Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

Ralph Gardner Jr: Tales Of The City

Oct 3, 2020
Aris Dervis

I’m here to tell you that talk of New York City’s demise is premature. Contrary to President Trump’s characterization in Tuesday night’s debate, it’s not a deserted “ghost town.” I returned to the city for several days this week and the traffic, both human and vehicular, seemed almost back to normal.

Amy Coney Barrett’s legal career and curriculum vitae merit confirmation to the Supreme Court. 

Stephen Gottlieb: For Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Sep 29, 2020

I dearly wanted to talk about Justice Ginsburg last week. But because a family member needed my help it was impossible. There are new issues, but Ginsburg, a Justice who actually believed in justice, is worth a few more words.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus America’s economic and racial disparities.  A stark example is in health care delivery: when it comes to access as well as quality, racial, gender, and geographic differences are enormous and growing.

It is being reported that Secretary Mnuchin and Chairman Powell are urging more spending to help the economy recover. Whether this translates into a new piece of funding legislation in Congress is very difficult to fathom since we still stand at impasse, although Speaker Pelosi has restarted discussions in light of the struggling economy. The other questions in any funding bill will, of course, be how it will effect states and municipalities who are also in dire need of assistance. Much of the funds that were directed towards small business have essentially lapsed which comes at a time when the Coronavirus is again surging, new unemployment claims continue at a weekly rate around 900,000, and visits to stores and restaurants have stalled putting increase pressure on small business. This is important to watch as it will have a dramatic impact on the economy whichever way it goes.

David Nightingale: Telemarketers

Sep 27, 2020

Telemarketers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, sometimes even resorting to threats. Phrases like sheriff’s department, social security, warranty expiration, etc. are commonly used – in their attempts to get you to yield some personal information. Whether they are in Bangladesh or Timbuktu, they have lists of names and addresses and ages, because long ago the globe yielded most of its privacy to the internet.

The pandemic and fears associated with it have changed our behavior in ways great and small. In my case very small. Prior to this scourge I’d return my empty bottles and cans to the supermarket at regular intervals to redeem the five-cent deposit. Extended intervals. I wasn’t one of those folks you see arriving with a plastic bag containing five or ten receptacles. By the way, who are these people who consume so little beer and soda that that’s all they have to show for their efforts? Or are so meticulous or have so little storage space that a few measly containers triggers a returnable event?

Scott Karson: Seizing The Opportunity

Sep 23, 2020

I grew up in Great Neck, a suburban community on the North Shore of Long Island. And while it might seem hard to believe for some, at the time it was a hotbed of progressive thinking and concern for social justice.

Stephen Gottlieb: Of Course, Black Lives Matter

Sep 22, 2020

I was on a Mohonason panel, talking with students about the Civil Rights Movement. The panel included Reggie Jackson, an African-American folk singer who sang on the front lines of the iconic demonstrations, his friend, Greg Greenaway, a southern-born white deeply committed to civil rights, and Nell Stokes, an activist raised in the segregated South before moving here and spending her life fighting for freedom. I have enormous respect for all of them. I was invited because I walked over from my apartment to the March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his I Have a Dream speech, and because I worked on civil rights in several legal offices.

Fred Kowal: Test, Test, Test

Sep 22, 2020

The fall semester has started for colleges and universities across New York State. For me, the start of the semester has always been a time of excitement, as I prepared to meet new students in my classes and begin the process of sharing knowledge and wisdom with them.

With Congress stalled on a bailout package, New York’s financial situation is becoming increasingly dire.  As the feds debate, in the meantime, the state is withholding support for local governments and non-profits that provide services.  That “withholding” can turn into cuts as local governments cut back on assistance.

It was reported this week that US Industrial Production slowed to a modest increase of .4 %.  This follows months with gains of 3.5% and 6.1%.  This appears to be evidence that the initial surge of people going back to work has tempered somewhat and thus the decline in production.  If this continues, it does not bode well for the overall economy nor for a recovery on the employment front.

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Sep 21, 2020

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Monday, September 21, 2020.

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]