Commentary & Opinion

It has been quite a week for Boston sports. Technically, they lost twice. First, as pretty much everyone with a pulse has heard, the NFL upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in Deflate-gate. That process will now head to court in a case that will remind us just how screwed up our country is. Second, Boston also lost their bid proposal for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, which was disbanded early this week by the USOC.

Stephen Gottlieb: Environmental Time Wasted

Jul 28, 2015

A news director at this station, about a decade ago, wanted me to engage in what some call pack journalism, to talk about whatever was occupying the press’s attention. I understood his point; people’s interest was already peaked. Plus the more people talk about the same things, the more it tends to sink in. But I’ve never liked piling on. If you heard it elsewhere, I feel no need to restate it. I like to bring up something else, or a different perspective. I feel more useful that way.

Paul Elisha: On Traitors and Treason

Jul 28, 2015

  To update, modernize and paraphrase an ages-old dictum: Those who live by the gun, will surely die by the gun… in a not-too-distant but certain future.  According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, we remain the only developed nation where 89 men, women and children are killed with guns every day.  Brady’s mission, to create a safer America, through a dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries, by keeping guns out of the wrong hands is only made more difficult, when co-conspirators of the so-called “Military-Industrial Complex” that former President and Army General Dwight Eisenhower wisely warned us to shun, lard legislators with dirty money they deliberately mislabel as “vital for defense.”  It’s time to call this what panderers and pols know in their cold-blooded hearts.  It’s treason!

 

Four years ago, state lawmakers approved a plan that changed its relationship with the state’s public colleges and students.  The plan contained two major changes: public college tuition would be raised automatically and the state would commit not to cut state support for those institutions and would not use the increased tuition to close budget holes.

Karen Magee: The Value Of Union Membership

Jul 24, 2015

Driving on the Thruway recently, I saw a bumper sticker that made me smile.

The bumper sticker read:  Labor Unions:  The folks who brought you the weekend, child labor laws, overtime, minimum wage, pension security … and more.

What It's All About

Jul 24, 2015

Wow, there are some days that the first hour of The Roundtable gets almost too hot to handle. As you know, we try to keep things moving, switch out the people on the panel, and read e-mails so that everyone can have a say.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Losing the iPhone, Finding The I

Jul 23, 2015

The Vacation by Wendell Berry

Like any good poem, this one by the poet, Wendell Berry, employs a concrete  metaphor – a man who misses every moment of his vacation because he is too busy recording it – to examine a universal theme: how we absent ourselves from our own lives when we rush through them, disengaged, contracting them out to someone or something else.  Berry uses the word, “move”, with great rhythmic and symbolic effect.  We feel like we are on that speed boat with our vacationer, peering through his video lens at all the beauty which the film captures more accurately than our own minds.  However, for all the movement, there is nothing really moving about the experience:  the man’s camera is a pathetic emotional replacement for the man himself.  Berry also repeats deceptively simple phrases like “have it”, “having it”, “be there”, “would be” and “would not be”.  This turns the poem into a mournful tune about how technological devices are becoming our stand-ins for authentic living.

Herbert London: The U.S. In The U.N.

Jul 22, 2015

In 1922 Antonio Gramsci, one of the founders of the Italian Communist party, argued that the major impediment standing in the way of a Marxist revolution in Italy was nationalism. So he attempted to insert Italy in the firmament of the Communist International. Since that time there have been many activists who have campaigned for a One World government contending that nationalism is the catalyst for war. Foremost among those “strategists” was Saul Alinsky who maintained the belief that a pathway to socialism is only possible through deracinating national fervor.

Stephen Gottlieb: Future Oriented Diplomacy Toward Iran

Jul 22, 2015

We did something that infuriated Iranians in 1953 by organizing a coup removing their democratically selected Prime Minister. They did something that properly infuriated us in 1979 by taking our embassy staff hostage. George Bush announced that Iran was part of the Axis of Evil. So now is the die cast? Are we doomed to permanent enmity? Trapped in stereotypes and hatred, too many see no way to a better future except by deepening the conflict with every kind of force.


Last week, a Siena Research Institute poll reported that 90 percent of New Yorkers thought that government corruption is a serious problem.  When 90 percent of New Yorkers agree on anything, it’s amazing.  So you’d expect that elected officials would get the message and respond.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Giving Drug Users A Shot In The Arm

Jul 16, 2015

Every July I have the good fortune of spending a week at Fordham University in New York City, where I teach ethics and mentor fellows enrolled in a training program supported by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Herbert London: Greece At The Front Of The E.U. Line

Jul 15, 2015

The Greek Population, or more than sixty percent of the population, voted “no” in the recent referendum, a position in opposition to austerity or any concession for the European Central Bank (ECB). Apparently Greeks love things just the way they are. Unfortunately, others in Europe—more specifically Germany—is unwilling to pay the bill for Greeks to retire in their fifties, receive disability payments for phantom ailments and conduct themselves so profligately that the debt has escalated to over 300 billion euros.

Stephen Gottlieb: How America Would Handle Greece

Jul 14, 2015

What are the lessons from the Greek crisis? Their economy had major problems. People with plenty of money weren’t bothering to pay taxes. And the Greek government provided benefits beyond its means and beyond the pace of investment to maintain. So the EU was certainly correct that Greece had problems that Greece has to deal with. But that’s not the whole story. Greece needed multiple remedies, to cure its mistakes but also to stimulate its economy.

Meteorologist Garett Argianas' Evening Forecast

Jul 14, 2015

Meteorologist Garett Argianas delivers the evening weather forecast for Tuesday, July 14, 2015.


The New York Times recently exposed how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the lobbying arm of Big Business in America, was advancing the cause of the tobacco industry around the world.  The U.S. Chamber has been lobbying to block the efforts of nations to enact pro-health measures that seek to reduce the carnage caused by smoking.

David Nightingale: Adirondack Murders, 1973

Jul 12, 2015

He had been born in Dannemora in 1936. The police ultimately shot him to death after he escaped from his final prison, Fishkill, in 1978. His name was Robert Garrow.

In her first season as Artistic Director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Mandy Greenfield has taken bold steps to establish her own imprint within this much respected and awarded summer theater.

SARATOGA SPRINGS:   The production of “Dido and Aeneas,” which is performed outdoors in the courtyard of the Museum of Dance in Saratoga, leaves no doubt that the company’s new Artistic and General Director, Lawrence Edelson, is taking Opera Saratoga in a new direction.  Thankfully, it is a promising direction.

Herbert London: The Latest UN Report

Jul 8, 2015

It is axiomatic to suggest that if the UN issues a report it will be anti-Israel. Last week a report was issued drawing a false moral equivalence between a terror group – Hamas – and a democracy in which Arabs are represented in the Knesset - Israel.

Stephen Gottlieb: Grateful On The Fourth of July

Jul 7, 2015

As we celebrated the Fourth of July I found myself thinking back to a trip my wife and I made to visit friends on Long Island by way of the Ferry. We knew that there was a ceremony taking place at my alma mater, Yale Law School, for the swearing in of Judge Calabresi to take his seat on the federal Court of Appeals. Justice Souter was coming to perform the ceremony. And one of my classmates was already on the Court and would be there. So it would be a great party.


The dust hasn’t completely settled yet, but the 2015 legislative session is in the books and New Yorkers can draw some conclusions about the activity of their representatives. 

Michael Meeropol: Required Reading

Jul 3, 2015

I would like to strongly recommend that everyone listening to this broadcast immediately go out and buy a short book (you can read it in one sitting) called THE COLLAPSE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.  (NY:  Columbia University Press, 2014)  They had previous collaborated on a highly regarded book MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (NY and London:  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011) in which they investigated the ability of large corporations (initially tobacco companies) to sow doubt about strong scientific findings that would, if followed, cut into their bottom lines.  In the case of tobacco, the companies were able to stave off the day of reckoning for decades.  Their success literally killed people. 

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Glossip v Gross Injustice

Jul 2, 2015

After years of disappointment, political progressives like myself had a lot to cheer about this past week. The US Supreme Court, which in recent rulings has struck blows against organized labor and exempted some for-profit businesses from the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act, handed the left wing a number of stunning victories.

Herbert London: What We Will Do For A Deal

Jul 1, 2015

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei publicly rejected a key component of the nuclear deal when he said: “We don’t accept a 10 year restriction” on the development of nuclear weapons. Moreover, he noted, “all economic, financial, and banking sanctions implemented either by the United Nations Security Council, the United States Congress or the administration, must be lifted immediately when the deal is signed.” Both of these unequivocal statements clearly challenge understandings in the framework.

I’ve been celebrating like many of you over the marriage equality and Obamacare decisions last Thursday and Friday. But my own celebrations are tempered by the realization that these two cases don’t symbolize any shift on the Court. Kennedy’s libertarian philosophy has paid dividends in the gay rights controversy for years. But the decision last November to hear the case challenging whether federal health exchanges could provide subsidies to those without the money to buy a health plan unassisted, turned into a trap.[1] The scale of damage that would have been done by blocking the subsidies made it impossible even for opponents of the program to shut it down. Nothing in the decision suggests that Kennedy had a change of heart about having wanted to declare it unconstitutional, and nothing suggests that Roberts had a change of heart about narrowing the commerce power, even though he had approved the individual mandate in the statute as a tax. Twenty years ago, Thomas wrote he would consider going back to the Court’s very restrictive definition of federal powers before 1937 when President Franklin Roosevelt’s appointments changed the Court’s philosophy. Apparently Scalia and Alito are on Board with him.

Bill Owens: An Angel Fund In The North Country?

Jun 30, 2015

In the nearly thirty-five years that I have been involved as an attorney, bank director, member of Congress and volunteer in economic development, one of the most pressing issues by business consistently is the lack of startup capital.


The 2015 legislative session wrapped up last week, one week later than scheduled.  During the last 2 weeks of session, nearly 540 bills passed both houses.  But the big story was the last bill approved – the “Big Ugly.”

David Nightingale: Franklin's Electricity

Jun 28, 2015

At the time of the Declaration of Independence it wasn't known what electricity was. A fluid, perhaps? Or a fire?

Herbert Wolff Reviews "The How and the Why"

Jun 26, 2015

Friction and discomfort are apparent from the moment Rachel tosses her backpack on a chair in the classic Ivy League office of Professor Zelda Kahn.  They are meeting for the first time, on the eve of a major biology conference.  The edginess on the part of both women continues throughout The How and the Why – the play now on stage at Shakespeare & Company.  This tension colors and, indeed, “grows” the play.

You Make It Happen

Jun 26, 2015

As we enter the summer months, our gardens are flourishing, our children and grandchildren are swimming and the programming on WAMC changes ever so subtly. For example, WAMC is proud to play every Boston Symphony Orchestra concert from Tanglewood. What could possible be better than sitting under the stars, listening to the best music ever composed?

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