Commentary & Opinion

According to the polls, a high percentage of the population has negative views of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  As a result, the Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld are getting a good look from many voters.   Though national polls have them well below the 15% threshold for the Presidential debates, they are polling over 30% among young voters.   (Jill Stein, the candidate from the Green Party is polling in the low single digits and has not generated anywhere near as much support.)   I want to focus this commentary on some of the substance of Libertarian Party proposals.

Ruth Abram: Bud Godfroy

Oct 6, 2016

The establishment of a small business that is passed on through generations of family members is a common fact of rural American life.  Despite the onslaught of technology, and the reported migration back to cities, something special is going on in Columbia County, New York.

Herbert London: Withstanding A Second Muslim Invasion

Oct 5, 2016

After two months of an onslaught by troops of the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy along with the Polish Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire under the command of King John Sobieski rose to defend Christianity at Kahlenberg Mountain near Vienna in September 1683. The battle marked the turning point in the 300 year Ottoman-Hapsburg wars with Christianity on the European continent prevailing.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump’s Tax Returns

Oct 4, 2016

Let’s talk about Trump’s secrets, what he doesn’t want us to know about. Not secrets that may not exist – like his secret plans to deal with ISIS, North Korea or unemployment. Those might be secret as he claims because there’s a problem in revealing them. Or they might be secret because there’s nothing to reveal, they don’t really exist – but calling them secret makes it sound OK. No I mean secrets we can be quite sure really do exist – his tax returns.

Reformers kept up the pressure last week for Governor Cuomo and the state Legislature to overhaul the state’s economic development programs.  In a letter to the state’s political leaders, the groups urged that steps be taken to reduce the risk of corruption in how the state doles out government contracts.

David Nightingale: Leon Theramin (1896-1993)

Oct 2, 2016

That was Leon Sergeyevich Termen (tair-MEN), better known as Lev Theramin, born in 1896 in St Petersburg [ref.1]. By the time he was 30, which would be 1926, he was demonstrating his extraordinary invention which made music simply from hand-waving, and he was being welcomed enthusiastically musicians and scientists in Germany, France, England and the US. His instrument, the theramin, was just a small-ish box of electronics, with a vertical rod looking like an antenna (but actually only a rod that was one side of a capacitor, the other side being his body.)

The fund drive begins on October 17th and it may just be the most momentous of all time. That's because on November 8th, shortly after the fund drive is completed, Americans will be voting for President of the United States and a new Congress. This is arguably the biggest news item of the year and no one has covered this election more assiduously than WAMC. Not only have we interacted with you on Vox Pop every week but our first hour of Roundtable has become our most popular locally produced program. We have spent enormous amounts of time discussing what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said and done. Probably never in American history has there been such a stark choice between the candidates for the presidency.

Karen Magee: America Gets a Raise

Sep 29, 2016

America’s workers finally got a raise.

Herbert London: The Rising Taliban

Sep 28, 2016

On 9/11 Americans recalled the 15th anniversary of the vicious al Qaeda attack on the United States that took 2800 lives. It was yet another day in infamy. Although largely forgotten in the public memory bank, the Taliban of Afghanistan harbored the terrorists and assisted in the planning of the attack. President George W. Bush’s final act of retaliation was to strike back at the Taliban.

Stephen Gottlieb: Hillary

Sep 27, 2016

I’ve been traveling and so I’m playing catch up. But I was shocked at the reactions I heard to Hillary’s illness. I expected people to do what we do when most people get sick – wish her well and hope she can get over it quickly. What I heard was just grousing that she said she was fine.

Bill Owens: A Win For Hillary

Sep 27, 2016

Normally we anticipate a presidential race to turn on the candidates likability and trust worthiness. We know both candidates have high negatives on both counts.

Blair Horner: Another Scandal Rocks The Capitol

Sep 26, 2016

Another week, another scandal.  Once again, it was U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who brought the charges.  What’s different is that the focus of the investigation was the governor’s office, not the legislature. According to the U.S. Attorney, “It turns out the state Legislature does not have any kind of monopoly on crass corruption in New York.”

The presidential candidates have sent a spark into the free-trade wood pile.  Think softwood lumber—as “in the weeds” as it gets.

It's our listeners' turn at the microphone. Here are this week's highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line. 

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Lost With A Friend

Sep 22, 2016

One day, a very close high school friend of mine and I were on a long awaited hike through what was supposed to be a simple trail loop on Bear Mountain, when we came to three diverging roads in the forest. Try as we may, we could not see a single trail marker anywhere. We wound up walking every one of the three possible paths to see which one would bring us to the summit. It overlooked what promised to be a beautiful valley, along with the whizzing cars on the New York State Thruway. Adding a full hour to what was supposed to be our five-mile hike, we chatted away about our lives and sweated away our slowly diminishing water supplies. Each time we would walk for fifteen minutes into dead ends or power grid towers. I would look at my friend for reassurance that we would figure out where to go. Each time, he would smile and say, “You brought a trail map and a compass. I just assumed you knew what you were doing.” We finally returned to that three road junction and decided to head back on the trail we had been able to follow into those woods. Alas, ahead of us on the return trip lay three other paths. Clearly we had come out of one of them to arrive back at this junction, but which path that was, we had forgotten. So, as the day grew hotter, we tried all three. I said to my friend, “Note to self: always leave a marker of some kind when coming off of a trail so you know where you came from, right?” He just smiled, which at that point could have meant anything. All this time, amidst the frustration of getting literally nowhere, we continued to enjoy each other’s company, discussing all kinds of things, personal and political.

Sean Philpott-Jones: The Age Of The Superbug

Sep 22, 2016

With all of the media hullaballoo about Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia, Donald Trump’s physical exam, Brangelina’s impeding divorce, and poisoned Skittles, you may have missed one of the biggest and most important health stories of this year.

Herbert London: At The UN War Is Peace

Sep 21, 2016

As part of United Nations Week in New York there is a much heralded Day of Peace. This day has been announced at the moment weapons are converted into plowshares. The problem, however, is no one mentioned this to militant Palestinians. These people welcomed the week with four terror attacks: two stabbings, one car ramming, and an incident in which rocks and glass bottles were thrown at an Israeli bus.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Bully In The Debate

Sep 20, 2016

People keep saying that Hillary will destroy Donald in debate. But I’m concerned. I’m bothered by the memory of one exchange between Bush and Gore in one of the presidential debates in 2000. When Gore confronted Bush with the math behind Bush’s tax proposals, Bush just responded by calling Gore’s figures “fuzzy math.” In fact, Gore’s numbers weren’t fuzzy – he and he had laid it right out for all to see. I concluded that Bush was trying to bully Gore and the American people by substituting insult for fact. But people reacted that Gore was a nerd and Bush would be nice to have a beer with. I think that was unfortunate largely because, as president, Bush took us into the war in Iraq with what I believe were disastrous results. This isn’t the place to refight the issues of the Bush presidency. The real problem is that Trump has never shown any dedication either to the facts or to policy detail and many Americans have shown an appetite for unsupported slogans and invective. So I’m concerned that he may try to bully Hillary in the debates and how Americans will react. 

Listener Essay: Death With Dignity

Sep 20, 2016

The advocates for Physician  Aid in Dying, while laudatory in their goal, fail to inform the public of the real life application of the law’s so called “safe guards”. Anyone who cannot speak, or cannot write, or who cannot swallow is excluded from the mercy the law intends. Terms that most likely violate the American’s with Disabilities  Act. They simply cannot make the required contemporaneous request for the medicine. In addition, anyone who lacks mental capacity is also excluded and the use of a prior directive, or health care proxy is not permitted. Anyone with late stage ALS, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s or other neurodegenerative disease is excluded. The Alzheimer’s Association has announced that one in six women over the age of 60 will get that disease. The Oregon model is best suited for a person dying of cancer and in fact about 80% of the people in Oregon who make the request for aid in dying have cancer. The people who need it the most, long term suffers of pain and indignity are excluded.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been battling with Texas based oil giant ExxonMobil for nearly a year.  Last year, the Attorney General launched an investigation into whether ExxonMobil had deliberately ignored its own research about the dangers of global warming and instead set about a campaign to mislead the public – and investors – about the dangers caused by burning fossil fuels, one of which is oil.

Herbert London: Living With The Dialectic

Sep 14, 2016

For devotees of Marxist-Leninist dialectical materialism the world is in motion and “progress” occurs through struggles. It follows the Hegelian principle that an evolving thesis morphs into anti-thesis resulting in synthesis. Thus history is not the unfolding of spirit or individual intervention, but of class struggle through violent revolution which is inexorable. Since all things contain within themselves internal contradictions, which are the primary cause of motion, they ipso facto possess the seeds of their own destruction. Hence the strategy for historical evolution is using the existing methods of free will to undermine freedom. For example, applying the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment allows for the expression of a theory on which free speech is not permitted.

Stephen Gottlieb: Democracy And Compromise

Sep 13, 2016

Since Obama’s election, congressional Republicans and their Tea Party challengers made Obama’s defeat their overriding goal, and when they couldn’t do that, they did everything they could to make him seem like a total failure, an example of politics gone completely awry. To accomplish those goals, they refused to give him any victories – not on infrastructure, not on economic stimulus, not on judicial nominations and they tried to retract his success with the Affordable Care Act under a Democratic Congress.

David Nightingale: Hudson River Anchorages

Sep 13, 2016

The Hudson River, all 315 miles of it from the Adirondacks to the Atlantic, has been used by mankind for a long time. Its estuary was explored by Verrazano in 1524, and Henry Hudson sailed his Half Moon up about as far as Albany in 1609. Prior to that, the river was of course home to native American Indians on each of its shores. Some of its viewsheds, particularly from the east looking towards the Catskills prompted the establishment of estates such as Boscobel, Clermont, Vanderbilt, Wilderstein, Olana and so on.

Blair Horner: The Sad State Of Voting In New York

Sep 12, 2016

This week, New Yorkers will vote again – for the third time in six months – in primary elections. Yup, that’s right, New Yorkers vote in, and pay for, two primary elections, and this year a Presidential primary as well.  In June, New Yorkers enrolled in political parties, voted in Congressional primaries and this week they voted for state legislative candidates.

Ruth Abram: Fiona Lally

Sep 8, 2016

There are two kinds of people who live in rural America: those born here, and those who moved here. If you think it odd that people would abandon the attractions of big city living and move to rural America as family farms disappear, consider the case of Fiona Lally.

Keith Sturdler: Organic Sports

Sep 7, 2016

I have grown to believe, perhaps incorrectly, that Gatorade is the most important elixir in the history of the planet. It makes you run faster, jump higher, lift more, and generally perform like an elite athlete. I’ve also grown to believe it can cure most human illnesses, something affirmed both by having two kids of my own and during a short period earlier in my life when I dated a med school pediatric resident, and on pretty much every call she told some parent to just give their kid Gatorade and let ‘em sleep. Which made me believe that being a doctor wasn’t all that hard, at least that part.

Last time I read a portion of a dissent by Justice Sotomayor.[1] The Supreme Court of Utah had held that the Utah police had violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. The United States Supreme Court overruled that decision. In the portion of her opinion I read you last time, Justice Sotomayor explained what happens, not always, but what often happens when police stop people. And she explained what the Supreme Court authorizes police to do. Justice Sotomayor explained the ways that stops of people regardless of innocence of any crime, let alone any crime deserving jail time, can injure decent citizens. I didn’t have time to read you the last part of her opinion, so I will read it now:

Bill Owens: Did We Forget Some Thing(s)?

Sep 6, 2016

The presidential campaign has taken some surprising twists and turns, no doubt, and this may yet turn out to be the most interesting of elections.

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Sep 6, 2016
Newschannel 13 Meteorologist Paul Caiano
WNYT

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

David Nightingale: Late Summer

Sep 4, 2016


Still summer, but I come down this morning and see yellow leaves on the lawn.

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