Commentary & Opinion

Bill Owens: House GOP In Bad Spot

Oct 12, 2015

The recent resignation of John Boehner as Speaker of the House has, of course, set-off a leadership race that has been and will be most interesting to watch. On Thursday October 8, 2015, the Republican Caucus planned to vote before McCarthy abruptly dropped out. It now appears the vote will be in the House Floor on October 29, 2015 without a Caucus vote. Stay tuned.

Jeffrey Reel: GMO Labeling

Oct 11, 2015

The Genetic Engineering Transparency Food and Seed Labeling Act, H.3242, if passed in Massachusetts, would require the words “Produced with genetic engineering” to be printed clearly and conspicuously on product packages that contain genetically altered ingredients.

Keith Strudler: Is Fantasy Football Gambling?

Oct 7, 2015

Football and gambling are like matches and fireworks. They work well together, but it can get explosive.

Herbert London: Why Government Has Grown

Oct 7, 2015

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tip O’Neill, once said “all politics is local.” It was a sample statement that in time became axiomatic. One politician after another echoed the refrain. In fact, I cannot recall any public refutations.

Stephen Gottlieb: Shootings, Guns And The SAFE Act

Oct 6, 2015

The shooting at a community college in Oregon saddens me and leads me to these observations about guns.

Blair Horner: Government Needs To Help Patients

Oct 5, 2015

Recently, a National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine report identified a huge problem in health care:  the failures of health care providers to quickly and accurately identify a patient’s diagnosis.  The report estimated that most patients will experience at least one wrong or delayed diagnosis over their lifetime.

In many cases that delay can have no serious consequence, in others the consequence can be deadly.  For example, a delay in identifying a cancer can tip the scales from being easily treatable to catastrophic.

David Nightingale: Pickpockets 2015

Oct 4, 2015

In the last few weeks I have been issued a new credit card, because someone else has begun to use the old number -- apparently to order pizzas from Dominos and to buy a $750 item from a company I've never heard of.

Just three months ago, I commended the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si which focused on the need for humanity to unite in an effort to drastically cut back carbon emissions to mitigate climate change.  In this commentary, I want to focus on one of the Pope’s economic arguments.

Herbert London: Blindness In The Rationalist Tradition

Sep 30, 2015

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have conceded that some portion of the money released to Iran through the lifting of sanctions will result in “bad behavior,” a euphemism for terrorism. The supposition of the president’s team is that despite the bad behavior, Iran, unconstrained by sanctions, will in time join the community of responsible nations. In other words our concessions will yield a positive response from the Supreme Leader Khamenei and his acolytes.

Herbert London: Blindness In the Rationalist Tradition

Sep 30, 2015

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have conceded that some portion of the money released to Iran through the lifting of sanctions will result in “bad behavior,” a euphemism for terrorism. The supposition of the president’s team is that despite the bad behavior, Iran, unconstrained by sanctions, will in time join the community of responsible nations. In other words our concessions will yield a positive response from the Supreme Leader Khamenei and his acolytes.

Stephen Gottlieb: Who We Work To Support

Sep 29, 2015

We've all seen bumper stickers that complain, "I work so welfare queens don't have to" and other complaints about taking care of people in need. Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers all tell us the problem is “entitlements.” And people are mad. They do not want to work to pay for other people's entitlements.

The Drive

Sep 29, 2015

The crucial, life-giving fund drive begins Monday October 5th. I don’t have to tell anyone that this is where we live. No fund drive, no station.

Bill Owens: Kim Davis, A Conscientious Objector?

Sep 29, 2015

Kim Davis, County Clerk of Rowan, Kentucky, recently defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to any eligible person(s). She based her position on the concept that she was responding to a “higher power,” and therefore would not issue the licenses.

Last week, advocates across the nation celebrated “National Voter Registration Day.”  In New York, there was little to celebrate.

Rod Edelman: Toronto Overview, Part 2

Sep 28, 2015

Each year, a smorgasbord of films are screened at the Toronto Film Festival. They include Canadian and other foreign-to-the-U.S. titles, low-budget independents, documentaries, and so forth. But these days, the films that garner the most attention are the big-budget, highly anticipated titles that feature top-of-the-line talent. Of course, the producers of these films are praying that their titles will charm the international critics and emerge from the fest with positive buzz and Academy Award hopes.

Jeffrey Reel: Donald Trump And The GOP

Sep 27, 2015

“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear” – Buffalo Springfield.

Donald Trump is a bombastic, narcissistic man-child. And although I would never vote for him, I do want to thank him. He is creating a seismic shift in the Republican Party and its political platform, and, in some respects, it’s for the best.

Karen Magee: Swinging Back Towards Sanity

Sep 25, 2015

I normally don’t put too much stock in opinion polls.

But, let me be honest with you: I smiled broadly when I heard about the recent Quinnipiac poll on education.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Orphan Drug Economics 101

Sep 24, 2015

Last month, the cost of a drug called Daraprim, used to treat a potentially life-threatening infection in cancer and AIDS patients, increased 5500% overnight.

Herbert London: Entropy And Foreign Policy

Sep 23, 2015

The Second Law of Thermodynamics, that relies on energy, states the every natural thermodynamic process proceeds with the sum of entropies of all bodies taking part in the process increasing. Entropy, in other words, is inevitable. In human relations, it is precisely what one wants to avoid. We struggle against entropy through hope, faith, determination and reason.

Stephen Gottlieb: Hillary

Sep 22, 2015

We were delighted when Kermit Hall, a friend since the early 80s, became president of the University at Albany. A week before he died, we had breakfast with Kermit at the President’s house. So I went to the memorial service at the University with a heavy heart. There was a woman standing in the crowd I didn’t recognize. She was just standing around quietly. My ability to recognize faces is poor, good enough for most things but it often fails me. She eventually made her way to the makeshift outdoor stage that had been organized for the memorial. Once the memorial got under way, she was introduced – as Senator Clinton. I don’t remember her reading anything. What I heard was a warm, heartfelt eulogy of my friend, a eulogy that flowed easily from her, filled with memories of their work together to strengthen the University in New York.

After a brief hiatus, Albany’s ethics are once again in the media.  Last week, two Assemblymembers were sentenced to prison for their ethics crimes and Governor Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic development program was reported to be under scrutiny by federal prosecutors.

Jeffrey Reel: Abortion In A Democracy

Sep 20, 2015

 “Pro Life,” “Pro Choice,” “Right to Life,” “Freedom of Choice.”

Herbert London: The Double Standard & Foreign Policy

Sep 16, 2015

In Europe today Christian symbols are often seen to be part of archaeological troves that tourists pay to admire, but they are not seen as true testimony of faith – a condition considered offensive to other religions. Blasphemous expressions against Christianity are tolerated as an invocation of free speech. By contrast, Islam is treated with care since the criminal code is a source of protection and the fear of violent reaction is the unspoken word.

This campaign makes me nostalgic for the draft.

The Republican candidates have been telling us who they want to keep out, and whom they don’t like or wouldn’t lift a finger for – Mexicans, Iran, Muslims, the poor, women, peaceniks. And they make it pretty obvious whom they do like – whites, “real men,” cops, soldiers, guns, the U.S., especially the U.S. before any of us were born, and Christians. It’s all stereotypes, of course. No group of people is all good or all bad – not even conservatives, a big stretch for me. There are always gradations – people need to be judged on their behavior. But that’s too much work. Simplification is so much easier.

Bill Owens: Governor Walker’s Bad Idea

Sep 15, 2015

Governor Scott Walker announced his support for considering building a wall along the Canadian border, which is clearly a really, really bad idea. It appears the governor is now back-tracking through his aides.

Blair Horner: The Debate Over Educating Prisoners

Sep 14, 2015

Recently the Obama Administration took a step to try to deal with one of the nation’s most intractable problems: how to reduce the recidivism rate of those released from prisons.  There are approximately 1.5 million people in state or federal prisons.  Those prisoners are serving time because they have been convicted of a serious crime.  But the question is – what happens when their time is up and they are released back into our communities?

David Nightingale: Zenobia (240 - 275?)

Sep 13, 2015

This essay is about Queen Zenobia of Syria.

The setting is Palmyra, a beautiful city on an oasis at the edge of the Syrian desert. While there is a Palmyra on the Erie Canal in NY State, not far from Rochester NY, the Palmyra that Zenobia grew up in is situated between a mountain and the Orontes river -- with a pleasant climate, palm trees, and fertile land for such crops as barley, olives, figs, pistachios.

Fred Kowal: Skin Deep

Sep 10, 2015

There’s this great song written by blues legend Buddy Guy called “Skin Deep.” He sings how people are much more than what they appear to be and that despite our differences, underneath we’re all the same.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Question Of Conscience

Sep 10, 2015

On Tuesday, in front of a large crowd of supporters that included Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, Kim Davis was released from federal custody.

Herbert London: Balance Of Power

Sep 9, 2015

When Klemens Von Metternich, 19th century Austrian diplomat extraordinaire, thought about European stability, he walked a tightrope between the Tsar’s goals with those of Napoleon. He had Austria serve as an “impartial mediator” in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and at the same time promising to throw Austria’s weight against Napoleon. This pretense of neutrality was maintained until 1813 when Napoleon was increasingly pressed by this adversaries.