Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

Blair Horner: Antibiotics Awareness Week

Nov 18, 2019

Antibiotics save lives and are critical tools for treating a number of common and more serious infections, like those that can lead to sepsis. However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 30% of the antibiotics in U.S. outpatient settings are prescribed unnecessarily. Any time antibiotics are used, they can lead to antibiotic resistance, a growing and urgent threat to the public’s health.

Over this past weekend, Senator Graham announced that he was not going to read the released transcripts, although he had complained bitterly about them not being released previously, and that he had made up his mind.  Senator Kennedy from Louisiana, in contrast, indicated that if the allegations against Mr. Trump were true with regard to the Ukraine, then they may well reach the level of an impeachable offense.  Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also vehemently defended the President, and seemed to indicate that his mind was made up, as well.  Republicans are now focusing on the legal aspects of this matter, saying that what the President has done is not a crime, just improper, and thus, not impeachable.  If we are going to go by a strict interpretation of the law, then all those Republican Senators who will act as jurors and have made up their minds, must recuse themselves.  Or maybe those rules don’t apply. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Is That Old Rake In Your Barn Art?

Nov 16, 2019
Early Hand Tools at the Columbia County Historical Society
Ralph Gardner Jr

One might think that someone with Lisa Weilbacker’s pedigree – she’s the former executive director of Historic Hudson, an organization dedicated to preserving Hudson, New York’s heritage; she was also curator at the 7th Regiment Armory on Park Avenue in New York City and has a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania – would have better things to do than rummage around old barns and tool boxes.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Roots

Nov 14, 2019

We all have instincts for self-preservation that we sharpen over the course of our lives. Yet how do we avoid turning those same sharpened instincts into weapons that we use on ourselves and each other, so that we all don’t get badly injured in the process? Specifically, in our conflicts with others, when, if ever, and how, if at all, should we step outside our zones of safety and suspicion, to take the risk of relating to our (perceived or real) enemies -the “others” – as sisters and brothers?

Bryan Griffin: Involuntary Giving Is Not Kindness

Nov 14, 2019

People love to give.

There are religious, cultural, and economic imperatives to give. And, it feels good.

The U.S. was the world’s most powerful country when Trump took office. Though we couldn’t control everything, we influenced outcomes all over the world. 

Amy Halloran: The Cure for Hunger is Housing

Nov 12, 2019

A month ago, the Food Pantries for the Capital District gave me the Sister Mary Coons award, acknowledging my efforts running the food pantry at Unity House. At the gala, I spoke about the wonderful permission I felt as an employee, and the myth that low income people don't want healthy food. This was a party and I kept my comments brief, knowing I could expand elsewhere.

New York State’s campaign financing system has been notorious – sky-high contributions that allow the wealthy and powerful to legally donate over $100,000; ineffective enforcement; loopholes galore and inadequate disclosures.  The result?  Scandals.  Most recently the convictions of big donors and top-ranking state officials in an incredible scheme that rigged government contracts for big campaign donors.

POTUS was booed at a UFC event over the past weekend (Ultimate Fighting Champion) and one political scientist making the comparison that Trump being booed at a UFC event was comparable to Bernie being booed at a vegan deli in Brooklyn. This follows on Mr. Trump being booed at game 5 of the World Series games. It should be noted that at the World Series game and the UFC event there were both boos and cheers. One would expect a more mixed crowd at the World Series game, than one might expect at the UFC event.

Dr. Alan Chartock
Eric Korenman

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock speaks with Lucas Willard about Veterans Day, new developments in the House impeachment inquiry, and Rep. Joe Kennedy's recent swing through Western Massachusetts in his bid for the U.S. Senate.

David Nightingale: Some Roman Writings

Nov 10, 2019
Pliny the Elder
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

When Julius Caesar marauded his way across Europe and England, with his legions and wooden boats, shields and swords and arrows, he later wrote much of these adventures down, either on papyrus scrolls or wax, but although the mighty Roman Empire was formed from barbaric warfare and killing, there were many Romans constructing bridges and aqueducts, poems and books. Much of this is still in evidence today – for example, the aqueducts feeding Rome, and the writings of the likes of Ovid and Catullus and Pliny.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Generating Music

Nov 9, 2019
House concert at the Gardners
Ralph Gardner Jr

That does it. We’re getting a generator. We’ve been saying that for years, approximately every time the lights go out, which in our neck of the woods is pretty much when the wind does much beyond whisper through the woods.

Today I am presenting a very personal commentary.    Last May, I lost Annie, my darling life-partner of 53 years.   On November 2, former colleagues from both the Springfield and Longmeadow school systems as well as from the University of Massachusetts and the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center joined with family, friends and acquaintances at Mount Holyoke College’s Willetts-Hallowell Hall to honor her and celebrate her life.   I am taking this opportunity to share with my listeners a few things about this amazing wonderful beautiful human being --- a woman with whom I have been privileged to share over five decades of my life, a woman who lived a wonderful --- but of course much too short --- life.

Fred Kowal: Can We Make SUNY Matter?

Nov 7, 2019

Over the past two weeks, Sen. Toby Stavisky, chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Higher Education, has presided over public hearings on the cost of public higher education in New York. The cost of a SUNY education, as well as the underfunding of SUNY, its medical schools and public teaching hospitals were also discussed.

Dr. Alan Chartock
Eric Korenman

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses reports upcoming public hearings in the House's impeachment proceedings involving President Trump.

Keith Strudler: Running Up The Score

Nov 6, 2019

You cannot watch any measurable amount of youth sports without eventually seeing what’s called a blowout. Basically where one team wins by such a lopsided margin it’s uncomfortable, no matter which side of ledger you’re on. That might be a 12-0 soccer match, or a 50-10 basketball game, or even a 15-50 cross country race, for those of you who know the sport. Assuming you keep score, uneven sports results are fairly endemic to the games our kids play, despite our often best intentions.

Stephen Gottlieb: Heaven In Hawaii

Nov 5, 2019

We were out of town most of last month and the trip back took three separate flights, all the hassle of traveling by plane, and more than 24 hours from leaving my wife’s cousin to walking into our front door. We’re still recovering from the time difference, the lack of sleep and the heat wave in heaven.

John Faso: Warren's Folly

Nov 5, 2019

Last week, after a long wait, Sen. Elizabeth Warren released her latest plan:  how to pay for her proposed “Medicare for All” program.

One of the big changes in how New York runs its elections is a measure to allow “early voting.”  Early voting allows for people to cast their ballots in advance of Election Day.  And early voting has been tested across the nation.

A variety of reports are sending negative signals with regard to large capital purchases which went down 1.1%, as well as the investment by business in large commercial products which also over a two-month period has dropped 1.1%.  It was also recently reported that our annual budget deficit is nearing $1 trillion for 2019 which is a 26% increase resulting from the 2017 tax cut and increased spending.  These three pieces of data become very important in an attempt to analyze the direction of the economy as opposed to the stock market which is the focus of much of the commentary.  Ask your Congress person what their position is on the growing deficit and debt.

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Strange Magic Of A Favorite Mug

Nov 2, 2019
Ralph's favorite cup
Ralph Gardner Jr

There was nothing remarkable about my mug. It was white and tapered – wider at the top than the bottom – with a sturdy handle that offered a comfortable, confident grip as I sipped my morning coffee.

In many ways, WAMC is a miracle. You are the reason for that. It’s hard to believe that we just had a fund drive. Was that a dream? $700,000 dollars in the Locked Box -- I certainly never thought that was possible. We reminded folks during the course of regular programming why we needed to get it done and sure enough, it happened. I mean, $700,000 dollars! Of course, there were a few (very few) blue meanies who said that we had some nerve asking for the money. Our answer was that things were simply happening too quickly. The Trump impeachment story, for one, just kept coming. That was not something that we could afford to ignore and, like I said, all we kept getting from our listeners was love. Oh, a few people said that they wished for a longer fund drive and all the fun that goes with those efforts, but there you were!

Hank Greenberg: On Being Agreeably Disagreeable

Oct 31, 2019

There is an ancient saying: "May you live in interesting times." This expression is intended to be ironic. It reflects anxiety and fear about current events or perhaps even the future. 

Bryan Griffin: Come Together, Right Now, Over This

Oct 31, 2019

On a trip to Paris last week, I walked through the halls and stairwells of one of France’s oldest academic institutions: La Sorbonne. The university was founded as far back as the 1200s and has 24,000 students spread across twelve campuses.

This could be called a tale of two birthdays. While celebrating my wife’s birthday at a restaurant, she got an email in response to her request that the writer handle some things at an upcoming national conference.

In 2011, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature passed “SUNY2020,” a multi-part higher education bill which, among other things, increased tuition annually at the State University of New York and the City University of New York.   At the time of first passage, Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers promised to use the additional tuition dollars to enhance student services, including but not limited to; academic mentoring, counseling and advising. The tuition dollars were not intended to backfill budget holes, but rather enhance students’ education.

In a recent press conference Speaker Pelosi talked directly to Mr. Trump and allegedly posed to him the following: “You are a casino man, correct.  Then you should know not to bet against the house.” I thought this was an incredibly clever statement that plays well on so many levels.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Getting In Tune

Oct 26, 2019
Piano tuner Richard Lapo
Ralph Gardner Jr

I was reluctant to ask Richard Lapo too many questions since he was in the process of tuning my piano. It was an inherited Steinway baby grand that we recently decided to put to better, more strenuous use than during the previous seventy or so years that it shared my parents’ apartment.

John Faso: U.S. Deficit Follies Continue

Oct 25, 2019

As the House of Representatives and the Trump Administration spar over impeachment, the public can be excused for forgetting about our national debt and annual deficits. Forgetting it doesn’t change the fact that the nation’s finances are a mess.

Stephen Gottlieb: Environmental Mass Murder

Oct 22, 2019

I’ve spoken recently about the seriousness of Trump’s disloyalty as reflected in the whistle-blower’s complaint, his drive to imitate Hitler in exercising power, and the way rising wrong-wing violence is aggravating the threat from Trump. All are reasons to impeach or defeat Trump as soon as possible, and they combine to aggravate the danger of a dictatorial takeover.