Commentary & Opinion

After a brief hiatus, Albany’s ethics are once again in the media.  Last week, two Assemblymembers were sentenced to prison for their ethics crimes and Governor Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic development program was reported to be under scrutiny by federal prosecutors.

Jeffrey Reel: Abortion In A Democracy

Sep 20, 2015

 “Pro Life,” “Pro Choice,” “Right to Life,” “Freedom of Choice.”

Herbert London: The Double Standard & Foreign Policy

Sep 16, 2015

In Europe today Christian symbols are often seen to be part of archaeological troves that tourists pay to admire, but they are not seen as true testimony of faith – a condition considered offensive to other religions. Blasphemous expressions against Christianity are tolerated as an invocation of free speech. By contrast, Islam is treated with care since the criminal code is a source of protection and the fear of violent reaction is the unspoken word.

This campaign makes me nostalgic for the draft.

The Republican candidates have been telling us who they want to keep out, and whom they don’t like or wouldn’t lift a finger for – Mexicans, Iran, Muslims, the poor, women, peaceniks. And they make it pretty obvious whom they do like – whites, “real men,” cops, soldiers, guns, the U.S., especially the U.S. before any of us were born, and Christians. It’s all stereotypes, of course. No group of people is all good or all bad – not even conservatives, a big stretch for me. There are always gradations – people need to be judged on their behavior. But that’s too much work. Simplification is so much easier.

Bill Owens: Governor Walker’s Bad Idea

Sep 15, 2015

Governor Scott Walker announced his support for considering building a wall along the Canadian border, which is clearly a really, really bad idea. It appears the governor is now back-tracking through his aides.

Blair Horner: The Debate Over Educating Prisoners

Sep 14, 2015

Recently the Obama Administration took a step to try to deal with one of the nation’s most intractable problems: how to reduce the recidivism rate of those released from prisons.  There are approximately 1.5 million people in state or federal prisons.  Those prisoners are serving time because they have been convicted of a serious crime.  But the question is – what happens when their time is up and they are released back into our communities?

David Nightingale: Zenobia (240 - 275?)

Sep 13, 2015

This essay is about Queen Zenobia of Syria.

The setting is Palmyra, a beautiful city on an oasis at the edge of the Syrian desert. While there is a Palmyra on the Erie Canal in NY State, not far from Rochester NY, the Palmyra that Zenobia grew up in is situated between a mountain and the Orontes river -- with a pleasant climate, palm trees, and fertile land for such crops as barley, olives, figs, pistachios.

Fred Kowal: Skin Deep

Sep 10, 2015

There’s this great song written by blues legend Buddy Guy called “Skin Deep.” He sings how people are much more than what they appear to be and that despite our differences, underneath we’re all the same.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Question Of Conscience

Sep 10, 2015

On Tuesday, in front of a large crowd of supporters that included Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, Kim Davis was released from federal custody.

Herbert London: Balance Of Power

Sep 9, 2015

When Klemens Von Metternich, 19th century Austrian diplomat extraordinaire, thought about European stability, he walked a tightrope between the Tsar’s goals with those of Napoleon. He had Austria serve as an “impartial mediator” in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and at the same time promising to throw Austria’s weight against Napoleon. This pretense of neutrality was maintained until 1813 when Napoleon was increasingly pressed by this adversaries.

Stephen Gottlieb: Realism About Middle Eastern Priorities

Sep 8, 2015

Republicans in Congress have been holding up funds for Fulbright scholarships and the Peace Corps, anything that would actually allow Americans to learn about what is going on in the rest of the world. It's no wonder that foreign policy discussions have the smell of fantasy.

Bill Owens: Flat Wages?

Sep 8, 2015

Recent jobs data demonstrates that while employment continues to grow, wages have remained flat. There is speculation about the reasons with many economists offering different, but inconclusive analysis.

After the Labor Day weekend, both the House and Senate will begin debating a resolution of disapproval of the nuclear agreement between Iran and China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United States and the European Union.  Later they will vote on the deal.  Millions of dollars are being spent by various lobbying groups to defeat it.  Much less is being spent by supporters.   (It is important to remember that this is not an agreement just between the US and Iran --- the US had many partners in this negotiation.)

Bill Owens: President Donald?

Sep 3, 2015

Donald Trump, after what most commentators and observers concluded was an outrageous debate performance, has gyrated but clearly gained in the polls. The Republican establishment appears astonished, and the other candidates look lost.

Herbert London: It’s Only A Paper Moon

Sep 2, 2015

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan recently reaffirmed Iran’s position that issues involving Iran’s missile program are not matters for discussion. Presumably Iran is determined to keep developing its missile force. As for attempts to clarify Iran’s past activity regarding the “military dimensions” of its nuclear program, Dehghan noted that Iran will definitely not grant anyone access to its security and military “secrets.”

I have been very disappointed with Sen. Schumer and those of his colleagues in both houses of Congress who will not support the agreement with Iran. I’m sure they have convinced themselves that their stand is good for America, good for Israel, and good for their supporters. They should know better.

Bill Owens: The Defense Budget And ISIS

Sep 1, 2015

The House and Senate Appropriations Committee are advancing defense spending bills after the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by each House. Neither appropriations nor NDAA legislation is likely to make it to the President’s desk in the form they exist today. In both instances, the legislation will require a Conference and intra caucus negotiations likely being be the most intense.

This week marks the beginning of the semester for most colleges in New York State.  As students begin their next collegiate experience, families tackle how to pay for it.

Karen Magee: Drawing Meaning From The Meaningless

Aug 30, 2015

Earlier this month, the State Education Department released student scores on state standardized tests. Yet, most of the media coverage centered on the 220,000 students who opted out of those tests.

Bill Owens: Chinese Currency Manipulation

Aug 29, 2015

The recent Chinese government devaluation of its currency by approximately 4.4 percent is a cogent reminder of how the Chinese manipulate their economy, and the world economy.  There is no doubt that what the Chinese are doing is an effort to make these exports less expensive, which has been blatantly confirmed by senior leaders.  These actions continue a decades-long attack on US manufacturing with little or no negative consequences.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Apple Trees

Aug 28, 2015

One afternoon, as my wife and I watched a summer lightning storm from our front steps, she noticed some perfectly round green apples hanging from the thin tree branches outside our front window. All summer long, I had been gazing at the beautiful apples hanging from the tree across the street from us, their red skins dazzling like rubies in the sun, set against the deep green of the tree’s thick leaves. Now, I was smitten with child like wonder at the gentle intrusion of these green apples on our property. We had never planted any apple trees in our front yard, and I could not even identify for you any of the flora that guard the front of our house. Where did these fruits come from? How could we not know that an apple tree was alive and well in the tangled growth that we thoughtlessly passed by every day? Though two of our three children actively farm, my wife and I limit our agricultural consciousness to buying the best local produce that the supermarket has to offer. Our serendipitous apples became for me a source of fascination, and they are currently competing for my attention with their juicy red cousins in our neighbor’s front yard.

The New Geography

Aug 28, 2015

Everywhere I go, people stop to tell me how much they love this radio station. I really appreciate those on-air testimonials that people volunteer to record, attesting to their “WAMC-hood.” Now that we are all “apped” up and you can hear the station anywhere in the world (I heard it as clear as a bell in Colombia S.A, and in Italy), people listen all over.

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Delicate Balance

Aug 27, 2015

Long the subject of science fiction stories, fertility treatments and sex-selection have been in the headlines lately. Our commentator Dr. Sean Philpott-Jones of Union Graduate College calls it a delicate balance. 

Herbert London: Money & Iran

Aug 26, 2015

Lead performers in “Cabaret” sing “Money makes the world go round.” Little did these performers know about the Middle East where money not only makes the world go round but props up dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Iran is presently spending billions to keep him in power and prosecute a war in which more than 230,000 people have been killed and poison gas has been employed.

Stephen Gottlieb: Amtrak Subsidy

Aug 25, 2015

I’d like to talk about an issue that has been below the surface of the news but reflects a constant disagreement in our politics. Economic conservatives would displace almost everything in favor of the marketplace. But when you decide what to pay for, what are you including or excluding from the transaction?

Blair Horner: Summertime - Beaches, Ocean And Trash

Aug 24, 2015

As the nation begins to cram in its end of summer vacationing, many Americans head to the beach, particularly those on the ocean. Little do they see the increasing reality: the oceans are choking on garbage, particularly plastic waste.

David Nightingale: Bikinis And Bombs

Aug 23, 2015
nuclear test at the Bikini atoll
Wikimedia Commons

 In 1946 a Parisian engineer, whose mother owned a lingerie business, designed a women's swim suit consisting of 3 -- or at most 4 -- tiny triangles. A little earlier in 1946 explosive testing of nuclear bombs had been resumed after the horrific damages in Japan of 1945. These nuclear tests were on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The engineer knew his swimsuit design would also be explosive, and he named it the "bikini".

Herbert London: Appeasement Here And Abroad

Aug 19, 2015

After years of inaction, NATO is now attempting to develop a strategy to cope with Russian aggression. A State Department report indicates that Iran has not reduced its global terrorist activity despite the accommodative stances of the P5 + 1 on Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition. The elimination of “stop and frisk” preventive policing action, has resulted in an increase of gun violence in New York City and in other major cities where lapsed police measures have been imposed.

Stephen Gottlieb: Regression To The Mean

Aug 18, 2015

Social scientists have a phrase, “regression to the mean.” What they mean is that the law of averages eventually fells families, companies or countries that are doing better than average, and eventually lift those doing much worse than the average. Now for all of us who like to say the United States is the best in the world, there is a prospect to consider.

This commentary first aired on November 6, 2012.

Ever since the first American hostages of church-state confederacy resolved to sever themselves from authoritarian domination by coalitions of royalty and its religious authenticators, self-styled advocates have attempted to influence the form of our newly-won freedom.  Prompted by profit oriented off-shoots of the original order, they have invariably prodded their quarry to cede autonomy for the assurance of corporate stability and significance.  Their lucre-amplified logic?  Fiduciary federation provides the most dependable source of freedom.  What they’ve blithely and intentionally overlooked was who controls the combination to the lock on the cash box.

Pages