heartedly read the first two books, both of whose themes I barely recall.  Thus, I surprised myself when I recently started obsessing about the title of the second book: Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. I went as far as consulting one of my children, as well as Wikipedia, to recall the book’s main theme.  In their second year at Hogwart’s, Harry and his friends investigate the opening of the chamber, which was created by Salazar Slytherin, a founder of the school and the namesake of Slytherin, the most racist and elitist of the school’s four houses.  The dark and forbidding chamber is occupied by the Basilisk, a fearsome serpent controlled by Slytherin’s leaders who threaten to use it to murder students at the school whose family pedigrees are not pure-blood wizard.

Bryan Griffin: America’s New Year’s Resolutions

Dec 30, 2020

What’s your New Year’s resolution? To get fit and work on your wellness? To learn an instrument or a language? To save or to give? Maybe to take that next step towards something big in your life?

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump's Final Days

Dec 29, 2020

There’s been much news about whether Trump would use force or declare martial law to stay in office. Trump bumped that off the news by declaring he wouldn’t sign the stimulus and relief bill, then signing it after widespread criticism. Perhaps he’s abandoned using force to stay in office. But he’s taken many steps to set up the possibility. Ignoring the Senate confirmation process and civil service protections, he put his most reckless and irresponsible supporters in acting positions. He tested which federal forces would and which would not respond to his commands to take over parts of America, in defiance of state and local officials. Typically, Trump sends ambiguous messages to his [quote] “Second Amendment supporters” and others, to get them thinking about how they can keep Trump in power. If they create enough chaos, he’s ready to take advantage. If not, he’ll claim he was trying to keep the peace.

It was with some trepidation that I read a column recently in The Washington Post. It listed the names of over 120 Republican members of the House of Representatives who joined the ridiculous suit brought by the attorney general of Texas on behalf of President Trump to throw out the votes of millions of Americans because… well, because those Americans had the temerity to vote for Joe Biden for president.

Blair Horner: 2020 Heads For The Exit

Dec 28, 2020

As 2020 grinds toward an end, it is a good time to review the profound changes that have occurred over the past 52 weeks. 

Ben Downing: Personal Responsibility Isn’t Enough

Dec 28, 2020

With COVID cases surging, Governor Baker’s primary new response has been to double down on a plea for personal responsibility. The Governor is right, everyone should wear a mask and socially distance. But that isn’t enough. Massachusetts widening economic inequality, combined with the Governor’s mixed messages around economic reopening have hampered our ability to stop the virus’ spread.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Coming Home

Dec 26, 2020
Gracie Gardner
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

I pride myself on not being taken by surprise – physically, emotionally, existentially. You may forfeit some of life’s magic in the process. But the tendency also offers benefits during a pandemic when advance preparation provides you the opportunity to get a jump on appliances like freezers and patio heaters before they sell out.

Stephen Gottlieb: Blame And Public Safety

Dec 21, 2020

At this time of year we celebrate kindness and generosity. We celebrate helping each other and breaking down mutual distrust and dislike. I love the lyrics Rogers and Hammerstein put into the mouth of Julie Andrews in The King and I:

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the world.  An interconnected planet has its great advantages, but dangerous viruses can also hitchhike along aviation routes and shipping lanes to spread disease at incredible speed.  Not only has the pandemic savaged the world’s public health, but it has similarly devastated nations’ finances. 

The US began the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine with healthcare workers, which seems to me to be the right place to start. The sacrifices that healthcare workers have made over the last several months should insure they are vaccinated as soon as possible and we should be paying attention to what they are recommending, as they see the outcome of our failures.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Our Holiday Newsletter

Dec 19, 2020
Ralph's Christmas tree and dog
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

My wife asked me to write this year’s holiday newsletter. Why me I’m not sure except that I suppose I am the alleged writer in the family. But I rarely read other people’s missives when they include them in their holiday cards. I frankly don’t care that Johnny graduated Michigan State cum laude. That friends have welcomed a beautiful new grandchild named Liam into the family. Or that Susan mastered the paddleboard in her fifties.

According to a recent Fox News poll, 68 percent of Republicans believe that the Presidential election was stolen --- that Donald Trump actually won.   This, of course, fits with the fact that the vast majority of people who voted for Trump believe many (most?) of his lies.   A recent article in the New York Times interviewed a group of pro-Trump demonstrators in Washington, DC and found that a good percentage of them were a bit more uncertain. 

Bryan Griffin: The Government Can’t Be Our Salvation

Dec 16, 2020

As Biden makes moves to transition into the Oval Office, there’s a theme forming among his speeches and cabinet picks: the government will solve all of your problems.