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Commentary & Opinion

Bryan Griffin: Our Precious Sovereignty

Oct 16, 2019

Two weeks ago, I attended the 2019 Warsaw Security Forum as a participant of the New Security Leaders fellowship. The gathering is an annual event that brings together NATO, European, and American political and thought leaders to discuss global security and the preservation of Western democratic institutions.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Threat Of The Alt-Armed Wing

Oct 15, 2019

I spoke last week about Trump’s intentions. His intentions are particularly scary because of the growth of wrong-wing violence. Time Magazine published an excellent summary as The Terror Within, in its August 19 issue.  Vera Bergengruen and W.J. Hennigan first broke their story on Time’s website. They explained that white nationalists are responsible for a multiple of the deaths and injuries from any other causes of terrorism in the U.S. since 9/11, more than all other causes put together. But Congress and this Administration frustrated FBI efforts to assign more agents to stop mass killers from mowing us down. As a result it gets worse.

Audrey Kupferberg: Mum And Detectorists

Oct 15, 2019

MUM is a Britcom, complete in three seasons or eighteen episodes, starring wonderful Lesley Manville as a recent widow.  One has the feeling that, if left alone, she would be living a rather dull middle-class existence, possibly buying new lawn chairs, or a new toaster for a pick-me-up.  However, Mum – or Cathy, is never left alone.  She is surrounded, engulfed, by seven other characters who make up her world.

The United Nations’ Climate Action Week wrapped up with intense speeches, promises and emotional pleas for action.  Here in New York, the battle over how best to respond to the unfolding climate catastrophe is intensifying.

The treasury has announced that Fannie and Freddie will be authorized to retain portions of their earnings in order to rebuild their capital position up to approximately 100 billion dollars as opposed to distributing these sums to the Treasury.  This makes great sense as these two entities are extremely important for all of us who purchase homes, as well as the strengthening of community banks and our economies in general. The process, although somewhat technical, basically has Fannie and Freddie purchasing mortgages from banks, which puts cash back into the hands of the banks, allowing the banks to continue to offer mortgages.  If that did not occur, then banks would only have that portion of their earnings and loan repayments that were not used for expenses or distributed to shareholders to reinvest, thus reducing their ability to continue to make home loans. All of these issues arose out of the 2008 crisis, when the Federal Government had to bail out these organizations after years of mismanagement.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Botswana Behind The Scenes

Oct 12, 2019

If things like impeachment inquiries, trade wars and climate change are getting you down I’d like to suggest a good nature documentary. Actually a three-part miniseries that PBS is airing starting October 23rd.

Peter Moloney: Why Should Americans Care About Brexit?

Oct 10, 2019

The events now unfolding in the UK have been described as the most significant political and constitutional crises there since the Second World War. Undoubtedly, this is an accurate reading of the situation, with the public polarized, parliament prorogued and the prime minister promising closure at any cost. Even the Queen herself has been sucked into this interminable Brexit black hole, as the British Supreme Court recently ruled that the suspension of parliament that she ordered, on the advice of her ministers, was in fact unlawful. We can only surmise that “one is not amused” to be placed in such a spotlight!

John Faso: Impeachment Follies

Oct 9, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently announced that she was directing three House committees to open an “impeachment inquiry” based upon the whistle-blower complaint filed with the CIA Inspector General. 

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump’s Dangerous Motives

Oct 8, 2019

I spoke last week about the importance of the whistle-blower’s complaint. It’s also the tip of the iceberg. Burt Neuborne was ACLU legal director and a founder of NYU’s Brennan Center.  I’ve known Burt for decades. His publisher accurately describes him as a leading constitutional lawyer who’s sued every president since LBJ.

This week is the deadline to register for those who wish to vote in the 2019 election in New York State.  That’s right, a full 25 days before the election is the deadline to register.  In many cases, busy New Yorkers may not be paying attention to the candidates until Election Day gets closer.  For those would-be New York voters, they will be shut out.

Ben Downing: Tiny Ripples Of Hope

Oct 7, 2019

In a speech to students in apartheid South Africa, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy declared, “this world demands the qualities of youth.” As I walked around the Boston Climate Strike last week, I heard those words over and over in my head. I heard those words and thought of the audacity of Greta Thunberg, fed up with adults doing nothing on climate change and choosing to do the opposite. A single teenager on strike, became 6 million people marching across the world. Six million of the “tiny ripples of hope” Kennedy would refer to later in the same speech.  

Ralph Gardner Jr: Who Says Cities Are More Civilized?

Oct 5, 2019
Ralph Gardner

The word civilization is related to “civitas,” the Latin word for city. It’s one of the few things I remember from 7th grade Latin, that and my grade point average – hovering somewhere in the mid-sixties. Flunking out territory.

Michael Meeropol: The Many Lives Of Roy Cohn

Oct 4, 2019

Today, I would like to take off my economist’s hat and put on my proud papa’s hat.   My daughter Ivy has just finished a documentary about the life of right wing Republican lawyer-fixer Roy Cohn.   The film is one of two documentaries about the former Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump consiglieri.  Hers is entitled “Bully, Coward, Victim, The Story of Roy Cohn.”  The other is called “Where’s my Roy Cohn?”  (The title for that film comes from a quote from an exasperated Donald Trump as he complained bitterly that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not sufficiently “protective” of him [Trump].)

Another school year is under way. We’re off to a great start.

For students and parents, routines have been set or renewed. New locker combinations have been figured out. The tears at the bus stop have died down.  And new schedules are beginning to feel routine.

Hank Greenberg: Lawyers And Depression

Oct 2, 2019

One of America’s greatest lawyers, judges and public servants was Charles Evans Hughes.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Seriousness Of The Ukraine Meeting

Oct 1, 2019

Let’s clarify the problems with Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Blair Horner: Something In The Water

Sep 30, 2019

Earlier this summer, the state Health Department issued proposed drinking water standards for certain types of contaminants that have been found in the drinking water supplies serving millions of New Yorkers.

The controversy over POTUS’ conversation with the new President of the Ukraine has developed into a big story with lots of legs.  

David Nightingale: Global Warming Perspective

Sep 29, 2019

Let’s expand our view of global warming.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Moby Dick In Performance

Sep 28, 2019
Ros Kavanagh

There’s no need to feel inadequate if you haven’t read Moby Dick. And now you don’t have to in any case. Conor Lovett, Judy Hegarty Lovett and Ireland’s Gare St. Lazare theater company are bringing their adaptation of Herman Melville’s epic whaling novel to Hudson, NY’s Hudson Hall next Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Love It? Support It!

Sep 27, 2019

The Locked Box is open. The day the reaction to that statement is “so what” or “ho hum,” we are in real trouble and I mean REAL trouble. This is not a New York or Los Angeles station that brings in a hundred million dollars a year. This is WAMC which we all made together, right? 

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Fraternity And Fratricide

Sep 26, 2019

Once, when my siblings and I were very young, my parents made the mistake of putting me and my brother in charge of our sister while they went out for an appointment. Though we are very close today, when my brother and I were much younger, our competing claims to personal territory and parental attention often clashed, producing very unpleasant consequences for both of us and our parents.  Notwithstanding these animosities, he and I at times teamed up in our attempts to terrorize our little sister.   Who dreamed up that specific day’s covert operation I do not remember, but I do recall it being a brilliant exercise in mean stupidity.  We took a knife, placed it on the floor of our kitchen, took out a bottle of ketchup and spilled some of it near the knife.  I lay on the floor on my stomach and pretended to be dead, while my brother began yelling to my sister, “Come here quickly, I’ve killed Daniel!”  My sister, no more than six years old at the time, raced into the kitchen.  She stopped, got down on the floor beside me, took a small sniff of the red stuff and barked, “That’s not blood, it’s ketchup.  You’re in big trouble!”

Bryan Griffin: Rights That Can't Be Taken

Sep 25, 2019

They’re calling Beto O’Rourke the “AR-15 salesman of the year” after he forcefully stated in the last Democratic debate that an O’Rourke presidency would mean the mandatory government confiscation of such rifles. His exact quote was: “Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47-- We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”

Stephen Gottlieb: We Have Trump To Thank

Sep 24, 2019

The President has been taking apart all previously made progress handling the environment and global warming. His actions will contribute to what has been called the sixth extinction – the premature death of billions of people on this planet, large proportions of our children and grandchildren and the shrinking of any remaining habitable portions of earth, so that few can survive and those who manage to live on the meager remainder will have had to survive the bloodiest war of all against all just for the scraps remaining.

The United Nations Climate Action Summit kicked off with two completely different visions of the planet’s future: Action by the Trump Administration to kill California’s clean car program and the worldwide Climate Strike inspired by teenage Swedish high schooler Greta Thunberg.

Where do the Democratic Presidential candidates stand on POTUS’ trade wars. A review of the US News and World Report article sheds light on the tight rope those candidates are on. Even if they want to be known as pro-trade Democrats like Senator Booker, they are walking a very, very thin line relative to how unions view free-trade agreements. The classic line of free and fair trade, (both Parties use it) of course, is something which sounds good, but doesn’t get to the substance of what one needs to do in order to make sure it is fair; and, of course, as we have learned from our various trade wars particularly with China, what the other side views as fair and what we view as fair, is very rarely in sync. There is no doubt that most Americans feel China has mistreated us over the years, and that is likely true, as they have manipulated their currency to make their goods more competitive, and of course, they start with a much lower level of cost, due to what they pay their employees. Thus, it is difficult to set-up an algorithm which will result in fair trade. President Trump has placed himself in a position where he has injured many groups with his trade war, so what a Democratic’s position is, may not be quite as threatening as it might be.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Tennis, Anyone?

Sep 21, 2019

There’s the official, legal, annual, I don’t know what you call it calendar. The one that starts on January 1st. And then there’s my personal calendar. Call it the academic year calendar even though it’s years since I’ve been in school. That calendar starts on or about a week after Labor Day.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Candidates, The Voters And The Media

Sep 17, 2019

Commentators are scoring Democratic candidates by how "moderate" or "far left" they are. That's nonsense. Let me count the ways. 

The electronic cigarette industry has done much to make up for the decline in tobacco consumption in America by getting the public to buy into its arguments that e-cigarettes are a “safer” alternative to smoking tobacco.

A paper by Dr. Shawn Rosenberg speaks to the issue of how the human brain reacts to self-rule. His principal conclusion is that self-rule/democracy is in danger because citizens are not developing a critical understanding of the issues and lack the ability or are too lazy to expend the necessary energy and time to analyze the issues. He feels that this could be a death nell for democracy. Justice Gorsuch has also recently taken a similar view to Professor Shawn Rosenberg’s. In a recent interview, he indicated that he had concerns about the engagement of the American public on an intellectual level in the democratic process. Of interest, to me, was his statements that we all had to be prepared to listen to the other side, and to stop listening to only those who agreed with us. He seems to enjoy the raucous nature of politics. He also stresses that this requires work and sacrifice, not just in the military sense, but rather in time, energy and commitment to studying and understanding the issues, comprehending your opponent’s position and then seeking to come to the best resolution. I am not sure he actually practices the latter, as he seems to have certitude in his opinions.