Commentary & Opinion

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.

Keith Strudler: Straw Men, Sports And The Media

Dec 30, 2015

If Peyton Manning had known six months ago that he’d be on the bench backing up an unproven fourth year quarterback who had thrown all of thirty passes in his first three years in the league, while he fends off accusations of performance enhancing drug use, he might just have thought twice about coming back for an 18th NFL season. Granted, Manning assumed he had ample life left on his cannon of an arm, if last year was any guide. And his team the Denver Broncos stood to be a favorite to make the Super Bowl, giving him another chance to put a second ring on his finger, at least equaling his brother Eli and making a stronger case for his place in the pantheon of greatest QB’s of all time. And the $15 million he’s paid this year didn’t hurt either.

Herbert London: Perversion Of Islam?

Dec 30, 2015

In what can only be described as a “reassurance” speech is, President Obama in addressing the terrorist murders in San Bernardino, California said we should not be overcome by fear. Once again, he noted this terror is not a reflection of Islam. His Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, went further in contending that the real fear is anti Islamic prejudice, even though there is little evidence to support her concern.

Okay, dear readers, here are my fearless predictions for the coming year. I offer them every year with the following warnings. Some of them predict things that I don’t want to see happen so I offer them to put the evil eye on them. Then sometimes I offer predictions that I don’t necessarily think will happen but I want to make them self-fulfilling prophecies. Finally, there are those that I really think will happen. As always, it is up to you to figure out which is which.

Stephen Gottlieb: No Justice For The Vulnerable

Dec 29, 2015

In this season of charity, I’d like to talk about the fate of the less fortunate to make clear how our politics has been turning a blind eye to the damage it does.

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Wisdom

Dec 29, 2015

Here is a story about something I learned this past semester.

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.

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