Commentary & Opinion

David Nightingale: Mussolini & Other Fascisti

Aug 21, 2016

In an election year, it's tempting to look at fascism versus democracy, as we prepare  to vote. Many recent names come to mind: Putin, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and now perhaps Turkey's Erdogan, for example.

Keith Strudler- The Cost Of Disappointment

Aug 17, 2016

By any estimation, this was a disappointing Olympics for American swimmer Missy Franklin. It could have been worse, I suppose. She wasn’t held up at gunpoint, like some of her male teammates. But for someone who four years ago was being called the female Michael Phelps, she’s not likely to confuse London with Rio. In London, Franklin won four golds at age 17, and a bunch more the next year at the World Championships. And, as we all know by now, Franklin passed on the big bucks in endorsement revenue that would have come with that so she could stay amateur and swim for a college team. Which she did – two years for the Cal Bears, where she won three NCAA Division I individual titles in 2015.

Herb London: Obama's No First Use Policy

Aug 17, 2016

When President Obama received his Nobel Prize, he argued that he would regard nuclear proliferation as his primary challenge. This is hardly surprising since even as a Columbia College student he advocated a nuclear free world – a position consistent with the idealism of a student who knew very little about the ambitions of U.S. adversaries. Yet now after eight years in office, the president retains this same arms control illusion.

 

We watched a Black Lives Matter march pass in front of our house recently. It reminded me of something that happened in 1972, when NBC aired a documentary called “Pensions: The Broken Promise.” It described many instances in which loopholes in pension plans left people without the pensions they thought they had. The narrator called the “situation” “deplorable.” The documentary won many awards and played a part in developing public support for pension legislation which now goes under the acronym ERISA.

Ruth Abram: The Fall And Rise Of Rural America

Aug 16, 2016

Alarmed by a study documenting the demise of America’s small rural towns, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack called for “a national commitment to create new opportunities . . . [to] keep folks in our small towns and re-ignite economic growth across the nation.”

In November, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office would investigate ExxonMobil—the world’s biggest oil and gas company—for misleading the public about global warming.  Under New York law, the Attorney General has the power to investigate whether companies issue misleading statements that could amount to financial fraud. 

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Reclaiming Poetry

Aug 11, 2016

I walk into a local library branch to pick up a book I had ordered.  After I tell the young librarian the name of my book that is on hold, she turns away from me, towards the bookshelf.  She pirouettes towards me, my book in her hands, when I suddenly notice the most interesting tattoo on her shoulder, the words, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”  I am not a big tattoo fan, but this one’s poignant irony makes me smile.  “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” is the title and last line of one of my favorite poems by the great American poet, Robert Frost:

Sean Philpott-Jones: Blame It On Russia...And Rio

Aug 11, 2016

Tomorrow marks the mid-point of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Despite my concerns about the threat posed by the Zika virus – shared by a significant majority of scientists, infectious disease physicians and public health experts but largely ignored by the World Health Organization and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – the Games have gone on as scheduled. Whether or not that is a blunder of epidemic proportions remains to be seen, but in the meantime I’ve been enjoying the international spectacle that is the Olympics.

Swimming In The Spotlight

Aug 10, 2016

Outside of the Olympics, very few people in this country care much about competitive swimming. It’s a sport that largely exists in the shadows, musty natatoriums where the vast majority of spectators are related to the athletes. Hardly any Americans could name a swimmer besides Michael Phelps, and it only took him becoming perhaps the most decorated athlete in history to get there.

Herbert London: Obama’s Grand Illusion

Aug 10, 2016

President Obama emerged from his White House Utopia to tell Americans his $400 million cash payment to Iran was not a ransom payment for the return of five Americans held hostage. Even if true – a highly dubious truth – there are questions that emerge from the incident that the president has not and will not address.

Money finds ways to influence the political system despite our efforts to prohibit or replace it. It’s like a balloon that bulges wherever it can, or water that finds any path to cause trouble. Limits on contribution and gifts matter. But prohibitions aren’t enough. They just force politicians to spend more time looking for money and find ways around the limits. Even public funding for election campaigns isn’t a magical solution that will banish every problem in a puff of public green.

Blair Horner: Shopping Smart For Healthcare

Aug 8, 2016

Choosing a health care provider can be tough.  Most of us look at the physicians and hospitals in our network and just make a choice. Sometimes, we ask our friends for a recommendation.  But usually, it’s a shot in the dark; we assume that since the government has licensed the state’s providers, all meet a minimum basic level of competence.

Bill Owens: From Darkness Into Light

Aug 4, 2016

 

As I watched the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, it struck me that there was an extraordinary contrast between the speakers, the message, the tone and the atmosphere that emanated from each one. In the course of being interviewed by a local radio reporter I was asked what my reaction was to the two conventions, or how I might describe them, I responded by saying simply “darkness into light”. 

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses Donald Trump's July fundraising, apparent discord between Trump and his running mate Gov. Pence, and his favorite Woody Allen film.

The Dissonance Of Olympic TV

Aug 3, 2016

There’s probably nothing new I can tell you about the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. You likely know that Olympic sailors and open water swimmers will be submerged in water that makes a port-a-potty seem like a day spa. And you may have heard that the country is essentially bankrupt, likely increasingly because of the king’s ransom paid to host these Games, which include expenditures for stadiums that may lay vacant for years to come. You might have heard about the undue security risks, which include a fairly unprecedented message from the local police that they simply cannot guarantee the safety of visitors – or as a sign held by a police official read, “welcome to hell.” You may have seen photos of unfinished or at the least extremely uncomfortable housing at the Athlete’s Village, where supposedly the world’s finest would prepare for record setting performances. There’s the fact that most of the Russians are banned from competing because of rampant drug use, and we’re not sure if those that are there are clean or not – which pretty much goes for lots of countries. And there’s Zika, the mosquito borne virus that somehow is now like the fifth most pressing issue for these Games. I’m leaving a bunch out here, like transportation and the how human body parts recently washed up on the Olympic volleyball beach. So there’s that.

In a commonly told Israeli joke or aphorism, two taxi drivers come to an impasse on a single road. The first driver says move aside so I can pass; the second driver says the same. Emotions explode. After hurling insults, the first driver leaves his cab with fists flailing. He sees a Jew seated in the back of his rival’s taxi and proceeds to beat him up. The second driver upset by what he observed, gets out of his cab and heads for his rival’s taxi. Quite coincidentally, there is also a Jewish passenger in the back seat and he too is beaten up. What is the moral of this story?

GLENS FALLS-   “Home” is a musical about loss.   It’s about the loss of a mother and the loss of a childhood.  The musical, which is being given its world premiere at Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls, is a superb production of very disturbing material.   At its heart it questions if unworthy parents are entitled to love from those whom they unconsciously harmed.  In other worlds, it questions the essence of love.

 

Americans love prohibitions rather than investments. That’s tragic because prohibitions often work poorly while investments pay off.

Blair Horner: Albany Considers A Pay Raise

Aug 1, 2016

Should New York’s legislators and state government heads get pay raises?  Asking that question usually has people grabbing for their pitchforks and torches.  Pay raises for politicians has as much popular support as the plague – which is why there hasn’t been one in New York in nearly 20 years.

When one thinks of Humphrey Bogart, one thinks of "The Maltese Falcon", "The African Queen", "The Treasure of The Sierra Madre", and, of course, "Casablanca". However, one worthy film starring Bogie has finally become available on home entertainment. It is titled "Deadline - U.S.A" , it dates from 1952 and, while admittedly not of the caliber of a "The Maltese Falcon" or "Casablanca", it is a fine film that for one reason or another is too little-known.

A Very Round Table

Aug 1, 2016

We came up with the concept for the morning Roundtable panel from 9 to 10 AM because we thought a provocative discussion about the day’s events would be a great bridge between Morning Edition and the Roundtable proper. It turns out that the program, with its rotating panel of four people, is now one of the leading shows on WAMC. We look through the headlines and talk about whatever may be going on. Maybe it’s something that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton did the day before. It could be a discussion of race relations in the United States. Sometimes the discussions get, shall we say, heated.

The DNC, gun laws, and radio mores: Here are this week's highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line. The WAMC Listener Comment Line is always open and always a free call. 800-695-9170.

Rogovoy Report For 7/29/16

Jul 29, 2016

The weekend’s cultural highlights in the region include cutting-edge dance; new and old music; a musical revival getting rave reviews; comedy; opera, and a whole lot more.

Listener Essay - Summertime In Spain

Jul 29, 2016

In the elegant beach town of San Sebastian, I found myself with a warm late spring afternoon free to take in the city by foot. It was the last Saturday of May and the whole city was alive. It’s as if all one hundred and eighty thousand residents were in the streets dancing, singing and watching dancers and singers. The beaches were packed, one with fotballers and bathers, the other with surfers and kite boarders, and both had pet dogs running wild with the children on the sand.

Sean Philpott-Jones: The Invisible Woman

Jul 28, 2016

As I watched the opening days of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I was struck by the stark contrast in tone between it and last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Keith Strudler -The NFL’s Problem With Numbers

Jul 27, 2016

As is often said, numbers never lie. People, on the other hand, are quite adept in the art. Particularly when it comes to numbers. It’s like Mark Twain popularized, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Herb London: America Must Watch The Chinese Tiger

Jul 27, 2016

In the wake of a decision by the Permanent Court of International Arbitration that there isn’t any legal basis for China’s claim to territory in the so-called “nine-dash line” (an area which covers most of the South China Sea), the Chinese National Defense Ministry said “China’s armed forces would firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and maritime interests and rights, firmly uphold regional peace and stability, and deal with all kinds of threats and challenges.”

We’ve looked at the way that our present system of campaign finance results in our being fleeced by businesses that use laws and regulations to protect them from competition and from lawsuits. Think about the repeal of legislation that regulated the financial services industry, or the NRA which got legislation to prevent funding for studies of gun violence, the companies that blocked state laws defining duties in their industries, the loosening of federal antitrust law, or a plethora of tax breaks. All of that was facilitated by grateful lawmakers, grateful for campaign help, contributions or expenditures, which made their elections or reelections possible

There has been a lot of hand-wringing lately about New York’s teacher shortage.

Blair Horner: A Closer Look At Nuclear In New York

Jul 25, 2016

When public officials reach for over-the-top metaphors, more often than not it’s an effort to distract the public from the question at hand.  Such was the case when Governor Cuomo argued that the state should spend billions of ratepayer dollars to shore up New York’s aging nuclear power plants.

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