Commentary & Opinion

Stephen Gottlieb: A Scary Election

16 hours ago

Over a century ago, populism was sweeping the country, with white and African-American workers standing together, until a scared Southern aristocracy started race-baiting. Whites took the bait, breaking the back of Southern populism. The rest of the country surged forward because their governments cared about the people, the regular people, not just the fancy financiers. But not in the South, which languished.

Fred Kowal: SUNY Under A Microscope

19 hours ago

Corruption. Fraud. Bribery

A bid-rigging scandal that involved SUNY Polytechnic Institute and other upstate nanotechnology development projects. The result: federal charges leveled against nine people, including Alain Kaloyeros, the now former president of SUNY Poly.

During the lazy, hazy days of last summer, the Cuomo Administration approved a plan to hike New Yorkers’ electric utility bills by billions of dollars. The hike is to bail out three upstate nuclear power plants in central and western New York. Some of these plants, built during the Vietnam War era, were slated to be shut down because they were no longer efficient or profitable, having run well past their projected lifespan of 40 years.

Jeffrey Reel: The Presidential Election

Oct 23, 2016

When Michelle Bachmann appeared on the political scene in 2007, I wondered how a person that uninformed could be popularly elected to federal office. At the time, I thought that it doesn’t get much worse than this.  

Keith Strudler: Chicago Cubs Fans

Oct 19, 2016

Cubs fans, it is now time to get nervous. A few days ago, you were up one game to zero in the National League Championship Series. Three more wins against the Dodgers, and it was off to the World Series, where you would be the favorite to win over what now appears to be the Cleveland Indians, who are up three-nil on the Toronto Blue Jays. This would be your first trip to the Series since 1945. And if you won, the first time since 1908. As you’re well aware as a Cubs fan, this is the longest championship drought in professional baseball. Or more precisely, in all professional sports.

Herbert London: Watermelon Politics In America

Oct 19, 2016

Watermelon politics are on the rise in the United States. The green Islamist groups intent on undermining the West through self-proclaimed “civilizational jihad” have aligned themselves formally and informally with the red radicals such as Black Lives Matter (BLM). For many, this union seems unlikely. Islamist’s want to turn the clock back to the Seventh Century and BLM is eager to push the clock ahead to a time when race consciousness is a national preoccupation.

Stephen Gottlieb: Fugue For Pledge Breaks

Oct 18, 2016

Hi folks. When you hear this I’ll be boarding a plane for Pittsburgh to give a talk, and I’ll be missing a couple of days of the fund drive, though friends and family from our Peace Corps days will be helping out at the station as well as contributing from home. This station is important to us – and this election season makes clear why. On WAMC we get news that is fact-checked. We get opinions that are explained, not just thrown at us like so many ipse dixits. We get interviews with people on both sides of political campaigns. And we get cutting edge science about energy, water, the climate, the economy and other matters of interest and importance. This station is a treasure.

Herbert London: The New World Order

Oct 12, 2016

Recently the Russian military force deployed an advanced anti-missile system and sophisticated radars over Syria. In doing so, Russia and its allies in Iran and Hezbollah realize the ability of the U.S. to assist the rebel groups in Aleppo is severely limited. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, may not know what Aleppo is, but for anyone following current events this city of 250,000 is now a “killing field.”

Stephen Gottlieb: Personality And Presidents

Oct 11, 2016

I walked by a group talking about the election and a young woman was saying she would never vote for Hillary because of her personality – I forget the word she used. So I stopped and asked her if that was the most important thing in a candidate. She responded “Yeah” like wasn’t it obvious and went on talking. I moved on shaking my head about her naiveté. This president is going to have to deal with Russia, China, the Muslim world, climate change, and her personality is the issue? The next president is going to have to be cool under pressure, not shoot wildly from the hip, and understand the stakes, the pressures, the possibilities and the limitations of what we can accomplish, and her personality is the issue?

Bill Owens: A Win For Hillary

Oct 11, 2016

As we all watched and waited, we tried to guess would he apologize, would he be believable, will he implode? The apology was weak and unconvincing and the excuse of it being lock room banter was in exceptionally poor judgement.

Blair Horner: Hunger Hits Colleges

Oct 10, 2016

College students are not the ones that we think of when identifying people who are hungry in America.  Yet, as the income gap has grown, there are an incredible number of college students who go hungry.

According to the polls, a high percentage of the population has negative views of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  As a result, the Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld are getting a good look from many voters.   Though national polls have them well below the 15% threshold for the Presidential debates, they are polling over 30% among young voters.   (Jill Stein, the candidate from the Green Party is polling in the low single digits and has not generated anywhere near as much support.)   I want to focus this commentary on some of the substance of Libertarian Party proposals.

Ruth Abram: Bud Godfroy

Oct 6, 2016

The establishment of a small business that is passed on through generations of family members is a common fact of rural American life.  Despite the onslaught of technology, and the reported migration back to cities, something special is going on in Columbia County, New York.

Herbert London: Withstanding A Second Muslim Invasion

Oct 5, 2016

After two months of an onslaught by troops of the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy along with the Polish Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire under the command of King John Sobieski rose to defend Christianity at Kahlenberg Mountain near Vienna in September 1683. The battle marked the turning point in the 300 year Ottoman-Hapsburg wars with Christianity on the European continent prevailing.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump’s Tax Returns

Oct 4, 2016

Let’s talk about Trump’s secrets, what he doesn’t want us to know about. Not secrets that may not exist – like his secret plans to deal with ISIS, North Korea or unemployment. Those might be secret as he claims because there’s a problem in revealing them. Or they might be secret because there’s nothing to reveal, they don’t really exist – but calling them secret makes it sound OK. No I mean secrets we can be quite sure really do exist – his tax returns.

Reformers kept up the pressure last week for Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature to overhaul the state’s economic development programs.  In a letter to the state’s political leaders, the groups urged that steps be taken to reduce the risk of corruption in how the state doles out government contracts.

David Nightingale: Leon Theramin (1896-1993)

Oct 2, 2016

That was Leon Sergeyevich Termen (tair-MEN), better known as Lev Theramin, born in 1896 in St Petersburg [ref.1]. By the time he was 30, which would be 1926, he was demonstrating his extraordinary invention which made music simply from hand-waving, and he was being welcomed enthusiastically musicians and scientists in Germany, France, England and the US. His instrument, the theramin, was just a small-ish box of electronics, with a vertical rod looking like an antenna (but actually only a rod that was one side of a capacitor, the other side being his body.)

The fund drive begins on October 17th and it may just be the most momentous of all time. That's because on November 8th, shortly after the fund drive is completed, Americans will be voting for President of the United States and a new Congress. This is arguably the biggest news item of the year and no one has covered this election more assiduously than WAMC. Not only have we interacted with you on Vox Pop every week but our first hour of Roundtable has become our most popular locally produced program. We have spent enormous amounts of time discussing what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said and done. Probably never in American history has there been such a stark choice between the candidates for the presidency.

Karen Magee: America Gets a Raise

Sep 29, 2016

America’s workers finally got a raise.

Herbert London: The Rising Taliban

Sep 28, 2016

On 9/11 Americans recalled the 15th anniversary of the vicious al Qaeda attack on the United States that took 2800 lives. It was yet another day in infamy. Although largely forgotten in the public memory bank, the Taliban of Afghanistan harbored the terrorists and assisted in the planning of the attack. President George W. Bush’s final act of retaliation was to strike back at the Taliban.

Stephen Gottlieb: Hillary

Sep 27, 2016

I’ve been traveling and so I’m playing catch up. But I was shocked at the reactions I heard to Hillary’s illness. I expected people to do what we do when most people get sick – wish her well and hope she can get over it quickly. What I heard was just grousing that she said she was fine.

Bill Owens: A Win For Hillary

Sep 27, 2016

Normally we anticipate a presidential race to turn on the candidates likability and trust worthiness. We know both candidates have high negatives on both counts.

Blair Horner: Another Scandal Rocks The Capitol

Sep 26, 2016

Another week, another scandal.  Once again, it was U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who brought the charges.  What’s different is that the focus of the investigation was the governor’s office, not the legislature. According to the U.S. Attorney, “It turns out the state Legislature does not have any kind of monopoly on crass corruption in New York.”

The presidential candidates have sent a spark into the free-trade wood pile.  Think softwood lumber—as “in the weeds” as it gets.

It's our listeners' turn at the microphone. Here are this week's highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line. 

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Lost With A Friend

Sep 22, 2016

One day, a very close high school friend of mine and I were on a long awaited hike through what was supposed to be a simple trail loop on Bear Mountain, when we came to three diverging roads in the forest. Try as we may, we could not see a single trail marker anywhere. We wound up walking every one of the three possible paths to see which one would bring us to the summit. It overlooked what promised to be a beautiful valley, along with the whizzing cars on the New York State Thruway. Adding a full hour to what was supposed to be our five-mile hike, we chatted away about our lives and sweated away our slowly diminishing water supplies. Each time we would walk for fifteen minutes into dead ends or power grid towers. I would look at my friend for reassurance that we would figure out where to go. Each time, he would smile and say, “You brought a trail map and a compass. I just assumed you knew what you were doing.” We finally returned to that three road junction and decided to head back on the trail we had been able to follow into those woods. Alas, ahead of us on the return trip lay three other paths. Clearly we had come out of one of them to arrive back at this junction, but which path that was, we had forgotten. So, as the day grew hotter, we tried all three. I said to my friend, “Note to self: always leave a marker of some kind when coming off of a trail so you know where you came from, right?” He just smiled, which at that point could have meant anything. All this time, amidst the frustration of getting literally nowhere, we continued to enjoy each other’s company, discussing all kinds of things, personal and political.

Sean Philpott-Jones: The Age Of The Superbug

Sep 22, 2016

Audio Pending...

With all of the media hullaballoo about Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia, Donald Trump’s physical exam, Brangelina’s impeding divorce, and poisoned Skittles, you may have missed one of the biggest and most important health stories of this year.

Herbert London: At The UN War Is Peace

Sep 21, 2016

As part of United Nations Week in New York there is a much heralded Day of Peace. This day has been announced at the moment weapons are converted into plowshares. The problem, however, is no one mentioned this to militant Palestinians. These people welcomed the week with four terror attacks: two stabbings, one car ramming, and an incident in which rocks and glass bottles were thrown at an Israeli bus.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Bully In The Debate

Sep 20, 2016

People keep saying that Hillary will destroy Donald in debate. But I’m concerned. I’m bothered by the memory of one exchange between Bush and Gore in one of the presidential debates in 2000. When Gore confronted Bush with the math behind Bush’s tax proposals, Bush just responded by calling Gore’s figures “fuzzy math.” In fact, Gore’s numbers weren’t fuzzy – he and he had laid it right out for all to see. I concluded that Bush was trying to bully Gore and the American people by substituting insult for fact. But people reacted that Gore was a nerd and Bush would be nice to have a beer with. I think that was unfortunate largely because, as president, Bush took us into the war in Iraq with what I believe were disastrous results. This isn’t the place to refight the issues of the Bush presidency. The real problem is that Trump has never shown any dedication either to the facts or to policy detail and many Americans have shown an appetite for unsupported slogans and invective. So I’m concerned that he may try to bully Hillary in the debates and how Americans will react. 

Listener Essay: Death With Dignity

Sep 20, 2016

The advocates for Physician  Aid in Dying, while laudatory in their goal, fail to inform the public of the real life application of the law’s so called “safe guards”. Anyone who cannot speak, or cannot write, or who cannot swallow is excluded from the mercy the law intends. Terms that most likely violate the American’s with Disabilities  Act. They simply cannot make the required contemporaneous request for the medicine. In addition, anyone who lacks mental capacity is also excluded and the use of a prior directive, or health care proxy is not permitted. Anyone with late stage ALS, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s or other neurodegenerative disease is excluded. The Alzheimer’s Association has announced that one in six women over the age of 60 will get that disease. The Oregon model is best suited for a person dying of cancer and in fact about 80% of the people in Oregon who make the request for aid in dying have cancer. The people who need it the most, long term suffers of pain and indignity are excluded.