Commentary & Opinion

Blair Horner: Shopping Smart For Healthcare

Aug 8, 2016

Choosing a health care provider can be tough.  Most of us look at the physicians and hospitals in our network and just make a choice. Sometimes, we ask our friends for a recommendation.  But usually, it’s a shot in the dark; we assume that since the government has licensed the state’s providers, all meet a minimum basic level of competence.

Bill Owens: From Darkness Into Light

Aug 4, 2016


As I watched the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, it struck me that there was an extraordinary contrast between the speakers, the message, the tone and the atmosphere that emanated from each one. In the course of being interviewed by a local radio reporter I was asked what my reaction was to the two conventions, or how I might describe them, I responded by saying simply “darkness into light”. 

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses Donald Trump's July fundraising, apparent discord between Trump and his running mate Gov. Pence, and his favorite Woody Allen film.

The Dissonance Of Olympic TV

Aug 3, 2016

There’s probably nothing new I can tell you about the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. You likely know that Olympic sailors and open water swimmers will be submerged in water that makes a port-a-potty seem like a day spa. And you may have heard that the country is essentially bankrupt, likely increasingly because of the king’s ransom paid to host these Games, which include expenditures for stadiums that may lay vacant for years to come. You might have heard about the undue security risks, which include a fairly unprecedented message from the local police that they simply cannot guarantee the safety of visitors – or as a sign held by a police official read, “welcome to hell.” You may have seen photos of unfinished or at the least extremely uncomfortable housing at the Athlete’s Village, where supposedly the world’s finest would prepare for record setting performances. There’s the fact that most of the Russians are banned from competing because of rampant drug use, and we’re not sure if those that are there are clean or not – which pretty much goes for lots of countries. And there’s Zika, the mosquito borne virus that somehow is now like the fifth most pressing issue for these Games. I’m leaving a bunch out here, like transportation and the how human body parts recently washed up on the Olympic volleyball beach. So there’s that.

In a commonly told Israeli joke or aphorism, two taxi drivers come to an impasse on a single road. The first driver says move aside so I can pass; the second driver says the same. Emotions explode. After hurling insults, the first driver leaves his cab with fists flailing. He sees a Jew seated in the back of his rival’s taxi and proceeds to beat him up. The second driver upset by what he observed, gets out of his cab and heads for his rival’s taxi. Quite coincidentally, there is also a Jewish passenger in the back seat and he too is beaten up. What is the moral of this story?

GLENS FALLS-   “Home” is a musical about loss.   It’s about the loss of a mother and the loss of a childhood.  The musical, which is being given its world premiere at Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls, is a superb production of very disturbing material.   At its heart it questions if unworthy parents are entitled to love from those whom they unconsciously harmed.  In other worlds, it questions the essence of love.


Americans love prohibitions rather than investments. That’s tragic because prohibitions often work poorly while investments pay off.

Blair Horner: Albany Considers A Pay Raise

Aug 1, 2016

Should New York’s legislators and state government heads get pay raises?  Asking that question usually has people grabbing for their pitchforks and torches.  Pay raises for politicians has as much popular support as the plague – which is why there hasn’t been one in New York in nearly 20 years.

When one thinks of Humphrey Bogart, one thinks of "The Maltese Falcon", "The African Queen", "The Treasure of The Sierra Madre", and, of course, "Casablanca". However, one worthy film starring Bogie has finally become available on home entertainment. It is titled "Deadline - U.S.A" , it dates from 1952 and, while admittedly not of the caliber of a "The Maltese Falcon" or "Casablanca", it is a fine film that for one reason or another is too little-known.

A Very Round Table

Aug 1, 2016

We came up with the concept for the morning Roundtable panel from 9 to 10 AM because we thought a provocative discussion about the day’s events would be a great bridge between Morning Edition and the Roundtable proper. It turns out that the program, with its rotating panel of four people, is now one of the leading shows on WAMC. We look through the headlines and talk about whatever may be going on. Maybe it’s something that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton did the day before. It could be a discussion of race relations in the United States. Sometimes the discussions get, shall we say, heated.

The DNC, gun laws, and radio mores: Here are this week's highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line. The WAMC Listener Comment Line is always open and always a free call. 800-695-9170.

Rogovoy Report For 7/29/16

Jul 29, 2016

The weekend’s cultural highlights in the region include cutting-edge dance; new and old music; a musical revival getting rave reviews; comedy; opera, and a whole lot more.

Listener Essay - Summertime In Spain

Jul 29, 2016

In the elegant beach town of San Sebastian, I found myself with a warm late spring afternoon free to take in the city by foot. It was the last Saturday of May and the whole city was alive. It’s as if all one hundred and eighty thousand residents were in the streets dancing, singing and watching dancers and singers. The beaches were packed, one with fotballers and bathers, the other with surfers and kite boarders, and both had pet dogs running wild with the children on the sand.

Sean Philpott-Jones: The Invisible Woman

Jul 28, 2016

As I watched the opening days of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I was struck by the stark contrast in tone between it and last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Keith Strudler -The NFL’s Problem With Numbers

Jul 27, 2016

As is often said, numbers never lie. People, on the other hand, are quite adept in the art. Particularly when it comes to numbers. It’s like Mark Twain popularized, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Herb London: America Must Watch The Chinese Tiger

Jul 27, 2016

In the wake of a decision by the Permanent Court of International Arbitration that there isn’t any legal basis for China’s claim to territory in the so-called “nine-dash line” (an area which covers most of the South China Sea), the Chinese National Defense Ministry said “China’s armed forces would firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and maritime interests and rights, firmly uphold regional peace and stability, and deal with all kinds of threats and challenges.”

We’ve looked at the way that our present system of campaign finance results in our being fleeced by businesses that use laws and regulations to protect them from competition and from lawsuits. Think about the repeal of legislation that regulated the financial services industry, or the NRA which got legislation to prevent funding for studies of gun violence, the companies that blocked state laws defining duties in their industries, the loosening of federal antitrust law, or a plethora of tax breaks. All of that was facilitated by grateful lawmakers, grateful for campaign help, contributions or expenditures, which made their elections or reelections possible

There has been a lot of hand-wringing lately about New York’s teacher shortage.

Blair Horner: A Closer Look At Nuclear In New York

Jul 25, 2016

When public officials reach for over-the-top metaphors, more often than not it’s an effort to distract the public from the question at hand.  Such was the case when Governor Cuomo argued that the state should spend billions of ratepayer dollars to shore up New York’s aging nuclear power plants.

Herbert London: The Road To War

Jul 20, 2016

The road to the future is filled with potholes. This metaphorical sentence speaks to a world war already in process. Despite denials from the present U.S. administration, the war is organized, promoted and managed by radical Islamists. Driven by an ideology, these religious fanatics want to undermine the West so that a global caliphate can be established. The war is in its twenty-fifth year, but the U.S. and its allies still do not understand the magnitude of the struggle.

Last time we discussed the difficulty of getting the Court to overrule Citizens United. Because of that, several constitutional amendments have been proposed as joint resolutions and introduced in Congress in order to undo Citizens United and overrule the idea that a corporation is a legal person. After studying them, however, it became clear they have been so sloppily drafted that no one could tell you what they would do.

Bill Owens: Brexit: A View From Ireland

Jul 19, 2016

I had the good fortune to be in the Republic of Ireland in the days leading up to the Brexit vote and a few days thereinafter.  European news reports, conversations with people I spoke with while traveling around Ireland gave me a pro-EU perspective on Brexit.

Blair Horner: NY Makes A Big "Green" Move

Jul 18, 2016

Following the hottest year in recorded history, and the warmest winter, New York State is enduring a scorcher of a summer.  In fact, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has declared that all of New York is now on a “drought watch.”  

Listener Essay - Becoming Fatherhood

Jul 17, 2016

How do you prepare for something like this? My wife and I are expecting our first baby this fall. It's a mayhem of tiny socks and booties, bottle warmers and YouTube live births. 

David Nightingale: Goldilocks Zones

Jul 16, 2016

Someone said to me a while ago 'all your essays are about science', and I read between the lines that they were consequently of little interest. But what about Borodin, Queen Zenobia, Dorothy Parker, Pickpockets, Granny D, Robin Williams, Selfridge, Adirondack murders, Robert Frost, Julius Caesar, Emperor Aurelius....? ... and it brings to mind the irate Archbishop who once accused the author of Principia Mathematica of only ever writing about sex.

Jeffrey Reel: Life Imitates Art

Jul 15, 2016

As Americans, we crossed a threshold and entered a very dark place in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting. Twenty innocent children slaughtered, babies really (and not slaughtered by a Muslim). That was our moment to shine, and to institute common sense gun laws.  We paused, and then chose to do nothing. We buried our collective soul along with those children.

As anyone who listens to my commentaries or reads some of my opinion pieces likely suspects, I tend to fall on the liberal side of the political spectrum. That said, next week I will definitely be watching the political three-ring circus that is the Republican National Convention.

Keith Strudler: Summer Basketball

Jul 13, 2016

This week my two boys, age 6 and 8, started summer league outdoor basketball in my town of Beacon. For the uninitiated, summer ball is a particular basketball pleasure, an offseason gathering for those who truly love the sport. Its lacks the structure and perhaps urgency of winter ball, the sport’s natural regular season. It’s outdoors, instructional, and really for people that see basketball as not simply a sport on the rotation, but a year round pursuit.

Herbert London: The New America

Jul 13, 2016

On July 4th I, like millions of Americas, celebrated the 240th year of our national independence. I celebrated, as well, the unique character of a nation based on the rule of law, a state where every person is to be treated equally under the laws of the land.

Last week we discussed the importance of taking political campaigns back from big donors. This week we begin examining the complexity of reinstating limitations without damaging what should be protected speech.