Commentary & Opinion

Five years ago, Governor Cuomo and the Legislature approved annual tuition hikes for public colleges and universities.  At that time, the argument had two simple rationales to support the plan:

David Nightingale: John Burroughs (4/3/1837 - 3/29/1921)

Feb 7, 2016

My younger son suggested an essay on John Burroughs, but I told him that probably everyone in the N-E knew more about the famous naturalist than I ever did. Apart from seeing a plaque at the top of Slide Mountain and a long-ago visit to his cabin, Slabsides, I knew very little.

Not to play too much pop psychology, but we all like to feel wanted. It’s why we date, why we fight, it’s what gets us up in the morning and sometimes keeps us up at night. Down deep inside, most all of us crave the self-worth that comes, for better or worse, from someone else.

From 2009 to the present, the Obama administration has been committed to the withdrawal of American forces from the Middle East, replaced by the management of regional state players. But this position is entirely ahistoric. From the Romans to the Crusades, from the Mamelukes, to the Ottomans, British and French, the Middle East never ruled itself or managed stability through nation states.

Stephen Gottlieb: Preserving Republican Government

Feb 2, 2016

Americans began to think about preserving and protecting their form of government even before the Constitution was signed.

This, as always, is where the rubber hits the road. Monday, February 1st is where and when we gather as a group to see whether we still have the will to keep WAMC going; so far, so good. We need a million dollars three times a year to make it happen. That’s a lot of money and the fact that we can do it makes us the talk of the nation. Some of our colleagues just don’t believe it. That’s because this is more than a radio station. It is a group of people who are intellectually curious and committed to ethical behavior. When someone calls me up and tries to typecast us, either on the right or the left, the first thing I ask is whether they’d like to do a commentary, laying out a position on a contemporary problem.

It’s not easy to be a mother these days. Despite all of the advances in gender equality, the rearing of children still remains by default “women’s work.” This is not to say that fathers are not increasingly involved in caring for their kids, but most studies have shown that women still do the bulk of the work. Not only do they have to put up with nine months of discomfort while pregnant, once the child comes mothers are more likely than fathers to be responsible for changing diapers, looking after a sick kid, arranging for daycare and play dates, and even cooking, cleaning, laundry and other household chores.

Herbert London: Europe’s Migration Cancer

Jan 27, 2016

Roberta Flack, years earlier, sang what has become the Europeans theme song “Killing Me Softly.” Despite the reported wilding spree of at least a thousand North African refugees who groped women at the New Year celebration in Cologne, Germany, despite allegations of two rapes, despite condemnation by Prime Minister Merkel, the mayor of the city has requested that women monitor their “code of conduct.” Apparently German authorities will contest to their last breath that tolerance dedication will not yield. This is the tolerance that kills, softly at first and violently in time.

Stephen Gottlieb: What Is Limited Government Anyway?

Jan 26, 2016

With the presidential primaries underway, the media is choked with talk about getting the government off the people’s backs, restoring limited government, making government let the people alone. But the Koch brothers, the Tea Party, their candidates and supporters are actually saying something very different – they want government to support their definition of their rights and push everyone else out of their way, and most important they want the courts to decide in their favor when others complain that they are trespassing on public land or polluting the air, land and water in ways that injure and interfere with the lives of others. That’s government in their favor.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Sacred Study

Jan 26, 2016

A dear friend of mine recently moved with his family from Albany to another state.  Having tasted the bitter pill of friendships that die slowly, I worried about ours.  Would our fifteen-year relationship weather the wear and tear of distance, long pauses in communication, and the normal blunting of adult relationships caused by our respective distractions?  I am lucky to have friends with whom I could pick up the thread of a conversation after decades of not talking, as if we had just seen each other yesterday.  Yet with more years of my life behind me than ahead of me, I did not want to risk waiting too long to stay in touch with him, until it was too late to do so.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama designated Vice President Biden to lead the Administration’s “moon shot” to attack cancer.  Cancer touches the lives of all of us and is the second leading cause of death in America.  It is one term that covers a very wide range of diseases, including those of the lung, prostate, pancreas, breast and colon.

Rob Edelman: Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next

Jan 25, 2016

Michael Moore is one of contemporary American culture’s most polarizing figures. Your response to his films more often than not will directly relate to your politics. But one thing is certain: Michael Moore craves attention. He yearns to be the focal point of the conversation, and his almost exhibitionistic presence in his various documentaries transcends their content. Such is the case in his latest film, which is titled WHERE TO INVADE NEXT.

David Nightingale: Granny D

Jan 24, 2016

"Back home in New Hampshire," wrote Mrs Doris Haddock, "I began walking my 10 miles a day with a heavy backpack. I am already a little stooped over, but it was manageable ..." [Ref.1, p.13]

Thus "Granny D", a then 88 year old retired shoe factory worker, described the plans for her walk across America, to raise awareness for Clean Elections and Campaign Finance reform.

Karen Magee: Progress Toward Teach And Inspire

Jan 21, 2016

As I sat listening to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address, I was struck by the more positive tone he took toward public education. His words of respect for the great work that New York’s dedicated teachers do in their classrooms are much appreciated. 

Although they often disagreed, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had a mutually agreeable conversation – when the mantle of authority was being transferred (1800) – over the impressment of American seaman by Muslim leaders in North Africa. As U.S. commercial interests in the Mediterranean increased at the beginning of the 19th century, our ships were seized and seamen were forced into imprisonment and slavery.

Republicans repeat over and over that they want to take back the Constitution. That’s nonsense. Actually they are trying to destroy it. It’s important to understand where it comes from. After the Civil War, generations of Southern writers tried to win the peace after losing the War. They succeeded. There is no chance that you were not brought up familiar with elements of it.

Blair Horner: The Governor Unveils His Reform Agenda

Jan 18, 2016

The staggering scandals and collapsing public confidence in state government created an opening for Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address.  Could he advance a comprehensive reform package that was commensurate with the unprecedented ethics, campaign finance and elections failings of the state?  His address was comprehensive:  The governor’s proposals – if enacted – offer significant remedies to those failings as well as to help restore the battered public confidence in Albany.

It's time for our listeners to take the microphone. Here are this week's highlights from the WAMC Listener Comment Line.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Penning A Solution To The War On Drugs

Jan 14, 2016

After nearly six months on the run, Joaquin Guzman Loera -- the Mexican drug lord known as "El Chapo" -- was recaptured by Mexican authorities. He is now back in the prison from which he made his daring escape, awaiting extradition to the United States to face charges of drug trafficking and murder.

Wars in the Middle East are creating huge flows of refugees. If war creates refugees, we either have to have a way to stop the wars or a policy about refugees. Just saying we will or won’t let people in is a decision, not a policy. One must think past those decisions to the enormous consequences.

Herbert London: Islamophobia & Political Correctness

Jan 12, 2016

In accordance with a ten year plan of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to implement United Nations’ Resolution 16/18 which criminalizes all criticism of Islam worldwide, the U.S. House of Representatives issued H. Res. 569 condemning violence, bigotry and “hateful rhetoric” toward Muslims in the United States.

The 2016 legislative session kicked off quietly last week.  Typically, the governor unveils his legislative program on the first day.  His State of the State address serves as the legislative curtain raiser for the session.  This year, the governor has chosen to postpone his address for one week and has used that time to make daily announcements highlighting his upcoming initiatives. 

  I've been sad, as many have, since Robin Williams chose to leave us, in August 2014. We realized there'd be no more statements like:

On January 2, a group of armed protesters walked into the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns Oregon and vowed to remain there until their concerns were addressed.   What initially triggered this “protest” was the re-sentencing of two ranchers who had initially served a few months in prison for arson – setting fires that spread to federal land.   The protesters felt new sentences (requiring both defendants to serve 5 years) were too harsh.  In a January 6 statement, they announced that in addition to freedom for the two men, they wanted the land currently owned by the federal government to be returned to the people. They wanted “loggers get back to logging, ranchers get back to ranching, miners get back to mining and farmers get back to farming.” [part of this quote is from a press conference January 6 reported at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/militia-occupation-leader-in-oregon-were-like-rosa-parks/.  

Fred Kowal: Friedrichs

Jan 7, 2016

A historic moment in America’s struggle for economic and social justice is upon us, though few Americans are aware of it.  On Jan. 11th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, the latest attempt by political extremists to turn back the clock on social progress in the U.S.

Herbert London: Los Abandonados Of Argentina

Jan 6, 2016

In 1994 the western hemisphere suffered its worst terrorist attack up to that time. A massive car bombing destroyed the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society, killing 85 people and leaving hundreds wounded.

President Obama commented a few weeks ago that Muslims in America must do more to stop Muslim violence and many have suggested that the Muslim community has not been doing enough to stop it.(1 ) That struck me as very false, given my own contacts in the Muslim community. So I reached out to learn what is happening in the Muslim community.

Bill Owens: Facts About The Borders

Jan 5, 2016

A recent report produced by the majority staff of Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, dated November 23, 2015, provides some interesting data and insight about the security of our borders. The report, entitled “The State of America’s Border Security,” misses the target as it focuses on identification of immigration threats, with just a fleeting reference to the facilitation of legitimate trade. If you ignore the trade issue, then the feared threats will likely multiply as the number of jobs in the immigrants' home countries decline.

Blair Horner: Will Albany Open Up In 2016?

Jan 4, 2016

2015 was a bad year for openness at the state Capitol.  It ended with Governor Cuomo vetoing two bills which had been supported by the Committee on Open Government.  The Committee is a widely-respected state agency created in the 1970s to offer an independent judgment on New York’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Laws.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Dreaming Of A White Christmas

Dec 31, 2015

Most of my friends, upon learning that I was raised in sunny California, are shocked to find that winter is my favorite season. Since first moving to this area in the mid-90s, I’ve relished in the fact that I now live in a place with seasons, a region of the country that enjoys subzero temperatures and frequent snow during the darkest months of the year. No wonder then that the Snow Miser from the classic cartoon ‘A Year Without a Santa Claus’ is my yuletide Facebook avatar.

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