Commentary & Opinion

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.

Stephen Gottlieb: Realism About Middle Eastern Priorities

Sep 8, 2015

Republicans in Congress have been holding up funds for Fulbright scholarships and the Peace Corps, anything that would actually allow Americans to learn about what is going on in the rest of the world. It's no wonder that foreign policy discussions have the smell of fantasy.

Bill Owens: Flat Wages?

Sep 8, 2015

Recent jobs data demonstrates that while employment continues to grow, wages have remained flat. There is speculation about the reasons with many economists offering different, but inconclusive analysis.

After the Labor Day weekend, both the House and Senate will begin debating a resolution of disapproval of the nuclear agreement between Iran and China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States and the European Union.  Later they will vote on the deal.  Millions of dollars are being spent by various lobbying groups to defeat it.  Much less is being spent by supporters.   (It is important to remember that this is not an agreement just between the US and Iran --- the US had many partners in this negotiation.)

Bill Owens: President Donald?

Sep 3, 2015

Donald Trump, after what most commentators and observers concluded was an outrageous debate performance, has gyrated but clearly gained in the polls. The Republican establishment appears astonished, and the other candidates look lost.

Herbert London: It’s Only A Paper Moon

Sep 2, 2015

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan recently reaffirmed Iran’s position that issues involving Iran’s missile program are not matters for discussion. Presumably Iran is determined to keep developing its missile force. As for attempts to clarify Iran’s past activity regarding the “military dimensions” of its nuclear program, Dehghan noted that Iran will definitely not grant anyone access to its security and military “secrets.”

I have been very disappointed with Sen. Schumer and those of his colleagues in both houses of Congress who will not support the agreement with Iran. I’m sure they have convinced themselves that their stand is good for America, good for Israel, and good for their supporters. They should know better.

Bill Owens: The Defense Budget And ISIS

Sep 1, 2015

The House and Senate Appropriations Committee are advancing defense spending bills after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by each House. Neither appropriations nor NDAA legislation is likely to make it to the President’s desk in the form they exist today. In both instances, the legislation will require a Conference and intra caucus negotiations likely being be the most intense.

This week marks the beginning of the semester for most colleges in New York State.  As students begin their next collegiate experience, families tackle how to pay for it.

Karen Magee: Drawing Meaning From The Meaningless

Aug 30, 2015

Earlier this month, the State Education Department released student scores on state standardized tests. Yet, most of the media coverage centered on the 220,000 students who opted out of those tests.

Bill Owens: Chinese Currency Manipulation

Aug 29, 2015

The recent Chinese government devaluation of its currency by approximately 4.4 percent is a cogent reminder of how the Chinese manipulate their economy, and the world economy.  There is no doubt that what the Chinese are doing is an effort to make these exports less expensive, which has been blatantly confirmed by senior leaders.  These actions continue a decades-long attack on US manufacturing with little or no negative consequences.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Apple Trees

Aug 28, 2015

One afternoon, as my wife and I watched a summer lightning storm from our front steps, she noticed some perfectly round green apples hanging from the thin tree branches outside our front window. All summer long, I had been gazing at the beautiful apples hanging from the tree across the street from us, their red skins dazzling like rubies in the sun, set against the deep green of the tree’s thick leaves. Now, I was smitten with child like wonder at the gentle intrusion of these green apples on our property. We had never planted any apple trees in our front yard, and I could not even identify for you any of the flora that guard the front of our house. Where did these fruits come from? How could we not know that an apple tree was alive and well in the tangled growth that we thoughtlessly passed by every day? Though two of our three children actively farm, my wife and I limit our agricultural consciousness to buying the best local produce that the supermarket has to offer. Our serendipitous apples became for me a source of fascination, and they are currently competing for my attention with their juicy red cousins in our neighbor’s front yard.

The New Geography

Aug 28, 2015

Everywhere I go, people stop to tell me how much they love this radio station. I really appreciate those on-air testimonials that people volunteer to record, attesting to their “WAMC-hood.” Now that we are all “apped” up and you can hear the station anywhere in the world (I heard it as clear as a bell in Colombia S.A, and in Italy), people listen all over.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Delicate Balance

Aug 27, 2015

Long the subject of science fiction stories, fertility treatments and sex-selection have been in the headlines lately. Our commentator Dr. Sean Philpott-Jones of Union Graduate College calls it a delicate balance. 

Herbert London: Money & Iran

Aug 26, 2015

Lead performers in “Cabaret” sing “Money makes the world go round.” Little did these performers know about the Middle East where money not only makes the world go round but props up dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Iran is presently spending billions to keep him in power and prosecute a war in which more than 230,000 people have been killed and poison gas has been employed.

Stephen Gottlieb: Amtrak Subsidy

Aug 25, 2015

I’d like to talk about an issue that has been below the surface of the news but reflects a constant disagreement in our politics. Economic conservatives would displace almost everything in favor of the marketplace. But when you decide what to pay for, what are you including or excluding from the transaction?

Blair Horner: Summertime - Beaches, Ocean And Trash

Aug 24, 2015

As the nation begins to cram in its end of summer vacationing, many Americans head to the beach, particularly those on the ocean. Little do they see the increasing reality: the oceans are choking on garbage, particularly plastic waste.

David Nightingale: Bikinis And Bombs

Aug 23, 2015
nuclear test at the Bikini atoll
Wikimedia Commons

 In 1946 a Parisian engineer, whose mother owned a lingerie business, designed a women's swim suit consisting of 3 -- or at most 4 -- tiny triangles. A little earlier in 1946 explosive testing of nuclear bombs had been resumed after the horrific damages in Japan of 1945. These nuclear tests were on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The engineer knew his swimsuit design would also be explosive, and he named it the "bikini".

Herbert London: Appeasement Here And Abroad

Aug 19, 2015

After years of inaction, NATO is now attempting to develop a strategy to cope with Russian aggression. A State Department report indicates that Iran has not reduced its global terrorist activity despite the accommodative stances of the P5 + 1 on Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition. The elimination of “stop and frisk” preventive policing action, has resulted in an increase of gun violence in New York City and in other major cities where lapsed police measures have been imposed.

Stephen Gottlieb: Regression To The Mean

Aug 18, 2015

Social scientists have a phrase, “regression to the mean.” What they mean is that the law of averages eventually fells families, companies or countries that are doing better than average, and eventually lift those doing much worse than the average. Now for all of us who like to say the United States is the best in the world, there is a prospect to consider.

This commentary first aired on November 6, 2012.

Ever since the first American hostages of church-state confederacy resolved to sever themselves from authoritarian domination by coalitions of royalty and its religious authenticators, self-styled advocates have attempted to influence the form of our newly-won freedom.  Prompted by profit oriented off-shoots of the original order, they have invariably prodded their quarry to cede autonomy for the assurance of corporate stability and significance.  Their lucre-amplified logic?  Fiduciary federation provides the most dependable source of freedom.  What they’ve blithely and intentionally overlooked was who controls the combination to the lock on the cash box.

Blair Horner: Some Good News

Aug 17, 2015

The scandals and controversies that have engulfed Albany surely feed public cynicism.  However, the vast majority of the time, government is providing services that help people, and it does so in a reasonably efficient and ethical way.

After a lot of arm twisting, the Gulf Arab states publicly backed the Obama administrations nuclear agreement with Iran. On the surface, this appears as a diplomatic victory for the president as he seeks to build support for his signature foreign policy initiative. But is this true?

Stephen Gottlieb: Government And Our Trip South

Aug 11, 2015

Many people in this country believe that the Founding Fathers established our Constitution to get government off of people’s backs. My wife and I just traveled to North Carolina where that idea is big. They expect people to take care of themselves without the help of the nanny state. We are all expected to earn and pay our own way.

Herbert Wolff Reviews "Macbeth"

Aug 11, 2015

Lovers of Shakespeare attending a performance of Macbeth await the familiar opening curtain and the appearance of three witches dancing around a boiling cauldron and the familiar lines: “Double, double…toil and trouble.”

Blair Horner: Ethics Stays In The News

Aug 10, 2015

When Albany is in the dog days of summer, it is usually quiet at the state Capitol.  Lawmakers are doing whatever they do during the summer and, in recent decades, the governor is usually downstate.

Herbert Wolff Reviews "Frankie and Johnny"

Aug 9, 2015

Here’s a recipe.

Michael Meeropol: Black Lives Matter

Aug 7, 2015

Recently, at the convention of Netroots Nation Presidential candidates Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were confronted by members of the audience demanding that they address the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement.   Both men missed the opportunity to show that they GOT IT.

Rogovoy Report for August 7, 2015

Aug 7, 2015

We are in the home stretch of the summer cultural season in our region but there are still plenty of things to do and see.