Commentary & Opinion

At the end of the Second World War the United States established a liberal international order that included an institutional commitment to free trade and freedom of the seas. It also included unprecedented assistance to weak nations incapable of fending for themselves, through the Marshall Plan, NATO and other alliances. However one describes the U.S. rule, it did provide a period of equilibrium, notwithstanding challenges from the Soviet Union.

Stephen Gottlieb: The Legacy Of Barack Obama

Jan 3, 2017

Barack Obama has been one of our most decent and intelligent presidents. I’ll miss him. Instead of simplification and slogans, Obama explained the complexities of everything from medical treatment to foreign policy. Instead of shooting from the hip, he studied problems carefully and reached mature, intelligent decisions.

This week, lawmakers return to Albany to kick off the 2017 legislative session.  For the vast majority of state legislators, it is the beginning of a new session, for the newly elected lawmakers, it is the beginning of a new career.

David Nightingale: Christmas Sale

Jan 1, 2017
Christmas at the River Roads Shopping Center - Jennings, Missouri, 1970
Dwaynep2015 / Wikimedia Commons

I got to the front of the line, with many people heaving and pushing behind me. The woman in front of me had a drippy nostril, spreading down over her upper lip, but had finished signing things, and she performed two more sneezes before leaving. Good-day said the cashier.

Ralph Gardner, JR: Robert Morgenthau's Hard Cider

Dec 31, 2016
Robert Morgenthau in June at Fishkill Farms
Robert Gardner, JR.

Among the perks of being an empty nester is that you’re not enslaved by your children’s school calendar. When our daughters were younger we left the city as soon as school was dismissed Friday afternoon and returned Sunday night.

I can’t believe that it’s already 2017! Frankly 2016 could have been a lot better but I suppose it could have been a lot worse. So I am compelled to give my predictions which are given for three reasons. Some I really DON’T want to happen so I put the double whammy on them by predicting something that I fear. Or, sometimes I predict things that I want to see happen so I predict them to make them happen, a little positive energy. Or, and this is a big or, I predict things that I really think will happen. It’s up to you, dear readers to decide which is which.

Fred Kowal: Standing Rock

Dec 29, 2016

One hundred and twenty six years ago, on December 29, 1890, the US 7th cavalry gunned down over three hundred Lakota women, men and children in one of the worst massacres in the long history of violence perpetrated by the United States against Native Americans.  It is vital that we all remember that day and that history. 

Sean Philpott-Jones: A New Hope For Mental Illness

Dec 29, 2016

Every year, my husband and I throw a big New Year’s Eve party. Most of the time, we celebrate the coming of a new year with food, champagne and the company of good friends. This weekend’s party will be particularly poignant for me. I will be toasting not to the coming of 2017 but, rather, to the end of 2016.

It is clear based on this stage of political evolution in the West that democracy – to the extent it has meaning – is a form of inclusiveness, expanding the horizons of political participation. On one level it makes sense, why should anyone be denied participation when interests in the aggregate are why we employ the term representative government?

Stephen Gottlieb: On Egos In Skin, Muscles And Race

Dec 27, 2016

Years ago, when I was working out in a gym, a younger woman was obviously putting more weight on the equipment and doing more and faster reps than I was. I did not know this woman and there was no conversation between us. But as she passed me, she commented that it was OK because I would be stronger on the upper body exercises. When people catch me off guard with a comment like that, I often say nothing, and I don’t think I responded. But I have often wanted to say to her that I don’t keep my ego in my muscles.

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Doing Good, Well

Dec 27, 2016


It’s the end of the calendar year. For some, this means holiday shopping, parties, sending greeting cards...and a mailbox full of year-end appeal letters from non-profit organizations. According to Charity Navigator, from the days leading up to Giving Tuesday in late November, to the last days of 2016, nonprofits will receive 41% of their annual contributions, with 10% coming in the last two days of the year! (Charity Navigator, Nov. 1, 2011) https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1302

After years of railing against the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Congressional opponents and the President-elect are now poised to eliminate it. Since its passage six years ago, opponents have argued to “repeal and replace” the law, but that has turned out to be merely a slogan, devoid of substance.

Ralph Gardner, Jr: The Holidays

Dec 24, 2016
Rob Shepperson

If you attend a party this time of year somebody will probably ask you, “Do you have plans for the holidays? Are you going anywhere?”

In the classic movie Groundhog Day, the main character — played famously by actor and comedian Bill Murray — finds he is trapped in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again. As this year’s legislative session nears, I can’t help but think that students — and public education — are having a Groundhog Day experience of their own.

Rogovoy Report For 12/23/16

Dec 23, 2016

The weekend’s cultural highlights in the region include several chamber music concerts, vintage jazz, roots music, soul music, and a whole lot more.

Keith Strudler: The Downside Of Solidarity

Dec 21, 2016
The logo of the University of Minnesota
wikipedia.org

There is such a thing in sports as team solidarity. In some ways, it is the single adhesive that keeps disparate individuals together. It’s manifest when teams eat together, lock arms on the sidelines, attend family funerals of teammates, and so on. It’s a list of activities that often extend far beyond the sidelines in the widely accepted belief that teams that act as one will be stronger than those that don’t. Which theoretically means more wins and fewer losses, at least relative to your talent. If you’ve ever seen a team where the athletes look like they can’t wait to leave the arena and get away from each other, you’d probably agree. Jets fans know exactly what I’m talking about.

Herbert London: The Indefensible Obama Policies

Dec 21, 2016

On December 6 President Barack Obama defended his strategy for combating terrorism, a strategy – if one can call it that – based on restraint and withdrawal. Without mentioning Donald Trump’s name, the president went on to contrast his ideas with those enunciated by the president elect. He clearly attempted to make the case for why his successor should adhere to his approach.

Stephen Gottlieb: PC

Dec 20, 2016

I first heard the term political correctness when we were looking at colleges with our daughter. It was a term raised by other parents. I didn’t know what it referred to. Now it’s so common it’s just called PC. I just think of much of it as manners, and at the root of manners is kindness.

Bill Owens: Made In India - And Where Else?

Dec 20, 2016

Surprise—India has a “Made in India” program! This program was highlighted during the process of Boeing entering into contracts to build fighter aircraft for India’s military. As you may have surmised, the “Made in India” requirement is very similar to “Made in America” provisions that exist at the federal, state and local levels in the US.

Under the U.S. Constitution this is the election that really matters.  Delegates are chosen by the states and each state gets a total number of delegates that equals of the sum of its members of the House of Representatives plus its two members of the U.S. Senate. 

Ralph Gardner JR: Fruitcake

Dec 17, 2016
A slice of American fruitcake
Stu Spivack / Wikimedia Commons

I’ve got a confession to make. I like fruitcake.

I don’t understand why fruitcake is a punch line. You know, like the joke that there’s only one fruitcake in the world and it’s constantly being regifted.

WAMC's Political Observer Alan Chartock shares his thoughts on President Obama saying the U.S. will retaliate for Russia's alleged hacking into the U.S. Elections, the conviction of Dylan Roof, President-Elect Trump's pick for Ambassador to Israel, and more.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Means To An End

Dec 15, 2016

My mother passed away last Wednesday. She was found unresponsive on the floor of her kitchen early Tuesday, in severe septic shock from untreated peritonitis and a perforated intestine. Although she was admitted to the intensive care unit and given aggressive medical treatment, she never regained consciousness. Because of her age and her poor health – exacerbated by the fact that she had ignored the signs and symptoms of sepsis for nearly a month – her body was simply not strong enough to fight the infection. Less than thirty-six hours after she was admitted to the hospital, we let her peacefully and painlessly slip away.

Herbert London: EDAP And NATO

Dec 14, 2016

While the Euro declines in value reaching parity with the dollar, with debt overwhelming the underbelly of European states and with serious questions arising about the viability of the Union itself, the EU at the Bratislava Summit in September 2016 concluded that the time has come for its own military force.

Stephen Gottlieb: Lessons From A Century Of Voting Reforms

Dec 13, 2016

Let’s discuss voting issues today.  Well more than a century of experience has gone into the way we vote. That century should be a source of confidence and concern because none of us is old enough to remember why all the rules are in the statutes.

Fred Kowal: I Will Not Be Silent

Dec 13, 2016

Stunned? Shocked? Disbelieving?

I’m sure many of us shared that same reaction in the wee hours of November 9 once it became obvious that Donald Trump had won the presidential election. So how did we get there, and what do we do now?

Blair Horner: The Trump Administration Takes Shape

Dec 12, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has been revealing his proposed leadership team for the new Administration set to take office next month.  According to media reports, it appears that his nominee for Secretary of State will be the head of oil-giant ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson.  Of course, we do not know if in fact Mr. Tillerson will be the nominee, but the leaks of his nomination will undoubtedly trigger controversy.

David Nightingale: H.L.Mencken (1880-1956)

Dec 11, 2016
H.L. Mencken
Public Domain

After the 2016 US presidential election London's Observer quoted H.L.Mencken on democracy:

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents more and more closely the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their hearts desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Ralph Gardner Jr.: The Hudson Valley

Dec 10, 2016

My grandparents bought our home in Columbia County in 1948. But I didn’t start visiting regularly until I was a teenager in the late Sixties. I’d walk deep into the woods to write bad poetry. Which I’ve come to understand is age appropriate behavior.

Herbert London: Grand Strategy And Grand Illusion

Dec 7, 2016

Is it possible to detoxify the United States’ relations with Russia, China and the Muslim world? Is there a grand strategy that could maintain the honor of America and at the same time introduce stability in areas of the globe fraught with tension?

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