Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

Several recent Supreme Court decisions have altered my opinion about the motivations of Justice Kavanaugh and Chief Justice Roberts.  Justice Kavanaugh overturned a conviction of a man who was prosecuted seven times before a conviction was returned by a jury that was ultimately sustained on appeal in the state courts.  The basis of the appeal was the systematic exclusion of black jurors, with Justice Kavanaugh writing the majority opinion in a 7-2 decision, he found that based upon existing law (precedent) that this was an unconstitutional activity by the prosecutor.  In my view, the key aspect of the decision was his reliance on precedent.  In the recently decided census question case and the gerrymandering case, Justice Roberts sided with the liberal segment of the court on the census question and with the conservative members of the court on the gerrymandering issue.  Many independents are saying that Judge Roberts is now the swing vote on the court, and that certainly seems to have some credence, and hopefully he does take up the mantel of Justice Kennedy if for no other reason than the integrity of the Court. 

Jane McManus: It's A Start

Jul 10, 2019

The US Women’s National soccer team has proven to be the best in the world after winning the World Cup, again.

Bryan Griffin: Innovation And Quality

Jul 10, 2019

The government kills innovation and quality.

Last time, I made the argument that even the environment can be better protected and restored through the free market and limited government.

While the Administration in Washington cuts staff at EPA,[1] it’s a good time to reassess efforts to save the climate that makes our life possible.

Last week, New York may have taken a step toward significantly changing the way elections are financed.  Currently, candidates for state office in New York – like much of the rest of the nation – rely on private contributions to fuel their campaigns.  Not surprisingly, many of those who give those contributions are expecting that their donations will help their interests – be they personal or occupational – after the candidate wins elective office.

On June 30, 2019, the Sunday Review section of the New York Times ran a front page article entitled “Want to be Less Racist?  Move to Hawaii.”   [Authored by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, the article runs from Page 1 to pages 6 and 7]

David Nightingale: In The Event Of Nuclear War

Jul 7, 2019
Frigate Bird nuclear explosion (viewed throuh the periscope of USS Carbonero (SS-337) 480 nm ENE of Christmas Island)
U.S. NAVY / Public Domain

In a new war of words, we have Iran condemning fresh U.S. sanctions by using expressions like ‘mentally retarded’, and Mr. Trump threatening to ‘obliterate’ their country. It is these kinds of testosterone-loaded reactions that cause me to wonder: what if?

Ralph Gardner Jr: The Day After

Jul 6, 2019
The pond, the morning after
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

So the wedding at our house – my daughter’s wedding – is over. I feared its aftermath might feel anti-climactic but the general sensation is one of happiness, satisfaction and perhaps most of all relief.

Ben Downing: Moving The Line

Jul 4, 2019

With a single regulatory change, the Trump administration wants to reduce poverty. Shockingly, that change is not an innovative effort to create jobs, lessen the burden of housing or healthcare costs, or improve education. It is an attempt to change how the federal government measures and defines poverty. People will not receive new benefits or opportunities, the federal government will just stop recognizing that they are poor. 

Dr. Alan Chartock
Eric Korenman

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses President Trump's plans for today's Fourth of July parade in Washington, D.C. and the president's apparent decision to not give up on the idea of putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census. 

Stephen Gottlieb: How To Think About Iran

Jul 2, 2019

People simplify countries into good and bad, leading us to bluster about military options, and overlook better ways to get things done.

John Faso: Rhetoric Vs. Reality

Jul 2, 2019

In the age of 24/7 media, we’re constantly bombarded with news and information, some true and some not so true.  It has always been difficult for the discerning citizen to decipher the political rhetoric from reality, and a new report this week illustrates this point.

The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its session and examined one of the most problematic issues facing American democracy:  how best to draw political boundaries to ensure fairness and equality.  The question facing the justices was what role should federal courts play in correcting overtly partisan gerrymandering.

Scientists are reporting additional sightings of a giant cephalopod or giant squid.  The first sighting of this creature occurred about seven years ago, and was followed shortly thereafter with another sighting, but then as scientists searched the deep, they were unable to replicate the sighting until a short while ago.  These creatures have roamed the seas since the time of the dinosaurs which means they represent millions of years of existence and possibly evolution.  Although this has very little impact on our day to day lives, the ability to potentially track these creatures, understand their habitat and their habits could be very helpful to our study of the earth, and likely to our evolution and may be informative about how they survived and how we might survive as our climate changes. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: F. Scott Fitzgerald's Advice

Jun 29, 2019
Wedding tent
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Since my wife Debbie, daughter Lucy and my daughter’s fiancée Malcolm have done most of the heavy lifting when it comes to Lucy and Malcolm’s upcoming nuptials – it’s this evening as this commentary airs – the least I can do is offer a decent toast.

One year ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision in a long-awaited case called Janus v. AFSCME. 

Some on the religious right repeatedly make the claim that authentically religious people are pro-life but could never be pro-choice as well.  This is a lie.  I am religious, I am pro-life and I am pro-choice. 

Tonight and tomorrow night, twenty Democratic contenders will engage in their first debate of the primary season for the 2020 presidential race. I expect each candidate will be making lots of promises to solve pressing societal issues with big government solutions. No matter the promised goal, you won’t hear diversity on the approach: more taxes, more bureaucracy, more government programs. A top-down approach. When you hear the word “universal” what you are really hearing is “government.”

The Main Ingredient

Jun 26, 2019

Donald Trump remains the focus of the news. People are being Trumped out. They’ve had enough. On the Roundtable’s daily panel discussion we hear from countless frustrated people who want him gone. They surely know that the chances of impeachment and conviction are nil but the level of frustration is so high that they just want something done now. I get that. Even if Nancy Pelosi is correct and that failed impeachment proceedings will allow Trump to get reelected, they just don’t seem to care. We see people like the wonderful Congressman Paul Tonko bowing to the popular will and announcing that he, too, favors moving forward with an impeachment investigation. You had better believe that WAMC has been chronicling this in depth. 

Stephen Gottlieb: War And The Sources Of Fake News

Jun 25, 2019

The president would have us believe that anything critical of him is fake. To which many respond that everything out of the president’s mouth (or twitter feed) is fake. Both statements, of course, are false.

Last week, state lawmakers wrapped up the 2019 legislative session and it represented a big change from what New Yorkers have seen in the recent past.  Sweeping changes to the state’s law regulating home rental apartments, an impressive expansion in the state’s voting laws, decriminalization of marijuana possession, and other important issues were approved. 

Mr. Trump is searching for a pathway on healthcare.  Democrats pounded the issue in the 2018 mid-term elections with great success.  Mr. Trump has indicated that he will produce “something terrific” and even asserted that the Plan will be delivered within a month and cause the Republicans to take the Senate, the House and the Presidency in 2020.  Mr. Trump asserts that his plan will be cheaper, cover more people, and preserve coverage for the people with pre-existing conditions, but he continues, for well over three years to offer no details.  The GOP in general is not anxious to get into this fight again, with good reason.  The ability to draft such legislation is slim to non-existent.  The quickest step to reducing healthcare costs would be to get control over drug costs, and then work from there.

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Jun 24, 2019
Paul Caiano

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Monday, June 24, 2019.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Summer's Scourge

Jun 22, 2019

Communing with nature comes at a cost. There’s lawn care. Pool care. Tree care. And I haven’t even gotten to our house and all its geriatric needs.

Stephen Gottlieb: The AUMF And War In The Middle East

Jun 18, 2019

Among the problems with the outdated Authorizations for the Use of Military Force are the countries trying to get Uncle Sam to fight their wars, the difficulty in telling who did what, and in knowing what even our own Administration is up to. Remember that one American Administration took us into Vietnam on the basis of attacks on American military vessels that never happened, and another Administration took us into Iraq on the basis of similarly cooked evidence.

This week is the scheduled last week of the 2019 legislative session.  The session can be viewed as historic: Complete Democratic Party control of the state government has resulted in a slew of legislation passing, many of which had festered due to partisan gridlock – like narrowing the Limited Liability Company loophole that allowed real estate developers to make much bigger campaign contributions than other businesses –– and others that could dramatically alter state policies – like permanent extension of rent control.

POTUS again surprised us by withdrawing the threat of tariffs, at least temporarily, against Mexico on Friday evening, June 7. The puzzlement of the weekend, it was disclosed, that this agreement had been made many months ago, and raised questions about whether or not POTUS created a crisis in order to appear to have solved it.  It is highly unlikely that POTUS will be satisfied with whatever actions Mexico takes, so this will be an ongoing saga.  Speaking of the migrants, there are now reports that Central Americans are looking to Europe as it is both a safer trip and potentially more welcoming. 

David Nightingale: United Nations

Jun 16, 2019
Flag of the United Nations
Public Domain / Open Clip Art Library/Wikimedia Commons

It’s sometimes said that the United Nations absorbs a lot of money, which it often wastes, is ineffective, and fails to prevent wars.  Let’s look at this.

Mankind’s urge to eliminate war can be traced very far back.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Family Meal

Jun 15, 2019
Gracie Gardner, center, surrounded by friends and Blue Hill at Stone Barns co-workers
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Let me stipulate that the food was sublime, the service to match when we were invited to Blue Hill at Stone Barns last week by my older daughter Lucy and her fiancée Malcolm St. Clair as thanks for throwing their upcoming wedding.

Ben Downing: Never Say Never

Jun 13, 2019

The Baker administration recently announced a plan to double Massachusetts’ procurement of offshore wind. Given the mounting data about the severity climate crisis, the announcement is good news. Tapping into the potential of offshore wind is key to solving climate, especially in the Northeast. Just as important is the lesson about the scale of action needed.