Commentary & Opinion

As many of you have learned over the past couple of months, The College of St. Rose asserts a significant deficit. In response to this revelation (but without ever actually opening the books), the president, cabinet, and board of trustees eliminated some 40 staff positions in the spring and announced a process in September they have termed Strategic Academic Program Prioritization (SAPP) in order to meet the goal of eliminating the deficit by 2019. According to President Stefanco, this process calls for a market-driven approach to divert more resources to programs that are growing in demand and eliminating or shrinking programs in which students indicate little or declining interest. Announced to faculty only in early September, the President set a deadline for final recommendations (to the tune of 3 million dollars from the academic affairs portion of the College, its heart and soul) to be submitted by late October for consideration by the Board in its November meeting. While on its face such a plan might sound reasonable, a great many students, faculty, alumni, and community members have joined together in vocal resistance to this approach, because it violates our system of shared governance, imperils the academic mission and ethical responsibilities of the College, and, if implemented, will short change students. Worst of all, similar processes at other colleges have failed to produce the cost savings predicted.

Microaggression, or a slight intended or unintended, has influenced public discourse from universities to world leaders. Yet it is interesting to note some slights are acceptable and others are not. It is considered inappropriate to use an adjective such as militant or radical to modify the noun Islam. However, it is increasingly appropriate to use the expression Zionist aggression, even when most Israeli military activity is defensive – a retaliation for violence inflicted on the Jewish state.

For some people, the best solution to every problem is to shoot at it, and presidents aren’t leaders unless they’re yelling “charge” into battle. I want to bite off a domestic piece of that nonsense. In the wake of every terrorist tragedy, senators, sheriffs, NRA officers and supporters propose more guns, carry your guns, be ready to defend yourself, ourselves, wherever and whenever occasion arises.[1]

Bill Owens: A Rational Approach To ISIS

Dec 8, 2015

In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, Beirut (receiving virtually no media coverage), and now San Bernardino, California terrorism is in our consciousness. The immediate reaction from almost all of us is one of revulsion and anger.

Blair Horner: The Former Speaker Is Convicted

Dec 7, 2015

When former Assembly Speaker Silver was convicted of corruption on all counts, there was also a second conviction: Albany’s way of conducting the public’s business.  From the court proceedings’ first days, it was clear that Albany’s ethics were also on trial.

Michael Meeropol: Economists And Climate Change

Dec 4, 2015

There is a joke that defines an economist as a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Economist jokes often suggest that they are just ivory tower professors --- not to be taken too seriously. Yet in fact, the opposite is true. Economists are everywhere. (For example, the entire Federal Reserve is run by economists – both as members of the Board of Governors and as staffers.) Economists as intellectual hired guns provide supposedly “scientific” rationalizations for most policies. They are more powerful than we might think.

Bill Owens: The Democratic Business Coalition

Dec 3, 2015

The recent passage of the Export-Import Bank reauthorization, and the budget deal which solved government funding and debt ceiling issues, appear to be movement towards bipartisan action. A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals all of this legislation needed significant Democratic votes—without which, these important legislative actions would have failed. Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House, appeared on the Sunday talk shows on November 1st, stating that there will be no immigration reform under President Obama, and he also vowed to reach consensus with House Republicans on all future legislation, the so-called Hastert rule.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Smack Upside The Head

Dec 3, 2015

Like many Americans, my in-laws have a Thanksgiving Day tradition of watching football and a Black Friday tradition of going shopping. Both of these are full contact sports, but only one of them will prove to be deadly for thousands of Americans.

Herbert London: The Art Of War

Dec 2, 2015

In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War present Chinese military strategy in the South China Sea comes into focus. Tzu argued that the best war is one not waged, one in which the cleverest leader wins without fighting.

Stephen Gottlieb: Refugees And The Impact Of Immigration

Dec 1, 2015

Two things have been capturing our attention, the plight of Syrian refugees, and the environmental summit in Paris. They are in fact closely connected.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were harmed in Friday’s tragic events in Colorado Springs, and we are grateful to law enforcement agencies and Planned Parenthood staff who handled this tragedy with courage and compassion.

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday shopping season.  It is a time when many adults look for gifts for children.  And while the holidays are a time for fun and giving, it is important that it be a safe time as well.

The Washington Post recently published an article that spoke of the “graying” of NPR and its member stations. It was a fascinating look into the ways in which young people get their news -- through podcasts and social media and not by listening to the radio.

David Nightingale: Charles Dodgson (1832-1898)

Nov 29, 2015

Learn well your grammar, / And never stammer,
Write well and neatly, / And sing most sweetly.
.....
Drink tea, not coffee; / Never eat toffy.
Eat bread with butter. / Once more, don't stutter.

The mathematician Charles Dodgson, who indeed suffered from stammering, wrote those lines when he was 13, and they anticipate his later nonsense verse, such as:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Karen Magee: Recognizing The Dignity Of Work

Nov 27, 2015

Three million working New Yorkers struggle to get by on $8.75 an hour – a minimum wage that makes it impossible for families to meet basic needs.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Kristallnakht

Nov 26, 2015

Between November 9 and 10, 1938, Nazi authorities fomented violence against the entire population of German Jews.  Thugs vandalized and looted Jewish owned establishments, homes and synagogues, and dragged their Jewish neighbors into the streets, brutalizing and killing them.  This date in history is generally regarded by historians as the beginning of the Holocaust. Kristallnakht, the Night of Broken Glass, as it was later referred to, is commemorated annually on those days.  To mark Kristallnakht this year, my wife and I attended a viewing of Oren Jacoby’s documentary, My Italian Secret, which chronicles the courageous activities of Italians who hid and saved Jews under Mussolini’s Fascist regime.  The film shows how citizens ranging from Gino Bartali, the celebrity cyclist, to long forgotten priests and nuns living in the countryside risked their lives to hide Jewish refugees simply because it was the right thing to do.  These stories are very personal for Jews, and they are especially personal for my wife’s family.  She recently returned from a heritage trip to Germany, where she retraced her family’s history, including her grandparents’ escape from the Fatherland in the late 1930’s before Hitler could grab them. 

Herbert London: Why The Iran Deal?

Nov 25, 2015

With even Obama supporters now questioning the deal with Iran, with the revelation Iranian leaders made a side deal with the IAEA, with recognition that al Qaeda has a sanctuary in Iran, with the U.S. excluded from the inspection team, with leaders in Iran shouting “death to America” and with the Supreme Leader indicating that Israel must be “annihilated,” why does President Obama insist on this arrangement?

In the wake of murder is it possible to talk about moderation? The impulse to kill is very strong. I know I’d feel it if it came close. And yet we know that many innocent people are put to death. And if an innocent person is executed, the killer, or killers, are still alive. And kangaroo courts or lynch law threaten everyone. The circle of murder can widen, as it did with the infamous Hatfields and McCoys. I’ve taught a descendent of the McCoys, actually a lovely young woman in West Virginia. But a murder turned into a war and decimated the families. Was that worth it – all the innocent lives. We are taught that two wrongs don’t make a right, but in the aftermath, do we have the strength to see that?

Blair Horner: Privatizing America's Legal System

Nov 23, 2015

You see them everywhere – requirements that consumers go to an arbitration system instead of the courts.  If you look in your car’s manual, those arbitrations are mandatory, when you look at the fine print on your smart phones, they are there too.  If you want the car, or the phone, you have to agree to give up your right to go to court and resolve disputes through an arbitration system set up by the companies.

Audrey Kupferberg: Women's Rights On Film

Nov 20, 2015

Some women these days seem lackadaisical about having equal rights with men, except when it comes to their paycheck.  And yet it isn’t even 100 years since women were allowed to vote in our country.  It is well less than a century since women were allowed out into the streets wearing trousers—and NOT wearing uncomfortable and medically harmful corsets.  These days, women are successful doctors and lawyers, scientists and experts in fields of high technology.  We dress as we please.

Rogovoy Report For November 20, 2015

Nov 20, 2015

This weekend our region boasts old and new classical music, art openings, theater, and rootsy blues.

I am disgusted both by the rhetoric against Syrian refugees and the apparent support the rhetoric is garnering in polling data.  Listen to the following statements from some prominent politicians – some of whom want to be the next President of the United States.

Earlier this week, troubled actor Charlie Sheen announced that he is HIV positive. Charlie now joins the 1 million Americans and nearly 40 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS. He also joins a small list of celebrities -- NBA star Earvin "Magic" Johnson, professional tennis player Arthur Ashe, Olympic diver Greg Louganis, fellow actor Danny Pintauro, and a handful of others -- who have gone public with their diagnoses.

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.

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