Commentary & Opinion

Blair Horner: New Year's Resolutions For 2016

Dec 28, 2015

As 2015 recedes into the rear view mirror, it’s time to take stock of the year; its achievements and failures.  And it’s a good time to look to the future.

Jordan Sherman's Midday Forecast

Dec 28, 2015
Meteorologist Jordan Sherman
WNYT / WNYT

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Jordan Sherman delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Monday, December 28, 2015.

David Nightingale: George Westinghouse (1846 - 1914)

Dec 27, 2015
Public Domain

In past essays I've spoken of Morse from Poughkeepsie, Henry from Albany, and now -- George Westinghouse from Schenectady -- although he moved later to Pittsburgh, near where (at Wilmerding, PA) there is today a Westinghouse Museum.

Fred Kowal: 2016 UUP initiatives

Dec 24, 2015

Last December, UUP proposed a series of legislative initiatives that we pursued in 2015. We focused on student debt relief for recent SUNY graduates, and maintenance of effort plan so tuition increases aren’t used to pay basic costs like lights and heat. 

Herbert London: Why Belief And Foreign Policy Matter

Dec 23, 2015

In his magnificent book, The Roots of American Order, Russell Kirk cites five cities which have given us our rich heritage and from which we have created an exceptional civilization: Athens, Jerusalem, Rome, London and Philadelphia. Kirk offers a philosophically panoramic view. From Jerusalem came the order of the soul and leading a purposeful life. From Athens emerged the order of mind and how one ought to live. From Rome came an understanding of personal virtue. From London, our concepts of common law, private property and constitutional order were formulated. And from Philadelphia emerged the protection of individual rights and the understanding of liberty within a framework of law.

At this season in which charity is high on our agenda, I’d like to address some economic issues. I recently spoke with you about what the oligarchs are doing to American democracy. This time I’d like to talk with you about is happening to our jobs and wages. Jobs have recovered slowly from the 2008 crash; wages have flatlined for a decade. Candidates should be talking about jobs and wages.

As we survey the Republican field of presidential candidates, there is an air of disbelief from moderate Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

In a year of much bad news – both in New York and across the world – something positive has happened.  In Paris, France 195 countries met to hammer out an agreement to commit to curbing global warming.

Audio Pending...

To pop the champagne or not pop the champagne, that is the question.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Tempering Sheen’s Shame

Dec 17, 2015

Television actor and Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen revealed that he was HIV positive last month, breaking four years of silence during which he allegedly paid out millions of dollars in extortion in an attempt to keep his diagnosis private.

Herbert London: Iran Cheats Again

Dec 16, 2015

Despite the murder of at least 1200 Americans, including service personnel at Khobar Towers; despite lying about its nuclear weapons program; despite the largest terrorist attack in the western hemisphere before 9/11 that killed 85 Argentinians; despite support for Hamas and Hezbollah attacks against Israel; despite trumped up charges  against Americans who have been imprisoned or murdered; despite being a refuge for al Qaeda leadership; despite the apparent murder of Alberto Nisman who was investigating the terror attack in Buenos Aires; despite the cries of “death to America;” despite repeated cyber attacks against the U.S. ; despite the export of weapons to Syria and Yemen in violation of the arms embargo; despite the egregious violation of the nuclear accord with the UN Security Council with the testing of nuclear capable ICBMs; despite all of this and so much more that hasn’t been mentioned, the United States continues to assert that with the nuclear deal now completed – albeit still not signed by Iranian leaders – Iran will enter the ranks of a responsible nation.

Stephen Gottlieb: Political Correctness

Dec 15, 2015

I want to address one of the issues coming out of recent events on college campuses, not to mention the rhetoric of Mr. Trump.

Blair Horner: Can Albany Fix Itself?

Dec 14, 2015

Another week, another conviction of a high-ranking elected official. It’s hard to know if this is the tipping point for change. New Yorkers can only hope so.

David Nightingale: JJ & GP Thomson

Dec 13, 2015
J.J. Thomson
Wikipedia Commons

This essay is about Nobel prize winning fathers and sons in physics, of which there are quite a few, focussing here on JJ Thomson and his son GP Thomson.  JJ is famous for having discovered the electron, and 30 years later his son discovered that it was a wave. Today we can correctly describe all particles, be they electrons or Volkswagens, either way.

With the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, one question that remains is what state lawmakers will actually do to prevent corruption.

WAMC's political observer Dr. Alan Chartock offered his thoughts to Lucas Willard on Midday Magazine.


As many of you have learned over the past couple of months, The College of St. Rose asserts a significant deficit. In response to this revelation (but without ever actually opening the books), the president, cabinet, and board of trustees eliminated some 40 staff positions in the spring and announced a process in September they have termed Strategic Academic Program Prioritization (SAPP) in order to meet the goal of eliminating the deficit by 2019. According to President Stefanco, this process calls for a market-driven approach to divert more resources to programs that are growing in demand and eliminating or shrinking programs in which students indicate little or declining interest. Announced to faculty only in early September, the President set a deadline for final recommendations (to the tune of 3 million dollars from the academic affairs portion of the College, its heart and soul) to be submitted by late October for consideration by the Board in its November meeting. While on its face such a plan might sound reasonable, a great many students, faculty, alumni, and community members have joined together in vocal resistance to this approach, because it violates our system of shared governance, imperils the academic mission and ethical responsibilities of the College, and, if implemented, will short change students. Worst of all, similar processes at other colleges have failed to produce the cost savings predicted.

Microaggression, or a slight intended or unintended, has influenced public discourse from universities to world leaders. Yet it is interesting to note some slights are acceptable and others are not. It is considered inappropriate to use an adjective such as militant or radical to modify the noun Islam. However, it is increasingly appropriate to use the expression Zionist aggression, even when most Israeli military activity is defensive – a retaliation for violence inflicted on the Jewish state.

For some people, the best solution to every problem is to shoot at it, and presidents aren’t leaders unless they’re yelling “charge” into battle. I want to bite off a domestic piece of that nonsense. In the wake of every terrorist tragedy, senators, sheriffs, NRA officers and supporters propose more guns, carry your guns, be ready to defend yourself, ourselves, wherever and whenever occasion arises.[1]

Bill Owens: A Rational Approach To ISIS

Dec 8, 2015

In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, Beirut (receiving virtually no media coverage), and now San Bernardino, California terrorism is in our consciousness. The immediate reaction from almost all of us is one of revulsion and anger.

Blair Horner: The Former Speaker Is Convicted

Dec 7, 2015

When former Assembly Speaker Silver was convicted of corruption on all counts, there was also a second conviction: Albany’s way of conducting the public’s business.  From the court proceedings’ first days, it was clear that Albany’s ethics were also on trial.

Michael Meeropol: Economists And Climate Change

Dec 4, 2015

There is a joke that defines an economist as a person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Economist jokes often suggest that they are just ivory tower professors --- not to be taken too seriously. Yet in fact, the opposite is true. Economists are everywhere. (For example, the entire Federal Reserve is run by economists – both as members of the Board of Governors and as staffers.) Economists as intellectual hired guns provide supposedly “scientific” rationalizations for most policies. They are more powerful than we might think.

Bill Owens: The Democratic Business Coalition

Dec 3, 2015

The recent passage of the Export-Import Bank reauthorization, and the budget deal which solved government funding and debt ceiling issues, appear to be movement towards bipartisan action. A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals all of this legislation needed significant Democratic votes—without which, these important legislative actions would have failed. Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House, appeared on the Sunday talk shows on November 1st, stating that there will be no immigration reform under President Obama, and he also vowed to reach consensus with House Republicans on all future legislation, the so-called Hastert rule.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Smack Upside The Head

Dec 3, 2015

Like many Americans, my in-laws have a Thanksgiving Day tradition of watching football and a Black Friday tradition of going shopping. Both of these are full contact sports, but only one of them will prove to be deadly for thousands of Americans.

Herbert London: The Art Of War

Dec 2, 2015

In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War present Chinese military strategy in the South China Sea comes into focus. Tzu argued that the best war is one not waged, one in which the cleverest leader wins without fighting.

Stephen Gottlieb: Refugees And The Impact Of Immigration

Dec 1, 2015

Two things have been capturing our attention, the plight of Syrian refugees, and the environmental summit in Paris. They are in fact closely connected.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were harmed in Friday’s tragic events in Colorado Springs, and we are grateful to law enforcement agencies and Planned Parenthood staff who handled this tragedy with courage and compassion.

Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday shopping season.  It is a time when many adults look for gifts for children.  And while the holidays are a time for fun and giving, it is important that it be a safe time as well.

The Washington Post recently published an article that spoke of the “graying” of NPR and its member stations. It was a fascinating look into the ways in which young people get their news -- through podcasts and social media and not by listening to the radio.

David Nightingale: Charles Dodgson (1832-1898)

Nov 29, 2015

Learn well your grammar, / And never stammer,
Write well and neatly, / And sing most sweetly.
.....
Drink tea, not coffee; / Never eat toffy.
Eat bread with butter. / Once more, don't stutter.

The mathematician Charles Dodgson, who indeed suffered from stammering, wrote those lines when he was 13, and they anticipate his later nonsense verse, such as:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Karen Magee: Recognizing The Dignity Of Work

Nov 27, 2015

Three million working New Yorkers struggle to get by on $8.75 an hour – a minimum wage that makes it impossible for families to meet basic needs.

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