Commentary & Opinion

I have no illusion that what I say today will register over the important news that will be coming out of the Democratic Convention in North Carolina. But I want to respond to the Republican Convention and the party line the Republicans have been repeating.

They say that wherever you go, you take your problems with you.



That's certainly true for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was unable to escape the clutches of the so-called Gropegate scandal when he arrived here in Charlotte, North Carolina yesterday to assume his role as head of the New York delegation at the Democratic National Convention. 



Within hours of touching down in the Queen City, Silver sat down for several extended interviews to discuss the mess.

Paul Elisha - Can We?

Sep 4, 2012

Democracy is never in greater danger, than when self-appointed spokespersons for a deity decide to re-regulate religious dogma, to suit their own selfish designs and turn religious freedom into religious tyranny.  This is the imminent danger with which deceitful minions of religious despotism now threaten the United States, under the guise of securing religious freedom via an entrenched uniformity.

Neil Novik - Price of Gas

Sep 3, 2012

Recently there was a report on TV about Hurricane Isaac and gas prices. It seemed that because some oil drilling rigs in the Gulf Coast had to be shut down, oil companies were predicting a spike in gas prices. A local woman was interviewed and she said that she had been planning a Labor Day weekend trip to Pennsylvania to visit relatives but if gas prices went up, she might have to cancel her trip. It made me think of John Allen Paulos.

Laura Dudek - Everyday Toxins

Sep 3, 2012

In 2006, thirteen men and women from Maine participated in study titled “Body of Evidence: A study of Pollution in Main People” sponsored by the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Maine, which sought to draw attention to the growing presence of toxic chemicals in everyday consumer products. The study looked for a handful of known toxins and heavy metals, some which have been around forever, such as lead and arsenic and some, which are relatively new, such as phthalates, flame retardants, and perfluorinated chemicals.

Franz Litz - Climate, Weather & the Campaigns

Aug 31, 2012

Seven years after Hurricane Katrina wreaked its havoc on New Orleans and the Gulf coast, Republicans had to delay the start of their national convention because of fears that Tropical Storm Isaac would interrupt the party.  Given that the Republican party chooses to ignore climate change as a problem, it sure is ironic that extreme weather is messing up their plans in Tampa.  How many years packed with extreme weather do we have to have before Republicans and Democrats will make it an issue worth debating?

David Nightingale - Lucretius (~99 - ~55 BCE)

Aug 31, 2012

Lucretius, Roman poet, was born around  99 BCE.

 Sometimes people are remembered for one thing – and with Lucretius it was his  long poem “De Rerum Natura” -- “on natural things”.

Election 2012 is now in full swing.  The rhetoric is escalating across many different policy areas  --  from the economy, to international relations and defense, to healthcare, to immigration, to such social issues as abortion rights and same sex marriage.  In my commentary today, I will focus on the education components of the just – released Republican platform.   Subsequent commentaries will address the Democratic education platform and discuss how the public policy proposals of each party differ and could impact K-12 and higher education.

Bread and butter issues will undoubtedly be emphasized in this presidential campaign season. The unemployment rate, the need for jobs, the rapid growth in dependents, fiscal deficits and the enormous debt overhang will garner headlines in the weeks ahead. But there are other issues the nation must confront. While on some fronts the government cannot do much about them, campaigns are a venue for the airing of ideas, a time to educate and persuade.

Stephen Gottlieb: Regulation and the Slide to Hell

Aug 28, 2012

There’s too much regulation, says Romney. Too much regulation, say some businesses. It’s always categorical, not about which regulation. Just that regulation is bad. Stop it.

The forests are burning. The drought continues. The deserts are growing. The earth is warming. The diseases are spreading. The storms are destroying our towns and farms. The glaciers are melting and the oceans are retaking our shores, submerging islands, making refugees and warriors. But oh block the regulation.

The ancient Greeks had a word for it: “HYBRIS;”  their term for the sin of “excessive pride or arrogance.”  They believed it resulted from too much prosperity without ethical restraint.  This bred “nemesis” or public indignation that demanded punishment.  Today, we call it “hubris” but it still means the same and begets the same response.

A federal appeals court ruled last week that tobacco companies are not required to comply with the implementation of new graphic warning labels on cigarette packs, arguing that the law violated corporate free speech rights.  These warnings are required by the federal government and are supposed to go into effect next month.

The death camps were liberated almost seven decades ago. Auschwitz and Birkenau, Chelmno and Dachau-- the ABCD’s of the Final Solution-- have long been silent memorials to the mass murder of millions. But despite this passage of time, World War II and the Holocaust have remained popular topics for filmmakers.

Mitt Romney just tossed Medicare front and center into the presidential campaign with the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate. It is the most unexpected development yet in this political season.

Rumor has it that, sometime in the next few weeks, the US Preventative Services Task Force is expected to release a report recommending that HIV testing become a routine part of medical care. For a sexually active adult this means that anytime you go for a check up your doctor would be expected to screen you for the virus that causes AIDS.

The president’s words, “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” echo through the corridors of public opinion. It seems that every talking head has commented on this statement. Some assert the president was merely stating the obvious since business needs an infrastructure in order to get off the ground. Others contend the president has a tin ear and doesn’t understand the personal sacrifice that accounts for business success.

Republican efforts to exclude voters from the polls have been in the news lately. A Pennsylvania judge recently decided it was OK to require voters to have photo IDs there. Many states have been doing that.

Indiana anti-voter fraud efforts got the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court under John Roberts in 2008. (i.) Indiana Republicans claimed to be terrified that poor people would show up at the polls fraudulently trying to vote, and worse, they would vote for Democrats. So they required picture IDs. Their claims have been repeated in many states.

In a recent TV interview on a Public Television Educational Update program, New York State’s Education Commissioner stated that one of his major goals was to make “Digital Literacy” a primary factor in the lives of rural, poverty-riddled and largely minority populated areas of the state’s cities.  While this commentator totally understands the importance of bringing these areas to equal status with use and availability of the latest ‘on-line’ computer equipment, the term “Digital Literacy” struck a chilling chord in one’s consciousness.  Especially, given the spate of recent studies which

Last week, New York’s law on indoor tanning went into effect.  The law prohibits all those 16 years old and younger from using indoor tanning beds or booths.  The logic of the ban has become more compelling.

The prestigious British Medical Journal published the latest research on the impact of indoor tanning.  It concluded that indoor tanning is “associated with a significant increase in risk of melanoma. This risk increases with number of sunbed sessions and with initial usage at a young age” (those under the age of 35 years).  The report also found:

This morning [Monday], the nine-member New York Metropolitan Transportation Council called a "special" meeting at its Manhattan headquarters to vote on the Cuomo administration's plan to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge - a necessary step for the project to replace the aging span to move forward.

As this interminably long political season threatens to heat up with the Democratic and Republican Party conventions, and so forth and so on, it is appropriate to cite a new film that lampoons the one-note sniping that has become so much a part of politics, American style. That film, of course, is THE CAMPAIGN, which features Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as candidates who comically butt heads while facing off in a North Carolina congressional race.

David Nightingale - SSTs

Aug 17, 2012

Settling into my seat on an Airbus, I wished that the 8-hour return from Europe could be more like 3 1/2 hours, as I'd heard the SSTs used to take.

 Those SSTs -- Tupolevs and Concordes -- first flew in the late 60's. The Tupolev was first, in 1968, and then the Concordes in 1969. The latter went for 31 years without a crash – with the huge exception of the French Concorde that hit a piece of metal on the runway while taking off from Paris and crashed in flames, killing all on board.

Horrific criminal acts against innocent young boys at Penn State;  the multiple deaths and injuries resulting from the tragic shootings by a student on the campus of Virginia Tech; the murder-suicide of a University of Idaho professor and his graduate student; and now, the incomprehensible acts of violence in Aurora, Colorado by a former student from the Anshutz Medical Campus of The University of Colorado-Denver…all of these tragic events share one thing in common: they involved acts by individuals who were members of a university at the time of the incidents, or immediately prior to them.

In the parlance of Orwellian newspeak words often mean the opposite of their seeming intent. The Internal Revenue Service is anything but a service. Now we have yet another government inspired contradiction. Social Security has been transformed into the “Federal Benefits Payment.” One might well ask how an insurance arrangement in which the recipient makes payments throughout his working existence is regarded as a “benefit.”  Whatever happened to “earned income”?

Now that the mercurial, changeling some-time adherent of Latter Day Saints belief and an unabashed aspirant to the U.S. Presidency, George Mitt Romney, Jr., has finally picked a running mate for his monetarily manipulated campaign, the rest of America: pols, pundits and public can begin the impossible task of trying to make simple sense of the ‘Gordian Knot,’ that couuld well deliver fiscal fascist domination into the tight fisted control of the Romney-Ryan entente.

Mitt Romney ended the suspense with the choice of Paul Ryan for Vice-President. And what did we get? Nothing! The Ryan budget for dealing with our problems is zero – no taxes, no expenses, no government. No regulation, no protection, no help, no investment. We’re in a recession and what do we get to pull out of it – nothing, zero, nada.

If Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo had been conjured up by a Hollywood screenwriter, he would have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime. He would have come to Cooperstown on a bright midsummer day and, perhaps, shed a tear or two during his induction speech.

New York receives a decent, but mixed, review for its legislative work to combat cancer, according to a new report,  How Do You Measure up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality (www.acscan.org) issued by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.

Like most people, these last two weeks I have been captivated by the spectacle that is the Olympic Games. In a summer that has been defined by such tragedies as mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin and an increasingly violent civil war in Syria, watching Olympic athletes vie for medals in largely peaceful competition offers some much-needed respite.

Global warming is the earth’s response to unrestrained capitalism. Everybody gets to make, buy and use whatever they want without regard to how it affects the sustainability of the environment and everyone in it. Drilling in the Gulf, the Arctic or anywhere, hydrofracking in New York, Pennsylvania or anywhere, turning food like corn into oil that can be burned, all make carbon based fuels that contribute to global warming.  

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