Commentary & Opinion

Keith Strudler: The New Stadium Reality

Nov 18, 2015

For anyone working for a sports team or league or college athletic department, last Friday in Paris wasn’t simply horrifying. It was an uncomfortable reality, one that would forever impact your daily work life long after the Parisian chaos subsided. See, if you ask someone in the sports world about their worst fear, it’s not a losing season, or a bad trade, or even a critical injury to a star athlete. These things happen all the time, and while burdensome, are simply the cost of doing business.

The historian Arnold Toynbee once wrote – in what has become a cliché – that “Civilizations die as a result of suicide, rather than murder.” Toynbee was obviously referring to self-inflicted wounds – moral breakdown, loss of confidence. Alas, that can now be observed across the western civilization landscape. The irrational attacks on the First Amendment by students at Yale and University of Missouri and the metastasizing spread of hateful and divisive diatribes in institutions of so-called higher learning point to a desire to destroy western civilization.

Stephen Gottlieb: War In The Middle East

Nov 17, 2015

The terrorists’ explanation for ISIS’ involvement in the Paris attacks, is that it was in revenge for the French participation in the war in Syria. Another explanation is that the attack was a recruiting tool – they’re stalemated in Syria and they use victory and the dream of an Islamic state as a recruiting tool, so they pulled off an attack that would be heard around the world, to say to young Muslims, come help promote the dream. Actually the two explanations are not inconsistent – they can both be true in the minds of different people, and sometimes even in the minds of the same people. But the two theories point in different directions. The revenge theory suggests that it would be better to stay out. The recruitment theory points to the value of simply defeating them. Recruits need something attractive to attach themselves to and losers aren’t very attractive.

Blair Horner: Albany On Trial

Nov 16, 2015

As the former New York State Senate Majority Leader goes to trial and his former counterpart Assembly Speaker is still in court, it has become clear that whatever the outcome, Albany’s ethics is on trial.

Bill Owens: Back To The Commune

Nov 12, 2015

There have been a number of recent articles discussing how the growing senior population will be cared for. Let’s explore the options.

Herbert London: The U.N. At Work

Nov 11, 2015

The General Assembly at the United Nations met today. What emerged from the meeting is thunderous silence, a silence that echoes through the conscience of sensible people.

The Court recently decided that states can restrict campaign solicitation by judges but only judges. It left all the rest of its protections of economic privilege in place.

Blair Horner: Predictable Tuition?

Nov 9, 2015

Higher education policy moved back into the news last week when the State University of New York’s Chancellor announced an effort to keep increasing the cost of public college tuition.

David Nightingale: Richard Dawkins (1941- present)

Nov 8, 2015

My essays have been on poets, writers, engineers, not politicians yet -- and here's one on Richard Dawkins, author of "The Selfish Gene" and other books in ethology. (Ethology is a word coming from the Greek word 'ethos' for 'character'.) So although he's an ethologist, it will be simpler to describe him as a biologist.

Michael Meeropol: GOP Tax Plans

Nov 6, 2015

On November 2, 2015 Josh Barro wrote a column in the New York times presenting details from some Republican candidates’ tax proposals.  (See “Republicans’ Talk of Taxes Leaves Much Unsaid,” New York Times, November 2, 2015, P. A 3)   Instead of being satisfied with sound bites, Barro does readers a service by going into some of the details.  The tax plans I want to highlight are those of Dr. Ben Carson and Senator Ted Cruz.  (He also discusses the plans of Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and Governor John Kasich.)

Sean Philpott-Jones: Let Them Eat Bacon!

Nov 5, 2015

That Earth-shattering noise that you heard last week was the sound of a billion bacon-lovers, myself included, screaming out in agony after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified processed meats as a definite human carcinogen and also classified red meat as a probable human carcinogen. After newspapers proclaimed that eating bacon was as dangerous as smoking cigarettes -- one such headline in the Guardian, a British newspaper, proclaimed that "Processed Meats Rank Alongside Smoking as Cancer Cause" -- carnivores around the world were left wondering if they would need to give up their beloved meaty treats.

Herbert London: The Syrian Negotiations

Nov 4, 2015

The projection of power doesn’t always solve problems. There are times when inaction is desirable. One might even make a case for U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, albeit I do not make it and do not embrace it.

Stephen Gottlieb: An NRA Foreign Policy

Nov 3, 2015

Think about the NRA position that guns don’t kill people, people do, and therefore that we should protect the rights of gun ownership. Just think about the contribution that the NRA could make to the discussion of foreign affairs. The NRA position reveals that it is a big mistake to control arms trafficking. They’re spot on – we should just arm everyone, friend and foe, all the contending parties in Syria and Iraq. Al-Qaeda? Their guns don’t kill, they do. No problem. ISIS? No problem. But we can learn from the NRA that the biggest mistake is the nuclear deal with Iran! After all, if everyone had nukes, no one would use them. Peace on earth. Goodwill toward men and women. Solved that one. Thanks to the NRA.

Bill Owens: Thinking - The Lost Art

Nov 3, 2015

The recent award of the Nobel Prize to Angus Deaton of Princeton caused me to ponder—well actually, think—about his reliance on data and analysis.

Governor Cuomo stirred up a hornet’s nest when he decided to use the World Series as a way to raise and spend his campaign war chest. He chose to use his campaign contributions to pay for his plane ride to Kansas City to watch the first game of the World Series between the Mets and Royals. His transportation was a private jet owned by the Mets’ owners.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Dear Mama Bear

Oct 30, 2015

When the front desk of the hotel told me that you had been spotted near the water fall at the summit of a local mountain hiking trail, I wondered if my couple of days in the Adirondacks wouldn’t be better spent exclusively among humans.  I was enchanted by the thought of wandering, solitary, in the silent woods up to the trail’s summit.  News of your appearance with your cubs in tow sent me in a quiet panic to various websites offering advice on how to survive an encounter with an aggressive bear. In theory, my survival instructions seemed easily attainable, but I knew that if I actually saw you I would abandon them, turn my back on you and dash down the mountain, frenzied.     

Karen Magee: The Politics Of Receivership

Oct 29, 2015

In an impoverished section of Albany, the Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy is an oasis.

There, caring and dedicated Albany teachers provide a safe, nurturing learning environment for 300 or so students — 90 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged.

No Static At All

Oct 29, 2015

There is one sure thing about WAMC and that is that life here is always interesting. Nothing is static. We know, for example, that the first hour of The Roundtable is a tremendous success. Wherever I go, I hear from people who make it a must-do to listen to the panel on The Roundtable. Everyone reacts, some more strongly than others. Each of the participants has developed a following and each of us has some detractors.

Herbert London: Russian Attacks On U.S. Backed Rebels

Oct 28, 2015

For several successive days Russian planes have targeted Syrian rebel troops backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Even the recalcitrant Obama administration had to admit this is an intentional campaign to degrade U.S. efforts at deposing President Assad. According to official reports the Obama administration is “angry.”

Stephen Gottlieb: Brandeis And Zionism

Oct 27, 2015

The struggle between Israel and Palestine and the intransigence of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, leads me to think about a founder of American Zionism. In a book to come out early next year, I wrote:

Bill Owens: Canadian Federal Election

Oct 27, 2015

The Canadian federal election was held Monday Oct 19. For most Americans, the response might be: who knew?

It is a well-established fact that the planet is heating up.  2014 was the hottest year on record and last week, the first prediction of 2015 came out – it wasn’t good news. 

David Nightingale: Serap

Oct 25, 2015

Serap was attractive, about 26, black haired (like most middle easterners) with neither burka nor chador; and she worked in our physics department at the university. I saw her as somewhat reserved, polite to all, and self-contained. In one course I was the instructor and she the assistant. I was a year or two older, and careful to be reserved myself, very careful actually, because -- in the 1960s anyway -- interactions between opposite sex foreigners and Moslems was an extremely sensitive matter. Westerners were unbelievers – there was a specific word for it in the dictionary – gavur (infidel) – and I had no intention of being attacked or receiving a ritual beating.

Greg Haymes
Times Union

Nippertown's Greg Haymes stopped by with something a little different this month: a roundup of some seasonal Halloween songs.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Reconsidering Cancer Screening Programs

Oct 22, 2015

In a public commentary that aired a little over a year ago, I caused quite a stir when I discussed the case of Amy Robach, the then-40-year-old ABC News correspondent who was diagnosed with breast cancer after receiving an on-air mammogram conducted as part of a Good Morning America story about cancer screening programs. Ms. Robach underwent a double mastectomy shortly after her diagnosis and is currently cancer free.

Herbert London: Israel Defending Itself

Oct 21, 2015

Recent reports have indicated that hundreds of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops entered Syria in early September. Moreover, the accord on intelligence among Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria suggests Russian troops will be assisting the Iranians in the war against ISIS. That may not be all.

Stephen Gottlieb: Good soldiers Know How To Play Chess

Oct 20, 2015

I’d like to start by stating my pride in WAMC and admiration of you, the listeners and members, who not only raised funds to keep the station on the air but also raised funds during the pledge break for the food bank, to help refugees and to retire pollution from the environment. That’s a lot to be proud of.

Blair Horner: A Perfect Storm For Ethics Reform?

Oct 19, 2015


Is it possible that there might be a “perfect storm” which will break Albany’s ethics reform logjam?  New Yorkers should hope so.

Rob Edelman: Daring Filmmaking

Oct 19, 2015

On the surface, VICTORIA-- a new film which has been making the rounds of the festival circuit, was screened in Toronto, and has just opened theatrically-- is nothing special. It follows a night in the life of the title character, a twenty-something who is first seen dancing wildly in a club. As the story progresses her personality emerges, and the words which best-describe her are tough and amoral. Before the night is through, Victoria hooks up with a bunch of rowdy guys and is attracted to one in particular. Plus, there is a robbery, among other bits of mayhem.

Herbert London: Who Lost The Middle East?

Oct 14, 2015

Much has already been written about the feckless foreign policy of the Obama administration or, in some instance, the president’s success in master minding a global American retreat from foreign affairs. As events are unfolding, it is clear the U.S. has voluntarily ceded its interest in the Middle East. In fact, I can anticipate the title of a book a decade from now that reads “Who Lost The Middle East?” similar to the host of books in the 1950’s entitled “Who Lost China?”