Commentary & Opinion

  Last Friday was the deadline for comments to be lodged with the DEC on its most recent set of regulations for the controversial natural gas drilling process known as hydrofracking.

Predictably, the well-organized and vociferous anti-fracking crowd seized on the opportunity to make yet another public plea to Governor Andrew Cuomo that he reject the idea of drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Rob Edelman: The Best and the Worst, Part 3

Jan 14, 2013

Not all of the top films of 2012 are big-budget, and high-profile. Indeed, quite a few are low-budget. They are independently produced American films, or they are foreign language titles. And so here is a sampling of some of the year’s outstanding under-the-radar titles.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein - Lessons at the Clark

Jan 10, 2013

The Clark Art Museum once hosted an exhibition of the works of the great French artist Jacques Louis David, whose magnificent scenes chronicled the French revolution and the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte.  David was a close friend of Napoleon’s as well as his official painter. Napoleon was not at all a modest man.  He once declared, “Power is my mistress,” and looking at his life, we know that he meant it.  A brigadier general at twenty four, Napoleon’s vision of himself was matched fully by his ambitious successes.  Since it’s in the best interests of a court painter to flatter the rulers that he paints, David spared no effort to portray Napoleon, a man of no small ego and accomplishment, as smarter, braver, taller, and stronger than everyone around him.  My favorite example of David’s flattery is his painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps to defeat the Austrians.  Napoleon is dressed regally, exuding confidence, courage and power.  As his troops move forward in the background, he takes a moment from battle to look imperiously at the artist and at us. To lend even greater mightiness and grandeur to Napoleon’s image, David painted him on a sleek, muscular, white battle horse, an awesome example of natural beauty and power.

Sean Philpott: The Importance of Being Fat

Jan 10, 2013

For many Americans, the New Year is often a time to look back on both the successes and failures of the past. More importantly, it is also a time to look forward and to think about the changes we want or need to make in order to live happier and healthier lives.

James Taylor for Senate?

Jan 10, 2013

WAMC's Alan Chartock was quoted in a recent story on Politico regarding the James Taylor possibly wanting to fill Massachusetts Sen. Jon Kerry's Senate seat

Herbert London: Fascism In America

Jan 9, 2013

It is often argued by critics of the Obama administration that it is socialistic,  i.e. expanding governmental authority over the means of producing and distributing goods.  Alas, there is something to be said for this point of view.  As I see it, however, a more accurate way to describe the Obama government is corporatism or a political system in which the principal economic functions are designated and given favorable treatment.  The most appropriate way to assign meaning to this phenomenon is fascism.

Paul Elisha: I, the people

Jan 8, 2013

A strange and disturbing anomaly: How such self-anointed and selfishly directed, sectarian extortionists, like Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed can assert that they are appropriate spokespersons for the aspirations of any legitimate group of American citizens?  Any proud and proven representative of today’s news media, who still retains a shred of professional self-respect, should reject this notion.  The profit-pointed interest of these adventurers’ involvements should serve to stress their up-to-no-good intentions, to the most disinterested observers of Public Interest activity.

Last night at the Egg I heard Bill McKibben talk about climate change. I was very proud of Joe and Alan and WAMC for organizing it and proud of the WAMC audience for coming out in droves to hear him. The message he brings is not a happy one but it is a message we have to hear and understand; more, it’s a message we have to act on.

Blair Horner: From one cliff to the next

Jan 7, 2013
Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

After long and contentious negotiations that extended late into New Year’s Day, Congress passed a measure to at least temporarily avert the most immediate consequences of the so-called “fiscal cliff.”  As you no doubt saw in media coverage over the holidays, on New Year’s Day Democratic and Republican leaders settled on a fared-down package of income tax rate increases for the well-to-do and did little on spending reductions.

Liz Benjamin: Gun control battle is joined

Jan 7, 2013
Liz Benjamin
YNN, Capital Tonight

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will deliver his third annual State of the State address Wednesday in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

A tip for first-time attendees: Don’t check your coat. The governor likes to keep things cold. 

Cuomo has declined to keep up the tradition of official pre-speech leaks. But he has dropped hints about the topics he'll be discussing, including responses to the two highest-profile tragedies of recent months: Superstorm Sandy and the Sandy Hook massacre.

Rob Edelman: The Best and the Worst, Part 2

Jan 7, 2013

Two of the year’s very best films-- and these are must-see items-- are arriving in movie theaters at the tail-end of 2012. They are Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED and Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY, and they are as different as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and a Hope-and-Crosby road picture. But DJANGO UNCHAINED and ZERO DARK THIRTY are not the only must-see films released during the year. Some also are big-budget items that feature A-list directors and major stars. Others are more modest independent titles or foreign films.

Predictions for the New Year

Jan 5, 2013

Alan Chartock is back with his annual predictions for the new year. What does he see happening in 2013?

Keith Strudler - Pennsylvania v. NCAA

Jan 2, 2013

It seems the topic of the hour is government spending.  So I’ll continue that dialogue, at least as it pertains to the state of Pennsylvania.  The current governor of that state Tom Corbett is angry about $60 million of state funds that are scheduled to be spent largely out of state.  It’s a result of the penalty levied by the NCAA on Penn State for its part in the recent child abuse scandal in its athletics department.

Blair Horner: A Look Back on the Fight Against Cancer

Dec 31, 2012
Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

The dawn of a new year is the time to reflect and to plan a new course.  When it comes to fighting cancer, in 2012 New York took one significant step forward by restricting the use of indoor tanning booths.  As 2013 dawns, more steps are needed.

First some background:  In July, Governor Cuomo signed into law a new restriction on the use of tanning beds by children.  The law, which went into effect in August, bans the use of indoor tanning beds for those aged 16 years old and younger. 

Members of Congress are ringing in the New Year down in Washington, D.C. racing against time to get a deal in place that averts sending the country over the so-called fiscal cliff.

After spending Christmas with the possibility of getting called back to Albany by Governor Cuomo for a special session hanging over their heads, it looks like state lawmakers can relax and enjoy themselves tonight.  Meanwhile, Cuomo has spent the past several days on a family ski vacation up in the North Country. It looks like it’ll be an Adirondack New Year’s for him.

Sean Philpott: Annus Horribilis

Dec 27, 2012

In Great Britain, where much of my family is from and still lives, there is an annual tradition known as the Royal Christmas Message. Begun in 1932 by then King George V as a radio broadcast, the tradition has evolved into an annual event in which the sovereign head of the British Empire delivers a speech on that year's events, as well as personal and national triumphs and tragedies.

Keith Strudler - 2012 In Review

Dec 26, 2012

So as years go, 2012 may not have been our finest.  But, alas, and mercifully, it is coming to a close.  Yet generally time is not the best aid to remembrance nor perspective.  And with that we look back on the year that’s nearly past, not with an acute vision on recent events but with a more reflective eye on this year’s whole body of work.  In other words, sometimes it’s hard to remember something that happened even a month ago, much less 10 or 11.

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez - Standing Strong Against the Furies

Dec 21, 2012

Just as people in places like the Maldives, Bangladesh and Japan shook their heads at the cluelessness of Americans who suddenly woke up to climate change when Sandy came to town, people living in hot spots of violence around the world now have every right to be shaking their heads at the collective American refusal to see and understand how, in the wake of the Newtown massacre, we are the cause of our own misery.

Although the truce between Gaza and Israel didn’t lead to an unequivocal result, Israeli officials said they destroyed most rocket launchers and Gazan leaders maintain the settlement means they resisted the Israeli offensive and have been emboldened by their relative success. Is there a victor in this struggle?

Paul Elisha: Socialist!

Dec 18, 2012

The ultra-Right Wing Rat-Pack, who masquerade as role models for an America, they say was founded by an elite corps of individualists, to glorify Christian ideals of morality and promote Capitalist ideas for profitable corporate conquest, has revived an old bugaboo to bamboozle the American electorate into acceptance of their unseemly and unjustified efforts to force it into eternal captivity.  They’ve re-raised the specter of ‘Socialism’!  In the face of truly dire threats like air and water pollution, climate change and global warming, plus mounting numbers of dead and wounded victims of the unchecked and irresponsible sale and use of guns and ammunition, these imperturbable profiteers have resurrected the baseless badge of ‘Socialist’ to pin on any who dare to bare their truly self-serving shenanigans.  From the outset of its pretentious inaugural, as the savior of a special way of life for a special class of societal scions, dedicated to preservation of social separation (the elitist upper-crust – from the ordinary ‘others’) corporate potentates have used every ruse to elaborate the pronounced difference between Capitalists as the creators and dispensers of earnings opportunity and eventual wealth… and those who serve them as the eventual receivers of residual benefits, thus justifying the levying of taxes on their receipt.  In defense of this Capitalist canard, corporate captains have employed legions of legal virtuosi, whose sole goal is to rationalize and define this assertion as fact.  Behind this licit disguise, they have devised and practiced the most flagrant forms of corporate welfare imaginable.  Anything else to the contrary, they have branded as “SOCIALIST!”

Stephen Gottlieb: My wishes for 2013

Dec 18, 2012

Since the next two Tuesdays fall on Christmas and New Year’s Day when this station will be airing special holiday programming, I need to get my New Year’s wishes in now.

Blair Horner: The Fight Over Obamacare Continues

Dec 17, 2012
Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

The clock is ticking for Obamacare.  The federal health care law goes into effect in one year – with uninsured Americans allowed to sign up for coverage in about ten months.  Last Friday, implementation of the new law took a big step forward.

Rob Edelman: The Best and the Worst, Part 1

Dec 17, 2012

Each year, so many downright awful movies make it into theaters. If you set out to compile a list of the ten-best films of a given year, you easily might cite the 25 worst films... or the 35... or the 50. And unfortunately, 2012 was no different.

The jobs report last Friday was confusing, to say the least. Yes, the core unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, but a major reason for that was a drop in the size of the workforce—now a mere 63.6 percent of the population, far below what it has been over the past decade. While 146,000 jobs were created, the employment market remains anemic, demand is still low, and median income is still trending flat to down.

Herbert London: Further Proof the Nobel Peace Prize Is A Perverse Joke

Dec 12, 2012

Just what is the Nobel Peace Prize committee up to?  In giving the prize to the European Union (EU) the Norwegians comprising the decision making committee made themselves a laughing stock… again.  In what sense, is this regional union an avatar for peace? This decision is comparable to giving an award to a committee held together with illusions.

Stephen Gottlieb: Why We Need a Carbon Tax

Dec 11, 2012

I hope you heard Steven Leibo’s commentary last week. If not, you can find it by searching for Leibo's World Watch. He focused on the need for a carbon tax. I’d like to follow up.

Having now selected their national leadership and the representatives of their national legislature, Americans face a more important decision; perhaps the most important in the history of their country.  They must make a choice between politics and preservation.  Not the lower case preservation of personal or political consequence but the towering CAPITALS that spell out the preservation of what may well be humanity’s last-best hope for truly representative government: of, for and by its people.  Of even more enduring consequence, is the physical preservation of a healthy, socially and eco

Tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans every year and costs the country about $100 billion in health care bills.  Despite successes in curbing tobacco use over the past four decades, it still is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.  

There are two primary reasons why I shell out money each month for the privilege of cable television. One is having access to a range of baseball games during the spring and summer months. The other is Turner Classic Movies, otherwise known as TCM. 

Karen Hitchcock: Higher Education at a Crossroads

Dec 6, 2012

Vartan Gregorian, the highly respected head of the Carnegie Corporation, is championing the convening of a national commission, established by the President, which would, in his words, “work on the challenges facing higher education” and which would include all sectors of postsecondary education  -   public and private, two-year and four-year  -   in an inclusive discussion of how our nation’s diverse system of higher education can best serve the needs of a more global and more technology – driven society.   Be it in terms of completion rates, or participation in STEM disciplines, or prepar

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