Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 8:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Sundays at 10:55 a.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

As a Puerto Rican living in Vermont, I was deeply disturbed by the President’s recent tweet denying Puerto Rico's hurricane Maria revised death toll of two thousand nine hundred and seventy five.

AP Photo/Warren Winterbottom, File

Maybe it’s the toxic quality of politics today, or a general sense of unease about the future, but my thoughts – and the thoughts of many others - have been returning to another time of anger and division - and the ways that history affects us.

Alex Brandon / AP

For the most part, the formal Kavanaugh hearings were a poor example of our democracy at work.

McQuiston: Carbon Tax

Sep 18, 2018

Vermont’s goals of reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent from the 1990 benchmark by 2012 and by 50 percent by 2028 weren’t haphazard.

John Vogel

In preparation for my high school reunion, I’ve been thinking about 1968, the year I graduated. The parallels with today are striking.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the ACLU considers panhandling free speech – because in a healthy society, free speech should promote dialogue. Whether upsetting or repellant, it should provoke people to think … and eventually answer.

Dominic is my daughter’s boyfriend and the good news is I like him. The not-so-good news is that he got pulled over in Wyoming by highway cops and endured what appears to be a case of profiling.

dkfielding / iStock

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process has been notable, if only for the number of times the word “unprecedented” has been used to describe it.

Carter: Lawsuit

Sep 11, 2018

Vermont’s consumer protection laws are some of the strongest in the country. Intended to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive business practices, these laws are vital for both consumers and business because they protect fair competition in the marketplace. They prevent consumers from being deceived and also maintain honest rules for economic competition.

Moats: Climate

Sep 11, 2018
Toker / iStock

The record that sticks in my mind came the night when Burlington never fell below 80 degrees. That’s not what you call sleeping weather.

PeopleImages / iStock

I recently observed an uncomfortable exchange concerning a case study that was being reviewed in an academic setting. The discomfort didn’t stem from the delicate ethical considerations involved, but from the exchange that followed when a white person stated that the case’s subject was black.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl

I lived on Puget Sound in the seventies, where I saw only rain clouds for months. We celebrated in April when the sun broke through and Mt Rainier reappeared.

nzphotonz / iStock

I’ve been wondering if we may be promoting a stereotype that no longer reflects the reality of a contemporary, inclusive Vermont – even perhaps contributing to some of the racism we’ve seen lately, like the public attacks on Bennington Representative Kiah Morris and her family, or the incident at a Stowe youth camp where racist remarks left children shaken and afraid.

Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

I met John McCain several times. In fact, in 2008 I spent January in New Hampshire campaigning for him - hard.

Bill Schubart

I love working in the woods and I’ve come to know all the great trees on our land. They’re like friends – the surviving American elm that looks like a frozen geyser as it towers above the other trees, the dying butternuts in disarray, the wolf pines, the sturdy black cherries, and, of course, the centenarian sugar maples.

Deb Markowitz

About five years ago my daughter called from New Mexico, where she’d been serving as an AmeriCorps Volunteer running a gardening program in an elementary school to say she’d been asked to apply to become a fifth grade teacher. The region had more than 200 open teaching positions, and the school was desperate.

Emily Alfin Johnson / VPR

My mother, Mary Broderick, served on my Connecticut hometown’s Board of Education for years, eventually serving at the state and national level. It was inspiring, but I still sometimes wondered if the cause was worth the cost - because it’s hard to do a job that doesn’t pay well and requires time away from your family even when you love it.

Moats: Labor Today

Sep 3, 2018
Saklakova / iStock

Vermont’s labor history includes the farm work that took place in virtually every town — the farm families who labored every day to till rocky fields, bring in the crops and tend to their animals.

Stephan Savoia / Associated Press

The death of Senator John McCain is a watershed moment for the United States and especially for the national security community. To the countless obituaries that will be written for him I should like to add a personal anecdote.

Since Barrie Dunsmore died last Sunday, he’s been my constant companion – rowing with me on the lake as the sun rises, walking around meadows and offering amusing peanut gallery perspectives on the news. It’s odd that when people die, they seem not gone but ever closer.