Commentary & Opinion

Stephen Gottlieb: Hillary

4 hours ago

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

7 hours ago

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.

Audio Pending...

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been battling with Texas based oil giant ExxonMobil for nearly a year.  Last year, the Attorney General launched an investigation into whether ExxonMobil had deliberately ignored its own research about the dangers of global warming and instead set about a campaign to mislead the public – and investors – about the dangers caused by burning fossil fuels, one of which is oil.

Herbert London: Living With The Dialectic

Sep 14, 2016

For devotees of Marxist-Leninist dialectical materialism the world is in motion and “progress” occurs through struggles. It follows the Hegelian principle that an evolving thesis morphs into anti-thesis resulting in synthesis. Thus history is not the unfolding of spirit or individual intervention, but of class struggle through violent revolution which is inexorable. Since all things contain within themselves internal contradictions, which are the primary cause of motion, they ipso facto possess the seeds of their own destruction. Hence the strategy for historical evolution is using the existing methods of free will to undermine freedom. For example, applying the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment allows for the expression of a theory on which free speech is not permitted.

Stephen Gottlieb: Democracy And Compromise

Sep 13, 2016

Since Obama’s election, congressional Republicans and their Tea Party challengers made Obama’s defeat their overriding goal, and when they couldn’t do that, they did everything they could to make him seem like a total failure, an example of politics gone completely awry. To accomplish those goals, they refused to give him any victories – not on infrastructure, not on economic stimulus, not on judicial nominations and they tried to retract his success with the Affordable Care Act under a Democratic Congress.

David Nightingale: Hudson River Anchorages

Sep 13, 2016

The Hudson River, all 315 miles of it from the Adirondacks to the Atlantic, has been used by mankind for a long time. Its estuary was explored by Verrazano in 1524, and Henry Hudson sailed his Half Moon up about as far as Albany in 1609. Prior to that, the river was of course home to native American Indians on each of its shores. Some of its viewsheds, particularly from the east looking towards the Catskills prompted the establishment of estates such as Boscobel, Clermont, Vanderbilt, Wilderstein, Olana and so on.

Blair Horner: The Sad State Of Voting In New York

Sep 12, 2016

This week, New Yorkers will vote again – for the third time in six months – in primary elections. Yup, that’s right, New Yorkers vote in, and pay for, two primary elections, and this year a Presidential primary as well.  In June, New Yorkers enrolled in political parties, voted in Congressional primaries and this week they voted for state legislative candidates.

Ruth Abram: Fiona Lally

Sep 8, 2016

There are two kinds of people who live in rural America: those born here, and those who moved here. If you think it odd that people would abandon the attractions of big city living and move to rural America as family farms disappear, consider the case of Fiona Lally.

Keith Sturdler: Organic Sports

Sep 7, 2016

I have grown to believe, perhaps incorrectly, that Gatorade is the most important elixir in the history of the planet. It makes you run faster, jump higher, lift more, and generally perform like an elite athlete. I’ve also grown to believe it can cure most human illnesses, something affirmed both by having two kids of my own and during a short period earlier in my life when I dated a med school pediatric resident, and on pretty much every call she told some parent to just give their kid Gatorade and let ‘em sleep. Which made me believe that being a doctor wasn’t all that hard, at least that part.

Last time I read a portion of a dissent by Justice Sotomayor.[1] The Supreme Court of Utah had held that the Utah police had violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. The United States Supreme Court overruled that decision. In the portion of her opinion I read you last time, Justice Sotomayor explained what happens, not always, but what often happens when police stop people. And she explained what the Supreme Court authorizes police to do. Justice Sotomayor explained the ways that stops of people regardless of innocence of any crime, let alone any crime deserving jail time, can injure decent citizens. I didn’t have time to read you the last part of her opinion, so I will read it now:

Bill Owens: Did We Forget Some Thing(s)?

Sep 6, 2016

The presidential campaign has taken some surprising twists and turns, no doubt, and this may yet turn out to be the most interesting of elections.

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Sep 6, 2016
Newschannel 13 Meteorologist Paul Caiano
WNYT

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

David Nightingale: Late Summer

Sep 4, 2016


Still summer, but I come down this morning and see yellow leaves on the lawn.

There is disgusting theme being bruited about from the Trump campaign that blames the   difficulties of low income African Americans in numerous inner-city neighborhoods on the Democratic Party.   Now I am no Democrat --- and I have not been averse to criticizing the policies of the Obama and (Bill) Clinton Administrations.  However, the idea that poverty among African Americans and crime in African American neighborhoods is the fault of the Democratic Party, just because the Mayors of many of the cities where these concentrated populations of people of color in poverty are Democrats is totally false.   Most of these cities have been starved for funds by State Legislatures and federal programs that would have reduced the economic hardships for these communities, the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, raising the minimum wage, rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure have been blocked by Republican governors and Congress.

What It's All About

Sep 1, 2016

It’s hard to believe that September is already upon us. It has been a sensational summer, not just because of the natural beauty of the great northeast, the glorious weather (mostly) and all of the incredible cultural events that take place throughout the region. I think you’ll agree that this has been THE most extraordinary run-up to any election, possibly ever. I was recently reading the trade newspaper that comes to all of us public broadcasters. We already know that the number of people listening to public radio has increased dramatically with the election in sight and I figure it’s probably in large part due to the, “What will they do next?!?” factor. Well, rest assured, I promise you that whatever they do next, we’ll be talking about it on WAMC. It’s already been quite the roller coaster ride and together, we’ve watched it all unfold, from the earliest primaries to the latest polling data. As a collective family, we might not agree on everything, but looking back on our morning Roundtable discussions, I think civility has been the word of the day. Of course, sometimes passions flare and people get excited but that’s what makes it interesting and real. The amount of feedback we’ve gotten assures us that you are listening and that’s what it’s all about.

Herbert London: On Going Middle East Scenarios

Aug 31, 2016

With the ongoing love fest between Turkey and Russia, there are several interesting and dangerous scenarios emerging for the United States.

I want to read you a portion of a recent dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in which she explains what I think many do not understand about what happens when police stop people on the street.[1] I will skip her citations but you can read them on the website. She wrote the last part of her dissent for herself alone. I think it is well worth your hearing that portion of her dissent in Justice Sotomayor’s own words:

Colleges and universities are kicking off their Fall semesters across the state.  As the summer winds down and the dorms open up, it is a good time to review how state policies are impacting higher education.

  Once the cameras roll, Meryl Streep can do anything. Meryl Streep can play anyone believably—and brilliantly.

Karen Magee: Thoughts On Back To School

Aug 25, 2016

In just a few weeks, parents will send their children back to school. Already, we see vans and S-U-Vs on the Thruway, packed to the gills with the belongings that college students need to fill their dorm rooms and start the semester off right.

Sean Philpott-Jones: How To Die In California

Aug 25, 2016

Late last month, Betsy Davis died at her home in Ojai, California. The 41-year-old performance artist was suffering from ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which had already robbed her of the ability to stand, to walk, and to speak clearly. Facing the prospect of a slow and lingering death as she lost her capacity to move, to eat and, eventually, to breathe, Ms. Davis took her own life by taking a lethal dose of barbiturates.

Herbert London: The Turkish-Russian Detente

Aug 24, 2016

The world is spinning on its axis very quickly. Conditions that seem to define world affairs yesterday are hopelessly out of date today. There was a time only a couple of years ago when President Obama called Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan his closest friend on the world stage. Erdogan was perceived as a loyal member of NATO and an enemy of Russian’s imperial ambitions in the Middle East. Moreover, Erdogan was devoted to the ouster of Syrian president Bashar Assad, a stance that put him in direct opposition to the Russian strategy. In fact, tensions reached the point of actual conflict when a Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkish forces near the Syrian border.

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