Commentary & Opinion

Blair Horner: Albany Makes Things Worse

Jun 26, 2017

As the scheduled 2017 legislative session wrapped up, commentators noted that Governor Cuomo and the legislative leadership failed to address the seemingly unending corruption scandals that have plagued both the legislative and executive branches.

“New American Cinema” is a fitting title for one of my favorite film courses, one which I have long-taught. Its content is described in its course description, which begins: “During the late 1960s and early 1970s, great social changes were occurring in the United States. These changes were sparked by the emerging youth culture, the progression of the Civil Rights Movement, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and the advent of the modern-era feminist movement. This course will explore the manner in which these changes impacted on the American cinema.” 

David Nightingale: Angela Merkel (1954 - )

Jun 25, 2017
German Chancelor Dr. Angela Merkel
Jacques Grießmayer / Wikimedia Commons

When the first-born child of a Lutheran clergyman, 7 year old Angeela Kasner corrected her music teacher's mispronunciation of her name, she already exemplified that she could be a perfectionist as well as a bit of a pain. But her East German teacher was not too put out -- she knew that this pastor's daughter, whom she had mistakenly called Angela was rather bossy but a good pupil.

Ralph Gardner Jr: One Less Carp

Jun 24, 2017
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officer Jeffrey Cox
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

About a month ago I penned a commentary about the single fish in my pond – a grass carp. I suggested that I probably ought to give him a name because, after a number of years swimming around in solitude and growing to the approximate size of an ocean-going tuna, he’d assumed the status of a family pet.

Ben Downing: In Defense Of The ACA

Jun 23, 2017

Just about 2 months ago, my wife and I welcomed our son Malcolm into the world. Thanks to the miracles of modern science, we have the security of knowing Malcolm won’t have the genetic heart disease that killed my father at 52 and my brother at 26.

Bill Owens: Civil Discourse

Jun 22, 2017

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Gerald F. Sieb spoke to the issue of the loss of civil discourse, and recites as examples the body slamming by the newly elected Republican congressman from Montana, a Democratic state party chair hurling obscenities at the president and party dissidents, a speaker chased off college campuses, and town hall meetings where law makers are shouted down by hecklers. (Let me first note from personal experience that this is not new; this behavior reared its head in 2009 and 2010, executed then by Tea Partiers as opposed to what is now described as the radical left.)  I would add to that list these repugnant displays: Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar in the House of Representatives in 2009, Kathy Griffin holding a severed head bearing a likeness to President Trump, and the birther nonsense relentlessly promulgated by Donald Trump during Obama’s presidency.  Trump’s most recent attack upon the London mayor is also very troubling.  Mr. Sieb points out how this denigration of civility has spread beyond politics to professional athletic contests, where athletes take what should be routine plays and raise them to the level of the acts of Greek gods, largely by mocking their opponents.

Terrorism in the middle east knows no limits. The ancient monastery of St. Catherine’s in Egypt’s Sinai desert was attacked with 40 worshippers slaughtered. This is the same religious shrine that has a decree of protection issued by the Prophet Muhammed himself until the end of days.

Two lawsuits have now been filed over Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause.[1]

Fred Kowal: Silence Is Not An Option

Jun 20, 2017

As the nation’s largest union of higher education professionals, United University Professions strongly supports the search for truth based on scientific facts and exploration.

New York State government does all it can to operate in secret: $150 billion budget deals are hammered out behind closed doors, multibillion hikes for electric ratepayers are engineered outside of public view, legislative agreements are finalized often minutes before the vote.

Rob Edelman: Tom Cruise, Mummified

Jun 19, 2017

Once upon a time, Tom Cruise was a mega-movie star. His hit films, including RISKY BUSINESS, TOP GUN, and JERRY MAGUIRE, were high-powered, popular entertainments, and he demonstrated his depth as an actor by embracing roles in serious films, important films. These include THE COLOR OF MONEY, opposite Paul Newman; RAIN MAN, with Dustin Hoffman; EYES WIDE SHUT, the final directorial credit in the estimable career of Stanley Kubrick; and Oliver Stone’s BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. 

Will democracy in America survive?

First remember that democracy matters. No human institutions are perfect but democracy makes it possible to remove officials without going to war. Democracy doesn’t mean anyone alone can make good things happen. Democracy reflects the collective power of people. Collectively, if the rules are followed that protect speakers, publishers, candidates and fair elections, democracy gives us the possibility – though nothing is certain – of throwing the bastards out. That’s important.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Hunting For Hawthorne

Jun 17, 2017
An acquisition at the Kinderhook, NY Memorial Library book sale
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

A local library book sale isn’t the place you’d expect to go to learn you’re a has-been. But that’s what happened to me last weekend at the Kinderhook Memorial Library book sale in Kinderhook, New York.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Remembering The 49

Jun 15, 2017

This past Monday represented the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine people died and 53 were injured in what was the worst mass shooting in modern US history.  The victims’ only crime was that they were members or supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. They were singled out and murdered by a lone gunman motivated by homophobia and hatred.

Herbert London: Trump’s Vision For The Middle East

Jun 14, 2017

President Trump arrived in the Arabian desert hoping to realign the politics of the Middle East in the aftermath of a failed Obama policy. For eight years Obama tilted in the direction of Iran believing that the influence of the Shia could balance Sunni dominance. The so-called nuclear deal with Iran was a geopolitical manifestation of this policy perspective. To put it simply, the policy didn’t work. In fact, it led to the wide spread belief that the U.S. tacitly endorsed the Shia Crescent or the imperial Iranian design.

While the nation was transfixed by former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential election and the possible involvement of the Trump campaign, Albany was moving legislation which could dramatically lower electric utility rates across the state. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Planet Earth To Trump

Jun 10, 2017
Photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17
Public Domain / NASA

Donald Trump has done a lot to amaze and disturb since becoming President of the United States. But abandoning the Paris Climate Accord struck a particularly depressing note.

Judith Enck: The Rose Garden As A Crime Scene

Jun 8, 2017

The White House Rose Garden is typically used for positive Presidential announcements, a place where heads of state are greeted.

Herbert London: “Buy American” May Not Be American

Jun 7, 2017

President Trump asserts with patriotic fervor that his administration stands for America First, a commendable but somewhat ambiguous concept. What gives it meaning is the idea that Americans “buy American.” Presumably when facing consumer choices Americans should look for a label that keeps them at home.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump And The Swamp

Jun 6, 2017

Trump promised to drain the swamp. We can agree that the swamp is the predominance of special interests over Americans of ordinary means. Bernie Sanders won many hearts and minds by refusing to take big money. Trump claimed independence from big money because he had so much. Clinton lost many votes because she accepted large speaking fees and contributions. A large populist wave by financially ordinary Americans swept the country.

This was a truly dark week in American history.  The President of the United States ignored the advice of the world’s scientific experts and decided to pull the nation out of the global climate agreement hammered out in Paris in 2015.  Among the community of nations, only worn-torn Syria and Nicaragua—which believes it does not go far enough to combat climate change—have refused to sign the accord.

David Nightingale: Politics 2017

Jun 4, 2017

As an Independent, I believe that the greater good has to be the fundamental aim of government in a healthy and successful society.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Communing With Camels

Jun 3, 2017

My family has this game we play. It’s not really a game; it’s more of a ritual. We call it “What’s Your Favorite Part of the Weekend?”

Much of the discussion of the Trump Administration’s proposed budget has focused on the extremity of the cuts to the civilian side of the discretionary budget.   By some calculations, if the budget were adopted, the discretionary budget would be cut almost in half, making the Federal Government almost completely unable to function.  


Most New Yorkers just aren’t that familiar with charter schools.

Herbert London: American Revolution II

May 31, 2017

American Revolution I was fought to secure independence from British colonialists. American Revolution II is being fought to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump and return to a corporate structure the Left finds desirable. So profound is the difference between the Left and the rest that there isn’t any issue that bleaches separation.

Our love for our country and recognition that we have many big-hearted citizens sometimes lulls us into assuming that we act appropriately on the world stage. But ignorance too often breaks the connection between good intentions and smart behavior. Iran emerged from World War II with a parliamentary government and a democratically selected Prime Minister. But the British and Americans didn’t like his stand on oil – he wanted a larger share of the profits for his own country. At Britain’s urging, we helped stage a coup that took him down and reinstalled the Shah of Iran. Initially, the Prime Minister got wind of the coup and defeated it. But, in the American Embassy, a second coup was planned and executed. In 1953 the Shah of Iran was reinstalled and this country took credit for it.

The fund drive is where we live. Hey, if everyone puts in just a little money we will have what we need to go forward. Everyday I go out on the streets and so many of you shake my hand and tell me what the station means to them. Maybe because I am getting a little older people thank me for my part in putting WAMC together. As I tell them, I am telling you -- it isn't me. They think I'm being modest but I am not. I assure them that this has happened because people believe in what we are doing and are not afraid to put something in the pot.

It is now clear: The policy of the President and the House leadership is to take away healthcare insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans.  Despite all the hype and tactics of political misdirection, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care plan advanced by the President and the House leadership will result in the loss of insurance coverage for over 20 million Americans.

I filled a rather significant hole in my Hudson Valley education last weekend. I finally spent a couple of nights at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY.

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