Commentary & Opinion

Herbert London: Ressentiment

May 18, 2016

In philosophy and psychology “ressentiment” is a form of hostility. It is the French word for resentment and it generally is directed at the cause of frustration, that is an assignment of blame for one’s frustration. A sense of weakness or inferiority and jealously in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting or justifying value system, even a moral paradigm which attacks the perceived source of frustration. This value system can be used as a means of justifying one’s own weakness by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior. In many cases, the ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.

Blair Horner: Another Albany Pol Bites The Dust

May 16, 2016

Some of the big news in state politics last week was the sentencing of former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.  Skelos, like the former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was convicted of corruption.  Skelos was sentenced for five years in prison for his activities in shaking down businesses for often no-show jobs for his son.  A couple of weeks earlier, Silver received 12 years for his corrupt schemes that enriched him by millions of dollars.

David Nightingale: Politics 2016

May 15, 2016
Trump rouses crowd
Pat Bradley/WAMC

I am a registered Independent, and once in a while I cut out a political 'letter to the editor', or a commentary. Right now I have a little pile of such cuttings that I need to get rid of.

Bill Owens: The Trump VP Sweepstakes

May 12, 2016

Audio Pending...

The sweep by Donald Trump of the last six primaries (and Cruz and Kasich's suspensions) portends a Trump nomination in Cleveland. The next big question is what Republican (and that in itself may be an assumption, based upon Ben Carson’s recent comments) will want to put his or her chips on the table to see if Donald picks them up? (A side note: Were the campaign suspensions evidence of lingering hope?)

Herbert London: Trump Foreign Policy

May 11, 2016

Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican candidate for president, a review of his recent foreign policy position seems warranted. Trump played his presidential “part” well, to paraphrase his newly appointed aide, Charlie Manaford in a speech that was a serious attempt to articulate his foreign policy stance.

Stephen Gottlieb: Universalism Vs. The What-About-Mes

May 10, 2016

This primary season has made plain Americans’ dissatisfaction with American politics – dissatisfaction because someone else seems to be getting all the goodies and concern. The right wing thinks the poor are the government’s favorites. The left wing sees its wages and taxes mostly benefitting the super wealthy. Both Sanders and Trump mined the political backlash from special interest politics. Trump’s apparent nomination increases the urgency for both parties to respond to this problem.

Blair Horner: And In Other News

May 9, 2016

As New York’s ethics problems continue to dominate headlines, other important issues are getting short shrift.   Just one such issue is the quality of drinking water supplies – particularly those found in New York’s schools.

Michael Meeropol: Of Trump And The Bernie Vote

May 6, 2016

My wife, Annie, and I just spent a couple of weeks in Europe.  Virtually every European we met asked us incredulously, “are we looking at a President Trump?”This was particularly true in Great Britain which recently debated keeping him out of the country because he is a purveyor of hatred. Returning home we were confronted with headlines that suggested the possibility that Trump could pick up some Bernie Sanders supporters because both men are “anti-establishment” and oppose “bad” trade deals that cost American jobs.

The Treasury Department’s recent announcement to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill drew a quick response from Donald Trump, who called it unbridled “political correctness.”

Sean Philpott-Jones: Half-And-Half Wits

May 5, 2016

I lost a friend last week. I didn’t lose her in the physical sense. She didn’t pass away or move to the other side of the globe. Rather, after a disturbing online exchange, I made the decision to, in the words of Gwyneth Paltrow, ‘consciously uncouple’ myself from her.

Herbert London: Saudi Arabia - U.S. Foe And Friend

May 4, 2016

In the case of China it is not clear if they are foe or friend with an argument to be made on both sides of the issue. In the case of Saudi Arabia there is little doubt it is foe and friend, a matter that has led to extraordinary confusion.

Paul Murray went South as part of the Civil Rights Movement. For many years he has taught a course on the Civil Rights Movement at Sienna College and taken high school and college students on trips to see places made famous by the struggle for freedom and equality.

Another week, another series of ethics controversies in New York.  The week began with the leak of a confidential report by the state’s elections enforcer that alleged that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had engaged in an illegal effort to circumvent campaign contribution limits in his 2014 push to bolster the re-election prospects of some sitting state Senate Democrats, who presumably would be more favorable to the democrat mayor’s city agenda in Albany.

People with good minds can be very passionate. Take the case of the current Presidential election cycle. We hear from people of all political persuasions who are quite sure that we are being blatantly unfair, usually about Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Now don’t get me wrong – when the Massachusetts primary rolled around I voted for Bernie. I had announced that I would because I believe that journalists have a responsibility to let their audiences know where they are coming from. I have interviewed both Bernie and Hillary on the air so I am very surprised at some of the vitriol we have heard about the station’s alleged “position” (we never take sides) in favor of Hillary. I try to be fair on our daily Roundtable panel. I have explained that I think Bernie is right on the major issues. I have also explained that I believed Hillary would capture more of the centrist voters and be more electable.

In this year’s race for the White House, candidates have addressed college affordability and student debt – two issues that are vitally important to New York families.

Herbert London: The Void

Apr 27, 2016

Deployments of U.S. forces continues despite the claims of drawdown and withdrawal. The numbers may be on the decline and the use of Special Forces may be on the rise, but the issue that is emerging is why are our military forces in harms way at all. From Rand Paul to Barack Obama, from Donald Trump to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, many are asking a fundamental question: What is the benefit to the United States of overseas deployments? It was once a question easily addressed within the context of the Cold War. But at a time when there is a quagmire in the Middle East and modest European expenditures for self-defense, the question emerging directly, and often inadvertently, is why the U.S. is burdened with defending the civilization. Why is President Obama now sending an additional 250 troops into Syria?

Some of you may have been following Shankar Vedantam on NPR or the discoveries of Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winning psychologist on the Princeton faculty, and their demonstration of the irrational ways that people very naturally and ordinarily reach decisions. Indeed, for quite a long time it’s been apparent that rational decision making often demands too much of people. As Cornell’s Vicki Bogan said in a talk in Albany, the rational choice model of economics assumes that people:

Last week, the world’s leaders gathered on Earth Day to formally agree to the climate change deal hammered out last December.  While there are still lots of questions about how effective the global agreement will be in limiting the damage from planetary warming, one message is clear; the world has got to move away from relying on fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – to generate energy.


Presidential candidate, Donald Trump visited Plattsburgh, N.Y. on Friday, April 15th.  Fortunately, I was out of town.

David Nightingale: Gerard K. O'Neill (1927 - 1992)

Apr 24, 2016

This essay is about Gerard K. O'Neill.

There are many O'Neills that are better known -- for example Eugene O'Neill, author of "The Iceman Cometh", or the nine-times-married actress and model, Jennifer O'Neill, known especially for her role in the movie "Summer of '42".

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: A Wake Before Passover

Apr 22, 2016

He had worked for our local Jewish day school for decades.  Whenever I went there for a meeting or to teach a class, he, a Catholic, and I, a rabbi, would greet each other comically.

Sean Philpott-Jones: The Weight Of The World

Apr 21, 2016

When I was a young child, I was a very picky eater. I would often refuse to eat the meals my parents put before me, even if it was something that I’d eaten and enjoyed before. Some kids are so-called “selective” eaters because of a medical problem like gastroesophageal reflux disease, gluten intolerance, or some other nutritional or sensory disorder, but my picky eating was a result of sheer stubbornness.

Notwithstanding all of the commentary to the contrary, the Iraqi army assisted by U.S. Special Forces is putting the Islamic State on the defensive in Iraq. In fact, the Iraqi army is poised to retake the northern province of Nineveh and may soon gain control of Mosul, the province’s largest city and a militant stronghold. This is the good news, but it is not the whole story.

Bernie and Hilary argue about trade pacts. We know trade pacts cost some jobs and open up others. That’s not a satisfying trade-off if your skill is suddenly unmarketable and you’ve become unemployed or underemployed. An effective response is crucial.

Fred Kowal: Funding SUNY Hospitals

Apr 19, 2016

The three teaching hospitals operated by the State University of New York provide vital health care to more than a million New Yorkers each year. Our medical schools graduate more doctors than over 40 states. Every year.

For the first time in years, New York State’s Presidential primary is important in determining who will be the nominees from both the Republican and Democratic parties.  No one knew how this primary season would play out.  A year ago, the Democrats looked like they were lining up behind Hillary Clinton – now many voters are “feeling the Bern” as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders makes a spirited run.  On the Republican side, no one predicted the rise of Donald Trump as the leading candidate.

MaryEllen Elia: Pathways To Graduation

Apr 14, 2016

In a few more weeks, another school year will start winding down. And, at the same time, tens of thousands of high school seniors will be gearing up for graduation day.

Herbert London: Civilizational Conflict

Apr 13, 2016

The world is on edge. Tectonic change is occurring before our eyes. While the shifts are profound it will require historical analysis in the future to sort it all out. However, there are things we know, conditions that are transforming global affairs.

Why is blocking the Garland nomination to the Supreme Court so important to them that most Republicans won’t even meet with him let alone agree to holding a vote? Many probably think it is about gay rights and abortion. But there is much more at stake for both parties.

I am a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. Many veterans and I have felt the public has seen us as being at the bottom of the barrel. Soldiers have and are spent by politicians like bit coin. Statesmen use moral rhetoric to convince troops that going to war is their duty. Returning from war our veterans are perceived as broken wounded paid out human beings.  In the eyes of the public the veteran forever remains the victim.

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