Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

Paul Elisha: On paper in the digital age

Oct 23, 2012

The poet Frank Bidart’s “Inauguration Day,” composed for President Barak Obama’s first Inaugural, began with these lines: “Staring out across America I see, since Lincoln, gunmen nursing fantasies of purity betrayed, dreaming to restore the glories of their blood and state.”  These words projected a hope of return to earlier times of repression and the glory of purity restored.  It’s a hope that obviously lingers for some.

Rob Edelman : Much to Ponder

Oct 22, 2012

On rare occasion do I see a film that so challenges me, that has so much going on in it, that I come out of the theater thinking, “I must give this movie a second look.” One such film is CLOUD ATLAS, which I saw at the Toronto Film Festival back in September and which I will re-see upon its theatrical release.

Eliot Spitzer - 2nd Presidential Debate

Oct 18, 2012

Toe to toe, interruption to interruption, like two gladiators they squared off in the arena. Candy Crowley's best efforts to maintain order couldn't survive the testosterone battle that played out before us. It was not only great TV, but a superb debate. The key takeaway: Barack is back and moderate Mitt can't survive careful scrutiny. 

Sean Philpott: Now Entering the Health Care Spin Zone

Oct 18, 2012

Last Tuesday night was the second of three scheduled presidential debates, with President Obama and Governor Romney going toe-to-toe before a public audience at Hofstra University.

In a recent book entitled Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students Its Intended To Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It by Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor, the authors identify reforms that could make a difference in dealing with this ticklish racial issue, reforms, as I see it, that are eminently sensible.

Stephen Gottlieb: This is an emergency

Oct 16, 2012

During the fund drive I heard Joe Donahue and this station working hard to bring Bill McKibben to this audience and lead us away from the catastrophe of global warming. He and the station did a great service and I am proud to be associated with them.

If your house was on fire you wouldn’t stand like a bystander waiting for it to collapse; you’d call the fire department and get anyone you could reach out of there fast.

Two endorsements made yesterday in state Senate races proved - yet again - that old adage about the game of politics and the strange bedfellows its players choose as they seek to achieve, maintain or consolidate power.

The first came from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is now two for two, technically speaking, in bestowing his general election support on fellow Democrats.

Cuomo's first nod went to Sen. Joe Addabbo, one of the Senate Republicans' top targets this fall who is facing a spirited challenge from a GOP rising star, New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich.

Paul Elisha: Great Spirit

Oct 16, 2012

If ABC-News journalist, Martha Raddatz had done nothing else, in last week’s highly charged and hugely watched Vice-Presidential Campaign Debate but to question both the incumbent and his opponent about their respective religious beliefs, she would have made a memorable contribution.  As it turned out, she made several of which this question was not only most revealing but for this observer, the most provocative.  While both Congressman Ryan and Vice President Biden expressed strikingly different views about their shared religious faiths, as Catholics, the most revealing aspect of their an

Blair Horner: Help to discover new cancer treatments

Oct 15, 2012

For many of us, our civic participation begins and ends with voting.  Though voting is crucial to the health of our democracy, few of us have the opportunity to take part in something that can really change the lives of people all around the world.

One of those rare opportunities has just come our way.

Rob Edelman: No Trouble With Eastwood

Oct 15, 2012

TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE, the latest Clint Eastwood movie, is as predictable as, well, any Hollywood movie could be. For one thing, the good guys and bad guys in the film are clear cut and, if you are accustomed to the typical “and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after” Hollywood scenario, you can pretty much figure out where this film is headed.

Karen Hitchcock - Penn State: Lessons Not Learned

Oct 11, 2012

On Tuesday of this week, Jerry Sandusky received a de facto life sentence of 30-60 years for raping, abusing and assaulting some ten young boys.   To this day, Mr. Sandusky denies his guilt and places the blame for his conviction on what he feels is the false testimony of his many victims.  As The New York Times stated in an editorial following the sentencing, “The case of Jerry Sandusky for the serial raping of young boys while a coach in Penn State’s football program ended Tuesday as it began: in denial and delusion.”

There has been much speculation about Romney’s private statement about the 47 percent of the electorate “who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.”

Paul Elisha: Postage Paid

Oct 9, 2012

In one of his earliest books: “Cakes And Ale,” W. Somerset Maugham observed that hypocrisy cannot be practiced part-time, in one’s spare moments.  “Hypocrisy,” he said, “is a whole-time job.”  Back in the days when icons were authentic and worth quoting, one of the greatest was Martin Luther, who bemoaned the fact that “Truth goes begging, while hypocrisy finds ample wages.”  It’s an adage that’s still true, especially in the political arena, where the worst of that ilk continue to operate with impunity.

Rob Edelman: A Country’s Recent History

Oct 8, 2012

For decades, filmmakers from across the globe have been producing works that explore their country’s history, culture, and politics-- and that offer perspectives on that history. In this regard, two very different but not unrelated films were screened at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. One spotlights East Germany in the 1980s, before the fall of communism. The other is a portrait of France in the early 1970s, when a certain type of young person was embracing a Marxist/anarchist ideal.

Herbert London: Tokyo's Military Options

Oct 3, 2012

Tokyo policy makers have been engaged in diplomatic overdrive in an effort to resolve a territorial dispute with Russia over four southern islands in the Kuril Island chain. This dispute has stunted bilateral relations for six decades.

Paul Elisha: One long step removed...

Oct 2, 2012

Those Americans who find themselves dismayed at the current lack of ethical and statesmanlike leadership in our country, replaced by the plodding puerile purgatory of partisan political power peddled to the highest bidder, need to be reminded that it was one of New York’s earlier self-styled political heroes, who preempted the Jeffersonian model of : “equal and exact justice to all… of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political;” as he spelled it out in his first inaugural Presidential address.

Rob Edelman: Canada’s Sweetheart

Oct 1, 2012

In the heyday of the silent film, almost a hundred years ago, Toronto-born Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart.” Well, today, the moniker “Canada’s Sweetheart” easily fits Sarah Polley.

   And who was the 25th President of France?

   Well, I guess this is information for TV's “Jeopardy”, but it was the physicist Dominique Francois Jean Arago, born 50 years after the birth of another statesman/scientist – Ben Franklin.[Ref.1].

   Some may remember from high school a demonstration called “Arago's disk”, wherein a copper or aluminum disc is spun underneath an ordinary compass, and the compass needle begins to swing round also. This is just one of the many experiments Arago did.

Herbert London: Coming Apart Over Sequestration

Sep 26, 2012

“Sequestration” is a government word that for those in the military has a synonym: castration. When a bipartisan committee was established by the administration to motivate Democrats and Republicans to compromise on limits for federal spending, it was assumed some understanding could be accomplished. One provision of mutual disagreement and a stalemate is sequestration or automatic budget cuts should stasis be the result of congressional deliberation.

As you think about whom you’ll vote for, let me tell you about two decisions of the Roberts Court where the Court sprang to the defense of prosecutors whose denials of constitutional protections had put innocent men in prison for decades.

In Van de Kamp v. Goldstein,[i] prosecutors complained to the Supreme Court that they were being held liable in damages for denying a man due process and putting him in prison. Here is how counsel for Goldstein described what happened:

Paul Elisha: The Greatness of America

Sep 25, 2012

In 1835, a mere 59 years after the American colonies became the world’s most advanced republic, thereafter known as The United States of America, our most surprising and enabling ally – France – sent its most distinguished political historian, Alexis deTocqueville, to study and report on the status of this monumental experiment in popular self-government, as stipulated: ‘of, for and by its people.’

New York State’s efforts to reduce smoking have had a tremendous impact.  Between 2003 and 2010, the adult smoking rate in New York fell by 28 percent.  During that time, the nation’s smoking rate slipped only 11 percent.  New York high school students’ smoking rate dropped an incredible 38 percent, more than twice the nation’s decline.

Rob Edelman: “Perfect” Politicians

Sep 24, 2012

With the election of a U.S. president much in the news, one soon-to-be-released film takes on extra-special resonance. That film is HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, which was screened at the Toronto Film Festival and is scheduled to open theatrically in December.

You had a lot to say on the WAMC listener comment line this week on everything from Joe Donohue's interview with Jesse Ventura, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's '47 %' remarks, and several of our WAMC commentators. Segments of these comments ran Friday Sept. 21 on Midday Magazine and Northeast Report.

Bob Goepfert - "In the Heights" at Cohoes Music Hall

Sep 20, 2012

Last month C&R Productions declared if they didn’t raise $75,000 immediately they would close and stop producing theater. They raised almost $100,000.  

I like to think of their current production of “In the Heights” at Cohoes Music Hall as a thank you present for those who to help save them. 

Sean Philpott: Opposing the Zadroga Act

Sep 20, 2012

Last week marked the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. That solemn occasion was marked by carefully scripted shows of bipartisan unity, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers honoring those who made great sacrifices on that day and in the years since, including the victims of 9/11, those who responded to the attacks, and soldiers and veterans of the subsequent war on terror.

For those of the Jewish Faith, Rosh Hashannah – the start of a new year – is also a time to clear the air of misunderstandings and settle differences… clear one’s conscience for new and more hopeful achievements.  That said, it is shocking and hurtful, that the present Israeli Prime Minister has contaminated a pure and practically endless stream of friendship and support from the United States, with harsh complaints of dissatisfaction and veiled threats of blackmail, unethically and mischievously inserted for the first time ever, into American Presidential politics, by an ungrateful benefi

Herbert London: The Emerging Islamic Challenge

Sep 19, 2012

As the winds of Islamism blow across North Africa yielding unsettling horror, the American version of Neville Chamberlain sits in the White House, incapable of real action, but immersed in rationalization. Yes, the president did repudiate State Department moral equivalence (i.e. “offensive” film equals justifiable homicide). But he is inert, a model of confusion.

David Nightingale: 2 Hospitals

Sep 18, 2012

 In the 19th century, Joseph Henry, first director of the Smithsonian, refused any salary increases, saying that public servants were there to serve, rather than to enrich themselves.

 Now, there are two hospitals in Kingston NY – the Benedictine Hospital, a Catholic hospital (founded on its present site in 1906), and the non-sectarian Kingston hospital (founded in 1894), institutions in which, over the years, my family and I have had sundry  procedures, such as appendix, hernias, and so on.

The White House today released a report on the impact of mandated budget cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013.  The cuts are mandated under the Budget Control Act of 2011, which arose for the debate over the debt ceiling last year. 

The Budget Control Act required an automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as the “Super Committee”) failed to agree on budget cuts on its own – which it failed to do.