Commentary & Opinion

Paul Elisha: One long step removed...

Oct 2, 2012

Those Americans who find themselves dismayed at the current lack of ethical and statesmanlike leadership in our country, replaced by the plodding puerile purgatory of partisan political power peddled to the highest bidder, need to be reminded that it was one of New York’s earlier self-styled political heroes, who preempted the Jeffersonian model of : “equal and exact justice to all… of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political;” as he spelled it out in his first inaugural Presidential address.

Rob Edelman: Canada’s Sweetheart

Oct 1, 2012

In the heyday of the silent film, almost a hundred years ago, Toronto-born Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart.” Well, today, the moniker “Canada’s Sweetheart” easily fits Sarah Polley.

   And who was the 25th President of France?

   Well, I guess this is information for TV's “Jeopardy”, but it was the physicist Dominique Francois Jean Arago, born 50 years after the birth of another statesman/scientist – Ben Franklin.[Ref.1].

   Some may remember from high school a demonstration called “Arago's disk”, wherein a copper or aluminum disc is spun underneath an ordinary compass, and the compass needle begins to swing round also. This is just one of the many experiments Arago did.

Herbert London: Coming Apart Over Sequestration

Sep 26, 2012

“Sequestration” is a government word that for those in the military has a synonym: castration. When a bipartisan committee was established by the administration to motivate Democrats and Republicans to compromise on limits for federal spending, it was assumed some understanding could be accomplished. One provision of mutual disagreement and a stalemate is sequestration or automatic budget cuts should stasis be the result of congressional deliberation.

As you think about whom you’ll vote for, let me tell you about two decisions of the Roberts Court where the Court sprang to the defense of prosecutors whose denials of constitutional protections had put innocent men in prison for decades.

In Van de Kamp v. Goldstein,[i] prosecutors complained to the Supreme Court that they were being held liable in damages for denying a man due process and putting him in prison. Here is how counsel for Goldstein described what happened:

Paul Elisha: The Greatness of America

Sep 25, 2012

In 1835, a mere 59 years after the American colonies became the world’s most advanced republic, thereafter known as The United States of America, our most surprising and enabling ally – France – sent its most distinguished political historian, Alexis deTocqueville, to study and report on the status of this monumental experiment in popular self-government, as stipulated: ‘of, for and by its people.’

New York State’s efforts to reduce smoking have had a tremendous impact.  Between 2003 and 2010, the adult smoking rate in New York fell by 28 percent.  During that time, the nation’s smoking rate slipped only 11 percent.  New York high school students’ smoking rate dropped an incredible 38 percent, more than twice the nation’s decline.

Rob Edelman: “Perfect” Politicians

Sep 24, 2012

With the election of a U.S. president much in the news, one soon-to-be-released film takes on extra-special resonance. That film is HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, which was screened at the Toronto Film Festival and is scheduled to open theatrically in December.

You had a lot to say on the WAMC listener comment line this week on everything from Joe Donohue's interview with Jesse Ventura, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's '47 %' remarks, and several of our WAMC commentators. Segments of these comments ran Friday Sept. 21 on Midday Magazine and Northeast Report.

Bob Goepfert - "In the Heights" at Cohoes Music Hall

Sep 20, 2012

Last month C&R Productions declared if they didn’t raise $75,000 immediately they would close and stop producing theater. They raised almost $100,000.  

I like to think of their current production of “In the Heights” at Cohoes Music Hall as a thank you present for those who to help save them. 

Sean Philpott: Opposing the Zadroga Act

Sep 20, 2012

Last week marked the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. That solemn occasion was marked by carefully scripted shows of bipartisan unity, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers honoring those who made great sacrifices on that day and in the years since, including the victims of 9/11, those who responded to the attacks, and soldiers and veterans of the subsequent war on terror.

For those of the Jewish Faith, Rosh Hashannah – the start of a new year – is also a time to clear the air of misunderstandings and settle differences… clear one’s conscience for new and more hopeful achievements.  That said, it is shocking and hurtful, that the present Israeli Prime Minister has contaminated a pure and practically endless stream of friendship and support from the United States, with harsh complaints of dissatisfaction and veiled threats of blackmail, unethically and mischievously inserted for the first time ever, into American Presidential politics, by an ungrateful benefi

Herbert London: The Emerging Islamic Challenge

Sep 19, 2012

As the winds of Islamism blow across North Africa yielding unsettling horror, the American version of Neville Chamberlain sits in the White House, incapable of real action, but immersed in rationalization. Yes, the president did repudiate State Department moral equivalence (i.e. “offensive” film equals justifiable homicide). But he is inert, a model of confusion.

David Nightingale: 2 Hospitals

Sep 18, 2012

 In the 19th century, Joseph Henry, first director of the Smithsonian, refused any salary increases, saying that public servants were there to serve, rather than to enrich themselves.

 Now, there are two hospitals in Kingston NY – the Benedictine Hospital, a Catholic hospital (founded on its present site in 1906), and the non-sectarian Kingston hospital (founded in 1894), institutions in which, over the years, my family and I have had sundry  procedures, such as appendix, hernias, and so on.

The White House today released a report on the impact of mandated budget cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013.  The cuts are mandated under the Budget Control Act of 2011, which arose for the debate over the debt ceiling last year. 

The Budget Control Act required an automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) failed to agree on budget cuts on its own – which it failed to do.

Rob Edelman: Standing Out from the Crowd

Sep 17, 2012

In all the years I’ve been attending the just-concluded Toronto Film Festival, I have never received so many emails from publicists alerting me to screenings or inviting me to attend media events or parties associated with specific films. There is a special sense of urgency to many of these emails, which feature phrases like “Film Alert,” “The Best Suspense Thriller at the Festival,” “Must-See Documentary,” Invite Reminder,” “Rising Norwegian Film Talent,” and “Exclusive Website premiere” in their subject lines.

Liz Benjamin: Cuomo's Endorsements

Sep 17, 2012

When it comes to endorsements in last week's primaries, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is five for five.

All three of the Senate Democrats endorsed by the governor - via press release - in the week before the elections and both Assembly Democrats were successful at weathering challenges from fellow party members.

The three senators, Adriano Espaillat, Toby Ann Stavisky and Neil Breslin, won by wide margins.

Ditto for Assemblymen David Gantt and Sean Ryan.

Arguably, Cuomo didn't really have all that much on the line in these races.

In my last commentary I reviewed the major elements of the Republican education platform. Since then, the Democratic Platform has been passed, a platform which addresses a number of policy areas dealing with both K-12 and higher education, and not surprisingly, reflects a number of programs begun during President Obama’s first term in office.   

Herbert London: Why Obama Loses In November

Sep 12, 2012

The polls don’t indicate it and my colleagues don’t believe it, but I think there are many reasons to assume Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States. For one thing, the Romney candidacy is less significant than what is emerging as a referendum on the Obama presidency. President Obama has gone negative attempting to point out why voters should not support Romney, but he has not provided a narrative for his own support. In fact, with an approval rating of 47 percent he is losing the pro Obama constituents.

In most political campaigns, I don’t know any of the contestants personally. I vote based on what I can glean about them. But I do happen to know some of the candidates this time. So let me comment about a couple of people I know in two races in the area reached by this station.

Paul Elisha: The Tip of My Nose

Sep 11, 2012

Question:  In a nation in which individual freedom is its most telling characteristic, how and why would church organized and ordained control of religious belief and practice become the most actively initiated and consistently sought-after power; second only to influence of the political system itself?

Labor Day, the symbolic end of summer, has come and gone.  Schools have opened and children are off to new classes and teachers.

But this September is an important month for another reason: this is the month when New York, as well as all other states, must choose the “essential health benefits” that will be offered to those who lack health insurance.

Rob Edelman: Manipulation

Sep 10, 2012

As this political season and the race for the U.S. presidency in particular barrel toward Election Day, it seems that the real issues facing average, middle and working-class Americans are being obscured by innuendo and accusation. The goal here apparently is winning at all costs and amassing power, rather than practical problem-solving and serving the U.S. citizenry.

Liz Benjamin: Governing By Threat

Sep 10, 2012

For the second time in two years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has raised the specter of a Moreland Act commission in hopes of scaring people into doing his bidding.

This shouldn't come as any big surprise, if Cuomo has proved anything since he took office in January 2011, it's that he favors a carrot and stick approach to governing - with a heavy emphasis on the stick.

Four years ago at this time, my commentary focused on the bizarre selection by Senator John McCain of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.  I was horrified that McCain would pick such an unbelievably unqualified individual for that position, just to help increase his chances of winning.  Everyone who has either read the book GAME CHANGE or seen the movie of the same name knows what a disaster that was.  (Luckily for us, it was a disaster for the Republicans not the country.) 

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  That’s the case at Lake George Dinner Theatre where a terrific package of entertainment awaits you.

You might attend a better play than “The Love List” which is playing at the Lake George Dinner Theatre through Oct. 20.  You might also go to a fancy expensive restaurant and have a better meal than is served at the Lake George Holiday Inn Resort that hosts LGDT. 

Sean Philpott: The Silent War on Abortion

Sep 6, 2012

Over the past two weeks, the attention of the American public has been held captive by the political circuses known as the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.  They couldn’t have been more different.

The Jewish community of Boynton Beach Florida has sponsored an event on who the Jews might support in the upcoming presidential election. Boynton Beach is not alone. Jewish communities all over Florida are in the process of deciding how to cast their vote. Although I am not a Florida resident, let me explain the conditions an American Jew should consider in entering that November election booth.

Although President Obama has indicated he is a staunch ally of Israel and speaks passionately of the bonds that cannot be severed, his actions reveal a different sentiment.

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.