Commentary & Opinion

Bill Owens: Civil Discourse

Jun 22, 2017

A recent Wall Street Journal article by Gerald F. Sieb spoke to the issue of the loss of civil discourse, and recites as examples the body slamming by the newly elected Republican congressman from Montana, a Democratic state party chair hurling obscenities at the president and party dissidents, a speaker chased off college campuses, and town hall meetings where law makers are shouted down by hecklers. (Let me first note from personal experience that this is not new; this behavior reared its head in 2009 and 2010, executed then by Tea Partiers as opposed to what is now described as the radical left.)  I would add to that list these repugnant displays: Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar in the House of Representatives in 2009, Kathy Griffin holding a severed head bearing a likeness to President Trump, and the birther nonsense relentlessly promulgated by Donald Trump during Obama’s presidency.  Trump’s most recent attack upon the London mayor is also very troubling.  Mr. Sieb points out how this denigration of civility has spread beyond politics to professional athletic contests, where athletes take what should be routine plays and raise them to the level of the acts of Greek gods, largely by mocking their opponents.

Terrorism in the middle east knows no limits. The ancient monastery of St. Catherine’s in Egypt’s Sinai desert was attacked with 40 worshippers slaughtered. This is the same religious shrine that has a decree of protection issued by the Prophet Muhammed himself until the end of days.

Two lawsuits have now been filed over Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause.[1]

Fred Kowal: Silence Is Not An Option

Jun 20, 2017

As the nation’s largest union of higher education professionals, United University Professions strongly supports the search for truth based on scientific facts and exploration.

New York State government does all it can to operate in secret: $150 billion budget deals are hammered out behind closed doors, multibillion hikes for electric ratepayers are engineered outside of public view, legislative agreements are finalized often minutes before the vote.

Rob Edelman: Tom Cruise, Mummified

Jun 19, 2017

Once upon a time, Tom Cruise was a mega-movie star. His hit films, including RISKY BUSINESS, TOP GUN, and JERRY MAGUIRE, were high-powered, popular entertainments, and he demonstrated his depth as an actor by embracing roles in serious films, important films. These include THE COLOR OF MONEY, opposite Paul Newman; RAIN MAN, with Dustin Hoffman; EYES WIDE SHUT, the final directorial credit in the estimable career of Stanley Kubrick; and Oliver Stone’s BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY. 

Will democracy in America survive?

First remember that democracy matters. No human institutions are perfect but democracy makes it possible to remove officials without going to war. Democracy doesn’t mean anyone alone can make good things happen. Democracy reflects the collective power of people. Collectively, if the rules are followed that protect speakers, publishers, candidates and fair elections, democracy gives us the possibility – though nothing is certain – of throwing the bastards out. That’s important.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Hunting For Hawthorne

Jun 17, 2017
An acquisition at the Kinderhook, NY Memorial Library book sale
Ralph Gardner, Jr.

A local library book sale isn’t the place you’d expect to go to learn you’re a has-been. But that’s what happened to me last weekend at the Kinderhook Memorial Library book sale in Kinderhook, New York.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Remembering The 49

Jun 15, 2017

This past Monday represented the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine people died and 53 were injured in what was the worst mass shooting in modern US history.  The victims’ only crime was that they were members or supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. They were singled out and murdered by a lone gunman motivated by homophobia and hatred.

Herbert London: Trump’s Vision For The Middle East

Jun 14, 2017

President Trump arrived in the Arabian desert hoping to realign the politics of the Middle East in the aftermath of a failed Obama policy. For eight years Obama tilted in the direction of Iran believing that the influence of the Shia could balance Sunni dominance. The so-called nuclear deal with Iran was a geopolitical manifestation of this policy perspective. To put it simply, the policy didn’t work. In fact, it led to the wide spread belief that the U.S. tacitly endorsed the Shia Crescent or the imperial Iranian design.

While the nation was transfixed by former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential election and the possible involvement of the Trump campaign, Albany was moving legislation which could dramatically lower electric utility rates across the state. 

Ralph Gardner Jr: Planet Earth To Trump

Jun 10, 2017
Photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17
Public Domain / NASA

Donald Trump has done a lot to amaze and disturb since becoming President of the United States. But abandoning the Paris Climate Accord struck a particularly depressing note.

Judith Enck: The Rose Garden As A Crime Scene

Jun 8, 2017

The White House Rose Garden is typically used for positive Presidential announcements, a place where heads of state are greeted.

Herbert London: “Buy American” May Not Be American

Jun 7, 2017

President Trump asserts with patriotic fervor that his administration stands for America First, a commendable but somewhat ambiguous concept. What gives it meaning is the idea that Americans “buy American.” Presumably when facing consumer choices Americans should look for a label that keeps them at home.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump And The Swamp

Jun 6, 2017

Trump promised to drain the swamp. We can agree that the swamp is the predominance of special interests over Americans of ordinary means. Bernie Sanders won many hearts and minds by refusing to take big money. Trump claimed independence from big money because he had so much. Clinton lost many votes because she accepted large speaking fees and contributions. A large populist wave by financially ordinary Americans swept the country.

This was a truly dark week in American history.  The President of the United States ignored the advice of the world’s scientific experts and decided to pull the nation out of the global climate agreement hammered out in Paris in 2015.  Among the community of nations, only worn-torn Syria and Nicaragua—which believes it does not go far enough to combat climate change—have refused to sign the accord.

David Nightingale: Politics 2017

Jun 4, 2017

As an Independent, I believe that the greater good has to be the fundamental aim of government in a healthy and successful society.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Communing With Camels

Jun 3, 2017

My family has this game we play. It’s not really a game; it’s more of a ritual. We call it “What’s Your Favorite Part of the Weekend?”

Much of the discussion of the Trump Administration’s proposed budget has focused on the extremity of the cuts to the civilian side of the discretionary budget.   By some calculations, if the budget were adopted, the discretionary budget would be cut almost in half, making the Federal Government almost completely unable to function.  


Most New Yorkers just aren’t that familiar with charter schools.

Herbert London: American Revolution II

May 31, 2017

American Revolution I was fought to secure independence from British colonialists. American Revolution II is being fought to undermine the presidency of Donald Trump and return to a corporate structure the Left finds desirable. So profound is the difference between the Left and the rest that there isn’t any issue that bleaches separation.

Our love for our country and recognition that we have many big-hearted citizens sometimes lulls us into assuming that we act appropriately on the world stage. But ignorance too often breaks the connection between good intentions and smart behavior. Iran emerged from World War II with a parliamentary government and a democratically selected Prime Minister. But the British and Americans didn’t like his stand on oil – he wanted a larger share of the profits for his own country. At Britain’s urging, we helped stage a coup that took him down and reinstalled the Shah of Iran. Initially, the Prime Minister got wind of the coup and defeated it. But, in the American Embassy, a second coup was planned and executed. In 1953 the Shah of Iran was reinstalled and this country took credit for it.

The fund drive is where we live. Hey, if everyone puts in just a little money we will have what we need to go forward. Everyday I go out on the streets and so many of you shake my hand and tell me what the station means to them. Maybe because I am getting a little older people thank me for my part in putting WAMC together. As I tell them, I am telling you -- it isn't me. They think I'm being modest but I am not. I assure them that this has happened because people believe in what we are doing and are not afraid to put something in the pot.

It is now clear: The policy of the President and the House leadership is to take away healthcare insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans.  Despite all the hype and tactics of political misdirection, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care plan advanced by the President and the House leadership will result in the loss of insurance coverage for over 20 million Americans.

I filled a rather significant hole in my Hudson Valley education last weekend. I finally spent a couple of nights at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY.

Herbert London: War, Peace And Stability

May 24, 2017

For utopians viewing the world stage there is war or unending conflict and peace. However, the reality of world affairs offers nuanced meaning of each. Every action can be understood horizontally through a sequence of causes and vertically in the structure of things. The precipitating factors for war involve causes such as territorial claims, alliance commitment, ideological fervor and competing national interests. Beyond these material factors are the historic factors and genetic disposition for conflict. The tocsin in the air is often an expression of DNA.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump’s Blue Collar Posturing

May 23, 2017

Alfred Lubrano’s father was a bricklayer in Brooklyn. As an adult, Lubrano became a newsman and author. In his book, Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams,[1] Lubrano comments that in the blue collar world, “… there was no such thing as an unexpressed thought.” In the blue-collar world, it’s common to call each other names, to use strongly disparaging language, to describe ideas one dislikes as stupid or idiotic. There are three acceptable responses – suck it up, throw insults back or a punch in the nose. What is not acceptable is weakness. One acts; one does not complain.

In previous commentaries, I have urged listeners not to be distracted by the “shiny objects” that characterize the Trump Presidency.   Yes, Donald Trump is a lying misogynist, a xenophobe, and a self-aggrandizing crook.

The number one challenge facing all of us is climate change triggered by the warming of the planet.  The rising temperatures have heated the world and have already resulted in significant changes: the melting of the ice caps, famine and drought, as well as rising sea levels, and new and unpredictable weather patterns.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Feed Your Hummingbirds

May 20, 2017
Homemade hummingbird nectar
Ralph Gardner, JR

After you’ve watched hummingbirds feed at your hummingbird feeder for a while – what, you don’t own a hummingbird feeder? – you’ll realize that the box the feeder came in, the one with the picture of a hummingbird placidly sitting at each port sipping nectar; it’s a scam! The picture had been photoshopped.

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