Commentary & Opinion

Stephen Gottlieb: Suckers For Trump

May 31, 2016

Let me begin by reminding you of Trump’s claims,[1] and end with some questions.

Blair Horner: End-Of-Session Reform Scorecard

May 30, 2016

With only nine scheduled working days until the end of the 2016 legislative session, it’s a good time to review where New York is at after what is arguably the most scandal-ridden session in state history.

David Nightingale: Elon Musk

May 29, 2016

  This essay is about 45-year-old Elon Musk, a co-founder of PayPal, CEO of Tesla, and founder and CEO of SpaceX, born in S.Africa in 1971 to a Canadian model and a S.African engineer.

Rogovoy Report For 5/17/16

May 27, 2016

The cultural highlights in our region in coming days include yet another living legend of Broadway – this region is downright lousy with them come summer – a legendary indie rock band; a new political comic drama based an old Shakespeare play; and a landmark anniversary for one of the region’s premiere contemporary art galleries.

Keith Strudler: Pass The Cup

May 25, 2016

Any boy who’s ever moved to a certain level in certain sports has had the unique and often uncomfortable option of wearing what’s commonly known as a cup. For the uninitiated, a cup is a hard plastic, well, cup, that fits over the male private region, strategically protecting male athletes from things like ill thrown baseballs or someone’s knee or perhaps a foot that misses its target or, and this is the worst, a low blow in boxing. It could happen in most any contact sport, from soccer to basketball to football – pretty much any place that something might end up where it shouldn’t. Being largely averse to contact and quickly gravitating towards track, I never actually wore one of these devices, which always seemed to me remnants of the dark ages. I suppose my JCC youth basketball league never got competitive enough to be concerned with shots to the groin, and make any circumcision joke you’d like. But competitive athletes in rough sports probably take more precautions.

Herbert London: Militant Islam

May 25, 2016

 

The war against militant Islamic forces continues apace with modest gains against ISIS and with the emergence of new radical groups after one is defeated. This is a long war we are engaged in, one that can be won only when the root cause is accurately identified. That cause is a doctrine, a doctrine of violence and subordination. It is built into the culture of militates Islam and our unwillingness to recognize it for what it is militants against remedial action.

Stephen Gottlieb: Bernie And Ralph

May 24, 2016

Let’s talk about Bernie Sanders and Ralph Nader. I have enormous respect for what both men have been trying to tell us. I also have enormous respect for Nader’s willingness to plow his earnings back into the effort to improve many aspects of life while he, Nader, lived on a shoestring.

MaryEllen Elia: Avoid Summer Brain Drain

May 24, 2016

As May draws to a close and the temperatures begin to heat up, many children are counting down the final days of this school year, ready for the fun and relaxation of summer vacation.

Blair Horner: Higher Ed Shortfall Gets Response

May 23, 2016

The New York state budget approved in April contained some good news for public college students and their families: It added a $100 increase per full-time enrolled student (FTE) in community college base aid over that proposed by the governor—an increase over last year’s budget.  The new budget also restored the governor’s proposed cuts to some financial assistance programs.

Rob Edelman: Elvis And Nixon

May 23, 2016

These days, biopics are all the rage. During one recent week, a number of films screening at the Spectrum, the local Albany art house, featured actors playing such diverse personalities as Ernest Hemingway, Miles Davis, Elvis Presley, and Richard Nixon.

Karen Magee: Walking For Farmworker Justice

May 19, 2016

Amid the turmoil of Vietnam and the civil rights movement, the great Elvis Presley once sang — as only the King could sing — about the need for tolerance and compassion in society.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Zeroing In On Zika

May 19, 2016

Every year I spend one to two weeks visiting the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. I don’t go for vacation, despite the allure of that country’s white sand beaches, but rather for work. I spend most of my time in windowless classrooms teaching clinical and research ethics to a number of graduate, medical and professional students from across the region.

Herbert London: Ressentiment

May 18, 2016

In philosophy and psychology “ressentiment” is a form of hostility. It is the French word for resentment and it generally is directed at the cause of frustration, that is an assignment of blame for one’s frustration. A sense of weakness or inferiority and jealously in the face of the “cause” generates a rejecting or justifying value system, even a moral paradigm which attacks the perceived source of frustration. This value system can be used as a means of justifying one’s own weakness by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior. In many cases, the ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability.

Blair Horner: Another Albany Pol Bites The Dust

May 16, 2016

Some of the big news in state politics last week was the sentencing of former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.  Skelos, like the former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was convicted of corruption.  Skelos was sentenced for five years in prison for his activities in shaking down businesses for often no-show jobs for his son.  A couple of weeks earlier, Silver received 12 years for his corrupt schemes that enriched him by millions of dollars.

David Nightingale: Politics 2016

May 15, 2016
Trump rouses crowd
Pat Bradley/WAMC

I am a registered Independent, and once in a while I cut out a political 'letter to the editor', or a commentary. Right now I have a little pile of such cuttings that I need to get rid of.

Bill Owens: The Trump VP Sweepstakes

May 12, 2016

The sweep by Donald Trump of the last six primaries (and Cruz and Kasich's suspensions) portends a Trump nomination in Cleveland. The next big question is what Republican (and that in itself may be an assumption, based upon Ben Carson’s recent comments) will want to put his or her chips on the table to see if Donald picks them up? (A side note: Were the campaign suspensions evidence of lingering hope?)

Herbert London: Trump Foreign Policy

May 11, 2016

Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican candidate for president, a review of his recent foreign policy position seems warranted. Trump played his presidential “part” well, to paraphrase his newly appointed aide, Charlie Manaford in a speech that was a serious attempt to articulate his foreign policy stance.

Stephen Gottlieb: Universalism Vs. The What-About-Mes

May 10, 2016

This primary season has made plain Americans’ dissatisfaction with American politics – dissatisfaction because someone else seems to be getting all the goodies and concern. The right wing thinks the poor are the government’s favorites. The left wing sees its wages and taxes mostly benefitting the super wealthy. Both Sanders and Trump mined the political backlash from special interest politics. Trump’s apparent nomination increases the urgency for both parties to respond to this problem.

Blair Horner: And In Other News

May 9, 2016

As New York’s ethics problems continue to dominate headlines, other important issues are getting short shrift.   Just one such issue is the quality of drinking water supplies – particularly those found in New York’s schools.

Michael Meeropol: Of Trump And The Bernie Vote

May 6, 2016

My wife, Annie, and I just spent a couple of weeks in Europe.  Virtually every European we met asked us incredulously, “are we looking at a President Trump?”This was particularly true in Great Britain which recently debated keeping him out of the country because he is a purveyor of hatred. Returning home we were confronted with headlines that suggested the possibility that Trump could pick up some Bernie Sanders supporters because both men are “anti-establishment” and oppose “bad” trade deals that cost American jobs.

The Treasury Department’s recent announcement to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill drew a quick response from Donald Trump, who called it unbridled “political correctness.”

Sean Philpott-Jones: Half-And-Half Wits

May 5, 2016

I lost a friend last week. I didn’t lose her in the physical sense. She didn’t pass away or move to the other side of the globe. Rather, after a disturbing online exchange, I made the decision to, in the words of Gwyneth Paltrow, ‘consciously uncouple’ myself from her.

Herbert London: Saudi Arabia - U.S. Foe And Friend

May 4, 2016

In the case of China it is not clear if they are foe or friend with an argument to be made on both sides of the issue. In the case of Saudi Arabia there is little doubt it is foe and friend, a matter that has led to extraordinary confusion.

Paul Murray went South as part of the Civil Rights Movement. For many years he has taught a course on the Civil Rights Movement at Sienna College and taken high school and college students on trips to see places made famous by the struggle for freedom and equality.

Another week, another series of ethics controversies in New York.  The week began with the leak of a confidential report by the state’s elections enforcer that alleged that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had engaged in an illegal effort to circumvent campaign contribution limits in his 2014 push to bolster the re-election prospects of some sitting state Senate Democrats, who presumably would be more favorable to the democrat mayor’s city agenda in Albany.

People with good minds can be very passionate. Take the case of the current Presidential election cycle. We hear from people of all political persuasions who are quite sure that we are being blatantly unfair, usually about Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. Now don’t get me wrong – when the Massachusetts primary rolled around I voted for Bernie. I had announced that I would because I believe that journalists have a responsibility to let their audiences know where they are coming from. I have interviewed both Bernie and Hillary on the air so I am very surprised at some of the vitriol we have heard about the station’s alleged “position” (we never take sides) in favor of Hillary. I try to be fair on our daily Roundtable panel. I have explained that I think Bernie is right on the major issues. I have also explained that I believed Hillary would capture more of the centrist voters and be more electable.

In this year’s race for the White House, candidates have addressed college affordability and student debt – two issues that are vitally important to New York families.

Herbert London: The Void

Apr 27, 2016

Deployments of U.S. forces continues despite the claims of drawdown and withdrawal. The numbers may be on the decline and the use of Special Forces may be on the rise, but the issue that is emerging is why are our military forces in harms way at all. From Rand Paul to Barack Obama, from Donald Trump to Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public, many are asking a fundamental question: What is the benefit to the United States of overseas deployments? It was once a question easily addressed within the context of the Cold War. But at a time when there is a quagmire in the Middle East and modest European expenditures for self-defense, the question emerging directly, and often inadvertently, is why the U.S. is burdened with defending the civilization. Why is President Obama now sending an additional 250 troops into Syria?

Some of you may have been following Shankar Vedantam on NPR or the discoveries of Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winning psychologist on the Princeton faculty, and their demonstration of the irrational ways that people very naturally and ordinarily reach decisions. Indeed, for quite a long time it’s been apparent that rational decision making often demands too much of people. As Cornell’s Vicki Bogan said in a talk in Albany, the rational choice model of economics assumes that people:

Last week, the world’s leaders gathered on Earth Day to formally agree to the climate change deal hammered out last December.  While there are still lots of questions about how effective the global agreement will be in limiting the damage from planetary warming, one message is clear; the world has got to move away from relying on fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – to generate energy.

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