Commentary & Opinion

Rabbi Dan Ornstein: Kayaking

May 19, 2015

As the summer approaches, I am beginning to think about one of my favorite activities:  kayaking.  I love kayaking so much, I would kayak every day, if not for one small impediment:  I am a lousy kayaker.


When Senator Skelos was arrested for alleged corruption on May 4th, a clock started ticking.  In previous arrests, Governor Cuomo would weigh in with a raft of ethics changes within a couple of weeks.  When former Assembly Speaker Silver was arrested on January 22nd, the governor waited until the Assembly sorted itself out and then gave a major speech to advance ethics measures on February 2nd – ten days later.

Bill Owens: 2nd Circuit Gets It Right

May 14, 2015

The Decision last week by the 2nd Circuit finding that the interpretation of the Patriot Act by NSA and the FISA Court was without the statutory basis with regard to mega data collection is the right outcome for our fundamental freedoms.

Herbert London: National Will And Foreign Policy

May 13, 2015

Despite the Marxist assertion that economic factors drive the forces of history, modernity offers a different response. Jacobins during the French Revolution argued that politics – understood as the quest for power – drives history. Here, too, history provides an equivocal response. It is in the warehouse of liberal dogma that if you have a democracy and a free market, the quest for historical justification is in the offing. Presumably these are the characteristics of a smooth running machine of state.

Stephen Gottlieb: Listening, Learning And Law Enforcement

May 12, 2015

Not long ago, I met the daughter of two of my wife’s high school teachers. Grant and Joyce Banks were legendary in Rutherford County. They traveled to the homes and met the families of every one of their students. Their purpose was to get to know and understand the circumstances of each of the people in their classes. They had no grading pad with them, just the warmth of their own personalities. When we got married, my wife took me to see them and we visited in their home. The last time I saw them was at my mother-in-law’s funeral – Mrs.


Ethics was, once again, Albany’s big news last week.  Another lawmaker, long-time Assemblyman Bill Scarborough, pled guilty and faces prison, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos joined his former counterpart Assembly Speaker Silver in having to defend himself against charges of corruption.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Love (And Sex), Canadian Style

May 7, 2015

There's a controversy brewing to the north of us. After Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that the most-populous Canadian province would update the sex-education curriculum used in public schools -- modernizing its sex-ed materials  to include discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation, masturbation and contraception -- conservative politicians and pundits were quick to condemn the changes.

When President Obama was a student at Columbia College he wrote a paper calling for the “end of nuclear weapons.” It was a time when there were similar calls for the elimination of these weapons of mass destruction; this was ostensibly an idealistic cri de coeur. Unilateral disarmament of the kind this movement demanded was seen as playing directly into the hands of a Soviet rival expanding its nuclear weapons capability.

Stephen Gottlieb: Free Range Children

May 5, 2015

It never occurred to me that I’d be talking about “free range children” as if they were a species of fowl and the big question was whether to let them out of the coop. But apparently it’s become an issue.[1]

Blair Horner: Misdirection, Albany-Style

May 4, 2015


When politicians find themselves in a jam, they will try to get the public to focus on a different issue.  In politico parlance, that’s called “misdirection”: getting the public to focus their outrage on something else.  Politicians who command the bully pulpit, like a governor, have the greatest power to misdirect public attention.

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